Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Viktor’s View – Rants of Love for Cycle Sport


Folks say to me that Viktor, “VeloVeritas‘s answer to Nostradamus” doesn’t exist, he’s just a vehicle for me to express extreme view points.

They’re wrong.

The man actually lives and breathes – and mostly for all things cycling and the Coronavirus crisis has seen him at his ranting best.

 I thought I’d share some of his latest proclamations with you – and while some of his statements may seem extreme, others mirror what many people think but are afraid to articulate.

The Corona scare and subsequent cancellation of all UCI races hit Vik hard.

For him, the season starts when the flag drops to start Het Nieuwsblad and finishes when the winner steps down off the podium at Roubaix velodrome.

The loss of the six ‘Golden Weeks’ is nothing short of a tragedy to him.

The ‘Opening Weekend’ hall. Photo©Ed Hood

But even his beloved ‘Omloop’ isn’t spared;

“This carry-on where the teams line up in the exhibition hall instead of in the square or the street; mark my words, they’ll be charging admission, next year!”

And there are some races he won’t miss.

Take my favourite race, Milan-Sanremo; in Vik’s view the first 280 or so kilometres should be axed and the race should start at the bottom of the Poggio and finish on the Via Roma,

In his view that’s the race, the rest is simply ‘padding.’

Mark Cavendish near the front going over the Poggio. Photo©Ed Hood

He isn’t lamenting the Giro either;

“Too much flim flam, too many ridiculous hills and as for all that pink nonsense…”

Vik’s not a man of the mountains, he just about approves of La Redoute in Liege-Bastogne-Liege and anything that ends in ‘berg’ but ‘cols and passes?’ – nae, nae, nae! 

And Grand Tours should be two weeks maximum;

“Everyone is excited in the first week but loses interest in the middle then it picks up again towards the end, ditch the bit in the middle.

Thibout Pinot on the Côte de Vieurals, Stage 15 of the 2017 Tour de France. Photo©Martin Williamson

He’s not a man of the Tour either;

“It only gets a big audience because everyone is on holiday and they’ve nothing better to do.

The poor Vuelta comes out worst;

“The Spanish Hill Climb Championship, the climbs there are ridiculous – goat tracks!

Romain Sicard on the famous Bola Del Mondo on Stage 20 of the Vuelta a España 2012. Photo©Martin Williamson

The current generation of riders – ‘Kermis Kings’ in the autumn of their careers, like Guy Smet and Mario Willems are excluded, naturally – he doesn’t have much time for.

“Sagan is finished, the hunger has gone, he’s made his money.”

And on the subject of Remco his views will jar with wolf cub fans;

“Sure, he won San Sebastian but 80% of the peloton is wasted, just out of the Tour then into that race.”

And of the Merckx comparisons;

“Ridiculous – you cannot compare across generations, the cycling landscape is totally different to what it was in the 60’s and 70’s.

“Back then everyone rode every race going from February to October, that situation has changed dramatically – of current GC guys only Nibali could win a Classic and a big tour.”

Remco Evenepoel. Photo©AP

Wout Van Aert and Mathieu Van Der Poel do get a stamp of approval though, as does Kazakh, Alexei Lutsenko.

And it’s a great relief to me that Sam Dumoulin has retired, the little sprinter took over from David Moncoutie as Vik’s least liked rider in the peloton, men Vik never wearied of criticising to me.

Modern bicycles are another bugbear; Vik is a disciple of a certain Mr. Hambini whose proclamations on YouTube would see him in the concrete foundations of a freeway interchange if the Mob had shares in certain frame and equipment manufacturers; their names I’ll leave you to discover for yourselves if you tune in to Mr. Hambini, who seems to be a very knowledgeable engineer with his own line in bottom brackets and tooling – but please don’t watch him if you’re averse to BAD language.

“You are paying $2,000 for a $80 frame; and the frame you buy, whilst it’s alleged to be the same as the World Tour guys ride, it isn’t!”

Hambini delivering his engineering opinion on the SRAM GXP crankset. Photo©YouTube

However, if even half of Mr. Hambini’s pronouncements are accurate then some manufacturers are ‘majorly’ – to us a Sean Kelly word – ‘hard at it’ with voids in the carbon lay-up, frames out of track, bearing surfaces misaligned, etc. etc.

Disc brakes;

“You know of course that most pros have rim brakes on their training bikes?

I haven’t verified that one but Vik can be uncannily accurate on matters like this.

But don’t think that it’s carbon per se that Vik is averse to, he rides the ‘wonder stuff’ himself but buys direct from China at prices way, way below the prices we see advertised in the glossy mags.

He sticks his own decals on and the finished product, it has to be said, usually looks the business. 

To my knowledge he hasn’t had a frame failure yet – but you’re right, if he did, I’d be the last one he’d tell.

And don’t think he’s nostalgic for the good old days of steel;

“Old steel frames are all scrap metal and should be chucked in a skip.” [that’s ‘dumpster’ to the US readers.]

But it’s not just road racing that attracts his disapproval; despite proclaiming he’s not into track racing, he watches every minute of it he can on TV.

Individual and team pursuiters are – in the main – acceptable, with men like Hugh Porter and Roy Schuiten revered – and even Sen. Ganna gets plaudits.

Filippo Ganna starts his World Championship Time Trial. Photo©Martin Williamson

Most of his ire is directed at team sprinters, especially those big burly orange lads.

Best not repeat what he says on a family site.

Many modern trends don’t meet with his approval, take the sportive/fondo/marca craze;

“The reason I go on out on my bike is to get away from people, not to ride around with a couple of thousand folk!” 

But he’s ahead of the curve on Zwift, predicting that soon there will be no need to ride or watch races, it can all be done from the living room.

The COVID-19 crisis has seen both the Mitchelton and Israel World Tour teams offer you ‘virtual’ rides with their boys.

Vik’s been retired for a few years now but I envisage a new career for him in his autumn years…

* * *

If you’re familiar with business jargon, there’s a thing called ‘SWOT’ analysis – that’s ‘Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.’

Any manufacturer who wished to look at the weaknesses and threats could do no better than recruit our Vik, he’d open their eyes for them.

And despite all of the above, he’s actually a witty, kind guy who loves the sport more than just about anyone I know.