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Who to back in the Tour de France 2: Antipodes

Moving on from the USA

AustraliaandNewZealand

Just typing that made the blood run cold at my fingertips. As a kiwi I loathe people conflating New Zealand and Australia. That little country to our north-west is as far away from NZ as Turkey is to Britain. So not that far in fact, actually. But I conflate them here for two reasons: (1) I’m allowed; and (2) it’s just easier, isn’t it; and all the good riders are Australian. But it turns out if you are an Australander of Newstralia, there are plenty of top-of-the-pops riders to wave your very similar flags at. (I also include South Africa, because there’s only one rider and it’s fun to throw them in desultorily within an aside.) So who can the … eastern southern hemisphere be overzealously proud of?

Orica-GreenEDGE (Australia)

While the best Australian is Cadel Evans, and, bear-with, we’ll get to him, there is a whole gaggle of Aussies in one corker of a team.

Matt Goss (Aus, aged 26), Orica’s number one, is one of the best at the Tour, rated by all sources in at least the top 20 riders, even though he hasn’t quite been scooping up the palmares with both arms of late. A one-day road race specialist, he is more green jersey than yellow, i.e. a sprinter looking for stage and sprint wins to get points, as opposed to consistently loitering at the front of the peloton come slope, flat, switchback or sawtooth like those lazy GC types. He’s been the bridesmaid to Mark Cavendish, coming second to him for instance in the 2011 World Championship road race (the same year he won the Milan–San Remo), but he’s still young and much is still expected. Contrary to the rumours I have started, he is not the singer from Bros.

Simon Gerrans (Aus, aged 32) is currently sitting third in the general classification of the Tour after yesterday’s stage win. Of the six Aussies still hovering in contention he is clearly doing the best, and hopefully ruffling Evans’s feathers in the process. This should be no surprise as the man is in some form. He’s won other stages this year and last year won the Milan–San Remo, the Tour Down Under and the Australian National Road Race Championship. Will he stay high in the mix? That was supposed to be a rhetorical question. I don’t know.

Cameron Meyer (Aus, aged 24) has twice won the Australian National Time Trial Championships (2010 and 2011) and has won some minor races this year, and a stage at the Tour de Suisse. He’ll help the team in today’s time trial, but he’s languishing well out of GC contention already.

Daryl Impey (RSA, aged 28) is the lone South African, but clearly worth elbowing out some other Australian for his place as he’s currently well in the mix in 6th place on GC. He’s had a few stage wins recently (two years running in the Tour of the Basque Country) and was the time trial champion in his home country last year. How high can Orica climb in today’s team time trial one wonders. This will already be revealed by the time I upload.

Simon Clarke (Aus, aged 26) stole all of the king of the mountains points yesterday, that being his wont, pushing him into second for the polka dot jersey. Pierre Roland might have thought he had it stitched to his back, but clearly Clarke will give him a good run. Not surprising as he won the dotty mountain shirt in the other of the three grand tours 2012’s Vuelta a España. If your looking for an Aussie to actually win something, Simon Clarke may be the basket to stick all of your eggs into.

The two remaining Aussies in the team are out of big honour contention and will shoulder some serious domestiquage (I’m still hunting for the perfect ‘pertaining to domestiques’ noun). Brett Lancaster (aged 33), like Goss, is more of a green jersey, winning such a thing in the Tour of Slovenia this year. Clearly no slouch. Stuart O’Grady (aged 39) like most Australians has an Olympic gold medal, and as recently as 2011 was part of the Orica team who had a stage win in the team time trial at the Vuelta. Orica have to fancy a high finish in today’s race.

for BMC Racing (USA)

Cadel Evans (Aus, aged 36), currently in 9th place in the Tour is nicely poised. He is the number one of his team (providing he continues to better Tejay van Garderen) and will be lead to the front to do what he does best by a strong team. It is two years since he won the Tour de France, and has to be considered one of the favourites, if slightly darker of horse than some. He placed third in the Giro this year, and is consistently in the top bunch of any race he takes on. If you prefer to back the obvious, this is your Australian.

for Team Sky (UK)

Richie Porte (Aus, aged 27) is well in the mix in 24th place and only a second off the yellow vest. He’s in one of the best time trialling teams and is a bonza time-triallist, so expect him to scoot up the grid later today. His 2013 has been glittering in (mostly second) prizes: winning Paris-Nice; the green jersey in Critérium International, in which he came second overall; second in the Critérium du Dauphiné too; and second in the Tour of the Basque Country. I predict he will be second at least once in something or other in the Tour. You unfortunately heard it here first.

for Lotto-Belisol (Belgium)

Adam Hansen (Aus, aged 32) is the second-last of our Aussie contenders. He’s sitting in 23rd and after an impressive Giro this year, winning a stage rather gloriously and always revving for a breakaway, he’s one to keep an eye or two on. Also a mean time triallist, Hansen will be hoping to drag Lotto up the leaderboard today.

Greg Henderon (NZ, aged 36) at what in other sports might seem a cumbersome age is still a fine sprinter, as seen by his 7th place finish in flat old Stage 1. If there’s one New Zealander you want to paint your face up and yell at the TV over, it’s cuzzie Henderson. Go you good thinglet!

Team Saxo-Tinkoff (Denmark)

Michael Rogers (Aus, aged 33) our last Aussie contender is a time-trial legend, having won the worlds three times. Granted, the last time was 2005, but he hasn’t been dawdling in the meantime, eating up palmares like gluten-free hot dinners. This year he was second in the Tour de California and last year was second in the pre-Tour Dauphiné to Bradley Wiggins, notably beating Cadel Evans. He’s currently in 48th but still part of the one-second-behind group.

for Garmin Sharp (USA)

They’re good riders with much to crow about, but it must be said that Jack Bauer (NZ, aged 28) and Rohan Dennis (Aus, aged 23) are mostly in Garmin to be solid and domestiquy. Both are mean machines in the time trial, however, and should help Garmin to get a decent pozzy in today’s team time trial. Both are so whoa-nelly out of contention in the GC.

Next up Canadarrrr!

Can you beat Bloomsbury Sport at Fantasy Cycling?

Tour de France 2013

Vive le Tour!

For 3 weeks of the year, every year, I become obsessed. The blinkers are on and all I can think about is the Tour de France. It truly is one of the greatest of tests of sporting endurance – of true grit and determination. This year, the 100th running of the Tour, the riders will cover a staggering 3,404 kilometres with 7 flat stages, 5 hilly, and 6 mountain stages, including an unprecedented double ascent of the merciless Alpe D’Huez.

Stage profile

Those pointy bits look mighty steep.

But I’m not alone in my admiration of this great race, Team Sport at Bloomsbury are all keen cycling fans. And for this reason, we’ve set up a Fantasy Cycling league, that we’d like to invite you to join. (It’s like Fantasy Football – but better!)

All you need to do is pick your dream team at fantasy.road.cc, join our league Bloomsbury Sport – Cycling, and see whether you can take on the fantasy cycling genius of Bloomsbury Sport’s: Maglia Charlo, L’Equipe Kirsty, Nick la Bomba and Allez Coley.

Do you think you can beat Bloomsbury Sport at Fantasy Cycling?

Who will be in your dream team?

No Wiggo this year, so who will be in your dream team?

Need some help with your team choices? Look no further than Bloomsbury Sport’s Top Tips for the Tour

Ones to watch:

  • Chris ‘the Froominator’ Froome has been in stellar form this season, taking victories at the Tour of Oman, Criterium International, Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine. He’ll be looking to emulate his teammate Sir Brad’s yellow jersey victory last year to become the second Briton to win Le Tour.
  • Alberto Contador, Froome’s ‘biggest threat’, is a two-time winner of the Tour de France.
  • Vicenzo Nibali won the Maglia Rosa in the Giro d’Italia – could he make this a double? A feat no one has achieved since 1998.
  • Andy Schleck is making his return to la Grande Boucle following a pelvis fracture in 2012,which prevented him from racing. Good form at the Tour de Suisse means we shouldn’t underestimate him.
  • Mark Cavendish, the Manx Missile, will be targeting his first yellow jersey in the Corsican stages, bt his main aim will beto win back the green jersey from…
  • Peter Sagan, the 23-year-old sprinting star, claimed three stage wins and the green jersey in 2012. Can he do it again?
Fans-Tour-de-France

Fans will be please to know that El Diablo will be returning for Le Tour 100.

The Tour de France gets underway in Corsica on Saturday 29 June. We’ll be ramping up our coverage in the days before then and during Le Tour so be sure to check back regularly for all the latest news and competitions from Bloomsbury Sport.

Or follow us on Twitter: @BloomsburySport

Le Metier Michael Barry retires

Canadian cycling star Michael Barry has announced that he is calling time on his professional cycling career at the end of the season. Having ridden for US Postal, Discovery Channel and Columbia-HTC, Barry will end his successful career at Team Sky and will no doubt be missed by his team mates and everyone on the professional cycling circuit.

Team Sky’s website said:

In a career spanning 14 years, Michael has earned a reputation as one of the hardest working domestiques in the peloton and has captivated many cycling fans through his way with words and an infectious love for the sport

[...]

He was a founding member of Team Sky when he signed at the end of 2009, and over the last three seasons has set an example to the rest of the squad with his positive attitude, unwavering commitment to the cause, and wealth of cycling knowledge.

If you’d like to read about life as a cycling domestique, the third edition of Michael Barry’s book Le Metier: The Seasons of a Professional Cyclist (including photos from the 2012 season) is available to pre-order on Amazon here.

Out November 2012. Pre-order on Amazon

Out November 2012. Pre-order on Amazon

 

Do you fancy being the next Bradley Wiggins?

Yesterday Bradley Wiggins became the first British rider to win the Tour de France. Dust off that cycling helmet and discover your inner cyclist, with our range of cycling books from Bloomsbury.

Train with the experts from start to finish and discover how to ride each and every legendary climb.

Rouleur Books – the World’s Finest Cycling Reportage

Team Sport are delighted to announce that Bloomsbury has launched a new cycling imprint with Rouleur – producers of the cult road cycling magazine and of beautiful, high quality cycling books.

Charlotte Croft, Head of the Bloomsbury Team Sport said:

“Rouleur represents the best in cycling publishing—and we are proud to be working in partnership with such a highly distinguished and respected brand to ensure these books reach the widest possible audience.

Stunning photography and gripping accounts mark Rouleur books out from the pack, and they have long been much admired and sought-after purchases for competitive athletes, keen amateur cyclists and armchair observers alike, making Rouleur books a must-have for any cycling fan.”

Rouleur Books – A must for any serious cycling fan

Rouleur Books will be produced and designed by Rouleur founder Guy Andrews and his team, with Bloomsbury providing the sales and marketing. The imprint, dedicated to publishing the best in cycling journalism and photography, will publish approximately six titles each year. The first titles, Coppi by Herbie Sykes, a lavish hardback examining the life of Fausto Coppi, who won the Tour de France in 1949 and 1952, and an updated edition of photography book Le Metier: The Seasons of a Professional Cyclist by Team Sky rider, Michael Barry, will be published in November 2012.

Coppi

As Wired magazine recently commented:Rouleur is to bike magazines what National Geographic is to nature photography. Instead of glossy, well-lit portraits and fancy racing shots, its pages are filled with long, thoughtful photo spreads that drive deep narratives.

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