Blog en-us markghopkins ( Wed, 18 Oct 2017 18:27:00 GMT Wed, 18 Oct 2017 18:27:00 GMT Blog 90 120 LaCourse in reverse The following is my opinion with little basis in fact.

Whatever you think about the ASO you have to admire their intelligence.  After 3 years of running LaCourse in an effort to appease those who are vocal in supporting women’s cycling, a cause I have a huge amount of sympathy for, they decide to provide a 2 day event in 2017. 

This 2 day race was, quite obviously, a pathetic fudge.  A 67 km stage which finished at the top of the Col d’Izoard and a second stage where the first 20 in stage 1 compete in a Time Trial.  Why the first 20?  Who knows, but it was obviously a ridiculous concept.  At this point I feel I need to disclose that I didnt watch any of the TV coverage as I felt the event was so ridiculous.

The problem for those who were battling for better womens racing was that they felt they couldn’t criticise the 2017 version of LaCourse as it was twice the number of days, albeit with a rest day in between the 2 stages. Do the ASO think Women cant race 2 days in a row?  Infact many riders actually came out with positive statement which I struggled to believe were genuine, how could they be?

As a result, when the dust settled from what turned out to be a mediocre event at best, the ASO decided that for 2018 LaCourse will revert to a 1 day race, being a cut down version of stage 10 of LeTour.  I can only assume the ASO did a lucky dip to identify the appropriate TdF stage, with numbers from 1 to 20, as stage 21 isnt going to be in the mix in the foreseeable future.

So now, Womens racing doesn’t even have the showcase of racing a crit around Paris, and the ASO have got what I believe they wanted, keeping Paris purely for the Men.  It’s a sad day for Womens racing.

]]> ( aso lacourse womens cycling womens world tour wwt Wed, 18 Oct 2017 18:27:20 GMT
March 2017 With the season starting to ramp up after my usual season opener, Perfs Pedal, races in March start with the 45th Severn Bridge, to be held on an interesting new course around Hallen and Avonmouth, north east of Bristol.  Not the most aesthetically pleasing course in places but might make for a few more interesting photos.  

Severn Bridge sprint for minor places 2016copyright

The following week is the double header of Roy Thame (and the Spring Chicken) and the Jock Wadley, then the Wally Gimber which I haven’t done for a few years,

2015 Roy Thamecopyright 2015 Jock Wadleycopyright 2012 Wally Gimbercopyright

Finally at the end of March, the Bristol South Women’s Race, run over the Mendips.  The clocks go forward that day too so let’s hope no riders arrive late to the start line.

2016 Bristol South Womens RRcopyright

]]> ( Bristol South Jock Wadley Roy Thame Spring Chicken Wally Gimber Mon, 27 Feb 2017 17:07:09 GMT
Tour of Yorkshire So today the teams were announced for the inaugural Tour of Yorkshire; I refuse to use ‘de’ as its not held in France, its in Britain!  The biggest talking point is that 2 of the countries UCI Continental teams, teams that have for a number of years supported fully UK cycling, have been refused entry.

Both Raleigh GAC and JTL Condor find themselves looking for alternative racing at the beginning of May and its not exactly clear why.  Some have mentioned conspiracies and some of the selections do seem a little strange.

Looking at the start list 5 British domestic teams have been included.  Its obvious why NFTO and One Pro Cycling are there, look at the starts they have had to the 2015 season.  The ASO tend to pick in form teams for its wildcards in other events, so I guess no surprises there.  However a GB development team and Team Wiggins have also been included, many believe at the expense of Raleigh GAC and JLT Condor. 

One question comes to my mind, would Team Wiggins be included if Bradley hadn’t been given licence buy the UCI to join from Sky before he should have.  The UCI rules mean that a rider can only change teams mid-season in the month of June.  I guess we will never know. 

Additionally why are there basically 2 GB development teams (of 8 riders each), these being Team Wiggins and Team GB?  Are there actually 16 British development riders who are capable of riding a race of this quality?  I guess we will find out.

In case you are wondering the 5th team selected are Madison Genesis.

All I can say is that I have been impressed by how the team principles of both JLT Condor and Raleigh GAC have today release statements wishing the domestic teams selected the very best and to put on a good show.  Hugely sporting. 

I wondering if in the coming days the ASO will make public their reasoning for selections, but I suspect not, the ASO aren’t known for their transparency.

Personally I wont be going north in May, its going to be far too hetic and far to busy for me, I just hope the huge crowds I suspect will attend do not affect the racing by getting in the way, as they did on Stage 1 of the TdF last year.


]]> ( ASO JLT Condor NFTO OnePro Raleigh GAC Team Wiggins TeamWiggins Tour de Yorkshire Wed, 18 Mar 2015 19:47:12 GMT
Is Spring coming? Not that you would believe it as I sit and write this but next weekend marks the start of Spring.  It also marks my 5th year at the Severn Bridge Road Race on the 1st March

However the race has now moved to a new course based around Stowey Hill in Somerset, and as this is my old stomping ground, I am looking forward to photographing a race there rather than struggling up it J

March will be a busy time with the last Ludgershall Winter series the day before the Severn Bridge.  Had a great time doing most of the series, and although there were some very cold mornings and late starts as a result, I look forward to doing it all again next year.  Although I would rather do a Summer Series!

After that for me it’s the Team Axiom PTTL and most likely the Jock Wadley south of Colchester, with the Roy Thame/Spring Chicken and the Peter Young Memorial the following weekend.

Im looking forward to seeing how the new Continental and domestic teams do this year against the established teams.  I suspect there will be a few disappointed team managers at the end of the year, but I have no idea which ones.

So with the promise that Spring is coming, and looking forward to some warmer weather, I cant wait to see how March turns out. copyright

]]> ( Axiom Jock Wadley Ludgershall PTTL Peter Young Roy Thame Severn Bridge Spring Chicken Sun, 22 Feb 2015 17:03:50 GMT
Busy times ahead Only just into February and already things are busying up.  A visit to Ludgershall and my very first (photography) foray into Cyclo Cross at the last round of the Wessex League in Tidworth, have well and truly signified the start of the season for me.  In weeks to come I expect to return to Ludgershall for a few more rounds interspersed with the 49th Perfs, the Severn Bridge on a course very close to my heart, around Clutton in Somerset, the odd TT and ending up with the Dave Peck at the end of March.

Looking forward to the weeks ahead watching how new teams do in the early season, and how the established teams react.

Thanks for reading

]]> ( Mon, 02 Feb 2015 09:51:34 GMT
Wot, no photographer? This weekend just gone I was planning to photograph the Pittards Trophy and Ham Hill Road Races hosted by Yeovil CC in Somerset.  Unfortunately, due to some dodgy chicken on the Saturday night I decided to give it a miss (dont ask).  I assumed that a relatively big race like Ham Hill would have a number of photographers attending and there would be plenty of images going around on Velo Uk, BC etc.

Imagine my surprise that over 24 hours later there appears to be no photographs of either event in circulation.  I cant help wondering why this is.   I can only assume that the proliferation of 'give away' photographers (those who are happy to give images away to anyone, any time) has meant that those experienced cycling photographers who sell images decided it was not worth while doing and therefore didn't attend.  Whuilst I can fully understand this, it is a shame as this appears to be a growing trend.  Personally I think this trend will ultimately mean that those who are committed to attending races and have the experience (and charge for images) will be less and less inclined to attend races.

How many races in the future will lack an experienced cycling photographer as the 'give aways' have put them off?  I dont know but I suspect it will be more and more.  I really hope I am wrong, but I know some are getting more disillusioned and have considered stopping a number of times, myself included.  There will come a time that our passion is outweighed by our jadedness.  Where will your 'give away' be then?

Anyway the'chicken' issues has resolved itself now, and I will be at the Les Ingram Memorial in Surrey this weekend coming.



]]> ( Mon, 07 Apr 2014 20:41:14 GMT
Does sunshine bring out the madness? So the start of a new road season is upon us, well for me anyway, with the usual Southdown Bikes Hilly TT starting at Storrington in West Sussex.  This year was a lot less cold than the last few years, and I even had to cope with some sunshine, which was different :).  However I get the feeling the sunshine brought something out in some of the drivers on the road whist the TT was underway.  It seemed to reduce their patience to extraordinarily low levels, and also seemed to remove any common sense.

Ive thought long and hard about writing this blog, as what I experienced pales into insignificance compared to what some riders experience, however I felt it is worth mentioning,as its something I have never experienced before, and I am not aware of any other photographer experiencing it either.  

Whilst photographing the event, four different drivers deliberately turned their steering wheel towards me whilst I was stood on the grass verge.  The first time I thought it was me but after a Mini and an Audi also did it I came to the conclusion that these drivers were annoyed at being held up by a cyclist and the only way they could vent their annoyance was to try to scare me, someone they saw as being associated with the event.

If it was bad for me I can only guess how bad it was for some of the riders.  Yes, ok so its was a long climb, and some riders were finding it tough to get up it, and a small number of cars were being held up on occasion, but does that mean they have the right do endanger anyone’s life to make your point?  Emphatically, no it does not.  We all have to share the road, and we all have to survive.  These drivers might think they are the best in the world and that in driving at someone to make a point and missing them at the last minute, nothing would ever go wrong, but why take the chance? 

And if by any chance you are one of the drivers who did aim their car at me (especially the ****in the Audi), next time get out of your safe metal box and we can discuss it.  No, thought not!

I really hope this was a one off, I don’t want to experience that again.

]]> ( Southdown TT Mon, 03 Feb 2014 17:05:42 GMT
Tour of Britain, must be autumn So with 1 week to go to the start of the Tour of Britain, I cant help but reflect on the season so far.  If I'm honest, 2013 has had its ups and downs.  Early season Time Trials gave way to the usual wet and windy Perfs Pedal, where Team UK Youth gave early signs of things to come.  A few weeks later, the tragic death of Junior Heffernan in his first major race for his new team,  at the Severn Bridge Road Race. I know many many people were shocked by his death and are still saddened by it.

The usual Spring Classics followed, with Team UK Youth taking possibly more than their fair share of wins.  This they carried on into the Pearl Izumi (nearly typed Halfords there) Tour Series where they took the overall, and the majority of the individual rounds - Stoke, Aberystwyth, Torquay, Colchester, Canary Wharf, Woking, Aylsham and Ipswich.   As far as Individual riders who can forget Tom Skullys ride in Redditch, lapping the field to cause huge confusion for the rider and commisaires.  He repeated the feat in Ipswich too, you know.

In the Johnsons Healthtech GP Hannah Barnes has to be the stand out rider, especially he courageous ride in Woking, crashing heavily in the early laps, remounting and going on to win the round (see the Woking set for the Hannah Barnes Anatomy of the crash).  MG Maxifuel also took the team honours, although Team MuleBar Girl made it close.  For me though Natalie Creswick's win in Stoke was a highlight of the GP series.  

In amongst the Tour Series the Milk Race was 'relaunched' as a Criterium in Nottingham.  The Elite Women's event was a great race  won by Dani King, but for me the organisation of this event was poor, with crowds being treated like cattle and marshals acting like 'Captain Car Parks'.  It was so bad I didn't stay for the Elite Mens event, which was won by Felix English (Rapha JLT).  I hope its better next yea and the organisers could learn a thing or two from Sweetspot.

The usual lull then hit with July and August not really resulting in too many events.  However September is now with us and the CX season started with a bang last weekend.  I will definitely get to a cross race some time this season.

So back to where I started these ramblings, and the ToB.  To my mind it shows just how good the quality of riders are in the domestic peloton, when you look at the start sheet of the ToB and see how many quality riders are left out of the British teams.  Team UK Youth, Raleigh, Madison Genesis, IG Sigma, Node 4 Giordana and Rapha JLT have all had to make difficult choices. And with Sky and Net App all bringing British quality too, it can only be a good thing for this years Tour.  I just hope the crowds behave themselves (this is cycling not football guys) and that I can get around the course each day (well the 2 days I am doing anyway).   Predictions?  Not from me.  My Tdf predictions this year prove I know nothing about cycling!  OK, so I called Froomey but that was pretty easy!

Still to come this year is the Hill Climb season, after the ToB.  Have a few lined up but keep an eye on the calendar to see which ones I get too.


]]> ( Madison Maxifuel Milk Race Node4 Raleigh Rapha Sigma ToB Tour Series UKYouth Mon, 09 Sep 2013 15:45:58 GMT
Tour De France anyone? 2 days to go to Stage 1 of TdF2013.  Will the the newly crowned British Champion swap red, white and blue for yellow in Corsica?  Will BMC's alleged shock and awe tactics derail Sky, and if it does what will SaxoTinkoff do?  Is the polkadot France bound with Tommy V for a 2nd year?  Who knows.  However, the one think I do know is that it wont be as easy as some people thing for Froome-dog.  How can it be, have you seen the route?  Stage finishes at the top of Ax 3 Domaines, Mont Ventoux, Alpe D'Huez and Annecy-Semnoz.  If someone doesnt shout - or more like gasp -  "Vous êtes des assassins! Oui, des assassins!' a la Octave Lapize I will be surprised.  Couple that with 2 quite hilly Individual Time Trials and you have arguably one of the most difficult tours for a while.

My prediction for what its worth, well Yellow I cant honestly see past Chris Froome, although I think Ryder might be on a mission to make up for a disappointing Giro.  I think there just arent enough 'flat' stages for Cav to take green so Im going to go out on a limb and predict Rodriguez to take the 'Maillot Vert'.  Polkadot.....Is it s stretch to think maybe Cunego? And the best young rider Movistars, Nairo Quintana.  Lets see just how wrong I will be.

Anyway, the next 2 weekends see me doing 2 2 day events, this weekend the Hardy 2 Day in Dorset, and next weekend the Surrey League Sussex 2 Day around Eastborne.  Looking forward to it, as its makes a change from the many crits I've been to recently with the Milk Race and Tour Series.

]]> ( Thu, 27 Jun 2013 17:44:54 GMT
Tour Series and Womens GP. With 1 week left to go in the Pearl Izumi Tour Series and Johnson Health Tech GP its (kind of) all to play for.  Certainly in the Johnson Health Tech GP with 2 rounds left to go, in Woking and Aylsham, anyone of 3 teams could take the series, and lets face it the team series is probably the most important thing for the womens side (as it is for the men), as it gives massive publicity to the sponsors.  So far there have also been some brilliant racing and great individual wins for Nat Creswick, Hannah Barnes, Hannah taking both Colchester and Redditch.  Im not going to make any predictions for the last 2 rounds except that MG Maxifuel, MuleBar Girl or Matrix Fitness will take the series team results.

On the mens side, its a little more 1 sided, with TeamUKYouth leading the series now by a full 10 points.  Having said that, 1 bad round in the last 3 and it could all change, although to be fair I think they will now need 2 bad rounds, as the difference between 1st and last is 9 points (not that I am predicting a last place, far from it).  Providing TeamUKYouth keep concentrating, I dont see them being beaten for the team series, and expect at least 1 more individual win too.  The only team that look like troubing the winners spot is Raleigh, but I think they have left the charge too late now.  Also a special mention to Metaltech-Knights of Old whose knowledge of the rule book meant they took a well earned team win in Redditch.

One final thing, my deepest sympathies go out to the friends and family of the NEG rider killed at the start of the SERRL 3 day last month. These guys are skilled riders and do an excellent job keeping riders safe in difficult circumstances.  Lets hope we see no more serious accidents.

]]> ( Colchester GP Health Izumi Johnson Pearl Redditch Series Tech Tour Sat, 08 Jun 2013 16:24:27 GMT
Giving something back Well, today was the 1 day in the year that I feel I have given something back to the grass roots cycle racing in the UK.  Why, well I was actually 1 of the many marshals that allow all racing in this country take place.  For me, the race was the Tour of the Milbury's, organised, very well, by Team Axiom from Portsmouth.  I have to honestly admit, standing out in the middle of a road that is unrestricted speed limit, ie 60 mph, in a flourescent jacket and a red flag is a little intimidating, especially when drivers in trucks come right up to you before they stop.  However today, for me at least, they all did stop, and only a few looked unhappy (but they were driving mercs and beemers so I had little sympathy :) )

The one thing I can honestly say is that the vast majority of riders, when they had time and weren't chewing handlebar tape, said 'thank you' to the marshals.  Whilst its not surprising you all appreciate what these guys do, week in, week out, it is fulfilling when its acknowledged.  Thank You.

Congratulations to Rob Yeatman (Dream) who won the TT stage, and to Rob Sharland (Kingston Whls)who won the Road Race stage and overall.  And congratulations to all in Team Axiom.  Cant wait for next year.

Photos from the TT will be up within the next 24 hours.


]]> ( Axiom Corhampton Milbury Sharland Yeatman Sat, 11 May 2013 19:33:16 GMT
Is this really Spring?  

I cant help feeling something is broken with our weather.  Its a few days before British Summertime starts and its snowing across the country.  Today I decided that I wasn’t going to go to the Maidenhead & District TT on the Drift Road, as its to likely that I will get stuck there!  And tomorrow doesn’t look much better either.

It seems a long way away from the start of the Tour Series, but actually its only about 8 weeks away, and on Thursday the host’s were announced.  I was surprised by some of the locations, Aylsham in particular, but there are a lot of old favourites (and some not so favourites) included in the calendar too.  Additionally I’m quite glad that some towns have missed out this year, after poor organisation last year – no names.

I hope to be at Woking, Colchester, Redditch, maybe Canary Wharf and Torquay too.  I would love a few more stages ‘down sarf’ but have to live with what there is.  

I am still waiting to see which venues will also host a round of the Johnson Health Tech GP, hopefully all those I am intending to go to

The stages for the ToB were also announced on Thursday, with a Surrey stage included again.  I really hope the stage isn’t as busy as last year, but I guess the cobble finish in Guildford will be a huge draw for spectators.  A hill top finish at Hay Tor is also included in this years Tour, which is guaranteed to get the crowds out.

Well hopefully the next few weeks will be a little warmer, and I can actually take some photo’s with blue sky’s in them. 

Stay safe and keep it rubber side down all.

]]> ( Aylsham Canary Wharf Colchester Drift Road Guildford Hay Tor Haytor Johnson Health Tech Redditch Surrey ToB Torquay Tour Tour Series Tour of Britain Woking Sat, 23 Mar 2013 08:19:38 GMT
Stay upright guys. Ok so after the events at Severn Bridge last weekend, I just want to say, whatever you are doing, RR, TT Sportive, Training etc, please keep it rubber side down guys and take it easy.  I know in the heat of the moment, being sensible can sometimes go out of the window for a moment , but dont push it, stay safe and make sure you finish in as good a health as you started.  Personally I never want to be photographing another race where someone dies, and in the same way Im sure you dont want to be competing in such a race.

Stay Safe.

]]> ( Jock Wadley Road Race Roy Thame Spring Chicken Surrey League Time Trial Thu, 07 Mar 2013 18:02:59 GMT
Junior Heffernan Yesterday was a sad day for anyone involved with cycling in the UK.  Im sure in future days there will be a lot of discussion about cycling safety, however for now all I want to say is my deepest condolences to Juniors Family and Friends, as well as everyone involved with the Severn Bridge RR.  Needless to say, I will not be posting any images from the E/1/2/3 race, and am still considering whether to post any from the earlier 3/4 race.  RIP Junior.

]]> ( Mon, 04 Mar 2013 09:45:21 GMT
Its been a while...... So the last time I posted anything was just about a year ago.  So many successes in the last year, a British winner of the Tour, Paris Nice, Criterium du Dauphine, Tour du Romandie, Olympic TT Gold medal, Tour of Britain, to many golds on the Track to count in Olympics, World Championships and World Cups.  Also a liar and a cheat finally admitted what we all knew in a 2.5 hour therapy session with an agony aunt.  

My opinions on Mr Armstrong are probably libelous, even now, so I will keep them to myself, suffice to say, he should be consigned to the waste bin of history, but we all must learn from it.

In that vein, 2013 is looming large, with the first Elite event being Perfs.  Personally I am looking forward to a busy, eventful year.  And I intend to add more entries here this year than last :).

Hope to see you on the roadside.


]]> ( Armstrong Dauphine Olympic Perfs Romandie Wiggins Sat, 26 Jan 2013 16:52:55 GMT
Its here - Start of the 2012 season OK, so the season has started.  Well if Im honest it started a few weeks ago, for me at the Perf's near Portsmouth.  Since then its been all go, culimnating in the Roy Thame and Jock Wadley this weekend.  Some excellent racing so far, and great wins by UKYouths Chris Opie, Marcin Bialoblocki and Phil Lavery of the new Node 4 and 100%Me's George Atkins.  

Next couple of weeks include Peter Young Memorial, Wally Gimber and Dengie Marshes.  Bets for winners?

]]> ( Dengie Gimber Jock Wadley Wally Tue, 13 Mar 2012 18:38:26 GMT