Sometimes fights happen when tempers boil over and particularly in a cycling peloton where crashes happen regularly and usually result in a bad injury. The higher tensions mean that sometimes aggression gets the better of some riders. Below are three recent examples of such altercations.
1. Andriy Grivko fights Marcel Kittel, 2017 Tour of Dubai
Today’s news is that Marcel Kittel was punched by Astana’s Andriy Grivko on Stage 3 of the Tour of Dubai. As you can see from the picture it looks like it was a solid punch too. Andriy Grivko has been thrown out of the race and Kittel is asking for him to be banned for 6 months. It seems that as the peloton entered an area of crosswinds, with riders jostling for position Grivko lashed out without provocation. The punch broke Kittel’s glasses and a later attempt at an apology fell on deaf ears.
Two riders in the breakaway, with one saying the other wasn’t pulling his weight effort wise. Brambilla gave Rovny’s jersey a short tug and then it all kicked off. Both riders were ejected from the Vuelta Espana after this bout, which seems to have been allowed to go on for quite a while with no other interaction. The wry shake of the head from the Caja Rural rider in green says it all.
3. Carlos Barreda fights Rui Costa with a wheel, 2010 Tour de France
Possibly the worst one on this list because it involves using something else as a weapon. As well as being a bit more premeditated than an out of hand disagreement on the bike. Carlos Barreda storms across a crowd and tries to fit former World Champion Rui Costa’s head through a wheel. Everyone else around just seems to let them get on with it in the mean time. Apparently a touching of bars near the end of the stage precipitated the attack and both riders got off lightly with a €300 fine.
As with every season, there has been a large amount of transfers and changes over the off-season. New teams have been created, old familiar teams and team names have been consigned to history. The highest profile transfers have seen the rainbow jersey of the world champion Peter Sagan change teams, as well as GC heavyweights Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador. Strong sprinters, classics specialists and GC helpers have also found new homes elsewhere.
Long-term great Fabian Cancellara retired over the winter, along with fellow World Champion Michael Rogers and Giro d’Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal. There was also the sad retirement of Gianni Meersman, who after winning stages at the Vuelta Espana in September last year has been diagnosed with heart issues. The man who achieved notoriety for being knocked off his bike into a barbed wire fence during the Tour de France, Johnny Hoogerland also hung up his wheels (always feels a bit of a forced phrase…).
With the introduction of Bahrain Merida the peloton gains a splash of red, Abu Dhabi disappointingly went for a mostly black affair, just to make things more difficult from the overhead helicopter shots on TV. The peloton also loses the distinctive yellow of Tinkoff, with Oleg Tinkov throwing in the towel of his second attempt at a cycling team after a falling out with the powers that be.
With things shaken up considerably, we’re set for an interesting 2017 season.
This Winter I’ve spent most of my time riding indoors on a turbo trainer, safe from the dangers of ice, snow, wind and bad driving. I have a good setup but generally need group rides and some uptempo music to keep me entertained as I literally stare at the walls. Every now and again one of the perks of Zwift is that you get the chance to ride with a pro rider who could be your hero. Jens Voigt is possibly the most popular 00s non-contender cyclist. His 17 consecutive Tour de Frances between 1998 and 2014 made him a well known name for all cycling fans, especially for his two breakaway stage wins. Jens Voigt took the chance to lead a group ride on Zwift this week.
Riding with Jens Voigt
The ride with Jens Voigt took place very late one night (00:30am) as it came live from the Tour Down Under which started yesterday in Australia. Luckily this ride was on a Friday night so I knew I would be able to have a lie-in the next day! We rode for 60 minutes around the London Classique course which was used for the Women’s Worldtour race in 2016. It’s a fairly flat and easy course at 5.5km long, but it takes in all the sights of central London which even look good virtually.
Riders are taken past the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Trafalgar Square before heading down the Mall to Buckingham Palace – I think even the London Eye sneaks in an appearance. As we cycled along at a quick tempo for mere mortals, riders were able to pose questions to Jens Voigt and have him answer to the group.
Questions & Answers with Jens Voigt
Many questions were asked and answered, most fairly sensible ones too surprisingly – no-one took the chance to ask him his favourite film or beer for instance. Given the proximity to the Tour Down Under which has now started (albeit with a truncated stage due to heat), he reckoned that Richie Porte had the best chance of winning it. Whilst on the topic of pro-cycling, Jens was asked quite a few questions about his time in the peloton. The best room-mate he had was ‘funny guy’ Bobby Julich, who he rode with in 2000-01 with Credit Agricole and also later at Team CSC between 2004-08. The best leader he rode for as a domestique was Andy Schleck, described as ‘classy’ – the two won the 2010 Tour de France together.
Lance Armstrong naturally came up, Jens says that he always got on with his 2011 team-mate, chatting about family and kids over coffees. Surprisingly despite the red rag to a bull effect that the Armstrong name has, something sensible followed it up. Whilst riding as a pro, Jens would clock up an average of 35,000km during the year with around half of that taking place at races – I thought I’d done well to manage 13,000km last year!
The Hour Record
Once the rules for the Hour Record were changed, Jens Voigt was one of the first riders to take to the velodrome to try and beat the existing record. Jens briefly held the record for 6 weeks before Matthias Brandle set a new record. For the Hour Record Jens was weighing 78kg (I can only dream to be such a weight!) and averaged 413 watts (I can only dream to hold such wattage for an hour!). It’s unusual to get the actual numbers, but it shows the difference between the average club cyclist and a pro. My best power to weight ratio I’ve recorded is 3.6w/kg whereas Jens held 5.3w/kg – a huge amount of daylight!
We also learn that his eldest son plays lacrosse and his second son raced bikes for 5 years but stopped. Clearly there won’t be any new Voigts gracing the pro peloton in future years. Finally, Jens’ worst bonk (where you run out of all energy and can barely turn the pedals) was in a junior stage race, whilst in the lead and once the bonk happened he lost the race by a big margin.
It’s always worth keeping an eye out for Zwift events with former and current Pros, you never know what tidbit you might learn!
So I’m over in Belgium at the moment as I’m going to do the Liege – Bastogne – Liege Cyclosportive on Saturday. I managed to come early enough beforehand to see the Fleche Wallonne spring classic race as it completed the three laps it takes as part of the long finishing course.
I took my bike and managed to get to three different locations, the first a hairpin bend where the smell of melting carbon wheels hung in the air, the second was near the summit of the Cote d’Ereffe and the final one was in the village of Belle-Maison halfway up an unclassified hill. On the way back into Huy I ended up riding behind 4 pro guys (3 Wanty and 1 AG2R).
Being a great son I recently bought my mum tickets to the World Track Championships which finally came about last week. We went to the opening first session of the championships which encompassed the Women’s Individual Pursuit, Men’s Team Sprint, Women’s Team Sprint and Men’s Team Pursuit and a chance to see names such as Bradley Wiggins, Elia Viviani, Gregory Bauge, Philip Hindes, Jason Kenny, Ed Clancy, Anna Meares, Kristina Vogel, Rasmus Quaade & Silvan Dillier.
World Track Championships 2016
The Men’s Team Pursuit qualification came first, where four riders ride as close as possible together in a line before swooping up the track as they take turns riding on the front of the line. The discipline and accuracy required to keep this together in order to achieve the best times just under 4 minutes is tough and most countries found themselves dropping a rider as they found themselves on the limit. With the rules saying the final time is set once the third rider crosses the line, teams weren’t overly penalised for losing a rider. Great Britain achieved the quickest time through the impetus of Bradley Wiggins on the track and despite losing a rider relatively early on. Australia finished a close second and went on to win the Gold the next day.
This was followed up by the Women’s Individual Pursuit – a 5km (effectively 16 laps round the track) ride against the clock which saw Australia Rebecca Wisiak post the quickest time which was comfortably ahead of the rest of the challengers. Riders set off on opposite sides of the track and a couple were able to be caught by the other rider, the speeds noticeably picked up once a rider was in the sights with the temptation to catch and overtake seemingly overpowering any fatigue in the legs.
We finished with the Women’s and Men’s Team Sprints with Great Britain finishing a surprisingly bad 6th place with a strong lineup and the British women finished in 5th which meant they didn’t qualify for the Olympics due to not getting enough good results. New Zealand ultimately won the Men’s competition with the Dutch surprisingly getting themselves a qualifying time good enough to make the final. The French with former world champion Gregory Bauge ended up 4th overall.
The atmosphere throughout was great with constant noise and cheering for all the teams, obviously the British team received the loudest cheers with a Mexican wave of sound following the riders around the track, encouraging them to do their best and live up to expectations. Ultimately bar the team pursuit, Great Britain had quite an off day with later results in other events earning them gold medals.
Another Tour is in the history books with Brit Chris Froome now a two time winner of the race. The hilly profile created lots of exciting racing and a tight finish with a race between Nairo Quintana and Chris Froome up Alpe d’Huez to decide the winner. The start back in Utrecht feels like a lifetime ago but after a little introspection the 2016 Tour is only 11 months and 1 week away!
Green Jersey – Alexander Kristoff (10th) – Way off with this one, Kristoff was weirdly quiet through the Tour. Peter Sagan predictably dominated, riding in the break on many consecutive days to thwart Andre Greipel.
King of the Mountains Jersey – Joaquim Rodriguez (5th) – Not a shocker, he was a contender and did have a go
Youth Jersey – Nairo Quintana (1st)
Simon Yates – 89th – The overall position disguises the promise shown, Orica Greenedge had a horror first week and ended up severely depleted for the rest of the race. 8th on the Muur de Huy and 11th on Alpe d’Huez shows genuine talent at a young age. Tony Gallopin – 31st – Spent most of the first two weeks in the top ten overall, had 5 top ten stage results without winning a stage. Louis Meintjes – DNF – Got involved in a breakaway on Stage 12 and finished 5th but another who struggled with illness. Sam Bennett – DNF – Had one top ten result but then became ill and really struggled before having to quit the race. Eduardo Sepulveda – DSQ – Sepulveda was doing well until during a mechanical he hopped into the team car and was driven 100 metres up to the other car with a replacement bike. Riders can’t ride in cars at all and he got disqualified.
And finally some of the best Tour de France on-board camera footage:
The Netherlands has a rich cycling history with various Grand Tour winners and at home, a cycling infrastructure that is the envy of the rest of the developed world. Yet somehow, a surprising statistic is that the Dutch find themselves not having worn the yellow jersey since the 1989 Prologue stage.
The support on the 7th hairpin, now known as Dutch Corner, on the Alpe d’Huez shows the love that Dutch fans have for the Tour de France. The passion and craziness amongst the sea of orange as the riders climb the iconic climb is testament to this. With the Alpe providing the last meaningful action in this year’s Tour, we can be sure the whole mountain will be a tunnel of fans supporting their favourites.
On the Prologue stage held around Luxembourg in 1989, Erik Breukink beat the challenge of GC contenders Laurent Fignon, Sean Kelly, Greg LeMond, Steve Bauer and Miguel Indurain by between 6 and 10 seconds. Winner of the White Jersey for best youth the previous year, he ultimately withdrew from the race and didn’t reach Paris, but finished on the podium in 1990.
The beginnings of the drought
With 11 different Dutch Yellow Jersey wearers in the 80s alone, there was nothing to suspect that a 26 and ongoing year wait was in store for the next one. No Dutch rider has finished on the podium in Paris since Breukink’s 1990 result with the closest being Robert Gesink’s 4th place in 2010. For most of the 1990s and early 200s, Michael Boogerd became the great Dutch hope, a 5th place in 1998 a sign that hopefully he would kick on and potentially end the drought.
Boogerd only ended up with one other top 10 however, a result of 10th in contrasting with a low point of being the highest placed Dutch rider in 74th in 2004 (the worst ever result for Dutch riders). For most of that time there were still stage wins to fall back on, but even these dried up. After a run of 40 years out of 44 with a stage win, Dutch riders didn’t win a stage between Pieter Weening’s victory Stage 8, 2005 and Lars Boom winning on the cobbles of Stage 5 in 2014.
Not all Dutch Doom and Gloom
The Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin had a great chance to break the run in this year’s first stage and was the favourite but ended up finishing 4th in Utrecht with Jos van Emden in 5th. With an in-form Dumoulin, future prologue style Stage 1s could see the Dutch run finish.
This far into the race, it’s no surprise to see the pair of Robert Gesink and Bauke Mollema as the highest rank Dutch riders, but being close to 3 minutes back already it will be a tough ask to haul themselves into Yellow at any stage and so the run should continue into 2016.
THe upside to 2014 was a double top-ten result with Laurens Ten Dam in 9th and Bauke Mollema in 10th. If these riders and Robert Gesink perform to their potential and attack similar stages to the Mur de Bretagne early on then they do stand a chance of reaching Yellow.
praying for wind.”