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12 Apr

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Paris – Roubaix by James Hyatt

April 12, 2014 | By | No Comments

Paris Roubaix is the poster boy of the spring classics season with 260km of hard, fast & attritional racing interspersed with 50km of hellish ‘pave’ (cobbles). The fact that it is largely flat is token conciliation for the sheer brutality these cobbles inflict on your body. In short, GC guys HATE this race. That is why it is one of the rare occasion’s in a year where being a larger set powerhouse (Boonen, Cencellara, Phiney) actually puts you at an advantage. 2014 is set to be a vintage edition with dry + dusty conditions forecast and a multitude of contenders knocking on the proverbial ‘Roubaix velodrome’ door.

In the modern era, two names are as synonymous with this race as the very cobbles them self. Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen have shared a love affair with Roubaix that has spanned 2 decades and with 3 + 4 wins apiece; there dominance is already draped in legendary status. Tom Boonen’s 2012 win where he rode to solo victory from 50km out was one of the most impressive things I have ever seen on a bike and the only man in the world who could match this feat is of course Spartacus himself. 2 of his 3 wins have seen him to arrive in Roubaix blissfully alone and the Belgium die-hard fans often come to the race adorned with messages for him to “PLEASE HAVE MERCY”.  Perhaps surprisingly, 2008 has been the only year where both riders were in the wining break. Boonen took the win that year in a sprint finish but to say one is stronger then the other would be a great injustice. These two have, and continue to define the classics season and it has been a privilege to watch history unfold before our eyes these past 10 years.

Smart money inevitably looks no further then here, with Cancellara the slight bookies favorite following last weeks Flanders win. However I feel we could see one of the most open races in recent times with both riders showing signs of fragility. Fabian’s win last week was in many regards one of his finest; relying on finesse and race craft over pure power, he grinded out a win when perhaps he wasn’t at his absolute best (near unthinkable at Flanders). However, the fact he came to the finish with a group of 4 and having to rely on his good but not excellent sprint finish speaks to me that he is not as strong as he once was. With Devolder out following a crash last week, I expect to see multiple teams blocking, targeting and beating Fabian to bits throughout this race and if he is able to secure that illustrious 4th Cobble, it will have to be (another) one of the greatest rides of his career.

So many names come to mind when we look at the depth of this race. Sep Vanmarke is very much the future of Belgium’s classics racing and with an outstanding year already, he will be desperate to make a jump to that so far out of reach top step of the podium. BMC’s Greg Van Amvermart is another rider who is craving a victory that he to be fair probably deserves. A perennial ‘nearly man’, last weeks Flander’s 2nd place was a coming of age and I would love to see him go well tomorrow. Quickstep are of course at the service of their man Tom Boonen but what makes this team so strong, is that they have multiple riders who could lead a team in their own right. Terpstra, Stybar and Vandenburgh have all been in the final group in recent years and if Boonen misfires, one of these men is more then capable of stepping up in his place.

After receiving a message from the 5th Floor’s new favorite rider, Mr. Alexander Kristoff post Milan San Remo, we have to give a shout out to our man from Norway here as well. His form this year has been exemplary and at only 26, he looks set to feature in not just this year’s edition, but many more to come.

Another interesting feature of this year’s race is the ever controversial presence of Sir Bradley Wiggins. As he sets aside his grand tour ambitions he has purposefully gained some weight in order to target this race, the first TDF winner to target Roubaix since Greg LeMond back in 1992. His pursuit background along with his ferocious talent could well see him feature in the finale of this race, however his self confessed inability to position at crucial points could see his chances compromised. The run in into the infamous Arenberg Forest has been compared to a Tour De France sprint and equally dramatically is many riders claim that if you are not in the top 40 at this point your race is over.

Paris Roubaix counts down from 28 to 1 cobbled sections, with the first starting at kilometer 100 and the last within 1000m of the finish. The ‘pave’ is given a rating between 1 & 5 stars and is defined by the length, quality of the cobble and general condition of the road. It has been said by past victors they had ‘flown over the cobbles’ on route to victory but the reality is far from it. Entering each section at close to 50km an hour, the peloton explodes into a fit of dust, dirt and in some cases, limbs and is invariably where the race is won and lost. Bernard Hinault famously described this race as idiotic due to the unique blend of skill and luck required to succeed. This comment may not be wholly inaccurate but the truth is that whilst this race may need luck to win, it cannot be won with luck alone. Since it’s first showing in 1896 only the strongest have conquered and long may this continue as so.

With race Depart less then 24 hours away I implore you take the time to watch this race. Never short of a quote or two for the media, Wiggins just yesterday mentioned this will be the only race he watches when he hangs up his wheels and much like our very own Red Hook Crit, this truly is a gateway view into the sport. So with that, I invite you to sit back and watch in awe for 2014’s one and only ‘Hell of the North’.

Words: James Hyatt
Image: Cycling News

11 Apr

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Battenchill by Chris Pino

April 11, 2014 | By | No Comments

Chris captured the spirit of the weekend. Toggle through the Gallery above.

11 Apr

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Battenkill: A Race of Firsts

April 11, 2014 | By | No Comments

It’s The Champ here (as the newest member of the team I don’t officially have a nickname yet, so this is my attempt at naming myself before someone bestows me with something more appropriate (like Jacked and Tanned, The Handsome One, or BBOT (Biggest Bag On Team)) and this past weekend was my first time racing The Tour of The Battenkill. As I’ve only been racing since
July, I had a lot of firsts to go along with my first Battenkill, they included:

1. First completed road race outside NYC (technically I did Hunter last fall but I flatted half way, and rode solo for most of the rest, so it doesn’t count).

2. First time making a break (with three of my teammates which was awesome!)…..and then getting dropped at mile 57 or 52 or 48 or 46, it’s tough to tell where we were, see below.

3. First time having hamstring, quad, and calve cramps simultaneously. If anyone has not had this happen, do not fear, it does not give you an awkward boner in your bibs.

4. First time having a pace car get lost, take our break of 15 riders off the course, and bring us through the finish line at 42 miles.

5. First time sitting around for 20 minutes after 42 miles of racing while the organizers figure out what to do with us.

6. First time riding nearly 10 miles and 900ft elevation back to the course so we could finish our race.

7. First time finishing in the Top 10 at Battenkill! And then finding out the next day it was actually 11th pleasant touch after the pace car snafu.

8. First time racing with the whole 5th Crew which was really awesome, and even though the race did not go as planned,

We all had an amazing weekend. Overall the Battenkill was a great experience, the “dirt roads” were leg killers, but our team got 4 guys in the break in the Cat 4C field and we all raced really well together.

On a scale of 1 to 5 lost pace cars, I give this race 1 lost pace car! See you next year Battenkill!

Special shout to Malcolm for whom this was his first race in a 5th Jersey and first time in Battenkill. Also big nod to Seth who came 9th in the Cat 5 field.

Words: Ryan Fisher
Images:Jason Stilson

07 Apr

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April Open Season by VC Londres

April 7, 2014 | By | No Comments

After Saturday’s track session at Lee Valley, Rudy and Matt went to Herne Hill to race April’s Open Season event at Herne Hill Velodrome and they both managed to get great results, getting on the podium twice. Chapeau gents!

Cat B Scratch race:
1st – Rudy Melo
2nd – Matt Stanbury
3rd – Nigel (Nuun-Sigma Sport, pictured)
Devil/Elimination:
1st – Rudy Melo
3rd – Matt Stanbury
Cat A and B 20km Scratch:
5th – Rudy

27 Mar

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Revolution Series – Round 5 – London

March 27, 2014 | By | One Comment

I am a not a photographer and don’t call myself one, but I took some photos of the last round of 2013/2014 Revolution Series. There were a lot of professional photographers taking proper shots of the races so I decided to focus on what happens in the track centre. Click read more below for the full set.

Revolutions Series’ last round was held at the 2012 Olympic Velodrome, Lee Valley VeloPark. It was great to see the venue full again after the Olympics. The atmosphere was awesome, the vibe was great and the crowd were cheering pretty much everyone, mainly British riders, but when foreign riders were doing well, they cheered them on too. There were from World Champions and Olympic riders to up coming young stars, a good mix of races to watch. Make sure you don’t miss out on the next Revolution Series, there are plenty of races to keep you entertained. Another top event by Face Partnership.
- Rudy Melo.

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24 Mar

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The Good Friday Meeting 2014

March 24, 2014 | By | One Comment

The Good Friday Meeting is the longest running open track meeting in the country. First held in 1903 the meeting continues to maintain it’s position as the premier event of it’s kind in the UK and we are proud to be one of the supporters by helping out with the poster design. It is an amazing event having locals and international professionals as well as amateurs like us.

Featured events: Good Friday International Sprint, Golden Wheel Scratch Race, Keirins, Derny Paced GP, plus full support races including Points, Elimination and more.

This years meeting is being held at the 2012 Olympic Velodrome, Lee Valley VeloPark after being at Herne Hill for so many years. Find out more info about the event here and on their Facebook page.

Tickets sales via Quay Tickets: 0843 209 0500

23 Mar

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5th LDN at Spring Omnium 1

March 23, 2014 | By | No Comments

Today George Garnier, Matt Stanbury, Daniel Slotte and Rudy Melo went to Herne Hill to take part in the first track race of the year (Spring Omnium 1). It was a good day, with a great vibe between us all and great team work with us racing together in the Cat B. Amazing overall results from today, with George coming 1st, Daniel 2nd and Rudy 4th. We are waiting for full result to see Matt’s placement. Well done guys, great effort and result from everyone today. Proud of the boys!

Here are some 5th Floor result from each race:
Scratch race: George 1st, Rudy 3rd.
3 Laps Dash Heats: We all went through the final.
3 Laps Dash Final: 2n place Rudy or Daniel.
Devil/Elimination: George 1st, Daniel 5th.
Points race: George 1st, Daniel 2nd.

20 Mar

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Milan San Remo Preview by James Hyatt

March 20, 2014 | By | 2 Comments

La Classica Di Primerva is racing in its purest form. At over 294km, it takes one back to the very roots of our sport, where the sheer brutality of race directors knew no limits. In the relative comfort of the modern day peloton, it is the riders who keep this race as hard as any of its peers. No cobbles? No problem. This race will still split the men from the boys.

The 2014 edition see’s the race return to its rightful owners, the sprinters. With the exclusion of the Pompeiana due to landslide concerns, expect to see a large pack screaming down the Poggio and into San Remo. Having written this race off earlier in the year, Cavendish is just one of many sprinters licking their lips at the prospect of bagging a major classic.

Click Read More for the full article
Image from here
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18 Mar

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A weekend at the races.

March 18, 2014 | By | No Comments

This weekend I doubled up racing across Saturday and Sunday. Saturday myself Ryan and Seth headed up-state to the first race of the Trooper Brinkerhoff Memorial series. Despite it feeling like we’d returned to cross season the drive north rewarded us with the first road race of the season covering 3 loops of the12 point something circuit – and the C class would allow all 3 of us to race together.

The circuit is known for cross-winds which made for some seriously negative racing and some questionable moves. I really struggle with the overtly serious attitude which seems to take over the road racing peleton especially when you can directly compare this with Cross or the infield of the Velodrome. I don’t think anyone would argue that calculated risk, a degree of aggression and ‘wanting it more’ than the next man plays a part in winning but pure recklessness doesn’t.

Seth dealt with these frustrations by continually launching off the front in attempt to stretch what was largely a complacent field. Wind halted any thoughts of a full-on breakaway and myself and Ryan satisfied ourselves with the task of staying within the first 10 – 15 wheels and in touch with each other and Seth.

I managed to navigate a path to the front on the last lap with 1k to go and with the sharp left hander onto the finishing straight at 500m to go I was launching from second wheel, the wall of wind and wide straight meant i was enveloped and finished 6th. I’m happy to get my first set of points on the board.

Pictures from here.

Sunday was my first race in the human hamster wheel and local stomping ground of the Prospect Park Spring Series. Myself and Phil represented in the 3/4 field with a 6.45am whistle. The 10 laps constituted around 34 miles and is probably the most i’ve done in the park whether racing or training.
Local teams Setanta and Foundation Cycling had a large and dominant presence which lead to some fantastic racing with attacks on top of attacks. There was a short string attaching to the front group and once the elastic snapped the wind prohibited anyone getting back on. Each lap I made it my goal to be in this selection, thankfully I finished with the front 20 or so but had nothing to give to contest the points places.

This weekend see’s us head to New Jersey for the Hell of Hunterdon widely regarded as the Battenkill warmup.

 

 

16 Mar

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Herne Hill Velodrome Training and Race accreditation

March 16, 2014 | By | No Comments

Herne Hill Velodrome has a new system, which is making all sessions much safer. You will need training accreditation for any intermidiate session and race accreditation if you want to do either any advanced session or HH’s Track League. A few of of us (#5thLDN) got our training and race accreditation already and the others have theirs coming up. The coaches are very strict, but it is a good thing, you don’t want any sketchy riders next to you during any race or training session. If you haven’t booked yours make sure you do soon. HH track races will kick off with the first race coming up on Sunday 23rd March.