After a couple of weeks off, it’s back to the track this weekend at the Manchester Revolution where I’m riding for my “other” team PedalSure.
I have to say, it will be nice to get indoors for a couple of days given the weather we’ve all had to put up with over the past week or two - although I’d rather do a couple of hours in the cold, wind and rain than have to sit on rollers for hours on end.
Back to the track though and, as I’ve said before, the Revolution meetings are always among my favourite events of the cycling year.
There are plenty of familiar faces, in the stands and on the track, and the atmosphere tends to be more relaxed than at “major” championships.
Don’t get me wrong, Revolutions are still insanely competitive but maybe not quite ridden off with the high-intensity, pressure you get at Worlds or, even, Nationals.
This round of the Revolutions, which moves on to London next week, has a new structure this season, with the so-called “Champions League” round bringing in a bunch of pro teams and specialist road endurance riders, with racing over two nights, Friday and Saturday.
That means a change to the race format as well with fewer timed, shorter events and more endurance-based bunch races - points, scratch, elimination.
So that promises to make the next couple of weekends particularly hard although I’m lucky that PedalSure have partnered me with Iljo Keisse who’s an absolute track racing legend. He’s one of the most experienced guys on the track scene today and a great partner to have in the team events. I think he’s won the Ghent Six Day six times in his career which tells you all you need to know about how good he is. In fact, he came third in this year’s Ghent Six last week with Elia Viviani.
Talking of the Ghent Six Day, last week’s event was noteworthy, of course, because it saw Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish win it in what was Brad’s last competitive race … probably!
I have ridden for Brad’s Team WIGGINS for the past couple of years so I’m obviously going to be biased but you have to say that the bloke has been an absolute legend and done a great amount for the sport of cycling in this country.
I’m lucky, not only that our careers have over-lapped a little bit, but that I’ve been able to ride on the same team as him - both with WIGGINS and also on the GB team pursuit team a few times, most recently when we won silver at the World Championships earlier this year.
I think that will be something to tell the grandkids about one day. I noticed one newspaper published a list of their all-time top British cyclists the other week and had Brad at number one. I think it’s pretty hard to argue against that and I expect it to stay that way for a good few years to come.
Certainly, in terms of versatility, Brad has won everything from individual pursuit titles over 4km to the Tour de France over 3,500km - that shows a pretty impressive range of abilities in my book.
Also, I can’t let the blog pass without wishing bon voyage to another former GB trackie - the sprinter Matt Crampton who has announced his retirement from international track racing.
Anyone who has come across Matt in his many years with the GB programme knows what a top guy he is - and what a great rider he is/was. If he had been born in any other era of the sport - or in pretty much any other nation - he would have been a regular at every Worlds and Olympics for the past few years but, unfortunately for him, he was born in an era when he had to compete with the best in the world in his own squad in the likes of Sir Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny, Phil Hindes and, now, Callum Skinner.
I’m sure he’ll be a huge success at whatever he does in the future and everyone in the sport will be wishing him all the best. He'll be a big miss at the National Cycling Centre.