Just what was ordered

Having waved farewell to my beloved on Tuesday afternoon, I have spent the last few days enjoying the warm, sunny weather which I hope is here to stay. I’m trying to rebuild my form with some longer rides.  At the same time, I’ve a whole host of paperwork to deal with as it’s the end of the first quarter, plus  deadlines for filing accounts and tax returns are fast approaching. Additionally,  the club is keeping me busy as we attract ever more members.

I have found time, thanks to the tv in the office, to keep abreast of proceedings in the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde. This is generally a race for those whose ambitions have to be put aside on Sunday while they support their team leaders, although Ballan did win both this and the Tour of Flanders in 2007. It’s raced around the Belgian coastline which is prone to fierce, peloton splintering, cross-winds.

Riders who have showed promise elsewhere this year largely prevailed. The first stage on Tuesday, 194km from Middelkerke to Zottegem, was won by Andrei Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto), the lone sprinter in a 4-man break. He assumed the leader’s jersey only to lose it on the following day’s lumpy  219km to Koksijde. It was gratefully assumed by Liewe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) although the stage winner was  Denis Galimzyanov (Katusha) who managed to hold off John Degenkolb (HTC-High Road).

This morning’s 111km sprint stage around De Panne was held in the rain, consequently a number of riders opted not to start : most notably, Alessandro Ballan (BMC), Peter Sagan (Liquigas), Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) and Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM). The sprint for the line from the leading bunch of around 50 riders was won by Jacopo Guarini (Liquigas) who managed to stay just ahead of Galimzyanov. Over 70 riders finished outside the time limit,  so there were only 56 competing in the afternoon’s individual time-trial.

Last man off was Bert De Backer (Skil-Shimano) who had taken the leader’s jersey with a sprint bonus that morning. But there were 27 riders within 10 seconds of him, including some notable chrono men. The sky was overcast and there was some rain on part of the course towards the back end. The biggest factor was once again the wind on what looked to be quite a technical course.

Sebastien Rosseler (RadioShack) comfortably won the time-trial and the overall. Westra was runner-up, once again, despite the frenzied and manical urgings of his DS from the team car. Although, for consolation, he had the climber’s and most combative jerseys.  De Backer won the sprints jersey and Galymzyanov the points one. Third-placed man on the podium was Rosseler’s team mate, 20 year-old Michal Kwiatkowski who had turned in a very fine performance in the time-trial. A Belgian winner on Belgian soil, just what the organisers and spectators wanted.

7-year itch

Yesterday was pretty blissful. My beloved and I rose late, largely thanks to the clocks going forward and his tardy arrival back into Nice the night before. We breakfasted, dressed, mounted our bikes and headed for that morning’s pointage, just up the road in St Paul de Vence. The sky was overcast and it was obviously going to rain at some point, probably sooner rather than later.

We enjoyed our ride before collecting the newspapers and heading for home. Narrowly avoiding the rain, which fell all afternoon, evening and overnight. After lunch, I settled down on the sofa (suitably attired) to enjoy the newspapers and a veritable smorgasbord of cycling.

Up first was all three stages of the Criterium International, or Jens Voigt Invitational as it’s more commonly known. As if by magic, guess who was a sole breakaway on  stage 1? None other than Jens himself, putting the hurt on the other teams and paving the way for Frank Schleck’s (Leopard Trek) win atop L’Ospedale, ahead of Vasili Kiryienka (Movistar) and Rein Taaramae (Cofidis). My beloved and I know this area well having ridden around here on a trip with the cycling club. Stage 2’s 75km sprint stage was won by  Skil-Shimano’s Simon Geschke, his first pro-win, while Andreas Kloeden (RadioShack) won the 7km time-trial around Porto Vecchio. The results of those subsequent stages left the podium unchanged.

Next up was Gent-Wevelgem, shorn of Fabulous Fabian, but still choc full of talent vying for the win and those valuable UCI points. Allegedly, Tom Boonen (Quickstep) was left to watch yesterday’s win on the television so that he could better perform today and “justify his salary” so-said his manager, Patrick Lefevre. As the television coverage started, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) was leading a small group of escapees, validating beyond any shadow of a doubt his team’s invitation.

After Voeckler was re-absorbed into the peloton, various attacks were launched and brought back, the last one just a few hundred kilometers before the finish. The narrow, twisting, farm roads had snapped the peloton into several bunches, but the main contenders barr Goss, Cavendish, Hushovd and Pozzato were in the leading group which sprinted for the line. Boonen powered past everyone to snatch victory, 7 years after his last win here in 2004. Danieli Bennati (Leopard Trek) was 2nd and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) finished 3rd.

To win in the Classics, you need legs, luck and good positioning. Boonen had endured a long wait for the team car after a problem at the foot of the Monteberg, 74km from the finish, before expending not inconsiderable energy chasing back to the front of the peloton. While the manner of his victory was quite different from that of Cancellara’s, it will have boosted his confidence ahead of next week’s Tour of Flanders.

We then watched video highlights of the final day’s stage of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya won by the diminutive Samuel Dumoulin, his 2nd stage win. Collecting not only precious UCI points for his team Cofidis, but also justifying their invitation to the event. The overall was won by Contador who had assumed the lead after Wednesday’s queen stage. If anything, his popularity in Spain, where he’s perceived as being victimised, has grown as the doping case has progressed. If I were Pat McQuaid, I would eliminate Spain from my immediate travel plans.

Finally, we caught up with the last day’s action from the track World Championships where Australia have dominated and others have disappointed. Sated, we opted for an early night. All that cycling’s exhausting.

Stunning victory

Be afraid, be very afraid. If anything, Spartacus (Leopard Trek) is in even better form than last year. How is this possible? I don’t know, he just is. He was 2nd last week end in Milan-San Remo. Today, after a couple of punctures and a bike change, he literally rode from the back of the peloton to win the race.

With a couple of groups up the road, at 33km to the finish, Fabulous Fabian left the peloton behind on the Oude Kwaremont climb. He quickly caught and passed the 2nd group. Realising this was their bus to the next group, they lined out behind him, clinging grimly to his wheel as he powered up to the first group, containing team mate Stuart O’Grady. There’s now only 25km to go. O’Grady took a few turns on the front before dropping back, only to regain the group a bit later.

With 17Km to the finish, Bram Tankink (Rabobank) put in a dig, Cancellara went with him and past him. Tankink cramped and was unable to follow. A moment’s hesitation, who was going to give chase? Too late, he’s gone. Legs pumping like pistons, Fabian disappeared from view. It was all over. In truth, it had been over for some time, they just didn’t realize it. It was now only about the minor places.

Cancellara finished a whole minute ahead of his pursuers (Jurgen Roelands, Omega Pharma-Lotto 2nd, Vladimir Goussev, Katusha 3rd) to emphatically retain the crown he won last year.  He’s not racing Gent-Wevelgem tomorrow, he doesn’t need to race again before next Sunday’s Tour of Flanders. You wouldn’t bet against him doubling up there too.

I enjoyed watching the race on the big screen in the office, my feet resting on the corner of the desk after my exertions this morning. I put the alarm on for 05:30 but never heard it go off. I woke at 07:00 and after a light breakfast decided to venture back up the Col de Vence.

It was a warm and sunny, with a light breeze which strengthened as the morning wore on. I rode up to Vence via l’Ara and began my ascent with purpose. I felt so much better than on Thursday and covered the first few kilometers in a much better time. I had my customary stop at Chateau St Martin to blow my nose and have a good drink. Riders kept whizzing past me, in both directions, proffering words of encouragement which were gratefully received.

With 6km to go, I met a group of mountain bikers descending including my playmate of last autumn. His mum had obviously followed my advice. He was looking pleased as punch in his club kit as he swooped past calling out my name. I waved  and returned his greeting.

For some reason I have yet to fathom, the two kilometers between 6km and 4km to the finish I find the most difficult. However, once there’s only 4km to go, I manage to pick up my pace. I even sprinted out of the saddle for the last 200 meters. A result, only 70 minutes today. An improvement on Thursday, but still nothing to write home about. I’m hoping the rain stays away long enough tomorrow morning for me to have another go. Thrice in a week will be something of a record for me.

My beloved’s back this evening at midnight. He’s just rung to say he’s had a very successful but tiring exhibition. He’ll be looking forward to his ride tomorrow, I do hope he’s not going to be disappointed.

Choices

After yesterday’s disappointing ride, I went for a quick spin this morning, as per the programme. I am now mulling over whether to do tomorrow’s 150km Audax or whether to ride one of my favourite routes which includes a trip up Col de Vence again. For various reasons, I’m inclined to favour the latter.

  • Firstly, the Audax starts in Mandelieu La Napoule at 07:30 tomorrow morning, so I’ll have to get up at 05:30. Not an attractive proposition, particularly when I’ll be having a late night this evening thanks to the racers’ monthly meeting and I’ll  have to collect my beloved from the airport at midnight tomorrow evening.
  • I like the route of the Audax, although I’ll be riding a very similar route for the l’Antiboise on 17 April.
  • The pace of the Audax is fine, not at all taxing. However,  I find the frequent comfort breaks and lengthy lunch stop rather tiresome. As a consequence of these, it’s unlikely I’ll be back in time to watch E3 Prijs and the Criterium International.
  • There’s a crowd of around 50 who ride the Audax. I really prefer the freedom of riding on my own. I can go where I want, when I want. I can stop when and where I want.

Excellent, decision made. That really wasn’t too difficult. The Audax will depart without me and I’ll head off up the Col de Vence again, hopefully quicker than yesterday.

While I didn’t manage to catch Nick Nuyens win in Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday, nor any of the proceedings in the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya where Contador, having won Wednesday’s queen stage, is leading the GC, I have been dipping into the UCI Track World Championships in Apeldoorn. Generally, the favourites have prevailed, although there have been a couple of upsets where riders have failed to appreciate that the track doesn’t allow for a slingshot finish.  

GB raised the bar a few years back with a very dominant performance going into the Beijing Olympics.  Other nations have now responded, although GB and Australia appear to have an embarrassment of talent. Given that, for London 2012, nations are restricted to one competitor per event, it’s making track cycling even more highly competitive.

I’m not sure what was the IOC’s rational for this change. After all, countries are not restricted to one competitor per event in swimming or athletics. Nor do they need the cycle track back to stage other events. While I applaud the decision to have a similar number of Olympic events for both men and women, this decision strikes me as unnecessarily harsh because a number of track events have already been banished from the Olympic agenda.

On a lighter note, Santini have the licence for the World Championship jerseys. Being Italian, their sizing errs on the small size. However, watching Gregory Bauge don the rainbow jersey this evening after winning gold in  the Men’s Sprint, I’m willing to bet his jersey was an XXL.

Down and almost out

If anything the ascent of Col de Vence was worse than I feared. We assembled at 09:00 in Gattiéres. Club WTS generally comprises those of my cycling coach’s clients who are retired, or have their own businesses. I was the only female present. Among the group was one of guys who had generously sampled my wares on Sunday at the Gentlemen. Despite my helmet and glasses, he had no problem recognising me and loudly proclaimed to the rest that I made the most delicious cakes and pissaladiere. Buy that man a drink! 

My coach ascertained beforehand everyone’s average ascent time. This varied from 32 to 50 minutes, excluding moi. When we reached the base of the Col, he urged those of us who needed more time to set off ahead of the rest. I needed no such encouragement? I was already heading upwards.

In any event, everyone had overhauled me well before hotel Chateau St Martin. As my coach cycled past, he promised to wait at the top for me. I suggested that he should continue with the group, as I intended descending straight away in view of my Audax ride on Saturday.

The first part of the Col is the steepest and my middle finger, right hand kept searching for a nonexistent lower gear. I was asking myself why, oh why, had I not turned up on the BMC with the compact gearing? I slowed down to admire the progress of a rather magnificent modern house under construction and took a (much needed) short rest at the hotel to blow my running nose and have a good drink.  Galvanised, I continued to churn away.

I always divide ascents into manageable blocks, that way the task never seems so bad. Col de Vence is split into 2km chunks. 4km from the top, some of the group were already descending, including the marathon runner who’s only an occasional cyclist! Undeterred, I continued ticking down the kilometers.

The views down to the coast were fantastic and it’s too early in the year for any insects (thank goodness). There’s generally a flock of either sheep or goats towards the top of the Col, but not today. As the riding school hove into view, I gave a huge sigh of relief;  just 500 meters more. I got out of the seat and sprinted. To no avail, I had taken a whopping 80 minutes to get to the top: truly humiliating. I’m going to have to come clean when my coach calls me later today. I might be aerobically compromised, thanks to the lingering effects of my cold, but that was a shocking time. Fortunately, I’ll be back up there on Sunday’s club ride  aiming to improve.  The descent, the most enjoyable bit, was achieved in a fraction of the time of the ascent.

Back in the saddle

In view of this week’s challenges (150km Audax, time-trial up Col de Vence), I felt I needed a longish ride at a reasonable pace. I got up at the crack of dawn on Monday to drop my beloved off at the airport and, when I got back home, started tackling the week’s pile of admin. But by 10 o’clock the fine weather was beckoning through the office window and I couldn’t resist.

I plumped for my long-sleeved winter jersey and gilet, discarding the windtex for the first time in months, but stuck with my 3/4 tights. There was a fair amount of traffic.  Caution always needs to be exercised in an urban environment. The “give way to the right” rule is not as common as you might think and I had to forcibly remind a couple of drivers that the fat white line in front of their car gave me, the cyclist, not them, right of way. 

I decided to cycle along the coast for 60km, turn around and cycle back. It’s one of my favourite routes thanks to the scenic views and an undulating circuit which takes in some of Saturday’s Audax route. On the way back, I stopped for lunch at one of my regular watering holes in Las Trayas before continuing my journey.

I made a further stop for coffee before finally reaching home. I felt fine after 120km cycled at 22km an hour average speed but was still feeling the after-effects of the cold. Let’s hope I shake these off this week.

The sunshine beckoned again on Tuesday but I was on duty for the club at the AGM of one of our sponsors. Attendance is a three-line whip and our presence was well received. There’s always a good turn out of retirees on account of the generous buffet provided after the AGM. M Le President and I lowered the average age a bit, but it was probably still pushing 70.

I had to be back down the club at around 16:30, so decided to go for a quick jog along the sea front. I was wheezing like someone who smokes 80 Woodbines a day, but the congestion is clearing. After last week’s marathon club session, there wasn’t too much to be tackled. A couple of delinquent licences and two new members.

This morning, I again rose early with the purpose of making the cupcakes (easy to transport) for my birthday boys. Two of my English class have birthdays this week, so I’ve decided to make them each a dozen cupcakes to enjoy with their respective families. I still have some of the chocolate frosting left from the weekend’s birthday cake, so I’m going to make a dozen chocolate ones and a dozen vanilla. The chocolate frosting will cover probably six cupcakes and I’ll cover the remaining ones in peanut butter frosting. The twelve vanilla ones I’ll flavour and colour:  rose, lemon and violet.  They’ll look pretty as a picture and, hopefully, taste even better.

With just two months to go, I’ve also got to start making the cakes for the Kivilev. I’m not attempting to provide cakes for all the potential 800 attendees, just those that stick around for the prize giving and, of course, the volunteers. I’ll be making my famous pain d’epice, banana bread (Nigella’s recipe), my date and fruit slice, Corsican chestnut and almond cake, and my Jeannie Longo endorsed fruit cake. I need to knock out at least 4 cakes a week, should keep me busy in the evenings I’m not down the club!

Run, run, runaway

After yesterday’s early start and busy morning, it was with some relief I sat down to watch the Moto GP season opener from Qatar. I hadn’t had either the time, or frankly the inclination, to watch the practice sessions, so had no idea who was where on the grids.

For me, one of the many charms of MotoGP is Eurosport’s commentary team of Toby Moody and Julian English. Catherine Riley of The Times  said ” …they could make a lap of a supermarket exciting and if there’s a better motorsport commentary team anywhere, I’ll eat my armchair”. No need to go that far Catherine. I would echo her opinion and say that there isn’t a better English language sports commentary team. If only the commentators who covered cycling were as knowledgable, witty and amusing.

Toby Moody and Julian English in pole position
Toby (bald) and Julian (beard)

As the picture shows, neither are spring chickens but, first and foremost, as long time  journalists, they bring to their commentary a rare depth of knowledge and a real love of the sport combined with a rare ability to pronounce correctly riders’ names.

Given I know so little about this sport, I decided to acquire a veneer of knowledge. I am indebted to www.motogp.com for their articulate explanations.

MotoGP is the motorcycling equivalent  of F1. An 18-race series visiting fourteen countries, four continents, with global television viewing figures totalling 337 million in over 200 countries. In 2010, over 2.2 million made the pilgrimage to watch the world’s best and most skilled riders line a grid astride cutting-edge motorcycle technology with prototype machinery from just four manufacturers: Ducati, Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki.

Established as a World Championship by the FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme) in 1949. MotoGP is the oldest motorsport championship and the blue riband of three racing classes that take place on a Grand Prix weekend.

Each GP event takes place over three consecutive days. The first two  comprise practice and qualification for each class; the third is race-day. There are free practice sessions on Friday and Saturday, and a single qualification practice on Saturday afternoon which determines grid order for Sunday’s race. In each category, the three fastest riders take positions on the first row of the grid, with the rest lining up in threes behind.

After warm-up sessions for each category on race-day, the 125cc race kicks off the programme, followed by the Moto2 class and then, last but not least,  the jewel in the crown, MotoGP.  Races vary in length between 95-130km and normally last between 40-45 minutes.

So what’s the difference between the various categories?

  • 125cc – Is the first step on the World Championship ladder for young competitors. Maximum engine size is 125cc (single-cylinder units). The maximum age for riders is 28 years (25 for wild-card riders or those newly contracted and competing in a 125cc GP for the first time) and the minimum age is 16 years.
  • Moto2 – This 4-stroke, 600cc class was introduced in 2010 to replace the 250cc category.  Moto2 aims to be a prestigious yet cost-effective adjunct to the premier league, MotoGP. Honda is the sole engine supplier, Dunlop provide the tyres while the prototype chassis are provided by a number of engineering firms such as Suter (Swiss), Kalex (German) and Moriwaki (Japanese).  The minimum age for riders is 16.
  • MotoGP – This provides the ultimate test on two wheels for its finest talents. The maximum engine capacity is 800cc (4-stroke engines) and the machines are all prototypes.  The minimum age for riders is 18.
125cc winner Nico Terol

So, on to Moto2 where German, Stefan Bradl (1989) surged away from his first pole position to record his 2nd ever win. Andrea Iannone leapfrogged from 16th on the grid into 2nd place after battling with Yuki Takahashi. Tom Luthi came through in the final laps to take 3rd. Last year’s 125cc champion and Moto2 rookie,  Marc Marquez, crashed out on lap 4: a  touch too much of youthful exuberance.

Riding his first season for Honda, whose bikes were quickest in pre-season testing and practice, former MotoGP champion, Aussi Casey Stoner (1985) won at Qatar for the 4th time in 5 years. His team mate Dani Pedrosa surged past him on pole and led for half a lap before being overtaken by last season’s champion, Jorge Lorenzo.  But by the end of lap 2, Stoner was back in the lead with Lorenzo in 2nd place.

Honda boys

Pedrosa

Seal of approval

Yesterday’s birthday celebrations continued well into the small hours without us. We had all been asked to arrive early at the venue to preserve the element of surprise. The hall had been beautifully decorated with cycling artifacts and mementoes. All of us from the cycling club were seated together on the Criterium International table. When the star guest turned up it was evident that he’d had no idea and was genuinely delighted to see so many friends and family gathered in his honour.

It goes without saying that the food was spectacular, despite it being catering on a grand scale. As the afternoon wore on, many of the guests danced off the feast. The cycling quiz was a bit of a damp squib as my team mates clearly don’t share my obsession with the sport. Only ex M Le President made a stab at it and, frankly, did rather well without resorting to checking up on the internet via his mobile.

Chocolate and raspberry delice

If I say so myself, the birthday cake looked rather splendid and was reduced to a few crumbs within moments of it being cut. Fortunately, the birthday boy managed to snag a piece. One of my clubmates is a professional chef and he was highly complimentary which was very satisfying. It looks somewhat dwarfed in the photo by the other creations but they were intended to feed the 60 odd guests. My beloved called my creation “Chocolate Fort Cake”. I think there’s an intended pun in there.

We were reduced to watching the dying kilometers of what had evidently been an exciting Milan-San Remo on my beloved’s mobile phone. On a screen that size it’s difficult to work out who’s who, but it was easy to see that a number of the favoured riders were in contention until Matt Goss pipped them on the line.  The result was confirmed by my friends watching the race live.

We left the party early anticipating arriving home in time to watch the race highlights on Eurosport only to discover a scheduling change meant it wouldn’t be on again until 1 o’clock in the morning. Far too late for someone with a 6 o’clock start the following day. Luckily the armchair sports fan had summarised the race. I read his as-ever excellent report, made my savoury cakes and pissaladiere for the following day’s “Gentleman”, took the cakes out of the freezer to defrost and was fast asleep in bed by 21:30.

Today, I rose as programmed at 06:00, washed, dressed and packed everything into the car before heading down to the finish line to set out my wares to feed the ravening hordes of the “Gentleman”, a two-person time-trial where the combined ages of the two must exceed 60. The weather was fortunately kind to us and before long the sun was shining. Proceedings started at 08:30, made more difficult by heavier than anticipated traffic round the industrial estate.  I haven’t checked but I’m pretty sure numbers were up on last year’s edition.

The homemade cakes were well received with some riders finding it necessary to sample at least one of each. Disappointingly, I only received one enquiry as to my marital status but plenty of compliments, including one from Jeannie Longo who ate a piece of my fruit cake. I have managed to keep back a few pieces of it  for my sister Lynn who is something of a fruit cake connoisseur but everything else disappeared pronto.

After two (long) weeks at home, my beloved departs early tomorrow morning for a week long business trip leaving me to savour the peace and quiet. I plan on spending plenty of time out on two wheels enjoying the fine Spring weather. My cycling coach has a test ride up Col de Vence on Thursday for which I feel ill-prepared after my heavy cold. Hopefully, a few gentle but long rides will help me refind my form. Assuredly, I will post the slowest ascension of the group but, hopefully, be faster than at a similar time last year.

Misplaced

In an ideal world, I would be looking forward to watching Milan-San Remo live tomorrow. I would have checked out the start lists and given some thought as to who might be in with a chance of victory. I would have contacted my friends and made arrangements where to meet after the race. I would be happily contemplating starting my day with coffee and La Gazzetta before a quick mooch around the shops and then heading to the finish to find a good position to watch the race unfold. Instead, I have been doing none of these things.

I have been making the chocolate genoise cake for tomorrow’s birthday celebrations. It’s the first time that I have attempted this type of cake and so far  so good. The cake looks light and airy and is now sitting in the fridge which will make it easier to slice into three tomorrow, or so I’m advised. I have made the meringue buttercream, another first, which is also sitting in the fridge. Tomorrow morning it’ll be flavoured chocolate and then I’ll begin the tricky task of assembling and decorating the cake. If all goes well,  two of my English class turn 12 next week and I’ll make them both birthday cakes.

My cake making preparations were disturbed by yet another of our riders who finds himself ill-prepared for the week end’s races. I’m flattered they think I can magic up licences late on a Friday evening.  All associations work slowly and most licences take 10 days to emerge from the chrysalis. I have however come up with a solution which may enable him to race, then again it may not.

I’m still not sure whether I’ll race this week end. I rode today and, despite the warm spring-like conditions, still feel compromised by the lingering effects of my cold. We’ll just have to see how I feel on Sunday morning. I only have the pissaladiere and savory cakes to prepare tomorrow evening for Sunday’s apero. Everything else is ready.

I had some sad news today. One of my few remaining relatives died. The rest really can be counted on the fingers of one hand. He’d not enjoyed particularly good health these past few years but, meeting a widow, a couple of year’s his senior, had put a bit of a spring in his step. He had a stroke in early January, while they were on holiday, from which he appeared to be making a full recovery. All was going well until he was moved to a rehabilitation ward from where it’s been pretty much all downhill. He passed away this afternoon, after rallying briefly yesterday. He wasn’t on his own when he died, my sister Lynn was with him.

While he’d lived a full life, he didn’t quite make his four score and ten. I also have to wonder about the part played by the UK’s NHS in his untimely demise. If he’d gone to stay with his friend, rather than being transferred to the rehabilitation unit, might he still be with us? Sadly, we’ll never know the answer to that one.

Answers on a postcard please

I spent a very pleasurable morning concocting a cycling quiz for my friend’s husband’s surprise 60th birthday party. The party has a cycling theme and she wanted to decorate the village hall with cycling posters. I don’t have any posters but I do have lots of excellent photographs, a small selection of which we have turned into posters. The quiz is based on some of the riders in those posters who fall into one or more of the following categories:  live locally, well-known,  my favourites.

I find that when you have a disparate group of people, giving them something with which to occupy themselves, particularly as they await the arrival of the meal, stops a party from flagging and gets people mixing and talking to one another.  

The easy accessability of the internet via mobile phones means that the questions have to be tough or the answers not readily found. One of my questions concerns last year’s Men’s Road Race at the World Championships in Geelong. It’s a picture of the peloton and it took me 30 minutes of checking to be absolutely sure that I had correctly identified the seven riders visible in the photo. It’s always more difficult when they’re wearing national rather than trade jerseys. It’s often a process of elimination with the biggest clue being the colour of their helmet.

The quiz naturally enough features World and Olympic Champions, Grand Tour winners, Classics and stage race winners. Even those that know little about cycling will be able to answer some of the questions but only the hard core geeks will be able to answer them all. One additional challenge, for me at least, was writing it in French.

While I was working away my beloved, whose knowledge of cycling could not be classified as encyclopaedic, kept proffering suggestions until I pointed out that if he knew the answers then so would most of the guests who would finish the quiz in minutes thereby defeating its primary objective. He took the point.

So, for those of you whounderstand a little  French, here is the quiz:-

Quiz : Boucles d’Albert

Voici une photo de Fabian Cancellara qui était Champion du monde contre-le-montre en 2010 à Geelong, Melbourne. Il a gagné ce titre combien de fois et où?

 Qui a terminé 2ème et 3ème derrière Cancellara en Australie et avec quel temps de retard?

Cancellara a gagné quelques courses par étapes, quelles et quand?

Quand il était Champion de Suisse sur route?

Voici une photo du Champion Olympique de la course en ligne 2008. Il s’appelle ?

Comment il court pour l’équipe basque Euskatel-Euskadi quand il n’est pas basque?

 Ce coureur a quoi sur son épaule droit?

Combien de fois il a terminé 2ème dans un course ou étape?

Qui est le coureur de Team Sky?

Voici une photo de Tom Boonen en quelle course, en quelle année?

Combien des fois a Tom Boonen gagné cette course et en quelles années?

Sa copine s’appelle?

Tom a quoi comme animaux familiers?

Il habite où?

Il était champion du monde de la course en ligne quand et où?

Qu’est-ce que fait Tom aujourd’hui  le 19 mars?

 Il est surnommé?

Voici une photo d’Alberto Contador. Il a gagné combien de Grands Tours et quand?

Il a couru pour quelles équipes?

Il a problème médicale en 2004, c’était quoi?

Sa fiancée s’appelle?

Il habite où exactement?

Combien de fois il était Champion d’Espagne contre-le-montre et en quelles années?

Qui a aussi gagné le Tour d’Italie et le Tour d’Espagne comme Alberto en la même année?

Il est surnommé?

Cette photo montre quelle étape de l’édition de Paris-Nice 2011?

 Qui est le coureur?

Sa victoire a quelle importance pour son équipe?

Il a gagné le maillot à pois pour le meilleur grimpeur dans quelle course et quand?

Il a fait ses débuts dans le peloton professional en quelle année et avec quelle équipe?

Il vient de quelle ville?

Qui est ce coureur? Il est en train de faire quoi et quand?

 Il habite où?

 Il court pour quelle équipe en 2011?  

Il a terminé aussi premier dans une autre étape de quelle course et en quelle année?

Avec son nouveau équipe, il court avec 2 anciens champions du monde de la course en ligne. Qui sont ces coureurs et en quelles années et où ils ont gagné?

Cette photo était prise où, en quelle course et quand?

 Qui a gagné cette course?

 Le vainqueur a combien de coéquipiers et il vient de quel pays?

Quelle équipe est en tête du peloton ?

Combien des coureurs vous pouvez identifier dans cette photo avec leurs noms?

Cette course se tiendra ou cette année?         

Qui est ce coureur?

 Dans la photo ce coureur a gagné quelle course et quand?

Il a remporté la même course avant, quelle année?

Il est membre d’honneur de quel club du cyclisme ?

Il habite où?

Il a combien d’enfants? (Points primes pour leurs noms)

Son meilleur résultat dans le Tour de France était en 2003 quand il était 3ème. Il a gagné quelle étape et quel honneur dans cette édition du Tour?