If you have a spare $19,999 05/16/2014
Just in case you found some $$$ down the back of the sofa this might be a nice thing to do with it. Get it here.
The second stage of this years GIRO rolls over the training grounds of a lot of Northern Ireland’s cyclists. The northern part of the country has some of the finest coastline in the world. The terrain itself will not prove too challenging for a pro peleton tuned and ready for the high mountains of Europe, but the one thing that could make a difference is weather. I don’t suspect we will get the snow of last years GIRO, but there is a good chance of high wind and rain, it is Northern Ireland after all. When I say wind, I mean coastal wind that can swirl around headlands and stop you in your tracks. The riders will sweep down off the Glens Of Antrim at Portrush where they turn right along the coast towards Belfast and the fast end of the stage. At one point they will hit the village of Cushendall, and a 24 mile stretch down to Larne that was the first Corniche road in the British Isles. If they are unlucky they will also turn right into a head-on “bluster“, pretty common along that stretch.
Today is the day. My favorite one day race. The classic for the climbers. On the back door step of Philip Gilbert (where his fan club beer tent is bigger than the official beer tent) and in a region where five cycling tribes border. There is no luck in this one, you are just basically broken down over the duration of the race until you hit La Redoute. Then whoever still has matches to burn goes of it. This years edition has a lot of favorites including a back on form Gilbert eager to please those in his beer tent after last years let down. Should make for a great race this year.
Just five days left to the start of something I thought I would never see in my lifetime, a Grand Tour starting in Belfast. I will be heading back home to watch this probably once in a lifetime event. I think Belfast is going to surprise a lot of people. It is a great city on the rebound from all of the bad headlines of the last 40 years. There is great food and maybe more important great coffee. For anyone in the cycling “Veloratti”, teams and visiting fans here is a quick guide to a few places to get a good coffee and other places worth checking out when you are in town. If anyone is visiting the stages and want to meet up drop us a note on Twitter or at email@example.com and come have a pint.
5A Coffee Shop
Not for off the TTT coarse. Get a Cortado will you wait for Orica to burn up the road
Just a short walk in from the Ormeau Road section of the TTT small but great coffee
Our personal favorite tucked away in the Cathedral Quarter
Today just illustrated how much of a crap shoot cycling can be. Form, positioning and equipment mean nothing without luck. In 2013 coming out of the last bend of Liege-Bastogne-Liege Dan Martin was out of the saddle and dropping the power in a kick that would eventually be the final punch to Joaquim Rodríquez. This year in the 2014 edition at almost exactly the same spot, Dan Martin was out of the saddle and dropping the power and chasing one of Rodríquez’s teammates, but this time ended up on the deck his race blown after a near perfect seven hours of racing. All from what looks like sliding on a spot of oil. Would he have won against a surging Gerrans, who knows, the Irish amongst us would have said absolutely. What we do know is he would have been damn hard to catch. As he rolled over the line in 39th place and back to the sanctuary of his team bus he was greeted by cheers from the crowd and his teammates. A dethroned champion who was 250m from cycling immortality with back-to-back wins of “The Old Lady“. He would have been up there with the greats like Merckx, Argentin and fellow country man Kelly. Alas the gods of cycling decided it was not to be, reserving that for another day. Not that Dan will feel like this right now as he has his post race dinner, but he is one hell of a rider. A rider on the up. With every race his belief grows and with it his ability to deliver killer moves. Maybe that will come in the ITT climb up to Cima Grappa, or a late attack on the Zoncolan for some retribution. After all the GIRO does start in Ireland this year and who would deny him a little rub of luck after today. Maybe it will even see him on to the podium. Chin up mate. Be strong and know there is going to be a hell of a lot of people in Belfast and Dublin waiting to catch you if you fall. Go n-éirí an t-ádh leat!