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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.

Yes, you are a cheat, even you Larry.

It’s not neccessarily your fault but still.

Post the U23 Worlds there seems to have been a huge amount of hand wringing and gnashing of teeth from Pros saying “Well everyone drafts the cars, so please let me massage my conscience for a minute to make it seem as if it’s okay”.  It really doesn’t matter if the nicest guy in the Peloton gets back on using a draft. It’s still against the rules.  So lets set the rules out fairly clearly, here they are from the UCI Website. (PDF Download Here)

UCI Regulations on Drafting

 

So lets get a couple of cards on the table, I’ve DS’d, I’ve rode races (the latter not in a while, kids eh?) I’ve been on both sides of doing this. I’ve been the one sheltering, I’ve been the one shouting at the driver to close up to the car in front so I can jump across, I’ve been the one shouting at the driver “Steady Trapper, for f**ks sake”.  I’ve also been that guy in the drivers seat, one eye glued to the rear view mirror, the other eye watching speedo, wing mirror and the road ahead, sweating bullets to make sure you don’t have a rider come in that back window. I remember on the first day of the Rás, the first rider to sit on my bumper was Russ Downing, as I was moving up to feed the riders, me absolutely bricking it to get up and get my job done, but also to give Russ a good chance to get back up through the cars.

Any good DS that doesn’t help his own team, or others out, in this scenario isn’t a good DS.

With all those cards laid out on the table, how do I still see this as cheating ? Simple the rules as defined above deem that it is. The UCI Regulations on everything are not designed to give anyone clarity but mainly to put a veil of decency over what happens and they like to seem in control.

In Nils’s case, it was such a prolonged time behind the car before he was even in the cavalcade that it really warranted detailed attention. The only thing mitigating in his favour was that in my own experience when you have the prescene of a Commisare on a motorbike, they will normally warn you when they feel you are breaching the tolerance for fairness.

Instead of wringing the hands, and oh sure look everyone does it, how *can we all be cheating*, Professional Cycling needs to put it’s own house in order. And sadly this is where it all falls apart, an invisible CPA, a UCI that doesn’t really care and riders divided, you can be sure nothing will change. We’ve been down this road before, actually we are always down this road, the usual sign posts occur, someone threatening to sue, the UCI hiding behind something and the rest of the world still turning. And nothing changes.

We’ve moved passed the era of Armstrong, Ullrich and the super charged doping, the UCI, the CPA, they have no super baddies to fight, but like any relationship, the hard work is the grind. Riders need to pull the finger out and put the CPA to the sword, or do the decent thing and join the Cyclist’s Alliance. No amount of David Millar throwing shapes is going to change anything. What’s needed is actual change.

Sadly in the case of Nils or Larry the problem is there is no Referee’s Whistle, there’s no pause in play, there’s no second chances.  Riders, and the CPA need to stop pissing about and actually start making meanful changes to the sport now, before it’s too late.

Episode 29: Transfers, Aquablue Saga and La Vuelta

Episode 29: Transfers, Aquablue Saga and La Vuelta

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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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Michael Hernandez: Asheville Ride

Michael Hernandez from Aevolo Cycling (Long term friends of the site) talks to us about his favourite loop/ride. Read More

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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