Seven-day round-up: Paris-Roubaix race tech, Bespoked 2014, Amstel Gold Race preview and more
The best of the last week on RCUK
Few events show the casual observer that the cycling season is up to speed like Paris-Roubaix, a race of such drama and character that it transcends the sport.
Coverage of the Queen of the Classics has dominated the last seven days on RoadCyclingUK, whether it be our race report, photo gallery, and post-race analysis, or any of our numerous and highly-detailed photo galleries of the two-wheeled weaponry taken into battle by the elite professionals who raced the 257km from Compiègne to the velodrome at Roubaix.
But that was then, as the saying goes, and this is now. While the hardmen of the cobbles take a well-earned break, the world’s best climbers return to the spotlight for Ardennes Week – a three-strong series of hilly Classics that begins tomorrow with the Amstel Gold Race.
As well as covering the most prestigious races on the calendar, we’ve continued with our testing schedule, and offered a verdict this week on the Storck Aernario Basic. The handmade finery exhibited at Bespoked, the UK’s handmade bike show, has also claimed our attention; an occasion at which we were able to catch up with Guy Martin’s go-to frame builder, Jason Rourke of Rourke Cycles.
The breathless pace is unlikely to relent in the coming weeks, with the Spring Classics season reaching its zenith, the Grande Partenza of the Giro d’Italia just a fortnight away, and the thoughts of many already on July and the Grand Départ of the Tour de France in Yorkshire already occupying the thoughts of many. Make sure you don’t miss a thing by following RoadCyclingUK on Facebook and Twitter.
[part title="Paris-Roubaix race tech"]
Paris-Roubaix race tech
Paris-Roubaix is a technical showcase like no other. Mechanics find ever more inventive set-ups to try and cushion their riders from the bone-jarring cobbles, and cycling’s biggest brands routinely use the weekend to unveil new models.
This year’s 112th edition of the Queen of the Classics was no different, with Lapierre pulling back the covers from their new Pulsium and a rival teams deploying a host of different measures to try and make the 28 cobbled secteurs – some 51km in total – more bearable.
We got up close to the latest machinery to bring you detailed photo galleries of the bikes of Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Luca Paolini (Katusha), and Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), not to mention the custom Trek Domane of defending champion, Fabian Cancellara.
We also made a detailed inspection of the rubber of Roubaix – the tyres used by professional cycling’s biggest teams to try and tame the pave. Covers from specialist French firm, FMB, and special editions from industry giants like Continental were among those we witnessed in the paddock at Compiègne.
[part title="Bespoked 2014"]
If the Paris-Roubaix paddock represented the cutting edge of cycling technology, then Bespoked, the UK’s handmade bike show, offered a showcase for the time-honoured skills of the frame builder.
We headed to the show’s sumptuous new home – the London Olympic Velodrome – to sample the wares of some of cycling’s finest craftsmen, including Dario Pegoretti, Ted James, and Darren Baum, winner of the show’s best road bike award.
Jason Rourke is a man who will need no introduction to the cycling cognoscenti, but who took a step into the wider public consciousness earlier this season with the broadcast of Channel Four’s Speed series with Guy Martin.
We chatted to Jason about his work with the Isle of Man TT rider to build a bike capable of being ridden at speeds in excesses of 100mph, and about the skills required of a frame builder to produce a ‘fast road bike’ – Rourke Cycles' stock-in-trade.
[part title="Storck Aernario Basic – review"]
Storck Aernario Basic – review
Everything is relative and what German brand, Storck, consider Basic others might count as pretty darned sophisticated. When the top of the Aernario range is represented by a 5.8kg super bike with a £14k price tag, then the £5,200 entry point – the machine we’ve put through its paces - might seem simple by comparison.
Having noted an aero profiled tubeset and aggressive geometry in our ‘first look’ we were eager to spend some quality time with Aernario Basic, a machine dressed in Shimano’s second-from-top electronic groupset, the 6870 iteration of Ultegra, and rolling on Mavic’s Ksyrium Equipe S wheels.
The results of our two-month test period can be found in a detailed review of the Aernario Basic, a machine we tested on the rutted lanes of the UK. You can read our final verdict by following this link.
[part title="Amstel Gold Race preview"]
Amstel Gold Race preview
The professional cycling calendar reaches its relentless peak in spring, with a heady mix of early-season stage races and the infamous cobbled Classics forming two principle components of a packed programme of compelling races. The missing piece of the jigsaw until this point of the season has been a series of hilly one-day races – Classics for the men who will contest the biggest prizes in cycling when the Grand Tours come around.
Enter Ardennes Week: three gruelling one-day races that will bring the best from the men of the mountains. The Amstel Gold Race, held in the rolling Limburg region of Holland and containing a leg-sapping 34 climbs in a debilitating 250km parcours will kick things off on Sunday (April 20).
We’ve taken a detailed look at the course and contenders for our in-depth preview, in which we consider the prospects of five riders who will bid to cross the finish line at the summit of the 900m Cauberg with their arms in the air.
And if you’re not planning a trip this weekend to the Netherlands and are uncertain when and where you can watch the action unfold, then fear not – simply follow this link to our television guide.
[part title="Ronan McLaughlin interview"]
Ronan McLaughlin interview
The careers of the men who finish a race with their arms raised in triumph are recorded in infinite detail, but as any observer of professional cycling will know, victory is almost impossible without the unswerving support of a team.
Ireland’s Ronan Mc Laughlin, who has called time on a professional career with Sean Kelly’s An Post-Chain Reaction team at the age of 27 understands better than most the sacrifices required to earn a living as a bike rider, having left Ireland for Belgium to pursue his dream.
Three finishes in the Tour of Britain and a host of top 10 placings in the Irish national road race championships, competing against the likes of Tinkoff-Saxo’s Nicolas Roche, proved that McLaughlin had the legs to carry the fight to the professionals competing in cycling’s elite UCI WorldTour.
Read this interview with one of the peloton’s many unsung heroes, as McLaughlin reflects on representing his country at the world road race championships, this year’s Grande Partenza of the Giro d’Italia in Belfast and Ireland, and the Curadmir three-day sportive.
[part title="Strava Rapha Tempest Challenge"]
Strava Rapha Tempest Challenge
With the visit to these shores of the Tour de France imminent, the thoughts of many UK cyclists will already have turned to Yorkshire, host county to the opening two stages of the 101st edition of cycling’s greatest race.
London-based clothing brand Rapha will be holding its four-day Tempest cycling festival in the grounds of Broughton Hall, Skipton – making it ideally placed for stages one and two.
If you fancy winning free entry to the festival, ride tracking service, Strava, has launched a new challenge, comprised of six iconic UK climbs. Topping the leaderboard of any, or completing all six, will place riders in with a chance of a gratis entry to Rapha’s four-day event.
From Box Hill to Buttertubs Pass, Cheddar Gorge to Ditchling Beacon, the Challenge is packed with demanding segments. Follow this link to the full story.