The column: How to hack the off-season

Posted on

The road year is just about over, but don’t sit around moping this off-season. There’s plenty more two-wheeled action out there, you’ve just got to be… open-minded

Photographs: SPORTFOTO PHOTOAGENCY OdW © SWpix.com/Sportfoto.NL / Simon Wilkinson / Benedict Campbell
Cyclocrosss

 

 

So it is that with Il Lombardia we arrive at a hard stop on the 2019 cycling season. 


But what about the Tour of Guangxi, some of you may be bellowing. It’s a hidden gem. The hipsters’ choice. You might be right, but we just look at the startlist and find ourselves wondering what all those riders are being punished for. A number of them, we suspect, are being dispatched to China to serve out their sentences… sorry, contracts, before departing for pastures new in 2020.


While the likes of Primoz Roglic, Michael Woods and Egan Bernal have been squeezing every last drop of juice out of the season, others such as Alexander Kristoff, are already boasting about being on their holibobs.


Three whole months without road racing – anyone who says the season starts in January is kidding themselves – might sound tough on paper, but there is salvation, if you’re prepared to be a bit open-minded.

Firstly we have the track. Six Days are always excellent entertainment, but with the madison returning to the Olympics next year, they offer an additional level of interest. London, Berlin, Ghent, Copenhagen (and Bremen, apparently) takes us practically a third of the way to next year (if you watch all of them #maths). The Olympics also puts extra emphasis on the other velodrome’s disciplines, as the world’s best board-riders begin building their form in order to first qualify for – and then peak at – the biggest sporting event in the world. 


With a bunch of their best having called it a day since Rio, will the Brits be as dominant as they have been in the past? Are the new class – such as Charlie Tanfield and Ethan Hayter – able to pick up where the likes of Bradley Wiggins left off? Your first hints will come at the World Cup in Glasgow the weekend after the Rouleur Classic.


If you prefer your indoor cycling to be of the virtual variety then… have you heard of Zwift? Word on the street (by which we mean the streets of Watopia) is it’s going to be a bit of a big deal. We may not have reached the point of reporting on the races in our pages, yet, but it can only be a matter of time until we’re at least as inclined to tune in to the E-Sports World Championships as we are the Tour Down Under. No offence TDU.

Zwift

If that all sounds a little too much like clean living and you like to get down and dirty ‘cross, as they say, is coming. Actually, it’s come already. Although the appearances of the two biggest stars in all of cycling, Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert, are expected to be somewhat selective this winter, the big (though not in stature) British hope, Tom Pidcock, is looking to make a serious splash. The under-23 World Champion launched his team this week and will hit the slopes of the Telenet Superprestige race in Gieten, this weekend. 


Gallery: 6 Day London by Benedict Campbell


If you can’t decide between them – and there’s no reason why you have to, really – there’s always the weekend of November 17th, when both the cyclocross and the 6 Day land in Flanders.


If none of that does it for you, there are of course, always other sports… Just kidding. Two wheels good. No wheels worse.