Blazin' Saddles

  • Alejandro Valverde's evergreen empire strikes back (to the future)

    Felix Lowe picks over Alejandro Valverde's Ardennes double, and explains why he could finish the season once again on the top of the pack.

    Movistar team rider Alejandro Valverde of Spain kisses his trophy after winning the Fleche Wallonne Classic cycling race in Huy April 22, 2015Movistar team rider Alejandro Valverde of Spain kisses his trophy after winning the Fleche Wallonne Classic cycling race in Huy April 22, 2015

    As far as birthday weeks go, Alejandro Valverde's was pretty successful with successive scalps earning the Spaniard a huge Ardennes pat on the back.

    Victory in Fleche-Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege - on both occasions over plucky French youngster Julian Alaphilippe - earned veteran Valverde his second Ardennes double in seven years.

    His triumphs sandwiched either side of his 35th birthday, Valverde became only the second rider in history to pull off a double double of Fleche and Liege wins. 

    Crazily, this cycling blogger missed it all completely.

    Having seen the 'Green Bullet' narrowly

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  • Steele Von Hoff Q&A - 'If Vaughters calls, I won't pick up'

    With the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire just a week away, Eurosport chews the fat with an Australian rider looking to make a splash in the Dales: NFTO's Steele Von Hoff.

    Steele Von Hoff and Eddie DunbarSteele Von Hoff and Eddie Dunbar

    Former Garmin-Sharp rider Steele Von Hoff has enjoyed a stellar start to the season with victories in the Australian national criterium championships, stage 4 of the Tour Down Under and the Jock Wadley Memorial Road Race in his native Australia.

    But now the 27-year-old sprinter has his heart set on opening up his account for his new British team NFTO (Not For The Ordinary).

    Von Hoff joined the British UCI Continental outfit after missing out on a new contract during the Cannondale-Garmin merger in the close season, claiming he had been led down the garden path by former team manager Jonathan

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  • 10 thoughts from Flanders and Paris-Roubaix

    Felix Lowe looks at the big talking points from the past two monuments.

    Team Giant-Alpecin German cyclist John Degenkolb celebrates on the podium after winning the 113th edition of the Paris-Roubaix Paris-Roubaix one-day classic Team Giant-Alpecin German cyclist John Degenkolb celebrates on the podium after winning the 113th edition of the Paris-Roubaix Paris-Roubaix one-day classic 

    As the dust settles on the cobblestones of Flanders and northern France, we take a look at the main talking points from the past two monuments.

    Norway's Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Germany's John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) took the spoils - but there were no end of flashpoints during an intriguing, if a little subdued, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix campaign.

    King Kristoff proves his versatility

    "The new Boonen is Norwegian," ran the headline in Het Nieuwsblat. In the absence of the Belgian totem, Kristoff had taken the Ronde van Vlaanderen by the scruff of its neck. Coming into the

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  • Train company demands police action against cyclists following near 'tragedy' at Paris-Roubaix

    Shocking video makes headlines and provokes strong reaction.

    Paris-Roubaix witnessed a scary moment on Sunday when some riders raced through a level crossing just seconds before a high-speed train careered through.

    The peloton approached the level crossing and was cut in half as the barriers descended.

    Some riders were clipped by the barrier as it fell, while others squirmed to the side and raced over the crossing.

    As security personnel ordered those behind to halt, a few daredevils broke free, including one reckless rider who made it off the track just eight seconds before a TGV high-speed train thundered past.

    Paris-RoubaixParis-Roubaix

    The company responsible for France's

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  • Paris-Roubaix: Who will be crowned king of 'Hell of the North'?

    Blazin' Saddles takes a look at the likely contenders for what is probably the toughest one-day race of the season.

    Paris-Roubaix: A mile marker on the route for the 'Hell of the North'Paris-Roubaix: A mile marker on the route for the 'Hell of the North'

    'The Hell of the North' comes to a Eurosport TV screen near you this Sunday - and to a computer, phone or tablet screen with Blazin' Saddles own live commentary on web, iOS and Android - but who's going to take home one of the famous cobbles of Paris-Roubaix?

    Defending champion Niki Terpstra will be the main man for Etixx-Quickstep in the absence of injured four-time winner Tom Boonen - but the rangy Dutchman came unstuck last weekend against the peloton's current man-of-the-moment, Alexander Kristoff.

    The gruelling 253.5km race in northern France - which includes 52.7km of bone-jangling pavé

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  • Giant inflatable almost wipes out entire peloton at Tour of Flanders

    Cyclists in the Tour of Flanders barely sneaked under a rogue giant inflatable.

    A giant yellow inflatable came within inches of wiping out an entire peloton during the Tour of Flanders.

    A 100-strong bunch of riders were hurtling along the Belgian tarmac with 60 kilometres remaining when a colourful arch in the distance started bobbing dangerously.

    A man stepped in to hoist it into the sky with his hand as the cyclists flew past, and two people on the grass verges also pushed desperately to raise it, with everyone somehow managing to sneak through unscathed.

    A camera on the back of a motorcycle revealed how close the race had come to mass chaos, with the lower portion of

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  • Video: Cyclists sent flying by car during Tour of Flanders race

    Cyclists were quick to vent their fury at a driver who sent a fellow rider flying.

    Cyclists are a loyal bunch, so it was no surprise to see many showing their disgust at a driver of a service car who knocked a fellow rider off his bike.

    In the shocking incident during the Tour of Flanders, a service car veered across the road clumsily, sending New Zealand's Jesse Sergent flying across the road.

    Sergent, of Trek Factory Racing, was one of an eight-man break when he was clipped by the neutral Shimano service car with about 105km of the famous race remaining.

    As a result of the nasty crash, Sergent was forced to retire from the race with what was suspected to be a broken

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  • Blazin' Saddles: Sky must back Thomas - not Wiggins - for Flanders and Roubaix

    Our cycling blogger takes a look at the final spring Classics of the season - and declares that both sentiment and Bradley Wiggins must be put to one side.

    Geraint Thomas (Imago)Geraint Thomas (Imago)

    Geraint Thomas is in the form of his life and Team Sky are finally making ripples in the classics. Surely supporting a sentimental swansong for Bradley Wiggins at Paris-Roubaix will simply stifle momentum?

    Wiggins proved last year that he was a true force to be reckoned on the cobbles with a top ten finish at the Roubaix velodrome after a solid if unspectacular 32nd in the Ronde.

    But that was then and this is now.

    By choosing to wind down his career at Sky and shift his focus to the track, Wiggins has effectively nullified his result from last year. It's no longer relevant in the grand scheme

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  • Geraint Thomas thrown off bike by huge gust of wind at Gent-Wevelgem

    The Team Sky rider was almost flung into a ditch

    Geraint Thomas suffered a nasty crash at Gent-Wevelgem after a huge gust of wind sent him veering onto a grass bank.

    The Team Sky rider looked to be sailing along nicely at the front of a chasing bunch, but an intervention from the elements led to his bike taking an untimely detour with 58 kilometres remaining of the one-day classic.

    He desperately tried to stay upright before leaping off his bike to avoid being hurled into a ditch.

    The E3 Harelbeke winner clattered into the ground and broke into an unplanned roly-poly but, remarkably, a shaken Thomas quickly got back on his bike and

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  • Mark Cavendish (AFP)Mark Cavendish (AFP)

    It's 2pm on a grey afternoon in London and Mark Cavendish's Eurostar from Brussels has been delayed, inadvertently condemning a host of cycling journalists to a medley of grating elevator jingles while they're kept on hold ahead of a scheduled conference call.

    Although Cavendish is racing in Wednesday's Dwars door Vlaanderen and Sunday's Gent-Wevelgem - Belgian classics missing from his impressive palmares - the 29-year-old is dropping in and out of the capital to be unveiled as the star attraction of the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic later this summer.

    [Cavendish to ride in London

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