Monday, July 15, 2024
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The VV View: Vik Goes Disc Brakes, Our Heroes, and Two British World Cyclo-Cross Champions?


Remember Ernesto Colnago said he’d never have anything to do with that Japanese mountain bike, A-Head nonsense? And remember our VeloVeritas Mentor and Prophet, Vik said he’d have never have anything to do with those ‘industry driven,’ dangerous disc brakes?


VeloVeritas brings you a world exclusive; Vik is purchasing a Planet X Carbon Pro DISC.

Yes, Vik has paid the Ferryman and crossed the River Styx.

Of course we had to have a debate about rotor diameters – yes, I know, all this is coming as a shock to you after our anti-disc rants, and it will get worse – Vik’s lovely new, blue machine comes with 160 mm rotors front and back but the pros ride 140 rear so he’s going to change the rear rotor.


He’s upgrading the pads to SwissStop, not that the man trawls the internet for hours or anything like that…

Planet-X Pro Carbon. Photo©supplied

If truth be told, I’m relieved he’s ‘gone disc’ – mea culpa, if you’re not familiar with the Latin; ‘a formal acknowledgment of personal fault or error.’

Yes, I’ve ‘gone disc’ too – and there’s more, it’s a Gravel bike and it’s electric; that spinal stenosis stuff means that I just can’t push hard on the pedals anymore, some might say that I never could anyway.

More will follow on this thorny subject as Vik and I get to know our new steeds and compare notes.

* * *


I recently penned a piece for ‘another well-known website’ on the subject of Heroes.

As with many of the things I scribble, it was inspired by Vik, listing his heroes, strangely, no Belgians in there, just Italians – all tall, classy and with aura: Vittorio Adorni, Guido Bontempi and Mario Cipollini.

Vittorio Adorni. Photo©unknown

It got us to thinking, Peter Sagan apart, who’s ‘Hero’ material in the current peloton now that there’s no Tom Boonen or Pippo Pozatto?

Perhaps Julian Alaphilippe, good looking, full of life, a little crazy and races with his heart rather than his head?

But we’re not just talking good bike riders here, there are lots of those – Pog, Rog, Bernal, WVA, MVDP, Pidcock, Stuyven, Valverde…

We’re talking, aura, charisma, stage presence; it seems that as training, recovery and nutrition become ever more dominated by the laptop, labs and spreadsheets, individuality has to founder on the rock of ‘numbers.’ 

My own heroes are Alf Engers, Eddy Merckx and Tom Simpson.

Alf had a personality as big as his chain rings and I remember back in the 70’s – when British ‘testing’ was full of personalities – you’d always wonder on a Sunday night; ‘what’s Alf done today?

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Alf Engers. Photo©Bernard Thomson

For some, Merckx was too clinical, too intent on winning but the man had an aura – it shone out of him.

It’s just such a shame I never got to see Tom Simpson in the flesh but the more I read about him, the more my respect builds.

Whilst his palmarès still speak for themselves – three Monuments; Milan-Sanremo, Flanders and Lombardy, Bordeaux-Paris, Paris-Nice, the Worlds and placed in just about every northern classic – he was also full of life and fun, a huge personality.

I admire many riders of today – all those I name above, Pog, Rog, Bernal and Co. and more besides – but to have them as Heroes?…

* * *

Let’s get muddy – a few years ago it would have been hard to imagine a set of circumstances where a Scotsman could challenge for a World Cyclo-Cross title.

But that’s where we are right now with Cameron Mason, he’s ranked fourth in the UCI u23 World Cup standings at the moment with a win at Dendermonde on Boxing Day among his palmarès.

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Scottish ‘Cross rider, Cameron Mason. Photo©supplied

But he’s up against some handy boys in the u23 Worlds come January 29th in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Dutchman, Pim Ronhaar is the defending World Champion but Cameron finished ahead of him in the Flandriencross at Hamme, recently.

The man who won there, Joran Wyseure has had an up-and-down season but also won in the sand of Koksijde. 

Then there’s the young man with the best of X genes, Thibaut Nys – son of the legend and at just 19 years-of-age he’s won the previous three rounds of the X2O Trophy, straight. Ronhaar won the first two rounds.  

Equally inconceivable just a year or two ago would have been the prospect of a British World Elite Cyclo-Cross champion but Tom Pidcock’s precocious brilliance – he’s still only 22 years-old – means it’s a distinct possibility.

MVDP is out with his back injury and WVA wants no distractions from his Classics preparation.

Whilst it would be unwise to disregard the likes of Iserbyt, Aerts, Sweeck and Van Der Haar, Pidcock must start hot favourite.

Two British World Cyclo-Cross champions?

* * *

And it’s nice to report more Scottish success with Mark Stewart’s GC win in the UCI 2.2 New Zealand Cycling Classic adding to his stage win and TTT success in the race to put him top of the current world wins rankings at time of writing with two wins and a second place.

He’s champing at the bit for his Bolton Equities Black Spoke team’s Euro campaign to commence come the spring.

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Mark Stewart. Photo©Dave Linnet

* * *

Continuing on the theme of great Scottish performances, recently I’ve been in touch with Phil Cheetham, a very successful English amateur rider, both at home and in France back in the 70’s.

Despite winning a lot of races in France it was during the Tour de l’Avenir that he realised he couldn’t compete at the level required to be successful professional.

But Billy Bilsland won a stage and was top 10 in the 1969 l’Avenir in the company of the likes of Joop Zoetemelk, Gosta Pettersson and Fedor Den Hertog.

And that was despite poor management not giving the Scot the team support he merited.

Cheetham also rode the 1972 Peace Race but was DNF along with 26 other riders on Stage Five when freezing rain decimated the peloton.

But Bilsland won a stage in the Peace Race in 1967, one of a very few Westerners to do so.

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He also finished top 10 in The Tour of Lombardy and top 15 in the Pro Worlds with zero team support in either race, it makes one wonder what Billy could have achieved in the right environment?

* * *

We close on a note of sadness; former top junior, Irvine Morrison passed away recently, a wee bit before my time but his contemporaries, Vik among them, remember him as a hugely talented rider whose career never developed beyond the junior ranks due to his commitments with the family business.

VeloVeritas extends sympathies to his friends and family.