2013: A year in review – April

Cancellara beats Vanmarcke at Paris-Roubaix, Bespoked Bristol returns and preparations for the Etape du Tour are stepped up

As cycling fans we live for the memorable races, those unforgettable triumphs – or disasters – that stick long in the memory.

April certainly provided its fair share of those – not least Fabian Cancellara’s epic Paris-Roubaix victory, as Spartacus out-thought and out-sprinted Sep Vanmarcke in the famous velodrome.

The Radioshack-Leopard man’s victory confirmed his status as King of the Classics, as he sealed victory in three of the season’s four cobbled Classics – including both Monument races.

Fabian Cancellara pipped Sep Vanmarcke to win the 2013 Paris-Roubaix, his third cobbled Classics victory of the season (pic: Sirotti)

But it was not just the Swiss icon who provided us with memories to cherish as the sun finally appeared back in April.

While Spartacus took victory in the main event, the Paris-Roubaix Challenge provided an unforgettable experience for those taking part, including friend of the site, Stu King.

Having attempted to follow Team Sky’s lead and aim for ‘marginal gains’ in his build-up, he did not whether to laugh or cry when he arrived, legs screaming and contact lens askew at the Roubaix Velodrome – he recounted his own epic ride here.

The Ardennes Classics, as with the cobbled Classics, proved a great spectacle for the thousands of fans who packed the routes, too.

Dan Martin’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege victory, the biggest victory of the Irishman’s career, was but the icing on the cake of a week which also saw Roman Kreuziger and Daniel Moreno launch stunning solo attacks to win the Amstel Gold Race and La Fleche Wallonne respectively.

With unwavering support from the local Belgian and Dutch populations on show during the week, it was clear cycling remains the sport of the people in its traditional heartlands.

It is not just mainland Europe where cycling is king either, as Bespoked Bristol returned on these shores and once again saw Brunel’s Old Station packed to the rafters.

Steel, typically dominated the show as many a frame-builder’s material of choice, but handmade Italian carbon fibre certainly proved eye-catching on the Legend stand.

The Legend HT 10.5 caught our eye at Bespoked Bristol 2013 in Brunel’s Old Station

Italian framebuilder Marco Bertoletti has become one of his country’s master craftsmen, and we took a look at his some of striking masterpieces.

Alchemy, Zullo, IF and Café du Cycliste were also among the big names on show, while Chapeau launched their inaugural clothing range – with an insightful video to boot.

The event is likely to be the last held in the intricate old venue however, after Bespoked announced a move to London’s Lee Valley Velopark for 2014.

April also saw the launch of the Shimano Ultegra 6800 groupset, featuring an 11-speed drivetrain, although it was the Japanese firm’s Dura-Ace 9000 which dressed our brand new RCUK race rig.

Back on the road, the races were coming thick and fast at the top tier of professional cycling with Chris Froome stepping up his Tour de France preparations with victory at the Tour de Romandie.

Team-mate Sir Bradley Wiggins meanwhile finetuned his pre-Giro d’Italia efforts at the Giro del Trentino, but a mechanical as he approached the summit finish on the final stage dashed his hopes of victory – Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali taking the momentum in the year’s first Grand Tour instead.

Wiggins was not the only British rider hoping 2013 would bring similar success to 2012 however. The best riders from the domestic scene had their sights set high, too, including 2011 national circuit race champion, Graham Briggs. We caught up with the Yorkshireman to discuss the British scene as it approached another major year for cycling in this country.

Sir Bradley Wiggins and Vincenzo Nibali finetuned their Giro d’Italia preparations at the Giro del Trentino (pic: Sirotti)

Away from the Brits, a young rider who would become a household name by the end of the year also announced himself in some style – Colombian climbing ace Nairo Quintana winning the Tour of the Basque Country.

It was not just the pros preparing for some major challenges in the months to come however, as our man George Scott also began to step up his training with the Etape du Tour fast approaching.

With the chance to tick a major challenge off his cycling to-do list drawing ever nearer, he took a closer look at what was in store in 11 weeks’ time.

The Etape and the Tour still seemed some way away as April drew to a close however, but with the first Grand Tour almost upon us and the eagerly anticipated battle between Messrs Wiggins and Nibali soon to begin, thoughts were already turning to the first of the season’s three Grand Tours – the Giro d’Italia.

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