World Champion Peter Sagan - Checker Hill Adelaide Tour Down Under 11 Feb 2017

2017 TDF Tour Spots Still Available - And New Bikes Are Coming!

Topbike 2017 TdF Paris Places

In this year of the 100th Giro d'Italia, there is still another race to see, yes, the Tour de France...!

TDF 2017 - Ride into Paris

Usually we fill all our TdF tour places in the first month after Le Tour finishes, but as there is big interest for the Giro (all places full, sorry) the TdF has a couple of gaps. Three to be precise. Four at a squeeze.

TOUR DE FRANCE - PARIS July 14-24, 2017

We've put together a terrific tour that has us using just three accomms for the entire ten days. We're including a 500yo chateau, a traditional french farmhouse at the foot of Alpe d'Huez, and our usual Parisian Hotel. So, not a lot of unpacking/packing and plenty of time to ride your bike in the Pyrenees and the Alps.

So if you've ever been thinking about coming along to the TdF, make this the year. Who knows what could happen in 2018?

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Topbike - EBike-Tag Along - Reccy in Sardinia 30 Sep 2016

La Vuelta Wrap, Sardinia Reccy Report & MTB Ride Report

2016 La Vuelta Wrap

Fantastic racing, almost from the gun, and like the TdF all the winning moves were done from the seat of their pants-or chamois. While Quintana, Froome, Contador, Chaves et al, probably didn't all ignore the power meter completely, it wasn't controlled from the team car. And OBE had a blinder, probably their best grand tour result. Well done to them. Great weather, terrific locations, and we had a film crew along, on tour, to capture it all. The film's all about MAMILs, not sure about the release date, but I am sure we'll all get to see it, one day soon.

Tour of Sardinia Reccy

Took my beautiful girls over to Sardinia last week. That's them in the photo above, doing the Ebike-tag-along. The tour will start and finish in Olbia, and take an anti-clockwise route. We found a good mix of remote luxury accomms, unique agriturismos and enough old town locations to make it a fabulous tour. Full itinerary is in production, dates June 16-26 in 2017. See Cucinare report also!

Tour of Sardinia Reccy - Cycling


Ride report - Local MTB Marathon in Iseo

There was a local MTB Marathon on last Sunday, starting in Iseo. It's one we'd known about for a while, but had usually returned to Australia before the date. With our big season this year, MBW and I had both planned to race it, but Emma pulled up 'un po malato' so opted out. Despite breaking a finger 4 weeks ago I still wanted to give it a crack.

1500 riders took to the start line, with 1249 of them in front of me. The race was only 41k, but there were two steep sections. One of them averaged 20% for 2.5k, which was the end of the final climb, and about 3k from home.

The moral of the story is, if you start a race with a broken finger, it will still be broken at the finish. And probably hurt a little bit more. I must have overtaken 400 people, as I finished in 820th. I couldn't get an age group start (no italian licence) but I would have placed about mid-field in Masters 6. The depth of talent here, in a local bike race never fails to surprise.

L'Eroica this weekend

I'm writing this in a friends place in Florence, about to head down to the Chianti region for L'Eroica on Sunday. Although there is a lot more to this yesteryear event than the riding (all bikes used are pre-'87). Keep an eye on our Instagram and Facebook posts, as the bike market and fashions should provide plenty of terrific shots. Our tour continues after Eroica, down to Rome, and finishes with a Granfondo along the Appian way the following weekend.


Next year we’ve got Corsica, the 100th Giro, the aforementioned Tour of Sardinia, TdF Climbs and of course TdF Paris. Ebikes a plenty. One rider on Corsica this year rode 110k, with climbs, with the front group, and flattened the battery 200m from home. Dismounted feeling fresh as a daisy. Get that non-cycling partner along on one, they’ll love it. NB: Another rider took the strava KOM on Alpe d’Huez… I kid you not, but that’s another story.

Photos: MBGs above, and below, no 'Penne allo Scoglio', just a cracking open grill at another ristorante on Sardinia.

Cucinare report

They just sneak up on you. Those fantastic dishes, when you least expect it.

The owner of our BnB had given us the details of the closest/local, so we set off with little expectation, only to get a table at the early time of 7.15, and be fed. The staff were still finishing their meal when we arrived, but seated us with little ado, adding it'd be a moment before the kitchen got going, so we were offered aperitivi, and the menu (perfect).

My long time favorite in Italy is 'Spaghetti Vongole' but as I had already scored two in row on Sardinia, I ventured down the menu to 'Penne allo Scoglio'. Scampi, prawns, vongole (clams) and cozze (mussels) in a tomato sugo. But what a sugo! It can only be tomatoes, garlic, salt, parsley and not much else....surely? I wanted to go into the kitchen, order another, and watch it get made. 10 out of 10, and every time I pick up a menu now, I'll be looking for it, and hoping for an equal.

Ristorante Sa Sevada in Guardia Grande

Topbike on Tour - Gallery of Highlights from Sicily 2016

Topbike Tours - Tour of Sicily "Eat-Drink-Ride"

Amanda Spratt (and the #TopbikeGiroFiat) on her way to winning her 2nd National Champs title, at Buninyong last Sunday - photo twitter feed @Cyclingnewsfeed 14 Jan 2016

La Vuelta Espana, L'Eroica and Ebikes

La Vuelta 2016

Follow La Vuelta with a cycling holiday in Spain with Topbike ToursThe Tour of Spain (La Vuelta Espana) route was announced on the weekend and we're preparing our itinerary now, for the final ten days.

We'll start in the French Pyrenees, ride a full stage on the plains, curl our way along the coast of Valencia before winding back to Madrid for the grand finale. Great spectating, great tapas and fantastic riding.
13 places only, half-booked now, contact us for the full itinerary, asap.

L'Eroica Sept 30 - Oct 10

L'Eoica is a vintage granfondo held in the heart of the Chianti region of Tuscany, every October.

You ride a pre-'87 bike in the event, that is flanked by nostalgia and epic vintage bike markets. Our tour takes this in, and follows it up with a ride into Rome, and another GF along the Appian Way. No details on the website sorry, email us for more details.


We also run a couple of 'Eat-Drink-Ride' tours to Corsica and Sicily.

Great accomms and excellent cuisine, and on Corsica it's a ride-out, ride-in style. No time in the car, means more time to eat-drink-ride. Spectacular scenery on both islands, too.
UPDATE Corsica is now full, places available on Sicily.

Climbs Tour (Feast of Ascension)

Each year we run a climbing tour, alternating between France & Italy.
In 2016 we'll be doing the great Climbs of the Giro (Classic Italian Climbs).

Valporola, Campolongo, Pordoi x 2, Gardena, Sella, Marmolada, Campolongo, Stelvio, Gavia x 2, Mortirolo, Croce Domini, Maniva & Polaveno et al.

Along with a great mix of excellent hotels and Agriturismi you won't find on any other tour. Bury yourself on the big hills then watch the pro's do it -live- with a spritz in hand? We love it and think you will too.

Topbike Tours Year Book 20152015 Yearbook

This year's yearbook is now available, if you would like one posted to you, please let us know your postal address, and we'll send one out to you FOC.

Want to see more of our photos? We post daily on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Google Plus (thanks Denise) while on tour.

E-bikes new for 2016

We'll be making E-Bikes available on all tours.

We tested them this year, with great results. If you have a cycling partner, who may not be putting in as many hours as you, consider bringing them along on an E-Bike. The G-force is surprising, to all who ride them. Rated 10/10.


TOP:Amanda Spratt (and the #TopbikeGiroFiat) on her way to winning her 2nd National Champs title, at Buninyong last Sunday - photo twitter feed @Cyclingnewsfeed

Olledays by the Lake - One of the SP6 (Sooty Park Six) doing the Lago Loop, Topbike HQ - Italy 09 Aug 2015

Olledays by the Lake

Were are currently enjoying a little downtime by Lake Iseo here in northern Italy. It also involves cleaning and prepping a few bikes, and planning next year's tours.

While you may well imagine a duck coasting about the tranquil pond with it's legs powering away beneath the surface....after the TdF, I feel a bit more like the dead thing lyng on it's back, at the bottom of that pond (insert smiley face here).

Two new offers for 2016

We'll be making E-Bikes available on all tours.
We tested them this year, with great results. If you have a cycling partner, who may not be putting in as many hours as you, consider bringing them along on an E-Bike. The G-force is surprising, to all who ride them. Rated 10/10.

Our hire bikes are 50% off for all bookings made during August.
Get organised for next year's holiday now, book your flight with FF points, or just take up an earlybird special. These are the golden days.
Please check our 2016 preliminary dates below.

TdF Reprise

I spoke to our neighbour the other day, she lives two doors away on Via Garibaldi, with her daughter and grandaughter. She's not quite an atypical nonna, with her pierced nose and constant smoking, and I don't often chat with her outside of the daily greetings when we pass. However last week on the street, she pulled me aside and asked what I thought about Nibali's performance in this year's TdF. Turns out she is a huge cycling fan, watching every race on the tele, including all grand tour stages. I started by talking about Team Skys dominance, and linking it to their budget. We eventually returned to Nibali, and I reluctantly confessed that I thought last year's performance was not honest. Surprisingly Stefi agreed, and matched it to Pantani and Basso's drug fuelled performances of the past. While she hoped for clean racing, she wasn't believing in it yet.

I can't wait to have a similiar conversation with a nose-pierced grandmother in Fitzroy.


Top: One of the SP6 (Sooty Park Six) doing the Lago Loop, Topbike HQ - Italy.
Lower: Betty in the fountain, Piazza Erbe, Verona.
All photos and text by David Olle.

Cucinare report:

Here in Italy, summer and August, are getting into full swing, and this year it's hot. However the big day is August 15, the Feast of Assumption, which really kicks off the holiday season. It is THE big day for families to get together and go out for lunch. Every picnic spot, in every forest will be staked out in the morning, ristorantes fully booked, while BBQ's and rotisseries all over the peninsula will be rolling early.

My first 'Ferragosto' was back in '96, and I was the mug allocated the job of staking out the real estate, in a forest about 2k out of town. Once the land disputes were settled, everyone got along famously for the rest of the day. It was my first experience of a true Italian picnic, and included amongst the six courses served, was a fresh pasta dish. While the pasta was probably made at home that morning, it was cooked on site, in the biggest pot, on the biggest gas ring seen outside a smelter. Wine, coffee, grappa and Limoncello were also served, and after lunch everyone in the forest - not just our group of 30 - lay down and had a siesta, most with their head on a rock.

Next week's Ferragosto will see us up in the hills behind Marone, at a small church with tent and tables for a couple of hundred. Not quite the rural picnic, but close. Still lots of fun.


Topbike on Tour - Topbike in Sunflowers 26 Jul 2015

On the Road to Gay Paris - #TdF2015 Finish minus one

Today all of France is very happy, after Pinot’s win on top of the Dutch mountain (otherwise known as Alpe d’Huez) yesterday.

Unfortunately the euphoria will be shortlived, as this evening, the Maillot Jaune is set to go west, over the channel, and the stage win on the Champs Elysses is likely to either follow, or go east to Germany. Thirty years and counting since their last ‘hometown’ win…c’est la vie!

A few other thoughts from the previous two weeks.

Froome report:

While he rides the bike with all the style, or panache if you prefer, of a Thunderbirds puppet with broken strings, he’s still managed to beat everyone. I’m amazed, as I did not expect anyone to be able to out climb the Colombian Quintana, and his lieutenant, convicted drug cheat Valverde. But then, I’m still amazed every time Froome stands up. Maybe I’m just easily amazed.

Podcast report:

If you haven’t been downloading all the SBS TdF podcasts, you could do it now. The Froomie & Roomie episodes, presented by Annabelle, are keeping us amused all the way to Paris.

Sky report:

In the Pyrenees, the winner of this year’s E3 Harelbeke (a cobbled spring classic) chased down Nairo Quintana, when he went on the attack, catching him easily. That’s a marked improvement in three months. In E3, Geraint Thomas got in a break with Sagan and Stybar, no less. Both great spring classic riders. After working with them for a while, he dropped both of them, before soloing away for the win. He did have a bad day in the alps, but on most other stages he could be seen riding, and finishing with the GC contenders. Amazing.

Lance report:

Last week Lance stated that the reason Froome is under suspicion is because of him. Uh-uh-uh Lance. You may be the most infamous cheat, but you’re not the only one. We know you need the attention, but you are not that deserving. You have to accept that the Essendon Football Club is equally as responsible. Let’s just make that all cheats, ever.

Skippy report:

Looks like we’re going to start this tour with a bang, and finish with a whimper. At least Rohan Dennis will have racked up two stage wins. Cross your fingers for Matthews on the Champs Elysses, he’s a long shot, but at least he’s still got a shot.

Carbon neutrality report:

Bike riding is an extremely efficient means of transport, but the tables are turned once it becomes a race. It takes 3,500 people to manage the Tour de France and while the race may cover 3,500k, the support team probably travels over 7,000k. Approximately 9 million kilometers are driven. Factor in the helicopters, the crowds, travelling from all points of the compass (many flying) and consider that it was estimated half a million plus fans occupied Alpe d’Huez on the penultimate race day. More than five thousand tonnes of fuel are burnt, FOR A BIKE RACE.
I would hazard Bathurst, the Formula 1 GP at Albert Park, and the Moto GP at Phillip Island, all together, are more fuel efficient.

Anna Wilson (Topbike A1 staffer) - One of Australia's greatest cyclists enjoying a little french immersionPhotos:

Top: Topbike Sunflowers (obligatory).
Lower: One of Australia's greatest cyclists enjoying a little french immersion, Anna Wilson (Topbike A1 staffer).
(* Photos and text by David Olle).

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Topbike on Tour - Photo Highlights from Topbike's TDF 1 2015 Stages 2 - 9

TDF 2015 Stage 2 & 3

TDF 2015 Stage 4

TDF 2015 Stage 5

TDF 2015 Stage 6

TDF 2015 Stage 8

TDF 2015 Stage 9 - Team Time Trial

TOUR DE FRANCE PARIS - July 15–25 2016*

Tour De France Week 1 14 Jul 2015

Of the Tour de France - End of Week 1

Hede-Bazouges, on tour, France, Stage 9, Team Time Trial

#TdF2015 One week in. OK, what have learned this week?

Of the big Four, let’s start with Nibali (13th place at 2’22”), the current TdF champion - not that it means anything 50 weeks later. He was dropped in the final kilometer Saturday, up the Mur de Bretagne. Losing 4 seconds. Not a huge amount, but the other three didn’t, and finished together. He lost more time in the TTT, Sunday. By this time last year he had the race wrapped up, as Contador & Froome had departed injured. He’d also won a stage, over the ‘pave’. He’s a winner, but he’s not looking like one now. In fact he’s looking a little punchdrunk. I think I even saw him breathing on Saturday’s final climb. If he doesn’t come good in the Pyrenees on Tuesday/Wednesday, I’m guessing he’ll be ‘a casa’, spaghetti-side, by next weekend.

Quintana (9th place at 1’59”).
He’s near the front at every finish, with a great TTT result Sunday. He’s not overdoing anything, not featuring on the tele, or overdoing interviews. Everyday I have to check the results to see if he finished, cause he’s so hard to see. In fact I’d say he’s riding in ‘economy’ mode. He’s not attracting any attention, riding tucked in, and hidden. Economy mode… Saving it all for the third week. Economy. Two minutes in arrears before any mountains? Pfft. ECONOMY.

Contador (5th place at 1’03”)
He’s hard to read. A convicted drug cheat, who has never confessed, is hard to believe as well. At face value he’s looking good. His team is strong, and he’s riding well, always near the front. After the winning the Giro, I’d expect him to be tired, but that may not be apparent until we’re in the Alps in the third week. I’m not about to write him off, but if he wins this tour, I won’t be believing what I’m seeing.

Froome (1st place, in yellow)
Christ, have you seen him? On the bike he looks like a daddy long legs spider in a wind tunnel. I’d like to say that I’ve seen him in the flesh, but he doesn’t have any. Hard to believe he’ll live for three weeks, let alone win. I’m surprised every time he stands up. If the plague, or some other pestilence, went through the peloton he’d be the first one dead. Will not see Paris.

The Sprinters
Griepel, has got his mojo back, beating Cav twice this week. But Cav has had the last win, of the three sprints up for grabs. It’s a fantastic contest, and Friday as they rolled through Argentan, after the first sprint, they were side by side, having a little chat. While it’s disappointing we don’t have Kittel in the mix, we’ve still got a great race on our hands. Sagan’s back in Green tonight, by the way – still without a win.

The fall of Tony Martin
This week we saw a multiple world champion, wearing the leader’s jersey of the greatest bike race in the world, crash and break his collar bone. No one to blame but himself. The moral of this story is that all bike riders crash, no matter how good they are. Just ask Simon Gerrans. Bike riding is inherently dangerous. If you are happy to ride a few centimetres off the wheel of a bike in front of you, you can expect to be involved in a crash. You need not look past yourself, if you need to appoint the blame.

Cuisine Report

We had scallops served on a bed of mushrooms, last night, from Scotland, served by a (fantastic) Irish Chef, in Brittany, France. The photo didn't do it justice, sorry. You'll just have to imagine. Followed by Duck for the main, and Creme Brullee with a local 'sticky', that wasn't too sticky.

Off to meet my girls tomorrow in Bourg d'Oisans, for a few days, before we kick off the final TdF Paris tour on friday.

PS - Topbike TDF Dates for 2016

TOUR DE FRANCE PARIS - July 15–25 2016*

Gelati - Sicily 03 Jul 2015

Hello everyone! Its TdF 2015!

The Tour starts this Saturday, with 10 skinny Australians taking the line. None will sport a number one plate (ie indicating ‘Team Leader’) but many will grasp the opportunity to have their day in the sun, of that you can rest assured.

With the big four contenders lining up - Nibali, Contador, Froome & Quintana, and all in good shape, it SHOULD be a good race. All are proven Grand Tour winners, and should know what it takes. Let’s hope the racing is close, clean and believable, and no idiots get done for doping, ok?

I have a story in the current ‘Bicycling Australia’ if you would like to read an expanded version of the above. We also post daily photos from all our tours on Facebook. Currently we are in the Pyrenees with our TdF Climbs group, and today rode Col d'Aspin and Tourmalet, featuring in Le Tour in two weeks time.

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Topbike's Dave Olle and Betty waiting for the train 22 May 2015

Reflections on Napoli - Half-way through the Giro

May 20 2015 - Richie Port half-way in the Giro d'Italia

The Giro is halfway through today, and while we'd love to see Richie Porte succeed, it's goiing to be tough for him, losing a minute today, and with the likes of Aru and Contador working him over.

It is reminiscent of the '07 Tour, when Contador and Rassmussen (before he was ejected) conspired to work against Cadel. It's hard to respect convicted drug cheats like Contador, but at least we know that if he has to defend the Pink leader's jersey all the way to Milano, he'll be well challenged to get back up to full strength again in July.

Napoli - Reflections from 2013

Here's a story I wrote for the start of the Giro a couple of years back. It never made it into print, but I reckon it's worth another run here.

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Topbike Giro Fiat, outside The Corner Store, Station St, Forrest 25 Oct 2014

Topbike Granfondo Weekend, Yellow Jersey get-together & Topbike in Sicily 2015

Topbike Granfondo Weekend, Yellow Jersey get-together, and the Tour de France route announced.

Nov 15-16, 'Pan y Agua' double granfondo ride weekend

We have the Topbike 'Pan y Agua' (bread & water) weekend on at Forrest. 70k/140k-120k ride options over the weekend, fully supported, free of charge. Dinner at the Forrest Brewery Saturday night. (NB dinner is not FOC, sorry!).

Contact us for more details and to book in to ride & dine.

Photo Above: The #TopbikeGiroFiat outside the Forrest Corner Store, where we meet for coffee on the Granfondo weekend, Nov 15-16.

Nov 18, Tuesday lunch, Yellow Jersey get-together

The Maiilot Jaune Club has many luncheons, but this is the first one where 6 of their 7 patrons will be in attendance. Phillip Anderson, Stuart O'Grady, Bradley McGee, Cadel Evans, Simon Gerrans and Baden Cooke will all be there, only Robbie McEwen will be absent. This one is a do not miss if you live in Melbourne, you can find more details here (Get on my table, if you can).

Topbike in Sicily June 5-15, 2015

Sicily is one of the most beautiful places in the world to ride your bike. Think great riding, magnificent scenery, quiet roads, excellent cuisine and top notch accomms Contact us about our Feast of Sicily - Eat-Drink-Ride (also known as Topbike's Tour of Sicily!

The Tour de France route for 2015 is announced tonight

Following tonight's announcement we'll be finalising our tour plans to follow next year's TdF.

Dates are TdF1 July 8-14 and TdF Paris July 17-27. Expect our itineraries to be completed next week. Four places remain on TdF Paris presently.

Our full 2015 calendar is now available on the website - see below.

You can (also) find us on Facebook, twitter, strava, instagram, google+ et al, or even at home, drop around!

In the Time Zone - TDF 2014 24 Jul 2014

TdF 101, two point five weeks in

I’m having an afternoon off from the TdF barriers, or the coalface if you prefer, and writing my first tour report from this year. Don’t ask me where the time has gone…the race goes for three weeks, but I haven’t found 15 minutes to sit down and bash out a few thoughts.

It’s a guilty luxury to skive off from the race, even if I have the stage live on the tele a few metres away, and the road out front of our hotel has seen the TdF pass about 80 times over its 101 editions. Or so our host Marie-Helene tells me, and who am I to argue? She runs the place with her mother, who just might have seen it pass every time, and still rules the roost at breakfast. More café & croissants? Of course, right away (as soon as I feel like it).

Of course, in this third week of the tour, France is beside herself with excitement. Not because ‘our’ Michael Rogers won yesterday, but because there are Frenchmen in third, fourth and fifth on GC (General Classification) and we’ve only half a week to go to Paris. And they’re not ordinary Frenchmen…they are young. They haven’t much chance of victory, but THREE Frenchmen fighting for a podium place is unheard of in recent times. It’s nearly thirty years since the last Frenchman triumphed in Paris, and this situation is reminiscent of the good ol’ days, when their race was less ‘International’. They are getting nearly a page each, in the French daily sporting rag - more than the Italian in yellow.


Topbike Tours - Tour de France - Paris 2013 03 Jul 2014

They can't cook pasta and haven't a clue about making wine - Le Tour starts this Saturday

They can’t cook pasta, and haven’t a clue about making wine, but they have got the biggest bike race!

2 out of 3 of those points about France are approved by Italy.

Le Tour starts this Saturday, in the UK and here’s a preview I wrote for Bicycling Australia’s Tour de France issue, which is out now (of course!). You have to buy the magazine to view their great pictures (and other stories, I don’t have them here, sorry.

Speaking ‘of Corse’, or ‘Of Corsica’, our Tour of Corsica trip for next year is half full already, so if you’re interested, please let me know asap. Of note with this tour this year, more than half the riders ‘rode out/rode in’ everyday. That means no time in the car. Not many tours you can do that on.

Tour de France 101

It’s been three years since Australia’s first Tour de France triumph, and while it seems like an age, it’s nothing compared to the preceding ninety-seven tours that we didn’t win. Since 2011 we’ve endured two years of dominance from the Old Dart. As painful as it might be, it’s not the dominance of Team Sky that has been the problem. I don’t mind them winning, but it’s the lack of art, or to be more appropriate, the complete absence of ‘je ne sais quoi’ in their wins. Keep it up and they’ll equal Armstrong ‘seven years of nothing’ for boredom. For us, even if Cadel didn’t win in 2011, we all –all cycling fans that is, not just the Skip Fans- would agree that it was the best and most interesting tour in modern times. Cadel only had one day in yellow, the one that counts. For the previous three weeks the jersey had bounced around the teams like a dropped bidon in the speeding peloton, allowing a select few their day in the sun.

The 2011 tour brought fascinating racing, with a script that couldn’t be written. Remember the pre-tour race favorite Contador, on the backfoot from the start, losing three minutes on stage one after being caught behind a fall? And the comedy of the show, as two Spanish non-team mates tried gamely to help in his re-gaining of the peloton that day? The joke being that they were from Euskaltel, a team that tends to choke on Team Time Trial days, viewing them more as active restdays than race days. Andreas Klöden, Bradley Wiggins, Alexandre Vinokourov, Janez Brajkovič, Chris Horner and Jurgen Van Den Broeck all ‘exited stage left’ early, injured. While Robert Gesink, Samuel Sánchez and Levi Leipheimer all lost considerable amounts of time, condition, and bruised egos, due to falls.

Controversy reigned when Nicki Sørensen was struck by a photo motorbike, and the now famous (mainly due to the incident) Johnny Hoogerland and Juan Antonio Flecha being injured after an ‘incident’ with a television car. Fabian Cancellara failed in his bid to be Union Leader that day, and neutralize the day’s racing, siting the course as ‘dangerous’. So while he self-righteously tried to slow the peloton and negotiate with the Commissaires, upfront a frenchman who should never be allowed an inch, dug deep. Thomas Voeckler chewed on his bar tape, and with the help of his ‘breakies’ levered himself into yellow. For the second time in his career he gave the French hope for the next ten or so days.

This will, without doubt, be a long awaited and memorable day in the 100th edition of the Tour. For the first time, there will be a double helping of nerves for the riders who will be dreading the double climb of the Alpe d'Huez, and rightly so. With its notorious twenty-one hairpin bends, it is also one of the most telegenic climbs in France. Note to Fabian: If you are signing up for a sport that regularly runs its murderous three week parcourse up and down high Pyrenean and Alps passes, where wheel to wheel, handle bar to handle bar, cheek by jowl almost, you and your cohorts hit speeds of 80-90+ KMH, wearing nothing more for protection than a thin layer of lycra (that barely protects you against sunburn) and the softest roadside padding being kilometers of steel Armco, think carefully about what you call dangerous.
It’s impossible to recreate the same script as 2011, but at least this year, with the removal of the mid-tour individual time trial, where the race was secured the last two years, we’ve got a sporting chance

To the race


Ivan Basso - Giro D'Italia 2012 09 May 2014

Of the Giro - Starts Today in Belfast

I count 14 Aussies on the starting list this morning, unfortunately Richie Porte is not one of them. However, 8 weeks ago, when I wrote the following article for Bicycling Australia magazine he was. So please forgive me for not being able to predict that.

Cadel Versus Richie.
That’s a lovely way to start an article about a race in Europe, and it’s also the way we (as aussies) would love to see the 2014 Giro pan out. While it’s possible it may end up this way, I doubt the Italian grand tour planners had our boys in their grand plan, when designing the route. While RCS Sport (the Giro owners, and also the owners of ‘La Gazzetta dello Sport’ - Italy’s pink daily sporting rag) trumpet this race as a tribute to the late Marco Pantani, as it’s ten years now since his passing, it looks remarkably like it was designed for the Messina Shark - Vincenzo Nibali to repeat his 2013 victory. In fact the penultimate two days, where Vincenzo sealed his win, almost mimic those of last year’s race. All we need do is add a couple of metres of snow, and it’ll be complete.

Let’s start by having a look at this year’s edition week by week.


Polignano 07 May 2014

Off to Corsica - riding, eating and drinking.

We’re off to Corsica tomorrow, not chasing a race, just riding, eating and drinking. Consequently this story is all about olive oil, and wine, and the purchasing of such items.

As we are based in the heartland of wine and olive oil production, we’ve always tried to buy such items in bulk, or ‘sfuso’, refilling our own recycled water bottles. It hasn’t always been as easy as it sounds, as inevitably we pass the ‘sfuso’ sale places while on our bikes, and consistently fail to return, with bottles ready to go. Years ago, when I lived in Lenola, a small town south of Rome, I rented an apartment, that was supposed to be ‘self contained’. On arrival I found it was equipped with three coat hangers, and not much else. When I reported to the owners that I needed something to cook with, the Nonna immediately disappeared into a hidden cave, promptly returning brandishing a large bottle of olive oil. Obviously this was the primary requisite, before pots, pans, dishes, cutlery etc. For the next three months I was gifted olive oil and red wine from friends in the local cycling fraternity, as long as I returned the original glass vessel, clean. It was convenient, simple and humbled me, as none of the group lived a high life, but they all placed great emphasis on ensuring their Australian guest wanted for nothing.



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An Australian company, Topbike has a fully equipped European base and its own fleet of high quality hire bikes. We specialise in quality cycling tours with small groups and are famous for looking after our clients.

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