16
Sep
13

Tour of Talybont 2013 – Review

Last weekend saw the Tour of Talybont set off from the little village of Talybont-on-Usk; this prestigious race returned to this small idyllic part of the Brecon Beacons for the 5th consecutive year, each Tour getting bigger and better and often wit more controversies than the last, and this year was no different.

 

This year saw the introduction of new KOM and Sprint points along with a new method of determining the GC with a combination of both. A lot of work had been put in by the organisers DMC Sports Management to avoid last years confusion over the KOM and Sprint points and properly map them including GPS tracking for the riders, this was due to the farcical issues we had last year where no one seems to know where the sections were and the debate over the Sprints encouraging dangerous descending. It was however abundantly clear that some of our riders hadn’t done any homework on the race manuals and were still confused over the whole thing. This year also saw the introduction of Race TV, with camera crews working alongside the Teams to produce footage of the Tour, which will hopefully be available to all shortly.

 

Our riders arrived this year hoping to get at least one stage ridden, the weather report being so bad that was looking unlikely at best. Having booked into the now regular accommodation of Talybont Farm our 4 main contenders were pleased to find they had been upgraded to a nicer part of the site. Stage one started without issue on time and our 4 riders set off introducing James ‘The Bird’ Flower back into the Peloton. Our riders were so busy catching up that they seemed to totally miss the first KOM and it was decided to equal out the points for all. As they arrived the second KOM Flower was caught napping and missed the attack, Defending champion Mike ‘The Boss’ Bloomfield taking maximum points from two time tour winner Dan ‘Donkey Kong’ Kujawski with Chris ‘Wobbler’ Wood in third.

The first controversy of the Tour came next on the first Sprint section, Wood being the only one to have fully studied the route broke off to claim maximum points when the others weren’t really sure of its location. Sheep Hill was negotiated without any issues and Kujawski was able to break up the Liquigas pairing of Bloomfield/Flower to taken second behind Bloomfield.

 

Arriving at the big Sprint point of the day at the Reservoir our four riders were all watching each other waiting for one to make the move, and surprisingly it was Flower who caught the other three off guard and made the early break building a 6 second lead over the Peloton, the others gave chase and he was caught on the run in by Bloomfield and Kujawski who took first and second respectively with Wood crossing in fourth just behind Flower.

 

The rest of the stage passed without incident until we arrived at Talybont Reservoir. Kujawski attacked and Wood followed with Bloomfield and Flower missing the break, it was argued afterwards that Kujawski attacked in the Neutralised zone but evidence from the Garmin suggested otherwise. Kujawski was too strong for Wood and took the stage, revenge as he lost this stage to Bloomfield last year. At the end of Stage 1 Bloomfield lead the KOM and Kujawski the Sprint with Bloomfield taking yellow by 0.5 points.

 

Day 2 started in good weather and a guest appearance at the Tour by Cadel ‘Cuddles’ Evans which was a surprise to our riders however Wood never seemed to see him? Overnight the KOM/ Sprint rules were clarified and the final sprint was changed to an uphill one on the request of Kujawski (more on this later.) The climb from Crickhowell was won by Bloomfield with Flower a close second, the result putting Bloomfield into the top 10 on Strava for that segment. The only incident up the Black Mountains was an aggressive driver forcing our riders into a lay-by which wasn’t as hard as expected causing Wood to stack it into a hedge.

 

The descent into Hay-on-Wye saw our riders stop to re-fuel however the photo shoot with Shandy Bass was off this year after last years anti-doping issue and there was no time to stop for coffee and autographs as the weather was closing in. Bloomfield took the win on Chav Hill from Kujawski to sew up that competition and our riders reformed in the neutralised zone over the Taff to discuss the next section, the changed Sprint point up the hill from Pencilli that Kujawski had requested, all our riders were aware of the change and the need to reform for the end of stage.

 

As they entered Pencilli, Kujawski went early and took Flower with him however a little celebration before the end threw Flower who sat up allowing Wood to take second and with that Kujawski took the green jersey. Next came the usual controversy at the Tour with Kujawski failing to reform before the end of the neutralised zone for the stage finish meaning he was demoted to fourth on the stage, this left it for our other three to battle out for the win and Wood took it from Bloomfield having had a mechanical at the same point last year. Wood said last year he wanted to come back and win a stage and he did so in style.

 

This meant that Bloomfield was once again Tour winner for a third year. Stage three was also finally run (at the fifth time of asking) due to it being the first year it was neutral stage with no points available and the views from the top of the biggest climb of the Tour were incredible, as was the descent. Unfortunately Race TV wasn’t available on Stage 3 so there is no footage of this yet.

 

Although a great Tour this year we can bet most of our riders had one eye firmly on next years edition already which sees the ToT go international into the French Alps to climb some of the Monuments of the Tour de France. Three of our four favorites, Bloomfield, Kujawski and Wood are already signed up, it remains to be seen if Flower makes it or whether Chris ‘Cheaton’ Heaton makes a return or we see a new rider start?

25
Sep
12

Tour of Talybont 2012 – How the race was won

Bloomfield takes historic triple in Tour of Talybont

 

This prestigious race was back for its fourth edition over the weekend and although we were missing a few of the big favourites the racing did not disappoint. DMC Sports Management have kept the September dates that have proven popular with both riders and fans alike, however a little disappointingly the rumours of route changes did not materialise this year.

The big absentees this year were James “The Bird” Flower and Chris “Cheaton” Heaton. Flower being saved by his team for the Broadwater-Pycombe Nuptial race in October and Heaton lacking race fitness after a season struggling to get rides in. This meant that we reverted back to the inaugural edition with Chris “Wobbler” Wood, Mike “The Boss” Bloomfield and Dan “Donkey Kong” Kujawski lining up as pre-race favourites. The bookies had Kujawski at evens to win his third tour in a row, with Bloomfield at 2/1 and Wood much longer odds at 16/1; this had to have had something to do with Woods lack of racing this year. We caught up with him a few weeks ago and asked how the preparations were going: “Terrible to be honest, my team have been so focused on this race that I have not had much racing scheduled in for this year, I feel let down by the team.” Strong words indeed but a press release was quickly put out by his team contradicting this statement:

            “Wood has lacked focus and commitment this year; we have been   disappointed by the results we have been getting in training. His contract is up at the end of the season and only a good result at the ToT will ensure a new one. If he does remain with us, his whole ethic towards this team must             change!”

It seemed like mixed messages were coming out of his camp but Wood needed a good showing. Bloomfield has been the rider racing the most this summer with Kujawski concentrating mostly on MTB and could feel a little aggrieved at only being second favourite.

Our riders arrived at the now familiar accommodation village of Talybont Farm and prepared their rides. The stage started and quickly our three favourites were in a breakaway, with Kujawski and Bloomfield looking the stronger of the three. The competition did not start as fiercely as last year and the first KoM and Sprint points were barely contested with Bloomfield crossing first in both. Bloomfield picking up the first mechanical of the race with a puncture at the top of the climb, this was quickly fixed and we were back racing. It wasn’t until Sheep Hill that the race started to get interesting. The breakaway had a clear lead over the peloton but all three attacked this now legendary climb with Bloomfield taking maximum points from Kujawski with Wood in third. Bloomfield was clearly dictating the pace of the breakaway and speeds topping 40mph (that’s 4.0mph for Amber) were reached on the descent. Both Wood and Kujawski avoided a repeat of last year on the next climb and negotiated it without incident. As the riders approached the next sprint point on the reservoir Wood was caught napping and a small split formed in the group, knowing he was strong here last year Bloomfield and Kujawski worked together to keep Wood at a distance in the run in, this meant that he had spent too much energy catching them to contest the sprint properly, Bloomfield kicked away from Kujawski and took his second maximum points for the day. The run in through Merthyr was fairly eventless and the final climb was won by Bloomfield again, who had by this point opened up a 10 point gap in the KoM competition over Kujawski. The descent into Talybont reservoir went without incident this year, Flower corner failed to catch out any of our riders and they all reached the final run in without incident, our breakaway then powered towards the finish line, Kujawski this time not paying full attention and Wood and Bloomfield sprinted away from him, with Bloomfield taking the stage win.

 

The second day started again without incident and quickly our three race leaders were in another breakaway of their own. Entering Crickhowell all three were together but then disaster struck for Kujawski as he punctured entering the climb, Bloomfield was caught up leaving Wood to claim the maximum points uncontested, though he had to work harder than last year as the line was moved to the summit of the climb for this year. The climb up the Black Mountains saw our riders joined by a local club run who had stumbled onto the route, in the confusion Kujawski pulled away from our other two breakaway riders and tried to claim the double points on offer, Bloomfield and Wood didn’t realise until late what had happened and it took all of Bloomfield’s skills to catch and pass Kujawski just short of the summit, Wood had no answer for the speed and had to settle for third.

Then came the strangest moment of this year’s Tour. With such a lead over the peloton the breakaway, seemingly frustrated by the lack of competition this year diverted off course into Hay-on-Wye and stopped for a coffee and some photo opportunities with the fans. Unfortunately for Kujawski and Wood the Tours latest sponsor “Shandy Bass” insisted on some photo shots of them with the popular with teenagers drink, Bloomfield flat out refused to take part. Shandy Bass were not happy with this and have refused to pay him his sponsor money, not that this will have worried him as the beverage appeared to trouble his rivals more. Kujawski was now clearly struggling and dropping back off the group who were now trying to catch the peloton who had overtaken them during this melee. Our riders caught and passed the mainly Welsh, Dutch peloton on the run in to ‘Chav Hill’ which has managed to shake off its reputation from the first tour and successfully retain the tour for a fourth consecutive year. The final climb of the day saw Wood and Bloomfield contest the points with Bloomfield just nicking it at the top to secure the KoM jersey for a second year, Kujawski was some way back in third.

Our three breakaway riders reached the River Taff together and headed for the line, Bloomfield took the front as the other two seemed spent, but this was all a ruse, entering Pencilli Kujawski, in the same manner as last year, attacked off the front, but in contrast to last year he was caught by Wood and Bloomfield. Wood tried his luck a few miles down the road but as he put the hammer down the dreaded Wobbler Mechanical struck again and he snapped a spoke and he couldn’t stay out in front. As our riders re-grouped there was a lot of looking at each other, no one wanting to commit, it wasn’t until the last 200m, where Bloomfield attacked Wood went with him but could not catch him on the line, Kujawski crossed the line in third.

The fabled TTT was yet again cancelled, a fourth year in a row, due to team issues at home for some of our riders. We all hope that it will be run, finally, next year though the bookies have already got short odds on it not happening.

This meant that in a repeat of the first Tour, Bloomfield won yellow for the second time; unprecedentedly he also took the KoM and the Sprint jerseys too to wrap up a fantastic tour for him. Wood managed to finish second on the podium for a second consecutive year much to the surprise of both his team and him. He has vowed to improve for next year and guaranteed a stage win for the team; we remain to be convinced of this statement. Kujawski, twice winner of this race finished in third, a really disappointing end for this rider, though some fans do believe Karma has finally caught up with him after his first win in controversial circumstances.

DMC Sports Management have promised to look into the stages next year, there are talks of a reversal in stages 1 and 2, this has received mixed emotions from the riders but the fans are keen to see this happen, there is even rumour of an extra day with one of the stages reversed. They have also promised to look at the TTT and a new course may be designed for next year to promote another reservoir in the area. What has been confirmed is that the KoM and Sprint point sections will be mapped onto riders Garmin devices to ensure everyone is clear on their locations. The Health and Safety executive (wives and girlfriends department) has also asked them to look into the descents to try to prevent our riders racing down mountains to get points.

We now have the close season to contend with, will Wood get a new contract with Team Kuota? Will Planet X let Kujawski ride them again? Will Flower get a bike service and return next year for the full tour?

Looking forward to the spring classics we have the Coulsdon-Worthing-Coulsdon and the Two days of Reading to whet our appetite before the 5th Tour of Talybont

09
May
12

Not strictly what this blog was for

Ok, I know I’ve put nothing in here for ages but work has sort of taken over my life this year and because of that I thought my first post back should be about that. Now I can’t claim credit for this but it is indicative of most police officers in most forces across this great country, if you think policing cuts won’t affect you think again. I’ll be back with some cycling writing soon

It’s not about the money, money, money

It’s all about the public … all about the public … (sorry Jessie J)

In the past week, I’ve been pepper sprayed three times (holding on to bad guys not naughty myself I’d like to point out), punched, bitten, spat at and verbally abused on god knows how many occasions – and I didn’t even do a night shift on Friday or Saturday !!

With a colleague, we managed the almost unthinkable of actually catching burglars in the act – still trying to jemmy the window open !!!; we’ve dealt with yet another fatal RTC where the passenger was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected through the windscreen; we’ve hunted for missing kids under 8 years old on two separate occasions, one elderly missing Alzheimer’s sufferer, dealt with four assaults (one a stabbing) four fuel make-offs, three shoplifitings, attended seven domestics and had a ‘fail to stop’ where two decamped (and we got them both !!).

And that’s just two of us, on one shift, at one police station, in one force area. Not a particularly big one either. On weekdays !

Why am I telling you all this. Because this is what we do; all day, every day. in fact we do more than the above; there’s the nuisance comms jobs (“my ex text me n said he’s gonna batter my new fella if I don’t give him his X-Box back”), the ‘Facebook Threats’, eBay frauds, and no end of crim dam’s, noisy neighbours and kids playing football on the grass … again !

But this is why I,and virtually all of my colleagues around the country joined the police – to make a difference; to help people; to make our society better for everyone.

I didn’t join for the money, that’s for sure ! It’s certainly not a bad wage relative to average earnings in the area I live –but on a personal level, I took an almost £5,000 pay CUT !!! when I joined the police. On top of that, I went from paying a 3% contributory pension to paying 11%, so my ‘take-home’ fell even further. I also pay Federation subs and Private Healthcare which I never did before. You could of course argue, these two are luxuries, but they really aren’t.

The world and his dog are allowed to ‘have a go’ at the police these days. Certainly, things have gone wrong from time to time, but so high has been the fear in Senior ranks about miniscule complaints against officers, virtually all from the Great Unwashed of Society who are aggrieved that they are not allowed to continue their ‘unsocial lifestyle’ unabated, that they require every complaint to be investigated to the ‘enth’ degree. To this end we need the Federation to support and fight our corner; they are indeed the only real protection we have.

And private healthcare is a necessity in our game, not a luxury. Street policing can be a nasty place to be. Drunks, druggies and many others with a grievance against society see us as a legitimate target and are more than happy to ‘strike first, engage brain later’. Injuries to officers are far too commonplace, and the time taken to get the best treatment on the overstretched and under-strain NHS if just too long and drawn out.

After almost ten years as a front-line officer, I could easily walk away tomorrow, return to the private sector industry from whence I came, be instantly better off financially, not have to work in the dark or at weekends, not have to put up with the abuse and attacks, and go back to my happy, happy life thinking everything in the garden smells of roses and whatever happens outside my front door is ‘someone else’s problem’. My wife wouldn’t worry so much when she’s trying to sleep alone at night, wondering what’s happening to me now; my kids (who by the way are extraordinarily proud of what I do) wouldn’t get the jibes in the school playground that they do get (big thanks here to the youngest one’s teacher who has had to step in more than once) and I’d have a nice warm office with decent tech to spend my working hours in once again.

But I don’t want to. Why ? ….. because this is where I belong. Doing the right thing, Standing up for the little guy; or big guy; or girl. Making that difference. Not being afraid to be counted. Trying to make a better place for you, me, our children, everyone’s children. We all have a part to play if we want a better society to live in. Any every society has to have rules by which people abide if you wish to succeed. For without rules, there is Anarchy. And that’s a treacherous path down which to go.

On Thursday, thousands of police officers from up and down the country will give up their own time to march in London, demonstrating against the latest round of cuts and attacks on the British police service by the current Government.

These are your local police officers; the officers that look after your communities, day and night, 365 days a year; trying, against an ever increasing mountain of bureaucracy to keep you safe from harm; to catch the bad guys and stop them doing it again. You may not agree with everything the police do or the way they do it – believe me, most rank-and-file officers disagree with a lot of the politically motivated decision making being thrust upon them, but in a disciplined service things have to be done in a certain way.

You may say “What’s the point, there’s never a copper round when you need one”. It’s a fair point, but you are never going to get a bobby on every street corner and they can’t be everywhere at the same time. Think of the basic math; there are approximately 140,000 police officers in England and Wales against a population of approaching 54.5 million (based on 2010 figures) – that means one officer for every 389 people spread over a land mass of 28,789 sq miles – or 151,152 sq km if you prefer – (ONS statistics). However, not all of those officers are on duty at the same time – and only a small number are in ‘street facing’ or ‘response’ roles, i.e the officers available to attend incidents that you report. In my force, and I can’t comment for the other 42, approximately 50% of our officers are ‘response based’ and work across five shifts providing 24 hour cover. I don’t have exact figures so can’t do the stats but believe me, it’s a frighteningly low number of police out there when you need them.

Last night for instance, a bank holiday so the numbers on shift are cut to the bare minimum just to save money, we we a shift of FOUR. Yes FOUR ! To police a town of about 120,000 people on a Bank Holiday night. I managed to clock up over 200 miles on our clapped out Astra panda just going back and forth, blue light run to blue light run. That’s not good for anybody. It put’s me at increased risk, it puts other motorists and pedestrians at increased risk, and it puts the victims we are too far away from at increased risk.

What are the other officers doing ?? Well they are your Neighbourhood Teams (the ‘Beat Bobby’s if you like), CID, Burglary Units, Robbery Squads, Specialist Domestic Violence Teams, Firearms Support, Anti-Terrorist Units, and many, many more; all essential parts of the team that make up modern day policing, but don’t feature in the Governments cute & cuddly vision of the Dixon of Dock Green era they wish us all to believe still exists. But for the most part, they aren’t ‘front line responders’ by the definition the general public would accept.

The simple fact is that by portraying the ‘rouse’ that forces can reduce backroom staff without affecting the front line, the public have been duped big time. In every station in every force throughout the country, right now, some of those very few officers that are on the ‘front line’ are in a police station filling forms and doing paperwork that was up until a few months ago, done by a dedicated, experienced team of civilian support staff that are no longer there.

Whereas, arresting a simple shoplifter took a uniformed officer on our team off the streets for about 1.5 – 2 hours to book the detainee into custody, obtain the full details from the shop, record the crime and complete a handover for the Process & Investigation team, it can now take 4 – 5 hours minimum with the interview, follow up enquiries and file preparation. Ask yourself this; is it a wise use of your taxes to have a highly trained, highly experienced, not cheap, police officer sat behind a desk filling in reams of paperwork for matey boy’s 50th or more shoplifting when he could be out looking for the proverbial muggers, burglars and rapists ???

That’s why the British police forces are protesting on Thursday. For your future. For your safety. Because we know what it’s like to be burgled, we know what it’s like to be raped. We know what it’s like when one of your children is killed by a drunk driver. Because we deal with these things on a day to day basis ! Sadly, that is the problem. No one is a position of political power, who is running rough-shod over these changes has the slightest idea what Mr & Mrs Average in the street has to go through.

We know that the tales and untruths, the spin and propaganda being churned out by this Government is exactly that. On Monday 7th May, BBC Radio 4’s ‘The World at One’ programme ran a article on the Protest March and in particular the #AntiWinsorNetwork. If you missed the programme you can listen to it here. Three real police officers from around the country gave their views and concerns about what the Government is doing to the British police service. Not one of them mentioned pay or pensions. But it was all the Policing Minister Nick Herbert MP could speak about. He showed a complete and utter failing to understand the real issues or provide any form of genuine response to the questions and points put before him.

We know that there is a need to save money; to cuts costs across the public sector. There are many, many, simple ways in which large amounts of money could be saved within the Police Service, without it affecting the front line or back room services we provide to the nation. You don’t need Government sponsored politically motivated reviews, think-tanks, or multi-million pound enquiries to work out where those savings can be made. You just need to go out there and ask your local police officers. You need to ask the general public what they really expect of the police and how they want to be policed. What jobs are the role of the police and what should be done by other agencies; Councils, Social Services, the NHS for instance. And then do what the public wants.

On a personal level, the proposed cuts will not affect me greatly. Yes, I’ll be a few hundred quid a year worse off, and probably have to work longer than I anticipated, but I am fortunate enough to be, as best as can be, financially secure. I know that I can turn round tomorrow, chuck in my warrant card and go back to where I was before – with, as I said at the start; more money, less grief, no more nights and weekends and undoubtedly, a more relaxed family environment. But I don’t want to be. I want to be doing ‘the right thing’. And my family supports me in this one hundred percent.

I know of course, that there are a great number of officers who are not in this position and will suffer massively as a result of the Winsor review. These are the same people who are already considering their position; literally whether it is worth saying put or if it’s time to move to more lucrative (and less stressful) pastures.

This is why I’m asking you to support the British Police on May 10th:

If you can get to London, come and march with us.
If you can’t, make your voice heard. Use Social Networking sites; Twitter and Facebook, just as the #AntiWinsorNetwork and its followers do.
Add your comments to the Public Consultation page on the Protect Our Police website – http://www.protectourpolice.co.uk/?page_id=814
Write to your local paper; your local MP; your local police force. Express your concerns – remember – it’s your money they are spending – don’t you want a say in where it goes ????
Above all, support your Police. Believe me, if you think it’s a Thin Blue Line now, you’ll really miss us when we’re gone !!

19
Jan
12

Absent Friends

Ok I know I’ve not put anything on this for quite some time, this is down to a few things, the main two being work (I’m currently being asked to do 2 full time jobs and only get paid for one) as well as revising for exams and the other and probably main one is I’ve fallen out of love with the bike, this happens most winters, I don’t want to get out, there’s no racing news to keep me keen and Mrs Wobbler made me put the bikes away in the shed over Christmas so i wasn’t looking at it every day.
However I’ve got some ideas for the blog for the next few weeks while i build up the fitness and hope to get something in here more regularly.

29
Sep
11

Tour of Talybont Review

Controversy and scandal fail to overshadow the Tour of Talybont.

 

The third Tour of Talybont was run over last weekend and it was bigger and better than previous years, bringing the Tour back to the traditional September dates seemed to have brought in form riders to the race rather than riders building fitness towards the three big Tours.

Our riders arrived at the new accommodation of Talybont Farm, although smaller facilities than the previously used Gilestone Farm they were pleased to have a fully working village. The legal wrangling from last year is over and Gilestone is gone, the owners hounded out of the town for upsetting the locals and they have subsequently gone out of business. One local said “They won’t be missed; you can get away with upsetting some people, but not the whole village. They just upped and left leaving us to deal with their livestock, it’s better that they’ve gone. We welcome the Tour of Talybont back”

After settling in to the 5* accommodation four of our five favourites set off on Stage one. Dan “Donkey Kong” Kujawski back defending his yellow jersey and hoping to win over the crowds after last years stained win, Mike “The Boss” Bloomfield hoping to emulate the inaugural Tour and win, Chris “Wobbler” Wood and Chris “Cheaton” Heaton on his first Tour. This year with new jerseys up for grabs the competition attacked from the off and the surprise early leader of the KoM was Heaton with a blistering ascent of the first climb of the day stealing a jump on his  competitors who had misread the stage profile and all thought the KoM was on the next climb. The race then settled down as they rolled through the picturesque countryside, although the amount of bugs down one particular lane was hairy to say the least with Kujawski coming off worst with several bites and stings. As the peloton crossed onto the heath land for the first time a breakaway of Wood and Kujawski got away and it was Wood who powered away from his breakaway partner to claim the first sprint points of the day.

The riders then entered the dreaded run in to “Sheep Hill” the now infamous climb, easily the steepest of the day, the road switch-backing up the mountain; Bloomfield was first to the top to take over the lead in the KoM.

Shortly after the peloton was split when Wood crashed on one of the non categorised climbs of the day, he and Kujawski attacked at the bottom but the gradient was clearly steeper than either of them realised and Wood struggled to find the appropriate gear causing him to come to a virtual standstill before his chain locked and he toppled into a thorn bush (first and only mechanical of the weekend for Wood – ed.) Wood clearly hadn’t recovered from this when the peloton reached the next climb, he went on a lone attack only to be caught by Bloomfield who passed him with ease and Wood couldn’t hold his wheel, Kujawski passed him just prior to the summit and Wood’s hopes of a KoM jersey were all but gone. Wood and Heaton caught up with Kujawski prior to the next sprint point and the three tried to chase down Bloomfield, when it was clear this was not an option Kujawski and Wood contested the tightest sprint of the weekend, they were level entering the reservoir Kujawski kicked first and got a slight advantage, Wood was coming back as they crossed the line but Kujawski won it by less than half a wheel, Heaton rolled over in fourth clearly fighting hard but finding the pace of the peloton a little too high.

The last climb of the day was nearly stolen by Kujawski who made a fruitless attack only to be caught by Bloomfield within sight of the Summit. The peloton all started the descent together and there were no mishaps on “flower corner” this year, Wood lost contact with the front two and although his time trialling technique has much improved he was unable to catch Bloomfield and Kujawski before the finish, both riders crossing the line together as neither of them wanted to attack, the stage win officially going to Bloomfield.

Wood was 30 seconds back and Heaton a further 2 minutes back on GC.

The second stage saw James “T-Bird” Flower join the peloton and for the first year the riders didn’t need to spend the morning at the mechanics support in Abergavenny meaning a more relaxed start to stage two and a nice breakfast in the local café. The peloton set off with Heaton looking jaded at best but determined to finish the day, Flower as always full of enthusiasm and the others raring to go. After the early pave section Kujawski and Wood attacked and built up a healthy lead over the peloton only to be held up just out of Crickhowell by traffic lights and a slight confusion over the route. This meant that the peloton were all together for the first climb, Bloomfield extended his lead in the KoM, Flower nicked second from Kujawski and Heaton claimed fourth after Wood dropped his sunglasses and had to stop extending his lead over Wood to four points at the bottom of that particular competition. Interestingly the organisers had decided to put the KoM line by a bench, but to our riders surprise the climb kept on going by at least half again.

Then came the first controversy of this years Tour, local thieves had stolen the Green banners that mark out the Sprint points (and in one case the entire road sign) meaning that the Sprint jersey mid points were neutralised except for one with obvious landmark and the stage finish. Kujawski and Wood obviously feeling good attacked again and again to get into breakaways, most were reeled back in by the peloton but it showed their intent. The next categorised climb up the Black Mountain was contested by the whole peloton, they were all together until the last moment when the gradient ramped up, Kujawski and Bloomfield contested for first place, Bloomfield got it. Wood and Flower were next, Wood constantly remonstrating with his limpet mine wheel sucker but Flower was not interested in helping out only to kick on at the end, Wood couldn’t match his speed and seemed happy to take fourth.

The peloton entered the final third of the stage and Wood and Kujawski were off the front again, they held this lead until the final climb, Wood attacked first but again was overhauled by Bloomfield and Kujawski, Flower obviously struggling by now could not contest and he and Heaton crossed the line some time later. The peloton re-grouped after the last and only recognised sprint point of the day crossing the River Taff. Wood had been stung by a wasp on the descent and was clearly having a reaction, he and Kujawski continued their trend for the day and attacked opening up a lead, Wood was on the front and kicking hard, however his breakaway partner like Flower before him seemed uninterested in helping, entering Pencelli Kujawski was virtual leader and Wood was in second, most thought that they would work together and Kujawski might gift Wood the stage win and take the overall himself, but we all remembered quickly that Kujawski isn’t one for team work and sportsmanship, remember the stained win last year? No Kujawski kicked on in Pencelli and built extended his lead over the GC. Kujawski took the stage win and Wood second, the rest of the peloton rolled over 2 minutes further down.

At this point we had our first drugs scandal at the Tour of Talybont; Wood was clearly struggling with his reaction to the sting and his leg was swelling up, his team Doctor gave him some anti-histamine to ease the swelling, the rest of the peloton cried “Fowl! Dopage!” and demanded Wood was suspended for doping offences during competition, the organisers promised to look into it and provisionally suspended Wood from the competition, not that he would have been able to ride the next stage.

At the end of the day Kujawski was overall GC leader with Wood provisionally in second 1 minute down, Bloomfield 3rd 1:30 down, Heaton 4th 4:15 down and Flower 5th. Bloomfield had sewn up the KoM and Sprints Jerseys as no points were available in the TTT the following day.

Stage three was unfortunately cancelled again this year, not because of rider strike over legal wrangling as last year was but the weather, similar to a stage in the Tour of Britain being cancelled only a few days prior the British weather struck again, high winds and torrential rain fell in Wales on the Sunday and the organisers in consultation with the authorities felt that a TTT in those conditions was too dangerous and cancelled the stage, both riders and fans were disappointed but understood, they are all hoping that the TTT can finally get run next year.

This meant that Bloomfield failed again in his attempt to take yellow and Kujawski is once again champion of this prestigious race, winning over the crowds again and winning fairly this year. Wood was re-instated into Second place after WADA confirmed that the Chlorphenamine Maleate that was in the tablets prescribed is not on the banned list and assumed most riders thought they contained Ephedrine which is. This is a great result for Wood who has been Lantern Rouge for two years running. Flower admitted mid season riding had let him down and Heaton was just glad it was all over, he did admit a few days later though that it was a privilege to be invited to such a great Tour and he hoped to continue to attend in years to come. Bloomfield did take away both KoM and Sprint classifications, Kujawski won the White jersey and Wood the most Combative for his constant attacks and breakaways.

Looking forward to next year DMC Sports Management have promised to sort out the issues with the KoM and Sprint classification signage and ensure the TTT is run. The only negative is that we all have to wait 12 months for the tour to roll around again.

20
Sep
11

Tour of Talybont – The Riders

With only a few days to go until this years Tour of Talybont the teams have submitted their rider lists for the start on Friday, today we are going to look at a few of those riders who are considered the favorites.

 

Dan “Donkey Kong” Kujawski

Last years’ yellow jersey winner in controversial circumstances is back to try to retain his title and win over the hostile crowd who are still yet to warm to this returning champion. Kujawski won last years Tour by a 12 minute margin by putting down the hammer after the crash by James Flower on the first day when the rest of the peloton waited to check on his welfare. Although perfectly within his rights and in the rules the crowd and media didn’t feel his actions were within the gamesmanship of the sport. Kujawski returns with his new DKNY Badger-Trek team which has been built around him, they currently ride both Specialised and Planet X bikes. Kujawski has improved year on year at this Tour and is again favourite for yellow, he has really worked on his climbing skills this year which was shown at his recent win in the Tour of Annecy, however his main asset is on the flats where he can really power on. Can he win over the crowd again, that remains to be seen.

 

Mike “The Boss” Bloomfield

Last years favourite is back to try to get back the yellow jersey he won at the inaugural Tour of Talybont in 2009. He lost out last year when he waited for his Liquigas team-mate Jamie Flower and that cost him the GC. Bloomfield is hoping that his team are able to bring their new Cube equipment for this Tour but it remains to be seen if the pollen count will be low enough for the bikes to be used. Bloomfield will be hoping to regain the Yellow jersey in the mountains where he has always excelled, and is also favourite for the Wilson’s School Sprints Classification.

 

Chris “Wobbler” Wood

The third 3 year veteran of this race returns with a new Team Mechanical hoping for better luck third time around. His previous two Tours have been marred by rotten luck, a broken transmission in year one and a broken gear lever last year dropped him off the podium. He has however had more bad luck this season with injury keeping out of most of the spring classics, also sporting new equipment in Kuota this punchy rider is very much in the mould of Vinokourov, plenty of explosive attacks that are normally reeled back in by the peloton. Wood is let down by his climbing ability, something he was unable to work on due to the injury and this is likely to ruin his GC claims, we expect Wood to be going for the Most Combative prize this year. Everyone is hoping his luck changes though.

 

James “The Bird” Flower

Flower is back for his second year after the cancellation again of the Drunken Tour of Glamorgan, he was the hot favourite for the King of the Mountains classification this year but due to other commitments he is likely to miss the first day of the race, DMC Sports Management have agreed to let him compete but he will have his work cut out to make up for lost time. Flower has seen his commitment drop off as of late and he comes to this race not as prepared as he was last year, however his natural fitness often helps him out, he returns with his Pinarello bike set up this year, however time is taking its toll on the bike and with a lack of funding from the team they have had no mechanical support for the last 5 years. A favourite of the crowd who is hoping to beat his demons of the descent that last year ended his GC hopes.

 

Chris “Cheaton” Heaton

The unknown factor, Heaton has been able to make this years Tour after issues with the two national federations he is able to ride for, it was widely expected that he would take part in this years UCI World Championships as a Domestique for the Canadian team which he is eligible for through marriage, however there has been some complications and he hasn’t been selected. Their loss is Tour of Talybont’s gain. Not much is known of this neo-pro who has come to the sport later in life than the other riders, his frame suggests that he is built for climbing however the mountains of this Tour are likely to be bigger than he has tackled before, a regular contender at the local Tour of Banstead with Bloomfield we are all excited to see what he can do. The crowds are also pleased to welcome this rider back to the area 12 years after his last visit.

 

In the last week we have covered the riders, the routes and the prizes for this years Tour. It is shaping up to be the best Tour to date, and everyone is hoping for good weather. That’s all I have leading up to the Tour. A post Tour review will follow next week. For those attending the Tour enjoy the cycling and hospitality put on by the locals.

 

17
Sep
11

Tour of Talybont – The Jersey’s

As promised earlier we will discuss the coveted jerseys of the Tour of Talybont, some new sponsors this year for the jersey’s and the introduction of a couple of new classifications means there’s more to play for for the riders this year.

The ‘Sufferfest’ Malliot Jaune – Yellow Jersey

As with most Grand Tours the Yellow Jersey is the one all the riders want, this is worn by the rider with the lowest cumulative time over the race and therefore the leader of the race. Like the Tour de France there are no time bonuses available to riders in the Tour of Talybont. This year this jersey is sponsored by The Sufferfest

The ‘Wilson’s School’ Maillot Verde – Green Jersey

The Green jersey is the points (or sprint) Jersey. Throughout the stages are intermediate sprint points that offer points that count towards this classification, also there are points available at the end of each stage towards this Jersey. The intermediate sprint points offer 10,8,6,4,2 points to the first 5 riders and the stage finish is 20,16,12,10,6. This year the Jersey is Sponsored by Wilson’s Grammar School, from Wallington, Surrey, who have a field study centre based in Talybont that is used by the Geography and Biology Departments.

The ‘Treforest Tourism’ Red Jersey

 

The Red Jersey is the King of the Mountains classification, as with the sprints jersey there are points available at the top of each major climb in the Tour, this year there are points available for 10,8,6,4,2 for a Cat4 climb and 20,16,12,10,6 for a Cat3. The Orange jersey is sponsored by Treforest Tourism. Treforest is a small village in Glamorgan and home to many students from Glamorgan University and the Yummy Kitchen.

The ‘Sufferfest’ Orange Jersey

 

The Orange Jersey is for the rider deemed the most combative during the stage. This is often a rider in the longest breakaway or the rider that attacks the most during the stage, it is voted for by the commissaires at the end of the stage. The jersey is sponsored by The Sufferfest

The ‘Blue Orchid’ Maillot Blanc – White Jersey

Unlike most Tours where the white Jersey is worn by the best ranked young rider the White Jersey in the Tour of Talybont is the combination Jersey, this classification is calculated by adding the numeral ranks of each cyclist in the generalpoints, and mountains classifications (a rider must have a score in all classifications possible to qualify for the combination classification), with the lowest cumulative total signifying the leader of this competition. This Jersey is Sponsored by The Blue Orchid a nightclub in Croydon, Surrey.

So now you know what the riders are racing for, next time we will look at the main riders who will be challenging for these jerseys

 

EDIT: I got the Mountains and Combative Jersey colours wrong, it is now correct, Sorry




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