Dream Start For Team Sky

A dream start for Team Sky in the Tour Down Under last week which saw them pick up 3 wins, with Greg Henderson getting placed 3rd overall. Columbia's Andre Greipel picked up first.

I like the first races of the season as it makes me feel better about myself seeing that the pros look a bit bulgy around the hips in the jerseys. I think Cadel Evans ate all the pies personally!!

It was great to see a British team get off to such a great start. You can say all you like about the money involved, the huge experience from Dave Brailsford and co behind the scenes, but for a team to train together for only a few months and get results like that is great.

It shows to me why teams like Caisse D' Epargne are loosing their main sponsors in the next year, they are simply not moving with the pace of the sport. Caisse D' Epargne got bogged down with numerous doping scandals, the recent being with Valverde, this is now old school and punters want to see clean, competitive racing. Look at the teams attracting the big name sponsors - Sky, BMC, Radioshack, HTC-Columbia, Garmin - clean, explosive, edgy teams, who aren't frightened to get on the front and fight for wins.

Saying that, I was surprised to hear that Saxo Bank are dropping their sponsorship which is strange considering the publicity they get from the Schlecks and Cancellara. They stated the sponsorship wasn't reaching it's marketing goals, perhaps the credit crunch hurt them too much?

The stand out for me for the Tour Down Under was Russell Downing. In the final KMs he was always first to hit the front of the train, and the power he provided was just incredible - simply blowing the other teams out of the water. To see him come from racing in the UK to the international pro peloton and pull off a performance like that is heartwarming. Rumours have it that due to the bad weather he had been training solidly on the turbo with the heating cranked up!

I also thought Ben Swift was pretty solid, after a tricky move from Katusha is was good to see him settled and amazing calmness in the final 100 metres leading out Henderson & Chris Sutton.

The next notable race will be the Tour of Qatar which will see Bradley Wiggins' debut for Team Sky, although Columbia's Mark Cavendish won't be there due to some 'teething' trouble...literally.

My Cyclosportives 2010

Well here it is, the list of bike events I'll be getting involved with in 2010. I'm sure there may be a couple more to add as the season progresses, where I'll fit them in though I'm not sure.

All of these events are located around the North West, mainly around Cheshire and Manchester with a couple heading into South Yorkshire.

I'll be looking forward to the Macclesfield Bikeathon again, it is always one of my favourites, a really nice atmosphere and lots of levels for everyone, the date still to be confirmed on that one. I enjoyed the first ever Cheshire Plains and Peaks last year and they've promised some improvements so it will be interesting to see the developments. One new sportive this year is the Broken Spoke Sportive which is being put together by Steve Gauller at the Catholic High School, Chester. The Broken Spoke sees riders departing Chester and taking on the terrain of North Wales.

There are two other new additions and although both similar sportives they are run by two different companies. I'll be doing both the Manchester to Chester rides run by Bike Events and MedEquip4Kids.

Luckily the Manchester 100 & Prostate Charity Ride (which backs on to the Tour Of Britain stage) aren't clashing and there were lots of good reports of the Prostate from last year. The Blackpool Sportive returns for a second year without the Rapha Condor sponsorship. I'm also looking forward to the National Cyclo-Sportive which takes over from the Pendal Pedal and accompanies the National Road Championships the following day.

Bike Events 2010

14th March 2010 - Jodrell Bank Cyclosportive
28th March 2010 - Cheshire Cat

04th April 2010 - Ron Sant Reliability Ride

9th May 2010 - Manchester to Chester
16th May 2010 - Macclesfield Bikeathon
23rd May 2010 - Sheffield 100
30th May 2010 - Manchester to Liverpool

6th June 2010 - Spud Riley Memorial Ride
12th June 2010 - Northern Rock Cyclone
13th June 2010 - Rivington 100, Bolton
26th June 2010 - National Cyclo-Sportive, Lancs

4th July 2010 - Manchester to Blackpool
10th July 2010 - Manchester to Chester
10-11th July 2010 - Bike Radar, Brands Hatch
18th July 2010 - Liverpool to Chester to Liverpool
25th July 2010 - Cheshire Plains & Peaks

1st August 2010 - The Broken Spoke Sportive
7th August 2010 - Blackpool Sportive

5th September 2010 - Manchester 100
12th September 2010 - Bruntwood Sportive
26th September 2010 - Prostate Charity Ride (Stoke)

03rd October 2010 - Tour of the Pennines

Can We Trust The Weatherman?

I heard a report on the radio the other day that the Met Office has come under fire for wrongly predicting the weather. This glorious cold snap we are currently having was supposed to be a mild winter.

A spluttering representative from the Met replied that in time as technology develops, long range weather testing will get better.

My thoughts are firstly, we won't ever be able to factually predict the weather. It's mother nature, a computer can't predict what I'm going to do over the next few hours, neither can it predict the weather. The Met office provides an informed prediction.

I was watching BBC News 24 when I was working from home due to the weather last week and one newsreader pleaded with a weatherman when the snow was going to subside as if it was an STD attacking us or something. The weatherman replied "we aren't sure, we believe it'll be here for at least another 2 weeks". The next thing, this moron of a newsreader started flapping and shrieking "so it could be 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 6 weeks......months you don't know?!!". The weatherman gave him a look as if to say 'calm down mate' and said "well..erm..no. It's just that 2 weeks is all we can say at the moment, it's highly unlikely to be longer".

There were concerns that the council hadn't stockpiled enough grit to cope with the bad weather. As if the councils were going to stockpile huge quantities of grit on the off chance we were going to have one of the worst winters in over 20 years! You can see it happening - following a mild winter, a newspaper reporter finds tonnes and tonnes of unused grit in stores, there would be public outrage of our precious taxes being wasted on a load of unused salt!

Secondly, if what we are predicting over the course of 6 months turns out to be incorrect; can we believe those that are predicting bad things from global warming?

Now I fall into the 'unsure' category here. I'm not as bad as Daily Mail journalist Melanie Philips, who on a recent Question Time proclaimed that global warming was "utter garbage" and "one of the greatest scientific scams of the modern age", however I am cautious.

If all scientists got together and said that "yes, without question this data is correct and the world is burning up" then I would be more inclined to listen. The fact that they seem to be arguing with each other doesn't rub well on me.

I'm also fed up with it being shoved down my neck every 60 seconds. It's an excuse for everything. If it rains for a bit longer than "for what I can remember" or the sunny temperatures are slightly barmy for June or we have a heavy snowfall; we blame global warming. The floods, these heavy snowfalls, they are just a once in a lifetime event. They have happened previously in the past 100 years and they will happen again.

We are also repeatedly encouraged to use public transport. As if I'm going to use a service where I'm crammed like a sardine into an old, disgustingly kept tin can, stood next to a guy with the worst case of halitosis in the world ever, while some drunk scallys create an uncomfortable atmosphere. That and the fact that services are normally longer and more expensive than if I had driven and desperately unreliable.

At the same time, I know I am incredibly lucky to live in the heart of the beautiful Cheshire countryside, so I am well aware of the world at risk.

To all those bothered about the snow - a belated bah humbug! Enjoy it while you can.