Riding With Velocamp Performance Touring



As a cyclist you always want to keep pushing yourself, finding the next challenge and testing yourself against it. For that reason sportives are hugely popular. Not only do they give you a chance to take part in an organised ride, but they give you the chance to unleash the competitive beast within, be it against yourself and the clock, or against other riders.

It's no secret that some of the best cycling sportives are in Europe, which, sadly, can put many people off. They simply don't have the time to organise the logistics of such of a trip, or don't want to have to worry about the stresses involved, and as such opt not to go. However, there are companies who will take care of everything for you, making heading to Europe for a sportive, or even a customised week of cycling to suit your needs, simple and very much stress free.

I have always prided myself on never needing a tour company to organise trips for me, cycling or otherwise, thinking that ultimately I am paying more than I need to for something I could just arrange for myself. And yet, having recently been a part of an organised trip for the Tour du Mont Blanc, I now realise the true value of using a well-established and highly professional tour operator such as Velocamp Performance Touring. I am a big believer in you get what you pay for, and when it comes to Velocamp that equates to a high quality trip that is efficiently run, allowing you to focus purely on the cycling.

The Tour du Mont Blanc isn't your usual sportive, in fact it isn't actually a sportive at all, but rather a randonée. Billed as 'the world's toughest one day bike event' it is the most epic of challenges, 330km and 8000m of ascent through three countries and all in a day. The last thing you want to be doing when taking on a challenge of this magnitude is worrying about anything other than the cycling, which is where Ed Maxwell, the man behind Velocamp, comes into his own. From the moment I arrived at Geneva airport everything was taken care of, allowing me to relax, enjoy the experience and focus on getting myself through the ride.

What's more, when you sign up for an organised trip like this you become a part of a team - I was one of eight who made up the Velocamp group - which makes the entire experience that much more enjoyable. Not only do you get to go and take part in an iconic event, but you get to do so with like-minded people who help to make your time away that much better. On a personal level, whilst many of my friends support what I do on the bike none of them are into it as much as I am, and as such I can sometimes feel that I have nobody to really talk to about it. Therefore, to spend three days with a group of guys who are all on the same wave-lentgh as myself was a huge selling point for joining an organised trip.

Having met several cyclists who were there on their own accord it was easy to spot a trend, they were all very worried about the ride and their lack of support. We had no such worries as not only had Ed talked us through exactly what to expect, but we were safe in the knowledge that we would have a support vehicle to rely on throughout the race. This meant that in addition to the official feed stations we would have extra stops, if required, where we could refuel, get extra liquids and most importantly get a change of kit as and when the weather changed. Again the focus was on allowing us to get on with cycling and making the entire experience as enjoyable as possible. Granted you might question how enjoyable such a ride as this really is, but that's another story altogether.

Sadly I didn't quite finish the ride (check out my own personal story here) but nonetheless I can safely say it will be an experience I never forget, and that owes a huge amount to being a part of an organised trip - something I never thought I would say. Not only did I get to take on 'the world's toughest one day bike event', but I got to be a part of a unique experience and make new friends along the way. So, whether you're interested in taking on the Tour du Mont Blanc, or any European sportives for that matter, or simply want to plan your own bespoke cycling trip, I strongly recommend that you get in touch with Velocamp Performance Touring.

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Chris Froome Makes History with Second Tour de France Win

Cycle//Tour de France


Chris Froome has officially won the 2015 Tour de France, becoming the first Brit to win it more than once. 

The Team Sky man was all but confirmed as the yellow jersey winner atop the Alpe d'Huez, holding more than one minutes lead over Movistar's Nairo Quitana. 

Although the final stage in Paris is usually not much more than a procession, Froome was officially confirmed as the Tour winner as the riders crossed the line on the Champs Elysees on the first of 10 laps. Race organisers took the time on the first lap because of the huge rainfall that caused a number of nasty crashes for the women's race earlier in the day. 

Delivering his winner's speech after the stage, Chris Froome said:  "The yellow jersey is very special. I will always respect it and never dishonour it."

Froome, and Team Sky, has faced a wave of doping allegations ever since Froome's dominant attacks on the first few climbs in the early stages of the Tour. Those allegations led to the Kenyan-born star being spat at, twice, and having a cup of urine thrown at him. Teammate Richie Porte also claims he was punched after one stage. 

Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford said: "You can't prove him negative, but there is a weight of evidence to show that we are doing it the right way, we are a clean team and Chris Froome is just a fantastic champion."

Froome also won the polka dot jersey for the King of the Mountain competition and became the first person to win both the yellow and polka dot jersey since the great Eddy Merckx in 1970.

Germany's Andre Griepel claimed his fourth stage win of this year's Tour to emphasise his place as the fastest sprinter this year. 

Nairo Quintana, who finsihed just one minute 12 seconds behind Froome, won the white jersey for the best young rider. Tinkoff-Saxo's Peter Sagan continued his dominance of the sprinters' green jersey.


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Tour de France: Stage 10 - 12 Preview

Cycle//Tour de France


After the first rest day of the Tour de France on Monday, which was marred by the news that Tinkoff Saxo's Ivan Basso has been diagnosed with testicular cancer, it's time for the riders to make their way to the mountains. 

Stage 10 - 14 July: Tarbes – La Pierre Saint-Martin (167km)

After spending the rest day in Pau, the riders set off from the nearby Tarbes on the first big climb of this year's Tour. The peloton will negotiate the Hautes-Pyrénées before ascending the mountains on the first hors catégorie climb in a summit finish in La Pierre Saint-Martin on the border with Spain. 

We've had two uphill finishes so far on the Mur de Huy and Mur de Bretagne. Puncheurs reigned victorious on those occasions, but the 25km climb at a maximum gradient of 15% will be a test only the climbers can pass with flying colours. 

It's Bastille Day, so a sense of national pride may spur the French riders into a breakaway that will almost certainly be caught on the final climb. The favourites for stage victory, however, are the favourites for the yellow jersey. Having built a healty lead over his rivals before arriving at the mountains, Chris Froome won't need to attack but could look to rub salt into the wounds by opening the gap even further. Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana are the two contenders that sit a little further back, so with time to make up, they're the ones that need to attack the most. 

Stage 11 - 15 July: Pau – Cauterets (188km) 

After the first real mountain of the Tour on stage 10, stage 11 sees the riders tackle a series of climbs - six categorised climbs in total, and an uphill finish. 

Unlike on the previous day, the GC contenders can't save everything until the end. The first, in Aspin, comes around 70km from the finish at an average 6.5% over 12km. It is soon followed by the Col du Tourmalet, which is being used for the 80th time in the Tour de France - a 17.1km hors catégorie climb averaging 7.3%. 

The uphill finish isn't as tough as the two previous climbs, so could be best suited to a puncheur or a sprinter capable of uphill sprints. It is just a question of whether or not they'll will be there when the peloton (if there is one) makes its way over the Col du Tourmalet. 

Stage 12 - 16 July: Lannemazen – Plateau de Beille (195km)

After two tough days since the rest day, the riders face another as they leave the Pyrénées. They will navigate four categorised climbs, including an hors catégorie summit finish it Plateau de Beille, the most southernly point of this year's Tour de France. 

It is a perfect day for the King of the Mountain contenders with plenty of points on offer before the final ascent to the finish line. The first climb, the Col de Portet d’Aspet comes just 40km into the race, but offers a sombre moment for the peloton as it passes the memorial to Fabio Casartelli. Casartelli crashed on the descent of Portet d'Aspet in 1995 and died shortly after. 

From there, the climbs only get harder. The Col de la Core averages 5.7% over 14km and the Port de Lers 6% over 12km. But the earlier climbs pale in comparison to the hors catégorie summit finish on the Plateau de Beille. It averages 8% over 16km, with some sections reaching 10%. 

It's almost a week before the Tour reaches the Alps, so this will be the last real chance for the contenders to gain time over their rivals. Any breakaway will have to descend the mountains well to give them enough time heading up the Plateau de Beille. Regardless of whether or not they're going for stage victory, whichever of the GC contenders fares best on stage 12 could well be in yellow when the race arrives in Paris. 

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Ivan Basso Diagnosed with Testicular Cancer

Cycle//Tour de France


Tinkoff Saxo rider Ivan Basso has been diagnosed with testicular cancer on the rest day between stages nine and ten. 

Basso has withdrawn from the Tour and will undergo surgery. The two-time Giro d'Italia winner said his scans showed tumour cells in the left testicle after he complained of discomfort following the crash on stage five. 

“We realised after my fall on the fifth stage,” Basso said. “That day I fell and I hit my testicle on the saddle, like so many times before.

“But it started to bother me, and then this morning we went for a visit to a famous urologist here to Pau.

“The scan showed the presence of tumour cells in the left testicle. Now I have to go straight home to have surgery”

The 37-year old joined Tinkoff Saxo at the start of the year and was a crucial part in Alberto Contador's victory at the Giro in May. 

Contador said: “It’s a very tough blow to the whole team, we never imagined a day like this.

“Ivan and I have spent 120 of the past 180 days together. I’m sure we’ll be together to celebrate in Paris.”

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Froome Stays in Yellow as BMC Win Team Time-Trial

Cycle//Tour de France


Team Sky's Chris Froome retained the yellow jersey and extended his overall lead over his main rivals as BMC Racing won the team time-trial on stage nine. 

BMC Racing completed the 28km time-trial course in 32' 15", putting them in first place with only Team Sky to ride. BMC were hoping for a 13 second lead over Sky to secure the yellow jersey for leader Tejay van Garderen, whom many have tipped as an outside contender. But Sky finished an agonising 0.62 seconds behind the Australian team as Nicolas Roche struggled to keep up in the final metres. 

Despite missing out on the stage win, Sky and Froome managed to gain more vital seconds over his GC rivals. Nairo Quintana's Movistar team finished three seconds behind Sky, with Vincenzo Nibali's Astana dropping 35 seconds. Alberto Contador, Froome's closest rival of the 'big four' faired a little better at 18 seconds behind the yellow jersey holder. 

But with BMC just 0.62 seconds in front, Roche who ultimately cost Sky the stage win, regrets that it wasn't more. 

“Personally, it’s quite difficult for me,” said Roche.

“This was a massive opportunity for me for a stage win. Over the last few Tours I’ve been riding as a domestique and winning a TTT is something very particular, something you work at. There’s no luck, it’s all about sticking together and being there. It’s something that I really dreamed of, so it’s a bit of a tough one. But looking at the bigger picture, Froomey is in top shape, we kept the jersey, we’re in contention and we’re really ready to be in the mountains now.”

“We really can’t be too disappointed with that,” said Chris Froome.

“For everyone’s morale it would’ve been fantastic to have been able to get the stage win today, but more importantly we’ve kept the yellow jersey, we’ve put time into most of our rivals. We’ve got to be happy with that.

“It’s one thing not to lose any time to your rivals, but to actually gain quite substantial amounts on quite a lot of contenders – it’s put us in a fantastic position. Some other rivals – Nibali, Quintana – they’ve both lost quite a substantial amount of time already so the pressure’s definitely on them to attack once we go into the mountains,” said Froome.

“It’s for the other guys to get the yellow jersey from me now.”

 Classiciation after stage 9

1 - Chris Froome (Team Sky) - 31hr 34' 12"
2 - Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) - +12"
3 - Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) - +27"
4 - Peter Sagan (Tinkoff Saxo) - +38"
5 - Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Saxo) - +1' 03"
6 - Rigoberto Uran Uran (Etixx-Quick-Step) - +1' 18"
7 - Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) - +1' 50"
8 - Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) - +1' 52"
9 - Nairo Quintana (Movistar) - +1' 59"
10 - Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick-Stepp) - +1' 29"

Selected others

13 - Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) - +2' 22"

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