Mummu Cycling Announce Partnership with Stuart O’Grady

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The world’s premier cycling tour operator, Mummu Cycling and the most decorated cyclist in Australia, Stuart O’Grady OAM have announced a new partnership offering fans the exclusive opportunity to experience cycling’s biggest races side by side with the former champion.

The two-time World Champion on the track, four-time Olympic medallist, 2007 Paris-Roubaix winner and two-time Tour Down Under winner has partnered with Mummu Cycling to take their world class tours to another level of exclusivity.

Mummu Cycling Chief Executive Officer, Marcel Berger said the partnership will bring fans into the inner sanctum of the cycling world.

“The access Stuart will be able to provide for cycling fans through our tours is unprecedented. As a former winner of Paris-Roubaix, our clients will now have access to the famous showers, meet cycling royalty and access teams. We’re really excited to have him on board and even more thrilled with what it means for our clients,” Berger said.

“Not only will our tours help cycling fans tick the world’s biggest cycling races off their bucket list but they’ll now be able to experience them alongside the most decorated Australian cyclist of all time.”

On the eve of the ten-year anniversary of his Paris-Roubaix win, cycling legend Stuart O’Grady said he was thrilled to join Mummu Cycling.

“I’m extremely passionate about cycling so for me getting the opportunity to share my experiences, knowledge and behind the scenes access from my twenty-year career is something I’m really excited about,” O’Grady said.

“They’re also guided tours so I get the opportunity to sit around after the day’s rides with the group to chat about the day, how the race is evolving and what to watch out for but more importantly, having been on the circuit for twenty years I can also share my local knowledge outside of cycling.”

Mummu Cycling and Stuart O’Grady will kick off their partnership in March with their Spring Classics Tour where O’Grady will host cycling fans on an eleven-day tour through Belgium and Northern France. Cycling fans will have access to ride the course of famous races including Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders together with O’Grady in what will be the most exclusive tour on offer.

 

About Mummu Cycling

Mummu Cycling has been working in the industry since 2010 delivering world-class, major event travel packages getting fans closer to the action to experience major cycling races like never before.

As an official tour operator for the Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix, Vuelta a Espana and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Mummu Cycling pride themselves on offering the most exclusive VIP tours to cycling fans at an affordable price.

In 2017 Mummu Cycling will be offering fans VIP guided tours with Stuart O’Grady to Spring Classics and Tour de France. Tours are available now with further information at www.mummucycling.com

 

About Stuart O’Grady OAM

Stuart O’Grady OAM is a retired Australian professional road and track bicycle racer who rode as a professional between 1995 and 2013.

A former two times World Champion on the track, O’Grady and Graeme Brown won a gold medal in the Men’s Madison at the 2004 Summer Olympics. He rode in 6 Olympic Games, from Barcelona in 1992 through until The London Games in 2012, winning four medals in total. O’Grady also won Paris–Roubaix in 2007, the first Australian to do so.

Stuart O’Grady competed in the Tour de France a record equalling 17 times, his first was in 1997 and contended for the points classification in the Tour de France known as the green jersey, finishing second in the 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2005 races. He wore the yellow jersey of general classification leader for 9 days total in 1998 and 2001.

Achievements:

6 x Olympic Games

17 x Tour de France

17 x Paris Roubaix

3 x Commonwealth Games

2 x World Champion

www.stuartogradycycling.com.au for more information on Stuart and his partnership with Mummu Cycling

 

For further details, please contact: enquiries@mummucycling.com

2017 Tour de France route review

2017-route-map

The route for the 2017 Tour de France was released yesterday to a full house in Paris, a very different route to previous Tours as race organisers look to take note from the Giro and Vuelta by including shorter, sharper mountain stages that will make for exciting racing every day! With a time trial to start the tour, current World time trial champion Tony Martin will be favored to take the first yellow jersey of this years race in his home country of Germany.

The race starts in the city of Dusseldorf, celebrating 30 years since the race last began in Germany. In the first stage time trial look out for Tony Martin, Rohan Dennis and Tom Dumoulin as the winner will likely hold onto the yellow jersey for the next few days. Don’t discount Luxembourg time trial champion Bob Jungels as his motivation will be high to wear the yellow jersey as the race makes its way south into his home country after a short stay in the Ardennes region of Belgium. When the race hits France on stage 4, it will pass through the Vosges mountain region, the first real test for the GC contenders.

Some punchy stages await, and you would be a brave sole to bet against 2 time World Champion Peter Sagan from taking a stage win over the next few days. Race organisers have included all five French mountain ranges in this years tour, the first time since 1992, in a bid to make the race exciting and unpredictable. The first mountain range the tour visits will be the Vosges as the riders fight to the top of La Planche des belles Filles on stage 5, the same finish as stage 10 of the 2014 tour where Vincenzo Nibali was victorious. Can he mark himself as one of the favorites for this year’s race by repeating his victory?

There will be a few flat stages before the race hits the Jura mountain range and its first rest day, so the likes of Mark Cavendish, Brian Coquard and German duo of Marcel Kittel and Andre Greipel will look to make the most of these sprint stages. They will pass through the beautiful Burgundy vineyard region as they leave the stunning medieval city of Troyes. Sprint teams including Quick Step, Lotto Belisol and Dimension Data will have to keep an eye out for an attempt to break the stage open on these windy roads. The rest day will see the peloton transfer by plane to the west of the country as they make their way towards the Pyrenees.

The highlight of the second week of the tour will be the 2 Pyrenean stages. This year’s race will bypass the famous Col du Tormalet, instead climbing lesser known Pyrenean climbs including Col des Ares and Col de Mente before a final ascent to Col de Peyresourde, finishing on the runway of Peyradgudes. The final 200m will be selective as the road kicks to 16%. The next stage will be just as action packed. Taking inspiration from the Vuelta’s short mountain stages, stage 13 will be 100km long, the shortest Pyrenean stage in the Tours history as they face 3 category 1 climbs on their way from Saint-Girons to Foix. Will we see Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contodor attack Chris Froome and Team Sky like they did in this year’s Vuelta?

As the tour makes its way east to the Alps, we will see the race head to the Massif Central , which will ensure there is no easy stages for the GC contenders before they arrive at the second and final rest day of the Tour in Le Puy en-Velay.

The final week of the tour sees the peloton head into the Alps, with a penultimate time trial in Marseille the 3 days in the Alps will be crucial for the pure climbers like Nairo Quintana, Contador and hometown favorite, Roman Bardet. We can expect Bardet to be primed for an assault on the final week of the tour as the rest day and stage 16 depart are just outside his home town of Brioude. We will see the race climb some iconic passes of tours past on their way to the ski station of Serre-Chevalier including the Col de la Croix de Fer and the Col du Galibier. The queen stage of this year’s tour sees the first summit finish atop Col d’Izoard, will the winner today determine the overall winner or will the final time trial see a change to the final wearer of the maillot jaune?

9 flat stages, 5 hilly stages, 5 mountain stages and 2 individual time trials gives ample opportunity for riders of all shapes and sizes to vie for a stage win or one of the four famous jerseys of the tour. The tour will visit 3 other countries, 34 different regions of France, all 5 mountain ranges and cover a total of 3,516km, culminating in the final sprint along the famous Champs Elysees, can German sprinter Andre Greipel make it 3 victories in a row on the famous avenue?

As the Official Tour Operator for the 2016 Tour de France, Mummu Cycling has been working closely with the A.S.O. to design a range of Tour de France Tours that will get you closer than ever before to experience what is sure to be an exciting tour.

Register today and one of our expert staff will contact you to discuss our options.

By Phil Skerman

Travelling with Mummu

By Laurence Guttman

Travelling with Mummu has been one of the most enjoyable, exciting and challenging holidays I’ve ever had. Enjoyable because I’ve seen the best of France – its vibrant culture, its delectable food, its incredible scenery, its amazing architecture and history. Exciting because I’ve been up close and personal with the world’s best cyclists competing in the world’s greatest sporting event. And challenging because I’ve been afforded the opportunity to ride some of cycling’s most mythical, most difficult and most beautiful climbs.

 

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From the very first day in Béziers, we were able to ride out our jet lag and get to know one another on some magnificent roads. One of the first things I noticed were the friendly and accommodating drivers – only passing when it was completely safe to do so, and all with a wave and a smile!

The experience on our first day was eclipsed the next by riding the final 50km of Stage 10 ahead of the peloton. I must admit, I felt like a bit of a fraud being cheered on by thousands upon thousands of roadside fans. But that in no way stopped me enjoying what I’m sure will be an experience I remember forever. The atmosphere along the roads of the Tour is hard to describe – it’s infectious and joyous. Everyone is smiling, laughing, excited. It’s really electric. Crossing the finish line into Revel, I was like a school kid, quietly dreaming of winning the stage.

This experience was repeated the next day when we got to ride into the finish at Montpellier. We then witnessed the stage finish. It was awesome to see Sagan in green win ahead of Froome in yellow, 6 seconds clear of the peloton. What a finish!

Rubbing shoulders with the pros and other personalities of the sport was also incredible. We had the chance to meet some of the riders, such as Adam Hansen, Simon Gerrans and Adam Yates – all friendly and happy to have a quick chat. The Badger – Bernard Hinault – was also spotted around and about. We were given tours of the race village, including a close look at the bikes, equipment and buses. The riders work hard but they also ride in style, both on and off the bike.

There were so many other amazing things (Ventoux, riding the velodrome in Aigle, witnessing the ITT to name a few), non-cycling enjoyment and new friendships that made this trip great. I could go on but I don’t want to make you too jealous!

I’ve experienced all this with a tour operator that is professional, easy going and fully aware of what its customers require for the perfect cycling holiday. Travelling with Mummu has been a pleasure and I haven’t had to think about anything other than what meal to choose and which gear to select.

2017 Giro d’Italia

By Laurence Guttmann
We’ve just witnessed one of the most thrilling conclusions to the Giro d’Italia in its history. Just a few days ago, it looked like the ‘human coat hanger’, Steven Kruijswijk, would claim a surprising yet deserving victory. With only three stages remaining, Vincenzo Nibali languished in fourth place, 4:43 down – almost an eternity in a grand tour. In a devastating show of strength, panache and experience, and with a little luck (which is always necessary), Nibali managed to overrun Kruijswijk, Valverde and Esteban Chavez, to claim his second Giro d’Italia title. In the end, he wasn’t a surprising victor but it was a very surprising, and thrilling, victory.

The peloton on stage seventeen of the 2012 Giro d'Italia
The peloton on stage seventeen of the 2012 Giro d’Italia

With the excitement of the race still bubbling briskly, it seems timely to look ahead to next year. The 2017 Giro d’Italia will be the 100th edition of the event – a milestone that will be celebrated by organisers, riders and fans. As such, we can expect to see the most iconic climbs of the Giro’s history to be tackled by cycling’s greatest.

It’s always been a great race but the Giro d’Italia has often been viewed as the second grand tour after the Tour de France. While numerous GC contenders have attempted the Giro-Tour double, it’s not since Pantani in 1998 that it was last achieved. These days, the ‘double’ is generally considered too hard (although that doesn’t stop people trying – Contador attempted it just last year). As a result, some of the best riders have skipped the Giro to save their legs for the Tour. But next year, the celebratory allure of the centenary should attract the best. As Chris Froome said, “I know that 2017 will be a historic Giro and this will be an extra incentive to think about it.”

Alberto Contador on stage twenty of the 2015 Tour of Italy
Alberto Contador on stage twenty of the 2015 Tour of Italy

Alongside Froome, Contador, having shelved his retirement plans for another year, is likely to race, as is defending champion Nibali. And, like a snowball, all of the best will be drawn to the event. Nairo Quintana won’t want to miss the fight. Richie Porte will be looking to finally string three weeks together. The ever-green Alejandro Valverde and the new kid on the block, Esteban Chaves, will want to improve on this year’s exploits. And Steven Kruijswijk will be back for revenge.

We can also speculate about which of Italy’s famous mountain passes will be included. Like the riders, we can expect to see a best-of compilation of climbs from the Giro’s extensive back catalogue. To continue the music metaphor, the Stelvio is the greatest hit – when included, its 48 hairpins almost always come near the end of the race and therefore go a long way to deciding the winner. Other chart toppers include the Passo di Mortirolo, the Passo di Gavia, Monte Zoncolan, Blockhaus, Marmolada, Tre Cime Di Lavaredo, Plan de Corones, Colle delle Finestre and Mount Etna. It will be impossible to fit them all in but Giro organisers will do their best and you can be sure there will be a lot of climbing.

The climbs, the riders and the spectacle can only truly be appreciated in the flesh. Mummu Cycling will be offering a range Giro d’Italia cycling tours for the 2017 edition. Being present at the 100th Giro d’Italia will be a truly memorable event for any cycling fan. Get in touch with Mummu Cycling today to organise your dream Giro cycling tour.

Chaves! You little legend.

Esteban Chaves, born in the 17th of January 1990 and weighing in at just 55kg’s, he remains modest and humble despite all his recent successes!

Last weekend Esteban cemented his name as a general classification contender, outriding previous Giro/TdF winner Vincenzo Nibali and all-time great Alejandro Valverde to win the queen stage of the 2016 Giro d’Italia. An outstanding performance by the 26-year-old Colombian, who started his professional career at the young age of 21, back in 2010. He rode with two Colombian teams before signing to Orica Greenedge in 2014, who quickly set about developing the young Colombian into a general classification contender.

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Fast forward to the 2016 Giro d’Italia and this young man is sitting in 2nd place overall! After 15 stages of arguably the toughest event on the cycling calendar he is in a great position to contest for the Pink Jersey.

Stage 14 of this year’s Giro was the one stage I managed fight off the sleep demons, and watch a complete stage (not just next day highlights). With over 5000m of climbing and 5 categorized climbs, it was a brutal stage! Not to mention the altitude the stage was raced at, well over 2000m covering a total of 5400m of climbing alone. As with many of the Colombian riders, Esteban lives at altitude back home in Colombia, and spends the majority of his time training above 3000m. It was interesting to see which riders had done the work at altitude and which riders possibly spent too much time racing at sea level. Valverde for instance, has raced everything this calendar year spending little time at altitude, whilst his teammate Quintana has gone back to Colombia and won’t even race till July due to his massive altitude training block. In short to win at altitude you need to train at altitude and Chaves has done just that!

After his win on stage 14, the Queen stage of the 2016 Giro, Esteban made sure to thank absolutely everyone, from all the staff in the offices, to the riders at other races and the whole family that is Orica Greenedge. It was a pleasure to watch someone so grateful, modest and undeniably talented win such an important stage and move up in the General Classification.
However, things have not always been smooth sailing for Chavez, in 2013 his future was in serious doubt after a crash during the Trofeo de Laigueglia in Italy in February that year. In the crash, he suffered brain trauma, and fractures in his right collarbone, the petrous and sphenoid bones (at the base of the skull) and his right cheekbone was damaged, his sinuses and numerous abrasions. Another diagnosis revealed a fractured jaw, broken inner ear bones, and torn quadriceps. It was later discovered that his axillary nerve was torn apart and the suprascapular nerve partially so from his arm being pulled so far back”. He spent 5 weeks off the bike and his first ride back could only muster a mere 40min of riding. Shortly after his accident he was then contacted by Orica Greenedge who put their trust in the young Colombian’s ability to recover, hence the reason Esteban is has been so grateful towards Orica Greenedge.

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Esteban’s win has really brought back my love for cycling, and grand tour racing. It’s great to see a rider, so modest, passionate, humble, thankful and courageous win! No matter how the rest of the Giro d’Italia pans out, it has been a massive turning point in the career of Esteban Chaves, all eyes are now on him. I certainly hope Chaves can hold a podium place at this year’s 2016 Giro d’Italia or even somehow manage to claw back the two minutes to Kruijswijk from Lotto Jumbo. All the best for the rest of the race and your future Esteban we at Mummu Cycling love your attitude and the way you race and we hope you make it to the 2016 Vuelta a Espana.

The Angliru a Story by David Winter from Glasgow

submitted climbmybbike.com on 22/07/2014

After seeing the velta struggling up the Angliru in 2013 I decided to head out and have a go in July 2014 as my father in law stays in Oviedo anyway and is a great excuse for a “family” holiday. Immediately after collecting my hire bike from the local shop I headed straight for the climb. Riding through wonderful gorges and typical stunning mountain scenery and with light courteous traffic with very few tourist traffic all putting you into a false scence of security. After a gentle climb to la Vega where the Angliru starts, the gradient is not too bad for the first 5k only ramping to about 10% or so. Then it is followed by a flattish section for a k or so but then you look up and see truly what lies ahead. A good contrast would be if you have ever seen The Lord of the Rings and when Frodo and Sam see the fiery hell of Mordor mountain up close for the first time would not be too far off. From there the climb ramps up to 21% and doesn’t let up for a K or so. It does back of the gradient but only to 12% min and this does not last long. The gradient only ramps up from here on with little mercy. My computer registered 21% a number of times before the mighty 23.5 % part. Then all is calm after a few more hairpins with a fantastic view.

Angliru

The rise of the Vuelta a España

By Laurence Guttmann

Recently, the Vuelta a España has come of age, and like a young adult learning from past mistakes and discovering their place in the world, it is finding its feet and establishing itself as a truly grand Grand Tour in the process.

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Dumoulin was a revelation of the 2015 Vuelta

For much of its history, the Vuelta has been third of the three grand tours by various metrics:
• The last to begin each year (since 1995 at least).
• The last to inaugurate (in 1935).
• The least international (for example, 23 of the first 25 finishers were Spanish in 2004).
• The most interrupted (along with the two World Wars, there were also breaks in the 30s and 50s).
• The least mythologised (you probably know Ventoux and the Stelvio, but do you know Lagos de Covadonga, La Farrapona and Puerto de Pontón?).
Last but not least…anymore
Its late start in the calendar year has caused problems in the past; think rider fatigue combined with less motivation compared to the Giro and the Tour. But combine more exciting routes with a longer season, and the race’s tardiness is less and less a problem. Some say it offers grand tour riders who failed to fire earlier in the year a chance to salvage their season, such as 2014 when both Froome and Contador raced after crashing out of the Tour. While there may be some truth in that, the Vuelta is not simply a consolation; last year’s edition included the top four finishers of the 2015 Tour de France (Froome, Valverde, Nibali and Quintana).

Spicing things up
For the seasoned fan, the Vuelta has become the most exciting of the three grand tours. Not long ago, lengthy flat stages through nowhere – there to attract the sprinters – were the norm. It was boring. Now, the race is anything but. With 10 summit finishes spread throughout the three weeks in 2016, the racing will be spectacular. And with the penultimate stage ending atop the Alto de Aitana (22.3km, 5.5% with sections of 12%), fans can expect fireworks until the very end (just like last year when Aru took the maillot oro from Dumoulin on the final mountain stage).

Its proximity to the UCI Road World Championships has also been a boon for the race, as riders use it as a final tune up. While not there to win the overall, those eyeing the Worlds certainly animate the race. One of the most notable examples of this occurring was Tony Martin’s long-range solo breakaway on stage 6 in 2013 – attacking from the gun, he averaged nearly 45km/h for 175km, only to be caught 20 metres from the line.

Vuelta Route 2016

Riding in Spain
If you ever have the opportunity to ride in Spain, don’t think twice. As one of Europe’s most mountainous countries, its landscape is truly breathtaking. Add to that a rich and varied culture, beautiful cities and towns, perfect weather and delicious food, and you have everything you need for the perfect cycling holiday.

While not in the 2016 edition, the Angliru – which first featured in 1999 – is worth mentioning as it has quickly become part of Vuelta folklore. It is a 12.5km climb that averages just over 10%. That alone would make it tough enough but a relatively tame first half means the last 6km averages over 13% with sections above 20%. You can ride it, along with some other great climbs, on the 2016 Mummu Vuelta trip.

Mummu Cycling Launches Official 2016 La Vuelta Tour.

Mummu Cycling is excited to announce its appointment as VIP Official Tour Operator for cycling’s Grand Tour, La Vuelta a España. Mummu Cycling is offering guests from around the globe the opportunity to get up close and personal with the fastest growing cycling tour on the planet.

In 2016, cycling fans can enjoy the warm climate, dramatic landscapes, late night tapas and Spanish hospitality over 7 exciting days from Saturday 27 August to Friday 2 September. Never before have cycling fans been able to test themselves on the steep ascents of the Spanish Asturias, Cantabiras and Basque Country climbs minutes before the pros, go behind the rope to access team compounds and experience the exhilarating racing of the final of three Grand Tours, la Vuelta.

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“We are excited to add the third Grand Tour, la Vuelta a España to our tour calendar for 2016. Our clients have enjoyed the premium access, friendly service and “once in a lifetime” experience of our Tour de France tours, and the team are proud to have extended our relationship with the A.S.O. to offer Spain as another premium cycling destination“ said Marcel Berger, Chief Executive Officer of Mummu Cycling.

“We’re happy to announce the extension of our relationship with Mummu Cycling by appointing them VIP Official Tour Operators of La Vuelta España. We’ve had a close relationship with Mummu Cycling since 2010, their premium services are warmly welcomed by the A.S.O and La Vuelta”. Said Charles Ojalvo, The Director of Sponsorships and Public Relations, Unipublic.

The 2016 La Vuelta will see an epic battle over 3,277km between the world’s best cyclists and may include the likes of Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana and last year’s surprise Estaban Chaves. Mummu’s 2016 La Vuela Tour will take in six official stages including Stage 10’s mythical climb up to the Lakes of Covadonga with guests able to test their legs on the same climb the following day.

Since 2010, Mummu Cycling has delivered incomparable touring experiences to its global cycling clients. Working with the most elite teams in cycling, Mummu Cycling has held official partnerships in travel and operations with the UCI, Phil Anderson, GreenEDGE and the recent 2015 UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, Virginia. 2016 has seen Mummu Cycling expand on this experience to offer cycling fan an experience like no other at major cycling events.

Join Mummu Cycling at the 2016 La Vuelta a España and experience the beauty of Spain on two wheels.

Further to the Vuelta España, Mummu Cycling have expanded their offerings further into 2017 offering a full range of tours to all the major events!

For all enquiries please contact Phil Skerman at enquiries@mummucycling.com

Corporate Travel incentive Programs

In the past, the majority of organizations have chosen to drive employee engagement and improve performance by awarding particularly successful staff with cash bonuses and the like. However, more recently businesses have begun offering non-cash rewards such as travel incentive trips to their employees, to great effect.

Chamonix

The experience that an incentive travel program provides is something that cold, hard cash can’t offer. When cash rewards are given, employees often treat this as part of their salary and end up spending their bonuses on bills or living expenses. However, when you provide incentive trips to your employees, you’re providing them with lifetime experiences and which further enhances their personal development.

Stress is the main cause of employee dissatisfaction. Fortunately, this can easily be managed through travel incentive programs.

“According to a CCH Human Resources Management study, nearly 40% of employees “feel more productive and better about their job” and more than 50% of employees feel more “rested, rejuvenated and reconnected to their personal life” when returning from vacation”.

Research has shown the benefits of travel incentive programs far outweigh the benefits of cash incentive programs. Travel incentive programs create lasting impressions and help to lift your employee’s spirits, in turn providing far better results for the employer. On the other hand, cash bonuses can create tense situations, where employees consider a bonus as part of their annual salary.  This creates two problems, the first being employee dissatisfaction if one year they do not receive the cash bonus. The second and most important point being, cash incentives provide no real benefits to the employer.

Get more out of your staff by rewarding them with incentive based trips!

Mummu Cycling Kit Available Soon

We would like to thank The Pedla for such excellent service and quality garments. Our stock will be arriving soon but we will be taking pre orders on the Mummu Cycling Kits on the inquiry form below. Available for purchase will be The Mummu Cycling Jersey, Bib Shorts, Gilet, Arm Warmers and Leg Warmers (not in picture). *We will be shipping internationally. 

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Mr Roubaix

By Laurence Guttmann

 

When you’re really fit, you rarely get a flat tyre because you’re more lucid. I had a puncture once, in 1970, and then never again in 10 years. The other secret is confidence. I often started with the idea that I was going to win. I missed my chance once or twice but no more than that.

-Roger de Vlaeminck

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De Vlaeminck was stylish on and off the bike

 

As we approach the 114th edition of the Paris-Roubaix, much will be written about who will win the historic race that is known variously as the Queen of the Classics, l’Enfer du Nord and a Sunday in Hell. But it’s important also to look back at what and who has made this race the extraordinary event that it is.

 

From 1969 to 1982, the name Roger de Vlaeminck was almost synonymous with Paris-Roubaix and vice versa. In that 14-year period, de Vlaeminck, also known as Monsieur Paris-Roubaix, won the race four times (‘72, ‘74, ‘75 and ‘77), came second four times and, besides his DNF in 1980, never placed worse than 7th. He also did well in many other races (he is one of only three to have won all five Monuments) but his consistency in Paris-Roubaix is special.

 

With his big sideburns, Brooklyn Bubblegum jersey and bright blue Gios, he oozed style. On the bike he was smooth – over the cobbles, he rode with his hands on the hoods, his elbows dropped and his back flat. He came from a cyclocross background and somehow managed to meld the smoothness required in that discipline with the speed and position of a time-trial specialist.

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Pros and amateurs alike often partake in secret training but de Vlaeminck took this to another level. He explains it best:

I used to get up at 5am. When it was good weather I went out behind a Derny with my lights on. I used to meet Godefroot to go training and I’d already ridden 120 kilometers. I used to pretend that I was tired because I’d just gotten out of bed and try to persuade him we should have a shorter ride together. I don’t know if I fooled him but I needed to bluff the others to raise my own morale.

Rumour has it, he even pretended Godefroot had woken him and would make him wait while he got his kit on.

 

His preparation for the race itself was also unique in its extremity. Again, the man describes it best himself:

I knew how to get ready for Paris–Roubaix. I used to ride three days of 350 kilometers a day in the week before. I used to ride Gent–Wevelgem and then ride another 130 kilometers having just changed my jersey. One year I rode 430 kilometers in a day. I needed that, that sort of training, to start the race in a good frame of mind.

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De Vlaeminck and Merckx presumably discussing a steep hill
What makes his dominance of the race even more impressive is that his career ran more or less parallel with Merckx’s. They competed every year from 1969 to 1977. In that period, de Vlaeminck took all four of his victories while Merckx ‘only’ took two of his three. And while statistics don’t tell the whole story it goes some way to explaining why de Vlaeminck took the moniker Monsieur Roubaix.

 

Continuing with statistics, one man it could be argued is the contemporary Monsieur Paris Roubaix is Tom Boonen. He too has won four editions and has the chance to go one better this year. Although you won’t hear de Vlaeminck offering much praise. On Tommeke’s 2012 victory, he was less than complimentary;  “I knew beforehand that he would be next to me [as the only other four-time winner]. Tom cannot help it that this time he had no opposition. They were not second, but third-rate riders.” And with that, he says it like he rode it – hard and fast.

 

Climb Better

 

Climb better

If you ever get the opportunity to ride the famed mountains of the Tour de France, you will want to be in a condition that enables you to enjoy the climbs. Training for hills can sometimes be difficult, especially for those of us who don’t live near any big climbs. And while at the end of the day there’s no avoiding climbing hills to get good at climbing hills, there are some things you can do on the flat that can make a difference. In a recent interview with Olympian and Ridewiser cycling training advisor Rob Crowe, we got to talking about this very topic.

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Thomas Voeckler climbs during the 2014 Tour de France. Michael Rogers, in the fluoro colours of Tinkoff, would go on to win the stage to Bagnères-de-Luchon. Photo: ASO

 

There are various approaches bandied about on how to train for hills without riding up hills. One recommendation is to ride on a trainer with your front wheel chocked up. While this will, to some extent, simulate the position of climbing, it won’t exactly simulate the muscle strain of climbing. Another method once promoted was single-leg pedalling. This has since proven to be counter-productive as it puts your axis off centre, therefore promoting an unbalanced pedalling motion. It also overloads the working knee.

 

Rob Crowe mentions a session that Cadel Evans did during his big Tour years, which consisted of 4, 5 or 6 ascents of Kinglake, seated in 53/13. While this is not recommended for developing riders due to such high strain loads, for an elite level professional athlete training for the Tour, it ensured a low cadence and extensive strain on the muscles, particularly the glutes. Crowe is careful to point out that this is not a suggested session for most people. Evans was 20 years into his career at that point and had the training and strength to withstand the strain this put on his body.

 

But a variation of Evans’ session can be useful. As Crowe says, “The closest simulation to climbing when you’re not on a hill is to overload the gears.” This is known as strength endurance training and ensures that all of the biggest climbing levers – glutes, lower back, shoulders, quadriceps and hamstring muscles are working hard. One method Crowe suggests is to ride, for example, three intervals of between 4 and 6 minutes in a hard gear such as 53/14 (53 being the number of teeth on a traditional large chainring) at lower cadences (70-80 rpm), so preferably into a headwind.

 

Crowe recommends doing this type of session on a flat road on which you can ride your interval without interruption (ie. no traffic lights), as it enables you to pedal at a constant cadence, like you would when climbing. He would choose the headwind direction and then do 3 repeats. The first interval will be “rough and difficult”. The second, after a good recovery riding back with the tailwind, should be smoother as the muscles, lungs and joints will be mobilised. The third repeat should be hard but you should be able to maintain the same speed/power as the previous – the goal is to become more competent or comfortable under the same load. If you find this easy to achieve, you are ready to increase the load of the gears or the duration of the intervals. Conversely, if you struggle here, the session is too much and you should decrease the load and/or shorten the duration of the intervals.

voeckler

Alessandro De Marchi proved his climbing credentials during the 2015 Vuelta a España with a win at the murky summit-top finish of Fuente del Chivo. Photo: ASO

 

Another caveat: loading the gears is a ‘strength’ training drill. It doesn’t constitute true climbing training. For that, you need the mixture of gravity against gear load and high heart rate plus high cadence, which is something that can’t be achieved on the flat. The strength endurance training is important to prepare your muscles for climbing but it will only take you so far. There comes a point when you have to go to the hills. Crowe points to himself as an example here to highlight the difference. His Olympic coach once said to him, “Oh Robert, I see your best abilities as a time-trialler, not a road climber,” to which Rob replied, “But I won the Tour of Austria over mountains every day.” His coach responded, “Yes, you are very  strong over the mountains, but you’re not a pure climber , you’re just very, very strong.” At that time, Crowe didn’t see the distinction between being strong and being a top level tour climber. While his strength enabled him to  prosper in short tours and hard one-day title races with some of the best, when it came to the bigger tours and 20km climbs at a gradient of 10%, he would be left behind.

 

These days, Rob Crowe O.A.M. runs Ridewiser in Melbourne, where he uses his experience and motivational outlook to train cyclists of all ability levels using his own specially created Ridewiser Ergo machines and educational road-rides, among other methods.

 

To try these tips on the same roads as the pros, view our Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Other tours here.

My 1998 TDF Experience (Laurence Guttmann)

For most, the 1998 Tour de France is (infamously) remembered for the Festina affair, which saw the expulsion of the team from the race after team soigneur, Willy Voet, was intercepted at the Belgian-French border with huge amounts of EPO, growth hormone, testosterone and amphetamines. TVM were also ejected and in hindsight, we know that almost the whole peloton was doped.

!998 Tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I remember it very differently. I was an exchange student in France at the time and a family friend from Pau invited me to stay and see a Pyrenéen stage. I was aware of the polemics surrounding the race but these thoughts were more or less erased by the thought of seeing my heros tackle some of the Tour’s most famed climbs.

Besides the cycling, a great thing about visiting the Tour is seeing parts of France you otherwise may not. While Paris is a beautiful city, it could be argued that the true beauty of the country is to be found out of the capital where things move a bit slower and traditional ways of life persist. This is definitely true of Pau. The locals speak differently – with l’accent du sud as the Parisians say – it’s softer, friendlier even. The food is rich, the countryside lush and green and the mountains tall and steep.

On the morning of Tuesday July 21, my friend, Mireille, and I packed some baguettes and set off for the Col d’Aubisque. It was the first climb of a big day that also included the Col de Tourmalet, Col d’Aspin and Col de Peyresourde.

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The atmosphere on a Tour de France mountain pass is hard to describe – there’s a frisson, as the French would say. The excitement builds throughout the day. Camper vans line the road parked at unlikely angles. Families sit around makeshift campsites, chairs and tables tilted, listening to their radios and relaxing.

We climbed until we found a good vantage point and then settled in for the day. I familiarised myself with the surroundings – making sure to locate the perfect spot to take photos. Then I took out my chalk and wrote ‘O’Grady’ in giant letters on the coarse Pyrenéen asphalt. Every now and then, an amateur cyclist lumbered past, grinding his way up the slope. Everyone would cheer, as if rehearsing for what was to come.

The tension continues to build. About two hours before the first riders come through, the advertising caravan – a long, heaving behemoth of cars festooned with decorations and slogans – lumbers past. It consists of about 250 vehicles, each playing music and ejecting hats, bottles, bags and other merchandise. In any other context it would be a bit obscene, but it’s an integral part of the Tour and is yet another element that shapes the day into something special and spectacular.

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Eventual winner, Pantani, and defending champion, Ullrich, during the 1998 Tour. Photo: www.spiegel.de

Once the caravan passes, a period of silence ensues – everyone prepares themselves for the main event. And then we wait one more time. The fog on the day added to the suspense as it was only possible to see about 100 metres down the road. The first sign of the approaching cyclists is the distant rumble of the race helicopters. People rise from their chairs and emerge from their caravans. Then the lights of the first vehicles appear – one motorbike passes, then another and a car.

Finally, the strung-out peloton materialises. As this was the first climb of a long day, the riders were more or less together. Nonetheless, there’s a lot to see on the side of a steep hill as the action is slowed down. You can notice little details – Ullrich climbing in the big ring, Pantani out of the saddle in the drops, Robin’s jersey unzipped and flapping despite the cold. I cheer for my heroes – O’Grady, McEwan, Stephens (all my heroes were Australian at that stage!).

And then, as quickly as they emerge, they are gone. The voiture balai (broom wagon) marks a full stop on the action. I was exhilarated for days afterwards. I picked up three bidons and a Lotto-Mobistar cap, stained with sweat, that had been discarded by passing cyclists. These are better than any souvenir you can buy and, along with my memories, I treasure them to this day.

 

The Porte Factor

Volta a Catalunya is underway! Anyone watching? You should be!
The list of contenders for this year’s Volta a Catalunya includes defending Tour de France Champion Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana, Fabio Aru, Dan Martin, Rigaberto Uran, Tejay Van Garderen, Joaquim Rodriguez, Ritchie Porte and Tom Dumoulin just to name a few.

This is arguably the strongest field in the Volta’s history, with all the big names bar NIbali racing in the lead up towards Le Tour! It will also be the last time we’ll see Alberto Contador at the Volta, as he is set to retire at the end of the 2016 season.

Moving forward.

It is my opinion, whoever wins the 2016 Volta a Catalunya will also win the 2016 Tour de France. Yes, it’s a bold statement but one I will stand by, providing all contenders race in July.

Team Sky have dominated the Tour de France over the previous four years and look to do so for the next decade. The only chink in the SKY armor is the loss of Ritchie Porte. Porte was Chris Froome’s right hand lieutenant, and is arguably one of the strongest all round cyclists in the pro peloton. During the 2013/15 Tour de France, Porte continuously brought back attacks from the likes of Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana to help Chris Froome seal the overall tour victories. This year he will be fighting for his own victory and for Team BMC.

The million dollar question: Without Ritchie Porte, how will Sky fare?

Team Sky’s ability to control their rivals will be affected greatly, as they will now have to control Porte’s attacks, as well as the attacks from Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador. Not only does losing Ritchie decrease the control Team SKY can assert on a race but it leaves them vulnerable, to what extent we’ll have to wait and see! It’s going to be an interesting race from an analysis point of view and one we at Mummu Cycling can’t wait to watch unfold.

The decisive challenges will come on the stage 3 summit finish in La Molina, the Pyrenean ski station where Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) won in 2015, and Friday’s lengthy final ascent to Ainé, where Dan Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) took a spectacular lone victory in the 2013 race – CyclingNews.

It is on these summits we can expect the magic to happen!

Chris Froome will look to crush the confidence out of all his rivals on the first long climb of the Volta but without Porte, he will be in unfamiliar territory. Ritchie who was able to follow Alberto Contador’s attacks at the recent Paris-Nice is in good form and we can expect two pronged attacks from BMC  duo Porte and Van Garderen. While the long range kamakzi style attacks will come from Alberto Contador, in various attempts to dislodge Chris Froome and other contenders. We can expect a very exciting week of racing!

Back to my statement: Will the winner of the Volta win the Le Tour? Possibly.

Fortunately for viewers and contenders alike, there are two thousand other variables that I have blissfully chosen to ignore, to show the importance of the Volta a Catalunya in the lead up to the Tour de France.

The race won’t decide Le Tour but it will give us a few very good indicators:

  • It will give us a very clear indication of who will be in contention come July.
  • It will show some of the tactics we can expect from team BMC with the use of both Tejay and Ritchie.
  • It will also give us an indication as to who is the world’s current strongest climber.

 

The riders will be nervous and they would know the importance of Volta as a springboard for Le Tour. I believe Alberto Contador stands the most to lose or gain from the race. He’s previously stated he wants to finish his career at the top of his game and this does not involve another loss to Chris Froome. The historical rivalry between Contador and Froome will be remembered throughout history, so sit back and enjoy it while it lasts.

 

 

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