A guide to the Tour de France 2017 Kirby Codec

Carlton Kirby has commentated on the Grand Tours for Eurosport for over a decade. Over that time he has devised a way of recording what happened on each stage of a 3 week race onto a single piece of A4 paper. It’s an extraordinary document that any bike fan will spend hours poring over as they remember each stage of the race. Here’s Ride Velo’s guide to what all those symbols denote and mean.

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10+1 Affordable Cycling Gifts for Christmas

Do you get tired of seeing Christmas gift ideas on websites and magazines that are clearly beyond the purse strings of the normal, average person? While my kids always ask me what I want, the latest Garmin is going to be well out of their price bracket. So in the n+1 cycling tradition we bring you 10+1 affordable and desirable gifts from £7.95 to £40 to put on your wish list.

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BBC Film And Cycling Tips Article Expose Brailsford and Sutton

The BBC documentary broadcast on Sunday, Cycling’s Superheroes; The Price of Success is worth viewing as a reminder of the ruthlessness with which Dave Brailsford and Shane Sutton went about transforming British Cycling from minnows to a cycling superpower. It asks the question, “In their pursuit of glory, did they cross the line?”

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Amateur Dopers: “All this for two saucissons and three packets of chips”

This weekend an amateur, third Category, 43 year old bike rider was apprehended by a local gendarme in Dordogne, South West France. He was found to be competing in a junior race with a 250 watt Vivax motor in the seat tube of his bike that drives the bottom bracket.

Suspicions about the rider had meant that he had been tracked for some time because his “ability to climb hills was striking.”

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Il Lombardia 2017: the Romantic Classic

The world championships may be over but, fear not, there’s still a massive race still to be fought for and won. Il Lombardia, the romantic classic will see a star studded cast of climbers and puncheurs battle it out on Saturday 7th October.

It’s one of monuments, the five most important one-day races of the year, along with Milan - San Remo, The Tour of Flanders, Paris -Roubaix and Liege - Baston - Liege. It may not be the oldest of the Monuments, but it’s certainly the most romantic, nicknamed “la classica delle foglie morte” or translated to the slightly more prosaic, “ride of the falling leaves.”

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Where and How to Use Bikeshare Schemes in UK

Bike share schemes may not be at the 2 million mark that China can boast, but we’re seeing more UK towns and cities embrace this easy, cheap and environmentally friendly way of getting around. London started the trend with its ‘Boris Bikes’ but our provinces are catching up fast. Here’s a round up of where in the UK you can hire a bike.

 

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Thoughts on Mark Beaumont's Circumnavigation

As Mark Beaumont comes to the end of his extraordinary round the world cycle, one day ahead of schedule today, I’m caught in two minds. On the one hand you can only feel admiration for such an epic feat of endurance cycling. He’s covered 18,000 miles, riding 16 hours a day since the beginning of July. He met his target of covering 240 miles a day and has endured physical and mental exhaustion to get there.

On the other hand one’s left with a feeling of, well…what’s the point?

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What's the Ideal Height for a Professional Cyclist?

One of the most popular riders to emerge from the peloton this season has been the Irishman Conor Dunne who races for Aquablue. At 2.04m tall he absolutely towers over many of his fellow riders. Conor, nicknamed ‘El Alto’, was the winner of this year’s Lanterne Rouge at the Vuelta Espana, the award given to the last placed finisher of the race.

We wondered if height can ever be an advantage to a cyclist in the same way that it can be beneficial in other sports. Clearly, the important figure is the power to weight ratio a rider can produce. But is there an ideal height for cyclists?

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A Rookie's Guide to Bike Packing

Ok, we're not claiming to be experts here or anything - we've not gone head to head with Mark Beaumont round the world or just returned from a 5 year stint alongside Super Cycling Man or anything. No. We just did our first bike packing adventure along the south coast of England, which is pretty tame, I admit. But we did learn a few things along the way, useful tips for genteel explorers cycling a few hundred miles to visit family and camping along the way, sort of thing.

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Behind the Scenes of Le Tour de France Part 3

As dawn breaks over the city of Pau I wake up with eager anticipation and look out across rooftops to the peaks of the Pyrenees that loom over this town. After two flat stages this is where the Tour will be headed tomorrow, promising a tussle among the GC contenders at last. I imagine the likes of Quintana and Aru licking their lips at the prospect of finally having an opportunity to challenge Froome for yellow. But they'll have to wait: today is another long, flat stage.

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Behind the Scenes of Le Tour Part 2

It’s an oft-quoted fact that the Tour de France is the biggest sporting show on earth. TV Audience figures are hard to quantify but they vary from the modest 1.5 billion to a bullish 4 billion people watching at least a few minutes of the three week race.

And it’s from the TV compound at the finish area of each stage that the race is broadcast to 190 different countries. The logistical miracle of packing up, transporting this whole village and setting it all up again some 200 kilometres away on a daily basis is astounding.

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Behind the Scenes at Le Tour de France (Part 1)

“I always heed the words of the Queen Mother: never turn down the chance of a cup of tea or a pee.” It’s the first of many golden nuggets of advice, quips and bon mots from my avuncular host behind the scenes of the Tour de France 2017. It is of course none other than the Eurosport commentator, Carlton Kirby, as he shimmies his way into the urinoir outside the commentary box in Bergerac for a quick one before he takes up his post.

Stage 10 and 11 of this year’s Tour may have been two pan flat stages that featured hours of televised chateaux, vineyards and fields of sunflowers with little else to entertain the viewer. But for me they were a dream come true when, for two whole days, I had unfettered access to the behind scenes goings on of Le Tour.

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Philippa York Drops Robert Millar

For a sport whose (male) participants shave their legs, wear tight, revealing clothing and are constantly obsessed with their weight, you would have thought that there would be more openly gay cyclists or at least a greater understanding, tolerance and discussion of LGBT issues.

Yesterday’s announcement from Philippa York (formerly the hugely successful TdF cyclist Robert Millar) that she is to join ITV4’s Tour de France commentary team as her ‘new’ self could well presage a sea change in outlook from a largely traditional and backward looking culture that has been the norm in cycling.

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Carlton Kirby’s Top Tips for Le Tour de France 2017

As Eurosport’s main man Carlton Kirby prepared for his three week stint commentating on the Tour de France, he interrupted his packing to give us a few last minute tips on what to expect. It’s shaping up to be an unpredictable one with a route that is a little lighter on the climbs than in recent years and the main contenders showing variable form. Here are some of Carlton’s thoughts.

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Top Ten Cycling Jerseys of All Time!

Our friends at GCN did a quick survey of the pro riders' favourite jerseys a few months ago. While one or two actually chose their own kit (Mentjes?) the guys showed pretty good taste with Greipel going for Indurain's Banesto jersey and Dumoulin opting for the classic Molteni. We had some fun choosing our own Top Ten, trying to spread them out over the last six decades. Apologies for the 80s bias, a giveaway about our age here. Let us know what you think!

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200 Years of Bicycles! "Whoever invented the bicycle deserves the thanks of humanity.”

“Whoever invented the bicycle deserves the thanks of humanity.”
Lord Charles Beresford

Next week , on 12th June, we will be celebrating 200 years since the first documented journey by bicycle. In that time we have seen it develop from something that resembled a balance bike to the state of the art modern machines we know and love today.  

The humble bicycle was a simple invention that still conjures up complex and powerful emotions and has moved some of our great thinkers from Einstein to Roland Barthes to philosophise over it. Meanwhile its impact on society has been enormous. What is it about the bike that stirs these feelings and thoughts and what does the future hold in store for it?

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The Demise of the Unwritten Rules of the Peloton?

As Tom Dumoulin lost two minutes of his lead in the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday as a result of a mistimed ‘comfort break’, fans and commentators were up in arms about the fact that his rivals took advantage of him being caught short. To many it seemed that the likes of Nibali, Zakarin and Quintana were breaking some of the age-old unwritten rules of professional cycling - that you don’t exploit a rider’s mechanical (or other) misfortune, especially when they’re wearing the leader’s jersey.

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Maserati Bring Back Italian Flair to Cycling

A high performance car brand and the emissions-free pursuit of cycling may seem like strange bedfellows. But in recent years Maserati, the luxury sports car manufacturer, has been sponsoring high profile cycling events like the Tour de Yorkshire, the prestigious Rouleur Classic and the vintage cycling festival, Eroica Britannia. It even has a former professional bike racer, David Millar, as an ambassador. We spoke to Peter Denton, general manager of Maserati Northern Europe, to find out why.

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Giro d'Italia: 100 years of Passion, Romance and Grit

What’s your favourite Grand Tour? Is it the glitz, glamour and massive publicity machine of the Tour de France? Perhaps you prefer the more informal Vuelta? For many a fan, and for many a professional rider, it’s the romance of the Maglia Rosa of the Giro d’Italia, not the Maillot Jaune, which gets the heart beating faster and the hairs to prick up on the back of the neck. 

The Maglia Rosa: just the sound of it whisks you back to those heroic days of Coppi, Bartali, merino wool jerseys and gravelled roads. Classic, elegant, skinny steel bikes from Bianchi, De Rosa and Pinarello. The beautiful pink jersey named after that classic pink newspaper, La Gazetta dello Sport.

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Mallorca: the Best Cycling in the World?

As a regular visitor to Mallorca, you can't help but notice there's been an absolute sea change in recent years. Every time I return there are noticably more cyclists on the roads and now the local bakery has turned into a bike hire and equipment store. This year, however, the trickle seems to have become a flood - cyclists not only outnumber cars by quite a large percentage - but going for a ride is more akin to taking part in a sportive! Stopping at a garage near the infamous Sa Colobra climb there wasn't a car in sight, and instead of customers topping up with fuel there were over a hundred cyclists rehydrating and regrouping.

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