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A Great Vintage: Merckx 69

We don’t like to boast, but, well, some of our  books are just so bloomin’ great that we can’t help but sing their praises. And for this beaut, we’ve borrowed some words from people who’ve beaten us to it…

‘MILLIONS upon millions of words have been written on Eddy Merckx over the decades and it will get to the point soon when there is nothing new to say, which is possibly why Bloomsbury came up with the interesting idea of revisiting a year in the life of cycling’s nonpareil with a series of documentary type photographs. As all my snapper friends constantly remind me a great image is always worth a thousand words. Damn them, but they are right.

Not any old year mind and not any old photos. 1969 was an incredible career defining 12-months for Merckx while the project collaborators Tonny Strouton and Jan Maes boldy opt for a montage of huge black and white snaps when presumably there are plenty of fine colour shots available if desired. A great black and white image is worth 10,000 words in my opinion because they instantly convey and historical importance and almost timelessness which makes it easier to relive that moment.

Merckx 69 will stretch the budget but I suspect will prove irresistible for any serious collector of cycling books. Just as the man himself had to win every race – or at least try – Merckx fans tend to be ‘completests’ and their ‘Merckx corner’ of the bookshelf will look bare without this mighty tome.’
Brendan Gallagher, The Tour

Merckx (69) and Merckx 69

Merckx (69) and Merckx 69 (© JAMES ARTHUR/PHOTONEWS)

‘featuring some utterly fabulous, grainy, black and white photographs from eddy’s 1969 season, tentatively holding your breath and opening the first few pages brings to mind nothing more or less than a pristine copy of rouleur magazine. you can argue the case for e-books all you like, there’s simply nothing to match the heady aroma of printer’s ink on heavy art paper. the photos are not only glorious, fascinating, engaging and addictive, but undoubtedly the very reason you’d part with your £35 in the first place.
this is an absolute doozy, one that will continue to offer those rouleur moments for ever and ever and ever.’
thewashingmachinepost.com

World Congress of Cycling Science

Cycling ScienceAre Tour de France champions born or made? Should cyclists strength train? How can pain become gain? What are the real benefits of contemporary sports nutrition? And – bottom line – can sports science help make race winners?

These are a few of the questions that a gathering of world leading sports scientists, coaches and medical practitioners aim to address at the UCI-endorsed 2nd World Congress of Cycling Science at the Rose Bowl in Leeds from Wednesday 2nd to Thursday 3rd of July, just days before the city hosts the Grand Depart of the Tour de France (Saturday 5th July).

The conference is organised by the University of Kent’s School of Sports and Exercise Science, which is headed by Professor Louis Passfield and Dr James Hopker, two of Great Britain’s leading names in the field. The conference has so far attracted representatives from the likes of UCI Pro Tour teams Garmin-Sharp, BMC, Francais des Jeux, Movistar and Omega Pharma Quickstep.

Integrating the various aspects of coaching, sports science, medicine, technology and performance, the Congress will provide a forum for the discussion of performance enhancement with a focus on the Tour itself. Speakers and participants include former riders turned coaches Charly Wegelius (Garmin-Sharp) and Marco Pinotti (BMC Pro Cycling Team), with other special guests to be announced.

As part of the Congress SRM are sponsoring a Keynote presentation where Uli Schoberer and a current Pro Tour rider (tbc), will discuss the use of power meters in professional cycling. SRM will also be exhibiting PowerMeters, PowerControls and cycle ergometers at the Congress.

Professor Passfield, previously a sports scientist with the Great Britain Cycling Team, said that the aim of the conference is “to further the use of science in cycling and to help share relevant information with coaches and sports scientists. The conference programme is designed to stimulate and inspire future collaboration and research-informed practice for the benefit of a new generation of cyclists”.

Further information about the Congress, speakers and how to book is available at www.wcss2014.co.uk. Alongside the Congress, there will also be a free evening event for up to 250 members of the public on the Thursday evening. Further information on the evening event and to book a place visit www.wcss2014.co.uk.

Dr James Hopker is the author of Performance Cycling.

9781408146514

The Outspoken Cyclist meets Rouleur

Click hereThe Outspoken Cyclists‘s Diane Lees interviews Ian Cleverly and Robert Wyatt from Rouleur to discuss the Rouleur Centenary Tour de France.

Click on the radio to have a listen…

3404 kilometres, 21 stages, 21 stories? It must be the new ‘Rouleur Centenary Tour de France’

PrintWith just under a month to go before we publish it, I thought I’d let our cycling fans have a sneaky peak at the new photographic book by Rouleur.

For the 100th running of the Tour de France, top cycling magazine Rouleur sent seven writers and photographers on the road at the Tour, each given three stages to record their individual takes on the race. Rouleur Centenary Tour de France captures these stories and provides a fascinating look at the race.

Out 7th November, it’ll make a nifty Christmas present for the lycra lovers among us.

« 3,404 kilometres »   « 21 stages »   « 21 stories »

Rouleur: Century Tour de France

Rouleur: Century Tour de France

 

The medium mountains of the Tour de France: How to lose money

Guessing the winners in the medium mountain stages of the Tour de France has no real-world hook to hang one’s guess on. One is left groping against a flat surface like a sleepwalker in a phone box. It depends. There are things it depends upon though, so I will try to help you out, and in an ideal world, this will put you in mind of a few bets that will lose you a great deal of money.

Our office has been involved in the road.cc online fantasy league for the Tour de France, and I’m taking it much too seriously. Here I am in second place in the Bloomsbury League (feel free to join for the next big race, the Vuelta a España in August, or the Tour of Britain in September) and I’m gnashing in vain at the heels of lackadaisical Tour-expert Kirsty in the yellow jumper spot. A few things have become clear. The time trial is pretty predictable. Expect the same top ten of Stage 11 to contest the same places in a similar order on Wednesday’s Stage 17. That is:

  1. Tony Martin
  2. Chris Froome
  3. Thomas De Gendt
  4. Richie Porte
  5. Michał Kwiatkowski
  6. Svein Tuft
  7. Sylvain Chavanel
  8. Jérémy Roy
  9. Tom Dumoulin
  10. Jonathan Castroviejo

A few of the top GC riders may also agonise their way into this top 10 (Valverde, Mollema, Ten Dam, Kreuziger and Contador) as they have the most to gain. But this also depends on the madness of the medium mountains on Tuesday’s Stage 16.

Flat stages are also an eye-rolling doddle to pick, if I may oversimplify sweepingly. Each team’s best sprinters will be kept in the peloton by their faithful colleagues and then released near the end. Things get shaky in the timing and organisation of the lead-outs, and the difference in ability is more marginal among sprinters than time-triallists (due to the distance of the final effort), throwing exact places into a blender, but betting on the likes of Kittel, Cavendish, Greipel and Sagan for the last race, Stage 21 on 21 July, would be far from insane. Sprinters can decide the medium mountains too, but quelle surprise, it depends.

The true mountain stages, especially those with a summit finish, again favour a particular flavour of rider. On Sunday’s mountain ascent, it was a surprise to no one that Froome and Quintana showed their superiority (Froome aided by colossal mountain pullers Kennaugh and Porte), with Nieve, Rodríguez, Kreuziger, Contador, Fugslang, Mollema and Ten Dam not too far behind. You’ll see a similar cast lolloping up the Alps in Stages 18, 19 and 20. These hulking pedal-metronomes can break away from the mortals in the medium mountains too, their uphill pace sucking the wind out of the sprinters before the final downhill.

And this is what kills me about Tuesday’s Stage 16, a bunch of different riders could be in the top 10. There is no medium-mountain expert as such, and there is even a degree of luck involved. Sure it helps to be a bit of an all-rounder, and quick on the downhills, but in a way, being out of contention, being a bit useless so far, is the most useful quality. I think officially it’s a mountain (as opposed to medium mountain) stage, but it’s the mediumiest of non-mediums you’ll find: with only 168km, no climb above Category 2, and only two of those, quite a long gentle climb to recuperate over before the high gradients of the final mountain, and the last 10km is all downhill. There are as I see it, three possible scenarios (and therefore likely a fourth, which is what will actually happen):

  • Scenario 1. Any breakaway leading group is hauled in before the final summit by the peloton, which is likely to contain a few hardier sprinters and their teams. Sagan is the favourite for this very reason, being hardy sprinter incarnate.
  • Scenario 2, and I believe a very likely one. A small group of riders that threaten no one in terms of the GC or points competition will be allowed to break from the peloton and streak ahead. This is their moment in the papers. The peloton will threaten to pull them in, but if they hang in over the final climb, no one will get them on the long downhill home. Picking this group requires a random number generator. Navardauskas and Niemiec may show some of their Giro form and rise from the pack like meerkats. Or expect one of the heretofore meek French to take a crack. I say go all-in on [throws dart at Tour de France wall chart] Vichot? Voeckler? Gilbert?
  • Scenario 3. The mountain men dominate. Their teams set too vicious a pace on the ascents and break up the peloton. One or all of Quintana, Froome, Porte, Contador, etc., lead over the final hill and remain un-catch-up-able on the bobsled to the finish.

I don’t know. There is still a lot of GC/points to contest and a lot of riders need whatever advantage they can wring from this race. The odds online put Chavanel as second favourite behind Sagan. Go with that.

Louison Bobet in 1953, the three-time winner, and one of the Tour’s most famous Bretons, along with Bernard Hinault #tdf

Bloomsbury Sport’s Tour de France Photo of the Day


Stage 10

Against the clock
Louison Bobet on his way to winning the time trial from Lyon to St Etienne, just two days from Paris and his first overall victory in 1953.

9781408170960

These photos can be found on page 86 of Tour de France 100.

Today’s Photo, Rehydration, 1947. #tdf

Bloomsbury Sport’s Tour de France Photo of the Day


Rehydration, 1947

Rehydration
Riders taking water from the roadside during the 1947 race.

9781408170960

These photos can be found on page 63 of Tour de France 100.

Photo of the Day, Bunch in the Pyrenees, 1951. #tdf

Bloomsbury Sport’s Tour de France Photo of the Day

Stage 9

Snaking
British photographer Bert Hardy captured the riders snaking up the switchbacks of the Col du Tourmalet, the highest pass in the Pyrenees during the 1951 Tour.

9781408170960

These photos can be found on page 67 of Tour de France 100.

The Tour reaches the Pyrenees, which first featured in 1910. #tdf

Bloomsbury Sport’s Tour de France Photo of the Day

Stage 8

War of attrition
The Tour made its first visit to the high mountains of the Pyrenees in 1910, in a bid to toughen up the race and fulfil Henri Desgrange’s ambition of having only one rider survive to the finish in Paris.

9781408170960

These photos can be found on page 12 of Tour de France 100.

In south of France, approaching Pyrenees, it’s likely to be hot. Coppi cools down in 1952. #tdf

Bloomsbury Sport’s Tour de France Photo of the Day

Stage 7

Coppi cools down
At first glance it isn’t clear whether Fausto Coppi, on his way to winning the 1952 Tour, wants this shower, courtesy of a watering can. Closer study suggests his hand is clasped around the spout, directing it over his head.

9781408170960

These photos can be found on page 81 of Tour de France 100.
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