The latest Telegraph Cycling Podcast looks back at the final races of the 2014 season, Paris-Tours and the Tour of Beijing, discusses Andy Schleck’s premature retirement, and Oleg Tinkov’s €1 million Grand Tour bounty.
There is also an interview with David Millar after the final race of his seventeen-year professional career, the Bec hill climb in Surrey.
Jelle Wallays was the surprise winner of Paris-Tours, outfoxing France’s ageing darling, Thomas Voeckler, at the end of a thrilling race. The podcast asks, why does the so-called “sprinters’ classic” so rarely end in a sprint?
Meanwhile, the final Tour of Beijing was won by Philippe Gilbert, but it passed almost without notice and, according to Richard Moore, Lionel Birnie and Daniel Friebe, it is unlikely to be missed. Somebody who will, though, will be Schleck, whose retirement because of a knee injury was less of a surprise than it should be: he is only 29 but it is over two years since he last won, or even looked like winning, a race.
Schleck finished second on three occasions at the Tour de France, as well as in his debut Giro d’Italia in 2007, and he inherited one of the Tour titles after Alberto Contador tested positive in 2010. But although the record books state that he is a Tour winner, he doesn’t seem to regard himself as one – nor do most people.
It is just one reason why Schleck’s legacy as a rider is more complicated than most. He has suffered from crashes since 2012, but his decline predated his first serious injury; indeed, things seemed to start to go wrong for Schleck when, with his brother Frank, he set up the Luxembourg-based Leopard team in 2011.
Finally, Tinkov, owner of the Tinkoff-Saxo team, has put up a million Euros if Vincenzo Nibali, Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador do all three Grand Tours, of Italy, France and Spain. The podcast asks whether Tinkov’s bonus is a good idea, and whether it is realistic (spoiler alert: the answer to both questions is a resounding no).
To see a short behind-the-scenes film about the Telegraph Cycling Podcast, click here: http://vimeo.com/108525316