Day-dreaming of cycling in Florence

Florence cycling

I’ll be taking advantage of some lovely early autumn weather to cycle in Belgium this week as I have a few days when I will be at home for a while.

But all the while I will be daydreaming of Florence and Tuscany.

Glorious city of art and culture.

Part of the Tuscany cycle tour that I convinced Mrs Idonotdespair to take part in as a first tour, and strange girl still married me two years later.

The city in which my current adventure started when I was approached to consider joining ECF as a staff member, almost exactly two years ago.

So I shall be visualising rolling hills and cypress trees, olive groves and city walls. A city I love visiting and hope to go to many more times.

But these images will be the backdrop to my other cycling passion. Classic bike racing. This year’s World Road Cycling Championships that has got me more enthusiastic than for many years because there are so many angles and interesting battles to consider, especially now I am not just looking through a British filter, I have been listening to the Belgian and French build-ups as well.

On Sunday the team time trial gave a taster as Fabian Cancellara and Tony Martin led their team squads into action while Bradley Wiggins was away winning the Tour of Britain. The aerial photography showed stunning views of Florence that looked wonderful.

Time Trial at Surbiton

So on Wednesday I will be glued to the results as the big three go for it with all of them on form for the first time in two years, the proper rematch for the Olympics when Cancellara was injured and Martin maybe a bit off form.

Then at the weekend we have the road races. The women’s race is a bit of a formality, on this course it is impossible to see anyone beating Marianne Vos.

But in the men’s U23 there are some incredible young riders including Simon Yates of Great Britain who is a real star in the making and there is a resurgence in some of the other countries such as France, while the Italians have been known to pack 1-2-3 in the past. Throw in the wild cards who are still emerging in this age group and anything could happen.

Ronde Van Vlaanderen PaterbergThen on Sunday it will be hard to drag myself away from the men’s road race as the intensity builds up all day. I will probably have to go for a bike ride to distract myself or I will have spent the whole day in front of a TV.

I have no expectations of Chris Froome beating the star puncheurs of the classic’s scene. But Cancellara is on record saying that this is the race he really wants to complete his collection. Sagan is flying. Defending champion Gilbert is coming back to form and the Belgians were by far the best team last year. Vincenzo Nibali was not in full form at the Veulta but is on home roads in Tuscany. Will the Spanish all ride for Rodriguez?  There is a brilliant group of young French riders coming through and yet they have selected cycling’s top gurner Tommy V to be the sole team leader. Loads of possibilities.

Much better than football – only 2 choices of winner!

Dreaming of Tuscan hills.

On Sunday we will wear yellow – again!

Yellow hatOne year ago I promised I would wear yellow on my Sunday bike ride to celebrate the first ever British winner of the Tour de France.

I think it is time to dust off the colours again, this time to celebrate Chris Froome which is going to make it an extraordinary double for those of us who have endured years of cycling starvation. My Belgian club probably won’t even register the colour change, but I will know.

I cannot bring myself to celebrate the fact that he carries the brand of the loathsome Murdoch empire but I can’t help but enjoy yet another three weeks of wheeled chess on the roads.

Two more good reasons too – firstly family bragging rights in the in Fantasy Tour de France competition – sorry boys, eat my shorts! Maillot Jaune pour moi.

Fantasy Tour de France

Finally even if Froome was not riding under the British flag (Belgian TV will only call him “the white Kenyan”) I think his win is cause for celebration among another special group of cyclists. Let’s hear it for the nodding donkeys, the people whose style doesn’t leave the purists humming, the upright, those of us who cannot bend like a hairpin and lie sleekly over our handlebars.

Not for us the smooth style of Wiggins or the low frontal area of Cavendish, the silky descending of Nibali.

I was prepared to take Dan Martin as our hero for the year, but let’s face it, Chris Froome is for us.

Bring out your yellow on Sunday and celebrate.

L'Equipe headline page Froome