The Roar
The Roar

Felix Lowe

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Joined January 2012

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English cycling writer and author of Climbs and Punishment: Riding to Rome in the Footsteps of Hannibal. Felix has covered the major cycling races in the pro calendar for Eurosport for the past decade and finally took up the sport himself in 2012, at the ripe age of 31.

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Spot Froome taking it easy en route to Healesville today? Haha!

Froome, Ewan and Bobridge headline for Herald Sun Tour

Ha – I guess there’s our answer… Froome looking pretty strong, but happy to let Kennaugh continue his hot streak down under.

Froome, Ewan and Bobridge headline for Herald Sun Tour

Yeah, I think you’re right. It’s just not in his interest to peak now. And despite Cookson’s comments, this is still the earliest Froome has started his season for about six years. He’ll probably soft-pedal the prologue and have a little dig on Arthur’s Seat to test the legs – but I expect Henao and Kennaugh to be Sky’s protected riders.

Froome, Ewan and Bobridge headline for Herald Sun Tour

Thanks for the heads-up! That’s why they need to change the flag… too confusing when skimming over small thumbnails on start-lists!

Froome, Ewan and Bobridge headline for Herald Sun Tour

I was quite impressed, Andrew. At first I thought to myself, ‘that sounds quite like Cadel Evans, but he’s too coherent to be him,’ and then it hit home. That said, I mentioned this on Twitter – that Cadel’s performance at least meant Australia’s men didn’t go away empty handed from the race – and some guy tore me apart.

He said: “Proves that a palmares, not eloquence, needed to satisfy some cycling fans. He didn’t string a coherent sentence together.”

I replied: “I thought he was pretty good compared to how his post-race interviews used to go. Passionate and insightful.”

He then replied: “Passionate and insightful definitely, struggled to finish sentences in coherent manner. It was like he was chasing every attack.”

So I guess you can’t please ’em all. Sure, he was no Matt Stephens or Dan Lloyd when it came to high-brow commentary, but he certainly added something worthy to the pot – and was far better at speaking than when he was riding.

King Kennaugh ends Australian domination on the Ocean Road

Just missing Simon Gerrans in third place +5

Tour Down Under: Stage 2 cycling results, blog, updates

Thanks guys – glad you like the piece. Thought it would be of interest – a little insight to what goes on behind, inside and in front of the peloton during a race.

A day with IAM Cycling on the Arctic Race of Norway

TV images over the weekend were quite majestic. If you check on my Twitter account, @saddleblaze, you’ll be able to see some that I took. Also on Instagram as well. Thanks Robhem.

Cyclists head north as the Arctic Race heats up

Superb win from Bennett – all the more so because he struggled on a rise 10km from the finish and told his team-mates he couldn’t do the sprint. Zak Dempster told him to full himself together – he took heed, got back in position, bided his time, then made the winning move. One very happy Irishman at the finish.

Cyclists head north as the Arctic Race heats up

Thanks chaps – the world’s an empty place this morning now that there’s no Tour to chew over and digest. What will we do?

Terrific Tour teamwork key to Alpe d'Huez dramatics

Lee would beat me in a fist fight, hands down.

Sour grapes and hypocrisy on the road to Paris

There’s no ‘mocking’ going on, Da Spoon, and the number of Aussie wins is immaterial – because I am English. Thanks for reading, though.

Has Mark Cavendish lost his edge?

Fair points – although I’m only rating Valverde when it comes to the Plan Bs of each of the main teams. It’s more than likely that he will finish higher than any of the Sky, Tinkoff or Astana riders who aren’t Froome/Contador/Nibali.

Read on and you’ll see that I rate the French guys more than the Spanish veteran when it comes to having a dig at the podium. Pinot looks very sharp, in particular.

Thanks for reading and your thoughts – you’re certainly right in that Valverde’s days as a bona fide Grand Tour contender are behind him. But he can still have a say on his day.

Why this year's Tour is not all about the Big Four

Looks like Bouhanni may not race now following his crash in the French national championships… so that’s another fallen by the wayside. Cavendish put in a monster display in finishing second in the British championships – climbing solidly and almost taking the race to Peter Kennaugh. Perhaps Cav is the man to beat for green after all.

Now Kittel's out, who will win the Tour's green jersey?

A follower of mine on Twitter, @SimoneWarner, also made this very astute point: this year was the first time since GreenEdge started out that the team has failed to win any medals at the Aussie national championships – both the road race and time trial, and both men and women. Food for thought!

No Gerrans, no party for Orica-GreenEDGE

Sound advice and opinions, Wombat. It’s fair to say that Meyer probably hasn’t lived up to his expectations, but his 2011 TDU win did all come down to a break – a mini Echappee a la Walkowiak, if you will – and so it would have been unfair to expect glory merely because of one ochre jersey. His problem, to me, is that he’s a jack of many trades, master of none. Pretty solid across the board, but don’t stand out on any terrain, and finds it hard to sustain his level over three weeks. As such, I can’t ever see him becoming anything more than a domestique or lieutenant. But he can still do a job, for sure.

No Gerrans, no party for Orica-GreenEDGE

Thanks for the positive feedback, guys. Glad you liked the piece. My friend Howard put the photo of Lance and Tejay up on his Instagram – here’s the link for those interested… http://instagram.com/p/v-40gRsyJJ/

Armstrong's spectre still looms large over cycling

I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, Omega10. Interesting fact about Michael Wilson – he was actually christened Micheal because his parents mis-placed the ‘e’ before the ‘a’. It’s but one of the small anecdotes in my book, Climbs and Punishment – Riding to Rome in the Footsteps of Hannibal, in which Wilson makes a cameo by dint of his stellar win in Cortona in 1982. And you’re right – he rode in the Tour, twice in fact (I overlooked that in a comment I made earlier – apologies).

Is this Australia's Tour de France team of the century?

John, you make a great point and it was a huge oversight on my part. Hence the apologies and revised choices – see below!

That said, Oppy did only ride two Tours… and he apparently doped by the bucket load (if you believe his old mucker Mockridge) and so the jury is out…

There’s no denying his place in the pantheon of Australian greats, mind. But like his compatriot Micheal Wilson (who excelled in the Giro in the 80s) his best performances came outside the Tour. (In Wilson’s case this is certain, for he never even rode the Grande Boucle).

All the best, F.

Is this Australia's Tour de France team of the century?

Drum roll… the selection is in. And here is the team they came up with…

Note the notable omissions my favourite old boys Kirkham and Mockridge. On the whole, probably a stronger, more balanced squad than mine. Less sentimental and more modern. It’s true, I probably overlooked Mark Renshaw somewhat…

The team:

Two riders for the general classification – Cadel Evans, Phil Anderson
Two domestiques to support general classification riders – Richie Porte, Michael Rogers
One sprinter – Robbie McEwen
Two leadout men for the sprinter – Brad McGee, Mark Renshaw
One all rounder – Simon Gerrans
One team captain – Sir Hubert Opperman

Is this Australia's Tour de France team of the century?

Interestingly, I wrote a similar – but more historical – piece for my Eurosport blog one day later and made a couple of tweaks.

Cadel Evans, Phil Anderson / Mick Rogers, Don Kirkham / Robbie McEwen / Baden Cooke, Adam Hansen / Russell Mockridge / Simon Gerrans

Here’s the link: https://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/blogs/blazin-saddles/blazin–saddles–australia-celebrates-a-century-in-the-tour-160022503.html

Having slept on it, I’d made some more changes – swapping Baden Cooke for Simon Gerrans and then drafting in Oppenman as team captain.

Is this Australia's Tour de France team of the century?

Think you may have missed the part about doping, which makes O’Grady, Stephens and Hodge ineligible. Peiper rode five Tours and completed three. He was solid if unspectacular – a possible for the domestique role, but competition was too high!

Is this Australia's Tour de France team of the century?

Konig’s progression will be very interesting. Sky don’t have a great track record with their ‘second tier’ riders – just look at how the likes of Uran, Cataldo and Boasson Hagen have struggled, even Cavendish, because of the GC ambitions of Froome and Wiggins. Konig, Porte, Roche – these three could be domestiques deluxe for Froome in the coming years – and hopefully the Czech will get his own chance to ride in some races.

De Marchi has been very impressive the past few years and it was great to see him get a stage win in the Vuelta after all his tireless attacking in the Tour. That said, riders often stagnate once they arrive at BMC – although De Marchi’s lack of rainbow stripes might make him the exception to the rule.

I’d have included both Konig and De Marchi in this list had I more time and space. They are clearly more exciting transfers than that of Adam Blythe, but Blythe’s move involves GreenEdge and Goss and so I thought it would appeal to the Australian readership.

Cheers, Tony. All the best.

Six key transfers ahead of the 2015 cycling season

And some quotes from Porte, who was speaking to the Examiner: “It’s not every day you get a Tour de France champion coming down to race in Launceston. For me, having been friends with Stan Seijka, it’s massive to have Chris Froome come down and race. For me, that’s the big thing. Stan would have been proud to have this race in his honour.

“He’s keen to see as much of the world as he can and obviously I talk a lot about Tasmania and the fantastic training opportunities we have here. I’ve seen a fair bit of the world myself now and I still think we have the best terrain to train on in the world and I’m looking forward to having him around for a couple of weeks and sharing it with him. I’m sure I’ll show him the Scottsdale loop, Poatina Hill and the East Coast and it will be nice to mix it up with some mountain biking and maybe get out to Hollybank.

“Fingers crossed we get a mild Tassie summer. He’s never been to Tassie before but I’ve told him all about it and have probably glossed it up a bit. I’ve told him it’s absolutely brilliant but you have a headwind everywhere you go and the roads are always tough!”

Froome and Porte to race in Tasmania this December

Little update: Froome is getting married next week in South Africa to his long-term girlfriend Michelle Cound. After the honeymoon he’ll head off to Tasmania in early December. Sky may also have two other riders racing: Nathan Earle (who’s from Hobart) and Sydney’s Chris Sutton. Former GreenEdge rider Matt Goss (now at MTN-Qhubeka) will be there, as will defending champion Caleb Ewan and Robbie McEwen. The Pro Tour riders will probably not be officially riding for their trade teams – although I’m not 100% sure on this one. Porte has promised he and his fellow Sky riders will try and go on the attack because none of them are sprinters. He also said he’d “rather punch myself in the face” than see a GreenEdge rider (“or whatever they’re calling themselves now) take the win…

Froome and Porte to race in Tasmania this December