“I’m Not An Apologist”- Conversation Over Aperols With Liz Hatch

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“…Liz still effortlessly exudes that edgy chicness. I sit opposite Liz in a typically enchanting hidden Lucchese piazza. She takes a deep breath, eyeing the voice recorder: “Well – I never thought I’d be sitting down to do one of these again…”. The sharp features break into a smile and her laughter dances around Bar Baccanale’s intimate interior. We decide it’s Aperol Spritz o’clock…”

Liz Hatch shoots straight. Very Straight. She is a charming and fun person to talk to. There are a lot of self-declared experts out there on internet forums when it comes to Liz Hatch and whoever else it is they believe they are an expert on on any given day. Whatever. Full interview now online over at Always Riding.

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“…here sometimes with the drivers, they can be a little crazy… I think that maybe, subconsciously, with the Catholicism, they believe they’re already saved so ‘whatever happens, it’s gonna happen!”

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“I’m frustrated in as much as I see so many women – and know so many – that accept riding professionally for zero money. I think it’s insulting to them. I mean, how can you call yourself a ‘professional’? I’m in no way taking away from their talents, I’m saying to them “Why are you willing to write on your Twitter or your Facebook that you’re a professional cyclist and you’re not being paid!?”

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“…Actually, when you develop a thick enough skin it is kinda funny to read all the brouhaha that goes on in the comments section… I just picture these angry, white, middle-aged men! Strange…”

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Special thanks to Bar Baccanale on Lucca’s Via Sant’Andrea. If you’re ever in town, look them up – Grazia & Walter will keep the vino flowing…

Photo Credits: Nicola Ughi

 

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Holding The Wheel

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Jeannette Verschoor holds the wheel as her son, Martijn, races past at the 2016 Energiewacht Ronde van Drenthe (Photo Credit: Harry Stukker courtesy of Team Novo Nordisk/ ProSportsComm)

A picture, they say, can be worth a thousand words: Emotive, evocative. A mother stands dutifully in anticipation, one wheel aloft, another by her side, as the peloton thunders across the cobbles and through the woodland springtime of Northern Europe. Wrapped up against the crisp chill and hoping to spot her son in the throng. Ready to save the day in the time honoured manner of those who hold bicycle wheels at roadsides. A capturing of a moment in time by photographer Harry Stukker, aesthetically crafted via the focusing to present a story which transcends merely ‘Bike Race’ yet, sadly, destined never to make it into the race’s press release. I wanted to pursue the words behind the picture; I spoke with Team Novo Nordisk’s Martijn Verschoor and his mum – the lady with the wheel – Jeannette.

Jeannette.

“He started with speed skating and inline skating on the track. He got to the level where he was racing in Nationals, but at that point, he lacked experience in managing his diabetes in these short races. He lost his enjoyment in skating when he no longer had the speed in his legs. When he missed qualifying for Nationals, that was basically the end… He had done a lot of cross-training on the bike, he always watched bike races on TV so it wasn’t a big surprise when he decided to start racing at 18. Many people told him he was too old to start cycling, or that he could only do criteriums because of his diabetes. This doubt motivated Martijn to fight harder, manage his diabetes properly and win races. I thought cycling was a good idea, but I didn’t know it could sometimes be dangerous: Pave, rain, descents and sprints… I do get worried when he is in the sprint, so I simply don’t watch. When I hear he didn’t crash, only then do I replay the sprint on the TV!

I am a proud mom when I see him race -I think I’ve helped him twice with a wheel, normally my husband is the one doing wheels – especially when he earns results against the best guys of the world. Martijn has always pushed the limits. He does all of this with diabetes. I like watching the races and seeing his teammates race”

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…Onto the next spot (Photo Credit Trevor Mould)

Martijn

“My mom surprised me with the wheels on the pave this year in Drenthe because normally my dad is there with the spare wheels. At the race this year, they were both on the pave sections, just in different spots. They split up because they wanted to support the whole team throughout the race. That was amazing to see! I think I got a wheel from my mom once, but my memory might not be right. I know for sure I have gotten a wheel from my dad on a pave section in the past.  Usually, I take a bottle or musette from my dad and throw any extra clothes to my mom.

It is amazing how supportive my parents have been throughout my entire career. They never pushed me to be a cyclist but have always supported me chasing my dreams. Since racing for Team Novo Nordisk, we only race once a year near Drenthe, so unfortunately, they cannot see me race often. To be honest, I think it might be better for my mom so she won’t worry too much about me in the sprints! She always tells me to be careful. Her biggest worry is that I might crash. Throughout my career, I’ve crashed a couple times really hard and my mom was there for me in the hospital. She’s never told me to stop racing, but I know when I tell her that I am ready to stop, she will not talk me out of it.

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Martijn Verschoor (Photo Credit Tim De Waele courtesy of Team Novo Nordisk/ ProSportsComm)

She is proud that I am racing with diabetes and thinks we inspire many people. My parents are completely behind me racing with diabetes and what Team Novo Nordisk stands for – I think my parents are really proud of all the riders on our team and are happy with our sponsor, Novo Nordisk. They’ve even helped me create a charity ride in my home region of the Netherlands, so they can share our story with other families”

You can find more information on that charity ride here: www.diabetesclassic.nl 

 Special thanks to Trevor Mould – give his site a look, well worth it!

Racing Capt. Ryan

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“…I like winning. Time trials: Hardest Bloke Wins. What I don’t like so much is that time trialling is becoming a bit of a ‘race of resources’. You see all the aero kit these days. I like sports were the guy who punches hardest, wins…”

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I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some very good cyclists, from all levels of the sport: World Tour to the local crit circuit. I walked back to my car after having the opportunity to sit down for a one to one with National 25TT Champion and National Time Trial Championship podium placer Capt. Ryan Perry trying to remember if I’d ever spoken to a more driven and win focused rider.

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I’m not sure I have. He’s a very affable guy indeed, don’t get me wrong – it’s just that this phenomenally fast British Army Officer is not here to mess about when it comes to racing.

Capt. Perry Race II Brian Hall

Full interview now online at the Always Riding site.

Workshop Perry

“There is always banter in the Army, regardless of what it is – It’s ruthless! So, of course, nobody is getting away with shaven legs! But, I’m an A-grade piss-taker myself so they get as good as they give!”

Ryan Perry II Shawn Ryan

Photo Credit: Shawn Ryan Photography & Brian Hall

Dreamy Locks And Kerouac: An Eyewitness Account Of The Ronde van Limburg.

27504415065_f489e785f8_kA good bike race, beautiful images and some great writing. What could be better? Hence I am very pleased to team up with WPG Amsterdam’s Daan de Groot to be able to provide all three! Daan will be adding his own race insights and unique turn of phrase to Ciclissimo! from time to time as the plucky Dutch squad scrap it out on the roads of Europe this season. Enjoy!

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Images by Leon van Bon courtesy of Flavio Pasquino

I, Daan, think this will be the first time that a race report of a Dutch team in a Dutch amateur race will be published in English and on an English website. It is a debut that fills me with great pride, because the previous reports were only published on our own Facebook page. It might be a situation that native English speakers do not know anything about, but in the Netherlands it is often a bit ‘special’ to post things in English. You are either very good at your sport, you have a serious amount of international friends, or you are just trying to be interesting. The latter is by far the most common. But, from now on, I am one of the happy few that have a good reason to use English, because Tim Bladon asked me to translate our reports for his website. Hereby, the first report about a hilly, hot and heavy Ronde van Limburg. For your information, Limburg is a province in the Netherlands and is best known in the cycling world by the Amstel Gold Race. The names that occur in the report are mostly of my teammates at WPG Amsterdam. The race was part of a competition called the Topcompetitie were the best national semi-professionals (Continental Teams) compete with the best amateurs (Clubteams).

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The Tour of Limburg and the hierarchy of monkeys.

Team leader Jan Dick den Das (this is a normal name in Holland, but I will call him JDDD from now on) starts the pre-race meeting with the words: “This season, Jelmer en Daan, have been the alpha males of our team a bit too often, it is past time that the younger guys destroy this pecking order.” The arrogance, that is no stranger to me by nature, flares up and I exchange a merry glance with Jelmer. With our small biceps and limited heights, we are not called alpha-males too often. JDDD continues by saying that Jelmer and I have indicated at the start of the season that we wanted to coach the young, ‘wanna-be-professional’ riders. However, before we can do that it is up to those young riders to be in the front of the race to be at least coachable.

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Without wanting to make an arrogant impression, I must say that the coaching intention worked out fine for me today. Not for Jelmer Asjes though, ‘the General’, himself deserts. After about twenty miles he disappears into some break-away and we will never see him again. Humility is the only thing that my teammates pick up from him this day, but his break-away fellows (which are (semi)-professional cyclists without exception) must have learned a valuable life lesson. Racing hard is one thing, doing it next to a full-time job is a whole other deal. Jelmer is not up to the coaching role yet, although he is the senior of our team. He is the role model and the alpha male: Let me do the coaching Jelmer, I’ve got three grey hairs and a general’s voice too.

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Before Jelmer went on his epic breakaway, our team was already very active. On the first GPM I accidentally get some mountain points, which greatest use is that my mother sees my name on Twitter. A beautiful moment occurs when I fall back in the peloton. Temporarily overreached and struggling with the high temperature, it is hard to get back in the wheel. Luckily I got some friends with other teams: A little push from Daan Schouten of the Kanjers voor Kanjers team from the East of the Netherlands helps a lot. I think Kanjers voor Kanjers is the friendliest team of our country, confirmed by the fact that their name sponsor is a charity foundation. This name is also their biggest disadvantage, because you might literally translate it into English as ‘Stunners for Stunners’. So, if I have an extra bottle of water and I can’t remember the right name of the specific rider, I always have to address them with: “Hi stunner, do you want a bottle?” There goes my feeling of being an alpha male.

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We have two riders that ride their first year in the U23/Elite peloton, Oscar van Wijk and Gijs Jorna. They have a hard day, writhing and struggling, but they show lots of character. Finishing in the peloton is an excellent performance in this hard race and in the hot weather. They might be the ‘mu’ and ‘pi’ of the monkey hierarchy for now, but they are rushing through that alphabet in no time. They both have more talents than just cycling. Oscar was recognized by the race announcer as the ‘ex-boyfriend of …’, which is no coincidence. With one lock of hair dangling loosely before his eyes and his Justin Bieber-styled clothing, he must be the dream of many a 19-year old girl. Gijs has the talent of bringing me quotes after every race from some book that he is reading. The one about today’s race is from Jack Kerouac: “I realized that I had died and been reborn numberless times but just didn’t remember.” Beautiful.

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As I said before, the race was heavy, long and very hot today. My personal low point of the day happened when I was in the wheel of ‘embedded journalist’ Thijs Zonneveld. He emptied a bottle over his long hairs and it occurred to me that I liked the cold drops that were blown from his hair to me. Enjoying the discarded drops of sweat from another mature man. It doesn’t get much worse.

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We did very well today, we were by far the best clubteam in the race and Jelmer took a beautiful ninth spot. Jasper Schouten, who a priori thought that the hills would be too heavy for him, took a fair 28th. The rest of us showed the will to attack and perseverance as we all finished this hard race. This race will give us morale and strength for the weeks to come. Next week we have one more race in Holland and then we will split up. One team goes for a stage race in Brittany, the other will do the Beaumont Trophy in Britain.

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I almost forgot to say something about the excellent ‘soigneuring’ in our team. Sarah is one of our usual soigneurs and is, according to us, the best soigneur in the country. This day she got assisted by the fathers of Oscar, Jelmer and Binne Pier. These engaged parents are what makes a clubteam tick.

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Ronde van Limburg, NL 2016 Top Ten

1: Martijn Budding
2: Gert-Jan Bosman
3: Jetse Bol
4: Jenthe Biermans
5: Jasper Ockeloen
6: Jasper Riesebeek
7: Hartthijs de Vries
8: Peter Lenderink
9: Jelmer Asjes
10: Bob Schoonbroodt