Team Sky Caught Training

Cycling Weekly caught the new Sky Cycling Team out training together this week on their new Pinarello Dogmas (I'm still waiting for the phone call from Pinarello with all this publicity I'm giving them!!).

They were up around Saddleworth in the gorgeous British weather on Thursday, although Juan Antonio Flecha doesn't seem to bothered! By the looks of things they are still waiting for team kit to come through.

They will be moving to Quarrata in Tuscany soon, a purpose built training HQ, together with the academy riders. The project is being managed by Max Sciandri. I would recommend reading this article on the Guardian website by William Fotheringham about Quarrata.

The line up is now pretty much complete now and includes:
Kurt-Asle Arvesen (34)
John-Lee Augustyn (23)
Michael Barry (33)
Edvald Boasson Hagen (22)
Sylvain Calzati (30)
Kjell Carlstrom (33)
Dario Cioni (34)
Steve Cummings (28)
Russell Downing (31)
Juan Antonio Flecha (32)
Chris Froome (24)
Simon Gerrans (29)
Mat Hayman (31)
Greg Henderson (33)
Peter Kennaugh (20)
Thomas Lövkvist (25)
Lars-Petter Nordhaug (25)
Serge Pauwels (26)
Nicolas Portal (30)
Morris Possoni (25)
Ian Stannard (22)
Chris Sutton (25)
Geraint Thomas (23)
Davide Vigano (25)

There is still much debate over whether Bradley Wiggins will sign to Sky. It sounds as though he wants to, he recently mentioned that to win the Tour de France he needs to be playing for a team lik e Man United, but at the moment he is at Wigan. Garmin Slipstream are certain they won't let their big rider go until the end of his contract.

There is also concern over promising young rider Ben Swift. His former/current team Katusha are being funny over letting him go with 2 years left on his contract. They ordered him to a meeting last week in Italy to discuss this, which Ben didn't turn up to.

In better news, the Sky cycling team has now been awarded a UCI license which means they can now compete in all the big races and also Sean Yates has joined the team as Sports Director. Sean was manager at Team Discovery and Astana working with Lance Armstrong.

The line up is definitely one of the most exciting in the peloton. I personally can't wait to see Russell Downing, Chris Froome and Steve Cummings working together. Fingers crossed Ben Swift gets his move.

Cycling Team News

Quite a lot of team news going about the place at the moment.

Firstly Rapha Condor have announced their team line-up for next year. I believe one of the strongest line-ups on the UK circuit. They've signed Jonathan Tiernan Locke from the defunkt SportsBeans team. Jonathan put on some excellent performances last year and is a great signing. This added with getting workhorse Graham Briggs from CandiTV, alongside British National Road Champion Kristan House and crit powerhouses Chris Newton and Dean Downing.

My one to watch, not only in Rapha Condor but in the season as a whole will be Darren Lapthorne. The Aussie put some amazing performances last year, getting in 3 or more breakaways in the Tour of Britain and the legendary ride at the Chester Tour Series.

Rapha Condor Cycling Team 2010

Graham Briggs
Dan Craven
Matt Cronshaw
Zak Dempster
Dean Downing
Ben Greenwood
Kristian House
Darren Lapthorne
Chris Newton
Tom Southam
Jonathan Tiernan Locke
Dean Windsor

Another team worth watching is the Endura Racing Team.

Bike clothing manufacturer Endura has invested heavily in this team, poaching Rob Hayles from Halfords Bikehut to be both rider and team captain. He has bought along some of his buddies too including one to watch, Ian Wilkinson.

Team Endura Cycling Team 2010
Jack Bauer
Ross Creber
Jason Christie
Gary Hand
Rob Hayles
Evan Oliphant
Sandy King
David Lines
James McCallum
James Moss
Rob Partridge
Scott Thwaites
Callum Wilkinson
Ian Wilkinson

There are also 2 new cycling teams in the form of The Metaltek Racing Team sponsored by cycling website and renewable energy energy company Infinis. They will ride Basso Bikes.

The other team being South West based
Pendragon Sports/Le Col/Colnago, Pendragon organised a number of cyclo-sportives throughout the year. The lineup is already quite impressive with international rider Yanto Barker on board.

CandiTV Marshalls Pasta are yet to name their squad having lost Russell Downing to Sky, however sponsor Motorpoint have announced they will become a bigger sponsor in 2010.

The Long Road To Cyclosportives 2010

It seems like ages ago since I last took part in a cyclosportive, although it was only 2 months ago. Every weekend burning around country lanes or getting home after work and charging up to Holmes Chapel and back. It seems like a life time ago now.

Since that last cyclosportive, the Manchester 100, I ventured to the gym a couple of times but it just isn't the same and I've been out every other weekend on my bike for a couple of hours but I'm finding the short days and change in weather is taking it's toll. I'm finding it hard to motivate myself, especially with no sportives to look forward to.

A couple of holidays to Zagreb and Edinburgh, together with a 2 week cold knocked out two weeks of any bike riding too. I think having been running on cycling fuelled adrenaline since March finally ran out and I just felt exhausted. I calculated I have cycled around 2000 miles this year.

I can feel the weight gain, I can feel my muscles and fitness just fading away and I know I need to do something about it, it's just finding the motivation in this cold, wet, miserable, dark, foggy weather.

Some much needed relief came this week with the announcement of a couple of dates for 2010. I've already entered the Cheshire Cat and fancy the 67 mile version up Mow Cop this year. Now just to get to the gym........

The Dates So Far....

The Cheshire Cat – 28th March
Manchester to Liverpool – 30th May
Manchester to Blackpool – 11th July
Manchester to Manchester – 5th September

Michael Jackson - This Is It

When the news filtered through that Michael Jackson had passed away, I was shocked. I'm not a die hard Michael Jackson fan but I, like many people, grew up listening to him and count his records as some of the first I listened to and bought.

I remember being in primary school, going round to my mates Millsy and James Lawton's houses and listening to the Thriller album, most notably Beat It, Billie Jean and Thriller. This was around the time he released the much under-rated Dangerous album with Black and White and Heal The World hitting the charts. We watched Moonwalker numerous times together with the HIStory video, replaying the Smooth Criminal video time and time again.

I remember one lunch time at primary school, the 3 of us walking around the field singing the songs together and doing the immature boy thing of hitting our pelvis everytime we did the "Ow!".

The shocking thing about Michael Jackson's death, was that he had actually died. You had grown up in this balloon of him being invincible. The thought of Michael Jackson ever dying was inconceivable, and here we were, in the middle of him rehursing for a string of live dates at the 02 in London, he had passed away from a heart attack.

There were reports that at the turn of 50, he couldn't handle the 100 dates at O2. That he lived his life on a diet of painkillers. That it wouldn't be the same, that he couldn't sing, that he would no longer be able to dance like he used to.

Well having seen "This Is It", I can safely say that it would have been the most amazing concert. He would have firmly shut the mouths of those who dared to say he couldn't do it. The concert would have been talked about for years to come. That at the age of 50, he effortlessly moved through each song, everything sang in tune with same overwhelming emotion delivered back in the day. Everything looked and sounded perfect.

I thought this was going to be a film with 10 minutes of rehursal footage, and an hour of mind-numbing interviews. It wasn't. It was 90 minutes of pure live music, every single song in full. The great thing was you got to see the "behind the scenes" footage of putting together the videos for the concert, the dancers rehursing the moves, Michael meticulously rehursing with the band.

It was clear to see who was in charge and that was Michael. Everything had to be perfect, especially musically. The notes had to be delivered to perfection, every breakdown, intro or outro was timed on cue by Michael Jackson. It was perfection only other artists can strive to achieve. He wasn't frightened to change things, he knew what would work the crowd; "don't worry, that's the reason why we rehearse" he repeatedly said.

It was just breathtaking to see the energy, passion and movement he had. Unfortunately, we will never get to see the concert for real but thankfully we can at least savour these precious 90 minutes.