ITV4 to Screen Vuelta a Espana Highlights

Our new favourite channel ITV4 is to broadcast the 2012 Vuelta a Espana for the first time. Following successful coverage of Bradley Wiggins’ historic victory in this year’s Tour de France ??ITV will broadcast daily highlights shows throughout the Vuelta as part of a new agreement with the ASO.


Beginning on Saturday August 18 and ending on Sunday September 9, the 67th Vuelta will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,300 kilometres.?? British interest in the race should include Chris Froome, fresh from winning the Bronze medal at the Olympics Time Trial and finishing second in the TdF, along with Ian Stannard, Adam Blythe, Ben Swift and Jeremy Hunt. ??Froome also finished second in last year’s Vuelta, with his Team Sky colleague Wiggins third.


Juan Jose Cobo won the 2011 race and will be back to defend his title in 2012. ??ITV4 will broadcast a 60-minute highlights programme from each race day, presented by Gary Imlach. will also simulcast a highlights programme. ??ITV Director of Sport Niall Sloane said: ‘This has been an unprecedented year of success for British cycling, with Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France live on ITV. I’m delighted that we are able to offer free to air coverage of this year’s Vuelta a Espana.’


Tour of Britain Route Announced

The ninth edition of the modern Tour of Britain runs from Sunday 9 to Sunday 16 September 2012, and will cover 1,349 kilometres through England, Scotland and Wales.


The Grand Depart will take place in Ipswich, with Suffolk and Norfolk hosting the 199km opening stage of this year’s race on Sunday 9 September. From there The Tour will visit Nottingham, Knowsley and Merseyside, Scotland, the North West, Stoke-on-Trent, Wales and Devon before the challenging final stage in the Surrey Hills, finishing on Guildford’s uphill, cobbled High Street on Sunday September 16.


The organisers are expecting over 100 of the world’s best riders representing teams familiar from the Tour de France. From Spain, or more specifically the Basque Country, will be Euskaltel Euskadi, Garmin – Sharp from America, Liquigas – Cannondale from Italy and the Aussies from Orica GreenEDGE. Home interest will rest on Team Sky Pro Cycling who won the event in 2009, with Edvald Boasson Hagen, and grabbed a couple of stage wins in 2011 through Mark Cavendish. Other local interest might also be provided by Endura, Node4 Giordana and Team Raleigh GAC.


One interesting addition will be debutantes Team UK Youth. Owned by Nigel Mansell and ‘promoting the values of leading youth charity UK Youth’ the team seems to be a bit of a family affair with sons Greg riding and Leo acting as Managing Director. You can find out more at Team UK Youth.


The organisers hope the event will once again ‘…showcase Britain’s stunning scenery to a domestic and international audience with some of the world’s top cyclists competing on British roads for the right to win the Gold Jersey.’ This year the key sponsors include logistics firm Yodel and IG Markets.


You can keep up with the latest developments at the news section of the ToB website. You can find preview maps here. You’ll find descriptions on all of the stage routes available and highly detailed interactive stage maps. If you fancy sampling a Tour of Britain route first hand, then visit for more information on the official Tour of Britain sportives taking place in August and September.



Ride London – What, all of it?

Never shy of rubbing shoulders with success Boris Johnson roped in double gold medal winner Laura Trott to announce plans for London to host a two-day world class festival of cycling next year. The weekend festival will be known as RideLondon and will feature a series of events for amateur, club and world elite cyclists.


RideLondon will take place over the weekend beginning 3 August 2013 and will be managed by the London & Surrey Cycling Partnership, a joint venture between the organisers of the London Marathon and The Tour of Britain. They hope that the festival will attract over 200,000 visitors from outside the capital, lead to a major boost in cycling numbers and generate tens of millions of pounds in economic benefit. We may have heard that one before.


RideLondon ‘…aims to be the largest charity fund-raising cycle ride in the world and organisers will be able to draw on the vast experience of the London Marathon team within the partnership. Since its foundation participants in the London Marathon have raised over half a billion pounds for good causes and in 2011 they raised a staggering £51.8 million.’


According to the Mayor of London, ‘Our challenge is to ensure that 2012 is just the start….We also need to capitalise on the incredible achievements of Team GB’s Olympic cyclists whose superhuman efforts will inspire thousands more Londoners to take to two wheels. I urge every Londoner and cycle fanatics from all over the country, if not the world, to mark the weekend of 3 August 2013 in their diaries for what I believe will become one of the world’s number one cycling events.’ An announcement about tackling the increase in cycling deaths in the capital would also have been welcome.


And a penultimate word from Trott – ‘It’s great to think (Olympic success) may have inspired people to get on their bikes and RideLondon is a great opportunity for the public to get out and join us on the roads.’ To find out more head to


And a last word from our office wag – Boris [notorious philanderer] Johnson wants you to ride London?…..I thought he already had.



Froome to lead Team Sky in Vuelta. What next for Wiggins?

Even with the Olympic cycling still underway things are getting back to normal elsewhere with the announcement of teams for the last Grand Tour of the year. The 67th edition of the Vuelta a Espana starts in Pamplona on Saturday 18 August with Team Sky led by Chris Froome. This is in contrast to last year when he played support to Bradley Wiggins.


Apart from this being a big thank you from the team for his selfless efforts in the Tour de France it should also be seen as an indicator of Sky Team strategy for next season. Wiggins and Froome rode the Vuelta last year and made a hash of a winning position to finish second and third. There were also moments in the Tour when Froome and Wiggins didn’t seem in tactical sync. Sky will not want a repeat but maybe this tells us more about Wiggins plans for the future than that of his team.


Wiggins has repeatedly remarked on the adverse impact of cycling on family life when asked about how many Tours he might win and how many Olympics he might attend. Our guess is that he’ll focus exclusively on the Tour de France for at least 2 more seasons and have a crack at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.


Whatever the future holds he definitely won’t feature in this years Spanish Grand Tour where Froome will be looking to improve upon last year’s second place. He’ll be joined in an incredibly strong nine-man squad by Juan Antonio Flecha, Sergio Henao, Danny Pate, Richie Porte, Ian Stannard, Ben Swift, Rigoberto Urán and Xabier Zandio.


Urán won the young rider’s classification on his way to a career-best seventh overall in May’s Giro d’Italia and was the Olympic road race silver medallist. Colombian compatriot Sergio Henao achieved podium finishes in his last two races (the Vuelta a Burgos and Tour de Pologne) and also donned the Giro’s white jersey in his first season in the pro ranks. They’ll be joined by more experienced riders in Australia’s Porte, Spaniards Zandio and Flecha (riding his 17th Grand Tour), British national champion Stannard and America’s Pate. Brit Ben Swift is the team’s designated sprinter.


So Sky will go into the race as favourites with the strongest squad. According to Sports Director Nicolas Portal “We’ve got every base covered with this line up. We have Olympic medallists, amazing climbers, some really strong guys on the flat, and a very fast sprinter”.


And, maybe in light of the last years debacle, Froome stated that “I’m going to do the best job I can and do whatever’s required of me from the team. Initially I’ll be riding for the GC, but if one of my team-mates shows that they’re in a better place to win the race then I’ll happily work for them. We’re sending a first-rate squad and it should be a really exciting race.”


Books Reviews

Merckx: Half Man, Half Bike

Published in hardback in March this year, and due in paperback soon, Merckx: Half Man, Half Bike by William Fotheringham looks deep into the psyche of the cyclist who, for many, is the best there has ever been.


One of the key factors that support the publisher’s guff about Merckx being ‘to cycling what Ali is to boxing’…is the numbers. Quoted as a total of 445 victories in the publicity material but as ‘over 500’ and 525 by sources as diverse as the Guardian and Wikipedia. We’d suggest that if you are pinning your story on statistics at least get them right…


What isn’t in dispute is that Merckx won more races than any cyclist in history; five Tour de France, five Giros d’Italia, one Vualta a Espana and three world championships. Possibly the greatest achievement was to win, uniquely, the yellow (Overall Winner), green (Best Sprinter) and polka-dot (King of the Mountains] jerseys in a single Tour (1969).


Fotheringham, one of the most entertaining of cycling writers, provides interesting historical and political background to the two sides of Belgium and the rich traditions of Flanders cycling. His biographies of Tom Simpson (Put me back on my Bike) and Fausto Coppi (Fallen Angel) may be much more thrilling but, in part, that’s because both characters were flawed and met with personal tragedy. Because Merckx was relentlessly successful and focused the catalogue of rides and wins impresses rather than fascinates.


However, what Fotheringham does provide, as always, is a compelling opening chapter that takes you to the heart of the book – Merckx, near the end of his career, fighting for a futile third place finish on a brutal Alpine pass, with a jaw that was broken in two places just that morning. He also presents a rider who always attacked, the first rider to dominate the classics and the tour, day after day. Interviewed by Fotheringham in 1997 Merckx answered the key questions posed in the book: ‘Why the years of focus? Why the need to win so often and so much?’ Merckx replied with a simple soundbite: ‘Passion, only passion.’


Fotheringham suggests it all starts with a sensitive Flemish youngster, an outsider who spoke French, and one who was, in a community where cycle racing was key to the culture, ‘too small to win’. It was this fear of failure that led him at times to pursue the needless annihilation of his rivals.


If the background and the cycling action are well researched and detailed one aspect has been widely critised: to some, Fotheringham ‘takes a bucket of whitewash to Merckx’s use of performance enhancing drugs’. Merckx was said to be distraught early in his career when he realised that professional cycling was ‘rotten to the core’ yet still went on to be caught doping three times. Whatever your views on that issue this book is yet another quality title from Fotheringham; a fascinating story of, by any measure, the greatest competitive cyclist of them all.


Merckx: Half Man, Half Bike by William Fotheringham is published by Yellow Jersey – ISBN-10: 0224074482 – available from, amongst others,



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 News

Gold Run for Wiggo

With the Men’s Time Trial Bradley Wiggins has won the first of what we hope is a string of cycling golds. In the process he doubled Britain’s gold medal tally, just hours after the host nation won its first event at the London Olympics yesterday.


With his seventh Olympic medal, four of them gold, Wiggins is now the most decorated British Olympian, while the morning’s medal ensured Heather Stanning and Helen Glover became the first British female rowers to win an Olympic title. Wiggins had been the favorite for gold after winning both time trial stages en route to becoming Britain’s first Tour de France winner last month, and his dominance was clear to see as he finished 42 seconds ahead of the Germany’s 2011 world TT champion Tony Martin.


Chris Froome won the bronze, as former Olympic champion Fabian Cancellara finished a disappointing seventh. The Swiss rider injured his shoulder in Saturday’s Road Race and was clearly in pain when he crossed finish line. American Taylor Phinney finished fourth, nine seconds off a podium place.


Wiggins later turned up live on BBC, still looking a little shell-shocked, and even interrupted an international football broadcast with an unscheduled stop at the BBC3 studio. Cycling trumping football? The world’s gone mad (as Wiggo would say).


Featured Features

Bespoked Bristol 2012


Cyclo are back at this years Bespoked Bristol – The UK’s premier hand-built bike show. Now in its second year the show has already outgrown its original venue and moved to a larger conference centre right next to Bristol’s main rail station. The station, one of the oldest in the world, is now host to a new transport revolution. As recently as the 1970s the UK was the world’s cycling workshop – maybe this is the start of the comeback.


Bespoked Bristol aims to showcase the best of UK independent builders and designers and to celebrate the art of the hand-built bicycle, with this year seeing around 100 exhibitors. It now also includes overseas companies from Italy, US, Germany and France.


The backbone of the show is still the builders of one-off, custom, frames but has expanded to include accessories, components, publishing and clothing. This year also included a special area for ‘New Builders’ who have just started out in the business and are looking for their first customers.


That brings us to this year’s BB Awards. There were the six main categories covering Road, Track, Touring, Off-Road, Utility and, of course, Best in Show. Added to that were the Public Vote and new awards for ‘New Builder’ and ‘Spirit of Cycling’. Robin Mather’s beautiful ‘Baguette’ tourer won both Best of Show and the Public Vote. Best Road bike went to Ricky Feather for his collaboration with Rapha – which was a unanimous decision although the judges just couldn’t decide in the Touring class; the award was eventually shared between Roberts Cycles and Winter Cycles – from Croydon and Oregon respectively.


One of the best things about the show is the chance to swap ideas, meet fellow builders and to help build the UK, and international cycling community. The show also included a series of more formal talks including: ‘How to get started in frame building’, ‘The US custom cycle scene’, and a lively discussion on whether only ‘Steel is Real’.


Bespoked Bristol 2012 was a fabulous display of the full range of what today’s frame builders can do, featuring every type of bike, in a range of materials, from carbon to bamboo. Visitor numbers exceeded last years total by the second day so the success of next year’s event looks assured. If you didn’t make it this year, put a date in your diary for next which runs from 12-14 April.