Roadie psyches opposition with pannier bag

Mennock Pass by Emma Felton

You’ve just got to love the strength and power of Dean Downing of the Rapha Condor team. Here he is climbing Scotland’s Mennock Pass in the 2008 Tour of Britain. To make it extra hard for himself he’s schlepping a pannier bag. And it’s full of bricks, too.

OK, he’s not, it’s a pannier bag on a touring bike behind Downing but made you look twice, huh? It’s the winning image – bigger here – in the Tour of Britain Photo Competition and was taken by Emma Felton of Cumbria.

Over 300 people submitted their favourite images from this year’s Tour of Britain for consideration by a panel of judges, comprising professional cyclists, cycling journalists, Tour of Britain organisers and Canon, official imaging supplier and longest serving sponsors of The Tour.

The winning image was taken on stage seven of this year’s Tour of Britain, depicting Rapha – Condor – duo Chris Newton and Dean Downing in the company of An Post’s Mark Cassidy and Juan van Heerden of the MTN Energade team.

Don’t blink, kids

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Usually, on a Friday afternoon in term-time, I coach 20+ kids at a local primary school. This cycling club had an excursion this Friday afternoon. We went to the Tour of Britain stage finish in Newcastle-Gateshead.

We walked from school and got to the finish line with 40 minutes to go. There were plenty of activities to keep the kids entertained but they were itching to see the race hit town.

Hugh Porter did a great job at ramping up the excitement…and then it was all over. Alessendro Petacchi won – again. Rob Hayles came in a valiant second – again.

By hanging out further along than the finishing line, I was able to grab the odd rider to sign autographs for the kids. Travis Meyer of the South Australia team did a sterling job as he was mobbed by the cycling club members. I failed to stop my number one target: Bradley Wiggins (a name all the kids know thanks to a certain event in China) but at least the kids saw him close-up.

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Blazers take umbrage at Rock Racing’s kit switching


Rock Racing’s PR man Sean Weide told Twitterland:

“Rock Racing is not only drawing the attention of fans with its colorful, special team kits, but the race officials have also taken notice.

“In Wednesday’s communique, the officials wrote “(we) have noted the variations in advertising and color of the jerseys…This will be reported to the UCI for their attention.”

“So, for the first time this season, Rock Racing might be fined for its jerseys.”

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The Rock Racing team is known for creating event race-specific kit. As I reported on, the replica shorts-and-jersey combos cost £325.

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I can’t speak Latin, but Mark Winters, UK importer of Fuji bikes, says the graphics on the bikes used by Rock Racing in Tour of Britain, say: “Kill them all, take no prisoners.” A message for UCI wonks, perhaps?

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Follow Tour of Britain on Twitter


Want up to the second coverage of the Tour of Britain? Join the Twitter feed of @RockRacing. This is produced by Rock Racing’s PR man Sean Weide, pictured above.

He lined me up a one-on-one interview with Tyler Hamilton before the start of today’s start of the Tour of Britain in London.

I won’t be embedded with the whole race but it’ll be fun on stage six – that from Darlington to Newcastle-Gateshead – because I’ll be with 20 school-kids, members of the school cycling club which I coach.

One of these kids is Josh, my ten year old son. He was with me in London today. He took a cracking headshot of Tyler:


In fact, there are four of Josh’s shots on this flickr set. The above is my favourite because of Tyler’s bokeh hand.

Some of the first ToB pix are below and there’s a recording of my interview with Tyler. This might have ended in disaster (many people no doubt wish it had, Tyler is hated by many, although precious few of these haters will have read Christopher Campbell’s dissent in the USADA vs Hamilton blood doping case) as my digital tape recorder died the death on me, seconds before I was to start the interview.

I improvised, grabbing my small video camera instead, and filmed Tyler’s chest as I grabbed some audio. The quality isn’t perfect (a generator on a team bus kicked in as I pressed record) but audio can be found here as an MP3 direct-listen or on iTunes. The US champion talked about the special Tour of Britain team kit, and his recent US Championships win, a Phelpsian skin-of-a-pudding kind of victory.


Above, plenty of people were watching the fast and furious finish of the first stage. Petacchi, in his first race after suspension, won by a country mile.


Josh with gold medallist Bradley Wiggins.


Cartoonist Jo Burt with the new British Cycling mascot, drawn by the Mint Sauce creator and seen here much larger than life.


The Rock Racing team – the so-called ‘bad boys’ of the pro peleton – had London-specific kit today, promoting the brand’s appearance in Harrods. For the rest of the Tour the team with sport ToB-specific strips.


‘Fast’ Freddy Rodriguez seen getting on the Tour of Britain specific Fuji machine. This will be available as special edition bike in the bike store concession in Harrods. The team will be in store at the end of the Tour.

ITV adds ‘red button’ to Tour of Britain coverage

ITV Sport has a deal with Vsquared TV for the rights to broadcast the Tour of Ireland 2008 and a deal with Tour of Britain Ltd. for the right to broadcast the Tour of Britain.

ITV4 is currently running a highlights package for the Tour de France.

The Tour of Britain has previously been televised by the BBC, but only once the Tour has all but finished. ITV will broadcast a daily highlights programme of both the Tours of Ireland and Britain on ITV4, Men and Motors, and ITV mobile as well as new, live coverage via a red button interactive service.

The Tour of Ireland will take place 27th to 31st August and the Tour of Britain on the 7th to 14th September 2008. The Tour of Britain will visit my hometown of Newcastle.

Vote in North East England comp!

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The original article now continues…

My home city may not be getting 12 two-wheeler superhighways and the local campaign group may be in a state of suspended animation but Newcastle is still a fine place to bicycle. Newcastle cyclists generally don’t cut through red lights like Londoners and aside from a few ugly pile ups here and there, Newcastle doesn’t have quite the same them-and-us, bike-v-car problems.

Newcastle also has the stunning, and bike friendly, Town Moor, the country’s biggest HomeZone and a load of scenic cycle paths on former waggonways thanks to the city’s industrial heritage.

The city has hosted top class MTB events such as the Nissan Qashqai Urban Challenge:

The race and ride scene is pretty lively, too. Of course, there’s Newcastle Phoenix, the utterly fantastic youth cycling club for which I’m a coach; August’s Great North Bike Ride, and there’s the Northern Rock Cyclone sportive, now one of the UCI’s Golden Wheel events. On 11th September Newcastle is hosting a stage of this year’s Tour of Britain pro bicycle race.

“On its first visit to the North East, [the Tour] will begin in Darlington and wend its way northwards past key iconic locations in the North East, with a planned stage finish in NewcastleGateshead.”

In 2002, Newsweek nominated Newcastle as one of the world’s top eight creative cities. No other British city was listed.

And it’s also a thriving digital city. In recognition of this, regional development agency One NorthEast (ONE) and The North East Regional Portal (TNERP) have created the North East Digital Awards 2007. These awards are “designed to recognise and celebrate digital advancement within the region in a unique and practical way. The Digital Awards will showcase the best of the region’s talent, and will help inspire those who haven’t yet joined the digital age to embrace the significant opportunities it offers.”

Which neatly brings me to the shameless plug. is up for three of the awards. The site will be judged by an independent panel but you – pretty please – can help influence the judges by voting for the site in the following categories:

Best blog

Best podcast

Best use of video

Leccy sponsor to produce ToB podcasts & blogs

E.ON UK – a sponsoring partner of the Tour of Britain, which starts 9th September – is to offer lots of ToB content from its website.

The company – which owns Powergen – is to offer a daily podcast, a daily blog, an online game, and SMS competitions.

E.ON UK is the sponsor of the King of the Mountains competition, and there’s sure to be lots of polka dot branding on the ToB microsite at This goes live on Friday.

Those planning on seeing the race from the roadside can look forward to E.ON hand-out hats, with E.ON red on one side and the King of the Mountains spots on the other. There will also be some branded bidons and and clappers at selected stages.

The race takes place 9-15th September, with the seven stages taking the cyclists from London to Glasgow. Teams involved this year include CSC, Barloworld, T-Mobile and Tinkoff Credit Systems.