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Niki Terpstra leaving Quick Step

Niki Terpstra has left pro cycling team Quick Step Floors for Direct Energie. The announcement was made in August and has given me time to reflect on the career of one of my favourite cyclists.

I’m not exactly sure why it is that Terpstra is one of my favourite professional cyclsists. As a cycling fan, which riders you support and identify with is subject to a strange and unfathomable thought process. I’m not sure it’s something that’s possible to explain!

The announcement was made just before Quick Step revealed their new title sponsor and name change to Deceuninck–Quick-Step (how do you pronounce that? – it’ll be fun next season listening to commentators attempt it!). Would he have stayed if he’d have known there was a new sponsor to bolster the funding cash pool? He, like all the riders at Quick Step, was concerned for his future and jumped ship before the announcement was made after riding with them since 2011, the bulk of his pro career.

Quick Step had the most successful season last year of any pro cycling team in living memory – probably since HTC Highroad in their day, but HTC relied on many of their wins from Mark Cavendish. What was unique about Quick Step’s 2018 season was how their wins were spread throughout the team. Classics, sprints and time trials, team time trials, Grand Tour stages and even a Grand Tour podium with the somewhat suprising success in the Vuelta with Enric Mas.

In all this success for Quick Step, none of the wins was quite so exciting for me as seeing Nikki Terpstra ride everyone off his wheel in a stunning victory at the Tour of Flanders.

Nikki, I wish you all the best at Direct Energie, but I’m concerned that it’s not going to be the best decision you ever made. Hopefully I’m wrong and you’ll have a stellar season that gives you sole leadership in the races that you target with very many more beautiful victories.

http://bit.ly/2CdBq7R

Mudguard attached

OK, I admit defeat, my ugly but effective mudguard has been attached. I’ve peeled off a weeks worth of winter grime from my trusty work bike and readied myself for winter.

I know they are really ugly and spoil the supposedly “clean” lines but unlike most things in the modern world they are hugely reliable and effective.

My back side has breathed a massive sigh of relief!

Spotify says…

Spotify says albums are alive and kicking. What’s it got to do with Spotify? There’s only one way to listen to an album, on vinyl of course!

So pleased to see vinyl is still produced and selling well. You should see my record collection from back in the day – it’s truly beautiful. It’s a job to see a music streaming service as beautiful.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-45707856

Road peace Belgian style

I recently travelled to Belgium and rode the Tour of Flanders Summer Sportive with a group of friends, which was an altogether amazing experience on many levels.

The event itself was impeccably organised with good food stops with grub you’d actually want to eat and that’s appropriate for the event, not branded sports goo out purely for a marketing blitz inducing you to spend money you don’t nerd to. The cobbles, the hills, and the cobbled hills were tremendously challenging and I don’t remember ever being quite so challenged on a bike.

I’ve been told many times that riding a bike in Belgium is a brilliant experience and something you really have to try. A bit like parenting, it’s not something you can appreciate until you experience it yourself! The most striking thing about riding a bike in Belgium (notwithstanding the cobbles of course) is the behaviour of drivers on the roads. Cyclists seem to be king! How cool is that? Drivers generally give priority to cyclists. You come up to a roundabout and vehicles already on the roundabout stop and let you pull out. You come up to a T-junction and whether you’re going left in, left out, right in or right out, motorised vehicles give way to you.

This is really quite startling at first and after a while, when you get used to it you begin to ride with a sense of security and safety. This is a stark contrast to the all-out war that is waged on the roads of the UK every day. If I ride out my own house, whatever time night or day, I know that within two minutes someone will drive at me like I don’t exist. I’m a cyclist, I don’t count, I’m a nuisance.

You see a lot more people cycling in Belgium, unsurprisingly, and it’s not unusual to see Belgians on bikes pulling out of junctions without even checking. They know they have priority. They know they are safe.

It’s not unusual to see whole families riding their bikes through city centres. It just looks a bit odd at first but it’s brilliant to see.

Why can’t we be more like Belgium?! So polite. So courteous. So Belgian!

Amazing day at La Vuelta 2018

An amazing day at yesterday (12/09/2018, Stage 17). The gradient, the fans, the fog, and the racing all made for one of those special Vuelta days .Only classified as “medium mountains” it was alarmingly steep with a slow motion finish as splits took the  bunch apart and shook up the GC battle. Michael Woods was pretty emotional as he won in what has been a turbulent year for him and his family but was eloquent and articulate in post race interviews. All these things made for a classic day in a classic bike race which is surely now the most gripping grand tour on the calendar after years and years of being the forgotten child on the race schedule. Viva La Vuelta! https://buff.ly/2OdyAVl