A superb setting with top class food, wine, beer and more it was easy to see why our experienced Tour reporter Ed Hood headed to the OmegaPharma-Quickstep media gig in Carcassonne on the Tour's rest day. Mussels to eat and some tired muscled cyclists to interview were the menu of the day.
Roadside St 15: Ed Hood, the PEZ man with the most Grand Tour experience, has hit the French ground running. He flew out of Scotland this morning and has been exploring Carcassonne this afternoon and crying into his beer over Jack Bauer being caught only metres from a Stage win in Nîmes. Ed’s 2014 Tour adventure starts here.
Race Report: The first day back in France looked a little different; there was a lot less spectators at the side of the road than in England. But at the stage end, after a crazy fast last 20 kilometres, everything became familiar again as Marcel Kittel took his third stage win.
Race Report: ‘One of the fastest sprints I ever did,’ the words of Marcel Kittel (Giant & Germany) after he’d made the rest of the world’s fastest men look flat footed in winning Stage Three of the 2014 Tour de France on the doorstep of Her Majesty the Queen, right outside Buckingham Palace in London.
Race Preview: The biggest bike race in the World is about to hit the green hills of Yorkshire, as always we have our most experienced Tour de France scribe; Ed Hood on the job of running us through this year’s race. The important stages, the top riders and the history: All you need to know is here.
Rider Interview: The Tour de France build-up is well underway and Ed Hood managed to grab American rider Matthew Busche of Trek Factory Racing for some words before his first ‘Grand Boucle’. Busche has been on a Vuelta winning team in the past, will that be enough preparation for the Tour?
Roadside Report: For Ed's first day roadside at last year's Tour he went straight to where it all happens - the finishline to get all the latest. Tired cyclists, happy cyclists, angry directors and hungry for news journos, the finishline is always an interesting mix of riders, teamstaff, family, girlfriends and hangers on.
Pro Interview: One of the new signings for Garmin-Sharp this year was Portugese climber André Cardoso. Often seen at the front during the Giro working tirelessly for his team leader we thought it was time to catch up with André to find out more about him and see how he is feeling in his first year at World Tour level.
Race Preview: With 9 stages of tough racing on the agenda including two difficult time trials this year's Tour de Suisse is sure to be a hard fought race. With some of the peloton racing for the glory, others for Tour de France spots and others as their last stop before a post Giro rest, picking the winner is difficult but Ed Hood thinks he has the answers...
Race Preview: Eight stages of tough racing in the French Alps and with the three big Tour de France contenders in attendance of Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali - the Dauphine this year is sure to be a great race. It's time to take a closer look at the stages, history and the contenders before the race kicks off on Sunday.
Stage Report: Michael Rogers produced arguably the greatest ride of his life to become only the fourth man to win on this ultimate test of courage and climbing ability that is Monte Zoncolan. It was a truly monster stage and a great way to end the Giro in the mountains.
Race Report: In the manner of a champion, Nairo Quintana consolidated his grip on the maglia rosa with victory in the brutal 26.8 kilometre mountain time trial to Cima Grappa – but it was no runaway win, with rising Sardinian star Fabio Aru running him to just 17 seconds to grab 2nd on the day and place himself just 41 seconds behind 2nd placed on GC Rigoberto Uran who was 3rd on this day of judgement.
Race Report: As expected, the stage 12 time trial from Barbaresco to Barolo gave the Giro GC a real shake – but what wasn’t expected was for Colombia’s Rigoberto Uran (OmegaPharma-QuickStep) to put 1:34 into race leader and stage favourite Cadel Evans to win the chrono and become Colombia’s first ever Giro maglia rosa.
Race Report: French speedster Nacer Bouhanni wins again for F des J, Matthews takes fourth; no change on GC but not the usual ‘boring sprinter stage’ it could well have been with five desperados holding off the posse almost all the way back to the Mexican border – but not quite . . .
The 97th edition of the Giro d'Italia is kicking off this Friday in Belfast and once again PEZ will be there front and center to capture all the action roadside. Before the 'Fight for Pink' gets underway though lets have a closer look at the percorso and the favorites who are lining up.
INTERVIEW: Adam Hansen is one of the most reliable & strongest domestiques in the World Tour, a valued helper for André Greipel and previously one of Mark Cavendish's main men but he's also a lot more. He's a Grand Tour stage winner, a businessman, an inventor and a nice guy to boot. We caught up with him just before he starts his 8th straight GrandTour on Friday.
His stats for Liege read like this: 1979, 20th: 1981, 11th: 1982, 10th: 1984, 1st: 1985, 4th: 1986, 12th: 1987, 20th; 1988, 5th: 1989, 1st – good enough to tell us a little about La Doyenne? Yeah, we thought so too: PEZ talked to Sean Kelly about the oldest, and many would say the hardest of the ‘monuments’.
La Doyenne - the last of the Spring Classics is on this Sunday and Ed Hood has had a good long look at the parcours and the starters to come up with his preview. LBL is generally an action packed race full of tough climbs which on their own are not too bad but when combined with the classic distance are brutal but the big question remains, who's going to win?
The Classics just keep on coming and next up is Wednesday's Fleche Wallonne. With a finish on the brutal Mur de Huy this mid-week race is suited for the tough and explosive climbers that can power up the climb's steep slopes. Ed Hood takes a look at the course and contenders for 2014.
The Amstel Gold Race is on this Sunday around the hills and traffic furniture laden streets of Holland's Limburg province and it's a brutal race of attrition defined by more than 30 hills. With more twists and turns than a good detective novel the winner is often decided only in the closing kilometers. Ed Hood takes a look at the course and contenders for 2014.