Reduced numbers

For some unfathomable reason I woke up on Sunday morning at around 3:30 and couldn’t get back to sleep on account of my beloved’s snoring. So I rashly decided to get up and get on with some work. At 6:30 I loaded up the car with my baked goodies and headed down to where we hold “The Gentlemen”. I was surprised to find it was raining  but 5kms away at the start of the two-man team time-trial, the road was dry, although the sky looked menacing, and it was chilly. As a consequence of the weather, and another race over in Mandelieu, numbers were down on last year.

As first, despite, several down jackets, I was really chilled. So cold in fact that I wrapped myself up in the thermal car blanket. Finally, the sun came out and I began to thaw enough to start serving my cakes to the hungry hordes who fell on them like locusts. The pissaladiere disappeared almost as quickly as it was cut, along with the pain d’epices. The French find it vastly amusing that an English woman can dish up such delicious Nicois Classics. I’d brought a couple of new recipes along with my tried and tested banana cake, pain d’epices and carrot cake. A new chocolate cake recipe, which was very squishy and moreish, along with a lemon poppy seed cake that was light and crumbly, with just the right amount of tang. Following favourable feedback, these two will be added to the repertoire.

It was pleasing to see many of our past and present riders stepping onto the top step of the podium to collect the prize for their category. For the last two years, the cups have been handed out by Jeannie Longo. But she was a no show this year. I wonder why? I encouraged the chap we’re hoping to persuade to take over the role of M Le President to fulfill the role of Master of Ceremonies – he’s a natural.

Although many participants felt incumbent on trying a slice or two of anything they could lay their hands on, reduced numbers meant that I had a couple of cakes left over to add to the freezer for my forthcoming English classes. In addition, I’ll now start building my stocks for La Kivilev at the end of May. This is where the large chest freezer will be brought into service down at the club so as not to take up all the space in mine. Though I will have to take regular inventories or padlock the chest so as to ensure nothing goes walkabout – yes, really.

First up however will be next week’s birthday celebration for two of my English group. I’ll be away in the Basque country the following week so have promised them a slap up afternoon tea, including their favourite chocolate chip cookies, before I depart. The two of them have worked very hard over the last few months and are regularly scoring top marks in their English tests and homework, so I must be doing something right.

I’m in training for this Sunday’s sportif organised by my cycling coach who’s still taking it easy on account of his busted 3-times but finally healing collarbone. Today I rode with another of his clients who’s training for the Nice Ironman. We had a really good ride although I was feeling a bit fatigued at the end of it. Definitely overdid it on the interval sprints – watch out Cav!

My beloved has arrived safely in Australia after a couple of days in Dubai. I had hoped to tackle some pressing items on the “To Do List” before his return next Monday but our accountant has come up with a million and one questions about the year end accounts. The guy who’s handled everything for the past 5 years’ or so left and his replacement, who strikes me as being very efficient, has gone over everything with a fine tooth comb. I think I’ve managed to come up with an answer for pretty much everything.

Cause for concern

This week is one of my “rest weeks”. Which means, of course, because the weather’s been so great all week, I’m longing to get out on the bike. I’m allowed a couple of recovery rides, a run or two and some gym sessions but nothing quite cuts it like the wind whistling through your helmet as you barrel down a hill or along the sea-front.

My first target of the season, after last week end’s sportif was cancelled, is an event run by my own cycling coach. It used to be held at the end of January but he’s moved it a couple of months, and added a timed portion. His events generally attract a fairly serious crowd so I could well be playing my usual role of lanterne rouge. I won’t be the oldest rider although it’s likely I’ll be the oldest female rider.  I might be last in the scratch but, unless Jeannie Longo puts in an appearance, I should be fastest in my age group. I may even collect a trophy for my ever expanding collection.

After the WTS Classic there’s the usual run of events in April, May and June;  weather and the authorities permitting. We’ve just had a knock back from those self-same authorities for our Gentleman on Sunday 18 March, an event that’s been happily run, incident-free, for many years. I’m holding back on the cake production until we get a positive response. It’ll be a great shame if it’s cancelled, as once events disappear from the calendar, they rarely reappear. Unlike some of the World Tour events in Spain our problem is not lack of funds, it’s an excess of traffic.

The event is held on a Sunday around an industrial estate. So where’s the traffic? The same town hosts a truly gi-normous market every Sunday. But it’s not one of those idyllic, traditional Provencal markets with stands bursting with colourful fruit and vegetables and lots of local produce. No, it’s full of stuff that no one else wants, largely clothing, toiletries, any old thing in fact. It attracts huge crowds of people from outside the region, all of whom drive through the industrial estate to reach the market. We may have to find another place for the event, maybe, the neighbouring industrial estate.

At least as far as the Kivilev is concerned, we’re getting positive feedback from the communes, although worryingly the final authorisation generally doesn’t turn up until the Friday before the event takes place. We’ve already submitted the application so we’ll just have to wait and see. A couple of unfortunate events have also occurred. A popular three-day Tour is taking place the same week-end as the Kivilev. It’s been moved from its regular slot in the calendar on account of the elections. This will severely restrict the number of local racers competing in our sportif.

The last couple of years, either the Conseil regional or the Olympic Committee have lent us their car podiums. This gives a certain gravity to the event and enables us to more easily make announcements and, of course, make the all important presentations. In addition, Alexandre Vinokourov will be riding in the Giro, so he won’t be able to attend. If available, the other Kazakhs will participate, but he’s our headline act.

On a good note, we paid a quick visit this week to the company which kindly lend us one of  their refrigerated vans. This made a huge difference to the storage, preparation and presentation of the all important food during and at the end of the event. The van is ours again for the duration. M Le President is now out hunting for sponsors. He’s been doing well but, as I always say, you would want to keep on the good side of the head honcho down at the fire station, wouldn’t you?

Who’s gonna carry the flag?

Today L’Equipe has posed the question as to who should carry the French flag at the forthcoming Olympics.  They’ve also questioned whether France  – like Great Britain and USA – should allow the athletes themselves to choose the flag-holder. In any event, it’s academic as the decision’s going to be taken by a committee (what else?), the French Olympic Committee, on 9 June.  That aside, L’Equipe has been canvassing its readership to see who they feel should carry the flag and then contacting the potential candidates for their reactions.

Teddy Riner courtesy of Wikipedia

Two candidates were equally favoured by L’Equipe’s poll: five-times world Judo champion Tenny Riner and Olympic and World Champion hand-baller, Nicola Karabatic: two good choices. They’re both big enough to carry the flag with ease and readily recognisable by the French public. In third place was the former husband of Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria,  basketball player Tony Parker. A number of the candidates proposed by readers – all of the swimmers –  would be ruled out simply from the timing of their events. Interestingly, while both Karabatic and Parker would be happy to fulful this honnor, Riner wants to focus exclusively on winning that elusive olympic gold medal.

Only two cyclists were proposed: double-Olympic MBT Champion, Julien Absalon and the evergreen Jeannie Longo. The latter’s participation in the event is in doubt following recent revelations in connection with her husband and training partner’s use of EPO as a recovery aid, even supposing that at only 43kg she’s capable of carrying the flag for any length of time. Absolan, competing in what will probably be his last Olympics – and gunning for a third gold – would appear to be a sounder choice. He replied that it would be immensely prestigious to be selected to perform this task. Meanwhile, Jeannie couldn’t be reached for a comment.

Potential candidates should note that carrying the flag could be something of a poisoned chalice. Only five of the forty (Winter and Summer Olympics) who have previously undertaken the task, have gone on to win gold medals. I have to confess that I do think the athletes themselves should make the choice. Nothing is nicer for an athlete than the confidence of their peers. However, I’m with Riner. In the highly improbable event of me ever being in contention at the Olympics, I know I would want to concentrate solely on winning. The opening ceremony and any associated ceremonial duties would be an unnecessary distraction. It really isn’t about taking part, it’s about winning: winning gold.

Season underway

The amateur cycling season is now underway. Last Sunday saw the 62nd running of ES Cannes’ Gentleman (51st Souvenir Fausto Coppi). A “Gentleman” is a two man time-trial where the combined ages of the participants have to exceed 60 years. This race starts and finishes in front of the Hotel Carlton in Cannes and is 13kms in length,  circumnavigating the Cannes Croisette. Despite the chill, a new record was set on Sunday by Messrs Heck and Lemoine of nearby SPOC, Nice, – 16.18 mins, av speed 48.21km/hr.

Casting my eye over the list of participants I see lots of former members of my cycling club, including the afore-mentioned Heck. Our best placed twosome was a male/female combo of our best female rider and a former French amateur time-trial champion, Cristel Pastorelli, paired with Ludovic Boyer, part of last year’s winning 4-man French amateur time trial team. They were a respectable 30th and the first, by some way, of the mixed pairs.

A father and son pairing finished third. While the Jacques Guissart prize, given in honour of the chap who’d won the most titles, most notably with Jacques Anquetil, went to a combo from the host club.

Also taking part were a couple of locally based pros, Christophe Le Mevel and Yauheni Hutarovich, both limbering up for the forthcoming Tour Mediterranean, riding with local riders, not one another. Jeannie Longo often takes part in this race with her husband but I can find no mention of her on the start list. My LBS (local bike shop) owner and his partner were a very respectable second. I’d like to have taken part but I need to find myself a more reliable partner than my beloved. We’ve ridden a gentleman together but it was a bit of a disaster as he kept riding off and leaving me!

The event was covered by our local newspaper, the Nice Matin which regularly features local riders and events. For example, last week, it featured an article on one of the Monaco firemen, who’s aiming to win the World Championship crown this year in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Yes, there are World Championships for a number of professions, the most fiercely contested tend to be for those who work in the public sectors.

Franck Giusta a 32 year old who rides for UC Monaco frequently trains with the Pro Tour riders who call Monaco home. He won a silver in the time trial last year and a bronze the year before. Not unnaturally, he’s aiming for gold this year in the same event. It’ll be more difficult to do as well in the road race as he’s the only representative. In the run up to the World Championships in August, he’s riding in a team time trial in Tuscany, organised by Michele Bartoli, followed by the Monaco Criterium.

Franck gives thanks in the interview to the support, assistance and advice he’s received from Alexandre Vinokourov and his regular training rides with Philippe Gilbert. Franck’s a friend of a friend and we’ve met a couple of times so I’ll be rooting for him in Ostrava. I wonder if there’s a World Championship for retired accountants?

Race Programme

Subject to CAS’s decision in November, Alberto Contador has revealed his race programme for 2012 where, unsurprisingly, he’ll be targeting the Tour de France and, in his build up,  racing Torreno-Adriatico, rather than Paris-Nice. Funnily enough, no one has rung to enquire about my race programme for 2012. I know, it’s quite unbelievable, and you have to suspect that maybe L’Equipe has lost my mobile number – very careless of them.

If they had, I would have advised that it’s still very early days and no firm commitments have been made. Although, it is likely that I will be targeting similar events next year. That is similar to this year, rather than similar to Alberto. I’d love to take part in a pro-event but honestly there’s not a lot of fun turning up at the finish line to discover it, and everything else, has already been packed up and shipped off to the next destination and that none of the spectators have hung around. I’d also probably feel obligated to buy the guys driving the broom wagon dinner as they’ve been dawdling in my slipstream for the past number of hours.

Tomorrow I’ll be riding the Velocio, in which I usually place 2nd in my age category. My position will only change if one of the following events occurs:

  • The other lady in my age group doesn’t turn up
  • She turns up, but has a major mechanical or gets accidentally pushed off her bike  which prevents her from finishing
  • Someone, who’s not previously ridden the event and who’s in my age group, decides to take part and rides more quickly than me
  • Someone who was in the lower age group last year has now passed into my age category
  • Jeannie Longo turns up and rides
  • Some quite dreadful accident befalls all the other female riders, except me, preventing them from finishing

As you can see there’s a lot of “ifs” and “buts” and the outcome really isn’t as clear cut as it would appear. The key question however is will I ride faster than last time? Watch this space.

Well worth it

My cycling coach runs group classes every Saturday morning (excluding school holidays) with the principal aim of encouraging people to either return to or take up sport. As a member of his training club, I can attend any of these sessions. As I had a run in my programme this week, I decided it might as well take place on Saturday morning. I was at the rendezvous well before the appointed time which gave me a few moments to savour the early morning heat and the beauty of the Bay of Angels.

Everyone turned up and our small, but select, group set off towards the War Memorial for a warm up which included running up and down stairs. Perspiring profusely, we then raced up the stairs to the Chateau overlooking Nice and indulged in some interval exercises, circuit training and further stair running. I was easily holding my own, thank goodness, and was able to demonstrate my formidable core strength with an excellent performance in the “plank” exercise. All too soon we were tripping back down said steps and performing a series of stretches. Ninety minutes just flies past when you’re having fun. I should at this point perhaps say that my coach (unlike the rest of us) didn’t break into so much as a bead of sweat and he looks even skinnier in his running gear. I wished him good luck for next week’s Berlin marathon and drove back home.

I had worked up a bit of an appetite and yesterday’s dessert, which I had conjured up for my beloved out of a desire to find yet more uses for overripe bananas, was sitting on the countertop. I dived in. How is this possible? It tastes even better cold than it does hot. Yes, my banana and toffee pudding is going to become one of my classics and, quite possibly, most popular desserts. Don’t bother to send me emails begging for the recipe, if you too want to become a domestic god or goddess, just get in the kitchen and cook.

While we were out running, my opinion was sought on the Jeannie Longo situation. I said I would refrain from commenting because we have yet to hear from Jeannie. However, I find it odd that a woman of her undoubted intelligence can’t get to grips with the “whereabouts” system. Trotting out the excuse that she’s the world’s most tested athlete and has never tested positive, cuts no ice and is chillingly similar to the statements trotted out by Lance and his team of legal beagles. But, if it is true, it would go some way to explaining why she’s so much faster than me, that and the additional weight (mine). However, I did feel she’d been sensible to withdraw from next week’s World Championships as her presence, and attendant press interest, would have overshadowed the ladies’ events.

Even younger guns

Sadly there were no cameras or journalists to record my latest win. Yes, while everyone else was looking forward to today’s stage at the Eneco Tour, Tour de l’Ain or the Tour of Utah, we were holding our own Domaine Dash. I had gone for a warm up, a quick thrash around Cap d’Antibes, to prepare myself for the latest round in the Clash with the Teenagers. Arriving back at the appointed hour, I discovered the Group of 5 had grown to 7 (a couple of ringers??), all bar one were now riding road bikes, albeit in shorts and trainers. It’s bad enough being beaten by someone wearing all the proper kit, but to be beaten by someone who hasn’t would be way too humiliating. I was taking no prisoners. A few of their parents were on hand to keep an eye on the traffic. A great idea, as I, for one, didn’t want to get stuck behind a slow moving Domaine bus. One of the parents had also suggested that we start the race in the Commercial Centre and then ride up the hill (7% gradient) into the Domaine. He had arranged for the security guards to open the entry barriers.

I put on my race face, got in the big ring and we set off. No neutralised zone, just a quick dash across the Commercial Centre, a steep short descent to the right followed by a sharp 180 degree turn up the Domaine hill. It’s a tricky corner but I tackle it almost every day and wanted to ensure that I was in the lead hitting the hill. I had no intention of tangling with any of the teenage boys. My strategy was simple, I was just going to sprint for the line. I was out of the saddle, sprinting up the hill. It’s about 300m long. I had no idea what was going on behind me. I was wholly concentrating on the task in hand. I shot past the parent guarding the barrier who looked like a fish catching flies with his mouth wide open in amazement.

The road then levels for about 500m. It’s a false flat. I powered across it and attacked the hill, crunching across the dry pine needles littering the road. I could hear muffled shouts behind me, but I never looked back. Fittingly, and aping the Tour, there were a couple of camper vans parked on the side of the hill and someone preparing for a picnic. I took a quick glance at my Garmin, only 156bpm, I could now afford to go flat out and really give it some gas. This was where all that sprint interval training was going to pay dividends. Again, there’s about 500m of false flat before the final little climb to the finish line. In my 50 x 12, I sprinted past a couple of startled dog walking neighbours who cheered me on and crossed the line, hands firmly on the handlebars. I looked back, there was no one to be seen. Luckily they’d had another parent stationed on the finish line to witness my thrashing (again) of  a bunch of teenage boys. Finally, the pack hove into view. Red-faced, huffing and puffing, they conceded victory once again to a woman old enough to be their grandmother.

I stopped to have a chat with their parents who had driven back up in the “team” car. I advised that the boys should always wear helmets when riding their bikes and, if they were serious about beating me, should join a local cycle club. I could tell the parents were impressed. After all, they were considerably younger than me and claimed they couldn’t have aped my feat. One of the mothers likened me to Jeannie Longo (if only) but thought I was younger. I didn’t disabuse her.

All hail

This week end I have been watching the French National Road Cycling Championship’s from Boulogne-sur Mer. The Women’s 19km Time-Trial was won in 29min 45 secs by the evergreen Jeannie Longo, a formidable competitor who continues ( I’d love to know how) to maintain her motivation. This was Jeannie’s 58th title. She’s the most successful French cyclist, ever. Most of the girls she competes against were just a twinkle in their father’s eyes when Jeannie won her first title.

She was born in 1958 in Annency,  in the French Alps, and began her sporting career as a downhill skier.  After winning the French schools’ ski championship and three university skiing championships, she switched to cycling at the urging of her coach (and later husband) Patrice Ciprelli. Within a few months, Longo had won her first (of many) French road race Championship. She was just 21. In addition to her numerous sporting achievements, Jeannie has also distinguished herself academically with a degree in Mathematics, an MBA and a doctorate in sports management.

She competes both in both road and track cycling events, is an Olympic gold-medalist and twelve-time world champion. Her impressive palmares includes:

  • Olympic Games road race: Gold Medal (1996); Silver Medal (1992)
  • Olympic Games individual time trial: Silver Medal (1996); Bronze Medal (2000)
  • 5 x UCI World Road Race Champion Champion (1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1995)
  • 4 x UCI World Time Trial Champion (1995, 1996, 1997, 2001)
  • 4 x UCI World Track Championship:
    • Points Race: Champion (1989)
    • 3 km Pursuit: Champion (1986, 1988, 1989); Silver Medal (1984, 1985, 1987); Bronze Medal (1981, 1982, 1983)
  • UCI World Mountain Bike World Championship: Silver Medal (1993)
  • 15 x French Road Race Champion: 1979 to 1989, 1992, 1995, 2006, 2008
  • 10 x French Time Trial Champion: 1995, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
  • 3 x winner of La Grande Boucle: 1987, 1988, 1989
  • 2 x Woman’s Challenge: 1991, 1999
  • Set Hour Record (45.094 km/h) in 2000 in Mexico City (14 years after setting the best hour performance record)

This is a woman who wants to win every time she gets on a bike, whether it’s the Olympic Games or a local bike race. For the past two years she’s taken part in our “gentleman event” and kindly handed out the trophies to the winners. Last year she and her husband were easily the fastest team. In a two-man event, Jeannie’s speed is limited by that of her husband. They beat a couple of lads from our club who were the French amateur Champions at this discipline. This year she was third, largely due to a problem with the traffic. She was not a happy bunny! This is a woman who hates to lose, at anything. Given that, if she were to retire, she would ride in my age group, I’m hoping she never does.  Jeannie, thanks. You’re an inspiration to thousands of women, everywhere.  It’s worth noting that on a course which didn’t suit her she finished second yesterday in the road race!

Christophe Kern, continuing his great form from the Dauphine, won the Men’s time-trial and Sylvain Chavanel won the Road Race. An impressive performance given that his only support was Jerome Pineau and a Quickstep Teamcar. This augurs well for the start of the Tour next week where Sylvain will be riding as aggressively as ever and hoping for a stage win and maybe, a couple of days (again) in yellow. A man with similar ambitions, Tommy Voeckler bravely defended the tricolour jersey to finish third.

Sporting round up

The continued downpour which has confined me indoors has allowed me to catch up with a number of sporting events. Yesterday, I watched the fourth and final competition of the “Four Hills” Ski Jumping Tournament from  Bischofshofen, Austria.

In years past, I have watched the first two legs of this competition live while on vacation. There’s nothing better than watching them launch themselves off the in-run, soaring  like big birds of prey into the darkening sky, snow swirling, the cheers of the supporters while you’re warmly wrapped up against the cold with a glass of  gluehwein in hand. Like most sports, it’s a much better spectacle live. Nonetheless, I’ve enjoyed watching all four hills (Obersdorf, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Innsbruck and Bischofshofen) on the television. The overall was won by Austrian, Thomas Morgenstern, current World Cup leader and a man in obvious good form.

Sadly, my beloved boys in claret and blue went down 1-0 at home to the Black Cats leaving them wallowing in the relegation zone. The fans are outraged but fortunately it looks as if sanity has prevailed in the boardroom. We cannot expect to repeat last year’s position having sold one of the lynchpins of that team (James Milner) and not having strengthened the squad in the same fashion as our nearest competitors. Not forgetting that a number of senior players were injured in the first part of the season. Houllier is re-building the squad and must be given time to do this. I admit I am hoping that this week end we’ll beat our FA Cup opponents and, next week end, emerge victorious in the local derby.

On the cycling front, Team Leopard-Trek was presented to the cycling world yesterday. I’m rather disappointed with the mundane kit. I had hoped with a name like Leopard we might see something a bit more imaginative. But no, it’s black, white and blue, like half the peloton.

I see that Stephane Auge, after 10 years as a Pro, has decided to hang up his cleats and climb into the Cofidis team car as a DS. Echapees just won’t seem the same without him.

It’s been reported that the Spanish Cycling Federation won’t be opining on the Contador case until February, as there’s loads of paperwork to digest. Given that whichever side “loses” will appeal to TAS, it’s unlikely that Contador will be riding this year’s Tour. I’ve passed little comment on the case largely because when I first heard that he’d tested positive for Clenbuterol, which aids weight reduction and helps you breathe more easily, I did wonder where I might be able to purchase it. Both of my cycling related problems resolved in one fell swoop. But here’s the rub. While it would undoubtedly aid my cause, it’s most unlikely to have aided Alberto’s.

Shock horror, Jeannie Longo, having just been awarded the highest civilian “Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur” has admitted to thinking about retirement. Please, don’t do it Jeannie, I’m not yet ready for the competition.

Omnipresent

A headline in last week end’s Nice Matin caught my eye “je ne suis pas prete pour le cyclotourisme”. This was said by Jeannie Longo in a recent, frank  interview on the occasion of her 52nd birthday. I, for one, am delighted. It’s bad enough having to compete with the one or two local riders who fall into my age group without adding Jeannie into the mix. 

Always a winner

I have an enormous amount of admiration for this lady who is head and shoulders “France’s greatest ever cyclist” of either sex. Just look at her impressive palmares: 4 Olympic medals in 7 participations, 13 World Championships, 57 French titles, 3 Tours de France  and those are just the highlights! On the two occasions I have encountered her this year she has been generous with her time, modest to a fault and very encouraging of younger cyclists.

She puts her longevity down to her ability to adapt. I would put it down  her mental fortitude, professionalism and will to win. She also gives a few tips on how she maintains her svelte frame at 43 kilos: plenty of “Bio” fruit and vegetables and only whole grain bread spread with unpasteurised butter. I’ve taken note.

Interestingly, she cites Cancellara as her favourite sports person. He’s not just Jeannie’s. This year, for the first time, he was awarded the prestigious Velo d’Or, although he has podiumed for the last four years. This trophy is presented by French magazine Velo to the outstanding cyclist of the season based on votes cast by an international jury of journalists. It’s an award that tends to favour Grand Tour winners. The last Classics riders to win it were Bettini in 2006 and Boonen in 2005, who also combined Classics wins with  rainbow jerseys.

Contador had won the Velo d’Or for the last three successive years but, this year, after recent revelations, finds himself in 2nd place, well down on Cancellara. In third place was Andy Schleck, who also picked up the award for best young rider.  Obviously, 2nd, or even maybe 1st, in the Tour tops Nibali’s 3rd in the Giro and 1st in the Vuelta. The award for the best French rider went to the ever-smiling Tommy Voeckler, just pipping French housewives’ favourite, Sylvain Chavanel. Velo do not have an equivalent award for the ladies. If they did, Jeannie would easily have won it the most number of times.

Due to some administrative oversight, Velo did not canvass my opinion in this year’s competition. However, I’m broadly in agreement with the results, save my top three would have been: 1. Fabulous Fabian, 2. Vicenzo Nibali, 3. Andy Schleck. This preference would be reflected in my podium for best young rider: 1. Vicenzo Nibali, 2. Andy Schleck, 3. Mark Cavendish. My favourite Frenchman would have been Davide Moncoutie (sorry Tommy!).

Many nations seem to have awards for their top cyclists of the season. Here’s my guess on who should get what, where:-

  • Belgium – Phil Gil
  • Holland – Gesink
  • Spain – Hot Rod
  • Italy – Nibali
  • Norway – Hushovd
  • Denmark – Breschel
  • Sweden – Larsson
  • Finland – Veikkonen
  • Britain – Cavendish
  • USA – Phinney
  • Canada – Hesjedal
  • Ireland – Martin D
  • Kazakhstan – Vino
  • Columbia – Duque
  • Portugal – Machado
  • Russia – Menchov
  • Australia – Evans
  • Luxembourg – Schleck Jr
  • Switzerland – Fabulous Fabian
  • Germany – No one, cycling has been banished from the public conscience, but it should be Greipel
  • Japan – Arashiro
  • Czech Republic – Kreuziger
  • Slovakia – Sagan
  • Estonia – Taaramae
  • Austria – Eisel
  • Poland – Niemiec
  • Ukraine – Grivko

Apologies, I was starting to get carried away there but this is only reflective of the sport’s globalisation. I’m aware that I’ve made no distinction between older and younger riders and I’ve omitted numerous countries, but c’est la vie.