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Belgium and Australia… Cobbles and Sun

Post Rás, I’m still in contact with a good few of the guys from the Collins Race Team. One of those guys is  Connor Lambert, a confused Irish man, born in Australia to Irish parents, but racing in Belgium. I reached out to him in the last week or so to get his favourite training routes. He sent on the following …

I am an Irish/Australian cyclist for Belgian team Mysenlan-Spie-Douterloigne which is registered in the Flanders region. We are an U25 team and are apart of the Topcompetition in Belgium which allows us to race races from 1.12b kermeses to uci 1.2 races.

I have spent the past 6 months Living in a town called Ronse which is 12km south of Oudenaarde, one of Cycling’s most famous towns.

My favourite ride while I’m Belgium would have to be the red loop of the Tour of Flanders course. I like this ride so much because it has a very good mix of flat roads, hilly roads, smooth roads and rough/cobbled roads. It also goes up many of the famous climbs which are raced up in the Tour of Flanders. I follow the red signs which show the route up until De Muur van Geraadsbergen and then I turn off and head back to ronse. The signs go on for another 60km back around to Oudenaarde but usually by De Muur I have a few hours already in my legs and it’s time to head home which is another hour of lumpy riding still.

While back home in Australia I have a multitude of different rides and different variations of loops to chose from depending on how many hours I have or if I have efforts to do. My favourite loop to ride I like to call the “King Tree loop”.

This ride starts out from home and heads inland, I have about 15-20km of flat roads before any hills. After 40minutes if riding I get to a road called ironstone road which is about a 3.5-4min climb at a very inconsistent gradient so it really makes you think about gear choices and pacing. From there I continue inland out towards a little tourist attraction called “Gnomesville” which is about 3km stretch of gnomes scattered in the bush for people to walk around in and see. This is the furthest inland this ride goes as I head north for a while and turn on to King Tree road. This road is one of my favourites around, from this direction it starts with a 1km climb at 8-10% and from there Plateaus before turning into gravel. It has a nice gravel decent which is twisty but not too technical through some bush. It flattens out after 2km or so and is rolling till the end of the road which turns onto pile road and it is tarmac again. From there on it is mainly downhill into town for 45-50km or so with only one 4-5minute climb on the way. To top it off as well it is normally a headwind into town making the ride even more enjoyable.

Gnomesville

Next season I go back to Belgium with Mysenlan-Spie-Douterloigne again to race from March onwards after spending some time in Ireland acclimatizing to the weather and time zones while staying with family.

TdF Part Deux.. Longer than we thought ..

Part Two of the Podcast looking at the TdF and Geraint Thomas’s rise to Yellow.

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Jamie Blanchfield – King’s Country

Jamie Blanchfield is the man who got me round the Ronde this year and now has branched out with his own company, premierendurance.ie. So I flicked him a Whatsapp and asked him for his favourite training route, here’s what he had to say.

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It’s TdF Time, Baby.

Slightly later than planned, it’s a Tour de France preview, recorded while Stage Two was ongoing. We sit down and talk about our options.

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Episode 24: Post Giro and Rás, and the Fever is still real

Ardennes week to the left of me, Giro to the right and I’m stuck in the middle with Derek.

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How the Game is Broken..

I was searching through some folders of stuff the other day and I came across this piece I wrote in 2013. It’s still relevant today ..

 

How the Game is Broken..

You often hear the phrase bandied about “Don’t hate the Player, hate the game” and it’s never been more relevant than in connection with cycling. The game of professional cycling (and De Gri is turning in his grave at me mentioning it as a game) is broken. The twin doping positives from the Vini Fantini team are showing up a true broken game, it’s raised more questions about how we treat people, teams, riders and how Professional cycling has to use up and spit out riders to make it all go round.

We expect riders to be caught if they are doping, yet we have nothing firmer than suspicions, inneundo and Secret Pro esque rumours. We hear time and again after someone was pinged that *the whole peloton were suspicious* if the whole peloton is always suspicious, well how come no one does a Xavier Tondo and reports anything to the authorities (simple answer, some of the authorities are broken too) – so how do we change this ?

Some say Life Bans are the only way to change this, but I disagree with this, I don’t think the envirnoment exists that they can be implemented fully. We’ve had rules, regulations and gentlemen’s agreements about returning dopers previously but when push came to signing a deal on the dotted line, no one blinked an eyelid when Ivan Basso was the first big name rider to re-sign for a WorldTour team instead of spending two years at a lower level. We have commerical interests determing how someone returns to the sport and at what level, not in a predefined manner. Life Bans are using a hammer to crack a singular nut.

What we have at the moment I agree is broken, we have dopers returning without showing faith, or rebuilding trust in them, we have Teams hiring ex dopers and letting clean riders go, we have silent ex dopers at management, coach, Sporting Director levels and no one really bats an eyelid. There’s a quote from Trent Lowe that has stuck with me from earlier this year

“I am convinced that to complete the workload I was given on an ongoing basis, one would have to dope in order to recover. I was not doping and therefore my health suffered a lot from such over training. Sadly I believe this scenario may still be ongoing in professional cycling, and I feel it still has a very long way to go.”

We can’t go banning cyclists for life when the sport is as broken as this, to paraphrase Floyd Landis the whole thing needs burning to the ground with the hottest flame possible and let it die. It seems that it is impossible to untangle the good, the bad, the good going bad, the bad trying to be good. For a fan how can they differentiate between a David Millar and Danilo DiLuca other than innuendo, twitter hearsay and dodgy rumours ?

It seems as if the Professional sport doesn’t have a doping problem it has a fundamental ethcis problem, it seems as if everyone operates on the attitude of well someone’s going to be screwing me, so I might as well screw someone/everyone else. We have teams that are only concerned with optics, to be seen to do the right thing, we’ve teams trying to do the right thing but failing, and we’ve teams not giving a damn.

If we you don’t subscribe to the Floyd Landis idea of burning the whole thing to the ground, what do I think we need to do ? We need to change our anti doping policy to a drugs policy, we need to look at the bigger picture than just the cyclist that uses, we need a review of the doctors involved in the sport, the sporting directors, the race calendar, the treatment of riders during grand tours, we need to let people see there is a belief in the system, be it the passport, be it the reporting system, be the legal system when it prosecutes.

We need a sea change from the top down for Professional Cycling to work, and this doesn’t mean a breakway league with tv rights for teams Mr Vaughters, it means a searing honesty to the sports faults and flaws, not a slow reveal when it best suits your commerical needs. It needs a different UCI – not just a different President – it needs a better model for young riders to come into the sport and be valued as young riders not some talent to be flogged for the greater exposure of some sponsor.

Who ever you are in the sport of professional cycling you have a duty to be honest and try make a single change to your sport to make it a better place after you leave than when you started. Don’t talk bullshit, don’t speak out of both sides of your mouth, don’t say one thing and practise another, reach out and try and make that change or face someone like Floyd burning the whole shit pile to the ground when you least expect it.

Trent Lowe Quote from – http://cyclingtips.com.au/2013/02/trent-lowe-life-after-cycling/

Episode 23 Giro Preview and Ardennes Wrap up ..

In this Episode of the podcast  John and Derek discuss Ardennes Week and how it all played out, we also look at the Giro and the shoddy politics and money grabbing involved in it’s Trip to Israel

 

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Extra Content: Collins Cycle Center Rás Team Interview

In an Irish Radio Interview with Tipp Mid West Radio club sponsor, rider and Rás debutant PJ Collins and Team Manager Derek Troy have a long ranging chat with Stevie O’Donnell about the team and their hopes for the Rás Tailteann 2018

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