Arguing With Myself About Team Sky

I was once told my view on Team Sky’s dominance – and jiffy bags – was balanced and refreshing. I don’t like Sky, but I try not to obsess on one collection of riders. I’d rather talk about key moments in races, winning moves or bold tactics. I’ve also been told my view on Team Sky is dull and inconclusive. I don’t make my mind up. I don’t love Chris Froome (he’s never been my preferred race winner) but nor do I condemn him.

If somebody asked me which team have won six tours in the last seven years I’d say Team Sky with no hesitation or caveat. Unfortunately, alarm bells have been ringing almost the entire time. Following Geraint Thomas’ victory at this year’s Tour – a race where Froome looked surprisingly human, but former E3 Harelbeke winner Thomas delivered a flawless climbing performance – it’s time to make my mind up on the issues which make the Sky regime quite so dubious.

Sky Car

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Team of The Tour 2017

The Tour de France is over for another year and we can revert to our ‘normal’ lives without dedicating a chunk of the afternoon to the world’s most famous bike race. Chris Froome silenced (most) of his doubters, Rigoberto Uran rocketed back to prominence and Romain Bardet took his second podium in as many years. However, none of the top three make my Team of the Tour. Here’s who does…

Michael Matthews Win

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Tour Talk: Laying Claims To The Yellow Jersey

The second week of the Tour was always likely to be a bit weird. There were two stages ripe for Marcel Kittel, before a dash into the Pyrenees and some lumpy ones in the Massif Central. Overall the week receives a thumbs-up. Team Sky and Chris Froome are simultaneously in total control and spinning into frenzy. One minute the snazzy white jerseys are draining the peloton of riders, then next their standing at the roadside swapping wheels whilst Mikel Landa stares a hole into the nearest camera lens.

With a week to go just 77 seconds separates a very restless top six. Can Froome hold on for his most unconventional victory yet?

Bardet Froome Aru

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Quick Picks: Volta a Catalunya

The Volta a Catalunya dates back to 1911, making it over 20 years older than the Vuelta Espana. It’s therefore no surprise the race has been part of the top tier calendar since the inaugural ‘Pro Tour’ in 2005 and has an honours list stacked with big names. Despite its rich history, Catalunya has never gone stale. Whilst the likes of Paris-Nice have maintained a balanced week of racing, the Catalunya organizers design routes full of rolling hills and sharp climbs. Here are my quick picks for this year’s race.

Cycling: 96th Volta Catalunya 2016 / Stage 3

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Winners and Losers of the 2016 Season

We can’t lie to ourselves any longer; the pro cycling season is over. It’s far too soon to start counting down the days until January’s Tour Down Under (is it?) and there’s plenty of time to reflect on the last ten months. Where better to start than with this year’s winners and losers?

For the second year running I’m leaving out World Champion Peter Sagan. By now, everybody must be sick of hearing me wax lyrical about his outstanding talent. His string of near-misses has well and truly ended and he’s been on target at all the big races this year – a theme that should continue for the rest of his career. Instead I’ve opted for winners who’ll recall 2016 with particular fondness, having made a breakthrough or landed a major result.

The ‘losers’ will all have one thing in common; disappointment. Some distance from being bad riders, my selection highlights those who, for whatever reason, couldn’t get the job done and fell short of their goals.

cavendish-1

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Spanish Lessons

With climbing at the forefront of both races, the Volta Catalunya and Vuelta Pais Vasco always attract a crop of Grand Tour GC contenders. This year didn’t disappoint with everybody who’s anybody – and not named Nibali – stretching their legs in Spain. Whilst the likes of Paris-Nice may always be bigger races, Spain’s duo are located closer to the Grand Tour season and packed full of spiky climbs, often laughably under-categorized by the organizers. Those heading to the Giro may find Pais-Vasco the last major stage race they choose to ride with the turnaround from April’s Tour of Romandie a little on the short side.

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