Pity Lionel Birnie. For the cycling journalist and regular Bike Show contributor, following the Tour means being stuck in a smelly Skoda with three other hacks for 5+ hours a day, living out of a suitcase, sleeping in tatty hotels with paper thin walls (if he manages to find a hotel room at all) and getting fat eating junk food (all the more galling in the land of haute cuisine). He’ll get a few fleeting glimpses of the racing, but mostly he will be stuck in traffic jams, waiting around in the press centre and trying to get a few moments of face time with knackered or nervy riders who’d rather express themselves on twitter than submit to the questions of a seasoned sports journalist.
For the rest of us who are not part of the media caravan, and thanks to the efforts of a legion of Lionel Birnies, we are spoilt for choice. Here are a few suggestions for getting the most from following the three week festival of cycle racing, the world’s biggest annual sporting event on its grandest stage. Continue reading
David Millar, the British road racer, one of the best riders in his generation, had it all. His first day of racing in the Tour De France brought him an impressive stage victory over Lance Armstrong and he was instantly a celebrated figure in the professional peloton. But a few years later, it all fell apart as he was unmasked as having used banned performance enhancing drugs. He was disgraced and banned from competition for two years. Many thought it was game over.
But David Millar has returned to professional racing as an anti doping crusader. His recent performances have shown it’s possible to win without doping. He has written a book about his life, his travels to the dark side and what he believes to be his redemption.
In an extended interview with The Bike Show, Millar talks about the past, present and future of professional road racing. His book is out on 16 June, published by Orion Books. Buy on the link (right) and a few pennies will go to keep the Resonance FM on the air.
Picture credit: Team Garmin-Cervelo
The summer season kicks of with an entertaining and borderline nerdy discussion of the past, present and future of the cycling jersey. From Bianchi’s 1950s classic celeste blue to Mapei pushed the dye sublimation process to its limits and divided fans in equal measure. We take the story as far as today’s trend for any colour as long as its black, and look to the sci-fi future of interactive jersey materials.
Richard Mitchelson's homage to the Tour de France, by Milltag
In the studio are three cyclists and jersey aficionados: Luke Scheybeler, designer and a founder of clothing company Rapha, Richard Mitchelson, illustrator, animator and Milltag designer (pictured above) and cycling photographer Camille McMillan, co-author of Le Métier.
Richard Mitchelson is also the designer of the excellent new Bike Show banner and iTunes logo. Hope you like it. We do!
Crusading, anti-doping sports journalist Lionel Birnie of Cycling Weekly gives his views on the latest revelations about professional cycling. You can read the 30,000-word transcript of Paul Kimmage’s interview with Floyd Landis at the NY Velocity blog. Mr NikBagTV presents the Lance Armstrong defence over on YouTube.
Plus an appeal to listeners in the European Union to write to their elected representatives in the European Parliament urging new measures to protect cyclists from lorries and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). For more, visit www.seemesaveme.com
Studio discussion of four great lives in cycling: Kuklos, the prolific journalist who documented British cycling scene in the first half of the twentieth century; Brian Robinson (pictured, above), the first Brit to win stages in the Tour de France; intrepid cycle tourist Anne Mustoe; and Laurent Fignon, perhaps the last truly great French professional bike racer.
Expert guests are Graeme Fife, author of a newly published biography of Brian Robinson, and Tim Dawson, columnist on the Sunday Times and editor of the Cycling Books website. Plus a chance to win a set of Gavin Turk Les Bikes de Bois Rond postcards. Answers by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of Wrigging – Kuklos. A 1927 essay taking on John Ruskin’s opposition to cycling.
Brian Robison: A Pioneer – Graeme Fife (Mousehold Press, 2010)
A Bike Ride – Anne Mustoe (Virgin Books, 1991)
We Were Young and Carefree – Autobiography of Laurent Fignon (Yellow Jersey Press, 2010)
Last week I was in France when it was announce that Laurent Fignon, two time winner of Le Tour de France (1983, 1984) and France’s last genuine superstar pro bike rider, had died of cancer, aged 50. His first win was in his Tour debut, aged just 22. Fignon was also the man who came closest to winning the Tour, losing by a mere 8 seconds to Greg LeMond in 1989. I have nothing to add to what has been written about Fignon, including by himself in his excellent autobiography Nous étions jeunes et insouciants (We were young and carefree).
However, on Saturday L’Equipe published a 27-page tribute to Le Professeur, and I want to repost one of the images, which shows Fignon’s Directeur Sportif and close friend Cyrille Guimard giving his rider a push after a puncture in Stage 7 of the 1983 Tour. It’s a charming picture. Just as you’ll not see any of today’s riders wearing Fignon’s trademark spectacles while racing I can’t quite imagine a DS in 2010 sporting a bare chest, jeans, clogs and aviator shades. Maybe the Tour would be a little more ‘rock and roll’ if a few of them did.
More Fignon photos from the L’Equipe archive are available here.
Lionel Birnie of Cycling Weekly shares his best moments of this year’s sensational Tour De France. Plus we look ahead to Bicycle Thieves, which combines theatre and BMXing on the streets of London, as part of the InTransit festival. Book tickets for just £4 here or by calling 0845 230 9769.