The Aussie summer of cycling is now well underway and has us feeling very enthused to get back at it, on tour.
First up for 2019, we’re heading South for The Santos Tour Down Under, closely followed by the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in Melbourne.
Former champion of the Sun Tour, Stuart O’Grady will be taking a trip down memory lane early February (2nd – 3rd) to lead our Jayco Herald Sun Tour Weekender experience and witness what is predicted to be one serious final showdown of racing.
We will be arriving at prime action time to experience the ‘Queen’ Stage first-hand and soak it all up as some of the world’s best cyclists battle it out up the iconic Arthurs Seat.
The race last visited the challenging climb back in 2016 and included three ascents throughout the Stage. In 2019, they’re taking it to another level with the peloton facing the daring ascent a cruel five times.
Although not overly long at 3km, it averages a relentless 8% and following the opening three days of racing, as well as some predicted hot Aussie summer conditions – it will no doubt be causing some serious damage to the race and could well be a real game-changer to the final standings.
The 129.4km stage will depart from Cape Schanck, before approaching the undulating, picturesque Mornington Peninsula which travels into the base of the climb. They will then tackle four laps of a 16km circuit, before taking on the ascent for one last hurrah to fight it out for the stage victory in what is certain to be a dramatic summit finish.
For us at Mummu Cycling, we’ll be enjoying a slightly more relaxed ride than the peloton, setting out from Frankston, via Mornington and along the Esplanade that hugs the coastline to Dromana, where we will hit Arthurs Seat ourselves, followed by a full lap of the course. This will allow the chance to get a real taste as to what the pro’s are in for and the stage that lies ahead. To emphasise this, we’ll tackle the climb once more – just to really get the legs firing! The reward atop will be well worth a bit of suffering, as we then kick back at the summit finish-line over some drinks and a bite, enjoy the views and await the peloton from VIP hospitality.
The following day, the race will conclude with a thrilling circuit race right in the heart of Melbourne, around the stunning Royal Botanic Gardens and alongside the Yarra River.
The 89km stage will consist of 22 laps of a challenging 4km circuit that will certainly be no easy feat for the eventual winner. Included in each circuit in the final km, lies the steep kicker of Anderson St hill. Could we see a sprinter storm to an emphatic final stage victory, or will it be one for the breakaway? And ultimately, who will be heading away with the Yellow jersey on their back…
With the likes of Mitchelton-SCOTT, Team Sky, Trek-Segafredo and EF Pro Cycling all set to hit the start-line, alongside some hot young Aussie talent – it’s sure to be a great one.
At Mummu Cycling, to prepare for another big day of bike racing at its best, we’ll be setting out on bikes ahead of the race for a famous ‘Beach Road’ lap before returning to the Botanic Gardens to participate in Ride Melbourne. This will place us right in the heart of the race course and will provide the perfect opportunity to cut some laps ahead of the pro’s.
We will then relax and enjoy a roadside picnic, within close proximity to the finish line, ensuring prime positioning for a day of serious race entertainment.
Join us for the ride and what we’re confident will be an unforgettable weekend! Head here for further details.
Classic Cobbles – they’re the pointy, slippery, almost always uneven and sporadically placed stones that fill some of the most famous stretches, sectors and bergs of professional cycling.
The gnarly cobblestones never fail to put on a show throughout the Spring Classics, most commonly used as sections of the race to put the hammer down and light the race up. For spectators, it’s a true delight to watch as the peloton battle it out across them – the leaders gliding over them, technique and style a master class.
For any newcomer, the cobbles can seem a little daunting when preparing to ride them for the first time. It’s certainly no easy feat or click of the fingers and for anyone, takes practice and time to perfect.
When it comes to the cobbles, a little advice goes a long way, so here we’ve had a chat to pro New Zealand rider Sam Bewley of Mitchelton-SCOTT…
Sam has been professional since 2009 and a key member of the Mitchelton-SCOTT squad since 2012. He has a string of Olympic, Commonwealth and World championships medals to his bow from his successful period as one of New Zealand’s best Track Teams Pursuit riders.
Since turning his full focus to the road, Sam has excelled in his role and has helped the now leading World Tour team to many victories, from one-day races to Grand Tours.
Sam is no stranger to the cobbles, having raced the monumental Spring Classics for many back-to-back seasons as a professional; from the iconic Ronde van Vlaanderen to Paris-Roubaix and beyond.
He is now back in New Zealand avidly preparing for the season ahead and is set to tackle the Classics once more this Spring!
COBBLES FOR BEGINNERS BY SAM BEWLEY
#1- It is important to make sure that your bike is cobble ready as comfort on the cobbles is much harder to achieve than on the normal roads. Spend some time preparing your bike. The key things you’re looking for is comfort through your hands/arms and through the bike in general. Start with adding an extra layer of bar tape to your handle bars. This can feel strange at first, but you won’t regret it once you hit the cobbles. Secondly is your tyres and tyre pressure – ideally you want to use 28mm tyres, 25mm is the minimum. Play around with different tyre pressures or do some research. You want them softer than normal. For the cobble climbs of Flanders 6-7bar can be fine but for Roubaix you would be looking at anything from 4.8 – 6bar depending on the weight of the rider.
#2- Learn what you are riding. If you have a loop planned or are riding the Flanders or Roubaix Gran Fondo’s, study what sections you will be riding. This will help you to understand what you are in for as the length and roughness of each section can vary quite a lot. This will help you prepare mentally for what is coming and help you to know when to save energy for those tougher sections.
#3- Once you get to the cobbles – look for the best line. There are often a few different places you can ride on any particular section and there is normally one or two lines that are better than the others. On the climbs of Flanders, you might find the edge of the road a nicer place to ride, whereas at Roubaix, you will usually find the centre of the road is best. As tempting as it can be to head for the dirt on the side of the sections, it is often the worst place to ride. There is a higher chance of punctures with the rocks and it can be dangerous over there with big holes and lips. It is always safer to stay in the middle even if you feel you are bouncing all over the place.
#4- Gear selection. It is too easy and almost natural to slip into riding a bigger gear and drop the cadence lower than you normally would. It is important to make sure you keep your cadence high and in your natural sweet spot. This may seem counter intuitive, but after a few sections you will appreciate the energy you have saved by avoiding grinding those bigger gears.
#5- Enjoy it! Riding the cobbles is a really cool and unique experience. For those die hard cycling fans some of your greatest memories of watching bike races will be from Flanders and Roubaix, so get out there and enjoy the experience. Pretend you’re Tom Boonen, Fabian Cancellera or Mat Hayman and enjoy something very unique!
Interested in giving the cobbles a crack this Spring, while enjoying the best of World Tour cycling along the way at the Spring Classics?
Check out our trip line-up here and join us for the bumpy ride!
The official La Vuelta route has recently been confirmed by organisers for 2019 and appears unsurprisingly challenging, including 8 uphill finishes and some relentlessly tough stages.
The 74th edition will take place from August 24th – September 15th, departing from Salinas de Torrevieja with an opening Team Time Trial and finishing in Madrid, concluding a total of 3,272.2km of racing.
The opening three stages will remain in the Costa Blanca area of Eastern Spain before heading to the province of Alicante and onto Valencia, Teruel, Castellón, Tarragona and Barcelona. This first week will certainly be bringing some heat with several sprint stages and three back-to-back summit finishes to really get the GC battle stirring.
On Stage 9, however – just ahead of the first rest day, the games will truly begin as the peloton travel back to the mountainous Andorra, which proved to be a real game-changer to the race in 2018. The ascent dominated stage will include a succession of viciously challenging mountain passes, including a new edition to the race – Coll d’Engolasters and an additional 4km of dirt track, just to ensure fireworks are firing!
Concluding the rest day, riders will briefly cross into France to tackle a 36km individual Time Trial into Pau, also a stage host of the Tour de France.
The race will then return to the Peninsula via Navarre, onto the Basque Country, Cantabria and Asturias. Included will be a combination of sprint stages and mountains, with some familiar and new ascents on the menu – the Santuario del Acebo and Alto de La Cubilla to name a few.
Throughout the final week, the race moves to the central region of Spain, from Castile-La Mancha, Castile and Leòn, and onto Madrid for the spectacular Grand Finale.
The final bid for GC honours will take place in the Gredos and Guadarrama mountains, and could well prove a real opportunity for a late race shake-up. Included is the brutal La Morcuera, which will be tackled not once but twice! The famous ascent was featured in the 2015 edition when Fabio Aru dramatically stole the lead from Tom Dumoulin on the penultimate Stage 20.
As the last Grand Tour of the season, La Vuelta never fails to put on a real spectacle with the professional peloton in full force and primed for serious battle. Paired with the Spanish heat, sensational atmosphere and incredibly challenging terrain – the 2019 edition will be one not to miss!
Yates you Can
Defending champion, Simon Yates’ confirmation of return will not be officially determined until later season concluding the Giro D’Italia. However, now that the challenging route has been revealed, we have a strong feeling he’ll be back to fight it out for Red with all guns blazing.
Concluding La Vuelta route launch late December, Yates (stated by GreenEDGECycling) said, “There’s some spectacular summit finishes, some that I know already and it looks really difficult.
“I think in general the route looks good, with a team time trial at the start we have a really good strong team there and also the stage to Andorra I know the roads really well, which we saw this year.
“With the individual time trial I am slowly improving year on year and I think I am at a level now were I am not afraid of the time trials. For the rest of the stages, there’s many mountains and from what I have seen from the route there’s a lot longer climbs which is good.
“Watching the video tonight from the race this year, it brings back really good memories and it’s good to see that the Vuelta 2019 look as hard as always.”
We’re backing Yates and will be there alongside him and the Mitchelton-SCOTT squad with GreenEDGETravel.
Join us on an experience like no other, that will allow you inside access to the defending champions and to truly feel part of the team as they fight it out for a consecutive victory!
Stay tuned for our La Vuelta 2019 GreenEDGETravel experience complete trip itinerary set to go live and on sale next week.
We recently announced the exciting news that we will be hitting the Australian Jayco Herald Sun Tour in 2019 for the final weekend of racing and what will no doubt be a thrilling few days, including a brutal summit finish up Arthurs Seat.
The 5 day event, held from January 30-February 3rd is set to be a real spectacle with the likes of Richie Porte, a stellar Mitchelton-SCOTT line-up and other promising names of pro cycling set to battle it out for victory and join the highly prestigious race honour roll. Included are the names of; Chris Froome, Esteban Chaves, Sir Bradley Wiggins and our own Stuart O’Grady back in 2008.
The pro peloton will be no doubt be bringing their A games, using the race as final prep before jumping abroad for the European season. It will be no easy feat, with a hungry selection of young Australian talent also bringing their best, ready to perform and show it to the big guns – Expect some serious fireworks! 💥
Here, we had a chat with 2017 tour winner, Damien Howson on all things Herald Sun Tour and thoughts on what’s to come in 2019!
It was a huge accomplishment and a real stand-out career performance winning the overall tour back in 2017 – Were you expecting to and what did it mean?
It was a special win for me as my first in my professional team colours, but also it’s an iconic event in Australia with many world-class winners pre and post my win in 2017. It’s a race I have always seemed to do quite well in, finishing on the podium in the last 3 editions and a few other top 5’s prior to that.
Mitchelton-SCOTT have won the race 4 times in the last 5 editions, only beaten by Chris Froome in 2016. You’ll no doubt be returning to do the same – with yourself or a team mate? What are your personal aspirations for the 2019 Tour?
Yes it’s a race like all races throughout the season where the team tries to produce great results, but it’s also a home race in Australia which offers a lot of opportunity to newer and younger team members.
Do you think Richie Porte is going to be a real threat for the overall victory at the race? Who else do you think will be key contenders?
Of course – Richie is a rider able to win most races on the calendar and I’m sure he would like to start the season well and add his name to the honour roll, but we also have a strong team on the start-list with many guys hoping to be around the mark.
What Stage are you most looking forward to?
I think the race as a whole looks great; from one of my personal favourites of Arthurs Seat, to a city race in the heart of Melbourne that should be well perceived by the public.
And Stage you’re most dreading?!
I dont dread any stage – the weather is normally fantastic, the route is always creative and showcases Australia in both urban areas, but also the beautiful countryside.
Do you think a lot could change on the Arthurs Seat stage?
In the past, this climb has always proven a difference, but it’s only one difference that can be made on this climb – there are so many other ways the race can take shape beforehand.
With the European season just around the corner following the Herald Sun Tour – Is it used by yourself and other professionals as key preparation for the season abroad?
Yes, for sure the Sun-Tour offers a great exposure to racing with a more calm atmosphere. It’s nice to race the young Australians trying to make a name for themselves, but also other professionals with a similar approach for the year ahead.
What are your key goals and targets for the 2019 season?
I’m personally trying to have another strong and consistent season, with many of the worlds biggest races mixed in with others to deliver some results and/or utilise them as a stepping stones to support our leaders in the likes of Grand Tours.
Keen to join us for the final showdown and see Damien amongst other big names of the pro peloton battle it out for victory? Hosted by Australian cycling legend, Stuart O’Grady – you will ride/drive the official Arthurs Seat race loop, enjoy VIP hospitality at the summit finish line, entry into Ride Melbourne, a final stage on-course picnic, dinner with Stuey and more! Click here for further details.
This week we came together at Melbourne’s Crown River to celebrate the incredible career of one of Australia’s most respected and decorated cyclists, Mathew Hayman. Perhaps most famous for his highly emotional, sensational Paris-Roubaix victory in 2016 when he made his dream a reality.
Following 19 years of professional level cycling, Mathew will be retiring from competition at the 2019 Santos Tour Down Under with the Mitchelton-SCOTT squad with whom he has been a key member of since 2014.
His friendly face, positive attitude, dedication to the sport, and year’s of experience within the peloton will certainly be missed on the racing scene, so it was welcomed news when it was confirmed by team owner, Gerry Ryan that Mathew would be continuing with the outfit in a new role, following his retirement from racing.
The luncheon was hosted by Matthew Keenan, with words from special guests: Stuart O’Grady, Matt Goss, Baden Cooke and Koen de Kort. All four former/current professional riders joined Mathew on stage in a panel discussion to share many-a memory from their racing days together and career highlights from his extensive journey and time in the pro peloton.
Baden, Matt Goss and Stuart have all been ambassadors and tour hosts for Mummu Cycling in 2018 and will continue to be next season, so it was great to have all three riders there as special guests. .
When event host, Matthew Keenan got chatting to Hayman, some fantastic career moments were shared. A very memorable story that came up and certainly brought a smile to the room, was that at his first ever club race in Canberra, he didn’t so much as take a step out of the car. He’d seen a rider warming up, doing efforts and that was that – too nervous to get out and contend the race! Funnily enough, it turned out that rider was Michael Rogers! Let’s safely assume the Canberra Club Championships were never won easy.
Another highlight was having both Australian Paris-Roubaix champions; Hayman (2016) and O’Grady (2007) share race memories and talk all things Roubaix. Both names are and always will be prominent forces in Australian cycling, having won the highly prestigious monument throughout their careers.
Concluding a lengthy career with many years at professional level, Mathew has achieved some impressive personal, team and National victories along the way, including Gold in the 2006 Commonwealth Games road race. Over the seasons, he has gathered quite a number of treasured jerseys from his time on the circuit. We were honoured and lucky enough to have a selection of these on display throughout the event.
To add to many career memories shared and tales told, over a delicious lunch – the live auction of “money can’t buy” experiences and memorabilia was a huge success. A total of $14,000 was raised with proceeds going to the Jonathan Cantwell Family fund.
All in all, it was a very special occasion to be part of. At Mummu Cycling we were honoured to be the event organisers and now eagerly await the 2019 Santos Tour Down Under to see Mathew officially sign out from the sport on a high.
A special thanks to our event partners: Crown Casino, Team Mitchelton-SCOTT, GreenEDGE Travel, Bike Exchange, Mercedes-Benz Toorak, Jellis Craig and all guests who’s contribution and attendance helped ensure a fantastic event.
GreenEDGE Travel has created a highly unique opportunity to join the Mitchelton-SCOTT squad and Mathew at the 2019 Santos Tour Down Under as they aim to match their 2018 success and round out a stellar career in the process. We’re picking a toast or two will be had! *For more information, head here.
With December now in full swing, we’re starting to feel festive, cheery and very excited for the 2019 season that lies ahead.
Here – we’ve come up with 12 trip ideas for 2019 that may tickle your fancy this Christmas, gift the dream cycling experience to a loved one, or at least get you planning next year’s escapades!
1. Up for some fun in January? It’s not too late to Tour Down Under. Join us on an 8 or 4 day Tour Down Under experience to soak up the best race action, hit the Adelaide hills for some adventure and kick back over a Barossa vino or two in between… Sure to be one hell of a good time Down Under!
2. “Paris is always a good idea,” said Audrey Hepburn and we strongly agree… Just think – The Tour de France Grand Finale along the iconic Champs-Elysées. It’s an absolute must-do experience for any lover of cycling! To be in amongst the sensational atmosphere, lined with excited crowds of fans watching the world’s best cyclists at battle, just metres away from our premium viewing spot – is indescribable. Who will bring the 2019 Maillot Jaune home and who will reign final King of the Champs-Elysées in 2019?
3. French cuisine, wine and gourmet cycling with a dash of the biggest cycling event across the globe – The Tour de France, sound like you? Our Tour des Vins will be all about mixing it up with a bit of both. Based between the stunning Rhone and Alsace regions, renowned for their incredible vineyards and gorgeous French landscape. We’ll be catching the best early live race action, while embracing the stunning countryside and French delicacies along the way!
4.Four days of Flanders FUN – this one’s all about the Ronde. Here, you will have the chance to ride the Flanders sportive ahead of race day, allowing you the unique opportunity to conquer the cobbles on closed roads ahead of the pro’s. The famously brutal Koppenberg, Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg all lie ahead for what is sure to be one serious cobbled adventure! Following a big day out, you’ll be in for another incredible day of spectating as you join the sensational Spring atmosphere and electric crowds, for one of the biggest day’s in cycling – the Ronde van Vlaanderen.
5. How about a taste of all things Tour de France? Our ‘Best of Le Tour’ coach tour will take you on a 13 day journey from the Pyrenees, through to Provence, onto the iconic Alps and rounding out in Paris for the final showdown along the Champs-Elysées. You’ll ride through France’s most stunning regions, enjoy premium live TdF spectating and immerse yourself in the sights, while enjoying the best gastronomic delights of the countryside along the way!
6. Following Daryl Impey’s epic win in this year’s Tour Down Under – the Mitchelton-SCOTT squad will certainly be aiming for a consecutive victory. They’ll be bringing their A game and included in their team lineup is the legendary, Mathew Hayman. The 2016 Paris-Roubaix winner will be rounding out his impressive career at the race and what better way to complete over 18 years of professional racing! This GreenEDGETravel experience, hosted by former professional and Aussie sprint sensation – Matthew Goss, will ensure inside access to the team and the opportunity to truly feel part of the stellar squad on their fight for glory.
7. The BIG start. The Tour de France Grand Depart for 2019 is set to be a real spectacle, kicking off from the Belgian capital of Brussels. If you haven’t experienced the spectacular Spring Classics, this could be the perfect opportunity to get a taste. Coupled with the Tour de France – you’ll be in for the ride of your life!
8.Roubaix ROCKS. Keen to see who will claim the 2019 Paris-Roubaix rock? We do, and we’ll be there in VIP hospitality at the famous Roubaix Velodrome to see yet another legend born. It’s the ‘Hell of the North’ and a truly spectacular, must-do day on the cycling calendar. You will be hosted by former champion, Stuart O’Grady who will be sharing precious victory memories and advice along the way. To add, you’ll have the opportunity to conquer the famously tough pavé sectors yourself ahead of the race, in the Paris-Roubaix Challenge ride.
9.Pyrenees please! They’re charming, green and incredibly scenic. Add in the spectacular Tour de France, and there’s something seriously charismatic about the Pyrenees. We’ll be there in 2019, catching the best Pyrenean action moments, including the famous Col du Tourmalet summit finish. Race ON!
10. Down for some Coast hopping? In 2019, we’ll be hitting Bella Italia to catch some serious Giro race action, ride through the stunning Italian regions from Tirreno to the Adriatic coastline and indulge in the incredible culture along the way! Hosted by former dual stage winner himself, Matthew Goss – it’s set to be a great one.
11. Allez Allez Allez! There’s something very surreal about being in amongst the Tour de France Alps atmosphere alongside countless emphatic, die-hard TdF fans, watching professional cyclists battle it up relentlessly challenging, yet stunningly beautiful ascents. In 2019, we’ll be right in the thick of the spectacular atmosphere, as well as conquering an iconic climb or three ourselves along the way…Col du Galibier, Col de la Madeleine, and Mont Ventoux take your fancy?
12. Classics for fanatics. Up for 11 action packed days of Spring Classic madness? This tour offers the perfect opportunity to conquer the most talked about cobbled climbs, sectors and pavé stretches in cycling. Hosted and led by none other than Paris-Roubaix 2007 champion – Stuart O’Grady, you’ll be learning a tip or two from one of the best in the biz. To add to cobble conquering, you’ll be catching some serious Classic race action along the way and joining the lively, passionate atmosphere while you’re at it. From Flanders to Paris-Roubaix – expect endless adventures and good times!
For 2019, we have put together an 11 day Spring Classics tour to truly experience the very best of the Classics.
The ultimate Classics experience, led by former Paris Roubaix champion – Stuart O’Grady, will start by diving straight into the heart of Belgium for the the Tour of Flanders, followed by the Ardennes Classics and concluded with a trip to the ‘hell of the North’ for Paris-Roubaix. All in one trip? Yes – and not to mention lunching with the legendary King of Cycling along the way – Eddy Merckx, as well as a few other bonuses. Epic it will be!
With the 11 days, comes many-a famous climb and sector… To save you some research, we’ve put together a list of some of the most iconic stretches that you will tackle or see the professionals battle over on our ‘2019 Cobbled Classics with Stuart O’Grady’ tour.
The Tour of Flanders
Paterberg: Average gradient – 12.9%, Maximum gradient – 20.3%, Length – 360m
The Paterburg is famously known within the cycling world for its rough cobbles, meshed with harsh gradients of up to 20.3%. As the final climb in the Tour of Flanders, it almost always lives up to its name, encouraging countless late race attacks before the final flat stretch into the finishing town of Oudenaarde.
Oude Kwaremont: Average gradient – 4%, Maximum gradient – 11.6%, Length – 2200m
2.2km of pain – tackled not once, but three times throughout the race and more often than not, splitting the peloton or what’s left of it to bits! It was atop the Kwaremont in 2017 that World Champion, Peter Sagan’s race was ended with a brutal late race crash.
Koppenberg: Average gradient – 9.4% , Maximum gradient – 22% , Length – 700m
It’s feared by all, mostly due to its harsh steepness and cobbles to combine. On many an occasion you’ll see riders being forced to run their bikes up the short, but brutal climb – usually caused by chaos ahead!
Muur van Geraardsbergen: Average gradient – 9%, Maximum gradient – 20%, Length – 750m
Muur means ‘wall’ in Flemish, so we’ll let you be the judge. Narrow and steep – and known to always bring an electric crowd of excited spectators awaiting the race to explode up the famous climb.
Kanarieberg: Average gradient – 7.7%, Maximum gradient – 14%, Length – 1000m
A slightly longer climb for the peloton to take on and certainly a challenge. The riders will have a break from their dose of cobbles, however as the climb is lined with smooth asphalt.
Taaienberg: Average gradient – 6.6%, Maximum gradient – 18%, Length – 530m.
It’s over before you know it with it’s short length, but size certainly doesn’t matter on this occasion. More often than not, the big names will be right up at the head of the peloton and ready to pounce!
Haaghoek: Length – 2000m
The Haaghoek is a famous sector, lined for 2km with gnarly cobblestones. The race is almost always going to explode along here as riders hit it at speed and attacks fly. One word – chaos!
Paddestraat: Length – 2300m
Another famous sector of cobbled madness – 2.3km of burn in the legs along this stretch is inevitable.
The Ardennes Classics
Mur de Huy: Average gradient – 9.6%, Maximum gradient – 26%, Length – 1300m
Mur de Huy or Murder Huy? A true ‘wall’ with gradients peaking at 26%. For most people – that’s stand still steepness. For the male and female professionals battling it out at Flèche Wallone, however they will still be flying up here, albeit teeth gritted and pain faced! The climb will be tackled multiple times throughout the Classic before famously finishing atop, providing nothing but edge of the seat spectating.
Cote de Cherave: Average gradient – 8.1%, Maximum gradient – 13%, Length – 1300m
Often a real race-maker, conveniently placed just 5.5km before the ultimate fight to the finish up the Mur de Huy. Most commonly, attacks will fly in a final bid to break free from what’s left of the race, ahead of the Mur.
Cote de Stockeu: Average gradient – 10.5%, Maximum gradient – 21%, Length – 1100m
Similar in nature to the Flanders Koppenburg – this little bugger is tough. Steepest from the bottom, very roughly surfaced and narrow in width. There’s no messing around up here!
Cote du Rosier: Average gradient – 5.9%, Maximum gradient – 9%, Length – 5400m
Unique to your typical Classics climb is its 5.4km length. While not overly steep – the twisting, winding climb, as well as its varying profile ensures a tough battle to the summit.
Cote de la Redoute: Average gradient – 8.4%, Maximum gradient – 22% , Length – 2100m
The Cote de la Redoute is usually placed at the pointy end in the final 40km of the LBL Classic and is highly famous to the race. Starting out at a lower gradient and gradually gaining steepness, reaching up to 22% before eventually flattening out towards the summit. 2.2km will no doubt seem like a hell of a lot longer up this grind of a climb. Race on!
Cauberg: Average gradient – 5.8%, Maximum gradient – 13%, Length – 1200m
It’s the most iconic climb of Amstel Gold and has also been featured in multiple World Championships courses, as well as the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana. Climbed numerous times throughout the Classic, its unforgiving steepness and open road is renowned for dishing some pain and lactate to the legs. Not to mention, it’s positioned a mere 1.8km from the finish line. Ouch.
Eyserbosweg: Average gradient – 8.1%, Maximum gradient – 23% , Length – 1100m
It’s just over 1km in length with some leg ripping sections gaining up to a gradient of 23%. Painful – yes, but worth a strong attack as open, wind-gusted fields follow when the climb flattens out and the peloton can easily splinter.
Forest of Arenberg: Difficulty – 5 Stars, Length – 2400m
It’s one of the most difficult sections of the race, lined with hungry tooth-like cobbles, laid sporadically across the 2.4km stretch of pavé through the Forest of Arenberg. More often than not crash and puncture filled.
Carrefour de l’Arbre: Difficulty –5 stars, Length – 2100m
Nearing the end of the 250 + km race and having already travelled over countless gruelling pavé sectors, lies the lethal Carrefour de l’Arbre. Incredible crowds will line the sector and cheer on the Kings of the cobbles battling it out, nerves sky high as the race explodes with the Velodrome in sight!
This tough sector is renowed for splitting the race to bits, due to the nature of its nail-biting cobbles, gradually worsening throughout its 3km distance. To add, it has a series of sharp 90 degree turns!
For a day-to-day itinerary and further details on our 11 day 2019 Cobbled Classics with Stuart O’Grady tour – head here.
27 year old Australian professional cyclist, Luke ‘Durbo’ Durbridge has been with the now dominating Mitchelton-SCOTT squad since 2012 and has proven to be a real backbone to the team and their success over the years. His biggest strengths predominantly lie in the Individual and Team Time Trial and in recent seasons, he has certainly stepped up to become a real Classics contender, as well as a consistent team strength and support in Grand Tour’s.
Durbo took a shine to the Santos Tour Down Under at his first appearance with the UNI SA development squad in 2011 and has competed in almost every edition since with Mitchelton-SCOTT (GreenEDGE). His only absence was this year due to a broken collarbone sustained at the Australian National Championships.
He will be returning to the race in 2019 and following the team’s victory with Daryl Impey this year, they’ll no doubt be aiming sky high!
TDU Q & A WITH DURBO
How many Tour Down Under’s have you taken part in?
I have done 7 – the only one I missed was this year.
Favourite TDU memory?
It would have to be the second time we won with Simon Gerrans, as Caleb Ewan was also winning all the stages. We won the overall, the sprint jersey and 5 stages! It was an epic year.
Best TDU race moment?
A few years back we took it up with Sky into the bottom of Willunga and split the group into a small bunch in the crosswind, which gave Gerro the best chance to race up Willunga. He did – and he went on to win the overall.
What’s so special about the TDU, compared to other World Tour events?
It’s in Australia, so we have home fans cheering us on and there are also plenty of great events around the race for people to enjoy.
For the riders, it’s nice and convenient as there’s only one race hotel and a lot less travel than what we’re used to when stage racing throughout the season.
We can also ride back to the hotel from most stages as they’re short. Just action packed, short racing. I love it!!
TDU atmosphere thoughts?
Love it. Fans get really get into it, especially when cheering for the Aussie’s – they really get behind us.
Aspirations for the 2019 TDU?
To win the overall with Darryl Impey again.
Stage you’re most looking forward to?
Stirling is always a great circuit, but I think Willunga is going to be the big day.
Stage you’re most dreading?
The Down Under Classic crit…always such a fast, hard first opener to the race.
As the Mat Hayman retirement race, it will no doubt be a pretty special time for the team?!
I’ll be honoured to ride in his last race. A true champion of the sport and a great friend. It should be a great send off for him.
Thanks for the words Durbo and all the best for January, 2019!
We’ll be there right alongside, backing Luke and the squad throughout. Want to join us?! Head here for details.
Read what 17 x Tour de France rider, Stage winner and Yellow jersey wearer – Stuart O’Grady has to say on the recent Tour de France official route reveal…
Every Tour de France is extremely hard and 2019 will prove no different…
3460kms in total will be covered
5 gruelling mountain top finishes.
& 54 TT kilometres
Starting off in Brussels, the home of the Greatest cyclist ever – Eddy Merckx, who will send off the riders and their passionate fans in recognition of his First TdF Win 50 years ago.
Whenever you race in Belgium, the fans come out to play and this will undoubtedly be bigger and better than ever. There will be literally millions of people alongside the roads, turning the already tricky, windy rough Belgian roads into a complete carnival. It’ll be awesome to watch – but a nightmare to race in!
The riders will tackle the famous Muur on the opening stage, but it will no doubt be a sprinter who pulls on the first yellow for 2019.
Stage 2 is a fast & furious 27km TTT around Belgiums Atomium. The short TTT will keep the stress levels high and already show some significant time gaps for the weaker teams.
We will then venture into the champagne country where rolling hills will give the attackers their first chance for victory.
Stage 6 see’s the first mountain top finish and you couldn’t get much tougher. A 24% climb awaits up La Planche des Belles Filles where theGC contenders will be looking to strike.
Stage 7 is a very long 230kms, where the sprinters surely wont let this occasion slip by.
Onto Stage 8 and it will likely be one for the breakaway riders before racing into the home town of Romain Bardet on stage 9.
Riders will then tackle another long 218kms on Stage 10, leading into the first rest day of this years Tour de France, which will by now be very much deserved and appreciated by the peloton!
Concluding the rest day in Albi – once again the TDF visits my old home town of Toulouse and one of the most beautiful areas of France.
The race against the clock, over 27kms around Pau should really test the GC riders. It’s short + fast and will again give a clearer guide as to who the favourites are heading into the mountains.
The legendary Tourmalet awaits the riders and for the 3rd time in history it will judge the finish line. Expect a show!
The final rest day in Nimes will be a blessing for the bunch before they tackle an incredibly challenging final week.
Stage 18 has 3 climbs over 2000m and should really play out to be one of the greatest battle stages of the Tour, passing over Vars, Izoard & the Galibier.
Stage 19 passes over the highest road in the Alps at a staggering 2770m – Col de L’iseran.
For me, however – the final mountain stage over 127kms will be the last great battle. 60kms of climbing and 60kms of descending over Cornet de Roseland and Val Thorens. It will be time for those that have attacked to defend and for those that haven’t received the result they’re after to go into all-out attack mode. It will once again be a worldwide show stopper.
The Tour de France will have its Gladiators doing battle and now with a new TdF winner defending his crown, it will once again prove to be an amazing race to watch unfold as the best cyclists on the planet take to the streets.
I cant wait to be there once again to witness not only the action, but experience France at its glowing best. Everyone is happy, the sun’s hot, the drinks are cold, the food is incredible and we get to live, breathe and taste cycling for 3 weeks.
Vivre Le Tour….
On 29.10.18 all Mummu Cycling 2019 Tour de France experiences will be LIVE and on sale via mummucycling.com. Join Stuey and the team for what’s set to be an epic edition of the world’s most spectacular bike race!
Mummu Cycling has been a world-wide cycling tour operator since establishment in 2010. With cycling being such an international sport and as it rapidly continues to grow globally, Mummu Cycling now boast a global support network of offices in Australia, Europe and the USA. With the true centre of professional cycling being in Europe, Mummu Cycling’s major focus is on creating and carefully designing the best cycling trips in Europe possible.
Cycling Trips Europe
All Cycling trips in Europe are led and designed by cycling legend – 17 time Tour de France contender and Paris Roubaix 2007 winner, Stuart O’Grady. Stuart’s knowledge and insight into the sport and in particular on cycling throughout Europe, having spent countless years’ racing and training throughout, is invaluable.
The European season kicks off with a bang in the cycling-crazed, fan-filled heart of Belgium for the Spring Classics with tours focussed on experiencing the very best of the most iconic Classics to the sport. To ensure the best cycling trips in Europe are had, Stuart will take guests up the most gruelling, famous bergs, to the most talked-about, race-changing sectors. Included in a stellar line-up of races experienced is; The famous Tour of Flanders, through to Paris-Roubaix and across to the Ardennes Classics.
Mummu Cycling’s trips in Europe continue through to Italy and the first Grand Tour of the season, The Giro d’Italia. The three week race is a true spectacle travelling through Italy’s most stunning and challenging terrain and tackling countless world-famous climbs. To top, atmosphere and Italian culture are outstanding and Mummu Cycling provide an experience that embraces the best of both worlds, ensuring a memorable cycling trip in Europe is had.
The ultimate, must-do best cycling trips in Europe take place in France for the biggest, most talked about bike race in the world – The Tour de France. In 2019 Mummu Cycling will be running a succession of 8 unique cycling trips at the Tour to ensure an experience is delivered for everyone. Experiences will kick off in Brussels with the Grand Depart, through to the spectacular Pyrenees and Alps mountainous regions and eventually conclude with a final hurrah into Paris, to end an incredible three weeks on the iconic Champs-Élysées. All experiences will be led by yellow jersey wearer and Stage winner of the Tour, Stuart O’Grady and will range from big days in the saddle ticking off bucket list climbs, to spectating from the very best VIP areas along course, to sipping champagne and enjoying French canapés at the finish.
To conclude the European season, Mummu Cycling travel to Spain to tackle the final Grand Tour of the season, La Vuelta a España. As the final opportunity for many professional cyclists to shine for the season, the Vuelta is undoubtedly always a true spectacle to watch and be part of. To add – the race travels through breathtaking regions throughout Spain and some outstanding terrain for cycling. Culture and incredible weather make for an incredible cycling trip in Europe.
To top Mummu Cycling’s line-up of ‘best cycling trips in Europe’, there are also alternative, unique experiences on offer in 2019. Included in the latest additions to product line is a Milan-San Remo ‘monument’ experience with former winner of the race and sprint sensation, Matthew Goss. As well as ‘Pro Weekend’ cycling trips in Europe that involve riding with a professional or former professional cyclist throughout their most rated home training grounds and enjoying a weekend ‘in the life of’.
2019 preparation to create the best cycling trips in Europe is now well underway and set to be bigger and better than ever before. Watch this space!
The 2019 Tour de France will be departing in style from the Belgian capital, Brussels in celebration of the legendary Eddy Merckx as next year will mark 50 years since his first Tour de France victory in 1969. He impressively went on to win five Tours between then and 1974. As a Belgian countryman and one of, if not – the most decorated cyclist of all time, it only seems right to honour his incredible success and have the Tour de France’s Grand Depart there.
2019 will also mark the 100th year since the beginning of the prestigious yellow jersey, or ‘Maillot Jaune’ that the leader of the race famously wears from Stage One through to final honours.
Brussels is no stranger to the Tour de France, having already welcomed the race 11 times in it’s history. Considering this and Belgium’s emphatic passion for cycling, it’s safe to assume the capital will be putting on a show!
What’s in store for the Grand Depart from Brussels:
STAGE ONE Saturday July 6th
Brussels-Charleroi-Brussels – 192km: A predicted Sprint finish on a mostly flat opening Stage. It would be rude not to include a few Belgian bergs, however so watch out for some action up the iconic Muur. Here’s a glimpse at what to look out for on Stage One…
Muur van Geraardsbergen (Mur de Grammont):
The Muur van Geraardsbergen, most commonly referred to as ‘The Muur’ is a famous Belgian climb. Iconic to cycling due to its inclusion in one of the most exciting, challenging one day races of the year – The Tour of Flanders. It has been sporadically part of the Flanders parcours since 1950 and since has created quite a name for itself – renowned for its cobbles and steep-unforgiving nature. Short in length at just over a km but reaching gradients of up to 19.8%. It is a true Belgian Classics berg and will no doubt be a real spectacle to see the peloton blitz up there in the opening Stage of the 2019 Tour de France.
On route return from Charleroi, the peloton will pass the foot of the Lion’s Mound; a large, artificial cone-like hill that was constructed between 1820-26 and marks the battlefield where Napoleons’ troops caught a glimpse of defeat at Waterloo, or more specifically; a musket ball hit the shoulder of William II of the Netherlands during battle, knocking him from his horse!
The Stage will hit the town of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre in the closing km’s where Eddy Merckx was born in 1945. He was raised there by his parents who ran a grocery store and found his passion for two wheels on the Woluwe-Saint-Pierre roads at the young age of three. To add to it’s significance, Woluwe-Saint-Pierre is where Eddy wore his very first yellow jersey on June 29th, 1969.
STAGE TWO, Sunday July 7th
Brussels Palais Royal-Brussels Atomium – 28km (Teams Time Trial): Today a new Maillot Jaune winner may likely be crowned, unless the Stage one victor has the team strength to back up his day one success. Sure to be a real spectacle departing from the Royal Palace and heading via the impressive Brussels Park, through the wide avenues of Brussels city and eventually concluding alongside the famous Atomium.
THE ROYAL PALACE
The Teams Time Trial will depart superbly from the stunning Royal Palace of Brussels; the official palace of the King and Queen of Belgium and located in the centre of Brussels city.
Its establishment began in 1783 and was completed in 1934 – rich in history and a truly stunning sight to see. It is now solely used for administrative purposes of the Royal family and symbolises Belgium’s constitutional monarchy.
The race will then zip by the beautiful Brussels Park; the largest public park in Brussels city and lined with monuments and lime trees. Created between 1776-1783 it is a must-visit when in Brussels and is surrounded by; The Belgian House of Parliament, The Palace of Justice, The Royal Palace and the Place du Trôn.
The course will end with a powerful, final straight section alongside the unique ‘Atomium’; an abstract landmark building that was originally created in the capital for the 1958 World Fair exhibition.
The now museum consists of nine connected steel spheres, with the centre representing the shape of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. Tubes connect the spheres and inside are stairs, escalators and an elevator. Five of the nine spheres are accessible and consist of a restaurant, exceptional panoramic viewing spots of the city and exhibit halls.
The VIP Grand Depart from Brussels will without doubt to be a real showcase in 2019 and with the honorary anniversaries set to take place, it will certainly be a unique occasion to be part of. To enjoy every moment and catch all the very best action, we have designed an itinerary that will guarantee a once in a lifetime experience. Check it out and register for 2019, here.
The Australian Tour Down Under is one of a kind and continues to grow bigger and better each year. It’s the first World Tour event on the calendar, kickstarting the professional season with a bang in South Australia’s Adelaide and right in the heart of summer.
The Australian Tour Down Under is unique in that riders and fans can be based from one central location within the booming, atmospheric hub of Adelaide for the entirety of the event.
Well known for its stunning countryside, world-famous wineries, gorgeous coastline and exceptional ‘Adelaide Hills’ – all significant parts of the Australian Tour Down Under and why it continues to attract countless cycling enthusiasts each year for the event.
Mummu Cycling offer a variety of Australian Tour Down Under experiences, all designed by local hero and Australian cycling phenomenon – Stuart O’Grady. As a two time winner of the Australian Tour Down Under himself and having grown up in Adelaide – the race and the roads hold many fond memories for Stuart.
“I have ridden my bike all over the planet for the past 30 years. Although there are more beautiful places to ride in the World, Adelaide has to be one of the greatest cities overall to bike. It has everything from incredible coastlines to the rolling hills and vineyards that surround our city -Adelaide is my favourite place in the World to train,” Stuart said.
Each Australian Tour Down Under experience, ranging from 4 – 8 days, includes the opportunity to view the best race action; from live stage viewing and the famous Willunga hill finale, as well as daily guided rides through the most rated training areas within Adelaide and its idyllic surrounding countryside. The famous Challenge Tour will also be an option for many – enabling you to ride the official Australian Tour Down Under Stage Five route among many others, getting some real insight and taste as to what lies ahead for the pro peloton to come.
When not riding or catching the best Australian Tour Down Under race moments – we’ll be kicking back over a Barossa Valley vino and enjoying gourmet local delights along the way.
The La Vuelta Espana was the final Grand Tour of the 2018 season and although last, was certainly not least, providing thrilling race entertainment daily.
The Grand Tour was won in tremendous fashion by a dominating Simon Yates of Mitchelton-Scott, claiming his debut Grand Tour win, as well as the team’s first since its inception in 2011.
Following a devastating loss of the Maglia Rosa leaders jersey in the Giro d’Italia earlier season, as late as Stage 19 and concluding 13 consecutive days in the lead – it was no surprise when he came into La Vuelta Espana chasing redemption and ready to take on Red.
The Briton was well supported throughout the race by the impressive and ambitious Mitchelton-Scott outfit, with right hand men – Australian Jack Haig and twin brother Adam Yates playing pivotal roles in his success when the road turned upwards.
How Simon Yates Stole the Show at La Vuelta Espana…
Yates and Mitchelton-Scott approached La Vuelta Espana with a little more tactical caution, following his experience of perhaps laying it too far on the line and plumeting out of contention in the earlier Giro D’Italia.
He sat fairly pretty up until Stage 9 when he somewhat quietly moved himself into the lead by a slim margin, following a consistent opening week in the standings.
Red was stolen away all too soon, however when Alexandre Geniez of AG2R La Mondiale claimed Stage 12, storming to victory following an emphatic breakaway win. Fellow breakaway rider, Jesus Herrada of Cofidis also riding himself into La Vuelta Espana final standings lead, bumping Yates down to second by a little over 3 minutes.
Although Red was taken, it ended up being a wise and tactical call by the Mitchelton-Scott squad to let the break succeed and allow the lead to be taken over. The decision enabled the team and Yates to have some pressure removed for several stages while Cofidis took control. Ultimately, it was inevitable that Herrada would not be an overall contender, so to allow him the glory was appropriate, although undoubtedly a very impressive performance by the Spanish rider.
The aggressive Simon Yates that has provided endless entertainment for the cycling world in 2018, was back with a vengeance and patience was no longer an option, however on Stage 14 when he attacked to take Stage honours in the closing km of the gruelling Alto Les Praeres and claim La Vuelta Espana leaders jersey back.
He and team then went on to hold it impeccably through to Madrid – Yates never once looking threatened or showing any real sign of struggle. A tough fight for the 26 year old, no doubt but it was certainly clear to viewers just how much stronger he was over his rivals and probable that the jersey would likely only be lost if a mishap were to occur.
To really settle his lead, he took it to his rivals and showed his dominating strength on the final two Andorran mountain stages, outclassing them all and moving himself into a more comfortable, stable lead in the final standings, enabling him to enjoy the last hurrah into Madrid that bit more.
Who were La Vuelta Espana Contenders in the Final Standings?
Up until a drama-filled Stage 20, it was looking like Spanish favourite and since (now) current World Road Champion, Alejandro Valverde would be up for second place. The all-round successor was hot on the heels of Simon Yates since the early stages and undoubtably his biggest threat and rival for the majority of La Vuelta Espana.
Valverde – a crowd favourite and Spanish cycling hero, came into the race a local favourite, proving his incredible versatility as well as form from very early on, emphatically winning Stage 2 and Stage 8 in uphill sprints.
His early success enabled the Spaniard to put Yates under pressure and stay within distance in the final standings with just 0.25 seconds separating the pair up until as late as Stage 19 and still within two minutes ahead of Stage 20. Here, Yates’ strength simply got the better of Valverde and he exploded back into the distance, leaving the battle wide open for the remaining podium places.
In the end, it was a combination of consistency over the three weeks and incredible late race strength that saw a phenomenal battle go down between Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) and Miguel Ángel López (Astana Pro team).
Ultimately, it was Quick-Step’s young talent, Mas showing his exceptional climbing ability in the final mountainous Stage 20 to steal the Stage and second place in La Vuelta Espana final standings, battling it out over López who also climbed up into third.
Sprint Kings of La Vuelta Espana?
Peter Sagan and Elia Viviani came into the race as hot favourites to take home a Stage victory or two. The former World champion, Sagan came frustratingly close on numerous occasions throughout, but much to anyone’s surprise left without a victory to his name.
It was Italian champion, Viviani who stole the sprint show – claiming a hat-rick of three victories and concluding his La Vuelta Espana on a high with Stage honours in Madrid. No real surprises there following his sensational Giro D’Itlalia sprint domination earlier season.
A challenge did come from French sprinter Nacer Bouhanni on Stage 5, using his impressive turn of speed to take a Stage victory for Cofidis.
La Vuelta Espana Time Trial Dominance by Dennis.
La Vuelta Espana departed with nothing but a bang as Australian speedster and Time Trial specialist, Rohan Dennis stormed to victory in the opening 8km Time Trial and into the leaders jersey.
Since, Dennis has gone on to win the Road World Championship Time Trial honours, so fair to say his form and performance was nothing less than exceptional.
He proved his seamless condition once more when he went on to annihilate the field in Stage 15’s Time Trial, winning by a huge margin of 0.50 seconds over his closest competitor and BMC team mate, Joseph Rosskopf.
One for the Breakaway…
La Vuelta Espana, 2018 edition was certainly one for the breakaway. Attack after attack and aggressive, jaw-dropping racing was what was delivered day by day and more often than not, the breakaway succeeded. The opportunists were certainly on fire, and there were many a memorable Stage victor crowned throughout.
It all started on Stage 4, when a gutsy – yet smart performance took Ben King (Dimension Data) over the line first from his breakaway peers to claim the first Category 1 summit finish of La Vuelta Espana. One stage wasn’t quite satisfactory for the American as he went on to win Stage 9 in similar fashion, attacking the break to win atop the Puerto de Alfacar climb, outshining climber Bauke Mollema (Trek–Segafredo) in the process.
It was Australian, EF Education First-Drapac rider Simon Clarke that kept the breakaway success momentum going on Stage 5, winning from a thrilling three-up sprint with the hungry, dropped remains of the breakaway hot on their tails. Clarke used his track cycling background and speed to superbly outsmart and run his competitors to take his second La Vuelta Espana Stage victory (since 2012).
The longest day of La Vuelta Espana came on Stage 11 with 209km in store. A 19 man breakaway was finally let go following 100km of aggressive racing. Alessandro De Marchi of BMC proved too good for his rivals up the final climb, taking stage honours.
Yet another notable breakaway win was Euskadi-Murias rider Oscar Rodriguez’ Stage 13 victory over Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe). The victory marked Rodriguez’ first of his pro career and what a way to do it – at La Vuelta Espana and atop the Alto La Camperona.
Next up, it was Canadian Michael Woods (EF Education First-Drapac) to win Stage 17 from a day long-large breakaway selection, making his move up the final Alto del Balcón de Bizkaia. The Canadian only just claimed honours over BMC’s Dylan Teuns with a final attack and gruelling push to the line in very hazy, fog-lined conditions. For Woods, It was his first World Tour win and highly emotional due to personal circumstances which made the victory that more powerful to view.
The last of the breakaway successors was Jelle Wallays of Lotto-Soudal who won from a three man breakaway, established as early as 3km into the stage. The trio timed it perfectly, denying the sprinters a late La Vuelta Espana opportunity before the final sprint run into Madrid.
Maillot Rojo at La Vuelta España
Who wore Red? There’s no doubt that Simon Yates wore it best, but before he claimed La Vuelta Espana honours for good, there were a few other contenders and Maillot Rojo wearers.
Opening Stage winner Rohan Dennis stormed into Red but immediately handed it over come Day 2 following a strong display from Michal Kwiatkowski of Team Sky, who held it from Stages 2-4.
The big La Vuelta Espana surprise came from Rudy Molard (FDJ) who took it over following breakaway success on Stage 5. Molard impressively held it through to Stage 9, where Yates then got a brief feel for it, before loaning it to Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) for several stages.
The feel for Red was all he needed, however as he went on to claim it back and wear it proudly for the remainder of La Vuelta Espana.
La Vuelta Espana was a huge success, providing some sensational race action across some of Spain’s most stunning regions and daring terrain. Interested in experiencing it for yourself in 2019? Register your interest, HERE.
The BIG START of the 102nd Giro d’Italia, set to kick off on Saturday May 11th in 2019 has been revealed!
Starting from the stunning Emilia-Romanga region in Bologna with a short 8.2km Time Trial, it is almost certain to be a BIG start. Short, yes but certainly no breeze and unsurprisingly tough in nature as we all know how much of a challenge the Italians love to provide! The course will be mostly straightforward and flat up until 2.1km to go, where riders will hit the base of the San Luca climb. The gnarly ascent will be all about time in the pain cave, averaging 9.7% and peaking at a gruelling 16% in the closing km. Let’s confidently assume, the Giro d’Italia will be ON from the gun.
Stage Two will also depart from Bologna and is set to head South where it is anticipated that the first week’s stages will be surrounded, before returning North up the Adriatic coast and back to the Emilia-Romanga region for Stages 9 and 10.
Although the complete Giro d’Italia route confirmation is not set to be announced until later year, the Big Start reveal did mention the inclusion of a very challenging Stage 9, hilly 34.7km Individual Time Trial from the coastal town of Riccione to San Marino. Early GC shake-up’s? Likely!
Lastly, they declared that Stage 10 would be a flat 147km fast run and predicted sprint opportunity from Ravenna to Modena.
Ravenna holds special memories for Mummu Cycling’s Stuart O’Grady as the last time the Giro d’Italia set off from the town in 2005, he came close to stage victory in third place behind Australian sprint sensation, Robbie McEwen and Italian speedster Alessandro Petacchi. A thrilling sprint victory was had and could well reoccur in 2019. Could we see another Viviani, Bennett battle?
Lined up from left to right, Zabel, McEwen, Petacchi, O’Grady. Image: Sirotti.
That’s all for now, but it’s certainly left us on our toes and hungry for more details as we look back on what was an outstanding 2018 Giro D’Italia. Stay tuned!
Register your interest for our GreenEDGE Travel Giro d’Italia experiences, here to ensure you’re first to receive itinerary details on release.
This year we had an incredibly successful 2018 Tour de France campaign, running multiple trips across the three week Grand Tour; from the Grand Depart in La Roche-sur-Yon (including a visit to the infamous Roubaix), across to the Alps, followed by the Pyrenees and back to the iconic – Paris.
It was BIG and next year, we are planning to go even better, topping our current line with a whole new level of experience.
In 2019 we will have two separate experience categories for our Pyrenees and Alps trips: Pro and Ride.
The Pro experiences will be simultaneous to this year and all about taking you ‘inside the race’. You will go right behind the scenes and truly feel part of the Tour de France inner circle with 17 x Tour de France contender, Stuart O’Grady as your host.
The experiences will be focussed on following and embracing the race, with each day carefully designed to ensure you have a maximum Tour de France experience. You will have opportunities to get up-close and personal to your favourite teams, catch all the best action from incredible viewing spots on course and have access to starts, finishes and premium VIP hospitality events along the way.
The Pro experiences are suitable for all rider levels and spectators. We will focus on key, must-do parts of the route and take incredible opportunities to ride on closed route roads in the official Tour de France caravan ahead of the race, per experience. Each day will be action packed and not solely about the ride itself, but about finishing in time to absorb the best of the Tour atmosphere in official VIP hospitality locations – out on course + at the finish or vice versa, being at the start and right there in amongst the departure village before the Stage kicks off.
“My expectations were exceeded everyday, I felt like a child on Christmas morning. We rode to the top of Alpe D’ Huez just hours before the riders, I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.” – Words from a Tour de France, 2018 client.
If you’d prefer to be riding big km’s, chasing Strava KOM’s and conquering famous cols, we will also have Tour de France trips for you in 2019 with our ‘Ride’ experiences.
Our Ride experiences will certainly provide a challenge and will be very much cycling focussed, including the best of the TdF – rides and climbs that will no doubt be on your bucket list!
Rides will be km packed and challenging daily, as well as fully supported with ‘pro level’ support, led by experienced, fit-fast ride guides.
To add to extreme rides, you will also experience the Mummu Cycling difference and engage with the biggest bike race of the year – the Tour de France, all while enduring and experiencing the best-of it yourself by bike.
Take the opportunity to go for that Strava KOM or simply just enjoy the challenge and the elation on completion – albeit we predict it may be through gritted teeth!
The official Tour de France, 2019 route is set to be revealed on October 25th. As soon as routes are announced, we will be finalising our remaining TdF experiences to add to the current Grand Depart from Brussels, already live online.
To ensure you receive all itinerary details first for all ‘Pro’ and ‘Ride’ experiences, register your interest here!
The complete official Le Tour de France 2019 route announcement is set to be revealed next month on October 25th. Hype and excitement is building by the day, as predictions are in full swing and rumours continue to spread.
Following the confirmation of the big Grand Depart from Brussels, Belgium we can only assume that great things are in store for next year.
Here, we had a chat with Mummu Cycling founder and CEO, Marcel Berger regarding his thoughts on the current Tour de France 2019 speculations…
“October is the best part of the year for us at Mummu Cycling. You’d think that we love April for the Classics, or July for the Tour, or September for La Vuelta and the World Champs, but October is when we get to ride the wave of excitement of the Tour de France rumour mill. This is the month we get to create experiences, help realise lifelong dreams and navigate around the logistical maze of the world’s biggest annual sporting event to launch our Tour de France tours,” said Marcel.
“In 2018, we designed what I believe was our greatest collection of tours. Our clients were able to see areas of the event that they never thought possible, spend hours with pro teams chatting about tactics and building relationships, ride sections of the course only minutes before the race and of course enjoy amazing food and company.
We are all excited to go one better in 2019 with what is looking like an unpredictable, exciting and of course challenging route designed by the ASO.”
Firstly, what are your thoughts on a Grand Depart ‘abroad’ in the cycling-mad Brussels, Belgium – the home of ultimate legend Eddy Merckx and the 50th year since his first Tour de France victory in 1969?
There is nowhere on the planet where cycling is more loved than in Belgium. Cycling runs through the blood of all Belgians and the fans will definitely create an atmosphere not to be missed in July.
The organisers have created two opening stages which will offer exciting racing and a chance for the Spring Classics riders to hold yellow in the race. Watch out for the likes of Peter Sagan and Philippe Gilbert on the Mur de Grammont at km 43 of Stage 1. Add in the Stage 2 Team Time Trial and we are in for a cycling treat over these first stages.
Our team have done a heap of work to secure a brilliant 5-Star hotel right in the heart of Brussels and only meters from the action.
Pyrenees before Alps? How does this change the race dynamic year after year? The Alps are certainly more famous, talked about climbs in the cycling world, but as we saw in 2018 – the Pyrenean climbs are certainly no breeze!
Everyone seems to love the Alps but personally I prefer the Pyrenees. The climbs are stunning, scenery beautiful and as 2018 showed, racing can be brilliant through the range bordering France and Spain.
It is looking like 2019 may buck the trend of alternating Alps and Pyrenees in the Tour de France route. We have on good authority that the Tourmalet will make a comeback in 2019 which I know our guests are looking forward to riding.
We may also have a rest day in Toulouse which would be really cool as Stuey lived there during his early career and I know is excited to show our guests around his former home, especially some of the restaurants which are still standing.
The race could possibly visit Andorra where the recent La Vuelta just held two gruelling mountain stages. Last visited by Le Tour de France in 2016 and one of cycling’s best kept secrets, providing some stunning back drops and incredible climbs. Many professional cyclists are now based in the mountainous country, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France. If predictions are set to go ahead, it will no doubt provide some serious heat in the earlier stages of the Tour. Thoughts?
We went to Andorra in 2016 with the Tour de France and the small country is a cycling Mecca. I don’t think there is a stretch of more than 20km of flat roads and if the Tour de France returns again, I am sure that the likes of Thomas, Froome, Yates and Bardet will all be licking their lips at the prospect of racing on the steep slopes of the Coll de la Rabassa or Port d’Envalira.
What makes Andorra even more special is it’s remoteness…the roads are quieter than in the Alps and French Pyrenees, meaning fans can get closer than ever to the riders. I remember in 2016 we had a picnic on the ascent of Coll de la Rabassa handing cans of soft drink out to the Grupetto as they struggled up the climb.
The route will supposedly travel towards the infamous Mont Ventoux. Reaching up to 1909m and famously known in TdF history as being drama-filled! Most recently, in 2016 when Chris Froome wearing Yellow, was knocked down by a motor bike in the final stages of the climb, leaving him few options but to run his bike up to the summit to finish the stage. Or date back to 1967 when British cyclist Tom Simpson collapsed and died up the brutal ascent…
What are your thoughts on the likely return of Mont Ventoux to the 2019 TdF?
If Ventoux returns, particularly as a stage finish, it will make for an incredible Tour de France in 2019. I am not sure if both Tourmalet and Ventoux will return in the same year, but the ASO have been unpredictable in recent years.
There will be the possible inclusion of a brutal Planche des Belles Filles gravel summit finish peaking at up to 24%!
French media outlet ‘France Bleu’ suggested that 2019’s race could visit the the brutal climb having investigated a tweet from race general commissioner Stephane Boury. Boury posted a photo from a mystery location that was soon discovered to be on the Planche des Belles Filles: ‘Here will be considered a new finish for the TDF 2019… passing 24%… there will be some show.’
We know from this year’s new, brutal ‘65km’ stage, that the organisers are forever seeking ‘exciting’ challenges for the race. This could well provide just that and more?
The Grand Tours are all including more exciting stages and to be honest – more gravel. It’s like we are going back in time to the early years of the Tour de France when almost all roads were gravel.
We are predicting a stage finish on Stage 6 which is quite early in the race and will bring the GC contenders into action, hopefully making the race more exciting.
In the closing week the Tour will likely spend several days in the Haute-Alps and include the likes of the epic Mont Blanc. If predictions are correct – the TdF could be in for a real final week showdown?
There is no better way to finish the Tour de France than in the Alps. It creates so much excitement, extraordinary racing, cauldrons of fans and an experience you just can’t beat.
Mont Blanc hasn’t been in the Tour de France since 2016 when French favourite Romain Bardet won on a solo attack to the famous summit. The ASO do want a French winner and they would love Bardet to win atop Mont Blanc wearing yellow, so I wouldn’t be surprised.
Following a highly successful Tour de France for Mummu Cycling this year – what are you most looking forward to on Tour in 2019?
The bookends excite me most about the 2019 Tour de France. A lot of our Tour de France clients will never get to experience the atmosphere of cycling in Belgium, but this year we will be in the heart of the action in Brussels with Australia’s Classics and Tour de France champion, Stuart O’Grady.
Then nothing beats the final week in the Alps. This will be incredible and hopefully we can include monuments like Ventoux and Mont Blanc.
Once official route’s have been revealed we will be promptly releasing our remaining 2019 Tour de France experiences to add to the current (already released) VIPGrand Depart . Register your interest, here to ensure you’re first to receive trip release details.
Mummu Cycling offer a variety of unique cycle tours in France suitable for every lover or fan of cycling. As an official Tour de France Tour operator, all cycling tours in France are primarily based around the three week Grand Tour. The Tour de France is the pinnacle of cycling and the ultimate for any professional athlete to compete in, and likewise for fan’s to spectate and experience. Established as early as 1903, the race has grown to become a real global sporting phenomenon and each year continues to attract the very best cyclists in the world, providing the most entertaining bike racing there is for millions of cycling-mad spectators.
Mummu Cycling have been providing top of the line cycle tours in France since 2010 and have elevated since inception to now offer a wide range of tours from single day, up to two weeks in duration. Each tour provides a unique experience, whether it be riding big kilometre’s daily, conquering bucket list Tour de France climbs, or truly feeling part of the race, atmosphere and inner sanctum; riding on stage routes via closed roads and cheering from the best hospitality zones there are. Alternatively, there are also fantastic non-ride options that allow guests to 100% embrace the incredible Tour de France surroundings and kick back daily in the best VIP areas, champagne in hand – French canapé to pair!
In 2019, Mummu Cycling will be running nine different cycle tours in France. The race will no doubt spectacularly depart from the cycling-enthusiastic Belgium and the capital of Brussels in celebration of cycling legend, Eddy Merckx. 2019 marks the 50th year since his first Tour victory in 1969, so what better way to honour his incredible success. The Tour de France will follow tradition and hit the mountains following what is predicted to be a sprint-dominated week, venturing through to the Pyrenean and French Alps regions and conquering many-a climb iconic to the race. Ultimately, the victor and strongest rider standing from what will inevitably be a three week gruelling battle, will ride down the world-famous Champs-Elysées – arms held high as masses of crowds join and celebrate the success and conclusion of the world’s best bike race.
Mummu Cycling will be there the whole way through operating unforgettable cycle tours in France and striving to deliver the best experience possible!
2019 has been nothing less than sensational for Simon Yates. He’s gone from sitting pretty in pink leading the Giro d’Italia for 13 days straight back in May, to now rocking the Red at La Vuelta a España.
Following some fiery, dominating performances and all backed by an ever-impressive Mitchelton-Scott squad – he now leads the race by a mere 0.25 seconds to Spaniard Alejandro Valverde of Movistar.
2019 has been nothing less than sensational for Simon Yates. He’s gone from sitting pretty in pink leading the Giro d’Italia for 13 days straight back in May, to now rocking the Red at La Vuelta a España.
Following some fiery, dominating performances and all backed by an ever-impressive Mitchelton-Scott squad – he now leads the race by a mere 0.25 seconds to Spaniard Alejandro Valverde of Movistar.
WHAT’S TO COME?
Today, the daunting Pyrenean, La Rabassa climb looms as the race ventures from Lleida to Andorra. The Stage (19) is mostly flat leading in to the 17.5km climb up to the finish line at 2035m. With harsher gradients near the base, it could be an interesting battle from the start. Tension will no doubt be sky high as the General Classification contenders battle it out for time, or perhaps a breakaway will survive their chances and fight it out for stage honours!
La Rabassa: Average gradient – 6.3%, Maximum gradient – 11%, Length – 17.5km
Time may be running out to fight for the Maillot Rojo, but the penultimate Stage 20 could still prove a real game-changer. The Stage covers almost 4000m of vertical ascent over a mere 97.3km. Yes – we’re confidently predicting a drama-filled final showdown!
The question is – Can Yates hold on?
We’re backing him!
Reserve your interest for our 2019 La Vuelta experiences HERE so we can keep you updated on trip itinerary and details before release.
Why did you originally choose Girona as your European base back in 2012?
I’d visited Girona a couple of times the year before and was sold straight away. I had teammates & support staff already living here and I knew that was going to make the transition to the professional ranks a bit easier. When cyclists are searching for a base, the training and weather are two pretty important factors. Girona easily ticked both those boxes.
The Coast loop. There are a bunch of different ways you can get out to the Costa Brava coastline, but the stretch of road between Tossa de Mar and Sant Feliu is one of the most beautiful roads that I’ve ridden around the world. The road twists left and right, up and down, always with great views of the Mediterranean Sea below.
Placa del Vi 7 & Txalaka.
Placa del Vi 7 is a nice night out and often a bit of a treat for us. Their dishes are tapas style sharing plates and often a bit different. They have an incredible selection of wines from around the globe and staff that are always welcoming.
Txalaka is a very relaxed Basque style tapas restaurant. As well as the best pintxos in town, they have a great menu with delicious seafood. To drink, you must try the Basque sidra and Txakoli.
Favourite local ‘Catalan’ dish/es?
Hard decision as the food in Girona is tough to beat. Meats and seafood are very popular among the locals and although they are usually cooked quite simply, they always nail it. I’m also a big fan of Patatas Bravas for an afternoon snack. Some people think they’re just wedges with sauce, but if you find the best places, they’re a lot more than that. Place del Vi 7 serves the best Bravas in town.
If you’re up for dessert, you must try Crema Catalana – a custardy dish, similar to creme brûlée. Although very tasty, one of the most satisfying parts is cracking the caramelised, glazed top.
In the last few years we’ve been spoilt for choice in town. A bunch of coffee shops and eateries have popped up all over town and remind me of the coffee scene back in Australia.
A few suggestions to guarantee a good coffee:
Coffee and Greens
Why would you recommend Girona as a cycling holiday destination to others?
As I mentioned above, the training options and weather in Girona are two of the big drawcards. With great year-round weather and very few wet days, it’s easy to take it for granted. Unfortunately we get reminded pretty quickly when we head up north for the spring classics..
There are so many great routes to choose from when out training that you could easily ride one of Girona’s best rated rides every day of the week. You have options for flatter rides or if you’re looking to challenge yourself a bit, you can head inland towards the Pyrenees and ride some of the many longer climbs. If you prefer something a bit different, there are countless back roads and gravel sectors to go off exploring.
When you’re not out on your bike, the city has plenty of character and is rich in history. Fantastic food and wine, cobbled streets that are dotted with squares and the river Onyar which is famous for the many brightly painted houses lining it.
What are you most looking forward to on your PRO WEEKEND in Girona with Mummu Cycling?
Girona really has it all for the bike enthusiast. The number of cycle-tourists visiting town in the past few years is a testament to this. I’m looking forward to showing off this beautiful town, on and off the bike, in a relaxed environment typical of Catalunya.
Michael is a double Olympic Silver medalist, as well as multiple world champion on the track and two-time stage winner in the Teams Time Trial at the Giro D’Italia. He recently successfully took on his debut Tour de France and ended on a high with a top ten performance in the Individual Time Trial.
For more details on how you can join Heppy in Girona on a PRO WEEKEND – head here.
Keen to climb with ease, master the descents and sprint with finesse? Mummu Cycling are excited to be bringing to you our latest, ‘Pro Weekends’. Led by current and former professional cyclists, these camps will provide the perfect platform to take your cycling to the next level.
Our hosts will be sharing first hand knowledge and guidance on technique, racing experience, training and nutrition advice, as well as assisting with any personal cycling goals throughout the weekend.
Taking place in the rider’s hometown – it will be the ultimate, intimate insiders weekend on the bike. Train from their own stomping grounds, where you will have the opportunity to summit the climbs that launched their careers and enjoy the best local knowledge and back roads of the area, all while taking in tips and advice from the best.
It won’t be all serious training – recovery is King, after all, as is a happy head. To ensure this, we will be delivering a premium experience and will be treating you to great food, wine and full ride support – BYO bike!
As an Official Tour de France operator, highly renowned for delivering World Class event based cycling tours, we are incredibly excited to be including our Pro Weekends to our product category and are confident that this addition to Mummu Cycling is only going to better and add to the Mummu Cycling difference that we strive to deliver.
Pro Weekend with Matthew Goss – Launceston, Tasmania
We are thrilled to be launching our Pro Weekends in Tasmania with former leading professional cyclist, Matthew Goss.
The double Giro D’Italia Stage successor and most famously, Milan San-Remo winner in 2011 has an extensive level of knowledge and a hard to to top skill set to add. Famous for his savvy sprint and impressive run of speed, Matt will no doubt be sharing a tip or two along the way. He is still relatively fresh off his retirement from professional cycling in 2016 and is more ready than ever to get back out there and share his skill and experience with you.
From Launceston, Tasmania; famous for its incredible green, scenic roads – Matt will take you on some of his favourite training roads from his days as a professional and ensure a weekend to remember.
“Tasmania has a rich history of cycling and over the years has consistently punched above its weight with the number of professionals the apple isle has produced. I’d like to show everyone the roads and rides that helped myself and many others make it to the top of the sport,” said Matthew.
Pro Weekend with Stuart and Darren O’Grady – Adelaide, South Australia
Following what we predict will be a fantastic launch to our Australian Pro Weekends in Launceston, we will be hitting the roads of Adelaide for a ‘Weekend with the O’Grady brothers’ – Stuart and Darren.
Stuart is a former professional cyclist and competed for some of the biggest teams in the professional peloton throughout his lengthy, impressive career. He is an Olympic and Commonwealth Games Gold medallist, a 17 x Tour de France contender and of course, the 2007 Paris-Roubaix winner.
Stuey travelled the world for countless years, chasing the professional cycling calendar, however for him, there is no place quite like home. Following retirement in 2013, he now resides in hometown Adelaide, famous for its exceptional training grounds and where our O’Grady Pro Weekend will be held.
“I have ridden my bike all over the planet for the past 30 years. Although there are more beautiful places to ride in the World, Adelaide has to be one of the greatest cities overall to bike. It has everything from incredible coastlines to the rolling hills and vineyards that surround our city -Adelaide is my favourite place in the World to train,” Stuart said.
“Only minutes out of the city we have a huge choice of climbs to tackle, depending on what you feel like doing. Norton Summit is generally used for strength and power training, then you have the Corkscrew, Checkers Hill, Greenhill, Mount Lofty & Belair Roads to really give it a decent crack. Add into the middle of these iconic climbs and you have the twisting, turning, rolling Adelaide Hills. With little traffic, fantastic bakery’s and some cracking pubs, there really is something for everyone!
I prefer to train using ‘hours’- not ‘kilometres’, as riding through the Adelaide Hills is not easy. With the beauty comes the pain, but I have also learnt to ride a lot slower since retiring and actually enjoy the countryside. I hope you can join me in my own backyard for a fantastic cycling experience. Its time to kick off your training & start targeting your summer goals.”
Joining Stuey as a host, will be his brother Darren. Darren started racing when he was 16 and has represented South Australia on the track and road. He has ridden everything from the Crocodile Trophy (Mtn Bike) to Track Championships and many road races. Darren is a qualified spin instructor and bike mechanic and having also grown up in Adelaide, his local knowledge is difficult to be bettered.
Pro Weekend with Michael Hepburn – Girona, Spain
To add to our Australian Pro Weekends, we will be hitting the Northern hemisphere to the now booming cycling Mecca of Girona, famous for its ever-growing community of professional cyclists. It’s no surprise, as Girona seems to have it all for any lover of cycling. From its exceptional year-round great weather and incredibly versatile riding grounds – ranging from the gorgeous rolling Costa Brava coastline road to lengthy Pyrenean climbs, as well as it’s delicious traditional Catalan cuisine, great local wine and inner city charm. Who wouldn’t want to train there?
Leading our Pro Weekends in Girona will be current Mitchelton-Scott professional, Michael Hepburn. Michael is an Australian double Olympic Silver medalist in the Teams Pursuit, as well as a multiple track world champion and two-time stage winner in the Teams Time Trial at the Giro D’Italia. He recently successfully took on his debut Tour de France and ended on a high with a top ten performance in the Individual Time Trial.
He is currently in his seventh season with Mitchelton-Scott and has proved to be a huge asset to the team and its success. Michael has an exceptional work ethic and strength and is well known within the peloton as being a very loyal team mate and work horse for his leaders, having spent many a km driving the front of the peloton, laying it on the line for a team result.
Michael initially moved to Girona in 2012 and set his training base there for many seasons. He now spends his time when not on the road racing primarily in Andorra but still favours his Girona training grounds and its surroundings. His knowledge of the area is hereby fantastic and as a current professional, we are confident he will have a tale or two to tell from his racing experiences!
“I’m looking forward to showing off this beautiful town and sharing my knowledge so you all can have a weekend you won’t forget in a hurry. Come ride the roads that I prepare for the biggest races on and let me show you my favourite places to wine & dine at after our rides,” Michael said.
For further information and booking details on all of our Pro Weekend experiences, head here.
As an official Tour de France Tour operator, Mummu Cycling offer a variety of unique guided cycling holidays in France; ranging from the Grand Depart of the race, through to the spectacular Pyrenean-French Alps regions and eventually into Paris for the Grand Finale along the iconic Champs Élysées.
Mummu Cycling’s guided cycling holidays in France are led and designed by Stuart O’Grady – a highly decorated former professional cyclist and 17 x Tour de France contender. Stuart wore his first Yellow Jersey in 1998 and went on to successfully hold it on multiple occasions throughout his career. To add to his Tour de France success, he has a lengthy list of impressive palmarès, including; Paris Roubaix 2007, 6 x Olympian and Gold medalist.
Stuart’s level of experience, skill and expertise, as well as countless friendships within the professional cycling world ensure an unforgettable guided cycling holiday in France is delivered. Having ridden the Tour de France parcours’ countless times throughout his career, he also knows the French roads impeccably and will no doubt share a tip or two on how to tackle each ride and important challenge along the way.
As one of only six ASO approved Official Tour de France Tour Operator’s, Mummu Cycling’s guided cycling holidays in France guarantee the best hospitality, hotel options, daily ride program and access to the race. Most notably – you’ll have the opportunity to ride on the Tour de France course just hours ahead of the race, enjoy insider VIP access to start, finish and mid-race hospitality zones, as well as enjoying a moment or two on the offical Tour de France podium after crossing the official line to the stage finish.
To add to the incredible access to the race, on Mummu Cycling’s guided cycling holiday’s in France – guests will ride through some of France’s most incredible mountainous regions and pass through stunning French landscape.
These guided cycling holidays in France are designed yearly to take place throughout the duration of the world’s most famous cycling event with each day carefully designed to ensure the best experience is delivered and the trip of a lifetime is had. For 2019, Mummu Cycling have designed guided cycling holiday’s in France that fall under two trip categories; Pro and Ride.
The Pro experiences will be all about getting inside the race and embracing the incredible Tour de France atmosphere. Riding options will be available each day, but the focus will be on following and truly feeling part of the Tour de France circus, as well as embracing the spectacular atmosphere. The Ride experiences will be more cycling focussed, with challenging, lengthy daily rides, designed to target the most iconic climbs famous to the race and to France.
There’s something for everyone – whether it’s ticking off bucket list Tour de France climbs, kicking back in the Relais Etape hospitality zone while sipping French champagne as the best cyclists in the world zip by, or mixing it up and enjoying the best of both worlds.
Following a highly successful run of guided cycling holidays in France throughout 2018, Mummu Cycling are gearing up for next year’s Tour and avidly preparing for what is going to be the biggest year yet with several new additions to their 2019 product line. Allez allez!
The recent Tour de France and its controversial Stage 9 ‘mini Roubaix’ has had us looking back to our Spring Classics period and some hard to top experiences, in both riding and being part of the incredible atmosphere that Spring brings.
The Spring Classics are one of a kind. How do you really understand just how tough it is until you experience It for yourself? Having the opportunity to ride some of the most famously brutal stretches of cobbles and the gnarliest of Belgian climbs is by no means a pleasant experience, but incredibly exhilarating and ensures a much deeper appreciation for the riders and the level of extreme suffering they will be putting themselves through come race day. It’s one thing to ‘ride’ over them – to then add high speed, unpredictable, often harsh conditions and an aggressive peloton constantly battling and shoulder bumping for position. It’s a whole new extreme.
Professional cyclists are hard as nails and the Spring Classics will only prove that further. The Classics ‘fight’ is inevitably always ‘on’ from the gun and there is rarely a moment to ‘sit back’ in the peloton. Nervous energy fills the air and tension is at its peak as riders brace themselves for what’s to come. The peloton is like a never ending swarm of bees as they circle around in the fight for front line, doing their best to keep their team leaders out of trouble. There’s no rest for the wicked and each sector or significant part of the course becomes a test for teams to ‘lead their leaders out’ to ensure prime positioning when hitting the sector or climb. Each team slowly uses up riders or unfortunately hear ‘crash’ on the race radio as riders get caught up in the chaos or bump a shoulder too many – man down. More often than not, you’ll see fallen riders pick themselves back up without so much as a second thought and charge back on their bikes in pursuit of the race; blood stained, ripped clothes the norm. They’re like warriors and when game face is on, this is war. Gradually the field whittles down, eventually leaving the strongest to battle it out for honours, providing jaw-dropping entertainment as they attack and attack until there can be no more. Adrenaline and elation pumping, the winner fists their arms into the air and a new legend is crowned.
Once you’ve had a taste of the Spring Classics by bike for yourself, you have your new level of appreciation for the riders and can go and truly be part of the Classics atmosphere. Rain, hail or shine – the crowds, the passion and the genuine love for the sport will always be there lining narrow road after road, flags held high, beer and frites in hand. In Belgium, they live and breathe cycling from a young age. The passion is almost comparable to being in Liverpool at a football game, except fans are road side rugged up in the cold and although they’ll likely only see their idols zip by once or twice, they’re grinning from ear to ear all day long, simply buzzing to be there.
Come the finish and no matter who wins or whatever the outcome, the atmosphere explodes and cheers of delight fill the air. Their appreciation and passion for cycling is impressive and to be part of it is an indescribable feeling.
You really haven’t experienced cycling yet until you have lived been part of the Spring Classics!
In 2019 Mummu Cycling will be running a variety of Spring Classics experiences, led by 2007 Paris Roubaix winner Stuart O’Grady. You will ride the most iconic cobbled sectors and Classics stretches, experience the sensational atmosphere for yourself and meet a legend or two along the way. Trips will range from 4 to 11 days and feature the famous Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix or alternatively, the Ardennes Classics.
The Santos Tour Down Under is one of our favourite trips of the year and for many valid reasons. It’s in the prime of the Australian summer held in stunning Adelaide and as far as cycling spectating and atmosphere goes, it’s tough to beat.
Established in 1999 and UCI World Tour since 2008, it has only continued to grow and become bigger and better each edition and now stands as one of the most talked about bike races on the calendar.
The Santos Tour Down Under is unique in that it’s one of very few pro cycling events in the Southern Hemisphere and is also the first real test of the season, kick starting early-mid January. Riders arrive in Adelaide raring to go following an off season of training and preparation for the new year. This makes it all the more exciting as they rock up in fresh kit, some in different colours following team changes, others new faces of the peloton – a bundle of nerves. Time soon tells who’s been working the hardest and for many over the European winter. Not exactly easy jumping across to 40 + degree South Australian weather and racing the world’s best, but all the more impressive!
The Stages are a little shorter than standard World Tour events – mostly due to heat, racing in the middle of the day and taking into consideration that it’s the first real test of the year for many. The shorter stages and early season tension certainly make for some very entertaining bike racing – always a real spectacle to watch.
In terms of spectating, the Santos Tour Down Under has to be one of, if not the most spectator friendly event of the year. For one, the entire 6 day event is centred around the heart of Adelaide city, so stages are all within distance from the centre. This means riders and fans can have one central base throughout the week and also have the time between stages to soak up the incredible Adelaide roads by bike while cycling to and from stages, or alternatively explore the incredible region; from the world-famous wineries, to the gorgeous beaches or inner city hub. Compare this to the Tour de France or Giro D’Italia which are also phenomenal, must-do experiences but with most days being point to point, they certainly offer the odd logistical challenge!
Secondly, the majority of Santos Tour Down Under stages are circuit based which enables fans to see the race go by from anywhere between two and as often as six times in one stage. This makes it incredibly spectator friendly and really helps create a buzzing atmosphere out on the roads for the riders.
The 2019 Santos Tour Down Under is set to prove no different following the recent route announcement and will certainly provide some serious entertainment, as well as showcasing Adelaide’s most stunning areas; from the idyllic Adeliade hills, to the incredible coastline.
The most hyped about modification concluding the route announcement was their decision to make the usual penultimate, infamous Willunga stage, now the final stage of the Tour. Willunga Hill already holds a fantastic reputation for being famously brutal and almost every edition has played a huge part in the final General Classification standings, often coming down to mare seconds between the leading riders. It’s repeatedly a real display and so to change it up and have this rounding out the Tour will mean the Santos Tour Down Under honours could likely be fought out until the very last km! Entertainment will be at its peak and the already booming Willunga Hill atmosphere will be at a whole new level.
To add to the excitement – Three time World Champion, cycling phenomenon and crowd favourite, Peter Sagan has since confirmed his participation for the 2019 event. Famous for his exceptional talent and mind-blowing performances, we are sure he will be bringing his A game to Adelaide.
We now await rider announcements from other leading riders and teams, but if it’s anything to go by on former editions of the Santos Tour Down Under, there will no doubt be nothing less than a stellar line-up providing some spectacular bike racing.
2019 Santos Tour Down Under Stages:
Classic: East End Circuit (51 km)
Stage 1: North Adelaide to Port Adelaide (132.4 km)
Stage 2: Norwood to Angaston (149 km)
Stage 3: Lobethal to Uraidla (146.2 km)
Stage 4: Unley to Campbelltown (129.2 km)
Stage 5: Glenelg to Strathalbyn (149.5 km)
Stage 6: McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill (151.5 km)
At Mummu Cycling we will be there with bells on offering both 4 and 8 day Santos Tour Down Under experiences designed and led by Adelaide local and cycling legend Stuart O’Grady. Check them out and jump on board for what will certainly be a trip to remember, here!
Mummu Cycling have been traveling the world, running premier cycling holidays in Europe since 2010. In 2017, highly decorated Australian former professional cyclist, Stuart O’Grady partnered with the company to provide a unique level of exclusivity, inside access and knowledge into the world of professional cycling and a look into the inner sanctum of the sport that cannot be found elsewhere.
Stuart has a lengthy, impressive list of palmarès from his 20 year-long professional career. Most notably – his Paris Roubaix 2007 victory, Gold medal in the 2004 Olympic Games Madison + a total of four Olympic medals, double World Champion on the track and 17 time Tour de France contender. To add – In 1998 and 2001 he wore the yellow leaders jersey for a total of nine days.
Best Guided Cycling Holidays Europe
Since partnering with Mummu Cycling, Stuart has played a pivotal role in ensuring the best guided cycling holidays in Europe are delivered. His level of knowledge and expertise on all things cycling ensure guests an exclusive opportunity to experience the world’s best, biggest bike races side by side with a former winner and top contender of many of the selected world-class events targeted.
Included in Mummu Cycling’s guided cycling holidays in Europe are the Spring Classics; From the Tour of Flanders, to the Ardennes Classics and of course, Paris-Roubaix. As a former winner (2007) of what most state as the hardest one day event in the sport, it’s hard to beat the opportunity to be guided along the very same cobbles he won on and ride into the iconic Roubaix velodrome alongside him. Stuart will share many-a memory throughout and to top, with his victory and honour of the race, comes the famous Roubaix ‘showers’ where his name is proudly engraved alongside other legends of the sport and victors of the race. The experience is unique and certainly a key part of delivering the best cycling holidays in Europe.
As an official Tour operator, Mummu Cycling’s biggest cycling holidays in Europe take place in July for the race that everyone raves about – The Tour de France. Throughout Stuart’s 20-year career, he impressively tackled the gruelling three week Grand Tour 17 times. The number of contentions alone is outstanding, so to then add multiple stage victories and a total of nine days wearing the yellow Maillot Jaune leaders jersey, is nothing short of exceptional.
Having raced there on so many occasions and also choosing to base himself in the South of France and use the incredible French terrain as his European training grounds throughout his career – it’s safe to assume he knows the roads and most famous Tour de France climbs and regions all too well. Add this to his countless race memories and stories to be told, as well as his impeccable level of skill and experience he’ll be sharing, will certainly make for a cycling holiday in Europe to remember.
In 2019, a succession of eight different trips will be available, including guided cycling holidays offering different itineraries. The ‘Pro’ experiences are more Tour de France atmosphere and race focussed, while the ‘Ride’ experiences are predominantly cycling focussed and on riding big kilometres. Non-ride experiences are also available for those who prefer to kick back and take it all in from VIP hospitality zones, champagne in hand!
Stuart O’Grady will also be leading the remaining two Grand Tour’s of the year and again, real must-do cycling holidays in Europe – The Giro d’Italia and La Vuelta a España. Held in the stunning Italy and Spain, both Grand Tours provide some truly spectacular bike racing. Stuart is also a two-time stage winner in the Teams Time Trial at La Vuelta and was a close contender on multiple occasions at the Giro d’Italia, so will undoubtedly have many fond memories to share, race tales to tell and roads to ride with Mummu Cycling guests.
For our final week on Tour we hit the Pyrenees with a BANG, kick starting our trip on the final Tour de France rest day in Carcassonne. Following a beautiful warm up ride on rolling, sunflower filled roads, we caught up with the Astana pro team. What a neat experience following their double stage success! Let’s just say the mood was high.
The next morning we were back to Carcassonne to enjoy some time exploring the departure village before being led around the team buses by Stuart O’Grady, who just so happens to be ‘mates’ with everyone in the peloton – even the yellow jersey himself! Thanks to riders and staff for taking the time to chat with us and take a snap or two for the memory books.
We then got our own taste of the Pyrenean mountains tackling the challenging Pic de Nore climb – tough, yes but incredible views a top and fantastic to get a taste of what was to come.
Next up was our Stage 17 experience. As the shortest stage in Tour de France history at 65km in length, this was a special one to be part of. We set out ahead of the race taking on the Col de Val Louron-Azet and half of the 16km brutally tough Col du Portet – steep, relentless and lined from bottom to top with excited spectators. An experience it was and fantastic to get a real understanding of the suffering to come for the riders.
We enjoyed the Stage from the best viewing spot on the mountain in the VIP Izoard where we were treated to incredible views, live race action, delicious French canapés and a rosé or two!
A special thanks to John Whitney from Cycling Plus magazine and Henry Iddon (photographer) for joining us on Tour for a few days, capturing some memorable moments and getting a taste of the Mummu Cycling difference. We look forward to reading about John’s experience!
The next day, we took on the final 60km of the Stage 18 route – covering gorgeous rolling roads before eventually crossing the official line just hours ahead of the race and then enjoying some podium and behind the scenes action. What a moment and topped off with premium viewing of the finish right on the line in the official VIP area. Safe to say, they came through a few k’s quicker than us, but hey – who got there first?!
To round out an incredible week in the Pyrenees,we started our final day with an official roll off the Stage 19 start line in Lourdes, just metres from our hotel – what an experience being part of the actual Tour de France caravan and literally having the professional peloton chasing us down. The atmosphere and crowds were exceptional, cheering us on from km 0 as we tackled the first 40km on stunning undulating terrain. To top off a great ride and some team work to make our time cut, we set up road side for some lunch and watched the race blast by.
What a day and completed perfectly with a final group dinner in downtown Lourdes where we shared stories, memories to take home and enjoyed a few words of wisdom from Stuey.Thank you to everyone who was part of our Pinnacle of the Pyrenees adventure – what a week!
PARIS WAS CALLING…
At last, the day we’d all been waiting for had arrived – the Grand Finale into Paris! We welcomed our new guests with a morning town bike tour of the beautiful city, before freshening up ahead of the final showdown on the iconic Champs Élysées. Our viewing spot in the VIP Grand Stand was hard to beat, positioning us a mere 50m from the finish line. Atmosphere was alive and excitement was contagious as the riders approached the pavé for the first time. From there, it was all action, oo’s and aa’s as we watched on in awe as the hungry peloton sped up and down with ease, eventually concluding with a tight and entertaining bunch sprint as Alexander Kristoff stormed to Stage honours and Team Sky crossed the line arms held high.
Cheers to an incredible, action packed three weeks at the Tour de France and a big thank you to everyone who has been part of the Mummu Cycling ride – As Stuey would say, ‘It’s been EPIC’!
We will without doubt experience some warm days out at La Vuelta. If you’re in the middle of winter, we understand this may be a little difficult to wrap your head around! Try to include an indoor spin class or wind training session into your weekly schedule to get your body working in warmer conditions. Short-sharp sessions are also incredibly beneficial throughout the winter periods to maintain fitness and get in a solid workout in a timely manner. Easier said than done, when it’s dark by 6pm – yes, but you’ll certainly reap the benefits come September!
HYDRATION IS KING!
With the expected warm conditions, hydration becomes all the more important and vital to sufficiency and lasting the days on Tour. Practice making a conscience effort between now and La Vuelta to drink more fluids throughout the day, especially when exercising. Whether you’re in the Northern or Southern hemisphere – the same applies! Each day will be action packed on our trips and at times you’ll be jumping off the bike and straight into spectator mode. To make the most of each day – hydrate!
MASTER THE CLIMBS
Target a few longer climbs in your area (if you have access to). Aim to stay seated where possible to reserve energy and ensure you’re in a comfortable position for the climb. Many riders prefer to put their hands on the tops to put themselves in a slightly more up-right position when climbing. Give this a go and if not, stay in the hoods or mix it up throughout the climb.
During our La Vuelta experiences we will be tackling some tough, yet manageable climbs with varying gradients. Be ready for the odd steep pitch by selecting the right gear and being prepared to get out of the saddle where necessary. You should only need to get out of the saddle for a short period, to get through the ‘steeper’ section without loosing too much momentum. Sit back down as soon as allows, to ensure you reserve energy for the rest of the climb.
Don’t let the distance or average gradient of a climb daunt you. Some of these climbs may be a lot lengthier than what you’re used to, but trust us when we say, ‘you’ll be right’! You’re here for the experience, so take it km by km, at a pace within your comfort zone so you can soak up the incredible atmosphere and surroundings.
DESCEND WITH CONFIDENCE
There’s no such thing as a race downhill. Take your time on the descents and don’t worry about losing the rider in front – we will always regroup at the bottom. Try to relax, look ahead and enjoy the view where possible.
To prepare for some longer, sometimes twisty, hairpin descents – work on your technique. Mastering technique is crucial to gaining confidence and eventually a bit of speed. Ultimately, descending should be fun when done correctly!
Practice relaxing your upper body a little and only touching lightly on the brakes where needed. Brake (lightly) before entering the corner and not during the corner.
Choose your lines wisely. When descending with corners, the way your enter and exit each turn can dramatically make a difference to your descent and confidence. Aim to enter wide and exit wide.
When cornering, use your bike and weight to assist. Practice leaning your bike by putting your weight onto your inside hand and outside foot, while keeping the body upright. Your outside leg should be extended while your inside leg should be bent. The best way to really learn this skill is to kick back and watch the pro’s to see how it’s done from the best. You’d be amazed at how many pointers you can pick up! The other option is to get out into the hills with a more skilled descender and ‘follow their line’ as well as paying attention to technique and body positioning.
When you start to feel comfortable, practice getting into the drops when descending. It may take some practice and getting used to, but once comfortable, it really is a much better position for descending more confidently and safely as you are lower and more stable.
Lastly – don’t stress if you haven’t been able to get in the training time you’d hoped or expected. Our trips are more about the experience and although the challenge is there, if you want it – our rides are manageable distances and we are more focussed on you having a great time. So relax, and do what you can – stress less!
Week two for Mummu Cycling at the Tour de France on our Alpe d’Huez Explorer experience was nothing short of exceptional and we certainly left the Alps with some great memories and tales to tell.
We kick started the week in Annecy on the first Tour de France rest day, greeting our guests and stopping off on route to our accommodation at the Dimension Data hotel right on the lake front. We were welcomed warmly by the team staff and had the pleasure of chatting with Mark Renshaw on all things Tour de France and his experiences as one of the best lead out men in the world, being Mark Cavendish’s right hand man. Also, fantastic to get some behind the scenes insight from the team mechanic, directors and even the team chef who works tirelessly all Tour to prepare the best nutrition for the riders throughout the race. Fueling a full team of hungry, professional cyclists can’t be easy and to do it day-in-day out all from a food truck for three weeks is very impressive! All this, definitely made us more aware of the ‘team behind the team’s’ commitment to the final result, as well as the riders themselves.
From there, it was up and only up to our chalet where we would be enjoying some ‘mountain life’ for a few evenings, as well as a bit of climbing to test out the legs! Following a warm up spin and a little taste of the hills, we enjoyed visits from a few of Stuey’s ‘mates’ that evening, including Jens Voigt, Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen. What a start to the week!
The next morning we were up and at em’ nice and early to make it to the start line for the professional women’s La Course departure. Fantastic to see the women roll out and show our support. In the end, proving to be a very successful event with exciting, aggressive racing and a battle to the line with World TT champion Annemiek van Vleuten eventually clawing her way past Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen to take the win. All in all, a fantastic display to showcase women’s racing and we were pleased to have been a part of it.
It was then time to chill out in the official Tour de France Race Village and take it all in over a coffee and a croissant as we watched the piles of team buses roll in and riders stroll through the village in cruise mode ahead of the stage – some more relaxed than others as the first official mountain stage loomed. We then had Stuey and Baden Cooke guide us through the teams introducing us to friends of the peloton and getting right up close and personal to our favourite riders. Hard to beat being led through the teams by two former legends of the Tour de France – there were certainly some friendly shout out’s and chats along the way from riders and team staff.
Following the race depart, we set off on bikes in hot pursuit of the race, conquering a climb or two along the way. Highlight of the ride was tackling the testing Col de la Croix Fry and getting a real taste of the Alps and the challenges that lay ahead!
Day 3 for us was a special one as we really became part of the Tour de France circus, joining the offical race caravan ahead of the Stage 11 depart in Albertville. As an official Tour de France Alps operator, this is one of the very best experiences we can offer and provides the perfect opportunity to truly feel like you’re part of the race. We rode through the start line – the crowds already going wild, clapping and chanting for the Mummu peloton. We then rode the first part of the stage on closed roads, lined with official TdF banners and excited spectators all set for the Stage ahead -almost every person cheering us on as we rode by grinning from ear to ear!
We eventually concluded our ride at our lunch stop for the day and set up roadside to kick back and await the race to roll by as Stuey and Baden gave us some live commentary on Stage predictions and team tactics. Very insightful and all up a fantastic day out on Tour.
Day 4 was all about the big one – the iconic Alpe d’Huez. We were on the road nice and early, our guests a bundle of excitement and nerves as they knew the challenge that lay ahead. Any hesitation or feelings of doubt were eliminated, however as soon we hit the base of the climb and were joined by countless other riders of all shapes, ages and sizes as well as the odd superhero, all sharing that same love and passion for the Tour de France – It was truly incredible to be part of the Alpe d’Huez madness and only more motivating being in the thick of the atmosphere to tackle the climb and reach the summit!
Stu and Baden led the pack and following a few snaps at the top and a moment to take it all in, they were off to chat with the SBS TV crew ahead of the challenging mountain stage that approached. Very cool to have the guys up there representing Mummu Cycling at the biggest race of the year and on the most iconic mountain in cycling. To say we were thrilled is an understatement. Thank you to everyone for tuning in!
From there, it was all about soaking up the crazy atmosphere and getting right in amongst the chaos as we set up camp not far from the ever-popular ‘Dutch Corner’ where entertainment was certainly at its peak.
When the race eventually flew by, we caught all the heart of the action from the GC contenders attacking one another, to the absolutely spent domestiques contesting the ‘race within the race’ just to make time cut. Crazy to see how quickly even the guys struggling at the back were going and even more respect having also ridden up there just hours earlier, now with a better understanding of the toughness and brutality of the climb.
Next up, we were off to Grenoble to settle in for the rest of our trip. To mix it up a little and give our guests a break from the mountains, the next day we set off along the Stage 16 route riding the final 50km ahead of the expected sprint stage. We had beautiful rolling French roads to start, followed by a very quick final run in to the finish. Baden led out the group and as we cruised the final 10km at 45km per hour we became confident pretty quickly that the Stage would be a fast one!
Following the ride we got spruced up and ready to hit the official Tour de France, VIP Relais Etape just 1km from the finish – where prime viewing, delicious French champagne and a a five course meal awaited. What a way to sit back, watch the race and discuss predictions as we watched the stage unfold over the roads we had just ridden, eventually proving to be another exciting finale with Sagan storming to victory in a tight and chaotic bunch sprint.
To conclude a fantastic week, we rounded out the trip with a day solely focused on riding and releasing any last bits of energy out in the Alps. A few guests had a little left in the tank, so when we hit the Galibier, the pack in tow behind Stu it was all-go. Safe to say, by the 15km mark everyone was in the hurt box. Conditions were tough as we experienced our first drops of rain and temperatures began to drop rapidly as we neared the summit of the epic 25km climb. This was the reality of the Alps and we were experiencing it! The Mummu crew battled through, however and arrived at the top exhausted, depleted but ecstatic to be up there. Another big climb ticked off the bucket list and some serious satisfaction to go home with. Word of the day – EPIC!
To end on a real high, we enjoyed a farewell dinner up a local Grenoble mountain to enjoy some stunning views and sunset over a delicious meal and great company as we shared highlights of the week, discussed adventures to come and ways to stay in touch.
Thank you to everyone who was part of our incredible week at the Tour de France in the Alps – it was truly awesome!
Join us in 2019 for another unforgettable Tour de France experience. Trip details can be found, here.
Here we had a chat with Stuey on all the action from the Tour de France in the Alps and his Pyrenees predictions for the final week heading into Paris.
What went down in the Alps at the Tour de France…
The Alps were just generally incredibly tough with brutal shorter stagesand a lot more aggressive racing. On the first mountain stage most GC riders want to stamp authority – it’s kind’ve like a bit of a tradition and even though Stage 10 wasn’t a mountain top finish, we saw the race super aggressive. Movistar went all in with their three best guys, but then the strength of the likes of Dumoulin and Team Sky overpowered and Movistar came in the big losers of the day. Sky again showed their strengths and what would likely be a pretty dominating Tour de France.
I guess the real favourites have shown their strengths. We saw Dumoulin is probably looking the strongest out of the rest so it should be really interesting to see him up against Thomas and Froome and what pans out.
It’s definitely debatable what might happen with Team Sky at this year’s Tour de France – is it really team cohesion or Is there a bit of ‘I’m going to attack first to make Froome ride defensively’ OR is this just a big theatre production that they’ve set up – Thomas take yellow and the pressure off Froome, taking him out of the limelight and pressure off for week one. Does Team Sky just not want Froome in yellow as he’s had a lot of aggression from the public and they’re trying to deter all that by keeping Thomas in yellow for now? Who knows!
It has actually been very shocking to see the hate towards Team Sky out there – not even just the team on the roads, but the booing and whistling at team cars and support. Everyone loves to have a super hero and a villain and France have kind’ve just decided that Sky are their villains. Cycling has always been a pretty happy non-aggressive sport and I can’t ever remember feeling so tense in my career.
As far as other favourites go – I guess Bardet showed form, but he’s also had some bad luck. The French are obviously dying for a bit of Tour de France home glory and they’re rolling on the shoulders of Bardet which appears to be a bit heavy at the moment.
Yatesy is another one and now 30mins down which is very disappointing for Adam and the team. They came in with big Tour de France objectives, not bringing Caleb Ewan along and now they’re scrambling around a little for a stage win. It just shows how brutal and relentless this Tour de France has been. It’s certainly one of the hardest I’ve seen. I remember In context having some easier transition days and now it seems to be a bit like a big bash game of cricket – people want full gas entertainment and soon as they’re rolling along and it gets boring, everyone seems to have a bit of an opinion on how the race should be ridden which can sometimes be a bit harsh!
To add to that, you can always tell how tough a tour is by the survival of the sprinters. This year, already at halfway into the race, many of the top sprinters were sent home and this just defines how hard the 2018 route is. Even on a transition day (like today – Stage 15 there are brutal winds and certainly no kicking back in the bunch taking it easy.
Tour de France final week showdown – thoughts and predictions for the Pyrenees?
The Pyrenees are kind’ve bookended with two epic mountain stages. The first being the super short, fast stage where the the start and finish will be within 2 hours – it will be madness and has never been done before in Tour de France history, so again it’s going to be really hard. A few teams will play poker and go all in to try and beat sky and isolate Thomas – in doing that they also expose themselves and risk losing everything, but I think most of the teams would prefer to risk it as at the moment they’re not really challenging Team Sky.
Stage 19 will also be hardcore. Especially after 2.5 weeks of racing and a 200km incredibly hard day on the cards – there’s not 100m of flat in the entire stage, so it’s going to be a real power of attrition to try to defend and try to win and for a lot of guys it will be about just getting into survival mode. They are all absolutely shattered by this stage. They will be knackered, without an ounce of freshness. Even the top ten guys are hurting – it’s just a nightmare for everyone to try and get through the Tour de France and on to Paris!
The guys are kind’ve just dreaming of the Champs Elysées at this point, but know they’ll have one more almighty stage to get through and no one wants to not finish this close to the end.
The penultimate Tour de France Stage 31km Time Trial will also be tough – again, there’s not a metre of flat. Everything is brutal…I remember when the profiles came out and I was just like ‘f**k that’s hard!!
Thanks Stu for the words – we now look forward to catching all the action with our Pinnacle of Pyrenees guests this week. Bring it on!
We’ve been lucky enough to get to know a few of the teams during our first week on Tour. Fantastic to get some insight from the riders themselves; the race, their preparations and a bit on what goes on behind the scenes.
Here, we had a quick chat with Mitchelton-Scott’s, Michael Hepburn. Michael – most commonly referred to as ‘Heppy’ is currently taking on his debut Tour de France.
The 26 year old, Brisbane born rider has been with the team since their inception and throughout his professional career has balanced his ambitions between the road and the track. He now carries a nice collection of Olympic and World Championship medals and since the 2016 Olympics has returned to full focus on the road.
Time Trial and Team Time Trial are his specialities, as well as his strengths as a committed domestique for the now highly GC focussed squad, backing the Yates brothers.
What does it mean to be riding your first Tour de France?
The Tour de France is the first bike race I ever heard of and I remember as a teenager watching TDF DVD sets for hours on end with my brother, so to finally be racing here is something quite special. There are a lot of races on the calendar right now but every rider is desperate to ride the Tour at some stage in their career.
You’re no Grand Tour stranger, having ridden the Giro d’Italia 4 times. How does the Tour (so far) compare to the Giro and/or other races?
It’s still early days in this race, but already you can feel the Tour is something different. Everyone’s shape is a little better, everyone’s a little more desperate for a result and that’s resulted in some hectic finishes with the finals starting a long way out. Sports fans from all around the world are looking at the Tour in July and it easily feels bigger than any other race.
The Team Time Trial was a real target for Mitchelton-Scott and you personally, being a big strength of yours. Well done on a great result, despite a few of the guys being a bit banged up from crashes the day prior. Were you satisfied with the performance?
All in all I think we can be really satisfied with our ride in Stage 3. We were involved in some crashes in the first two stages and unfortunately some of our big TTT drivers came down and banged themselves up. That’s racing and some other teams were in the same boat, but in the end we put in a really solid collective ride. We weren’t far off the front and of course winning would have been a magical feeling for us but we didn’t lose much time at all for Adam in the GC so we can be proud with the result.
What do you hope to achieve over the next few weeks before heading into Paris?
The main objective for us this year in the Tour is a result with Adam in the GC. We have some guys that are capable of going for a stage win at some stage but the primary focus is the GC. It’s a really well rounded team of domestiques, so we’ll be looking to support him whenever possible. A lot can happen in 3 weeks and from what we’ve already seen there’s never a dull day or moment to lose concentration.
Who’s your room mate on Tour? And don’t you get sick of each other after a while?!
I’m in the room with Mat Hayman here. He’s probably sick of me joking about his age but there are no problems from my side!
Cheekiest on the team?
At this Tour, Daryl Impey. Dazz is always good for a laugh and doesn’t mind geeing people up.
Anyone of us after we’ve had a filthy day or hit the deck. The 3rd week of a Grand Tour is when you really see people’s personalities.
Most craved meal during a Grand Tour?
Patatas Bravas or a good burger. Luckily for us our chef Nicki is quite creative and will often spoil us with nice meals.
Miss (from home) the most?
Loved ones and my coffee machine.
Most looking forward to post TDF?
Not having to work off a schedule. Waking up when I want, eating when I want (not eating rice or pasta), having some super relaxed days and catching up with close friends from home.
We know you’re only 26, Heppy but do you think one day when you retire you’ll join Stuey and the guys on some Mummu Cycling tours? 😉
If I don’t have to suffer up the climbs – for sure!
Thanks for the chat Heppy and all the best for the final few weeks of your debut Tour!