Archive for October, 2009

Gilbert or Boonen?

This is the finale of the Worlds road race champs at Madrid in 2005. The first commentary is from the Belgian French language channel and the second is from the Belgian TV Dutch language channel. Gilbert is a Walloon who speaks French and Boonen is a Flandrian who speaks Dutch. He is known as Tommeke.

It is worth pointing out that Boonen’s jerky sprinting style is instantly recognisable to anybody who is not suffering from a severe case of wishful thinking.

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Ten days in October that changed the World

Ok, so I got a little carried away but what about Philippe Gilbert ? Four rides in ten days and four wins. And not just any old races, One Monument, one Classic, one semi-classic and a top class catergory 1.1 race. Gilbert’s achievement must surely be unique. I think Cipo may have won four Tour stages on the trot but that just isn’t at all comparable.

Gilbert’s  October can be awarded the greatest complement in cycle racing; it is something that was beyond Eddy Merckx. Which leads me on to another feat that defeated the great Merckx. In the six years between 1977 and 1982 Gibi Baronchelli won all six editions of the Tour of the Appenines. Isn’t that extraordinary. Can you imagine the scene in the changing room by 1982. Moser, a double winner, saying to Saronni, Whatever happens don’t let that f*****g Baronchelli win again! And blow me up he pops.

My old mate Luigi Ortenzi previously of Harrow and now back in Italy was a big fan of Gibi and told me of  this amazing achievement. Not that Luigi’s judgement was reliable in matters of Italian cycling. He once told me how Hinault “stole” the 1980 rainbow jersey from Baronchelli. I have since watched some of the race on video and truth be told Gibi was stuffed by the Badger

But to return to Gilbert’s triumphs I don’t expect it will change anything. Boonen will still be the man with the bike mad Flemish public more interested in what Boonen puts up his nose than anything the Walloon Gilbert achieves.

For the record:
8th October, Coppa Sabatini
11th October,  Paris-Tours
15th October, Tour of Piemont
17th October, Tour of Lombardy

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VDB’s bike for sale

Nico Mattan is to arrange the auction of Frank Vandenbroucke’s bike to meet the cost of repatriating his body.

Mattan is organizing the auction, which will take place over several weeks, at the request of the family of VDB. The cyclist appears not to have travel insurance to cover the substantial expense of returning the body to Belgium.

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Frank who?

VBD flowers


One of the regulars at the tea stop, a cyclist and time tester for almost fifty years, was this morning wearing a Cofidis racing jersey. Are you wearing that as a tribute to Frank Vandenbroucke I asked. Who’s he ? was the response!  More evidence that you can never overestimate the insularity of clock bashers.

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VDB 1974-2009

I always had a soft spot for Frank for no better reason than he was raised in Ploegsteert. This is the infamous Plug Street well known to British tommies and particularly N.Z. and Aussie soldiers during the First World War battles of the Ieper Salient. I have been to the Tyne Cot military cemetery a few times and on each occasion I drove through Ploegsteert on the off chance of seeing Frank but I never did. I suppose during  later years I should have popped in the local bar.

The photos are from HLN and show that despite his playboy reputation Frank could do the necessary hard work.

VDB marriageVDB training

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Harry Quinn RIP

HarryQuinn91 The news has reached me that Harry Quinn, the former Liverpool cycle dealer and frame builder, died  peacefully last Thursday aged 92. There are many people better qualified than me to comment on Harry’s contribution to cycle sport on Merseyside. I came to know Harry through his support of my club mate Bill Bradley in the fifties and sixties and for me he will always be associated with the golden age of cycling on Merseyside. There was a period when pretty much every British road champion rode a Harry Quinn.

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