Juan José Cobo – A shadow of a man

Juan-Jose-Cobo-ride-080714G300

Whenever a rider wins the Tour de France, after the initial fanfare has abated, the celebrations have fizzled out and the winter starts to bite, the successful cyclist will begin to plan out his training regime and start working towards next year’s goal – winning the Tour de France again.

The same is not true of cycling’s other two Grand Tours, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana. In recent years, the cream of the crop of G.C. riders tend to steer clear of the Giro as received wisdom suggests it does not provide the preparation required to tackle the Tour de France a month later. Consequently, the Giro is contested largely by riders who are not their team’s best G.C. rider along with the usual smattering of Italian favourites seeking glory on home soil.

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Ireland’s mythological race – The Rás Tailteann

RasTailteann

Before twitter, before the internet, before televisions were to be found in every home, it was the remit of cycling journalists to mythologise the sport on which they were reporting. The feats of these men with no fear who cycled bikes with no gears were exaggerated, embellished and taken as far into the realm of the fantastical as the reader was willing to be taken.

Thus it is entirely appropriate that the most famous of Ireland’s races has its name rooted in the mythology which shaped the country itself. Although it was men who entered and competed, it was a deity of the female variety who provided the name for the Rás Tailteann.

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Merckx on Mastermind

A couple of weeks ago, there was a contestant on BBC’s Mastermind show whose specialist subject was ‘The Life and Career of Eddy Merckx’. Below is the list of questions that were asked. Some are easy enough but others are really tough.

It’s just for fun, but see if you can beat the Mastermind contestant who got a score of nine. I’ll reveal the answers in a few days.

1. Which Brabant village was the birthplace of cyclist Eddy Merckx in June 1945?
Meensel-Kiezegem

2. How many Tour de France cycle races did he win in his professional career equaling the record set by the French rider Jacques Anquetil?
Five

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Nicolas Roche’s learning curve

RocheLearning

A leader of a cycling team must have a strong personality, a will to win and the ability to get results. Some leaders are the quiet type that like to lead by example, think Carlos Sastre, while others are more vocal but still have no problem getting the job done, Mark Cavendish springs to mind. The leader who is vocal and yet can’t back up his words with performances will inevitably lose the trust of his team-mates and will shortly thereafter no longer deserve the status of leader at all.

‘Leadership and learning are indispensable to one another’ said a great U.S. leader of Irish descent. A current leader of more established Irish descent could have done with listening to these words of John F. Kennedy for he has now come to the end of the road as leader of his cycling team.

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