Vuelta a España 2011

vuelta a espaniaThe Vuelta a España (or to give it its English translation, simply Tour of Spain) is one of the three races, along with the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France that make up the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) ‘Grand Tour’. Whilst the Tour de France started in 1903 and the Giro six years later in 1909, the Vuelta is by far the youngest cousin with its first running in 1935 and a twenty year gap until it became a full-blown annual event in 1955. In the same way that both le Tour and Giro were first staged and then grew in order to boost the circulations of their newspaper sponsors (L’Auto in France and La Gazzetta dello Sport in Italy), so too was the Vuelta conceived to increase the readership of Spain’s Informaciones.


The 2011 edition runs from Saturday August 20 to Sunday September 22 over a total distance of 3,300km, starting in the coastal town of Benidorm and ending in the country’s capital, Madrid. It comprises (just like the Tour de France and the Giro) 21 stages, which at this year’s Vuelta breaks down to 9 Flat Stages, 10 Mountain Stages, one team time trial (TTT) and one Individual Time Trial (ITT).


As always, Cyclo is here to help you win the odd pub bet should you find yourself involved in a heated Vuelta a España based dispute:


* The greatest number of participants was 207 in 2002, compared to the fewest in 1941, just 32 riders.

* The honour for the greatest number of overall Vuelta victories (three) is shared Tony Rominger (1992, 93 and 94) and Roberto Heras (2000, 2003, 2004).

* The greatest number of stage wins is a staggering 39 all chalked up between 1941 and 1947.Perhaps even more impressive is Freddy Maertens’s 1977 achievement when he scored 13 stage wins in a single edition (and, yes, that did make him the winner in overall classification…)

* The shortest course was a mere 2,419km in 1963, whilst the longest was 1941’s 4,442km marathon.

* The country that has won the most editions of the Vuelta (28) is, not surprisingly, Spain – just as the French have won the most Tour de France victories (36).

* The smallest margin of victory was in 1984 when Eric Caritoux won over Alberto Fernández by a mere 6 seconds. By contrast the largest margin of victory was back in 1945 when Delio Rodriguez came in a massive 30 minutes and 8 seconds ahead of second place Julián Berrendero.


Vuelta a España  2011 Stages:


Stage 1 (20 August 20) Benidorm-Benidorm, TTT – 13.5km

Stage 2 (August 21) La Nucía-Playas de Orihuela – 174km

Stage 3 (August 22) Petrer-Totana – 163km

Stage 4 (August 23) Baza-Sierra Nevada – 170.2km

Stage 5 (August 24) Sierra Nevada-Valdepeñas de Jaén – 187km

Stage 6 (August 25) Úbeda-Córdoba – 193.4km

Stage 7 (August 26) Almadén-Talavera de la Reina – 182.9km

Stage 8 (August 27) Talavera de la Reina-San Lorenzo de El Escorial – 177.3km

Stage 9 (August 28) Villacastín-Sierra de Bejar. La Covatilla – 183km

Stage 10 (August 29) Salamanca-Salamanca, ITT – 47km

Rest Day (30 August)

Stage 11 (August 31) Verín-Estación de Esquí Alto de la Manzaneda – 167km

Stage 12 (September 1) Ponteareas-Pontevedra – 167.3km

Stage 13 (September 2) Sarria-Ponferrada – 158.2km

Stage 14 (September 3) Astorga-La Farrapona. Lagos de Somiedo – 175.8km

Stage 15 (September 4) Avilés-Anglirú – 142.2km

Rest Day (September 5)

Stage 16 (September 6) Villa Romana La Olmeda (Palencia)-Haro – 203.6km

Stage 17 (September 7) Faustino V-Peña Cabarga – 211km

Stage 18 (September 8 ) Solares-Noja – 174.6km

Stage 19 (September 9) Noja-Bilbao – 158.5km

Stage 20 (September 10) Bilbao-Vitoria – 185km

Stage 21 (September 11) Circuito del Jarama-Madrid – 95.6km




Cadel the Victor & Cavendish Takes Green

Tour de FranceAfter three weeks, 21 stages and more crashed than are almost possible to count – one of the most spectacular being on the Le Mans to Châteauroux stretch which dramatically ended Bradley Wiggins contention – the 2011 Tour de France has rolled to an end.


Clearly time zones meant nothing to Australians as they stayed up through the night to watch their new national hero cycle to victory in Paris. Although the final stage was little more than ceremonial with Cadel Evans having all but been guaranteed Tour de France success by the end of the previous day’s Individual Time Trials it didn’t stop the land down under partying through the small hours in celebration of the first Australian ever to take the Tour crown – the victory also marks only the third occasion that a non-European has taken the prize. The live final broadcast by SBS Television clocked up its highest figures for the year with almost 2.5 million viewers across the country (which represented more than 10 percent of the population.) In addition almost every newspaper front page and sports section featured Evans despite going to press some considerable time before the Champs-Élysées-set win.


The question of how to commemorate the historic occasion is already being hotly debated; statues, monuments and parades have already been mooted, whilst it has been rumoured that Evans himself is in favour of a national day of holiday (unsurprising after the last three weeks of hard work) which some have suggested will be known as “Yellow Day”. Missing either the joke or the national mood, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard was quick to rule out the possibility of a national holiday, but still praised Evans for his efforts. Meanwhile the citizens in Barwon Heads outside Melbourn have pitched the idea of naming a bridge near the town in honour of their new favourite citizen.


But whilst Evans relaxed into his ride on Sunday, Mark Cavendish certainly did not.


The moment that Cavendish appeared from behind his HTC-Highroad team mate Mark Renshaw on the Champs-Elysees, was a true Tour de France moment of certainty. The moment it became clear that the Manx Missile would bag the final stage, the moment it became obvious he would take the green jersey and the moment that Cavendish would fulfil a lifetime ambition and prove himself the greatest sprinter of his generation. If that alone were not enough, the occasion also marked the first rider ever to take three consecutive Paris finish wins – indeed until last year’s success in the French capital no one before him had achieved two consecutive wins. Speaking after the race his wonderfully succinct “I am super, super happy!” seemed to be the perfectly judged understatement; the kind of remark that makes the rider such an heroic role model not only on his native Isle of Man, but across the UK and beyond.


Although Cavendish went into this year’s Tour with high hopes, the first real glimpse of the genius that was to unfold came on Stage 5 (164.5km Carhaix – Cap Frehel), where, against expectations, Cavendish managed a masterful uphill finish – arguably the most impressive of his Tour career to date. Despite some setbacks he continued to accumulate the points through to the pivotal 167.5km Stage 11 (Blaye-les-Mines to Lavaur) where he took green before consolidating things in the speed stakes with his fourth stage win on Limoux – Montpellier (Stage 15). His only major setback during the three weeks came on Stage 18 when he failed to complete the day’s work within the set time limit, but was fortunately deducted points (20 of them) rather than being disqualified.


Whether Cavendish will return in 2012 with full conviction in defending the green jersey will depend in large part on his plan of attack for the London Olympic Games which start less than two weeks after the Tour ends. But for now, Cavendish can relish his incredible victory and might well like to suggest to the good people of the Isle of Man that they kick celebrations on with a local holiday – “Green Day” would seem an appropriate name.


Final 2011 Tour de France General Classifications


1 Cadel Evans, BMC 86h 12’22”

2 Andy Schleck, Leopard Trek +1’34”

3 Frank Schleck, Leopard Trek +2’30”

4 Thomas Voeckler, Europcar +3’20”

5 Alberto Contador, Saxo Bank Sungard +3’57”

6  Samuel Gonzalez, Euskaltel-Euskadi +4’55”

7 Damiano Cunego (It) Lampre – ISD +6’5”

8 Ivan Basso (It) Liquigas-Cannondale +7’23”

9 Tom Danielson (US) Team Garmin-Cervelo +8’15”

10 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fr) AG2R La Mondiale +10’11”


For further results and analysis see:



Bespoked Bristol 2011

The first event of its kind in the UK the inaugural Bespoked Bristol, which took place June 11 & 12, showcased a wealth of boutique talent from both independent makers and small-scale manufacturers of bikes, components, kits and accessories. Held at Paintworks part of Bristol’s “Creative Quarter” and attracting a near capacity crowd of 2500 visitors across the weekend, the event was originated and organised by Phil Taylor. Already a keen cyclist Taylor explains the genesis of Bespoke Bristol as a mixture of fascination with the North American Handmade Bicycle Show and a spot of bad luck: “I’ve always ridden bikes and tinkered with bikes. I used to commute 30 miles a day from Worthing to Brighton along the beach or over the Downs and used to get a new bike every year and then a couple of years ago thinking about my perfect bike I decided to make one, it was while researching making my bike everything kept taking me back to the NAHBS website. Tessa (my wife) and I had set up The Brighton Art Fair ( so I decided organise the UK version…It took about a year to pull everything together. Breaking my foot helped by giving me loads of time with my foot in the air!”


So, how did the exhibitors rate this inaugural show? Andrew Denham of The Bicycle Academy certainly seemed impressed: “This Bike show has been absolutely awesome; we’ve been able to meet all the people that are going to be our customers and all the people that are going to help make it happen for us.” Whilst Brian Rourke of Rourke Cycles seemed to speak for all with his summation: “I’ve been going to bike shows for about 50 years now this one, for me personally for this kind of show, has been the best ever, not by close, but by miles.”


Photo Credit: Kayti Peschke

With such glowing words and with such an impressive line-up of suppliers and frame builders from 18 Bikes and Burls to Condor and Enigma Titanium (to name but a few) on show at Bespoke it was no small wonder that the pressure filtered down to Taylor. “I felt so responsible for all the bikes, so much so that I had to sleep with the bikes the first night! Will Norgan from Hammoon Cycles lent me some hefty tubing…We got security in the second night!”



After such a successful start what, Cyclo wonders, are plans for the future? Taylor confirms that the wheels are in motion, “We have already got the dates out for the next show – March 23 to 25, 2012 – and have booked the venue, the Passenger Shed, Bristol.” But will growth into a bigger venue see a shift away from the boutique nature of the event? “We really want to keep the atmosphere that was at the show this year”, says Taylor, “So although we’ve gone for a bigger we are not going to pack it full (quality not quantity), leaving space for a test/race track. Application are coming thick and fast for next years show and we’ve also had some interest form the US with one of the Oregon builders seeing about getting a collective together…”


For more information on this year’s show – and to see updates on what you can expect for 2012 –

see or for a peek at what Cyclo saw at the 2011 Bespoke Bristol take a look at our video below…


Bespoked Bristol 2011 HD from D2 production on Vimeo.



Tour de France 2011

Tour de FranceThe origins or the Tour de France are as arcane and convoluted as they are typically Gallic; everything from the Folies Bergères to novelist Emile Zola and the socialist Jean Jaurès make an appearance in a story that has grown and become mythologized since the race was first staged in 1903. But what it comes down to, in simplistic terms, is this: The race was the brainchild of Henri Desgrange, the Parisian editor if sports magazine “L’Auto-Vélo” who, in a bid to boost circulation, staged the first Tour with just 60 riders in attendance. By the 1920s the race had grown to more than 100 competitors from across Europe and the foundations of the Tour we know today as the greatest stage cycling race in the world were laid. The Tour de France 2011 (the 98th) begins on Saturday July 2 running through to Sunday July 24, comprises 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,430.5k on a course that Christian Prudhomme (Director of the Tour de France) has described as being: “…determined with two objectives in mind: to set the pace from the beginning of the race and maintain suspense right up until the very end…” As always the Tour will comprise a variety of disciplines which this year breaks down as – 10 flat stages, 6 mountain stages (with 4 summit finishes), 3 “medium” mountain stages, 1 Individual Time-Trial stage (July 23, 42.5km, Grenoble) and 1 Team Time-Trial stage (July 3,23 km, Les Essarts).


If you’re looking to educate/entertain/bored (delete as applicable) your friends, Cyclo suggests you try one or more of the following Tour-factoids:


* The first rider to wear the yellow jersey from start to finish was Italian Ottavio Bottecchia (1924)

* Only one rider has won seven Tours: Lance Armstrong in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005.

* Just four riders have one the Tour five times: Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain. Of these, only Indurain achieved five consecutive wins – 1991-1995.
* Seven riders have won the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia in the same year: Marco Pantani, Stephen Roche, Jacques Anquetil, Miguel Indurain, Bernard Hinault, Fausto Coppi and Eddy Merckx, who achieved a record three double-victories in 1970, 72 and 74.
* France has won the most Tours (36), followed by Belgium (18) and Spain (13)
* The youngest Tour de France winner was Henri Cornet, aged 19 (1904).
* The oldest winner was Firmin Lambot, aged 36 (1922).
* Only four competitors have died during the history of the Tour – Fabio Casartelli (1995), Tom Simpson (1967), Francisco Cepeda (1935) and Adolphe Helière (1910); however Helière actually died during a rest day when he drowned.


2011 Tour de France Stages:


Stage 1 (July 2) Passage du Gois-Mont des Alouettes – 191.5km
Stage 2 (July 3)  Les Essarts-Les Essarts, TTT – 23km
Stage 3 (July 4)  Olonne-sur-Mer-Redon – 198km
Stage 4 (July 5)  Lorient-Mûr-de-Bretagne – 172.5km
Stage 5 (July 6) Carhaix-Cap Fréhel – 164.5km
Stage 6 (July 7)  Dinan-Lisieux – 226.5km
Stage 7 (July 8 ) Le Mans-Châteauroux – 218km
Stage 8 (July 9)  Aigurande-Super Besse Sancy – 189km
Stage 9 (July 10): Issoire-St-Flour – 208km
Rest Day (July 11)
Stage 10 (July 12)  Aurillac-Carmaux – 158km
Stage 11 (July 13)  Blaye-les-Mines-Lavaur – 167.5km
Stage 12 (July 14): Cugnaux-Luz Ardiden – 211km
Stage 13 (July 15): Pau-Lourdes – 152.5km
Stage 14: (July 16) Saint-Gaudens-Plateau de Beille – 168.5km
Stage 15 (July 17)  Limous-Montpellier – 192.5km
Rest Day (July 18)
Stage 16 (July 19): Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux-Gap – 162.5km
Stage 17 (July 20): Gap-Pinerolo – 179km
Stage 18 (July 21)  Pinerolo-Galibier/Serre-Chevalier – 200.5km
Stage 19 (July 22)  Modane-Alpe d’Huez – 109.5km
Stage 20 (July 23)  Grenoble-Grenoble, ITT – 42.5km
Stage 21 (July 24)  Créteil-Paris/Champs-Elysées – 95km




Giro d’Italia Need to Know

As befits one of the greatest competitions in the world the Giro d’Italia’s origins can be found in a little friendly rivalry. In August 1908, partly in response to the growing success of the Tour de France which had begun in 1903, the Italian sports paper Gazetta dello Sport announced the inaugural staging of the Giro which was to be organised along similar lines to the car rally started and sponsored by their rivals at Corriere della Sera; an event which had seen their circulation rise dramatically. The Gazetta’s founder Eugenio Camillo Costamagna, along with director Armando Cougnet and its editor Tullio Morgagni went to press with their announcement, leaving the country in no doubt that they should look forward to hosting one of the most spectacular sporting events in the world. Nine months later, May 13, 1909, 127 riders lined up in Loreto Place in Milan ready to battle it out over eight stages and 2448 kilometres to see who had the mettle to become the first ever Giro d’Italia champion. Ultimately the accolade went to Italian Luigi Ganna who walked (rode?) away with more than 5,300 Lira in prize money and a place in the cycling history books.


Over the last century the Giro has changed little in either spirit or practice, but has grown yearly in popularity to now form one of the three Grand Tours along with older brother the Tour de France and younger cousin the Vuelta a España, which was first held in 1935 and became an annual event from 1955.


The Giro in Facts and Figures:


An Italian won every Giro from the inaugural staging until 1950 when Swiss rider Hugo Koblet upset the national pride apple cart. It took another 38years for a non-European to win (Andrew Hampsten of the USA).


With the route continually changing over the years there have been some big fluctuations from the original distance, with the longest ever staging being held in 1954 across 4,337km.


The record for the most number of Giro wins (5) is shared by three legendary riders: Alfredo Binda (Italy, 1925, ‘27, ‘28, ‘29 and 1933), Fausto Coppi (Italy, 1940, ‘47, ‘49, 1952 and ‘53) and Belgian Eddy Merckx (1968, 1970, ‘72, ‘73 and ‘74).


Fausto Coppi’s 1940 also win bagged him the record for the youngest ever winner of the Giro; he was aged 20years, 8months and 25 days. Compare, if you will, to the eldest ever winner Fiorenzo Magni who took his third win in 1955 (having also taken victory in 1948 and ’51) at the ripe old age of 35.


The leaders jersey for the Giro is pink based on the paper colour of Gazetta dello Sport and known as the maglia rosa. Eddy Merckx takes another Giro record as the rider having sported it on the most occasions: a truly impressive 76days.


The 2011 Giro has seen a record number of riders lined up with 23 teams and 207 riders, a far cry from a century ago when a mere 56 competitors took to the course for the 1912 edition or indeed to the 1914 race which saw only 8 riders finish…



Cyclists: Don’t Sweat It

camelbakMost cyclists don’t have big elephant ears to flap around or long slobbery tongues like a dog – or Gene Simmons – which is why, as humans, we primarily use sweat as a means of heat control. We’re oversimplifying a little here; technically we control heat through the complex relationship between our central nervous system and various interconnected parts of our brain, primarily the anterior hypothalamus. But when it comes to cooling us down, sweat’s the thing and that’s why as cyclists we should spend a little time trying to understand, perhaps even love, the 2.6 million sweat glands that cover our skin.


Sweating cools us because of some pretty basic physics: it takes a certain amount of heat/energy to vaporise  the liquid (sweat) on your skin. Whisking away 500ml of sweat (a not unreasonable hourly rate on your bike) removes in excess if 250,000 calories of heat from the body. When the sweat glands are stimulated on a long hot ride they produce a fluid with high concentrates of body ‘salts’ (including sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium) As this fluid moves up through the duct that leads to the pores on your skin a percentage of the ‘salts’ are reabsorbed into the body, helping to maintain a healthy level. With regular exposure to hot conditions or strenuous rides your body becomes better adapted at reabsorbing these ‘salts’, meaning, in effect, that you can train yourself to sweat more effectively. Pretty cool, so to speak.


With this in mind here are Cyclo’s Top Tips for Cyclists


Keep it handy – A bottle of water close at hand is far more likely to be used and with greater frequency than a bottle stashed in a backpack/pannier/cupboard back at your house. Simple.
Save money – For all the “science” talked about around sports drinks, water is what your body requires and water (fresh, free tap water if you like) is what you can adequately nourish it with. Splash out on sports drinks if you so wish, it’s your money…


Replace the ‘salts’ – Replacing the ‘salts’ that you shed couldn’t be easier. Invest in some nuun tablets, Elete Water or similar product and your body will thank you. However (more money saving here) a ride of an hour or two is unlikely to be significantly improved by using products like this, so save them for the really long chugging challenges.


Start as you mean to go on – Begin your ride well hydrated, but avoid coffee which, although there is some evidence to suggest it improves both VO2Max and lactic acid threshold, is a diuretic likely to add to dehydration. Same goes for alcohol. Sorry.


Wear the right kit – A well ventilated helmet will keep you cooler and good “wicking” clothing will whisk away the sweat. Neither of these necessarily reduces the amount of sweating but it all fits together for a sensible “hydration strategy.”


Drink now, not later – Because modern apparel is so effective at keeping cyclists feeling cool (and because we are dashing onwards at a rate of knots being cooled by the air) cyclists are at some risk of not noticing how much they are sweating – so drink before you feel thirsty.


Don’t over-hydrate – In extreme conditions taking on too much water can be just as damaging (arguably considerably more so) than not drinking enough. Unless you are carefully monitoring your bodies ‘salt’ loses, or ensuring that you replace them – nuun, Elete, etc. – drinking excessive water can lead to all manner of complications; Google “Water intoxication” for all the gory details… It’s possible to calculate your personal “sweat rate”, but as this invariably involves lots of weighing yourself naked, you can largely rely on the ready-reckoner of between 500 and 700ml per hour, so aim to drink around this amount too.


Image (c) camelbak –


Featured Features

Cycling First: The 2012 Velodrome

2012 VelodromeDoesn’t it fill the UK’s cycling community with pride to know that the first major London Olympic venue to be brought to completion is the stunning £95million Velodrome? With claims of being the fastest cycling track in the world the Velodrome was officially opened in late February with the 6,000 seat venue making a stunning addition to the rapidly emerging Olympic park; it’s already being hailed as the default architectural icon of the development and it’s easy to see why.


The key team responsible for design and delivery comprised Chris Wise, Dean Goodliffe, Mike Taylor and Ron Webb, the former Australian cycling champion, who has already been involved in the instillation of more than 50 tracks world-wide including those for both the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Webb has commented that “Building a track is like building a ship inside out”, and with the London Velodrome featuring one of the largest cable-net roofs in the UK along with 56km of Siberian pine all nudged in to place with 350,000 nails it’s easy to grasp the nautical simile. Fact-fanatics might also like to note that the entire structure sits on 900 piles that had to be driven to an exceptional depth of 26m due to the fact that the development area is, basically, a 100-year-old landfill site. If you win a pub-quiz now you know that, you owe Cyclo a beer (it’s the rules.)


Other innovations for London include a 360degree glass wall between the upper and lower tiers of seating to give panoramic views across the park (though eyes on the track would seem more appropriate), seating around the entire track rather than just the straights, climate control to hold things around the 29°C mark for improved times, plus a track-side competitors’ loo suggested, legend has it, by Sir Chris Hoy.


Of course legacy has been a key term right from the beginning of the bid to stage the 2012 Games and the Velodrome and wider VeloPark are at the heart of this commitment. Once the final medals have been awarded and the Olympic flame handed on, a new mountain bike course and road-cycle circuit will be added for use not just by elite athletes, but by sports clubs and the wider community. Added to this will be cafes, bike hire facilities and cycle workshops all of which will help to create a new cycling “hub” which will be owned, run and (mostly) funded by the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority.


With Track Cycling having been, by far, Great Britain’s biggest success in Beijing (more than a third of Team GB’s total golds came via peddle power) it’s clear that riders will be pushing hard to up their game for 2012 and London’s Velodrome will provide a stunning background whilst the drama unfolds. Here at Cyclo we can’t wait to get inside and have a play (where was our invitation in February?)


(Velodrome image courtesy of LOCOG)



Get back on the bike

So it looks like it might rain and it’s still winter, technically. You’re feeling a bit tired because, well, wasn’t it Christmas last month, almost. Well if you need a bit of inspiration to get back ‘on it’ try this beautiful film from Matt Blandford. Lido Domenichelli is a 73 year old resident of Quarrata, Italy. He still cycles up to 200 km a week in the hills around the town.


I was in my shorts before the credits rolled.



Lo Scugno (English subtitles) from Matt Blandford on Vimeo.