Tom Southam

  • Can gurner Voeckler triumph?

    Can Tommy V win the
    Tour? I personally think that he will struggle, but if - like many, we did
    indulge that Francofantasy for a little while, we would all also have to deal
    with the thought of a 'gurner' winning the Tour. And not since the days of the
    fairground coming to town would gurning have been rewarded so. Facial
    expressions are ridiculous things at the best of times, but there are some
    riders whose effort masks are just something else.

    The last two real high
    profile gurners to emerge in the pro peloton have both been Frenchmen, and have
    both made their names with courageous and

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  • The Tour is something else, isn’t it?

    I was trying to explain to a non-cycling friend the other day why it is
    so much bigger than any other race out there; but when I thought about it,
    apart from saying "well, it's the
    ", I couldn't really verbalise, to an outsider, just why it is
    just so huge.

    It is not the only national tour, it's not even the only three-week
    tour, and it doesn't have any challenge in particular on the racing front that
    sets it so far apart. And yet it is so big, so crucial, that I was even
    checking the TV for the race while I was on my mid-season holiday last week.

    I think it has a lot to do with the

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  • Wiggins a worthy champion

    It's great to see
    Bradley Wiggins in the National Champion's jersey. A National Champion should
    be, after all, the best rider in the country, and to my mind Wiggins proved
    beyond doubt that he is exactly that on Sunday.  

    The thing about road
    racing is, it is never possible to predict what will happen over the course of
    the 200 or so kilometres from the start line all the way to the finish.

    At the end of every
    race there is only one less hard luck story than there are riders.

    Often it can be harder
    for the best rider on the day to win than simply the luckiest. There are so
    many things that

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  • Le Moto Vert

    I came across something novel at the race we did last week.

    Not only did I make the one-time-only error of ordering the Andouilette main at a truck stop diner (I heard sausage, I didn't think that sausage would be made of coarse-grained tripe) but also at the Boucles de Mayenne I noticed the race organisers included a refuse motorbike in the race convoy.

    The idea being that, instead of riders just chucking bottles or wrappers away they go back to the Moto-vert and pass all their rubbish off to an expert in waste disposal and motorbike riding (two skills previously not often called for at the

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  • These days run away like horses over the hill

    Sitting in a Kyriad hotel in Compiegne seems like heaven today. I've often thought that the long slow potentially mind numbing hours that fit around bike racing are just something to endure.

    As a bike rider there is you see, waiting in the usual sense; on planes, trains, teammates, lifts - whatever it might be. Then there is the strange lull that falls between stage races, when you are for want of another word; stuck. Stuck waiting in a place that isn't your home, with very little indeed to do.

    There is often no point in going home between races, travelling is tiring unless you own a

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  • Why racing in France is best

    I love racing in France. I think every rider who has done their time racing internationally will have one country or region that they just like racing in more than others.

    It is a great thing that racing, something that is essentially the same thing time and time again (a start line, roads, a finish line) can actually distil the essence of a place and a culture to such a point that racing in each different country has a remarkably different flavour.

    It's not simply the competitors, nor the roads, nor weather that make the difference in each country, but a combination of every little

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  • The inches are all around us

    "The inches are all around us, and when you add up all those inches, that is what makes the difference between winning and losing."

    Grand Tours are great. I remember an old girlfriend of mine who had no idea about cycling getting slowly sucked into the Tour de France one summer. After begrudgingly giving up on ignoring the race completely, she slowly started to ask questions and sure enough was soon sold on the uniquely compelling drama that a three-week event provides.

    The thing is that over three weeks of competition so much happens. She explained that it became a soap opera, full of

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  • Giro tragedy puts everything in context

    It is hard to find a way to write a blog about cycling at the moment. It would seem that the sport has been in the news for the most tragic of reasons this week with the sad passing of the Belgian professional Wouter Weylandt at the Giro d'Italia.

    I really didn't want to open up a blog with such a morbid tone, but I suppose the idea is to write about what is on my mind and at present, the risks we (bike riders) take, knowingly or otherwise, is something that is suddenly on the minds of bike riders and their families the world over.

    It is always hard to be brought so harshly into reality by a

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  • Sunshine on a rainy day

    It would be fair to use the cliché that the dust is settling on the cobblestones of the northern classics. The now seasonal unseasonal dry heat that has replaced the wild wet winds that used to typify the three-week period of races in Belgium and Northern France, has turned the battlegrounds of Flanders and Roubaix from a mud fest to a dust bowl.

    Whatever your thoughts on climate change; it is simply an odd thing to see the jerseys of the riders entering the Roubaix velodrome caked not in frozen mud, but instead streaked with salt. Two white eyes no longer peer out from a facemask of Belgian

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  • Racing the Far East

    Firstly I'd like to start off by saying; I've been racing in the Far East. Not because I need to fulfil a need to tell anyone where I've been, or what I've been up to, but simply because I really like the term 'the Far East'. It seems so evocative to me; conjuring up thoughts of an incomprehensible world, dusted in a language and symbols I could never understand. It makes me think of tropical trees, monkeys and giant Buddhas appearing on hillsides.

    I've raced the Tour of Taiwan before, and since then have done a few races in the Far East; Korea, Malasia and China being the other countries

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