Posts Tagged ‘rain’

If you missed yesterday’s world champs road race for men, then you missed a cracking race! The racing was brilliant but Mother Nature decided to intervene to see who was really deserving of the rainbow jersey!

For those of us that did get to watch the race on TV, we all got to see it from the perspective of the moto-cams that ride in front or next to the riders. It showed us the racing as we have become accustomed to seeing it. But thanks to the team at Shimano, they have released a video that gives us a different view of the racing – from the perspective of the team cars following the racing.

Here you get to see how Mother Nature determined who was strong enough to make it to the finish.

My hat off to all the riders that took part – it was a tough race!


Well, it has been a while since my last post. Things have been rather hectic in Sweat ‘n Gears land, but I am now making the time to try and post something on a regular basis.

So this morning while on Facebook, I saw an awesome video from the guys at Vittoria. And hats off to them for showing the hardships the pro riders need to go through, especially in what we are referring to as Spring.



By Peter Hodges

Dutch team take one-two in Teignmouth, but Albasini holds onto race lead

Wout Poels (Vacansoleil) takes stage 4 of The Tour of Britain

The South West boasts that is a destination for serious cyclists, and the Vacansoleil Pro Cycling team certainly showed that they are serious about winning the overall Tour of Britain with an aggressive ride across the South West peninsula from Minehead to Teignmouth, which ended in a stage win for Dutchman Wout Poels.

Poels attacked a select group of riders on the road into Teignmouth, soloing to a five second week over a group of seven chasers who came agonisingly close to catching the Vacansoleil rider on the long finishing straight.

Instead though Poels held on to win from his teammate Borut Bozic, who moves into third overall in The Tour of Britain.  Finishing in the same group as Bozic were other General Classification contenders Richie Porte, Johnny Hoogerland and race leader Michael Albasini, but previous yellow jersey Greg Henderson lost a further ten seconds to slip to fourth overall, as well as losing his grip on The Prostate Cancer Charity Points Jersey.

Also starring during Stage Four from Minehead to Teignmouth was Dan Martin, who collected the Honda Combativity Award for his constant attacking, that led to the Irishman spending much of the day out in front, as once again poor weather conditions hit The Tour of Britain.

Once again the day started off with a flurry of attacks as The Tour headed away from the West Somerset Railway in Minehead and up onto Exmoor.  First to escape was a group containing Martin and Kristian House, to which Russell Downing bridged across to.  Despite building a relatively large advantage, the Vacansoleil driven field reeled them back in, as the Dutch squad looked to set up its trio of riders who began the day in fourth, fifth and sixth positions overall.

Garmin’s Martin then went solo on the King of the Mountains climb of Lype Hill, building a half minute advantage.  Behind with Vacansoleil driving the peloton began to split up, with a number of riders beginning to struggle instantly.  For several that would be the last contact they had with the rest of the field for the entire stage.

Dan Martin (Garmin Transitions)

Thanks to the Vacansoleil pressure a chasing group formed, including the Yellow Jersey, plus rivals Porte and eventual stage winner Poels.  This group gradually grew as riders made it across, swelling to become the de facto peloton as the previous ‘main’ field split apart, with some riders heading forwards across the gap and others going backwards to form a gruppetto early on.

At the front Bozic then tried his hand, swiftly building a 30 second lead, which was equally swiftly eroded thanks to his threatening overall status.  Next to escape was Martin again, going clear with Matthew Hayman, Ronan Van Zandbeek, Gianluca Mirenda and Vacansoleil duo Matteo Carrara and Bozic.  Once again a lead was built before HTC – Columbia began to ride down the gap, making the catch just before Albasini punctured, but the Swiss rider was swiftly helped back to the front group by teammates Andre Greipel and Tony Martin, with no damage done to his position in the race.

After dropping down to the north Somerset coast, the road began to climb once more, back onto Exmoor for the Ralegh’s Cross King of the Mountains with Vacansoleil still pilling on the pressure.  At the back the large group of riders in the gruppetto began to sit up, prompting a large time gap come the finish on the south Devon coast.

On the climb Dan Martin attacked once again, taking Bozic with him before the Slovenian relented leaving the Garmin rider alone.  This wasn’t to last for long however, as Hayman and Hoogerland joined him, quickly building a minutes lead as the race crossed into Devon, with grew to almost two minutes after 47 miles of racing.

With the gap going past two minutes making Hoogerland the virtual Yellow Jersey, HTC – Columbia were forced into a chase, with Team Saxo Bank also joining them to protect Porte’s high general classification placing.

By Peak Hill above Sidmouth the gap was back at two minutes, and thanks to the pressure of HTC and Saxo Bank this figured continued to fall, with Albasini thankful to again have Tony Martin at his side as he punctured on the descent to Otterton.

Passing through twenty kilometres to go as the race neared Exeter and crossed the Exe Estuary the three leaders were just 34 seconds in front, prompting an attack from Martin which shedded his two accomplices, most crucially GC threat Hoogerland.

However the chase didn’t abate, with Vacansoleil now driving across to the leader, splitting the leading group on the road still further.  Once caught Martin began to fell back as repeated attacks raining in, with Porte twice trying to ride himself of the other leading riders on the numerous dips and peaks of the coastal roads.

Coming out of Dawlish Poels surged ahead to no avail, but it was his second attack a few kilometres later on the final rise outside of Teignmouth that proved to be more productive, as the Dutchman countered an attack by Domenico Pozzovivo to go over the top of the Colnago rider and onto the fast descent into Teignmouth.

Switching down through the town, Poels turned onto the finishing straight clear of his rivals, holding off the charging group despite a fierce cross-headwind on the seafront finish.

“Today was a super day”, said the 22-year-old.  “In the beginning we did a lot of work on the first climb to drop alot of guys and that was pretty good.  And then Johnny attacked and I thought he had a good chance to win, but HTC – Columbia started riding with Saxo Bank and it came back, so there was the chance for me to win the stage.

“I attacked at eight kilometres before the finish, but they brought me back.  I had a little bit of recuperation but then I attacked again at four kilometres before the finish, and then they didn’t see me anymore!

“I knew it was difficult with a lot of corners, but I took a little bit of a risk and thought when I can win a stage or crash, then I have to make a choice.  I took a little bit of a risk, but everything was going good.

“It was a really hard race, with the three climbs and directly from the start it was hard, but it was a nice day.”

“It’s part of my character, attacking,” said Poel’s Vacansoleil teammate and King of the Mountains jersey wearer Johnny Hoogerland.

“With the team we wanted to make the race hard.  We knew HTC – Columbia have a very strong team, but also (Mark) Renshaw and (Andre) Greipel aren’t the riders who can close the gaps in the hills.  So from the start we decided to make it hard.  Michal Golas did a little sprint and then Wout did nearly the whole climb and then (Patrick) Sinkewitz attacked and we were just ten riders.  Then it came back and then we went again.”

“It was first 30 seconds, then 40 seconds and then four minutes, and I was thinking ‘I am going to get the General’, and I told the other guys I don’t sprint for the victory, I just want to have the general, but then Saxo Bank also started riding, I don’t know why they did.”

“I’m happy for Wout because this year he made a lot of progression, won a stage at the Tour de l’Ain and he’s going to the World Championships.  I think it is significant how he did it, because Greipel and Albasini were riding full gas and still they couldn’t catch him.”

On his chances over overhauling Albasini’s race lead, Hoogerland said, “I think it’s going to be difficult, but we are not sitting in the peloton tomorrow, we still keep fighting.”

Stage Five sees The Tour of Britain remaining in the South West, as Devon and Somerset prove they are top destinations for serious cyclists with another tough stage through world-class scenery.  Beginning in Tavistock, riders will tackle 178.2 kilometres of tough roads, passing across Dartmoor and through Cullumpton and Ilminster on their way to Glastonbury.

Stage Four Results

1) Wout Poels                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    4h 30m 35s

2) Borut Bozic                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    @ 5s

3) Koen De Kort                            Skil – Shimano                          @ same time

Honda Combativity Award Winner: Dan Martin, Garmin – Transitions Pro Cycling Team

General Classification standings (after four stages)

1) Michael Albasini                        Team HTC – Columbia               15h 27m 41

2) Richie Porte                              Team Saxo Bank                       @ 1m 28s

3) Borut Bozic                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    @ 1m 32s

The Prostate Cancer Charity Points Jersey standings (after four stages)

1) Michael Albasini                        Team HTC – Columbia               39pts

2) Greg Henderson                        Sky Professional Cycling Team  36pts

3) Borut Bozic                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    28pts

The King of the Mountains Jersey standings (after four stages)

1) Johnny Hoogerland                   Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    45pts

2) Richie Porte                              Team Saxo Bank                       45pts

3) Wout Poels                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    31pts

The Sprints Jersey standings (after four stages)

1) Richie Porte                              Team Saxo Bank                       15pts

2) Matthew Hayman                       Sky Professional Cycling Team  11pts

3) Borut Bozic                               Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    8pts

The Tour of Britain is proud to be partnered with The Prostate Cancer Charity.  Don’t forget this September your chance to follow in the wheel tracks of the professionals and ride three stages from The Tour of Britain.  Go to to find out more!

The Great Tour route map

Late on Friday 7 May myself and a colleague from work, Kathryn and her boyfriend Gavin, made our way down from Weybridge in Surrey to Seaton in Devon.

Now Seaton is a small seaside town on the South West coastline of Devon England. It has also been described as the gateway to the 95-mile Jurassic Coast of the Dorset and East Devon Coast World Heritage Coastline.

However, the reason for our drive down to Seaton was  so that we could do a recce of the first two stages of The Great Tour. Not on our own of course, but with a group from our office that have put together this challenging event.

So what is The Great Tour? Well, in short, it’s a circumnavigation of the outer edge of the UK coastline by bicycle.

The Great Tour itself will take place on 3 July when a group of cyclists drawn from the world of sport, celebrity, charity, politics, science and the arts will gather in Seaton to embark on one of Britain’s last great sporting challenges. Keeping the sea to their right for 64 days, the riders will never lose the sight, smell or sound of the sea during their epic 6600km pedal for charity.

The ride will be hosted by well known athletes who will be joined by a wide variety of guests and charity riders to create a colourful and inspirational sporting celebration of the British coastline.

The 2010 event will be the inaugural Great Tour, which will become an annual charity bike ride. This is most probably the most important thing to remember about the event. Its purpose is to help raise money for a charity of your choice. You take on an incredible challenge while helping to raise money for a good cause.

So this ride we embarked upon took in the first two stages of The Great Tour. Stage 1 saw us riding from Seaton to Swanage. Expected total ride distance is 128km with 2483m of ascent.

Stage two took us from Swanage to Ryde with an expected total ride distance of 114km and 1236m of ascent.

On Saturday 8 May after a great fry up breakfast at our guest house, we made our way to the Seaton sea front to await the rest of our team that were going to join us on this ride. Also joining us on the ride was Alistair Cope, a Devon local who would guide us on our way. Alistair is also one of the main guides on The Great Tour itself and is himself raising money for The Prostate Cancer Charity while taking on this 64 day challenge.

Now the weather wasn’t great. It was not too cold, but it was damp and there was intermittent drizzle about. Not something I was looking forward to.

Here  are some pictures, taken by Gavin(or Kathryn) of our ride over the two days:

Gavin Morton (our photograher) and myself outside our guest house in Seaton

Getting the bikes and ourselves ready before we set off

Discussing the road ahead

The group before our depart on stage 1 of The Great Tour

On our way out of Seaton

Wating for the group to catch up after our first climb

Gavin joining us

Road bikes to continue left on the road. Hybrids to go straight along onto the gravel roads

Appreciating why they call it the jurrasic coastline

Loving the climb, but I really do need a new bikeLoving the climb, but I really do need a new bike

Alistair going up one the many many climbs on this stage

Graeme and Kevin, Great Tour route leaders

Graeme and Kevin

Graeme and Kevin with Mick Bennett, former Olympic medallist

Taking in the scenery

Enjoying myself

I'm lovin it!

The scenery is just beautiful

Riding with Alistair and admiring how the climb just keeps going up

Taking a mini break in one of the many villages along the way

For any would be bike sponsor - Your bike could be in the picture instead of the Trek. Think about it!

We visited some interesting roads and places

Spectacular views once again

I love this picture

Feeling the pain

Graeme, Kevin and myself glad that we're coming to the end of stage 1

Packing the cars before makin our way to our local accommodation

Now we didn’t quite make the full stage. After all the stops and starts, we managed only to get to Weymouth, just over half the distance we were expecting to do for that day. But that was the whole purpose of the recce – to find out what challenges could stand in  our way when the main event takes place.

It’s at this point where I have to say that The Great Tour is not the ideal challenge to take on with a road bike. The best bike for this challenge is a hybrid. With a relaxed frame geometry and slick MTB tyres makes it easier to ride over the varying terrain than what a road bike could handle. I did manage it on my road bike, but my tyres did take a huge hammering.

But more importantly, the hybrid offers you the aditional gears you would need to climb over some of the steep sections of this ride. I have to be honest and say that I did run out of gears and some of the road surfaces were so wet that I wasn’t able to stand going up the climbs. This really did test the strength in my legs and arms. However, the road bike was great for some of the descents as we reached up to 80km/h without pedalling. Not for the feint-hearted!

Oh, before I forget, stage 1 is the hardest stage of the entire Great Tour.

Stage 2: Swanage to Ryde

After a good night’s rest, we all made our way into Swanage for our early morning start of 8:00am. Not before getting in a good breakfast though.

Our early morning breakfast stop

Running through the details of the route

Our group photo

Maing our way along the Swanage coastline

A group of men on their way to Studland - haha!

Going to Foreland (or Handfast) Point

The Foreland (or Handfast) Point

Enjoying my way along Newto Heath to catch the short ferry to Sandbanks

On the ferry to Sandbanks

Doing our bit for Mulebar - well, trying to at least

Felt Bicycles taking full advantage of the sponsorship areas I posses. Just need to get a bike from them next 🙂

Making our way along the Bournemouth coastline

The group

and in black & white

Stopping for pies in Lymington

Lymington. Well, that’s as far as I got to on day two of the ride with another 60+ km’s in the bag.  It was at this point that I joined Kathryn and Gavin as they made their way back home to Surrey. From Lymington the rest of the group made their way onto the Isle of Wight to complete the rest of their journey for stage two.

From speaking to guys afterwards, I understand that it was quite hilly too once on the Isle of Wight. So I’m glad I didn’t go the whole way as my legs were competely knackered by the time I made it home that afternoon.

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself over the two days we were out there. The riding was great, the scenery spectacular and the company was excellent.

In summary, The Great Tour offers 64 days of riding, 6600 km’s, 87,500m of ascent and 500 hours in the saddle. So if you feel like taking up a new challenge and want to see the beautiful coastline that the UK offers, then why not sign up for The Great Tour.

*All photographs thanks to Gavin Morton

Shutt Velo Rapide gillet SweatnGears

Shutt Velo Rapide gillet

On Friday, my good friend Pete, convinced me to go out riding with him near his place. Considering I’ve known Pete for 7 years now and we’ve never been out riding, now was the perfect time.

So yesterday morning, I met him at his place near Silverstone. While getting ready to go, Pete presented me with a small gift – his company’s newly created gillet. A nice looking piece kit and it fitted well too.

Off we went on our ride. To cut a very long story short, we landed up riding in some very heavy rain for over an hour, covered 75kms, were frozen to bits, and between the two of us managed to puncture four times.

As I didn’t take my rain jacket with me (I’ll add that there was no forecast of rain on the day and the sun was out), all I had with me was my new Shutt VR gillet.

As I said before, it was a good fit and when the rain came down, it helped keep my front, back and shoulders dry. Thank god because as it was freezing cold, I think I might not have made it home if I got completely wet. So, kudos to Shutt for a great new product!!

Let’s hope Shutt get these into full production as you’d be stupid not to get one.

Here are a few pics from our ride yesterday – mainly ones of us fixing punctures. But at least we did get to have a coffee stop. Let’s hope next week’s ride won’t be as cold and wet as yesterday’s.

Pete fixing his second puncture of the day

Taking a turn at pumping up the flat

I somehow managed to break the valve off in the hand pump. Strangely, the tyre stayed inflated.

At the coffee stop. Pete getting out the patch glue

Yours truly

As we left the coffee shop, it was my turn to puncture

Can you see that concentration 🙂

Pete's third puncture for the day. At this point in time, the rain was getting progressively worse. Note, Pete already had his rain jacket on.

Nicole Cooke and her Olympic Gold

Nicole Cooke and her Olympic Gold

Nicole Cooke today became the first person to win a gold for Britain at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She won the race after surviving an uphill sprint finish in the pouring rain in the women’s Olympic 126-km road race.

Cooke dropped off from the lead group (of five riders) about 500 metres from the finish, just as they started on the uphill approach. I was amazed to see her fight her way back to the group but was worried that she might have used up her energy just to make it back. With about 250 metres to go, she took the lead and opened up the sprint. She dug deep, fought hard and held off her opponents.

A worthy winner of the Gold, showing true guts and determination!

Cooke took Gold from Sweden’s Emma Johansson who took the silver and Tatiana Guderzo of Italy who came in third.

Fellow Briton Emma Pooley, finished back in 23rd place, 30 seconds behind Cooke. The third member of the British team Sharon Laws, finished in 35th place.