35 hours in the saddle
12,000+m of climbing
705 km of riding
The Peaks Challenge Series pushes riders to their limits. It is an huge effort to train fro one Peaks Challenge, I can’t imagine the effort required to train and travel for the three of them. Not only that, the brownie points I would have to give up for these is beyond anything my brain could handle.
For those who have no family, if you complete all three (Falls Creek, Gold Coast and Cradle Mountain), you are given the opportunity to purchase a Peaks Elite 2015 jersey.
And on the subject of Peaks Challenge, the first of the trifecta on the Gold Coast last Saturday. Chapeau to all those who completed.
The Vuelta, arguably the best of the three Grand Tours, has almost snuck up on us.
The presence of all three riders from the Tour podium reaffirms the Vuelta’s growing importance in the peloton.
With Contador skipping his Vuelta defense after racing three consecutive grand tours dating back to the 2014 Vuelta, Alejandro Valverde was probably hoping for a clear shot at the red leader’s jersey. Quintana is also coming to the Vuelta, but the general plan was to ride for Valverde in the GC, with Quintana playing a low-pressure role as the joker. Froome’s presence could foil those plans, and perhaps put more pressure on Quintana to try to take on Froome yet again.
Others, such as Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha), Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), and even riders like Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Frank Schleck (Trek Factory Racing), will see their podium ambitions complicated by Froome.
These are the seven stages promising, on paper at least, to be the more dramatic stages of this years Vuelta.
This years Vuelta features a number of coastal stages including the Costa del Sol, Costa Blanca and Costa del Azahar, as well as the Atlantic coast of Cantabria and Asturias. To keep things interesting for the climbers, all nine of the summit finishes in 2015 are new to the race!
The 7 stages to watch out for are highlighted in the stage discussions below:
Stage 1 – 1 Saturday 22nd August Puerto Banús – Marbella 7.4 km TTT
This first stage will depart from one of the most emblematic spots of the Costa del Sol and marks the beginning of three weeks of cycling that will take us all the way to Madrid.
Stage 2 Sunday 23 Alhaurín de la Torre – Caminito del Rey 165.0 km finish uphill
No gentle introduction to the Vuelta this year. No easy first week for the sprinters. After an initial team time trial, the Vuelta throws the peloton into the hills of Andalucía, including the first of the race’s nine summit finishes. While the climb up the spectacular Caminito del Rey (“King’s Pathway”) is only Cat. 3, and will be within the capabilities of those fast men that can climb—perhaps John Degenkolb or Michael Matthews—it sets the tone for what will be a very tough first week. And this area is not known as the Costa del Sol for nothing; Andalucía in August will be very, very hot!
Stage 3 Monday 24 Mijas – Malaga 164.6 km flat
The particular profile of this stage may be the first opportunity for sprinters to fight for victory.
Stage 4 Tuesday 25 Estepona – Vejer de la Frontera 203.0 km finish uphill
Last stage in the province of Malaga. The departure from Estepona will take us to Vejer de la Frontera, in the province of Cadiz, where we will once again have another high-altitude finish.
Stage 5 Wednesday 26 Rota – Alcala de Guadaira 182.0 km flat
The completely flat nature of this stage is ideal for a sprint to the finish-line. It is a day where the bravest riders will aim to break away. The Vuelta leaves the province of Cadiz to arrive in the province of Seville.
Stage 6 Thursday 27 Córdoba – Sierra de Cazorla 204.0 km finish uphill
The city of Cordoba will be the point of departure for a 204-kilometre long stage with another uphill finish. It will be a tough day that will provide another “typical” Vuelta a España arrival.
Just saying – I’ve been to Cordoba, a lovely town.
Stage 7 Friday 28 Jódar – Capileira / La Alpujarras 188.3 km mountain finish
We’ve already had two uphill stage finishes, but this is the first of the big ones with a Cat. 1 finish through the Sierra Nevada National Park to the Alto de Capileira. It’s not the steepest of climbs, at an average of just over 5 percent, but it’s more than 19 kilometers long. The stage’s only other classified climb is the Cat. 3 Puerto de los Bilancares, but the terrain will be rolling all day along the rough roads of the Andalucían interior, while heat will make it a tough stage for everybody.
Stage 8 Saturday 29 Puebla de Don Fadrique – Murcia 188.6 km flat
This is a completely flat stage as La Vuelta leaves Andalucía and heads to Castilla la Mancha. The day’s route will be more than 200 kilometres long and will favour a mass sprint towards the finish line located in Albacete. Every time the Vuelta goes to Albacete, the wind must be taken into account, as it is a very common occurrence in that part of Spain.
Stage 9 Sunday 30 Torrevieja – Cumbre del Sol 168.3 km mountain finish
Most of the Vuelta’s stage 9 will consist of a pleasant northerly jaunt along the Costa Blanca from the seaside resort of Torrevieja, but the final climb to the summit of the Cumbre del Sol is steep enough to rival the Mur de Huy. The riders will tackle the Cumbre del Sol twice, although the first time will be in the opposite direction. It’s only 415 meters high, but its classification as Cat. 1 says everything you need to know about how hard it will be. While riders like Joaquim Rodríguez and Alejandro Valverde will likely be battling for the overall race lead, we could witness a stage finish battle between them reminiscent of any in the Ardennes.
Stage 10 Monday 31 Valencia – Castellón 152.0 km hilly
It is a short stage, made up of only 152 kilometres. The altitude of the Desierto de las Palmas, located almost 25 kilometres from the finish-line, should not stand in the way of a sprint ending.
Tuesday 1 rest day
Stage 11 Wednesday 2 Andorra la Vella – Cortals d´Encamp 138.0 km mountains
This stage will hurt. At only 138 kilometers, it’s one of those short, sharp stages that the Vuelta pioneered, and has made a specialty of in recent years. Taking place entirely in the Pyrenean Principality of Andorra, this saw-toothed monster takes in an incredible six mountain passes, including one Cat. 2, four Cat. 1s and one especial (hors-catégorie in French), with virtually no flat road all day. Riders will either be climbing or descending for almost the entire distance, offering no chance to rest, and making essential things like eating and drinking more difficult. This is one of the key stages in the race where the winner will emerge, while many of the hopeful challengers could come unstuck.
Stage 12 Thursday 3 Escaldes / Engordany (And) – Lleida 172.5 km hilly
This is one of the last opportunities for sprinters to make their mark. Energy could start to run low, despite there being a lot of Vuelta left to cover, following the highly demanding previous day.
Stage 13 Friday 4 Calatayud – Tarazona 168.0 km hilly
This 168-kilometre race may be subjected to strong winds. The peloton will have to overcome the Moncayo, a third category climb, before crossing the finish-line at Tarazona.
Stage 14 Saturday 5 Vitoria – Alto Campoo / Fuente del Chivo 213.0 km mountains
The Vuelta returns to the Basque Country. The city of Vitoria will host the departure of the 14th stage that will give way to three key days for the final outcome. The first will arrive at Alto Campoo, Fuente del Chivo. A 213-kilometre stage with a first category climb finish.
Stage 15 Sunday 6 Comillas – Sotres 175.0 km mountain finish
Second consecutive high mountain stage. Another unprecedented high-altitude finish
Stage 16 Monday 7 Luarca – Ermita de Alba 184.0 km mountains
While, at less than 7 kilometers, this never-before-climbed especial mountain averages a 11.2-percent grade and features pitches up to 30 percent! Many of the steepest sections come in the final kilometer, which averages around 15 percent, and coming as it does at the end of a very mountainous 184 kilometers—with the last 65 kilometers featuring the Cat. 2 Alto de Tenebredo and Alto del Cordal, and Cat. 1 Alto de la Cobertoria before the closing climb—the unthinkable could happen and we could see riders forced to walk to the finish line. Whoever is wearing the red jersey at the end of this stage will likely be the final winner in Madrid.
Tuesday 8 rest day
Stage 17 Wednesday 9 Burgos – Burgos 39.0 km ITT
There is just one individual time trial in this year’s Vuelta, and the rolling to flat 39-kilometer loop around Burgos shouldn’t offer too many problems for the top riders. There will be a lot of sore legs after the Ermita de Alba stage two days before, legs that may have been allowed to stiffen on the second rest day, but, as usual, this stage gives one of the few chances to the rouleurs to take back time from the pure climbers.
Stage 18 Thursday 10 Roa – Riaza 204.0 km mountains
204-kilometre stage where riders will have to face two mountain challenges. The second, the Quesera summit, a first category climb, just 13 kilometres from the finish-line.
Stage 19 Friday 11 Medina del Campo – Ávila 185.0 km hilly
The race returns to Avila where the riders will come in contact with cobblestones. A classic finale with the wall of Avila as a witness. 185 kilometres that will commence at Medina del Campo.
Just saying, I’ve been here to, walked along the top of the roman walls – stunning.
Stage 20 Saturday 12 San Lorenzo de El Escorial – Cercedilla 181.0 km mountains
The penultimate day will be one of the toughest of the race, with the sprinters that are left almost able to look longingly at Madrid from the top of at least one of the four Cat. 1 climbs that this stage features. It’s rare that a summit finish doesn’t feature on the Vuelta’s penultimate day, and the downhill finish from the Puerto de Cotos into Cercedilla will make it hard for any challengers to dislodge the race leader. Many climbers will wish that the stage would turn uphill at the top of the opening climb, the Puerto de Navacerrada, to the top of the Bola del Mundo but there will be far more riders in the peloton thankful that it doesn’t!
Been here as well. Just saying.
Stage 21 Sunday 13 Alcalá de Henares – Madrid 93.7 km flat
The placings over the last 7 years have been.
|2008||Alberto Contador||Greg Van Avermaet||David Moncoutié|
|2009||Alejandro Valverde||André Greipel||David Moncoutié|
|2010||Vincenzo Nibali||Mark Cavendish||David Moncoutié|
|2011||Juan José Cobo||Bauke Mollema||David Moncoutié|
|2012||Alberto Contador||Alejandro Valverde||Simon Clarke|
|2013||Chris Horner||Alejandro Valverde||Nicolas Edet|
|2014||Alberto Contador||John Degenkolb||Luis León Sanchez|
So who will this years GC winner be? Providing mishaps are absent, I think this years race will prove to be a classic.
And meanwhile, over in Norway
Arctic Race of Norway
For 2015, the race has been upgraded to HC status with a record seven WorldTour teams to compete for honours across the four stages. A new winner of the race is certain with Kruijswijk deciding to race the Tour de l’Ain rather than defend his title while inaugural victor Thor Hushovd has retired.
The Arctic Race of Norway runs from August 13-16.
Participating teams are:
- Astana Pro Team
- Team Katusha
- IAM Cycling
- Team Giant-Alpecin
- BMC Racing Team
- Bora-Argon 18
- Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
- Cult Energy Pro Cycling
- UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
- Bretagne-Séché Environnement
- Cofidis, Solutions Crédits
- Team Europcar
- Team Novo Nordisk
- Team Coop-Øster Hus
- Team FixIT.no
- Team Frøy-Bianchi
- Team Joker
- Team Ringeriks-Kraft
- Team Sparebanken Sør
There’s a great little website called Chalet I came across a few months.
Chalet explores cities from the perspective of a bike, taking roads less travelled to understand a city’s people, its cycling culture, and the points of intersection with art, design, food, urban culture and beyond.
Based in New York City, Chalet documents these subjects via unique digital, social and physical content. In addition to continuous output of digital and social content from around the world, once per year, Chalet releases its print issue, a high quality, large format “souvenir” print publication which is the product of a long-term survey of a specific destination, in which Chalet builds a network, creates experiences and documents it all via written pieces, photo essays, innovative design, and selected artworks.
They have some well written articles that approach their subject matter in a manner that is different than the standard riding articles, more human, more revealing and therefore quite an attractive and interesting read. One of my favourites is an interview with Kevin Reza, a professional rider with FDJ.
Extracts from the interview follow, but have a look here for the full article – Kevin Reza
Tell us about your beginnings in cycling
I started at age four. Why cycling? Because I wanted to be like my older brother who got a racing license a year before me. It’s a very demanding sport for a four year old, but my parents found the right formula to channel my energy; I was a hyperactive kid.
What was it like when you first went pro?
I was freaking out. Was I gonna be good enough? Was I gonna be able to fulfill the expectations of the directors who signed me? I wasn’t only having doubts about my performance in the first race, but whether the entire season would work out as I was hoping. Would I “fit in” and would my results stack up? This all had me questioning going pro.
You must have some interesting stories, no?
In 2013 we had a TV crew (France TV) following us around, and at the end of the stages, they would sum up the day with the group. It was called “La Belle Echappe” (The Beautiful Breakaway). We also shot a music video to close the Tour with “Moustache”. It was a good laugh. What I really remember, though, and it’s something that scared me, was the huge crowd on Alpe d’Huez. We could barely ride through the crowds. People were overly excited and completely out of control. The worst part was that we did the climb twice! Of course, it was a lot more stressful the second time!
What’s your biggest crash and biggest fear on the bike?
My biggest crash was on the Quai de Seine (ed – in Paris) on my way to train, and I hit a car and went through the windshield. I dislocated my jaw, had stitches on my chin and multiple cuts on my face and neck. I was 14…And my biggest fear is to get a flat on the front wheel descending a col (ed – mountain)
What’s your favorite post ride meal?
I’d go for brick-oven pizza
So what’s your favorite drink?
I was lucky to discover the beautiful Italian region of Tuscany during the Eroica in 2014 thanks to my sponsor Le Coq Sportif. I discovered the local wine: Chianti.
Safe Passing Distance
The Physics Package C3FT is a bicycle-mounted electronic system designed for the purpose of detecting, capturing, and displaying the proximity of passing vehicles. The C3FT system includes an adjustable mount for an optional video camera to record display and traffic activity. The system is designed for compatibility with most typical bicycle configurations. No special equipment is needed.
- High-Brightness 0-99 Inch Display designed for visibility in direct sunlight
- 3- and 6-foot Alarm Threshold Modes trigger alarm buzzer and LED indicators
- Continuous Mode displays continuous real-time distance measurement
- Capture Mode captures and displays nearest measurement inside threshold, reset by front-panel button
The C3FT is designed for municipalities which have or are considering safe bicycle passing laws. Its accurate distance measurement can serve as the basis for driver education or citation activities. It provides a new and powerful capability for roadway safety surveying and infrastructure planning.
Further details here Codaxus
The great zeppole hunt
Just to follow on from the last posting, I have accumulated a few zep tastings over the last month to be in a position to start ranking Adelaide’s Zeps.
So what makes a good zep. Crispy on the outside and doughy on the inside. Not overcooked. A nice splatteruing of fine sugar on the outside. mmmmmmmm
So far, my zep rankings are, starting with the the best:
- Nanos (Ebeneezer Place Adelaide)
- La Moka (Peel Street Adelaide)
- Grottos Pizza Bar
- Taylors Blend (Hallets Road Stoneyfell)
- Blufari (Victoria Square Adelaide)
- Cafe Tecca (Tynte Street North Adelaide)
More Zeps in coming months.
Oh, and by the way, the La Moka Coffee & Zep wednesday, you need to get in quick. Rog snuck out for a zep this morning and advised their was a queue out the door at 10:30.
Cyclist of the week – Simon Veitch
Simon is a 44 years old, Real Estate agent with Toop & Toop and started riding about 6 years ago. He was previously a runner but 2 knee reconstructions and getting sore from running was starting to get to him. His wife Victoria started riding a year before he did, bought him a bike for Christmas and told him to stop running. He has not looked back since. He is very competitive and loves racing, mostly road races and crits, but believes TT’s are the invention of the devil and should be avoided at all costs unless they are a hill climb.
His favourite rides are long and hilly, and he does the Alpine classic most years.
- What are you currently riding?
Training bike is a Daccordi Grinta. This was my 40th birthday present and a beautifully built bike, climbs beautifully.
Race bike is a Bottecchia Emme 2 with Record Gruppo and Fulcrum Zero Nite wheels. This bike is an absolute weapon. It weights about 6.5 kg, is very stiff and aggressive in its position and acceleration but has a surprising amount of comfort built in and the handling is amazing. Even I can be a half decent descender on this bike.
- What bike do you covet?
I was lucky enough to get the bike I covet late last year with the Bottecchia but I’m sure that itch will re emerge
- How many bikes do you own?
- How do you store your bikes?
In an unused hallway at home
- What cycling specific tools do you have in your “bike shed”?
Really just a work stand, allen keys, and a chain whip for removing cassettes.
- Do you do all your own maintenance or do you use a LBS? If so, which one?
I use Phil Mittiga for the Daccordi and Euride for the Bottecchia. I’m not much of a mechanic.
- What is your pet hate about cycling?
Bad weather because I’m a bit soft, and traffic.
- What do you love about cycling?
I love the freedom and physical exertion
- Other than yourself, who is your favourite cyclist?
Alberto Contador, every race he is in is more interesting because he always rides to win.
- What is your craziest/fondest cycling memory?
My favourite week of cycling was the week we spent at Lake Como a few years ago. Just fantastic riding that included a day trip to the Stelvio.
The craziest was riding up Mont Ventoux on the same trip.
It poured with rain all the way up, except the last 5 km where it was sleeting. Somehow I was really enjoying myself anyway. My wife started the desent about 5 minutes ahead of me. She was so cold she took the road to Sault instead of Bedoin where we were staying. I spent several hours looking for her whilst she finally found a local goat farmer to give her a lift back to Bedoin.
She didn’t speak any French, him no English and she did not know the name of our hotel. They found it eventually and safe to say neither of us will ever forget Mt Ventoux.
- What is your favourite post ride coffee spot?
Nano’s at Ebenezer place just off Rundle Street in the East End. I’m addicted to their Pancetta doorstops.
- If you were to buy a post ride reward, what would it be?
- Do you have a nickname on the bike?
- Finish this sentence “When I’m on my bike I…..” Let my cares slip away
- If you could ride anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Current dream trip is The Dolomites
- What is your favourite training route and who with?
Anywhere in the Adelaide Hills with my wife
- What is the biggest cycling lie you have told your partner?
She is a cyclist too so I can’t get away with anything, besides I’m a terrible liar
- What would you like your partner to buy you for your next birthday?
Trip to Europe
- Is there a local cycling outfit/company/cycling club/cycling group/person that you would like to plug?
I would like to plug the Adelaide Hills Masters cycling club. A great bunch of people who will make you feel very welcome. Everyone should give racing a try. There are races for all ability levels. Without exception everyone I have got to pin a number on loves it and says they should have done it years ago
- Is there anything else you feel like talking about?
I also ride a tandem bike a fair bit with visually impaired riders. It’s great fun and very rewarding to be able to share your passion with someone else. I think they are so brave getting on the back of the bike with me in charge. No way I would.
Tool of the Week – SILCA HX-One Home and Travel Kit
Having essential tools you need in one easy to access and transport location is a must. Silca takes their precision line to another level with these German and Swiss precision hex heads, with a twist.
Few tools are used as frequently, and can cause as much heartache or wasted time as the seemingly simple hex key. It’s one of the first things you notice at the top levels of motorsport tools, or in the toolboxes of Pro-Tour mechanics: extremely high quality hex keys. The reasoning is simple, better tool fit leads to better feel and confidence for the mechanic as well as a significant reduction in the likelihood of damaging exotic fasteners made from Titanium or Aluminum.
With the HX-One. they started with the finest S-2 Tool Steel, a shock resistant steel which has been refined by Swiss and German toolmakers for the optimal balance of strength, hardness, shock resistance and dimensional control. S-2 yields stronger tools with much harder surfaces for prolonged tool life. The keys are then coated with thin-dense Chrome, a process generally reserved for mold tool components or optical grade surfaces inside molding tools. This coating provides the hardest, most dimensionally stable finish possible on each hex key. Finally, each tool is spray coated with a high-grip, high-visibility textured polymer finish for maximum grip and control. No more dropping your tools with greasy fingers or losing them on your workbench!
Included with the HX-One Essentials Kit is the proprietary SILCA 17-4 Stainless Magnetic Adapter. The Adapter with a pleasant magnetic click turns the 6mm Hex Key into a ¼” socket drive which can fit any common ¼” driver Bit. Included in the kit are the 6 most common Torx sizes, 2 Phillips Head and 2 Flat head Drivers. You can literally handle any modern bicycle fastener with the tools in the box.
Each HX-One kit is lovingly packed into a fully CNC machined box made from sustainable Beech Wood. Each box is hand sanded and finished before receiving the stainless steel SILCA Shield on the lid.
The fine Beechwood Box uses a magnetic closure system and each tool rests in a CNC machined slot, held in place by a single elastomeric tab. Each tool fits into and out of it’s slot with a satisfying ‘click’ so that even when stretched one-handed from work stand to workbench, you can be confident in your placement.
till next time