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FEATURE I MALLORCA F


or a good while I managed to keep up with the lead group and a voice inside my head could be heard ‘’who’s that behind Roche? It looks like Gilks, It looks like Keith Gilks, It is Keith Gilks, he actually kept up with Roche!’’ It wasn’t the only time that day that Stephen’s super human effort at La Plagne in the 1987 Tour de France came into mind. I was living the dream, feeling like a pro, cycling with a legend and climbing a monster of a mountain typical of a stage in the Veulta. Then another pro rider experience hit me; I cracked. Suddenly I could no longer keep up the pace and my speed dropped by 2 km/h. Not a lot but enough to see Stephen and two of our group, John and Lawrence


disappear into the distance. The next time I saw Stephen was 15 minutes later when he was freewheeling back down the hill to catch up with the group behind me! As he sped past he shouted encouragement that I was nearing the top. I hoped so! At last the summit came into sight; John had pipped Lawrence to the polka dot jersey. I joined them and caught my breath. Augustini directed us through the tunnel where the support vehicle was waiting for us, with what can only be described as a cyclist’s picnic; bananas, haribos, cereal snacks, marshmallow, gels, water, and electrolyte available to all.


Refuelled and with gilets on, we took off on the glorious descent heading for the Sa Colabra. Unfortunately my rear tyre


developed a fault half way down. I pulled over to join Lawrence who had suffered a front puncture. Within a couple of minutes Stephen and Miguel (ride captain) stopped to help out. The support vehicle pulled up and to my amazement Stephen quickly grabbed a rear wheel, taken my faulty one off and replaced it. I had just been served by a Triple Crown Champion, acting as my domesitque! To me this summed up the outlook and service of the company and the measure of the man. He could have asked or even ordered Toni the mechanic to replace my wheel, but had chosen instead to crack on with it thus limiting my time off the bike to an absolute minimum. No wonder other members of the team when they witness the boss being so proactive and humble, act


January 2015 I Cycling World


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