Seven-day round-up: cycling shoes buyer's guide, Giro d'Italia preview and more
All our best bits from the last week in a single, handy post
Eighteen weeks into 2014 and events have yet to slow down.
With the Grande Partenza of the Giro d’Italia set to roll out in Ireland, the Grand Départ of the Tour de France scheduled for Yorkshire, and the Commonwealth Games pledged to Glasgow, we knew we had a busy year in prospect. Nothing so far has changed our estimation.
In the last seven days, we’ve reported on the final race of the Ardennes Classics, taken delivery of LOOK’s stunning 675 Light, considered aloud our favourite aspects of Strava, got the low down on cycling shoes from Jules and James at Cyclefit, and thought about ways to survive the spring showers.
We’ve delivered a verdict on the Tifosi CK8 Duro, offered our early thoughts on the Koga Solacio and Sportful’s new R&D kit, and made a trip to the Italian brand’s Dolomites HQ to ride with a certain multiple Grand Tour winner, El Pistolero himself, Alberto Contador.
If your week has been anything like as busy as ours, a single handy post with our best bits from the last seven days might be of use. Well, here it is. Get up to speed with all our news, reviews, interviews and more over the following pages at your leisure - it’s the weekend, after all.
[part title="Buyer’s guide: cycling shoes"]
Buyer’s guide: cycling shoes
If the shoe fits…
Choosing a pair of cycling shoes can be a tricky task and there’s far more to consider than merely the stiffness of the sole. No two riders’ feet are the same and expert advice is often needed to find a pair that are comfortable and effective – remember, the shoe serves a biomechanical purpose and is more akin to a component of the bicycle than a piece of clothing.
As luck would have it, we had expert advice to hand in the form of Jules Wall and James Hewitt of London’s Cyclefit. When Tour of Flanders winner, Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) needs a shoe fit, he calls Jules. And James is a sport scientist with a specialism in power output – all of which is transmitted through the foot. Who better then to ask?
[part title="Top five climbs of the Pyrenees"]
Top five climbs of the Pyrenees
RCUK’s sportive guru, Mike Cotty, is a man who knows a thing or two about the Pyrenees. He once rode non-stop for nearly 700km across its vertiginous peaks and terrifying descents, so when we asked Mike to share his top five Pyrenean cols, he wasn’t stuck for choice. Cottydale is a rider who knows what of he speaks.
His selections included some of the most famous climbs in cycling, complete with distances and altitudes for the various approaches that can be made to each. First-hand knowledge is a precious commodity, and Mike has it in spades. Luckily for all of us, you can find it on the pages of RCUK.
[part title="LOOK 675 Light"]
LOOK 675 Light
Regular RCUK readers will know that we hold the French brand LOOK in high esteem. Inventors of the clipless pedal, and with integration between chassis and components seemingly uppermost in their thoughts, they are one of the few genuinely innovative brands in cycling. When we unboxed the 675 Light earlier this week, it was with a keen sense of anticipation.
The machine we’ll be testing in the weeks ahead is the more slender sibling of the French firm’s 675 endurance bike and a striking machine it is too, with the semi-integrated handlebar stem continuing the line of the top tube. We’ll be racking up the miles on this French fancy in the weeks ahead, but we’ve started the ball rolling with a ‘first look’ article – a detailed inspection, with tech specs and pricing.
[part title="Giro d’Italia preview"]
Giro d’Italia preview
From Belfast to the Dolomites, this year’s Giro d’Italia looks set to be a classic. Three stages will be held on the island of Ireland, with the first – a team time trial in Belfast city centre – now less than a week away. Excitement is mounting on both sides on the border, with images of pink sheep, horses, and even fish and chips posted on Twitter as the arrival of the corsa rosa draws closer.
More serious business is at hand, however. With the likes of 2011 Tour de France winner, Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), and Colombian climbing sensations, Nairo Quintana (Movistar), runner-up at last year’s Tour de France, and Rigoberto Uran (OPQS), runner-up at last year’s Giro, among the favourites, a thrilling contest is all but guaranteed.
Throw in Irishmen Dan Martin (Garmin Sharp), who came within 300m of defending his Liege-Bastogne-Liege title, before being robbed by a crash, and Nico Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo), and the home fans will have much to cheer during the three-stage Grande Partenza.
[part title="Six things we love about Strava"]
Six things we love about Strava
When Paris-Roubaix winners start posting their times on the race’s hellish cobbled secteurs as Strava segments, you know that cycling’s favourite GPS service has become a bona fide phenomenon. Niki Terpstra is the latest pro cyclist to record his efforts on the ride-logging service, although being handed the cobbled trophy in the Roubaix velodrome was perhaps a surer sign that no-one had gone faster on that particular 258km outing.
Our man George Scott is one of thousands of cyclists who’ve found their experience on the bike – and afterwards – enhanced by Strava’s social functions and the ability to analyse ride data from the comfort of the sofa. Follow this link to George’s six favourite things about Strava and his suggestions for a few minor improvements. Have you joined the RCUK Strava club yet? What are you waiting for?
[part title="Tifosi CK8 Duro review"]
Tifosi CK8 Duro review
Titanium is a material seemingly blessed with magical properties in the opinion of some, able to deliver a wonderfully smooth ride with none of the harshness associated with some carbon frames. It’s incredible strength to weight ratio is another plus, as is the hardness of the tubing and its ability to resist corrosion.
With all this in mind, the Tifosi CK8 Duro that arrived at RCUK Towers for test in March had much to live up to. After six weeks of solid testing we were ready to deliver a verdict on its ride quality: the smoothness or otherwise, its handling, abilities on climbs and descents, and more.
[part title="Racing round-up"]
It’s the time of year when it’s accurate to report that the season is already in full swing and, if anything, about to get busier. Just ask Mark Cavendish. Three times a winner already this week at the Tour of Turkey, taking his tally for the season to six victories, the British road race champion already looks well placed to launch an effective campaign to win back the Tour de France green jersey he last wore in Paris in 2011. But who must he overcome to win? Follow this link to find out.
Speaking of Cavendish, the Manx Missile will form part of a British Invasion of America later this month when he and Britain’s other cycling superstar, Bradley Wiggins, head to the Tour of California. Can these two charismatic and defiantly clean riders restore America’s faith in cycling after the damage done by Armstrong, Landis, Hamilton et al? We consider the evidence here.
Liege-Bastogne-Liege brought down the curtain on the Spring Classics last Sunday and with Dan Martin deprived of a second consecutive victory at La Doyenne by the cruelest fortune we were left with much to consider about the nature of professional sport, the Irishman’s status, and more. Read our five observations here and relieve the race through the images of Stefano Sirotti.
And then there is the Tour de Romandie. With Britain’s Chris Froome pipped on the line at the end of stage three and now separated from the yellow jersey by a single second, the Tour de France champion looks well placed to defend his Romandie crown. Follow this link to all our coverage of the race so far, including reports, galleries, and post-stage analysis.