10 Wishes: Ant Beal

Ant Beal is the newest member of VeloVoices. He lives in Derby, is a ‘planner’ of some sorts (but we don’t really know what that means) and is a brilliant tweeter. In fact, it was his #AntBanter with us all season long that made us snap him up for the blog. Funny, positive and with a fine sprinkling of Fabianese hashtags, here is his 2013 wish list:

1. Manning up and moving on

Wish 1: Hey you on the couch - yeah you! MAN UP!

Wish 1: Hey you on the couch – yeah you! MAN UP!

I’d like to get the serious stuff out of the way first, so just bear with me …

Lance, please read Rule 5 and man the Daffy Duck up. If you truly are innocent, fight on and clear your name. If you are guilty – and, let’s face it, it’s not looking good for you, fella – try at least to salvage a scrap of dignity by owning up and letting the sport move into 2013 with some optimism. Cycling made you a multimillionaire and you owe the sport and its fans some respect. Taunting people over Twitter is just childish and is not helping anybody. It just makes you look like – now what was that word that Johan Bruyneel used? – to coin a hashtag, #unclass.

2. Ch-ch-ch-Changes

Nearly done being serious…

From all the clamour and politics around Change Cycling Now and the fall-out from the last few months, and whatever your views, let’s hope for a positive outcome. I guess it’s easy for motives to be questioned but I hope that whatever hidden agenda anybody may have tucked away, the overriding driving force behind any debate and discussion remains a passion for the sport. That is the one common ground that everybody needs to embrace. It’s going to stutter and stumble a bit, and there’s no panacea. In fact I doubt that anything will happen that will please everybody (just look at the divided opinion on subjects such as the use of race radio), but I hope that the love of the sport remains the major focus. With patience and a unilateral commitment to the cause, perhaps we can get there by increments.

3. Wiggissimo

I’m not very good at being serious, so it’s time to look at some more light-hearted stuff …

Wish 5: Next time it'll be pink and still no one will meet his eye #shouldbeforbidden

Wish 3: Next time it’ll be pink and still no one will meet his eye! #shouldbeforbidden

Firstly Wiggo and his stated desire to win the Giro. My opinion on Wiggins as a character and a rider varies from day to day, but having a British Grand Tour Winner is something I never expected to see, and so the Tour victory is something that I have to say made me very happy, however boring it was. It thrust him into the wider public eye, and soon you couldn’t move for seeing photos of Le Gentleman in all Mod conneries (forgive the substandard Franglais/Jam pun) alongside the likes of Weller or Gallagher.

Then there was that coat. The blue thing he wore to the Tour de France presentation. Hmmmm … #shouldbeforbidden

So what would happen if Brad won the Giro? Well firstly, from a patriotic perspective it would be great to see a Brit win. And imagine what he would wear to the post-Giro party? We have a picture above of how it might look and I for one think this should become a reality!

4. An exciting 100th Tour de France

Wish 4: This time, it *won't* be a procession.  (image courtesy of Roz Jones)

Wish 4: This time, it won’t be a procession (image courtesy of Roz Jones)

Le Tour looks like it should be a good one. Let’s be honest, last year’s procession was a stroke of genius, with us now looking towards the 100th Tour thinking that even one change of leadership in the last two weeks would be a bonus! My 2013 wish list has a few Tour-based entries, but first and foremost I’m hoping for excitement. The parcours should be a big help, but one of the main factors will be who gets to ride. I really dislike Alberto Contador (to be fair, I’m not entirely sure why), but I have to admit that his attacking style makes for a fantastic race (as long as he lays off the steak and everybody has a fully functioning bike when he does attack). For that reason, I’d like to see him in the race. He also takes on (for me at least) the pantomime villain role and gives me somebody to shout at.

5. A festival of speed

Wish 6: This year, it'll be in the DARK! (image courtesy of letour.com)

Wish 5: This year, it’ll be in the DARK! (image courtesy of letour.com)

The 2013 Tour de France could have one of the best green jersey contests for some years. The variety of stage finishes, combined with the huge volume of sprinting talent around at the moment should make it very interesting. Obviously we’re talking about a wish-list here and as such I want Cav to take green. Realistically though, looking at depth of the competition and the variety of stages, I can see this being a wide open and intriguing contest and something to really look forward to. Out of all of the sprint finishes though, if Cav only takes one and it’s on the Champs Elysees, then I’ll be a happy man. [That is in direct contrast to one of Kitty’s wishes – Ed.]

6. Don’t take away my Breakaway

Looking at the route for the Tour and the profile for some of the stages, I’m hoping that there will be plenty of opportunities for successful breakaways. Certainly the opening few stages around Corsica will be interesting and I’d like to see PhilGil get those rainbow stripes out in front and hopefully picking up a stage win. Above all, I’m hoping to see a carnage of attacks (yes, I’ve decided that the collective noun for attacks should be ‘carnage’), and I hope that the race will remain varied and open enough to encourage it. It’s a fantastic thing to see a breakaway succeed, best of all a solo escapee, and I really hope that we get treated to a few of those.

7. An end to #unluck

Wish 7: Let's see Spartacus back to his old self (image courtesy of Tirreno-Adriatico website)

Wish 7: Let’s see Spartacus back to his old self (image courtesy of Tirreno-Adriatico)

Poor old Spartacus has had a fair bit of misfortune of late, and I’d like to see him stay on two wheels and out of trouble for a bit. There are few races that aren’t improved by him being in them, and although I don’t share quite the same passion for him as one other member of the VeloVoices Massive, I do love to watch the lad race. I’d love to see – and I don’t think it’s inconceivable – Fabs become road race World Champion in Florence. The course looks right for him, and it would be a nice bit of karmic compensation for some of his #unluck this year. [This is exactly the same as one of Kitty’s wishes – Ed.]

8. Jens’ swansong

Wish 8: Let's hope he puts down the pain for many years to come  (image by Panache/ccarls1)

Wish 8: Let’s hope he puts down the pain for many years to come (image by Panache)

Assuming that Jens hangs up his overworked wheels at the end of 2013, I’m hoping that we get treated to some pure unadulterated Jens magic. I’d expect Jens’ swansong to be more Motorhead than My Way. Some mischief, some hardcore, balls-to-the-wall dishing out of pain, some great soundbites and perhaps even the honour of guiding the peloton onto the Champs-Elysees would be a fitting end to a fantastic career on the bike. Who knows, he might even enjoy it so much he sticks around for another year of torturous mayhem …

9. Flying Rainbow

I’m hardly being controversial with this wish list but I hope to see the World Champion winning plenty of races. PhilGil had a fairly hit-and-miss season in 2012, but the manner in which he won the jersey is a fine example of why I like the guy, and he’s a very fitting person to wear the rainbow. Cav was a great World Champion, despite not having the best circumstances with respect to his team set-up, and it would be brilliant to see Gilbert take up the running with some panache.

10. Surreality TV

I can’t stand reality TV, and I am rapidly going off football [Ant supports Shrewsbury Town, so that’s understandable – Ed], but an idea came to me which nobody in their right mind would commission. In light of the rising popularity of cycling in the UK, and the sadly perpetual popularity of reality TV, how about this for an idea? Stealing from the idea of Wife Swap, how about we get a footballer and a cyclist and make them trade places for a week. For example, Fernando Torres could try to ride Paris-Roubaix, and Marcel Kittel could sit on the bench at Stamford Bridge. Anybody fancy commissioning that? No? Okay … err … Youth Hostelling with Johan Museeuw? [Please tell us you have nothing to do with planning television programmes in your day job, Ant – Ed.]

10 wishes for 2013

Kitty Fondue

Kiss My Panache

Sheree Whatley

10 Wishes: Sheree Whatley

Sheree is a founding member of VeloVoices and is one of the most well-connected cycling fans around. She lives on the Cote d’Azur (oh yes!) and often sees the World Champion whizz by her in his rainbow jersey. She spent much of the summer in a Eurosport car chasing the peloton through the Grand Tours and she’s a keen cyclist in her own right. She particularly likes writing about the history of the sport and family connections. Here are her wishes for 2013:

1. That cycling starts to become a credible sport thanks to a whole raft of proposals – from, among others, Change Cycling Now – which are supported by all the stakeholders, adopted as recommendations by the UCI Independent Commission and implemented.

2. That 2013 is a vintage year in professional cycling with no inexplicable performances, no doping positives, tons of great racing, different podiums at each of the Grand Tours and no serious accidents or injuries befalling the riders.

3. That motorised vehicles – whether they have two, four or more wheels – start according cyclists the same courtesies as they extend to other road users. As a consequence, far fewer of us are killed on the roads.

Wish 4: For the smoothness of Contador (image courtesy of Danielle Haex)

Wish 4: For the smoothness of Contador (image courtesy of Danielle Haex)

4. That all my work on the home trainer pays off and I start to pedal with the suppleness and cadence of Alberto Contador. I suppose it’s too much to hope that I might approach his speed too? No harm in wishing!

Wish 6: "I'd like to thank my sponsors, my team ..."

Wish 5: “I’d like to thank my sponsors, my team …”

5. I actually win a cycling trophy as opposed to being given one just for turning up and taking part.

6. I take part in a number of cyclo-sportives without ever once seeing or hearing the broom wagon.

7. VeloVoices becomes a viral phenomenon with companies clamouring to advertise on the site, individuals wanting to write for us and have us feature their photographs. Tim has to become a full-time editor-in-chief with Miss Kitty as our full-time features editor. I finally get a press pass and am VeloVoices’ on-the-spot reporter at all the major races, and many more besides, along with ace reporter Jack. I start taking my own photographs so am no longer dependent on my current photographer who tends to forget to recharge his camera battery or who accidentally deletes the photos before publication.

8. My friend’s son – the one I encouraged to start riding this summer – wins the French amateur road race championships in his age category. The first small step on his long road to becoming a professional cyclist.

Bobby Jullich Sky Pro Cycling Team Race Coach (image courtesy of Sky)

Wish 9: That those who have confessed get a fresh start (image courtesy of Sky)

9. Those who’ve had to quit their jobs because of their past, like ex-Sky race coach and all-around really nice guy Bobby Julich, find new roles and start becoming part of the solution.

10. Friend of VeloVoices, G4, becomes hugely successful and has to hire in more talent. Specifically, they need someone who understands the US market. They recruit Panache who moves to Europe with his family and gets to drink great coffee and to eat French pastries, my pain d’epice (and anything else he fancies) with us in the sunshine on the VeloVoices balcony.

10 wishes for 2013

Kitty Fondue

Kiss My Panache