The 2021 Tour de France will get underway later this month, having been rescheduled from its original start date of July 2nd. Not only that, but the Grand Departee was also moved from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Brest, France amid the Euro 2020 schedule – with a bumper sporting calendar this summer. The route has been confirmed, and the teams have revealed their squads. Cycling fans can find the leading favourites on any online betting platform, but let’s take a look at some of the front runners in more detail.
The young Slovenian is gearing up to defend his title, as last year’s yellow jersey winner. Pogačar who rides for UCI WorldTeam UAE Team Emirates, made history on last year’s race – not only securing the general classification, but also winning the young rider, and mountains classifications. In doing so, he became the only rider to win all three of those classifications in the same year.
So far this year, Pogačar has won the UAE Tour, also winning the young rider classification; the Tirreno–Adriatico, in which he also won the young rider and mountains classifications; and most recently, the Tour of Slovenia. On winning the Tour in his home country, Pogačar expressed his readiness for the Tour de France:
“My legs are getting better and better and I’m almost ready for the Tour de France. I still have two weeks to prepare myself for what will be my next big goal.”
Also hailing from Slovenia, Roglič has been riding for UCI WorldTeam Team Jumbo–Visma since 2016, and is looking to secure his first yellow jersey, having finished second on last year’s Tour. The 31-year-old had been leading in the general classification from stage nine, up until stage 19, and was just 59 seconds short of the pace in the final standings.
Pre-Tour, Roglič has chosen to train rather than race, and his team as a whole aren’t as dominant as they were last year in the lead up to the Tour. That said, the Slovenian has won two races this season – the Paris-Nice race on the UCI World Tour in March; and the Tour of the Basque Country the following month, in which he was also awarded the Points and Mountains Classifications.
The 2018 Tour de France winner, who made it a podium finish in 2019, after losing out to teammate Egan Bernal, Thomas didn’t feature in Ineos Grenadiers Tour squad last year – instead, focusing his efforts on the Giro d’Italia. That didn’t go to plan, with the Welshman crashing out in stage three, with a fractured hip curtailing the end of his season.
But Thomas is back, and last month, won the Tour de Romandie. Earlier this month, in the Tour’s most iconic warm-up race, the Critérium du Dauphiné, he finished in third place – with teammate Richie Porte securing the yellow jersey.
Ineos Grenadiers’ sporting director, Servais Knaven has full faith in his leader, and told the Dutch media:
“Thomas is super-motivated. You could see that in the Tour de Romandie which he won in an impressive way.
G realises very well that it could be one of his last chances to compete for the overall victory.”
I love to start my day with a coffee, before setting off on my bike, and am always keen to try new coffees. Cafedirect, a Fairtrade coffee brand based in London, kindly offered me the opportunity to try out their new range of limited edition specialty coffees. I sampled the Colombia Buesaco Cherry and the Colombia Los Naranjos.
First thing to say is that the packaging for the limited edition coffees is very smart. It looks premium because these coffees are among the best in the world. A specialty coffee is one that scores at least 79 out of 100 points on the grading system of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. However, Cafedirect go further and source coffee that is at least 84 points, so 5 points more than the minimum required to be classed as specialty.
Colombia Buesaco Cherry
The Buesaco Cherry tastes incredible. It is tangy and fruity. I found it refreshing and juicy. I thought it was ideal for a hot day when you are looking for both a caffeine hit and something to quench your thirst. I am really enjoying coffees that have a fruity taste as it adds a special element to the drink, making it something that you linger over rather than just getting a quick coffee fix to start the day.
Buesaco is a town in the Andes mountains and the smallholder coffee farms are on the slopes around the town. The altitudes and fertile soil make it an excellent location for coffee production.
Colombia Los Naranjos
Los Naranjos is a cooperative of small-hold farmers in the southwest of Columbia. This coffee also has a fruity flavour. Naranjo is Spanish for orange and I could detect a citrus quality, but there is also a chocolate and nutty taste. I thought it was similar to the experience of letting a piece of very dark chocolate melt in your mouth and you get that lovely combination of fruitiness and bitterness. This is a coffee to take your time over and appreciate the flavours. A cup of this is a great start to the day.
Cafediret's ethical credentials are impressive. They invest 50% of their profits in the farmer communities. At least a third of their sales are certified as Soil Association Organic.
I really enjoyed discovering these coffees and if you want to try something with a more interesting taste profile than a standard coffee then give these a try.
How to buy
Both these coffees can be bought from the Cafedirect online shop and they also have a subscription service where you get a new specialty coffee delivered to your door each month.
Mark Gallagher was a Glasgow bike messenger in the 1990s and he has put together his collection of anecdotes in this amusing and engaging book. It is much more than the story of a bike messenger, more of an autobiography. It begins with Mark's childhood and takes us through his adult life, beyond the bike messenger days. He has an impressive collection of varied and often remarkable experiences that fill the pages of this book.
The book opens with Mark on his bike being chased by mounted police through the streets of Glasgow. This exhilarating opener sets the scene for a book full of extraordinary situations that Mark has experienced in his life.
The first 60 or so pages are about the author's childhood. I really enjoyed reading his very personal insight into his upbringing, his parents and his school years. It is an interesting commentary on a Scottish childhood of the 70s and 80s, particularly the failings of the school system. Mark developed a talent for computer game programming, but the school failed to nurture this or help Mark to pursue a career. He had to find his own way and the turning point in his life, the boost to his confidence, was his job as a bike messenger.
"I certainly wouldn't be the person I am now without having been a bike messenger and I wouldn't have it any other way, it gave me some of the happiest, most carefree times of my adult life." Mark Gallagher
The book provides a great insight into the job of a bike messenger. Mark's love of the job shines through and it made me somewhat envious. One of the ways that bike messengers try to get up more speed is 'skitching', the art of holding on to the back of a moving vehicle to get pulled along. Glasgow buses were a particular favourite of Mark's, but it was not this that resulted in his most serious accident. Mucking about and crashing into another courier caused a serious head injury that ended his bike courier days.
It is clear that the turning point of the bike messenger job gave Mark the confidence to pursue his many other interests in life. This included drama, karaoke, IT contracting in Bermuda, and appearing on a TV game show. There is even a chapter about Mark dressing up as a Star Wars Stormtropper and wandering the streets of Glasgow! For me the most fascinating aspect of the author's eventful life was the legal battle he went through with a computer game giant. He had co-created a game that was ripped off by them and became one of the biggest selling games in the world. Mark could not use the real name of the game in the book and calls it 'Armed Deft Mano'.
Although this book is not purely about a bike messenger the other aspects of Mark's life are certainly interesting, often funny and sometimes fascinating. This made it a joy to read and getting to know Mark through his words was a pleasure.
This book can be purchased on Amazon:
My name is Colin Baird and I want to see all of Scotland by bicycle.