Featured Features

Riding the Dallaglio Cycle Slam

Dallaglio Cycle SlamTaking place from June 1 to 25 the Dallaglio Cycle Slam is the Dallaglio Foundation’s largest annual fundraising event; it saw Lawrence Dallaglio and his team of core riders, including world-class athletes and celebrities, alongside 300 supporters, cycle through Italy, France, Switzerland and England – covering 2,300km to raise money for his charity. With slightly disturbing mental images of Lycra and rugby boots rattling around my head, I joined them for a day in the saddle.


The darker recesses of my mind had led me to believe that my participation in the Dallaglio Cycle Slamwas going to be a combination of international athleticism and the sort of camping trip my dad would have organised. I certainly felt the need to practice carb-loading to give myself a fighting chance of keeping up with sports stars in cleats, but in all honesty I didn’t have much perpetration time for the event, something of an out-of-blue opportunity that left me with just ten days to train/panic. I was already riding about 50miles a week in readiness for a more planned Alpine cycling adventure in September, so I settled comfortably for the arguably sub-optimal, but always agreeable, ‘eat and rest’ option.


Dallaglio Cycle SlamI focused on a seven-day carb-loading regime; on day one I half-read a chapter on nutrition and dutifully increased my carb intake by an extra bowl of cereal and sandwich to achieve the 350g suggested target. On day two, half way through my second bowl of porridge, I finished the chapter and discovered 350g was meant to be a slight reduction in my usual carb intake, followed by four days of 700g of carbs, the reduction apparently spiking the body’s ability to store glycogen. Oh well, I figured I might as well keep eating now…


Once in the saddle though I wasn’t quite sure of the etiquette, nor of my ability to last the course. I started steady, cycling alongside the 17 stone Lawrence Dallaglio. It was his tour – was it permissible to overtake? Would I regret it later if I did?  The lactic acid taking over and leaving me cramped-up and useless on the side of some picturesque road. I slid ahead feeling good and risking (almost) all…


Despite what I feared was under-perpetration I was probably over-prepared for this ride –both mentally and nutritionally. Having feared that I’d be dropped by super-fast, single-focused sports freaks racing along the tarmac in a blur, I was rather surprised to be supping coffees and eating pork pies just ten miles in and with 83 miles still to go. A few more miles up the road and it was beer and pizza. At 11am, we stopped for lunch. This was provided by professional caterers in a lay-by whilst eager physios got to work on the tightness that cycling from Italy to Yorkshire cause – for the core riders at least, not for the hanger-on day trippers like me. I just ate.


Dallaglio Cycle SlamBack on the bike, of similar speedto me was a chap called Andrew Ridgley. We slipped into a pretty closely synchronised paced and rode together for much of the way, celebrating the summits with scenic selfies. I had entirely failed to make the Wham! connection and couldn’t work out why so many people asked him for autographs each time we stopped, whilst my own signature wasn’t once requested. Go figure…

Aside from the excellent (if unrecognised) company the highlight of Dallaglio Cycle Slamfor me was the route itself; I’d always wanted to climb Holme Moss, having heard so much about it and believing it to be the longest climb in England. I didn’t realise it was pipped by Craggy Vale, which we also ticked off the list during the day. That this was also the exact route of the second stage of the Tour de France added to the significance and excitement; the streets of Harrogate were decked out in knitted jerseys and yellow bikes as anticipation for the tour was building and there’s no denying this helped build my Sagan and Kittel-styled self-delusion.


Dallaglio Cycle SlamHalf way to Sheffield, I had mentally adjusted to a slower day in the saddle and taken on role of team domestique, helping a couple of slightly hung-over and war-torn tourists up the climbs. But having given up rugby myself 12 months ago, I was still pretty chuffed to be part of what Lawrence called the’rugby clubhouse on two wheels.’


Fair play, this group had already achieved a great deal; I couldn’t really compare myself coming in fresh. In three more days this dedicated group would be in more familiar surroundings, completing their journey at Twickenham, hoping to have raised £1million through the Dallalgio Foundation for children with cancer and for disadvantaged young people. An amazing team, an incredible cause, and an unforgettable experience…


The four stages of the Dallaglio Cycle Slam were:

Treviso, Italy to St Moritz, Switzerland – June 2-6, 540.1 km

St Moritz, Switzerland to Chamonix, France – June 8-12, 565.1 km

Chamonix, France to Chambery, France –June 14-17, 529.3 km

Leeds, England to Twickenham, England –June 20-24, 686.4 km


Find out more about the Dallaglio Cycle Slam at and their official nutrition partner Elivar at


ElivarRecognising that what athletes need in their twenties is very different to their mid thirties and upwards, Elivar was developed with sports nutritionists and food scientists to ensure endurance sports participants are set up for continued participation into later life. Commenting on Elivar’s support ahead of the challenge Lawrence Dallaglio said, ‘we’re delighted to have Elivar fuelling me and the team right the way through the ride. Decent sports nutrition is essential for the Dallaglio Cycle Slam because it is such a test of endurance, we’ll be riding through a tough environment for 25 days and a group of amateurs like us needs all the help we can get!’


You can read the Cyclo review of Elivar here.


Feature by Tim Friend


Featured Features

Preventing Common Cycling Injuries

RocktapeAs one of the team sponsors of Team Garmin Sharp, ROCKTAPE, have had their fair share of experience working with cycling injuries, whether on the Tour de France, at local triathlons or at the UK National Mountain Bike Championship. Cyclo asked Daniel Lawrence, ROCKTAPE’s Education Director, to talk us through some of the most common cycling injuries, how they come about, and what you can do to treat and avoid them…


Cycling injuries are usually not too severe and can be easily treated; however they can become commonplace if you do not take the correct precautions. Many of the injuries that I see amongst cyclists tend to be overuse injuries through regular repetitive movements, or postural injuries, the result of an improper riding position or posture on the bike.


Points of contact cycling injuries are one of the most common things that I see with cyclists. Take, for example, where the cleats make contact with the pedal, usually via a clipless pedal system. If your cleats are not properly positioned at the correct angle, your will end up with shooting pains in your knees that will simply continue to grow until corrected. One of the simplest ways to remedy this is to correctly set up your clipless pedal system. It might take a bit of fiddling about and adjusting to get your shoe position correct but it will help ensure your feet are always in the correct position and also help you to generate more power easily too.


If you haven’t invested in a clipless pedal system, than it is definitely something that I would recommend.


Another incredibly common point of contact injury is with the handlebar. Either holding it in the same position for a long period of time, gripping it too tightly, or leaning too far over the handlebar can result in compression of the ulnar nerve.  Whilst I could tell you about more technical ways to resolve this, honestly the simplest way is to make sure that you simply move your hands around the handlebar a bit. Try not to get stuck in one position at a time. Road bikes are specifically designed to allow riders to grip the handlebars, on the sides, above or below, so just make sure to alter your position as you ride. Otherwise you’ll suffer pins and needles and discomfort in your hands and fingers.


Moving on, if you look at professional cyclists like Robert Forestmann, one of the first things you notice is the size of their quads. They call Forestmann Quadzilla for good reason.


Quads certainly get a pretty intense workout during cycling and when they are in regular use, like during the Tour de France, they can easily suffer from fatigue. So, after a day’s racing, cyclists receive a massage to dissolve the lactic acid that has been built up in the quads and help ensure that the team is cycling fit for the next day on the tour.


If you do ever find yourself cycling without a support truck and a team of masseuses than I’ve found that kinesiology tape (applied before starting) can promote muscle endurance and aid recovery.


Whilst he is not competing in the Tour de France this year, if you have ever watched Sir Bradley Wiggins in the time trials you will have seen him hunched right forwards over the bike to make him more aerodynamic. This can cause muscle fatigue in your lower back and neck. The easy answer is of course to simply sit up, or stand on your bicycle. However, this would obviously slow Sir Bradley down… Again, I’d recommend using kinesiology tape – such as ROCKTAPE – on that lower back area. It will help stimulate the skin in the area, promoting muscle function and decreasing pain.


If you’re not up there with Wiggins quite yet and, like me, simply cycle to keep fit and for fun you might find that you have quite tight hamstrings and calves. This can be an issue when running, as you can struggle with non-cycling movement patterns; the simple answer here is to make sure that you warm up and cool down before any exercise. However, if you do find yourself still struggling then you could use a foam roller to help reduce muscle tone and help reduce any tightness.


But do you know what causes most cycling injuries? Crashing (the 2014 Tour de France is fairly conclusive proof of this.) There’s one useful bit of advice that I can give you for that: Make sure you always wear a helmet!


For further details on ROCKTAPE – including instructional videos and guides for use – see


Read the Cyclo review of ROCKTAPE here.


More on Team Garmin Sharp


Featured Features

Brits of the Tour de France 2014

With David Millar now dropped from Garmin-Sharp and Alex Dowsett a substitute rider for Movistar, this year’s British contingent of riders for the Tour de France is a mere four…


Chris FroomeChris Froome - Reigning Tour de France champion and Team Sky’s not-at-all-secret weapon, Froome continues to demonstrate why he is arguably the best stage race rider in the world. Turning professional in 2007 when he joined Team Konica Minolta, Froome really came into the spotlight at the 2011 Vuelta a Espana just a year after moving to Team Sky. The historic one-two with Bradley Wiggins at the 2012 Tour de France and subsequent bronze for the Time Trial the London Olympics consolidated his reputation as one of the best riders of his generation.

Follow Chris Froome on Twitter @chrisfroome



Geraint ThomasGeraint Thomas - With Team Sky also boasting Geraint Thomas they account for 50% of the Brits at this year’s Tour de France. A member of British Cycling’s Olympic Academy, Thomas won the Junior Paris–Roubaix in 2004 continuing to make headway through to his victory at the British National Road Race Championships in 2010. After gold medal success at London 2012, Thomas was an integral part of Team Sky’s second Tour de France victory and will act as Froome’s wingman for this year’s Tour de France. Our money’s on him as a future Grand Tour winner too.

Follow Geraint Thomas on Twitter @GeraintThomas86



Mark CavendishMark Cavendish - The Manx Missile, Mark Cavendish is the sprinter’s sprinter and Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s one to watch. Cavendish already has 25 Tour de France stage wins to his name, putting him in third position; although he might claim enough wins in the 2014 TdF to nudge France’s Bernard Hinault off of the second spot (28 wins) he still has a way to go to reach the dizzying heights of Eddy Merckx with 34 victories. Before a pedal has even been cranked in anger at the Tour de France Cavendish has already clocked up over 7,000km of competitive cycling this year.

Follow Mark Cavendish on Twitter @markcavendish



Simon YatesSimon Yates - Twin brother of Adam Yates, also of ORICA-GreenEDGE, Simon’s inclusion in the 2014 Tour de France line-up was something of a surprise; not yet his time to shine we think, but this will give him some invaluable Grand Tour experience miles. Not yet 22 years old Yates took gold in the Points Race at the 2013 Track World Championships and has more than proven his worth on the road with solid work at the Tour de l’Avenir and a win over both Wiggins and Nairo Quintana on stage six of the Tour of Britain. Plenty of good years ahead of him…

Follow Simon Yates on Twitter @SimonYatess





Featured Features

The Virgin STRIVE Challenge

The Virgin STRIVE ChallengeTaking place from August 7 to September 6 The Virgin STRIVE Challenge is a mass participatory, ultra-endurance fundraising event organised by Sam Branson and Big Change, which will see a core team including Innocent Co-Founder Richard Reed, adventurer Justin Packshaw and Wimbledon Champion Marion Bartoli run, row, cycle, hike and climb from London to the summit of the Matterhorn.  Virgin STRIVE Challenge aims to raise £750,000, which will go directly to the Big Change Life Skills projects; Big Change is a charity focused on giving young people in the UK an opportunity to learn and develop the soft skills they need to become healthy, happy and productive adults. Cyclo spoke to Sam Branson to find out how it all began and how everyone can take part…


Cyclo: An incredible challenge for everyone; who did it all begin?


Sam Branson: I climbed Mont Blanc two years ago to launch our foundation Big Change which we are doing this challenge for. So I was up on the mountain and thinking that whenever I push myself in life with the challenges I have undertaken, I have always thrived and learned so much about wider life skills. I looked across and saw the Matterhorn and though, ‘Wow! What an iconic mountain how awesome to climb that…’


It started me thinking how can I come up with a challenge to be a vehicle for talking about the feelings and skills one gains when you set a challenge and push yourself to achieve it. I began to put together a plan to get from the Matterhorn to London and then I got an email from my cousin Noah saying, ‘I have an idea, why don’t we go from London to the Matterhorn?


We met up for a beer not believing we had basically both come up with the same thing. We knocked heads together and STRIVE was born. It all grew from there, it’s been a long process but I think we’re just about starting to reap the benefits…


Cyclo: How did the route and combination of challenges come about?


Sam Branson: We had settled on London to the Matterhorn and if you’re basically going from A to B things quite naturally fall into place; it was kind of obvious to run to the coast, row the channel, cycle, hike and climb.


Cyclo: Any change of plans or options you discounted?


Sam Branson: We were going cycle straight to the Matterhorn but decided to add in The Haute Route just to throw in another element to the mix and try and get more people involved. Yes we have a core team, but the real aim of this is to try and make it accessible to as many other people as possible, to get them to be a part of it too.


One other option we had in terms of sporting challenge was to swim the channel, but I have to say that had we gone with that decision I don’t think many of us would have made it all the way…


Cyclo: How did you go about gathering your core team for this?


Sam Branson: We set out to find people that really reflected what STRIVE were about. Those who strive in life, work hard and with dedication. We wanted people from different walks of life and who have excelled in their own way, those who have stuck their neck out and have reaped the benefits.


We needed people who had the time and passion of course, but also who were capable of doing it. The thing with these kinds of events is that you do ultimately attract the kind of people who are right. I think the fact that it’s massive, iconic and for a great cause helped, so the people who said yes said yes pretty quickly.


Cyclo: You needed people capable of tremendous teamwork too…


Sam Branson: Well all those life skills, like teamwork and emotional communication, are fundament to help us get along the way. Of course we wanted to create a vehicle that raised funds but also one that really highlighted these life skills. We’re going to be creating content along the way and talking about what we are using to get through it. Teamwork will be, without a doubt, chief amongst those – everyone has high moments and low moments and that’s when you need to drawn on the strength of others.


Cyclo: Both cycle stages look incredibly challenging but the second one in particular with over 8,000m of ascent…


Sam Branson: With the cycling we wanted to try and work out a way of getting as many people as possible doing this. I think for people who cycle a lot the second legs is challenging enough to make them feel like they are really pushing themselves and having a great experience. For those who might not have ever cycled or have cycled less the first leg is a great way of getting people involved a multi-day cycling. Both cycle legs will, I’m sure, be spectacular…


Cyclo: Are the big hills something you are dreading?


Sam Branson: The fact is I find the flats with headwinds ten times harder than any hill I have ever cycled up. You have that sense of achievement on the hills; you have a visual goal, you get up to the top, feel amazing, and then have all the fun of cycling down the other side.


Cyclo: Apart from donating – which we hope plenty of our readers will – how else can people get involved?


Sam Branson: Donating’s great, that’s via but we want as many as possible along on the run and ride, all the details are at – it’s going to be great fun…



The full Virgin STRIVE Challenge will comprise three marathons in three days, 36km cross-Channel row, 1047km of cycling, 180km, 7-day hike of the Haute Route Trek and the ascent of the Matterhorn. The core team consists of Sam Branson, Richard Reed (Innocent Co-Founder), Marion Bartoli (current Wimbledon Champion), Karl Lokko (poet and social activist), Ade Adepitan (broadcaster and paralympian), Justin Packshaw (adventurer), Fiona Waller (trans-Atlantic and Indian ocean rower), Arnaud Haines and Noah Devereux (event co-founder and director).


The cycle stages (and marathons) are open for mass participation:

Cycle 1: Boulogne-sur-Mer to Troyes, 449km, 4099m of climb, August 12-17

Cycle 2: Troyes to Verbier, 598km, 8643m of climb, August 17-22


Further details and online entry at


More information on Big Change at


Donate now to the Virgin STRIVE Challenge at


Big Change

Featured Features

Deaf Cycling – Tom Smith Interview

tom smith27-year-old Tom Smith is a deaf cyclist who has already taken Bronze at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Australia and become a double-medal winner at the 2013 Deaflympics in Sofia. Born and bred in Cardiff Tom now spends the racing season in Belgium – Cyclo talks to him about his impressive racing career, overcoming the tough challenges associated with being a deaf athlete, and how the Deaflympics still fails to gain the recognition it deserves…


Cyclo: You’ve been a cyclist all your life? Can you remember that first bike?
Tom Smith: Most of it! I started racing when I was 9. My first proper road bike was a steel Dave Marsh in purple with 5 or 6 speed cassette and down tube levers. My first track bike was a white Ribble…


Cyclo: What problems do being a deaf cyclist present?


Tom Smith: Missing certain parts of what people are saying to me; whether I’m wearing my ears (hearing aids) or not. But I try to think that my hearing loss is part of my ability, not disability.


Cyclo: It’s often said that when one sense is impaired the others are heightened. Do you find any truth in this and, if so, does this help your cycling in any way?


Tom Smith: My perception and vision are quite good, and this gives me a wicked sixth-sense at times so yes I do believe in that. I try and keep myself as visual and aware in my surroundings as possible so that I can develop that and my other senses. I think it’s important so that I can be more aware of things that I may miss otherwise.


Cyclo: How early on did you realise that cycling was more than a hobby?


Tom Smith: Very early on. I never thought to be anything other than a cyclist. Even when I had career paths at school they never could get any interest out of me for anything else.


Cyclo: When you were younger you rode for Cycling Club Cardiff and also trained with the Maindy Flyers in Cardiff. Can you tell us about that?


Tom Smith: I started riding for Cycling Club Cardiff when I was 8. Dad took me down to a Saturday morning session that was being run down at Maindy. My first time on a fixed wheel bike was scary as I didn’t know how to stop. But once I was put on the track I was instantly hooked. I think I was around 10 years old when I started doing two or three club sessions a week between the Flyers and C.C.Cardiff. It was a good group with the likes of Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe attending too.


Cyclo: You were training and riding with both hearing and hearing-impaired cyclists?


Tom Smith: Everyone was hearing apart from me. It was only until I set up Great Britain Deaf Cycling in 2007 and started looking that others were starting to get interested. Only one other cyclist has been involved since due to funding reasons.


Cyclo: You were in an accident at 17 – there were lasting implications?


Tom Smith: Yes, I was hit by a car out training. The effects were difficult to understand at first as I didn’t seem to have back problems, only a leg issue. Due to the time it took to realise what had happened between the accident and the surgery (four years) I had developed some strong imbalances. I’m happy to say that these have been corrected although it took a very long time. I now have some screws and cage holding my L5-S1 vertebrae together which stays in there for life.


Cyclo: With on-going back problems what adjustments did you have to make?


tom_smith2Tom Smith: I was advised by my spinal consultant to get a bike fit. I saw two different companies and they both couldn’t do anything for me. So I went back to traditional methods and that has worked best so far. With the help of my team at CISM (@CISM_uk) in South Wales, we found a position that was comfortable and also good for power. Then we went along the insole path again (after many failed attempts) to try to make the most of the new position. I found out about Superfeet by chance on a Youtube clip. I got in touch and they have been great letting me experiment with different insoles. The power that I can put through the pedals now is noticeably better. It’s the only insole I have managed to stick to for a long period of time, so I’m thankful I found Superfeet.


Cyclo: You were a Bronze medallist at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Australia – can you tell us something about that experience?


Tom Smith: Matt Crampton just piped me to the line on that occasion. I did the scratch race the day before and was angry at myself for missing out on a medal (fourth). So the Keirin being a fighting race – before the regulations changed – I was able to make use of that adrenaline. I got seventh in the Points race too…


Cyclo: Tell us about the road to the Deaflympics.


Tom Smith: It was a difficult one, especially with the funding side of things; the government had withdrawn funding for deaf sport to allocate it to London 2012 so each Team GB athlete had to raise all costs for preparing and competing themselves with no access to Lottery funding. I had the help of some very good friends and family but the majority I had to pay from my own pocket. The selection was easy enough being the sole rider. I just had to be honest with myself and of course with UK Deaf Sport that I had what it took to get my medals. I was going to go to the 2009 Taipei Deaflympics but as I was still struggling from the back operations I had to be honest and pull out.


The training was all done by my team at CISM. We worked together on my nutrition and found pathway that suited me best based on my genetics results. On top of that there was hard training and also even harder racing in Belgium.


Cyclo: You brought home two medals, tell us about those races.


tom_smith_3Tom Smith: I was the only representative for GB so I was marked out in the road race. After the first climb I was in the leading group. There were odd attacks going and I was making one or two moves as well. I missed the essential one just by being caught in the wrong place in the group. When I reacted I had a Russian and Italian jump straight on me, both of whom had teammates in the lead group. Needless to say I had to do the work to bring the gap back. Only the Russian was half working with me, so it was turning out to be a pointless effort. I saw the blackboard saying the gap had gone to 35 seconds so it was a case of now or never. I hit the front hard for 20 or 30 seconds and I managed to get rid of the other 2 guys. I spent the next 40km soloing my way to the lead group. I managed to get there just at the bottom of the climb. The lead group of 4 were surprised to see me and immediately put the hammer down on the climb. I lost touch half way up but managed to keep the gap to 15 seconds. Then I had to solo the last 5km by myself again. I latched on just inside the 2km mark. I knew I had nothing for the sprint so went for a long one by surprise with 5 or 600m to go. I got 50m to the finish before getting caught. I think that silver was the hardest medal I had ever won! The data from the heart rate monitor certainly showed that!


The Points race was two days after the road race and I was in no fit state after my efforts. The course for the Points race was on the road too and the circuit was a straight up and down, meaning we had to do 100 hairpin turns throughout the race. My accelerations out of the corners were poor but the top end speed I had. An American guy attacked just before halfway and no one wanted to chase. I managed to get a few sprints, and really I was fighting with a Russian to get silver. We ended up on the same points but he got a higher placing in the final sprint.


Cyclo: How was it returning to ‘normality’ after the high of the Deaflympics?


Tom Smith: After the Sofia Deaflympics I had a week to ‘wind down’ at home before heading back out to Belgium to finish off the rest of the season. I had a few interviews and awards ceremonies to go to after the racing season, but nothing I would consider out of normality. Neither I nor my other medal winning teammates (Mel Jewett in the Marathon and Lauren Peffers in Athletics) got the credit we deserved compared to the British medal winners of London 2012. Especially seeing as we all had jobs and paid our way to get to Sofia and with little reward apart from the satisfaction that we won medals from our hard work. So there wasn’t really anything out of the ordinary, which was disappointing, but it did take me a while to recover from the physical and emotional effects.


Cyclo: As you say, the Deaflympics still doesn’t really get the audience recognition it deserves. What are your thoughts?


Tom Smith: Deaf Sport has grown at a different rate compared to the Paralympics for example. If we use this example, the Deaflympics have been around longer than the Paralympics but because the ICSD (International Committee of Sports for the Deaf) declined the invitation to join the Paralympics when it was renamed from the Stoke Mandeville Games, we are now in the position we are in. My personal opinion is that there are faults on both sides. The Deaflympics wanted to do their own thing so that they could flourish as a deaf community. They have every right to want to do that, but it hasn’t had the profound effect that the Paralympics has had, on the deaf community, deaf culture, the athletes or even the hearing world. The IOC (International Olympic Committee) and ICSD have been in discussions held over the last decade or so to invite Deaf sport into the Paralympics, but I don’t think enough is being done to do that from both parties. Sport is a catalyst for change in society and culture, and it’s important that something is done soon before deaf sport is ignored altogether.


Cyclo: You spend your race season in Belgium – how do you find attitudes to cycling differ in mainland Europe.


Tom Smith: Belgium is the heart of cycling so the lifestyle and routine is created around bikes and health, which makes living and working better for the locals here. Britain still hasn’t caught on to the essence of cycling as a sport or lifestyle. Entering the races here is cheap- only 5 euros, and all the races in East Flanders are within 45 minutes’ drive or ride. Then there’s the racing itself – which is always fast!


Cyclo: And what’s next for you?


Tom Smith: I have a few interclub and pro races coming up in in the next couple of months so I’ll be working hard to get team selection for those. Then at the end of the year I’m doing the British Track Champs and the Tour de Formosa in Taiwan. The latter is dubbed the Deaf Tour de France and I need to come up with £2000 to pay for the flights and for a pre-race training camp, which means I’m looking for businesses who want their logo on the jersey or anyone who can help out – obviously I’d appreciate hearing from interested parties, you can email me here.



Find out more about Tom on Twitter, facebook and via his website


Read the Cyclo review of Superfeet here.


Featured Features

The Art of the Giro d’Italia 2014

The Giro d’Italia may be done and dusted for another year – but here at Cyclo we rather wanted to revisit some of the highlights thanks to the wonderful artwork of Greig Leach. Greig, a one-time amateur club bike racer, participating in the DC and Richmond, Virginia areas of the US is a prolific painter of sporting action and we have been delighted to feature much of his work over the years – here then is the Giro d’Italia one last time…


Stage 1 – ‘Poetry in Motion’ – The Giro d’Italia started with their wheels rolling across the Emerald Isle in Belfast racing the most specialized discipline of the Team Time Trial.



Stage 4 – ‘What’s the Plan’ – Luca Paolini (Katusha), either self-nominated or by the peloton, was the rider that went up to the race director to try and find out just what the plan was for the finish of the stage.

stage 4


Stage 6 – ‘Rolling Along’ – Bernhard Eisel (Team Sky) and the domestiques of Trek Factory Racing were the ones on the front of the peloton chewing up the gap between them and the four man break up the road.

stage 6


Stage 16 – ‘Into the Snow Line’ – With three big mountains to climb from Ponte di Legno 139km to Val Martello/Martellal, you knew some Colombian climbers would figure into the day’s drama, but the weather wasn’t in the mood to play second fiddle.  True to form, Robinson Chalapud from Team Colombia was the first to head out from the peloton on the first climb up the Gavia Pass…

stage 16


Stage 19 – ‘A Sprinter’s Surprise’ – Another time trail, but this one was basically all up hill for 26.8 kilometers, not a stage you would  expect a sprinter to do well in.  But Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani CSF) must have caught the winning spirit of the team…

stage 19


Stage 20 – ‘Flying Down the Other Side’ – After taking second over the summit of the Sella Razzo, Brent Bookwalter (BMC) was joined on the speedy descent by Jonathan Monsalve (Neri Sottoli).

stage 20


Stage 21 – ‘Now We Can Rejoice’ – The perfect end to another incredible Giro, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) the winner…

stage 21


To learn more about the work of Greig Leach and for details of his substantial output from this year’s races see and also – he is sponsored by Richeson Art, and for an overview of all the work we have featured on Cyclo (including this year’s Tour de France and USA Pro Challenge) click here.


Featured Features

Miles Stronger Selling British

miles_stronger_mainMiles Stronger is an online retailer selling a range of cycle niceties from shorts and shocks to gels and nutrition bars, but what makes their offer unique is that co-founders Teresa Robbins and Mike Grinsted source and sell only those products which are 100% British. Cyclo talked to them to find out what makes them tick…


Cyclo: Can you explain what makes Miles Stronger so different?


Miles Stronger: Our main unique selling point is that everything – and by everything we mean absolutely everything – we sell or stock is made in Britain. The other main point, which is a by-product of our ‘Britishness’, is that we feature some new and exciting brands, which in many cases gives our customers the chance to buy something completely different.


Cyclo: What was the ‘eureka’ moment that led to setting up Miles Stronger?


Miles Stronger: The inspiration really came about in early 2012. We had become a bit fed-up with finding the same brands all with far-away production facilities, usually in Asia. It seemed to us that manufacturing products half way round the world isn’t a long-term or efficient approach. The current increase in the number of people taking up sport, increased concern for the environment and the growing support for UK manufacturing, meant the timing was right. The search for British-made products and brands was born.


Cyclo: You are both successful business people, but were there any particular challenges in setting up this business given the current financial climate?


Miles Stronger: Because we have ‘been there’ before setting up the company was relatively straightforward for us. Initial funding was from our personal resources, so thankfully we had no need to find a financial backer. However we have had to be very careful with our choice of which items and how much to stock to ensure our own resources are used wisely. In the longer term we will be looking for the support of a bank to assist with this point, something we know won’t be easy!


Cyclo: Are margins tighter when sourcing purely British products?


Miles Stronger: Not necessarily, but in some cases yes. We are able to make acceptable margins on most of our products and still come in with a competitive market price for items, often less than house-hold ‘name’ brands to reflect the lesser known nature of some of those we stock. Funnily enough the margins are tightest on some of the more well know brands we stock, because we have to compete directly on price with discount houses. That said, we have strategically priced a few items to ensure that we don’t appear expensive, as this would be counter productive for us. We believe in the long-term, not just a short-term cash generating company. Miles Stronger is a business, but we also believe in doing the right thing along the way, so we have made a strategic choice in a couple of cases.


Cyclo: How did do you go about deciding on the lines and brands you stock? 


Miles Stronger: Finding the brands and manufacturers is not easy. In fact this has probably been – and remains to be – the hardest parts of running Miles Stronger. Lots of time on Google, Twitter and general networking has been our most successful way to find suppliers. Many companies use the British ‘brand’, but when you get down to it they don’t actually produce in the UK, perhaps just design or are a UK-based company. We’ve found this with small and some large well-know brands too!


Cyclo: So you personally scrutinise? 


Miles Stronger: Absolutely. When we find a potential product we always test the product and visit the manufacture to see their production for ourselves. If the product doesn’t pass our road tests, is poor quality or we have concerns about at least medium term supply then we don’t stock or sell the product. Thankfully the quality of most of the products we’ve come across has been excellent, this is something which sometimes I think we Brits fail to recognise but large parts of the international community do still acknowledge.


Cyclo: And are you finding brands returning production to the UK?


Miles Stronger: Yes, a good example is the Sockmine brand. They are a large sock manufacturer (the company name is Roy Lowe and Sons) who some years ago, eight I believe, moved their production out to Turkey and China. They took a decision in early 2013 to start producing their own brand of technical sports socks – their historical business is producing socks for most of the large UK retailers – back here in the UK, re-opening their previously dormant factory in Nottingham. They sell the products directly, but we were the first to retail their products, but probably not the last!


Cyclo: You look to highlight new and emerging brands too, yes?


Miles Stronger: Yes, many of our brands are from small companies who are driven by an entrepreneur or talented designer who may have started their business in the last couple of years. I think if we had tried to start Miles Stronger three or four years ago it would not have been possible as these emerging brands just would not have existed then and they form a large part of our portfolio today.


Cyclo: Any particular brand or product that you’re particularly impressed to be stocking or have ‘found’?


Miles Stronger: Again, the Sockmine definitely would come in this category because the product is great quality and perfectly encapsulates our message. But another product we have been impressed with is the Running Food Chia Charge Flapjack. This is one of our smaller suppliers, but the product has been born from a passion for the product and well thought about. In our experience once people taste the product they are hooked, I certainly know we are. Despite this not being a well-known brand we have sold a lot of this in comparison with some better-known products.


Cyclo: How closely do you work with brands?


Miles Stronger: Very, we purchase direct from all of them and in some cases have given feedback which as been taken on board and affected the product design. All of the brands are keen to promote their ‘British Manufacturing’ credentials, so to many we come across as a very welcome customer.


Cyclo: What plans for the future of Miles Stronger?


Miles Stronger: We are still on the hunt for more brands and products. If you come across any please do point them in our direction!


Take a look at the full Miles Stronger range at


Featured Features

Giro d’Italia 2014

giro_ditalia_2014The Giro d’Italia 2014 will begin on Friday, May 9 in Northern Ireland at the Titanic Belfast visitor centre with a 21.7km Team Time Trial, the start of three day’s action outside of Italy before the action restarts on mainland Europe on May 13 with the 121km race from Giovinazzo to Sari. In total the 2014 Giro d’Italia will cover some 3,449.9km, averaging 164.3km stages which will be made up of two individual time trials, one team time trial, eight stages for sprinters, one medium mountain, four medium mountains with summit finishes and five high mountains with summit finishes


The Northern Ireland start marks the eleventh time that the event has started outside of Italy since the very first 127 riders set off from Loreto Place in Milan in 1909. San Marino was the first, not-too-distant, foreign host in 1965, followed by Monaco (1966), Belgium (1973), Vatican City (1974), Greece (1996), France (1998), The Netherlands (2002), Belgium and The Netherlands again in 2006 and 2010 respectively, and finally Denmark in 2012.


As always the Giro jerseys up for grabs are: Maglia Rosa (pink jersey) for overall classification leader, Maglia Azzurra (blue jersey) for king of the mountains, Maglia Ciclamino (mauve jersey) awarded to points classification leader, and the Maglia Bianca (white jersey) for best young rider.


The full route for the Giro d’Italia 2014 Route is:


Stage 1 May 9, Belfast – Belfast 21.7km (TTT)

Stage 2 May 10 Belfast – Belfast 218km

Stage 3 May 11 Armagh – Dublin 187km

Rest Day

Stage 4 May 13 Giovinazzo – Sari 121km

Stage 5 May 14 Taranto – Viggiano 200km

Stage 6 May 15 Sassano – Montecassino 247km

Stage 7 May 16 Frosinone – Foligno 214km

Stage 8 May 17 Foligno – Montecopiolo 174km

Stage 9 May 18 Lugo – Sestola 174km

Rest Day

Stage 10 May 20 Modena – Salsomaggiore Terme 184km

Stage 11 May 21 Collecchio – Savona 249km

Stage 12 May 22 Barbaresco – Barolo 41.9km (ITT)

Stage 13 May 23 Fossano – Rivarolo Canavese 158km

Stage 14 May 24 Agliè – Oropa 162km

Stage 15 May 25 Valdengo – Montecampione 217km

Rest Day

Stage 16 May 27 Ponte di Legno – Val Martello 139km

Stage 17 May 28 Sarnonico – Vittorio Veneto 204km

Stage 18 May 29 Belluno – Rif. Panarotta 171km

Stage 19 May 30 Bassano del Grappa – Cima Grappa 26.8km (ITT)

Stage 20 May 31 Maniago – Monte Zoncolan 167km

Stage 21 June 1 Gemona del Friulli – Trieste 169km


For further details on the Giro d’Italia 2014 see