Archive for Daniel Mangeas

Hither and thither

Posted in Cookery, Live Racing with tags , , , , , , , on 24/02/2012 by Sheree

Well here we are, it’s Thursday evening, my beloved is due back at midnight Friday afternoon – see how time flies – bringing to an end my three-day spell of peace and quiet. I’ve been very busy but I don’t feel as if I’ve achieved much. I still haven’t gotten around to writing about Sunday’s exciting finish to the Tour du Haut Var in Fayence.

After a well-deserved early night my beloved headed out early to ride with the club. I set off about an hour later, to avoid the early morning chill. I went straight to the pointage and rode back home again to prepare lunch for my beloved’s return. I wanted to leave early to watch the cycling  so I could bag, once again, a spot on the finish line.  A quick trip down the motorway and we arrived in Fayence, parking the car outside of the town, to facilitate a quick getaway.

The organisers had laid on entertainment: a Brazilian singer and scantily clad dancers much to the appreciation of the largely male, elderly audience. Again, the spectators were mainly local, apart from Mauro Santambrogio’s fan club who’d travelled from, I assume, his home town near Como, in Italy.

Jon Tiernan Locke winner Tour du Haut Var 2012 (image courtesy of my beloved)

All the usual suspects were there: Daniel Mangeas, Stephen Roche and Raymond Poulidor but the talk wasn’t about Voeckler or Rolland, no the name on everyone’s lips was that of Brit, Jon Tiernan-Locke (Endura Racing). Who, as anticipated, ignited the final few kilometres of the race up the (in)famous Mur de Fayence, to take the stage and the overall. It was a very pleasant afternoon in the sun and we headed back home happy as dusk fell.

Monday passed in a blur and I dropped my beloved off at the airport on Tuesday morning anticipating a few undisturbed night’s sleep and days to be spent as I pleased. Of course, things never quite go the way they’re planned. He’s back and apart from tidying the flat, dealing with masses of club and company administration, logging a few kilometres on the bike and penning a few articles for my other blog VeloVoices, the time has passed all too quickly. I still haven’t made any inroads into the ironing mountain, or should that now be range of mountains and the “to do” list is growing at an alarming rate.

I’ve guests coming for dinner this evening and I have been foraging in my freezer for a sticky, wine-rich daube which I’m going to serve with oven roasted onions and carrots and a white bean puree. Dessert is a help yourself affair. Cold creamy rice pudding and/or crumble either of which can be enjoyed with caramel apples and/or stewed strawberries. Helping them slide down a treat is plenty of my vanilla flecked [real] custard.  I generally don’t serve a starter during the week, instead my guests can nibble on  home-made foccacia and slivers of salami.

Spring is almost sprung

Posted in Favourites, Live Racing with tags , , , on 20/02/2012 by Sheree

I enjoy nothing more than watching live sport, particularly live cycling taking place on roads I too have ridden and know well. So, on Saturday, after despatching my beloved with friends to go cross-country skiing, finished my chores, had a quick ride, leapt into Tom III and headed off down the motorway in the direction of La Croix Valmer, around the headland from St Tropez. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the birds were singing, lambs were gamboling, the Mimosa was in bloom – surely, Spring was just around the corner?

It’s a lovely drive but, as I neared the centre of town, there was a huge traffic jam caused by the team buses trying to reverse into their allocated parking spaces. I noted there were plenty of parking spots on the opposite side of the road and asked one of the many policemen on traffic duty if I could park there. He confirmed I could and gallantly stopped the on-coming traffic so I could do and u-turn and park.

I left the car and headed in the general direction of the finish, first to have a close look at the run in and secondly to bag myself a spot on the finishing line. A couple of hours from the riders’ anticipated arrival time, there were few people milling around, mainly the organisers and press. I bumped into one of the journalists from the Nice Matin who often writes pieces about the club and our events. I reminded him that it wasn’t too many months until the Kivilev.

We chatted generally about cycling and who we thought might make an impact on this week end’s racing. As we walked the final stretch we eliminated a number of riders from the frame. The organisers were correct, this was one of the more testing parcours. My purpose today was two-fold, watch the racing and report via tweets wearing my VeloVoice’s hat. I was hoping to add some colour to the event by chatting to other fans  but the French are very guarded about the internet and what they see as an invasion of their privacy. They were happy to talk but didn’t want me to mention them on the net, as if it were some work of the devil. Luckily I did find a few who didn’t mind a mention but the crowd, which swelled considerably as time wore on, was largely local and retired.

Things started to crank up when Mr Cycling arrived: Daniel Mangeas. I have only to hear his mellifluous tones rattling off some obscure rider’s palmares to feel at peace. The race’s patron, and event’s first winner, Raymond Poulidor, was also there looking extremely spritely and a glowing advert for the health benefits of cycling. Even Tricky, Dicky Virenque showed up and lent Daniel a hand.

Luckily for the riders, the weather is much improved on the last couple of weeks. Indeed, it was positively balmy. As the peloton approached the final circuit which it was to ride around five times, the seven man breakaway had splintered into a 2-3-2 formation with the front two looking as if they might just manage to hang on, and they did. I just love it when a breakaway succeeds. Kinda restores one’s belief in the philosophy of having a go.

Not having a camera with me, or indeed my cameraman, I skipped the podium to head for home. As I approached my car, the same policemen advised me the road was still closed but that he’d let me know as soon as it was open. Not only did he let me know, he stood in the road and stopped the traffic, before ushering me out in front of two Astana vehicles who followed me back as far as the turn off to Draguignan.

All too soon I was home and my beloved, his face glowing from a day spent in the sun, was demanding to be fed. There’s no peace for the wicked, or me!

Triple honours

Posted in Live Racing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 12/02/2011 by Sheree

This morning’s ride allowed my beloved and I to check out the route for today’s 4th stage of 38th Tour Mediterraneen, 155km from La Londe les Maures to Biot by way of St Tropez. The same stage last year was neutralised thanks to adverse climatic conditions. Today the sun shone and Spring was very definitely in the air.

Stage 4

We parked Tom II and strolled to the finish past all the team buses which ranged from the deluxe Pro-Tour team ones to the man and a van Continental team transport.  We rolled up about an hour before the riders which gave me an opportunity to distribute copies of the brochure for the Kivilev to the assembled throng which, unsurprisingly, included a number of my clubmates. The Tour isn’t televised so we had just the dulcet tones of Mr Cycling (Daniel Mangeas) to spark our imagination, made easier by our own intimate knowledge of the route.

Finishing straight in Biot

Appolonio leading out Feillu

I had ridden up the finishing straight a few hours beforehand which features a shortish hill rising in places by 13%. You could tell by the grimaces on their faces that the leading trio were giving it their all as they shot up the hill at a similar speed to that which I might descend. David Appolonio (Sky Procycling) led the charge with the yellow jersey, Romain Feillu (Vacansoleil-DCM ProCycling Team) on his wheel, closely tracked by Team Garmin-Cervelo’s Dan Martin.

Feillu took his third consecutive stage, in front of his young family but, with the next 9 riders within 34 seconds, doesn’t expect to conserve the yellow jersey after tomorrow’s stage which finishes atop Mont Faron. Thomas Voekler (Europcar) is only 21secs back while by Dan Martin (nephew of Stephen Roche who’s on the organising committee) lies at 26 seconds. In any event, the management of Vacansoleil will have welcomed the positive news after Riccardo Ricco’s DIY fiasco.

The organising committee had amassed so many former luminaries of French cycling that the podium was in danger of collpasing under their (not inconsidserable) combined weights. 

A handful of heavyweights

While all this was taking place my beloved boys in claret and blue, reduced to 10 men, managed to salvage a point away at Blackpool. OGCN are playing away at Rennes tomorrow afternoon who are managed by a former OGCN manager and feature a number of former players. This has banana skin writ large all over it.

I’m now settling down to watch a local derby on the new big screen: St Etienne v Olympique Lyonnais, the latter featuring (ex-OGCN saviour) Hugo Lloris and my chouchou, Yoan Gourcuff.

(photographs courtesy of my beloved)

Mudbath

Posted in Live Racing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 09/01/2011 by Sheree

After this morning’s ride, I settled down on the sofa, in my jimjams (what else?) to watch the French Cyclo-Cross Championships in Lanavily, Brittany. I had more than a passing interest, as one of our youngsters was taking part. His younger brother, who has swept all before him in the region, is a better rider but, sadly for us, and him, they don’t have a championship for his age category (minimes). Anyway, his older brother, despite an upset stomach managed to finish. He wasn’t lapped, but his final position didn’t do him justice.

French television kindly gave us a preview of the 2,500m course which to my untutored eyes looked tough.  It featured some very steep ascents and descents (18%), plenty of muddy, rutted tracks, wooded trails, obstacles and a wee bit of frosty road. As I understand it, the key to cyclo-cross is the start. You need to get out in front and stay there, avoiding any mechanicals. 

FDJ had the benefit of numbers in today’s race: Francis Mouray (defending champion), Steve Chainel, Arnold Jeannesson and Sandy Casar. Competition was likely to come from John Gadret of AG2R, a former champion and the best placed Frenchman in last year’s Tour and Giro. I spotted a couple of other French Pro-Tour riders in the mix, but they were unlikely to trouble the main protagonists.

It’s amazing just how quickly the better riders manage to distance the rest. Of course, the boys make riding through mud look easy. It isn’t. I once made the mistake of riding my road bike over some firmish turf, not boglike mud. I was off in a trice.

The competitors have to maintain concentration at all times as they traverse the different surfaces, dismounting and re-mounting after clearing the obstacles. You can see the intent focus on their mud-splattered faces. 

The cameras naturally rest with the leaders. You only see the other competitors as they’re lapped. Mouray quickly established a lead, while, his nearest competitors ganged up. Possibly,  the better to maintain motivation or to mark the non-FDJ competition.  Gadret rode with Jeannesson and Chainel with Blazin. All during the race, you could hear the dulcet tones of Mr Cycling (Daniel Mageas) in the background.

It’s interesting to watch how they approach the trickier sections. Riding is always preferable to running, even up some of the steeper ascents, although it can’t be avoided when overcoming the obstacles. On the steeper descents, the outside leg is often out of the cleat to help steady the rider.

As I was watching, two things occurred to me:-

  •  AG2R’s brown cycling shorts are ideal for cyclo-cross.
  • It must be difficult getting the mud stains out of the predominantly white kit of FDJ. I wonder what detergent they use?

Mouray high-fived his father in the finishing straight and took his 6th title. Gadret was some 68 seconds behind and Jeannesson was third, a further 15 seconds back. While it’s fun watching from the sofa, I’m sure it would be even better live.

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