Ed’s End of Year Rant: 2019 was a good year for cycle sport and that man Ed Hood has been deep inside as much action as he could get. As we come to the start of 2020, Ed looks back at his memories of 2019 and sums up the season gone with his top picks of the fun.
“Baby faced serial killer Niki Terpstra”
I parachuted into the Rotterdam Six Day for the last night in time to see baby faced serial killer Niki Terpstra instil the fear of death into French partner, Thomas Boudat should they lose. The relief on the little Frenchman’s face as they took the bouquets was plain to see. I like Rotterdam, a tight, plywood track which makes a great rumbling noise when the race is properly ‘on’ with the public close and vocal. But it’s not a proper six unless you arrive shattered, so the Bremen Six was cool; leave Rotterdam in the small hours, drive through the night until exhaustion sets it, park up in a lorry lay-by, Red Bull for breakfast – how it should be. There was only ever going to be winning team in the home town of Becks Beer with Belgian vedettes Jasper De Buyst and current King of the Six Days, Iljo Keisse a level above everyone else. The track is a proper steep, tiny, cigar-shaped job with the stands piling up from the top edge of the boards – we could have done with more spectators though…
‘Top Man’ Terpstra
My next jump was into the Berlin Six where World Champions Theo Reinhardt and BIG Rodge Kluge were ‘surprise’ late winners on the big 250 metre bowl, it would have looked better if the field hadn’t parked up when Rodge went for the winning lap though – but never mind, most folks went home happy.
Berlin has its attractions
The cycle art of Berlin
And more Belgian dominance in the Copenhagen Six with perennial Kenny De Ketele and Moreno De Pauw getting the best of Home Boys, Michael Mørkøv [his eleventh podium here] and rising star Oliver Wulff Frederiksen. A good finale though – such a pity we have no 2020 Copenhagen Six Day.
Mørkøv in Copenhagen
The road season starts for real with Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne; Stybie and Bob Jungels solo wins made it a Deceuninck Double; giving us even more reason than usual to linger in the Bar Vivaldi until the small hours.
Ed’s Kuurne’19 gang
Alberto Bettiol takes Flanders for the ‘New Wave’ but Phil Gil takes Roubaix to remind us that there’s life in them old dogs yet. On the other side of the Atlantic Victor Campenaerts takes the hour record back to Belgium for the first time since Eddy Merckx did so in 1972; and inspires the Wiggo fans wrath for not going at sea level – that’s ‘WORLD’ hour record, folks…
Bettiol makes his move
A Roubaix to remember
Ecuador? It’s tucked in between Colombia and Peru on the northern Pacific Coast of South America and their man Richard Antonio Carapaz Montenegro reminded us that ‘Mondialisation’ isn’t just a made up UCi word as he took the Giro d’Italia. The rest should have remembered that the man was fourth last year before cutting him all that slack.
History for Ecuador
As a Grand Tour winner he had his choice of teams for 2020 – did he go for the squad that would back him best on his quest for his next Grand Tour triumph or settle for big bucks? One word answer: Ineos.
The 2019 Giro d’Italia in 10 minutes
Young Turks Mathieu and Wout showed their fangs in the spring classics and in June another of those Flatlands phenomena, Remco won his national Tour of Belgium at 19 years-of-age; a European title, Classic and Worlds podium would follow. The 2020 season is going to be interesting.
The best of Remco Evenepoel in 2019
Remco – The new Eddy?
Bernal was the winner, but Alaphilippe was the star of the 2019 Tour
Belonged to another man from the Andes, Egan Bernal by name and David Brailsford’s seventh Tour de France win with three different riders since 2012. Say what you like about the Knight of the Realm, he knows how to win the world’s biggest race. But what joy Julian Alaphilippe delivered us – can he win it, one day? Let’s hope so…
A tough day at la Vuelta for the PEZmen
And the PEZ boys were back in town, well at the Vuelta a España salt flats, with Astana proving best at the opening TTT hard labour and putting ‘Sooper Maan’ [as Eurosport’s Rob Hatch annoyingly pronounces it] Lopez in red. Albeit briefly before Nico Roche had Irish eyes smiling – and beaming even after Stage Three was won by countryman Sam Bennett with Roche retaining red. But this was a different Primoz Roglic on show here, not the stumbling one we saw in the Giro; and so was his team – once that jersey was on his back, there was no way it was coming off.
Irish eyes were smiling
The Vuelta breakfast of champions
We pointed the van south and a couple of hours later we were among the world’s fastest bikes and the men who pilot them. And the sun was out over Darlington. Nirvana. Rohan Dennis has the look of a thoroughbred greyhound, sleek and lean of limb – despite not having raced since July, he ran away the World Elite Time Trial championship. But can Ineos handle him? It would be interesting to see their clauses in his contract…
A true champion, but…
The hi-lite, the World Elite Road Race Championship and I confess, I cracked and spent two laps in a hotel with hot coffees. On a day you wouldn’t put your worst enemy’s dog out it in it was appropriate that a Norseman should win with Mads Pedersen taking another win for the ‘New Wave.’ Never has a van felt so cosy…
A cold Yorkshire Worlds
The men’s battle against the elements
More of that Apocalyptic weather caused one of my favourite races, The Tour de Trossachs time trial in my native Bonnie Scotland to be cancelled; but it was a day when even legendary writer, Sir Walter Scott – who loved the Trossachs – would have remained by the fireside. Meanwhile, in the balmier climes of Lombardy, ‘Old Dog’ Bauke Mollema made it 2-2 ‘New Wave’ v. ‘Old Dogs’ with the experienced Dutchman taking Lombardia to add to Phil Gil’s Roubaix versus Alaphilippe triumphing on the Via Roma and Bettiol in Oudenaarde. Liege-Bastogne-Liege? I can’t make me mind up in into which camp Liege winner Fuglsang falls…
The man Mollema
How fast can Filippo Ganna go?
When I started cycling back in 1970, only the very best could go under five minutes for the four kilometre individual pursuit. In the World Cup round at Minsk in Belarus, Italy’s World Individual Pursuit Champion, Filippo Ganna proved that a sub FOUR minute ride is within his capabilities as he recorded an astounding 4:02 for the distance. And did I mention Nicholas Paul’s 9.1 flying 200 metres world record at the Pan Ams in Bolivia earlier in the year? But I missed the Gent Six Day, unforgivable, I know but sometimes you need a little sunshine…
Shock! No Ed at the Gent 6
You’re into super star territory when it’s big news if a rider LOSES a race – it had been 408 days since Mathieu van der Poel lost a cyclo-cross; Belgian Champion Mario Aerts was the man who did the damage in the GP Mario De Clerq. But Mathieu resumed normal service next day with a win at the Vlaamse Druivencross Overijse, a ‘cross classic: Mathieu has now won it four times; his dad once; the late Erik De Vlaeminck nine times; brother Roger six times; Sven Nys six times – all very impressive impressive. BUT Belgian former multi world champion Roland Liboton won it 15 (fifteen) times – Mathieu has a bit to go to catch up with that stat.
Toon Aerts, the only man to beat Mathieu van der Poel this cross season
The Rotterdam Six kicks off in just two weeks and the whole cycle starts again – I can’t wait.
All the fun of the ‘6 Days’
It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he’s covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,800 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself – many years and kilograms ago – and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.