Feel the hum / the wheels never rest

Some poetry for you today. I didn’t write it.

But I hear it in my head, as I ride along …

The peloton’s set
The start awaits
The eyes of the world
are on our state

Anticipation, as the time draw near
in the south of the nation
The event of the year!

Feel the hum!
The wheels never rest
Machines of steeeeel
Faaace the ultimate test!

Hour by hour
Shakin’ like thunder
Cycling power
It’s the Tour Down Under!

Feel the rush
As colours blur
Feel the rush
And hear the purr of wheels in motion
Wheels in motion!

Feel the rush
as pedals whir
Feel the rush
As colours blur in wheels in motion

Wheels in motion

Nerves as tense as spokes on the wheels
Every sense says this is the real deeeeeeeeeeeeal

Legs are screaming
Lungs are bursting
Energy’s waning
Body’s hurting
Crowds are cheering
cycles by
under a clear South Aussie sky

Feel the rush
As colours blur
Feel the rush
And hear the purr of wheels in motion
Wheels in motion!

Feel the rush
as pedals whir
Feel the rush
As colours blur in wheels in motion
Wheels in motion

At the Tour DOWN UUUUUUNDDER yeah!

Music is a funny thing. This song, an advertising agency’s version of a pub rock anthem, with the cheesy lyrics about bike racing and South Australia, is so firmly stuck in my head at the moment that it would need a crowbar and a jackhammer to remove it.

Here’s hoping I can get it stuck in yours too.

Update: Big ups, as the JJJ kids say, to Andrew Castleden who deciphered a couple of lines in this song that had me baffled.

 

Australia, Australia, Australia we love you. Amen! Crack a tube.

So, an Australian, holder of the Australian national champions jersey, racing for an Australian team, won Australia’s only ProTour event, which finished on Australia Day.

This particular Australian.

Nice work, Simon Gerrans. (And nice photo, Nick)

This other one, didn’t win. But raced his heart out.

(Another from Nick’s Instagram … check out the funny look from Kate Bates of Foxsports, far right. What is that about?) 

Second by a second. Sorry Cadel. But Adelaide, and Australia, and bike riders everywhere, still love you. This is literally true … Cadel was mobbed after the last stage presentation, and was followed across the Adelaide parklands by the fans as he left. And when I got back to the Hilton Hotel, where the TDU media centre is, there was a scrum on the steps of the hotel, which was caused by Cadel’s arrival at the hotel. #yellforcadel #theysuredid

So here is what Nicholas O’Donnell and I thought about it all. This is Episode 7 of the Squeaky Wheel podcast for the Tour Down Under, and once again we have added in a few bonus minutes of rambly goodness, for your special enjoyment. Don’t thank me, it’s entirely my pleasure!

 

Any Porte in a storm (TDU Squeaky Wheel ep 6)

richiewinsstage5

But only one Richie Porte up Old Willunga Hill today.

Richie blew the Tour Down Under away, a great ride. And behind him, in the chaos of the hill, Simon Gerrans gapped Cadel Evans in the last km and took enough bonus seconds to regain the Ochre jersey.

Cadel, brave Ulissi and Gerro fought out the Battle of Willunga today. Ulissi took second behind Porte, but Simon Gerrans won the war.

Cadel, brave Ulissi and Gerro fought out the Battle of Willunga today. Ulissi took second behind Porte, but Simon Gerrans won the war.

This 2014 Tour Down Under officially wins my prize as the most combative Tour ever.

Here is the 6th episode of the Squeaky Wheel’s special Tour Down Under podcasts … we’re getting longer as the Tour goes on, sorry about that! There was a lot to talk about today!!

Jensie ... 10 years ago I would have done it easy with one leg behind my back.

Jensie … 10 years ago I would have done it easy with one leg behind my back.

Friend of the Squeaky Wheel Jack Haig is looking very solid in the White Jersey for best young rider.

Friend of the Squeaky Wheel Jack Haig is looking very solid in the White Jersey for best young rider.

 

If I could save time in a bottle … (Ep5 of Squeaky Wheel at the TDU)

If Cadel Evans is looking for a lullaby tonight, this would be what I would suggest …

The battle for the Ochre jersey at the 2014 Tour Down Under went into total dogfight mode today. It’s kind of a “clean” way to win the jersey, by dropping everyone on the steepest climb of the whole tour, and holding on to win by 15 seconds. That’s what Cadel did yesterday.

But today, Simon Gerrans and Orica-Green Edge let Cadel know that this did not mean the battle was over. Gerrans clawed back five seconds in two intermediate sprints (first and second places in those sprints), and now trails Cadel by only 7 seconds. There are still two stages to go, with sprints and hill-top finishes and all sorts of opportunity for the fiercest possible bike racing.

Today was a day for the sprinters! Or one particular sprinter, in Andre Greipel. He won so convincingly that his lead-out man Jurgen Roelandts followed him home in second.

Andre Greipel grabs the handlebars after his hands-in-the-air celebrationstarted to go wrong, as he won Stage 4 so comfortably in a sprint.

Andre Greipel grabs the handlebars after his hands-in-the-air celebration started to go wrong, as he won Stage 4 oh-so-comfortably in the sprint into Victor Harbour.

Our podcast today focusses on the tactical battle, and how Gerrans’ sprinting advantage gives him the means to take back the Ochre jersey. But that doesn’t mean that he will, because Evans is such a competitor as well.

Listen and share, people. Listen and share!

And make sure you listen to the ABC radio version of the Squeaky Wheel at 5 am Saturday (Sunday 2pm on digital), cos it includes some stuff not on the podcast!

Corkscrewed! Killer Cadel cracks all comers on Ladies Day

Cadel Evans rides away from Richie Porte on the climb of Corkscrew Road, at the end of Stage 3 of the Tour Down Under.

Cadel Evans rides away from Richie Porte on the climb of Corkscrew Road, at the end of Stage 3 of the Tour Down Under.

It isn’t widely known that Thursday every year in the Tour Down Under is Ladies Day.

That’s because it’s only a tradition with a group of ladies who I met on the last switchback on Corkscrew Rd. Georgie and Lisa and Narelle get together every year, and have a picnic somewhere on the course on Ladies Day. They have have eskies and picnic tables (with tablecloth, of course), umbrellas, the works. It is fine dining (and wining) in the great outdoors.

Here’s some of the conversation I had with the ladies while we waited for the riders to show up and join the party.

But what a party when the peloton did come along. The Corkscrew climb starts 11km from the finish, and tops out just 7.4 downhill km from the end.

Our episode of the Squeaky Wheel starts with me commenting live on the Corkscrew as the pointy end of the Tour Down Under came past me.

To put this into some perspective … Cadel averaged about 24km/h up the Corkscrew climb, and got into the big ring about 400m from the top. I was on my smallest gear, and probably going about 10 km/h.

Have a listen … I get pretty excited!

Tales of brave Ulissi

Diego Ulissi of Lampre takes Stage 2 of the 2014 Tour Down Under, besting Simon Gerrans in the sprint, and cutting Gerrans' lead to only 7 seconds.

Diego Ulissi of Lampre takes Stage 2 of the 2014 Tour Down Under, besting Simon Gerrans in the sprint, and cutting Gerrans’ lead to only 7 seconds.

In the song by Eric Clapton’s 60′s band Cream, brave Ulysses‘ “naked ears were tortured by the sirens sweetly singing.”

Fortunately for you, your ears only have the sweet sounds of Nick O’Donnell and myself chatting enthusiastically about the Tour Down Under, in the third episode of the Squeaky Wheel TDU podcast, featuring the great win by Diego Ulissi, the Italian rider from the Italian team Lampre.

There are no recorded instances of listeners being driven mad by the sound of either Nick’s voice or mine. Added bonus for this episode only: we don’t sing.

So have a listen to our discussion about Stage 2, and our prognostications on the urgent and exciting subject of Stage 3 and The Corkscrew!

Everyone is racing to hear Ep2 of the Squeaky Wheel TDU pod!

Neil van der Ploeg (left, UniSA) and Drapac) were the two Australians who comprised the breakaway on Stage 1 of the Tour Down Under. They didn't stay away to the finish, but Clarke did pick up the prize as Most Competitive Rider.

Neil van der Ploeg (left, UniSA) and Will Clarke (Drapac) were the two Australians who comprised the breakaway on Stage 1 of the Tour Down Under. They didn’t stay away to the finish, but Clarke did pick up the prize as Most Competitive Rider.

The favourite, Simon Gerrans, is certainly living up to his billing here at Tour Down Under. Stage 1 today was from Nuriootpa (try saying that on a podcast) to Angaston, a distance of 135km.  Gerrans won in an uphill sprint finish from Andre Greipel, neatly destroying the category differences between GC contenders and sprinters.

So Gerrans owns both the ochre jersey as leader and the green jersey as points leader.

Here is the second episode of the Squeaky Wheel’s special Tour Down Under podcast, featuring the wit and wisdom of Nicholas O’Donnell, and little old me.

Have a listen, hope you enjoy it! Thanks for the excellent feedback from friends at home who are listening.

 

Head down, tails up for the Squeaky Wheel at TDU 2014

Hey people!

Marcel Kittel (right) outsprints Andre Greipel to win the People's Choice Classic last night.

Marcel Kittel (right) outsprints Andre Greipel to win the People’s Choice Classic last night.

OK, so I’m at the Tour Down Under. If you didn’t already know from my Instagram/Facebook feeds.

I’m here with my friend and colleague Nick O’Donnell who often features with me on the ABC’s Squeaky Wheel program (5am Saturdays on 612 ABC and statewide ABC, 2pm Sunday on ABC Digital across this great nation).

And so, because we can and because we want to, Nick and I will be recording daily podcasts from the Tour Down Under. Here’s the first one!

Nick and I would be grateful for:

  • your feedback (comment on this post, or on Facebook, or wherever)
  • your support! If you see this on Facebook, Twitter or wherever, please share it!
  • your ideas! Let me know what aspect of the TDU you want us to cover. We will be focussing on getting behind the scenes, particularly with the younger Australian riders and less-high-profile teams. But what would be interesting to you?

Not quite vintage, but plenty of good stuff

The 2013 Tour de France: It’s all over bar the shouting. I’ve only been watching the Tour since halfway through Miguel Indurain’s reign, so I can’t tell you how this one really rates … I’m a bit new at the game.

But I enjoyed it quite a lot. Although it turned out that “Richie Froome” (as Phil Liggett said on multiple occasions) was the best by a solid four minutes, Sky did not have it all their own way, and there was genuine interest on several stages.

The bits I really liked:

The biggest stars of the race?

  • Nairo Quintana and Marcel Kittel. Forget the “stars of the future” tag, these boys are fast right now.

My favourite rider?

  • Jens motherfreaking Voigt. Don’t go Jensie. You will be a long time retired. ONE MORE YEAR!

We still need you Jensie.

We still need you Jensie.

A strange silence

Imogen Smith is not just an amazing mountain bike racer, but also a hell of a writer …

“on the cheap, a few nights there were six of us to a room stuffed full of bags, filthy kit and discarded boxer shorts. And all this makes you tired.

“on day 6, I had a dream ride, one of those days when you can’t feel your chain. Today, I felt every link, every pin, every bit of grease and grass on the bastard thing”

“I lost it a bit. Sally Bigham was behind us, just tapping up, and gave me a few words of encouragement I will never forget. ‘Never panic,’ she said. Never panic.

“a strange silence of nobody trying to pass you, because you’re going fast enough”

Check her most recent post on MarathonMTB.com: Racing to the Line in Transalp: “Never Panic”. Worth five minutes of your life.

Imogen Smith and Mike Blewitt ... way beyond their own expectations in finishing third in the mixed teams in the Craft Bike Trans-Alp mtb stage race.

Imogen Smith and Mike Blewitt … way beyond their own expectations in finishing third in the mixed teams in the Craft Bike Trans-Alp mtb stage race.