Featured Features

Lance Armstrong: The Long Fall

We have only just begun to see the fallout from the case brought by the United States Anti-doping Agency (USADA) against Lance Armstrong; when you shake a sport – any sport – this hard a depressingly large number of things have a tendency to fall out of the tree. But with the whole sorry affair involving not only Armstrong and the USADA, but also US Federal Law, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), numerous ex-team-mates and the US Postal team – to name but a few – it has often proved to be a tough case to follow. Cyclo have waded through the last four months of developments to highlight the key points in the case against Lance Armstrong


June 12: The United States Anti-doping Agency (USADA) announce proceedings against Lance Armstrong with regards to the alleged use of performance enhancer EPO, blood transfusions, the use of testosterone and so called ‘masking agents’ during the period 1998 – 2011, despite the fact that the US Attorney’s Office dropped its own investigation into the misuse of federal funds (for doping) back in February.


Armstrong confirmed on Twitter that he had received the 15 page letter from the USADA and strenuously denies all charges.


June 13: Calling the actions of the USAD a ‘witch hunt’, Armstrong Tweets: ‘Dear @usantidoping – we have now sent you THREE letters requesting all the relevant info in order for me to respond to your “review board”.’ Adding: ‘Until now there has been no response, not even an acknowledgement of receipt. The knife cuts both ways – it’s time to play by the rules.’


Armstrong releases his official statement which begins, ‘I have been notified that USADA, an organization largely funded by taxpayer dollars but governed only by self-written rules, intends to again dredge up discredited allegations dating back more than 16 years to prevent me from competing as a triathlete and try and strip me of the seven Tour de France victories I earned… These charges are baseless, motivated by spite and advanced through testimony bought and paid for by promises of anonymity and immunity.’


He continues, ‘I have never doped, and, unlike many of my accusers, I have competed as an endurance athlete for 25 years with no spike in performance, passed more than 500 drug tests and never failed one…’ Armstrong’s full statement here.


June 22: Lance Armstrong’s legal team send a lengthy letter to the USADA Review Board refuting the charges from June 12. Couched in as-to-be-expected legal language, the letter describes the allegations as being, ‘…long on stale allegations disproved long ago and short on evidence.’ The 18 page letter goes on to state the view that the USAD had ‘abused its powers and this (review) process. To read the full letter click here.


June 29: Despite the legal approach of Armstrong and his representatives the USAD Review Board unanimously agree that charges should be brought, meaning that the case will proceed to arbitration should Armstrong continue to challenge them.


July 5: Armstrong tweets three messages to his followers:


‘So let me get this straight…come in and tell @usantidoping exactly what they wanted to hear…’


‘ exchange for immunity, anonymity, and the opportunity to continue to race the biggest event in cycling..’


‘This isn’t about @usantidoping wanting to clean up cycling – rather it’s just plain ol’ selective prosecution that reeks of vendetta.’


July 9: In what appears to be a final, desperate bid for legal recourse Armstrong files a federal lawsuit in an attempt to halt the USADA case. US District Judge Sam Sparks rejects the lawsuit almost out of hand, calling it, ‘a lengthy and bitter polemic’. However Sparks does allow Armstrong’s lawyers to file an amended lawsuit.


July 10: Former US Postal associates of Armstrong – team doctor Luis Garcia del Moral, consulting doctor Michele Ferrari and trainer Jose ‘Pepe’ Marti – are all given lifelong bans from sport by the USADA for violating anti-doping regulations.


Armstrong had previously called Ferrari, ‘a friend and a trusted adviser’ – but all formal links were reportedly broken after Ferrari was convicted (though later acquitted) of sporting fraud in 2004.


Ferrari calls the charges against him ‘false and ridiculous’, claiming he had never witnessed doping within pro cycling teams. The fact that his ban had technically been handed down because ‘he had not responded to or contested the charges (from the USADA)’ complicates matters as he claims he never received any official communication from them and only learned of his fate from the media. Oddly the UCI claim that Ferrari didn’t even hold a current training license.


July 11: The USADA give Armstrong a further 30 days to respond to their charges against him.


August 5: Until this point the UCI had remained somewhat tight-lipped on the subject, but now appeared to put their heads above the parapet saying that they felt the dispute over who should hear the case against Armstrong should be referred to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).


August 20: US District Judge Sam Sparks rejects the amended lawsuit from Armstrong’s legal team which was again attempting to halt the actions of the USADA.


August 23: The watershed moment for Armstrong. He publicly announces that he will no longer fight the USADA allegations beginning his statement, ‘There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, “Enough is enough.” For me, that time is now. I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999. Over the past three years, I have been subjected to a two-year federal criminal investigation followed by Travis Tygart’s unconstitutional witch hunt. The toll this has taken on my family, and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today – finished with this nonsense.’


He concludes, ‘Going forward, I am going to devote myself to raising my five beautiful (and energetic) kids, fighting cancer, and attempting to be the fittest 40-year old on the planet.’ To read Armstrong’s statement in full, see here.


August 24: In response to Armstrong’s statement the USAD strips him of his seven Tour de France titles and deals him a lifetime ban. However these actions still require the sanction of governing body the UCI. The development divides the media and cycling fans alike…


August 26: Writing in Armstrong’s defence in the LA Times, Michael Hiltzik says, ‘It’s not that the case will be seen as a major victory for sports anti-doping authorities. It’s that the anti-doping system claiming its highest-profile quarry ever is the most thoroughly one-sided and dishonest legal regime anywhere in the world this side of Beijing.’


September 3: In a Newsweek cover-story entitled ‘I Still Believe in Lance Armstrong’, Buzz Bissinger writes, ‘I believe his decision had nothing to do with fear of being found guilty in a public setting before an arbitration panel, but the emotional and mental toll of years and years of fighting charges that have never been officially substantiated—despite stemming all the way back to 1999.’


September 7: Pat McQuaid, the UCI President, states that they have no intention of appealing the USADA decision to ban Armstrong and strip him of his TdF titles unless the USADA’s case file gives ‘serious reasons to do otherwise.’ However that case file has still not been made available to the UCI, a fact that is clearly beginning to rile the governing body.


September 27: The UCI fires its fiercest salvo yet at the USADA for its continuing failure to make available the case file. In a strongly worded press release Pat McQuaid, states: ‘It is over a month since USADA sanctioned Lance Armstrong. We thought that USADA were better prepared before initiating these proceedings… The UCI had no reason to assume that a full case file did not exist but USADA’s continued failure to produce the decision is now a cause for concern… It seems that it would have been more useful for USADA to have used the time of the Tour de France, the Olympic Games and the Road World Championships to prepare their case in full rather than to make announcements.’


McQuaid’s statement also contained the rather withering comment: The UCI assumes that the reasons for any difficulty in putting the evidence together will be explained in USADA’s decision…’ Read the full press release here.


October 3: To further complicate the UCI/Armstrong/USADA case a Swiss court finds former Tour de France winner Floyd Landis (one of those who gave evidence to the USADA against Armstrong) guilty of defamation against the UCI.


Landis had made allegation during a German TV interview back in 2010 regarding payments from Armstrong in exchange for the UCI’s silence over a positive test in the 2001 Tour de Suisse. The UCI, for their part, concured that a payment of $100,000 (£62,200) was offered and accepted, but that this was a donation to help finance anti-doping measures. Landis is banned from repeating the allegations, ordered to pay compensation of 10,000 Swiss Francs (£6,630) to both current and former UCI presidents Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen and obliged to publish the courts verdict at his own expense in a number of publications including L’Equipe and the Wall Street Journal.


October 10: The USADA release its statement ahead of the full case file. It makes for damming reading, accusing Armstrong not only of doping but of personally overseeing ‘…the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.’ The agency claims its evidence shows ‘beyond any doubt’ that Armstrong was personally responsible for the culture of drug abuse and cheating that included systematic bullying and grooming of young riders to ‘…pressure athletes to use dangerous drugs, to evade detection, to ensure its secrecy and ultimately gain an unfair competitive advantage through superior doping practices.’ Read the full statement here.


Armstrong ?tweets: ‘What am I doing tonight? Hanging with my family, unaffected, and thinking about this (a link to LIVESTRONG)’


The USADA finally make their full report available both publicly and to the UCI. The 1000 page document includes testimonial evidence against Armstrong from 11 former team-mates: Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie. The full case file is available as a PDF here.


The UCI has 21 days to respond to the USADA evidence and to either accept or challenge the agency’s stripping of the TdF titles and imposed lifetime ban.


Reaction is both mixed and at times surprising as the case continues to divide the cycling community. Dave Brailsford, Head of British Cycling comments, ‘Lance Armstrong has made it hard for anyone to trust the sport in its entirety.’ Whilst Team Sky’s Alex Dowsett speaking at the Tour of Beijing shrugged off the charges, saying, ‘I don’t think it really matters, he’s still a legend in the sport…’


It remains to be seen what the full ramifications of this case will be. It certainly has the potential to shake the reputation of the sport far beyond the now seemingly shattered reputation of Lance Armstrong. As always, Cyclo will keep you posted…


Featured Features

Unstoppables Documentary

Currently still in production, the documentary ‘Unstoppables’ follows two of Spain’s most influential and motivational Paralympians – Juan Jose Méndez (known to all as ‘Juanjo’) and Raquel Acinas – as they trained for and competed at the London Paralympics. Director Dani Jariod followed the self-styled ‘Pirates Team’ for more than two years and Cyclo caught up with him and executive producer Richard Galvani post-Games and discovered that, despite Juanjo and Raquel not fulfilling their Paralympic dreams, their aim and that of the film, remains the same: To inspire…


Cyclo: How did the idea for this film come about?


Richard Galvani: When we sat down to decide what we would do next as a production company I said ‘I want to do something inspirational’. I had just watch a documentary on Afghanistan and we hear about the one or two that very sadly die, but we don’t hear so much about the dozens that come back with these life-changing injuries. I’ve seen personally the benefits to people getting involved with sports clubs; it immediately breaks down all levels of colour, race, creed and physical ability.


Dani Jariod: In the beginning the project was far more widespread. The initial idea was to follow different athletes from different categories and sports and even different Spanish regions. But once we went to the velodrome (in Barcelona) and met Juanjo and Raquel everybody went: ‘Stop the press!’ There was no need to be looking for others; here we had all we needed to tell our story.


Cyclo: Were Juanjo and Raquel immediately receptive of the idea?


Dani Jariod: I sat down with them and told them our intentions and they were very friendly from minute one. Very open and generous and we all have to thank them for that.


Cyclo: No nerves about the extra pressure?


Dani Jariod: Not at all. They are not exactly famous in Spain, but certainly relevant. Every time someone from the media goes to the Paralympic Committee looking for a spokesperson they get a short list of six or 10 athletes and Raquel, for instance, is always one of them. She is very open to all this kind of stuff because she is very eager to do anything that spreads the word of disabled sports and to show all that sport can do to help disabled people.


Cyclo: Cycling has a huge fan-base in Spain. Has para-cycling always had the same following?


Dani Jariod: When Juanjo started after his terrible accident he did it just because he needed to do some sport – he was in his wheelchair all day long and feeling miserable; cycling was always his favourite sport and so just got on and did it. Then he realised there were these para-cycling competitions, so he decided to become more professional about it. It is not so common in Spain although things have changed in the last 20 years but it still has a long way to go.


Cyclo: How did you find the facilities in London?


Dani Jariod: Wonderful. I’m used to the old velodrome that we have in Barcelona which goes back to something like 1987; an open velodrome that has its charm but it’s old and a bit rusty and you come here and see this huge and wonderful velodrome… I have enjoyed it very much.


Cyclo: And Juanjo and Raquel?


Dani Jariod: The experience of participating, of course absolutely. It’s the Paralympic Games after all! They have worked hard and earned their position here so they are delighted to have competed. On the other hand they feel a bit disappointed because of the results. But it’s the same at the club at home as here: if you fall, you get up. That’s the main thing. The last day after the Road Race at Brands Hatch they were a bit disappointed but the next day they were already preparing for Brazil – ‘Okay, let’s go for the next one!’


Cyclo: Amazing achievements for them both in London, but not the results that Juanjo or Raquel had hoped for.


Richard Galvani: They didn’t get any medals this time largely because of the change of categories; Juanjo in particular was lumped together with C2 and C3 riders, racing against people with prosthetics below the knee or even with two legs but with hand disabilities for example. They lost out; you simply can’t compete against someone with two legs… Juanjo was leading his race at Brands for about a quarter of the event, but with one leg of course every time they went up hill the others would pass him and he could only get them back on the downhill and on the straights. Even the commentator was saying how amazing he was.


They came here and did their best, Raquel got a Paralympic Certificate and Juanjo goes home with a couple of Certificates and they have been an example to everybody.


Cyclo: How early did you know about the rule changes?


Richard Galvani: I didn’t know anything until the Games had started. I presume they did, but I don’t know if they knew exactly what to expect. The team is managed by the national coach who is in Madrid and they are both from Barcelona; there is always a lot of rivalry between the two cities – a bit like the football – and perhaps they didn’t get quite the same treatment as far as information went.


Also their club trainer wasn’t given accreditation for The Games and Juanjo suffered at the Time Trial at Brands Hatch because of that; he finished fifth but could probably have gotten bronze if he had had feedback on times – he thought he was in bronze medal position but no one was giving him his times! He’s 48 now and he got a medal at Beijing and Athens and he wanted that hat-trick and maybe retire…


Cyclo: Do the results change the nature of the film?


Dani Jariod: Only very, very slightly. After all it’s about overcoming whatever obstacle you face. I would have loved to see them getting a medal because they really deserve it, but that’s talking as a friend. But thinking as a filmmaker, the documentary never set out to focus on medals, it is about their spirit, about who they are and what they do because they are very inspirational to everybody. That hasn’t changed one bit.


It’s perhaps even more inspirational if you see them after the apparent disappointment of not getting medals, because they get up and just start riding again.


Richard Galvani: Of course Juanjo and Raquel were hopeful that they would get a medal in London, but that’s not an integral part of the film, the main thing is to inspire people with disabilities – which is a term I hate because they are quite able to do anything – to get on their bikes and get involved with sports and improve the quality of their lives… It would have been lovely if they had won a medal, but on the other hand many people will watch this and say ‘I’ll never win a medal’, so this really is about the taking part.


Cyclo: What’s your approach to filmmaking with ‘Unstoppables’?


Dani Jariod: Our way of shooting is very observational, we don’t interfere with anything. We just watch… Occasionally we do one or two interviews, but really we just follow day to day. So there was no interference from us and we never asked them to do anything for us or repeat anything. We just watch, that is enough.


Cyclo: You still have work to do on the film. What’s next?


Dani Jariod: We still have some stuff to shoot. This project was so exciting, but with a huge unknown question hanging over it: are they going to get a medal? Right now we have those results and we need to close that chapter and look at the repercussions, to see what will happen to their lives after London 2012. We will be shooting until November and then the editing process begins.


Cyclo: That’s going to be a huge task.


Dani Jariod: You have to be patient. The worst thing, as I say, is that initially we didn’t know the ending. Now we do, so some of the things we have shot along the way will now have a different meaning. Now it’s time to get the story straight. It’s a slow process but it’s very clear in my head what sort of story we are about to tell the world…


‘Unstoppables’ is produced by Black Train Films with part sponsorship from Cofidis, for more information see


To read Cyclo’s interview with Juanjo and Raquel, click here.


Featured Features

In Praise of the Brompton

The Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary would be an incredibly cumbersome name for a bike. Fortunate then that said church, overlooked by engineering graduate Andrew Ritchie’s bedroom workshop whilst looking for a good name for his prototype folding bike, was popularly know as the Brompton Oratory – or more simply still The Brompton.


Ritchie graduated as an engineer in 1968 with the intention of pursuing a career in computing, but found himself instead self-employed as a landscape gardener. In 1975 he came across a Bickerton folding bike (known as the Bickerton Portable and first produced in 1971) and decided he could improve on its design. With financial backing from friends he produced Prototype 1, which, despite larger 18inch wheels, bears an uncanny similarity to the models still produced in West London today – testament to both Ritchie’s genius and the phrase ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…’


Today, not only is the Brompton the go to folder for commuters it also boasts something of a galaxy of star fans. Top Gear’s James May, author Will Self (‘the first time I saw a Brompton folding bicycle, I fell in love with it.’), actor Woody Harrelson and singer Katie Melua – who, of course, claims to know how many bicycles there are in Beijing – all love the Brompton. But what is it that makes this such a design classic?


‘Brompton Bicycles possess three major qualities of a great iconic design,’ says Alison Hung of product design gurus LKK Innovation, ‘Aesthetics: it has an instantly recognizable image. Functionality: that answers its users’ needs for more convenience. Quality: a design that is carefully executed into a product giving it the quality that its users can always rely on. Although there are imitations Brompton Bicycles’ cult status has never been surpassed, and that is the staying power of a truly iconic design.’


The full Brompton feature will be in issue 3 of Cyclo for iPad coming soon. For issues 1 and 2 take a look at Cyclo in the iTunes Store – issue 1 is free, issue 2 just £1.49


Featured Features


Time, we thought, for Cyclo to do a little campaigning… Ice (as a pack) can help reduce swelling, ICE (as an acronym) might just help save a life. Standing for ‘In Case of Emergency’ the idea of ICE is to encourage everyone not only to carry next of kin details – stats suggest that more than 80% of us head out without them – but to store them under the entry ‘ICE’ in our mobile phone where they can be readily identified by the emergency services. Such an obviously brilliant and simple idea, it’s odd to think that despite having surfaced in the mid-2000s it hasn’t universally caught on.


The original ‘eureka moment’ came to Bob Brotchie, a clinical team leader for the East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust in 2004 when he found himself continually confounded by the seemingly simple task of contacting relatives of patients. ‘I asked myself,’ Bob says, ‘how can I create a uniform way for the public to accept, and emergency responders to adopt a method of accessing the relevant info – fast. I thought of an acronym, so that I would know where to go, in the phones contact list straightaway. My earlier experiences had demonstrated that simply searching the contact list was haphazard…and time consuming! I didn’t know who to call and often got no answer anyway. Worst was when I had to give up, so as to continue with immediate care. I thought of ICE – In Case of Emergency and felt that if phone owners prefixed the ‘agreed’ ICE contact with ICE, then responders could go instantly to ‘I’ for ICE!!… Simple!’


The campaign gained initial traction and was strongly supported at the time by numerous other ambulance services, ramblers clubs and even the Welsh Assembly with Deputy Health Minister John Griffiths commenting: “Spending time trying to contact the next of kin can delay the start of treatment… If everyone follows this advice and puts an ICE number into their mobile phones any such problems can be overcome.’


One of the problems today is the almost universal adoption of smart phones; ironically – given their usefulness for communicating in terms of text, calls, SMS, email, social media and more – when it comes to ICE they can be disastrous for one simple reason: to protect their all-encompassing content, we PIN protect them, locking out the paramedics at the most crucial time.


If that mean’s the mobile’s time has passed in usefulness for ICE (still worth entering those details in case) what are the alternatives?


The full article will feature in issue 3 of Cyclo for iPad coming soon. For issues 1 and 2 take a look at Cyclo in the iTunes Store – issue 1 is free, issue 2 just £1.49



GB Cycling Ahead of Medal Target

Thanks in no small part to Dave Brailsford’s leadership since 2000 the GB cycling team seem destined to outdo even their historic feats in Beijing. UK Sports, and the press, predicted 6 gold medals in this Olympics and up to 12 medals in total. With 12 events still to go the team have already bagged 4 golds and 6 medals in total. That’s almost half way to the Bejing total of 8 and 14. And there’s still 14 events to go.


The GB team finished top of the Road medal table and are currently top of the Track table. The Road events finished with 3 medals: Gold for Wiggins, Silver for Lizzie Armitstead and Bronze for Chris Froome. The Track has seen 3 Golds to Germany’s 1, with more expected over the next four days. If this form continues the cyclists will have contributed 25% of the UK Sport target (48 medals) for the entire games.


As we said, at the top the real star is, in Cyclo’s opinion, British Cycling coach Brailsford. He arrived at the same time as lottery funding and constructed a team capable of winning Gold in Athens. With 4 medals in the bag he built on that success and more than tripled the haul in Beijing. Add the World Championship for Mark Cavendish and the Tour de France for Wiggins and the level of sustained success is just staggering.


Maybe the secret is the level-headed approach to his work. Every time he appears on TV during these games he seems to be not only the most informed (not difficult) but the calmest. His response to the witch-hunt over the failure of Cavendish to win the Men’s Road Race was a case in point. However many times he was asked he repeated that cycling’s a funny old game and they ‘would have done it the same way’ if they could do it again.


To sum him up – ‘We work out what we think is the best possible time that we can achieve, and if we get that, and then someone comes along and is four seconds quicker, we have to accept that we just didn’t have the riders to do that.’ Ice Cold….


PS. Just watching Jason Kenny break the World Record in the sprint qualifiers.



Featured Features

London 2012 Track Events

Just a week to go until Danny Boyle unleashes his opening ceremony (Cyclo is still hoping for some zombie action) and the London 2012 games get under way. Time then, we thought, to bring you a quick update on the how, when and why of the cycling track events. We have also recapped on a little details as to what each event entails, particularly as the rather mysterious Keirin and complex Omnium continue to cause confusion. Details of the Road, Mountain Bike and BMX events to follow next week. Stay tuned…


Men’s Sprint

Venue: Olympic Park Velodrome

Date: August 4,5,6

Team GB: Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny


Women’s sprint

Venue: Olympic Park Velodrome

Date: August 5,6,7

Team GB: Victoria Pendleton, Jessica Varnish


About: The Sprint is perhaps the most ‘pure’ of the track disciplines where speed is (almost) everything in the series of three-lap races that see riders whittled down through qualifiers and heats – first over the line wins. Simple. Current Olympic Champion: Chris Hoy (GB), Victoria Pendleton (GB).


Men’s Keirin

Venue: Olympic Park Velodrome

Date: August 7

Team GB: Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny


Women’s Keirin

Venue: Olympic Park Velodrome

Date: August 3

Team GB: Victoria Pendleton, Jessica Varnish


About: Big, as they say, in Japan (where it originated in 1948), this is the event that most resembles a combination of Mad Max and Rollerball, with a motorbike – known as a “Derny” – initially pacing riders around the track and bringing them up to considerable speed before leaving athletes to sprint for victory. Keirin made it’s Olympic debut at the 2000 Sydney Games and, like the Team Sprint, will be settled in a single day of action at London 2012 (technically two days: one for the men’s event, one for the women’s). Current Men’s Olympic Champions: Chris Hoy (GB), Women’s Olympic Champion: NA.


Men’s Omnium

Venue: Olympic Park Velodrome

Date: August 4,5

Team GB: Edward Clancy


Women’s Omnium

Venue: Olympic Park Velodrome

Date: August 6,7

Team GB: NA


About: Only introduced in 2010 at the World Championships, the Omnium makes its Olympic début at London 2012. This is the cycling equivalent of a pentathlon consisting of a 250m Flying Lap, 30km Points Race, 4km Pursuit, a scratch race of 15km and 1km Time Trial. Distances for the women’s discipline are slightly shorter: 20km Points, 3km Pursuit, a scratch of 10km and 500m TT. Current Olympic Champions: NA.


Cyclo Fact – The London Velodrome featuring one of the largest cable-net roofs in the UK. The track uses 56km of Siberian pine held into place with 350,000 nails.


Men’s Team Sprint

Venue: Olympic Park Velodrome

Date: August 2

Team GB: Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny, Philip Hindes


Women’s Team Sprint

Venue: Olympic Park Velodrome

Date: August 2

Team GB: Victoria Pendleton, Jessica Varnish


About: Not dissimilar to the Sprint discipline as the name might suggest. Once known as Olympic Sprint, this event sees teams of three compete over three laps with each rider effectively taking a lead per lap for pace. Women’s Team Sprint is new for 2012 and both men’s and women’s events will be contested (from qualifiers to medals) in a single day. Current Men’s Olympic Champions: Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny, Jamie Staff (GB), Women’s Olympic Champions: NA


Men’s Team Pursuit

Venue: Olympic Park Velodrome

Date: August 2,3

Team GB: Edward Clancy, Steven Burke, Andrew Tennant


Women’s Team Pursuit

Venue: Olympic Park Velodrome

Date: August 3,4

Team GB: Wendy Houvenaghel, Joanna Rowsell


About: With Individual Pursuit off the schedule for 2012, this event sees teams compete over 16 laps for men and 12 for women with the time recorded as last rider across the line. As a women’s event this made its first appearance at this year’s World Championships in Manchester and should prove to be a hotly contested Olympic opener. Current Men’s Olympic Champions: Ed Clancy, Paul Manning, Geraint Thomas, Bradley Wiggins (GB), Women’s Olympic Champion: NA.



Bike Blenheim Palace

Held annually since 2008 in the magnificent grounds of Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, ancestral home to the Marlboroughs and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, this annual celebration of (almost) everything two-wheeled has gone from strength to strength and this year promises, weather permitting, to be bigger than ever. Running across the weekend of 18 and 19 August, the likes of Sarah Storey and the GB Para Cycling Team (including Shaun Mckeown and Mark Colbourne) are already signed on for the 20km Time Trial and with a range of events from unstructured family rides through the traffic-free grounds (much of it landscaped by Capability Brown) to the spectacle of Bike Polo, there is pretty much something for everyone.


Starting at 8am on Saturday August 18 is the new-for-2012 40km off-road sportive (£28 entry fee) that will take riders through the grounds and out through the surrounding countryside on the edge of the beautiful Cotswolds. Sunday sees tougher challenges with both the 60 and 100mile sportive and the staging of the 26.2mile Pink Ribbonride (10am, £30) for Breast Cancer Care.


On the less conventional side of things – and in addition to the Bike Polo – are the perennially popular Brompton events, which this year incorporates the Brompton Marathon and Brompton Sprint, the latter seeing a strictly limited field of 100 riders running to their pre-folded machines, four abreast, assembling them and taking to the 300m course. The Festival of Cycling also includes the Brompton World Championships, something of a highlight of the weekend for competitors and spectators alike, which has riders from as far as the US and Japan wearing the obligatory jacket and tie on a double lap of Blenheim’s ‘Queen’s Pool’ for a total of 13km.


Advanced entry prices are £10 per day (£17 for the weekend) with concessions for students, the over-60s and under 16s; entry includes events viewings, family rides and full access to the event village which will hold a variety of exhibits and demonstrations throughout the weekend. Competitor entry to the various events ranges from £15 to £35 with full details and online entry at

Featured Features

Tour de France 2012

June already? That must mean it’s time for the annual Cyclo guide to the biggest event of the season – true to say, we feel, even in an Olympic year – with details of all the upcoming stages (plus a little history) of the Tour de France 2012.


2012 sees the 99th edition of the greatest cycling race in the world (sorry Italy and Spain…) which this year runs from Saturday June 30 to Sunday July 22, comprises of one prologue and 20 stages to cover a total energy-sapping distance of 3,497km. In addition to the 6.4km prologue in Liège and the two rest days on July 10 and 17, the TdF will this year comprise of nine flat stages, four medium mountain stages, five mountain stages and two Individual Time Trials (July 9 & 21) – there are also three summit finishes to look forward to. When it comes to stunning backdrops to the cycling action the TdF is always hard to beat and this year nine new stage towns, including Samatan, Abbeville and Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, have been added to the roster; as Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France, rightly says, ‘To love cycling, inevitably means to love geography and, additionally, the different regions.’


Naturally all of the big name teams will be present and correct for 2012 although there will be notable absences from a couple of star riders; Alberto Contador remains suspended for doping violations and won’t rejoin his Saxo Bank team again until August 5 (debate amongst yourselves whether this is a loss to the TdF or not) and the man who officially won the 97th Tour as a result of Contador’s disqualification, Andy Schleck, will remain sadly road-side due to injuries sustained in the Critérium du Dauphiné.


Arguably, the mighty defending champion Cadel Evans aside, this leaves the way far clearer for Sky’s Bradley Wiggins (winner of this year’s Critérium du Dauphiné) although that perhaps misses the more complex and subtle points of pro cycling where team work and homogeneous ‘whole’ can often outweigh individual skill and ability. Beyond that, as Wiggin’s knows all to well from the disastrously race-ending collarbone fracture he suffered on stage 7 last year, the TdF is a race where anything can happen. And often does…


Before looking at this year’s stage breakdowns, Cyclo, as always, feels a little factoid session may be in order:


* The oldest winner was in 1922 – Firmin Lambot, aged 36. The youngest was Henri Cornet, aged 19, all the way back in 1904.


* Lance Armstrong is the only rider ever to have won seven times at the TdF (consecutive years 1999 to 2005)


* Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain have each won five times, but only Indurain did so in consecutive fashion, with wins from 1991 to 95.


* Seven riders have tasted double-victory with wins in the same year at both the TdF and Giro d’Italia: Marco Pantani, Stephen Roche, Jacques Anquetil, Fausto Coppi (twice, 49 and 52), Bernard Hinault (twice, 82 and 85), Miguel Indurain (twice, 92 and 93) and the great Eddy Merckx who managed it three times – 1970, 72 and 74.


2012 Tour de France Stages:

Prologue (June 30) Liège – Liège – 6.4 km

Stage 1 (July 1) Liège – Seraing – 198 km

Stage 2 (July 2) Visé – Tournai – 207.5 km

Stage 3 (July 3) Orchies – Boulogne-sur-Mer – 197 km

Stage 4 (July 4) Abbeville – Rouen – 214.5 km

Stage 5 (July 5) Rouen – Saint-Quentin – 196.5 km

Stage 6 (July 6) Épernay – Metz – 207.5 km

Stage 7 (July 7) Tomblaine – La Planche des Belles Filles – 199 km

Stage 8 (July 8 ) Belfort – Porrentruy – 157.5 km

Stage 9 (July 9) Arc-et-Senans – Besançon (ITT) – 41.5 km

Rest Day (July 10)

Stage 10 (July 11) Mâcon – Bellegarde-sur-Valserine – 194.5 km

Stage 11 (July 12) Albertville – La Toussuire – Les Sybelles – 148 km

Stage 12 (July 13) Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne – Annonay Davézieux – 226 km

Stage 13 (July 14) Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux – Le Cap d’Agde – 217 km

Stage 14 (July 15) Limoux – Foix – 191 km

Stage 15 (July 16) Samatan – Pau – 158.5 km

Rest Day (July 17)

Stage 16 (July 18) Pau > Bagnères-de-Luchon – 197 km

Stage 17 (July 19) Bagnères-de-Luchon – Peyragudes – 143.5 km

Stage 18 (July 20) Blagna –  Brive-la-Gaillardev222.5 km

Stage 19 (July 21) Bonneval – Chartres (ITT) – 53.5 km

Stage 20 (July 22) Rambouillet – Paris Champs-Élysées – 120 km