William Fotheringham

Author's posts

Sep 22

Lizzie Deignan: ‘I don’t want to let the sickness I’ve had get the better of me’

Less than a month after being taken to hospital to have her appendix removed, Lizzie Deignan is determined to ride on and take another tilt at the world road title she won two years ago

Lizzie Deignan is an athlete who thrives on controlling every factor she can, but in Saturday’s world championship road race she will be trusting to “emotion, passion” and the random form that can turn an athlete’s bad day into a good one and vice versa. “I hope I can deliver with those. Normally I’m confident and cool, but I’m not sure about this one.”

With good reason. It is just over three weeks since the 2015 world champion was taken into hospital in the Netherlands to have her appendix removed. The organ was so close to rupturing that when she asked the doctor if she could call her husband Philip to tell him she was going into theatre, she was refused that privilege. “They just said we’re going now. It was pretty fast.”

Related: David Lappartient reaps wind of change blowing through cycling | William Fotheringham

Related: Tour de Yorkshire cycling races to be extended from 2018

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/22/lizzie-deignan-world-road-title-sickness

Sep 21

David Lappartient reaps wind of change blowing through cycling | William Fotheringham

French campaigner called a political machine benefits from anti-British backlash after scandals to easily defeat Brian Cookson in UCI presidential election

“A political machine,” wrote the respected French journalist Jean-François Quénet of his fellow countryman David Lappartient, a man who, it seems, has never lost an election, rising seamlessly through French local and two-wheeled politics to simultaneously hold positions of power in the Morbihan region of Brittany and world cycling. His victory over the incumbent Brian Cookson in the UCI presidential election on Thursday is, just the latest in a long list of political triumphs.

However, the scale by which he drubbed the Lancastrian – 37 votes to eight – points to a massive backlash against the former British Cycling head, who was elected in 2013 on a wave of disgust against the previous administration amid hopes of renewal. At the time Cookson came across as the technocrat who was needed to restore calm, order and integrity, but he has come under pressure from many sides over issues as diverse as the World Tour calendar, the UCI’s campaign against technological fraud and women’s racing. All of these were buttons Lappartient could press.

Related: Brian Cookson emphatically unseated as UCI president by David Lappartient

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/sep/21/david-lappartient-wind-of-change-cycling-brian-cookson-uci-president

Sep 08

Chris Froome’s six-year quest to win Vuelta a España rests on Alto de l’Angliru

Climb of 12.5km means overall victory is by no means assured after Team Sky dominate race but fail to manage a single knockout blow

It is six years since Chris Froome climbed the Alto de l’Angliru in the 2011 Vuelta a España with a brief to support his team leader, Bradley Wiggins, who was wearing the red leader’s jersey and was within sight of his maiden grand tour win a week from Madrid.

Froome, who had been a virtually unknown domestic with Team Sky until he beat Wiggins in a time trial in the Vuelta that September, did his best to support him when he was attacked by the Spanish climber Juan José Cobo, sticking with the race leader until he was ordered to ride for himself in pursuit of Cobo.

Related: Vuelta a España: Chris Froome extends lead as Sander Armée takes stage 18

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/08/chris-froome-vuelta-a-espana-alto-de-langliru

Sep 04

Chris Froome can take decisive step towards Vuelta victory in time trial

• British rider aims to carve out a decisive advantage before mountain stages
• Closest rival Vincenzo Nibali could throw spanner in the works

The old saw has it that one can lose a stage race on any day but one can win it only on certain selected stages. The time trial on Tuesday at Logrono in northern Spain is one of the latter as far as Chris Froome is concerned in this year’s Vuelta a España, especially given his recent record in the discipline compared with those of his remaining rivals for the red leader’s jersey.

Having won a time trial in last year’s Tour de France and come a close second in one this year, over the 40 relatively flat kilometres at Logrono, Froome can hope to carve out a decisive advantage to serve as a buffer through the four mountain stages that will take the race to its decisive point at the summit of the Alto de l’Angliru on Saturday afternoon. It could prove a vital staging post in his quest to become the first Briton to win the Tour of Spain and the first man to win the Tour de France and Vuelta in the same year since Bernard Hinault in 1978.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/04/chris-froome-vuelta-a-espana-time-trial

Sep 03

Caleb Ewan wins opening stage of the Tour of Britain in blanket finish

• Only sixty-eight make it to leading group after breakaway
• Ewan: ‘It was really windy and some of the teams tried to split it’

The Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan claimed his second successive stage win of the Tour of Britain, having won last year’s closing leg in London before taking yesterday’s opener into Kelso, but a blanket finish for the first 10 disguised the fact that over rolling roads through south‑west Scotland the race had experienced its first selection, with only 68 of the 120‑man field making it through in the lead group.

“It was a tough day, it was really windy and some of the teams tried to split it,” Ewan said. “I was nervous all day but my boys controlled it.”

Related: Chris Froome adds to Vuelta a España lead after Ángel López wins stage

Related: Tour of Britain: Mark Cavendish back for sprint pack’s moment in the sun

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/03/caleb-ewan-tour-of-britain-blanket-finish

Sep 02

Tour of Britain: Mark Cavendish back for sprint pack’s moment in the sun

Flattest route and unprecedented live TV coverage changes the game for riders and fans in what promises to be a wild race on the UK’s streets

At first sight, it seems a brutal ask for the Tour of Britain, placed this year in the calendar against the final week of the Vuelta a España. The two events usually clash, but 2017 is different: Chris Froome is bidding – extremely successfully for the first two weeks of the Vuelta – to become the first Briton to win a Grand Tour other than the Tour de France and the first cyclist to achieve the double of Vuelta and Tour in the same season since Bernard Hinault in 1978. History being made in Spain? Not easy to compete with.

However, for its 14th edition since its relaunch in 2004, the British Tour has an answer or two. In recent seasons the eight-day event has positioned itself as the optimal preparation for the world road race championship – the Vuelta being largely considered too tough – and this year is no exception with contenders for the rainbow jersey such as Alexander Kristoff of Norway, Michal Kwiatkowski of Poland, Philippe Gilbert of Belgium, and Elia Viviani of Italy.

Related: British Cycling investigates ‘helper’ who allegedly administered drugs in US

Related: Geraint Thomas: ‘I want to go to a Grand Tour in best shape possible’

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/02/tour-of-britain-mark-cavendish-sprint-pack

Sep 01

Geraint Thomas: ‘I want to go to a Grand Tour in best shape possible’

The Welshman makes his return in the Tour of Britain, weeks after breaking his collarbone in the Tour de France. ‘I just want to enjoy racing again,’ he tells William Fortheringham

To say Geraint Thomas’s 2017 has been up and down is something of an understatement: the ups have been notable and the downs have been spectacular. The Welshman makes his return to racing on Sunday at the Tour of Britain, seven weeks after breaking his collarbone on a rain soaked descent in the Tour de France. That followed a spell in the yellow jersey of the Tour – enough to make this a memorable year in itself, but that in turn came after a horrendous spill at the Giro d’Italia, where he was targeting the overall standings until a poorly parked police motorcycle brought him down.

Prior to the Giro, Thomas had become the first Briton to win the Tour of the Alps, better known as the Giro del Trentino. Given the saw-tooth profile of his season to date, it’s hardly surprising that the 31-year-old won’t say whether he will target the overall standings next week at his home Tour, which he last rode in 2011. “I just want to enjoy racing again, enjoy being in the UK. I’d love to go for a stage or the general classification – it’s not like I’ve got no chance. I think Michal Kwiatkowski will be our main man, he’s really going well at the moment, but I’d love to have a chance and take it. There is no pressure.”

Related: Chris Froome crashes twice and has Vuelta lead cut by Vincenzo Nibali

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/01/gearint-thomas-grand-tour-best-shape

Aug 18

Chris Froome has eye on history but Vuelta a España could spring surprises | William Fotheringham

No one has won Tour de France and Vuelta in same year since it switched dates and Chris Froome is taking nothing for granted in race that he calls brutal

It is 22 years since the Vuelta a España was shifted from its late April slot in the calendar to its current position after the Tour de France with the world championships on the horizon. The notion then – propounded by the architect of the move, the late Hein Verbruggen – was that the race would be a post-Tour revenge match, where the riders who had slipped up in France could try to salvage their seasons.

It has taken a while but that is now how the Vuelta looks, partly because Team Sky’s dominance of the Tour since 2012 – five wins from a possible six – has meant Grand Tour specialists have frequently been disappointed in recent seasons, and thus have no option but to look to Spain for redemption.

Related: Chris Froome wins fourth Tour de France after Champs Élysées procession

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/aug/18/chris-froome-eye-on-history-vuelta-a-espana-surprises

Aug 17

Becky James retires from cycling at 25, one year after Olympic silver medals

• Welsh rider’s decision is a blow for Team GB’s Tokyo 2020 hopes
• James won two silver medals in Brazil and world titles in 2013

In a major blow for Great Britain’s women’s sprint medal hopes at the Tokyo Olympics, the country’s leading sprinter Becky James, a double silver medallist in Rio and former double world champion at the sprint and keirin, announced her retirement today at only 25 years of age. A year out from the Commonwealth Games, her absence will also be strongly felt by the whole of Welsh sport.

James had taken an extended break after the Rio Olympics to decide her future. The Guardian understands that her decision was based around the fact that she has had to make multiple comebacks from illness and injury during her career, and that she felt there were no guarantees that a further push for Olympic glory would be met with success.

Related: Stephen Wooldridge, Australian Olympic cycling champion, dies aged 39

Related: The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian’s sport coverage

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/aug/17/becky-james-retires-cycling-rio-olympic-silver-medals

Jul 28

Dani King: ‘Life is too short to let Rio 2016 omission bother me still’

Dani King missed out on Rio 2016 but has adapted quickly to road racing although she will only be a domestique in the Ride London Classique

It is a measure of Dani King’s rapid adaptation to racing on the road that in only her second full season at the discipline, the former Olympian already feels like a fixture. This has been a promising season with strong rides on home roads – at the Women’s Tour in June and the Tour de Yorkshire a few weeks earlier – and on Saturday, she is hoping to continue that progress at the Ride London Classique.

Not that she wants to win. Instead, King will have a clear objective at the start of the 55km circuit that takes in the Mall, Big Ben and Trafalgar Square with dead turns on the Strand and Constitution Hill. Like the rest of her Cylance team-mates her only goal will be to ensure their sprinter Kirsten Wild repeats her victory of last year. “It won’t be about myself, I will be in a full domestique role, chasing things, making sure the breaks don’t stay away.”

Related: Women could cycle the Tour de France route, so why give them La Course?

Related: Fans turn out in force to watch Lizzie Deignan win Tour de Yorkshire

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jul/28/dani-king-life-too-short-rio-2014-omission

Jul 25

Tour de France: why I am bidding au revoir to the greatest race of all

After covering 26 Tours I have some wonderful memories but the 2017 race was my last reporting full-time. It is time to spend my Julys doing something else

When I returned from reporting on the Tour de France for the first time I told my then boss, Martin Ayres, that I felt the Tour could be addictive. That was 27 years and 26 Tours ago, which speaks for itself. Now it is time to go through the journalistic equivalent of cold turkey. I have decided this is my last Tour reporting full-time for the Guardian, nearly a quarter of a century after I was first offered the job.

I will return to the race, I would hope, but not as a full-time, daily reporter, which is what I have been for 26 of the past 27 Tours – 20 of them completed in full – with all the stimulus, constraints, rewards and stress that role entails. I won’t be on the road next year; if and when I return it will be at a time of my choosing, to write about it in a different and equally rewarding way. I would hope it will be for the Guardian, but that particular decision can wait.

Related: Why I don’t think Chris Froome will win a fifth Tour de France | William Fotheringham

Related: Women could cycle the Tour de France route, so why give them La Course?

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jul/25/tour-de-france-william-fotheringham-2017

Jul 24

Why I don’t think Chris Froome will win a fifth Tour de France title | William Fotheringham

Team Sky’s champion never looked dominant in the 2017 race despite a lack of seasoned contenders, and at 32 he cannot go on defying the years

With no disrespect to Chris Froome immediately after his fourth Tour de France win, I do not believe that the Team Sky leader will make it five and thus join the ranks of the immortals: Indurain, Merckx, Hinault and Anquetil. Not next year, and probably not the year after. I appreciate that the accusations that I am indulging in anti-Team Sky, anti-Froome wishful thinking will flood in but I would like to think this is based on logical analysis as well as emotion. Not emotion in the tear‑your‑hair‑out sense, but on the feeling you get in your bones.

This was not actually the closest of the Froome Tours: that was 2015, when Nairo Quintana had the form to win, and might well have won if Movistar had been more dynamic before unleashing him at l’Alpe d’Huez. However, the 2017 race was a Tour in which Froome never looked dominant. Not winning a stage is not a sign of a lack of charisma – winning bike races is hardly simple, as we all know – but it is usually an indication that a champion is not quite what he was.

Related: Chris Froome: ‘I’d like to be here for the next five years, trying to win’

Potentially, he could turn up in the Vendée in 2018 to face a dozen serious threats, many of them younger than him.

Related: Chris Froome wins fourth Tour de France after Champs Élysées procession

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jul/24/why-chris-froome-will-not-win-five-tours-de-france

Jul 23

Sky’s the limiting factor for Chris Froome in Tour de France popularity stakes

Briton’s four wins place him in exalted company, but team’s image prevents fans from properly celebrating his achievements

In 1963, the Tour de France organisers devised a route to discomfit Jacques Anquetil, who had just won the race for the third time. The time trial kilometrage was slashed and the mountain stages increased. It did not work: Anquetil took his fourth Tour in emphatic style. A similar process can be traced leading to Chris Froome’s fourth Tour win, sealed in Marseille in one of the most scenically beautiful and atmospheric stages the event has ever run.

This Tour route looked tailored for the young French hopeful Romain Bardet, he of the nerveless descending skills, more downhill skier than cyclist, but the outcome was the same as in 1963: the man who, on paper, was least favoured by the route, ended up the winner, taking his fourth Tour.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jul/23/sky-chris-froome-tour-de-france

Jul 22

Tour de France diary: Macron’s man-hug, Barguil usurps Bardet and a killer wolf | William Fotheringham

Another Chris Froome PR disaster; cringeworthy presidential memories; a new French hero is born; and a return to Puy-de-Dôme must be on the cards

For the first time this year, I drive the roads of the Tour stage; the last 120km. Up to 10 years ago, this was a daily occurrence, but it is something we never do now, as all superfluous cars are directed on to a diversionary route to avoid risks to spectators. As always, there are insights to be gained from actually seeing the roads that you simply don’t get from a television camera, and there is local colour in abundance. Everywhere is the emblem of the Beast, an 18th century legend involving – depending on who you believe – a vast homicidal wolf, or a serial killer who covered his crimes by inventing the legend of the wolf. Vast wolf prints are drawn on the road, trailers of hay bales are covered with wolf posters, and a lifesized wolf model sits on a roundabout in the town of Saugues. Also commemorated is a big beast of French cycling writing, Pierre Chany, whose poster adorns a tower in his home village of La Margeride. The L’Équipe writer died in 1996, one of the last of the old-school devotees of chain-smoking Gaullists, proper lunch breaks and typed copy, who could recall passing a bottle to Louison Bobet from a press motorbike in the mid-50s. Truly the stuff of legend.

Related: How it feels to tackle the Tour de France’s ‘final battle’ – the Col d’Izoard

Related: Allez allez! Le Tour de France – a photo essay

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jul/22/tour-de-france-diary-macron-barguil-bardet-froome

Jul 22

Daniel Martin enlivens Tour de France with aggressive approach

The attacking tactics employed by Daniel Martin at the Tour de France have seen him secure the highest finish by an Irish rider since his uncle Stephen Roche won the race in 1987

Daniel Martin is not a man for might-have-beens, so let us fill in the gaps. The Birmingham-born Irishman is set to ride into Paris in sixth place overall, the best Irish finish since his uncle Stephen Roche won the race 30 years ago. But were he a might-have-been man, Martin would have every right to look back at two days in particular in the past three weeks and wonder, just a little.

On stage nine into Chambéry, he fell over Richie Porte as the Australian rolled down the road on the descent from the final climb and lost 1min 19sec. At the finish in Romans-sur-Isére, he was left isolated in the finale when the crosswinds blew, and lost 51sec. Total loss on those two days; 2min 10sec, through no fault of his own. Going into Saturday’s time trial in Marseille, Martin was 2min 56sec behind Chris Froome, implying that, with a little better luck, he might have got close to the podium.

Related: Team Sky rule the Tour de France again but will remain unloved | Richard Williams

Related: How Stephen Roche ruled cycling in 1987 | Steven Pye

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jul/22/daniel-martin-tour-de-france

Jul 17

Tour de France enters final week with all to play for … and the Galibier looms | William Fotheringham

Friday’s time trial from Marseille’s Stade Vélodrome could prove crucial but two huge mountain stages before then may be pivotal for Chris Froome and co

The gaps in the Tour are small but nothing has yet been seen on the scale of the four monstrous climbs that await on Wednesday and Thursday, all over 2,000m in altitude and, in the case of the Croix de Fer and Galibier, of a length we haven’t seen in the race so far. Chris Froome and his team have only to watch the rest, while grabbing what time they can close to the finish, because on paper the Briton is the strongest time triallist so can bank on gaining time on Saturday in Marseille. Thus, it falls to Romain Bardet, Fabio Aru, and Rigoberto Urán – the strongest climbers in the race so far – to attack; Dan Martin and Simon Yates have not looked quite at the level of the top four to date when the hammer goes down. Froome has the strongest team in the race, and he should have Mikel Landa to cover moves, so he is in the box seat. However …

Related: Michael Matthews still dreaming despite untimely Tour de France toilet break | Kieran Pender

Related: Chris Froome holds on to yellow jersey as Bauke Mollema wins stage 15

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jul/17/tour-de-france-final-week-galibier