Ireland’s mythological race – The Rás Tailteann

Before twitter, before the internet, before televisions were to be found in every home, it was the remit of cycling journalists to mythologise the sport on which they were reporting. The feats of these men with no fear who cycled bikes with no gears were exaggerated, embellished and taken as far into the realm of the fantastical as the reader was willing to be taken.

Thus it is entirely appropriate that the most famous of Ireland’s races has its name rooted in the mythology which shaped the country itself. Although it was men who entered and competed, it was a deity of the female variety who provided the name for the Rás Tailteann. ~ Continue reading ~

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Merckx on Mastermind

A couple of weeks ago, there was a contestant on BBC’s Mastermind show whose specialist subject was ‘The Life and Career of Eddy Merckx’. Below is the list of questions that were asked. Some are easy enough but others are really tough.

It’s just for fun, but see if you can beat the Mastermind contestant who got a score of nine. I’ll reveal the answers in a few days.

1. Which Brabant village was the birthplace of cyclist Eddy Merckx in June 1945?

2. How many Tour de France cycle races did he win in his professional career equaling the record set by the French rider Jacques Anquetil?
Five ~ Continue reading ~

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Nicolas Roche’s learning curve

A leader of a cycling team must have a strong personality, a will to win and the ability to get results. Some leaders are the quiet type that like to lead by example, think Carlos Sastre, while others are more vocal but still have no problem getting the job done, Mark Cavendish springs to mind. The leader who is vocal and yet can’t back up his words with performances will inevitably lose the trust of his team-mates and will shortly thereafter no longer deserve the status of leader at all.

‘Leadership and learning are indispensable to one another’ said a great U.S. leader of Irish descent. A current leader of more established Irish descent could have done with listening to these words of John F. Kennedy for he has now come to the end of the road as leader of his cycling team. ~ Continue reading ~

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A home Tour de France stage win – but not in France

A stage win in the Tour de France can make a rider’s career. It will boost their salary, increase their marketability and make them a more wanted man. A stage win in the Tour de France achieved by a Frenchman is on another level again. When Thomas Voeckler or Pierre Rolland win a stage of the Tour, almost the entire edition of L’Équipe the following day is written in homage to their victory. A win in France, in the Tour de France, by a man from France is something very special indeed. ~ Continue reading ~

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Beware the wounded Schleck

Which rider won the Tour de France in a year in which he did not even take part in the race?

The answer, unsurprisingly, involves a disqualification and a subsequent default winner. The answer is also going through the worst year in his career thus far as a cyclist. The answer is Andy Schleck.

Earlier this year, Alberto Contador was banned and stripped of several victories including the 2010 Tour de France in which Schleck finished second. As such, in May of this year, Schleck was officially awarded the yellow jersey as winner of the 2010 Tour. So far this has been his only victory this year. ~ Continue reading ~

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Sean Kelly’s bitter sweet yellow jersey

Sean Kelly won the green jersey four times and held the green jersey for a total of 67 stages, but in the battle for the overall classification at the Tour de France he only ever wore the yellow jersey once.

Kelly got his hands on the jersey after Stage 9 of the 1983 Tour which took the riders from Bordeaux to Pau. Before the stage, thanks to a strong opening prologue and a sixth place finish in the 58.5km time trial on Stage 6, Kelly found himself in second place overall, just 25 seconds behind the first ever Danish rider to wear the yellow jersey, Kim Andersen. ~ Continue reading ~

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