Is Valverde a Worthy World Champion?

Alejandro Valverde’s win at the worlds on Sunday was the crowning moment in the Spaniard’s career. It was his twelfth attempt after being on the podium with two bronze and two silvers in the past and was surely the sweetest of his 122 victories as a pro. But ‘Bala’ (‘Bullet’ in Spanish) has proved to be somewhat of a controversial recipient of the World Champion’s jersey who reminds some commentators of cycling’s murky past. Is he a worthy wearer of the Rainbow Stripes?

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Captain Smith, Cycling Artist and Philosopher

Sam Smith doesn’t really fit the stereotype of a bike riding artist, illustrator and philosopher. Six foot three inches tall, large framed and with closely cropped hair he’d probably look more at home on a rugby pitch than perched on the saddle of a skinny road bike.

But his talent as an artist is unquestionable. His recent watercolours depicting scenes from the Vuelta a Espana were immensely popular and sold out quickly after he released them for sale at the end of September. He has an uncanny ability to, not only capture the physical features of the riders, but is able to distil the very essence of the emotion and drama of the day, including details of crazy fans on the side of the road and boldly splashing swathes of paint for effect.

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A Tribute to Peter Sagan in Words, Pictures and Videos

When the Peloton raced into the small Abruzzo town of Chieti in March of 2012 of that year’s edition of the Tirreno Adriatico, the spectators were surprised that it wasn’t their favoured son, Vincenzo Nibali who crossed the line first. It was, in fact, an impudent youngster of the same Liquigas team that passed his team leader in the closing stages. It was Peter Sagan, at only 22 years old, who blew the field apart as he gave an awesome display of power and speed, climbing hard on the rise to the finish, and taking the top podium spot.

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Froome Conquers Vuelta but not the British Public

As Chris Froome secured his fifth Grand Tour victory yesterday, and only the third man in cycling history to achieve the Tour/Vuelta double in the same year, he could be forgiven for looking on enviously at his rival, Alberto Contador. The Spaniard riding his last race may not have even made the podium but the Spanish public’s love and adoration for him could not be denied.

It seems that whatever Froome manages to do, and his success to date has been astounding even compared to cycling greats like Merckx, Hinault and Anquetil, the British press and public remain underwhelmed. What should have been front page news was relegated to today’s Sports pages, and even then, was deemed by many editors to fall below the importance of the news that Crystal Palace have sacked their manager.

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Luciano Berruti: a Tribute to the Face of L'Eroica

On August 13th of this year, Luciano Berruti, died at the age of 73, doing what he enjoyed most in life – riding his bike. With his handlebar moustache, sparkling eyes, and cheeky grin, he will be best remembered as the ‘face’ of Eroica, the vintage cycling festival that began in Gaiole in Chianti but has now spread to all four corners of the globe, from Uruguay to Japan.

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Bye-bye Bertie

So farewell Bertie. After 14 years as a professional Alberto Contador has decided to bow out of bike racing. We can’t wait to see him at the Vuelta for his final race where it won’t just be the Spanish fans cheering him on. An outright GC win looks unlikely but he’ll be a good bet for a stage victory.

Now in the twilight of his career, he is remembered for his panache and swashbuckling attacks in the mountains, the pedal dancer who won many a battle on the slopes of forbidding mountains in the Alps and Pyrenees. That distinctive style as he rose out of the saddle, weaving from side to side as he dropped his rivals remains a defining image.

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Simon Warren, King of the Hills

When Simon Warren first published his “100 Greatest Cycling Climbs” back in 2010, he probably never dreamt that it would spawn a whole series of guide books about climbing hills on a bike. He’s now the author of twelve separate publications which cover all the regions of the UK as well as Belgium and famous climbs of the Tour de France.

He was appearing at the Chiltern 100 Cycling Festival last month where he was signing books and chatting affably to all and sundry.

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Bespoke Cycle Touring from Oxford Bike Works

We’re in the 'between' season - post Tour and pre Vuelta, many of us feeling bereft having devoted so many hours glued to the telly for the best part of July. For us, the only diversion to compete with the tussle for the yellow jersey is pipe dreams about cycling touring, or bike-packing as the serious aficionados call it. 

So gripping is this fantasy that it actually took us into the wilds of Oxfordshire to meet the owner of Oxford Bike Works, Richard Delacourt. For those not hooked on adventure cycling blogs, Oxford Bike Works is literally the only serious provider of proper, hardcore bikepacking steeds, favoured by legends such as Tom Allen and Anna McNuff (look them up if you’re not in the know!)

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David Millar: The Next Chapter

“Being an elite athlete – there’s a certain time in your life when you can do it. And the reason it was so hard in 2014 was because my head had started to fall off. I couldn’t really do it anymore.”

Comfortably ensconced in the plush surrounds of a smart hotel on the outskirts of Bakewell prior to a preview for the upcoming Eroica Britannia, David Millar spoke to Ride Velo about life in the peloton, his last year at Garmin and revealed how he’s forging a new life for himself.

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Richard Long's Portraits of Cycling Greats

While Vincenzo Nibali, Nairo Quintana and Geraint Thomas set off for the first day of the 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia today, it seems apposite to look back on some of the great winners of this beautiful Grand Tour. Artist Richard Long has created a series of portraits of legendary cyclists from days gone by to help us do just that.

Influenced by vintage posters of the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s and illustrators like René Gruau, Richard’s portraits capture an essence of the glamour, glory and heroism of these cycling greats from another era. Fausto Coppi, Gino Bartali and Jacques Anquetil are just the first of a series of  prints that he is working on at the moment. We caught up with him in his studio/bike shed in a village in the New Forest to find out what inspires him.

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Mallorca's King of the Mountains: Vicente Reynes

The Mallorcan village of Deia has attracted artists and writers from all over the world who have been wooed by its stunning natural beauty on the north-western coast of this Balearic jewel. Nestling between the famous bay with its crystal clear turquoise waters below and dramatic mountains behind, it’s no wonder that this stretch of coastline is regularly frequented by super models, famous actors and the super rich as well as being a location for the TV drama The Night Manager.

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The Excitement, Beauty and Glory of Cycling in Watercolour: Greig Leach

There can be few artists that can capture the moment of a bike race better than Greig Leach. Painting small postcard sized watercolours of the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Spring Classics, among many other races, Greig creates his images ‘live’ as they are happening without any knowledge of the end result. In this way he has produced some stunning work that distils the distinctive movements of riders, flashes of colour and the excitement of the race into a beautiful piece of art that tells the story of each stage.

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Stephen Roche: 30 Years since the Triple Crown

It was a pleasure and a privilege to catch a few words with Stephen Roche at the London Bike Show this year. The ever-affable former World Champion, Tour de France and Giro d’Italia winner was there to promote his cycling tour company as well as being interviewed at the Riders lounge. Despite being so busy he always seems to find the time to chat to all and sundry in his relaxed and easy-going style.

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A Modern Spin on Cycling's Classics

When Ride Velo first came across Gareth Llewhellin’s bold prints we were blown away. Made from coloured printing inks and rollers, they celebrate and feature some of the iconic cycling jerseys of the past : Bianchi, Peugeot, Molteni and Brooklyn. He also showcases some of the Spring Classics in poster form such as Paris-Roubaix, not forgetting images for all three Grand Tours.

His images reveal an understanding and passion for cycling’s great heritage and this, combined with a certain rawness, make for some stunning pictures that we think we’re all going to be seeing a lot more of.

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Sean Kelly: the Hard Man who Hates Rain!

With Paris-Nice just a couple of weeks away, Ride Velo met up with legendary multiple winner of The Race to the Sun, Sean Kelly. The former champion also made his name conquering the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix and beating, not only the opposition, but the worst of the appalling weather that usually accompanies the toughest rides of the year. But was it just the luck of the Irish?

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A Victorian Cycling Club Reborn

When Paul Darby opened up an ancient and battered suitcase discovered in the garage of a distant relative he had no idea that delving into his family’s history would result in the re-establishment of one of the oldest cycling clubs in the country. Especially as he didn’t even own a bike.  

Balham Cycling Club, first established in 1878 survived two world wars and outlived four reigning monarchs only to peter out in the late 1970s. After a 38 year hiatus, however, one cold Sunday morning in January of this year, 16 hardy South London cyclists set out from Sainsbury’s car park in Balham for a ride around Richmond Park. The club was reborn.

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Dave Flitcroft, The Tandem-Loving Print-Maker

Dave Flitcroft’s prints of cyclists and tandem riders evoke the feelings of freedom and joy one gets from cycling through the countryside, coupled with a romantic yearning for lanes dappled by sunlight and overcrowded with wild flowers. Like many artists before him he is also inspired by the aesthetics of the bike and his images capture the beauty and elegance of this beautiful invention. 

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Tribute to Tom Simpson

On this day, 30th November  1937, Tom Simpson was born in Haswell, County Durham, the youngest of six children. The son of a coal miner he went on to become an Olympic medalist, World Champion and the first Briton to wear the fabled yellow jersey of the Tour de France. And of course he is still remembered to this day for his tragic early death on the Giant of Provence, Mont Ventoux. Exhausted, dehydrated and his condition exacerbated by amphetamine and alcohol consumption on the day, his body gave up.

‘Major Tom’ is revered as one of the greatest British cyclists of all time, the man who led the way for other Britons to make it as professionals on the continent. But, as William Fotheringham’s excellent 2002 biography of Simpson, Put Me Back On My Bike, revealed, he admitted to taking banned drugs and attempted to fix races with bribes and murky allegiances. How is it that a former doper and race fixer is held in such high esteem to this day?

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Dr Hutch In Conversation

Not many people who take up a new sport at the age of 22 go on to be National Champions at it. But that’s exactly what happened to Michael Hutchinson (AKA Dr Hutch) who went on to win National Time Trial Championships for 13 consecutive years and he still retains one unbroken record. A fascinating character, who has had a column for Cycling Weekly for 10 years and written four books, we had the pleasure of an hour or so in his company when we covered topics as diverse as penny farthing racing in the nineteenth century to Team Sky’s TUE crisis. But how did he go from Cambridge Law graduate to National Time Trial Champion to an award-winning author? (Damn him!)

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Alfie Earl: The Boy Climber

Not many keen amateur cyclists can lay claim to have knocked off three of their bucket list climbs in the space of a few months. Alfie Earl found time to tick off the Tourmalet in the summer. This October he went back to France to conquer Ventoux, then hopped in a car to cross the border into Italy to have a crack at the Stelvio in the space of 48 hours. All very commendable you may say until you find out that Alfie is only 9 years old!

We caught up with young Alfie to find out what his motivation is, what it was like to climb these three mythical mountains and pick up some tips on how to overcome such challenges.

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