Featured Features

Le Tour One Day Ahead – Part 2

Helen RussellLe Tour One Day Ahead, which aimed to raise £1m for Cure Leukaemia, was an epic charity ride that took place over the summer covering the full 3,344km Tour de France 2015 route. Former-GB triathlete Helen Russell (Gold medallist – 2011 ITU World Sprint Duathlon) was amongst the plucky few who took part and here, in the second of a three-part series, she shares her experience with Cyclo…


At breakfast the team were introduced to our guest cyclist for the next two days – Lance Armstrong. Most of us, including myself, had met him before at our training camp in Aspen and it was good to see him again. As we arrived at the stage start we were met by a melee of press and fans.


I was worried about what speed Lance would set but he was very kind and set a reasonable pace out of Muret to our lunch stop where once again we were met with the world’s media. I found the afternoon harder as there were three categorised climbs and as we eventually rode into the town of Rodez, where there was a final kick of a 400meter rise at a 9.6% gradient.


The following day started again with a press entourage for company and an immediate Category 4 climb of the Cote de Ponte de Salars and the Col de Vernhette. We were joined by the women’s team Donnons des Elle who are also cycling the whole of the TdF route to raise the profile of women’s cycling and advocate for a women’s Tour de France.


Helen RussellThis was one of my favourite moments of the Le Tour One Day Ahead so far as it was a real honour to cycle with them and share experiences of, and visions for, women’s cycling. Another highlight of the day was in the afternoon where a young boy in an Astana team jersey joined our peloton and was welcomed at the front by Lance where he gave his all to stay with our group. Lance pretended to be really blowing hard and struggling to stay with the boy and it was such a cute moment.


It seems that most stages this year have a nasty end and this day’s finish was up a 3kilometre lung-busting climb at an average of 10%! After battling through the press to get onto the team bus we said our goodbyes to Lance who gave a moving farewell speech and wished us luck for the rest of the challenge…


Of course Lance is a controversial figure but his presence on Le Tour One Day Ahead undoubtedly raised the profile of our challenge with media reports being broadcast worldwide. This attention has translated into more money for the charity Cure Leukaemia, which is what is important. At the end of the day this challenge isn’t about cycling it’s about raising money to fund research nurses and clinical trials. Some of the patients we met at the Centre for Clinical Excellence knew very little about Lance Armstrong, but what they did know was that more money was needed to fund the pioneering work of the Centre. I was actually surprised at the positive response Lance received along the route with the vast majority of people cheering and applauding him as we passed.


Le Tour One Day AheadAfter the excitement of the last two days, stages 15 and 16 were more peaceful and almost mirror-images of each other in terms of their profile. Stage 15 through the Rhone Valley had two large descents whilst stage 16 was a day of long and steady climbing into Gap, the gateway into the Alps. The final descent of the day was down the Col de Mense, where in 2003 Lance Armstrong had to cut across a field after Joseba Beloki came off and Armstrong was forced off the road! Luckily I managed to stay upright all the way down the descent into Gap and am enjoying my rest day, before tackling four brutal days of climbing in the Alps.


Part Three of Helen’s Le Tour One Day Ahead feature will be published on Cyclo soon – follow us on Twitter for all the latest news, plus feature and review alerts. You can read Part One of her report here. Helen’s efforts in Le Tour One Day were supported by SportsCover Direct.


Further details of Le Tour One Day Ahead at and, most importantly, you can help add to Helen’s incredible fundraising total for Cure Leukaemia by donating at JustGiving.

Photo Credits: David Walsh and Joolze Dymond




Record-Breaking Yellow for Froome

Chris FroomeTeam Sky’s Chris Froome has taken the TdF yellow jersey for a British record 15th time after moving into first place on a day of carnage on the tour.


Earlier an upping of pace ahead of the Cote de Bohissau had caused an extraordinary crash which saw a number of riders hitting the road hard – amongst them was leader Fabian Cancellara (Trek). Despite finishing the stage, Cancellara has now confirmed his withdrawal from this year’s edition with a CT scan shortly after he crossed the finish line confirming two vertebrae fractures of the lower back. ‘This is incredibly disappointing for me,’ said Cancellara, ‘The team was on a high with the yellow jersey and were very motivated to defend it. We have had a lot of crashes and injuries since the start of the season, and we finally had a great 24 hours but now it’s back to bad luck. One day you win, one day you lose.’


For his part Froome was never out of the front positions during the 159.5km leg – which saw the TdF move from Holland to Belgium – and he took the win (and jersey) by edging out Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez thanks to four bonus seconds. Commenting on the day Froome said, ‘It’s an amazing feeling to be back in yellow. If you’d have told me this morning I’d be in the jersey, I wouldn’t have believed you, but it’s amazing. Especially on a day like this which had a punchy climb in the final. That isn’t normally my kind of thing – I’m better on longer climbs – so I was really surprised to see the gaps open up like they did.’

Books Featured Reviews

Alpe d’Huez

Alpe d'HuezIt might seem madness to dedicate an entire book to a single climb, but when the climb in question is the legendary Alpe d’Huez it all starts to make much more sense.


Sometimes referenced as the Tour de France’s ‘Hollywood climb’ the iconic Alpe d’Huez, which tortures riders through 21 numbered hairpins at an average gradient of 7.8% for a sapping 13.8km, was first introduced in 1952 (conquered by Fausto Coppi) but had to really sit it out until 1976 to become the institution it now is.


Cycling journalist Peter Cossins – author of the equally excellent The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling’s Greatest One-day Races – combines both passion and reverence for the climb, weaving together stories of TdF appearances with tales of the climb’s (and resort’s) developments and occasion scandals. Whilst you might expect such a niche book to appeal wholly to the geekiest of cycling enthusiast Cyclo would argue that the highly accessible prose and sheer joy of the writing could tempt even the most casual Sunday cyclists.


Only a handful of pictures are included – something of a shame, but a limitation of the format – although more than an intimate sense of association with Alpe d’Huez is conjured up regardless. Anyone who has ever watched the TdF riders slug slowly – sometimes not so slowly – up this climb, battling the legendary crowds as much as the mountain, will find inspirational detail here and those who have been brave/fortunate enough to tackle it themselves will be able to relive every last energy-depleting twist and turn.


If any one single climb deserves a book all to itself, it’s the Alpe d’Huez and Cossins is demonstrably the man to tell the tale.


Alpe d’Huez: The Story of Pro Cycling’s Greatest Climb by Peter Cossins is published by Aurum Press, currently available from, amongst other places, Amazon at £12.99 hardback and £12.34 on Kindle.


Further details and all the latest news from Aurum Press can be found on Facebook and Twitter - You can follow Peter Cossins on Twitter too @petercossins


2015 Tour de France Route Announced

2015 Tour de FranceThe 2015 Tour de France route was revealed this morning at the Palais des Congrès in Paris. The 102nd edition of the TdF will, say organisers, ‘…offers its riders a challenge that invites daring and will leave its television viewers in a state of uncertainty regarding the scenarios to consider.’


The race will begin in Utrecht in the Netherlands, the 21st time it has started outside of France and this year will feature just 14k of Individual Time Trial, the shortest distance since the introduction of the ITT in 1947. The only Team Trial will come on Stage 10.


The Pyrenees will feature for three days of racing – July 14-16 – and will be followed by a further three days across the southern edge of the Massif Central from July 17 to 19, whilst the penultimate day (a 110k stage) will finish atop the impressive Alpe d’Huez.


In total the 21 stages will cover a distance of 3,344km, with seven mountain stages with five summit finishes. There are nine flat stages and three hilly. As always the TdF will conclude on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Further details on the 2015 Tour de France at


The Leap Celebrates the Grand Départ

Tour de France 2014Marking one month to go to the start of the Grand Départ of the Tour de France, a team of cyclists, artists and farmers have come together to install the latest in a series of field art installations. The cyclists, who are part of the Fields of Vision initiative for the Yorkshire Festival 2014, will ride a short time trial in Oxenhope with their tyre tracks revealing the outline of a female figure celebrating the freedom cycling gave to women.


The giant installation, designed by West Yorkshire artist Louise Lockhart, will be seen by visitors to the county from June 5 and television viewers of the Tour de France when it starts in exactly one month’s time on July 5. The work – know as The Leap – will be one of 12 field art installations which will be visible across Stage Two of the Grand Départ.


Geoff Wood, creative director, Fields of Vision, said: ‘For our team working on Fields of Vision, the Tour de France is a fantastic chance to show just what talented artists we have in the region and to use their skills to make art on a truly epic scale. Delivering a project as ambitious as this has been a big undertaking. We are really looking forward to seeing the results of our work on the television and sharing our work with all the viewers. We hope, of course that this will encourage people to explore this glorious landscape.’


For more information about the Yorkshire Festival 2014, including the Fields of Vision project, see



Memorabilia Seeks Tour de France Home

Brian RobinsonBritain’s first Tour de France stage winner, Yorkshireman Brian Robinson, is looking for a temporary home for his incredible collection of Tour memorabilia on the run-up to Yorkshire’s Grand Départ. Robinson, whose career ran alongside some of the of great Tour winners such as Fausto Coppi and Jacques Anquetil, has brought together a wealth of items from his own Tour de France days as well as others typical of the period including shoes he wore on his first venture into the race in 1955 and a drinking bottle from the same year, signed by himself and the only other British finisher, Tony Hoar. He is now looking for a museum or public exhibition venue to safely host the collection for the public to enjoy.


Mr Robinson, now 83, said: ‘I’m extremely proud that the Tour is coming to my home county and it would be brilliant if we can find a home for these rare items while the race is here and in the lead up to it too. I have kept things which of course have wonderful memories for me, like my shoes and even the original 1955 Tour road book, but I’d love to be able to share those memories with the public.’


The collection also includes a 1950’s Gitane bicycle of the type ridden by Robinson during his glory days as well as a replica jersey from his team Gitane/St Raphael.


Robinson adds: Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see my stuff on display. It’s all about showing that we here in Yorkshire have a great sporting heritage and inspiring the riders of the future.’


Any organisations interested in helping should contact Graham Poucher at Welcome to Yorkshire here


Featured Features

Best Cycling Books 2013

No arguing that’s it’s been another great year for cycling and an equally good one for books on the subject. With Cyclo’s Best Cycling Books 2013 guide  you can flesh out your Christmas list or get some inspiration for 2014. We’ve picked out our top 5 for your reading pleasure (and thrown in a couple of close contenders too), but if you think there’s something we’ve missed let us know at



domestiqueDomestique, The True Life Ups and Downs of a Tour Pro


A pro rider for more than a decade with some 14 Grand Tours to his credit, Charly Wegelius sets bare the true struggle of life on the circuit and demystifies much of cycling’s inner machinations but his book is also one of humbling simplicity in many ways and his modesty shines. In his opening chapter, ‘Prologue’ (Cav went for this ‘gag’ in At Speed too), Wegelius says: ‘What is it to be a great cycling champion, I will never know. What I can tell you is what it is to race bicycles for a living’. And if you want to know what it’s like to be the man who works day in, day out for the glory of others this lays it on the line.


Wegelius and co-author Tom Southam, once a pro himself, now known for his journalism in the sport, balance humour with brutal reality (‘forget the glamour, welcome to the shitty, true life ups and downs of a tour cyclist’) and the decision to avoid salacious gossip and exposé in favour of straight talk is to be applauded heartily. Easily our favourite cycling book of the year.


The True Life Ups and Downs of a Tour Pro, Ebury Press (ISBN-10: 0091950937) is currently out in hardback at £16.99 (Kindle £9.49) with the paperback edition due February 2014. Available from, amongst others,



mountain_higherMountain Higher


Subtitled Europe’s Extreme, Undiscovered and Unforgettable Cycle Climbs, Mountain Higher is the sequel (of sorts) to Daniel Friebe and Pete Goding’s beautiful Mountain High: Europe’s 50 Greatest Cycle Climbs. Concentrating here on the continent’s lesser-known, but still challenging and spectacular mountain roads and passes this is a sumptuous large-format book (no cycling jersey pocket potential unfortunately) that gives both lucid and narrative accounts of each detailed climb along with all the stats and stunning photographs to boot.


The spread through Europe is good – even Belgium gets something of a surprise entry with the 111m climb over 2.2km of the Oude Kwaremont – and those of a techie nature will enjoy the free QuercusEye app which allows you to hover over a selection of the photos and have them augmented with video and other detail. Mountain Higher is certainly amongst our favourite coffee-table books of the year regardless if you are planning to use it for adventure prep or fantasy musings.


Mountain Higher: Europe’s Extreme, Undiscovered and Unforgettable Cycle Climbs (ISBN-10: 1780879121) by Daniel Friebe and Pete Goding is published by Quercus, RRP £25.00 – Available from, amongst others,



tdf2013_book_largeTour de France 100th Race Anniversary Edition


Those sunny days of summer may be far behind but relive them (and a hundred more) in this beautifully produced commemorative book. Of course there are no end of volumes on various aspects of the Tour de France and numerous biographies of those you have ridden it to fill in the more personal (often painful) minutiae. But now, thanks to publishers Quercus, comes one as rich and beguiling as the race itself.


Covering the birth of the TdF before dedicating a page per race through the subsequent one hundred editions, it includes overviews that capture the agony and ecstasy along with brief stats, such as final standings, total distances, average winner speed and map, all of which helps contextualise things. More importantly it is also a stunningly illustrated visual history with more than 250 photographs and illustrations, many previously unpublished. As a written history, with substantial sidebars, this book is near perfect; as a collectable coffee table picture book it is unsurpassed.


Tour de France 100th Race Anniversary Edition is published by Quercus (ISBN-10: 1782064141) and worth every penny of the £30 cover price. Available from, amongst others,



at_speedAt Speed


At Speed is, in essence, volume two of Mark Cavendish’s autobiography. Boy Racer was published back in 2010, but more than enough has happened to the ‘Manx Missile’ in the intervening years to justify another slice – multiple jerseys from all three Grand Tours, the Olympics, the World Road Race title… You get the idea.


Opening with a thrillingly recounted chapter on the World Championship road race in Copenhagen At Speed takes an occasionally non-linear journey through the other ups and (occasional) downs of Cav’s recent career across three teams in as many years. As befits a cyclist who places equal emphasis on mental as physical prowess – he’s an avid Sudoku solver – he never presents excuses for his failures, just highly analytical and insightful reasons. Although co-written by ghost Daniel Friebe, who, as co-author of Mountain Higher gets two of our top five slots for 2013, At Speed manages to retain a real ‘first hand’ feel through which Cav’s voice and ambitions are clearly heard.


At Speed (ISBN-10: 0091933404) by Mark Cavendish and Daniel Friebe is published by Ebury Press. RRP £20 hardback and £9.49 on Kindle. Available from, amongst others,



racing_hardRacing Hard


Few cycling journalists have enjoyed a career as long and esteemed as that of William Fotheringham; since joining the Guardian in 1989 he has established himself as a writer respected not only by the lay-reader but by the Grand Tour participants – he is undoubtedly as ‘riders’ journalist’.  Racing Hard, published by Faber and Faber, brings together what might be considered the definitive collection of tales from the front line of pro-racing, which, taken together, becomes something of a meditation on the changing face of the sport over the last two decades.


The forward by David Millar not only sets out the regard with which Fotheringham is held, but encapsulates the span of his work; Millar writes: ‘William has put my career into words, from an ambitious teenager to a fallen world champion to a fervent anti-doping campaigner, team owner and father.’ Those that know and love Fotheringham’s work as a journalist or author (read the review of his book Merckx: Half Man, Half Bike here) will naturally gravitate towards Racing Hard; but hopefully it will also bring his words to those unfamiliar with his prolific output and earn him yet more dedicated followers. He’s worked long and hard for them…


Racing Hard (ISBN-10: 0571303625) is published by Faber and Faber, RRP £12.99 paperback and Kindle £4.79. Available from, amongst others,


Also Rode:

They may not have made our Top Five, but treating yourself to one of our ‘Also Rode’ picks is more than recommended…


It’s All About the Bike: My Autobiography – Sean Yates

One of our greatest pro cyclists and also the mind behind the rise and rise of Team Sky; an extraordinary career and a book well deserving of your time. RRP £18.99 Kindle £9.49. Available from, amongst others,


The Race Against Time – Edward Pickering

Analysis of the rivalry between living-legends Graeme Obree and Chris Boardman at a time which could be argued was the birth of modern British cycling dominance. RRP £16.99, Kindle £9.49. Available from, amongst others,


On the Road Bike: The Search For a Nation’s Cycling Soul – Ned Boulting

Boulting, the author of How I Won The Yellow Jumper, takes an odd-ways glance at out nation’s often eccentric approach to cycling.  RRP £14.99, Kindle £8.54. Available from, amongst others,


Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong – David Walsh

Certainly not the final word on the scandal that is Armstrong, but Walsh remains so inextricably linked to the sordid tale that his book brings a truly unique perspective.  RRP £8.99, Kindle £4.49. Available from, amongst others, 


Read more Cyclo book reviews here



Lance Armstrong wants to be ‘Honest’

Lance Armstrong Speaking to the BBC’s Tim Franks on World Service radio Lance Armstrong has said that he wishes to be ‘100% transparency and honesty’ in any future inquiry into cycling’s doping scandals. The expressed desire is likely to be music to the ears of new UCI president Brian Cookson who was elected largely on his platform for anti-doping reform and who is seeking to meet with the disgraced Texan who was stripped of his seven Tour de France wins after he finally confessed to chat show host Oprah Winfrey to years of cheating.


But Armstrong – who is facing financial ruin amidst a growing number of legal actions associated with his lies – also told Franks that there should be consistent treatment for those who flouted the rules. ‘If everyone gets the death penalty, then I’ll take the death penalty,’ he said during the 20-minute interview, adding, ‘If everyone gets a free pass, I’m happy to take a free pass. If everyone gets six months, then I’ll take my six months…’


Tim Franks’ interview with Lance Armstrong can be heard on the BBC World Service’s Newshour today (Monday, November 11) at 1.06pm and 2.06pm GMT and on catch-up services thereafter.