has fallen out of fashion somewhat. We all see this in our everyday lives and, for the most part, we all go along with it; swept up by the ever quickening current that comes with each new turn of the tide. But we also see that some people choose to reject this acceleration of life and try to apply the brakes in some way. They choose to either fight the current or, occasionally, get out of the water altogether.
There aren’t many pro-riders out there with a catchphrase. There are nicknames aplenty and a select few coureurs have a trademark winning celebration. There are also those whose on-the-record words have come back to haunt them in later years but if you are looking for a rider who can be totally summed up by something he once said, look no further than the man who has just retired after 16 years of no-holds-barred, never say die racing, whose inward rallying call became outward shorthand for his whole outlook on life. For most cycling fans you don’t need to say Jens Voigt. Like him you just say, “Shut Up Legs”.
It’s just after 3pm on a Tuesday afternoon in Hackney and Richard Moore, Lionel Birnie and Daniel Friebe are looking for a bit of peace and quiet. The trouble is that around the busy East London streets of Broadway Market and London Fields school kids are heaving out onto the hot pavements and the nearby building sites that are sprouting up yet more flats in this trendy part of the capital are still in full swing. Add in the chatter of the many achingly cool characters lounging outside myriad cafés and coffee shops and, despite the lovely summer afternoon weather, things are looking, and most definitely sounding, pretty bleak.
Team Sky (or Sky Procycling as they were until the start of this season) have undoubtedly changed the way that cycling is perceived in this country. Although they were set up from the start as an internationally rostered team – albeit with a very clear aim of initially achieving success in the Tour de France for a British rider – they were often described as a de facto British national road team. The overlapping managerial & coaching staff from the national track squad adds fuel to this conflation, especially for the legions of new cycling fans that the team’s success has turned onto the sport. It was also inevitable that many of the existing and upcoming British riders would find a home at Sky where the people, program and language were most familiar. But what of those British riders who choose not to ‘Take to the Sky’ with Brailsford and Co? Are they getting a fair share of cycle fan’s support when faced with the media-attention black hole that the Tour-winning team creates wherever it goes?
The Future arrived last week. The postman delivered it to my house just as I was going out for a ride. It is, as far as I know, the first bit of 3D printing that has crossed our threshold but, given the way things are going, it’s unlikely to be the last. I delayed my departure a few moments to fix the new part to my bike and set off into Tomorrow’s World.
3D printing has been around in basic forms since the 1980’s but has only really start to gain significant traction in the public consciousness in the last 5 years. As hardware prices fall and material options soar, applications for what has also been termed ‘additive manufacturing’ are now looking immense. A shift of seismic proportions, at least on a par with the home computing revolution, is coming as we will change the way we both perceive and consume manufactured objects. A 3D printer in every home is not such a far-fetched idea and would have profound effects on the way we conduct our lives.
Multi-coloured, multi-material 3D prints will be the next generation.
For a man who made a career of letting his legs rather than his mouth do the talking, An Evening with Sean Kelly at Cadence Performance in Crystal Palace this week could easily have been a painful experience for both speaker and audience. Kelly makes no secret of the fact that he is not a natural raconteur but he was most certainly a natural competitor and, just like in his racing, his force of character and professionalism ultimately outweighed any potential shortcomings in what was a very enjoyable and illuminating evening.
Kelly’s autobiography, “Hunger” (£18.99 Peloton Publishing) – short-listed for a number of sports writing awards – is an equal surprise coming from the quiet man of Carrick-On-Suir. Ghost-written by Lionel Birnie, the story of ‘King’ Kelly’s racing career was wrestled from the five times world No. 1 over a two year period, race by race, piece by piece, word by word. A long, hard road with many difficult, bumpy sections along the route. Fittingly for the two-time winner it was a veritable Paris-Roubaix of a task.
Birnie was alongside Kelly at Crystal Palace, adding context and anecdote to the Irishman’s recollections. Both were ably hosted by Daniel Friebe – author of ‘Merckx’, ‘Mountain High’ and ‘Mountain Higher’ – who played the role of MC and posed the first 40 minutes of questions. Initially Kelly applied himself slowly to the task, as though lowering himself onto the infamous boil which cost him the 1987 Vuelta; testing the novel pain of speaking in front of 150 people instead of from the hidden confines of the Eurosport commentary box. Or maybe he was just subconsciously following the advice of the old patron Hinault, who often decreed that the first third of a stage would be carried out at a pace of his liking. Everyone held their breath and wondered how it would go.
Birnie explains how he wrestled the story from Sean whilst he and Friebe look on.
Lotto Bellisol’s Adam Hansen has just completed his seventh straight Grand Tour. Since late 2011 he has ridden the Giro and the Tour twice each and La Vuelta three times – all without a break. He has covered almost 24,000 Grand Tour kilometres in those 2 years and raced an incredible total of 16,059km over 106 days last year alone. In an era of ever increased targeting of races Hansen is a throwback to the classic years of cycling when even the top contenders rode vast seasons covering all events. In a sport renowned as being one of the toughest on the planet, his insatiable appetite for racing the biggest tests over and over again is earning him numerous fans and a reputation of being the hardest of the hard? The Jersey Pocket looked into what makes Hansen tick and found enough surprises to warrant him a place in ‘The Mavericks’.
Hansen has often been marked out as being a bit different. The fact that 32 year old Australian chooses to live in the Czech Republic rather than in one of the usual pro peloton hangouts like Girona or Nice is often used to highlight a non-conformist nature. Never shy in terms of doing things his way Hansen’s unique personality has been enlivening the peloton since 2007. Following spells at T-Mobile, HTC and Omega Pharma Lotto, ‘Croc-man’ (as he is known to his team mates) joined Lotto-Bellisol for the 2012 season, just after embarking on his Grand Tour Odyssey. He seems to be very settled with the Belgian squad and this contentment is showing in both the relaxed nature of his interviews and the increasingly successful nature of his racing. Whilst his commitment and focus at the sharp end of a race should not be questioned that doesn’t stop Hansen from occaisionally reminding us that he enjoys his job too.
Adam Hansen – Doing things his way at La Vuelta. Alto de L’Angliru 2013