Thursday, October 28, 2010

Excuses, excuses. Cancellara excuses his poor road race form because he was concerned about next year. Didn't stop him in the TT though.

It's hard to think under pressure, especially when fools like me will analyse every word. English may also not be kind to Cancellara's meaning. And he may have been misquoted. True, also, that he does have a lot at stake personally. But telling the world that he was distracted by next year's contract during the World Road Champs and that it "played into" his performance does boggle the mind somewhat. Didn't he win the TT? So by extension we can assume that he only thinks about next year when getting dropped in a road race? Is that what he meant?

Cancellara Set To Join Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project |

"The most important thing is to be with the people I feel comfortable with. I need my mechanic and my soigneur. I need to be in a perfect environment. In joining an environment that I don't know yet, I could lose one year. I thought a lot about it at the Worlds and this played into my performance,” he said.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Compare and contrast Gilbert attacking crashed Nibali with Andy whining when Alberto didn't wait

Funny how Andy Schleck's supporters got so much currency out of Alberto Contador's apparent (and opportune) ignorance of Andy's unfortunate gear-shift stuff-up during Le Tour yet Phillipe Gilbert gets nothing but praise for his decisive attacking style, even when it's at the expense of a crashed rider. Yes, yes, Grand Tours aren't like one day races. Yes, yes, it's different when you are racing for the last monument of the year - there's no "next day" to make amends. But it's still in stark contrast to the "Contador should have waited" pleadings. Has anyone criticised Gilbert for taking 'undue or unsportsmanlike' advantage?

Oh, in case you don't know, I think that mechanicals and crashes, like illness and weather, are all part of racing and you should just get over it. Whilst I always appreciated a bunch waiting for me (or at least wondering what happened) after a mid-race mishap I never expected them to...  it's not a training ride, it's a race. Some thoughtfulness and diligence applies, sure, and there's always room to ride fair and clean - but it's still a race littered with obstacles and what-ifs. And those who get around the obstacles best win.   

Gilbert Relishes Cold And Wet Conditions At Lombardy |
Gilbert admitted he heard Nibali crash and accelerated to make sure the Italian did not get back up to him.

"I didn’t see him crash but I heard it. I thought it was him because I didn’t see him and then Lastras told me. I went hard so that he couldn't get back up to us. But that's all part of racing."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I almost agree with Mark Cavendish. Am I going mad? A balanced view on India and the Commonwealth Games

Given the intensely critical and largely anti-Indian drivel written and broadcast prior (and during) the Commonwealth Games it's somewhat refreshing to read Mark Cavendish's honest and balanced opinion. Whilst I may not say it exactly the same way I tend to agree with the overall tone. The lead-up to the Beijing Olympics was similar with the old media focused on the delays, disease, displaced homeless and poor air quality rather than the opportunity. Yes, these are common problems in developing nations. And so it is with these games and the host, India. Of course it hasn't been plain sailing and there are problems, and it may all go pear-shaped from here. But for mine I think India is doing a great job - and for such an enormous time-critical project it appears to be going - if not perfectly - quite well.

I'm sure they'd do even better if they had the surfeit of public resources that the Western so-called "developed" nations have. Indeed what the Western nations - or at least their old guard media - haven't developed is a sense of decency and fair play in their reporting. That doesn't mean covering up, it means balance. Bravo to Mark C. for his remarks.     

Cavendish Frustrated By Lack Of New Contract Deal With HTC-Columbia |
“We’re in India,” said Cavendish. “It’s not a Western country. “I think it's quite ignorant to assume we were going to going to be in a Western-style country. I've been to India before on holiday - I knew what it was going to be like."

“I think it's ignorant not to respect the way those countries are, it's how it is. The reason India's got the Commonwealth Games is because it's a developing country, so you can't expect it to be like going to Hong Kong or something."

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Haussler kicks himself for missing out when most kneeded (pun intended). And for Hushovd, what a way to make your season.

Now that was like a real race. One moment the sprinters were in and then they were out. Gilbert made his expected bold bid but too far out; yet it wasn't his fault - where else could he attack? And when it looked like a faltering Gilbert would get caught by the defending champion, they were all swallowed up by the dropped yet regrouped riders instead. And when the name "Hushovd" was seen to be included in the re-combined front group - well the obvious was about to happen, and it did.

I bet Haussler was kicking himself for racing too soon on that crook knee.  

UCI Road World Championships: Elite Men Road Race, Route Maps & Results |
It was a course for the tough sprinter; a man made of iron that could get over the climbs and launch a brutal uphill sprint: enter Thor Hushovd (Norway). The final sprint in Geelong, Australia was perfectly suited to the Norwegian rider and with a clear run down the left hand barrier, Hushovd secured a year in the rainbow colours of UCI Road World Champion.

Monday, September 27, 2010

More magpie attacks on world championship riders suggest avian plot against cyclists

At the very least these magpie attacks will make the 2010 World Road Championships in Geelong memorable. But is it an avian plot? Is there a hidden agenda to discourage cycling (at least between September and early November, anyway)?

Herald Sun World Cycling Classic Ballarat: Elite Women, Route Maps & Results |
Swart suffered some interference from a magpie out on the course. “Trixi and I and the other riders in the break, kind of got attacked by the magpies,” explained Swart. “I don’t know if that’s normal, but apparently it happens to be so.

“You come to Australia to see kangaroos but all I have seen is magpies,” she added. “They kind of remind me of squirrels or possums in America, they are always on the road.”
addicted2wheels: Gilbert lucky to survive "large bird" attack. Locals resort to antennae. He' s either on Mars or Oz
Gilbert lucky to survive "large bird" attack. Locals resort to antennae. He' s either on Mars or Oz
I once raced with a Singaporean guy who claimed that "an eagle" (read 'magpie', a fairly aggressive meateater in the nesting season) had attacked him during a race on the old Yanderra course near Mittagong. Well those black-and-white Aussie "eagles" are after the Belgians now....

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Gilbert lucky to survive "large bird" attack. Locals resort to antennae. He' s either on Mars or Oz

I once raced with a Singaporean guy who claimed that "an eagle" (read 'magpie', a fairly aggressive black-and-white feathered meateater in the nesting season) had attacked him during a race on the old Yanderra course near Mittagong. Well those black-and-white Aussie "eagles" are after the Belgians now....

Gilbert Likes Worlds Course In Melbourne |
Gilbert was relaxed and fresh after a few days in Australia, even laughing off an attack from a bird while out training.

"I was riding along the coastline on my own when an unidentifiable object brushed past me. I actually looked around and saw a large bird flying away," he said.

"Now I understand why cyclists here ride around with antennae on their helmets. But I do not intend to do that."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Riis has a whinge about upstart Richie, but if you signed for peanuts and went top 10 in a GT what would you do?

No-one really expected Tasmanian Richie Porte to go Top-10 in his first Grand Tour, let alone collect best young rider along the way. No-one really expected him to wear the leader's jersey, either. Not in his first GT, let alone first Giro. But he did. And I'm betting he signed up with Team Saxo Bank for a relative pittance. Whilst I'm sure he got some bonuses out of his performances in 2010 and Riis is certainly right - there is a contract and it was Riis who took the initial risk, and that matters too - it's no surprise the guy wants a bit more now, is it?

This sort of public response by Riis is understandable but doesn't foster loyalty and team cohesion, does it? Ahhh, but there's right and wrong on both sides... and as the cliche goes, time will tell.

Bjarne Riis puts foot down: Richie Porte stays
"It's a huge problem in the sport, and this year it has gone berserk. The agents are running around and shop with all sorts or teams, and it's not just us who have these problems. It must stop now, it's unacceptable. The agents bring ideas into the minds of young riders by putting figures in their minds that are completely unrealistic."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Holy Toldeo Batman, Gilbert has some form on the bike. But will he prevail in Geelong?

I'm tempted to say yes - Philippe Gilbert has to be the red-hot favourite 2 weeks out from the World Road Champs in Geelong. Unfortunately that may just mean we are overlooking a few 'quiet achievers', like Roche or Pozatto. Whilst Farrar is clearly not far off - and Cavendish is further back - those 11 final laps will wipe the grin off all of the sprinters, barring perhaps a recovering Freire and a just-off-the-pace Davis. Which leaves the likes of Evans (little racing since the Tour so big question mark) and Gerrans (better than Evans but not by much) to make a race of it. If they can hang on to Gilbert's wheel, that is.

Vuelta A España: Stage 19, Route Maps & Results |
Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) gave a resounding demonstration of his world championship credentials with a splendid Vuelta stage victory in Toledo. The Belgian delivered a scintillating sprint on the deceptively tough drag to the line that saw overall leader Vincezo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) snatch a potentially crucial 12 seconds from his closest rival Ezequeil Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia).
addicted2wheels: Watch Gilbert at Geelong - he'll be marked for sure but he's ideal on the World Champs course
The Vuelta is already looking interesting. We've had Cavendish almost 'accidentally' take the GC lead and then we've seen Phillippe Gilbert earn the leader's jersey. Gilbert is one of the riders destined to fight it out over the last of those horrid, torrid 16km laps in Geelong. There will be riders shelled out the back on each of the small but steep climbs but Gilbert won't be one of them. Expect Evans and Gerrans to be there, too, and possibly - just maybe - some of the tougher, more dogged sprinters.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fly V gets some UCI points via McEwen, but will it be enough?

McEwen carries some UCI points with him to Fly V, but they need as many as they can get. It's a start, anyway, and a good omen. It also completes a nice circle for McEwen to end up with an Aussie squad.

McEwen Signs With Australian Super Team |
Three-time Tour de France points champion Robbie McEwen will head up the Pegasus Sports team in its bid to join the ProTour in 2011. The 38-year-old Queenslander leaves the Katusha squad after two seasons to rejoin his old friend Chris White, who is pushing to turn his current Fly V Australia squad into the country's first ProTour team.

"I've known Chris White for 20 years and know many of the current staff and riders," McEwen said in a statement. "The team has built an impressive record in North America over the past two years, and with their move into Europe in 2011, the timing and the vibe could not be better.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Rules are rules, especially when Riis rules. Schoolkids A. Schleck and S. O'Grady bump into Bjarne at a bar

Seems a bit farcical, pro bike riders - adults at that - have a quiet drink and are back a bit later than you'd expect for athletes participating in a major stage race. Yes, they must have known they were breaking team rules, but it's their swansong with the team and things are a bit more casual than in the recent past. Crucially they bump into their boss at another bar whilst coming back to their digs. With Andy I can understand it - young, out for a laugh with no real pressure on him in this race - and with one eye on 2011 and his new team - but it's hard to imagine a seasoned pro like O'Grady breaking team rules, especially during a Grand Tour... it's a bit, umm, rebellious? Has Riis simply had enough from these admitted defectors?

Vuelta A España: Stage 10, Route Maps & Results |
The major news on the start line was Bjarne Riis’ decision to send Andy Schleck and Stuart O’Grady home from the Vuelta for breaking team rules by drinking alcohol after dinner the previous night. Once the racing the started, however, the remainder of the peloton showed no signs of a post-rest day hangover as it covered 47 kilometres in a hyperactive first hour of racing.
UPDATED Andy Schleck, O'Grady Removed From Vuelta |
"I acknowledge that I have broken a rule on the team by going out for a drink after dinner and for that reason Bjarne has decided to send myself and Stuart O’Grady home.

"I’m responsible for my actions and even though I think it is too harsh a decision, I respect that Bjarne is the boss and he needs to do what he thinks is the best.

"I was getting back into shape and I would really have liked to stay at the Vuelta and help Frank and the rest of Team Saxo Bank."
UPDATED Andy Schleck, O'Grady Removed From Vuelta |
Both Schleck brothers are leaving the Danish team at the end of this season, to join a new Luxembourg team being organised by Brian Nygaard and Kim Andersen. O'Grady is also leaving Saxo Bank and is said to be joining the new team.
PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling
Over the Cat 1 Rat Penat climb, which hit the riders at 142km and averaged 12.5 %, all the usual GC suspects were there except for Andy Schleck, who along with Stuart O’Grady was sent home from the Vuelta for getting caught going out for a drink after dinner last night. Odd to think Bjarne would be so harsh on these two, but we suppose rules are rules. But….really? So Frank was alone with the other climbers. The climb had taken its toll on everyone, and also everyone in the break, but that group reformed over the top.
Saxo Bank drops Stuart O'Grady and Andy Schleck from Tour of Spain | The Australian
“Mate, we stepped out of the team hotel at 10pm and stopped for a couple of beers at a bar in the local piazza,” O'Grady said.

“We had two beers, that's all. Some members of the European press over here have made us sound like we were on the drink all night.

“That's simply not true.

“We had just ridden our guts out in the team time trial. I don't want to sound like I'm whinging, but the decision to pull us out of the race was harsh,” the South Australian added.

“The decision has cost me two weeks of hard racing preparing for the worlds in Geelong.

“ I guess it means that I can bring the family home a little earlier than expected.

“It also means I've ridden my last race for Saxo Bank. This is not the way I would have wanted my career racing for Bjarne Riis to end. I've ridden my guts out on the front for the team for the last six seasons.”

O'Grady has been linked to a move riding alongside the Schleck brothers at Team Luxembourg next season to be run by former Riis staffers Brian Nygaard and Kim Andersen.

“I'll make an announcement where I'm going next year in a week,” he added.
Andy Schleck and Stuart O’Grady out of Vuelta for ‘violation of team’s rules’
Schleck was contacted by, and said that the reason they were excluded was due to going for drinks yesterday night.

“The fact is that on the rest day yesterday, we chose to go out after eating late dinner, which people do in Spain,” he said. “We had no more than two beers each, then we went home at 1 o’clock and met Bjarne who was sitting at another bar.”

Monday, September 06, 2010

If the Barwon River doesn't go down in 3 weeks time perhaps the world road champs could move to Calga?

Of course it will go down, but OTOH there's more rain to come... I wonder what happens if too much of the course is affected and bypassing the flooding impossible? Is there a plan B? If there isn't - yet - I'd like to suggest 10 laps of the old highway at Calga would be a suitable substitute. I'd like to see Evans and Gerrans attacking up Blood Hill, chased by Gilbert... of course it won't happen but you never know.  

Wild Weather Leaves Worlds Course Under Water |
The two sections of the course affected by flooding includes a temporary bridge and pathway that’s been constructed specifically for the event in Queens Park, as the existing bridge – which sits much higher up – wasn’t wide enough to meet the UCI’s technical requirements. Debris from the rainfall further up the 160 kilometre long river was stuck alongside the bridge today, as the water level sat just inches from the bridge’s surface level, while a tree at the entry of the bridge had shifted awkwardly across the bridge’s mouth as the soil around it was eroded away.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Watch Gilbert at Geelong - he'll be marked for sure but he's ideal on the World Champs course

The Vuelta is already looking interesting. We've had Cavendish almost 'accidentally' take the GC lead and then we've seen Phillippe Gilbert earn the leader's jersey. Gilbert is one of the riders destined to fight it out over the last of those horrid, torrid 16km laps in Geelong. There will be riders shelled out the back on each of the small but steep climbs but Gilbert won't be one of them. Expect Evans and Gerrans to be there, too, and possibly - just maybe - some of the tougher, more dogged sprinters. Oscar Freire may hang in there, if he's recovered from his surgery well enough. But a guy like Phillipe has the form and the style to win on a course like that. And he's showing that right now in Spain. 

Vuelta A España: Stage 3, Route Maps & Results |
"I've suffered yesterday like 95 percent of the riders in the bunch and I was dropped in the last three kilometres of the Puerto de León," said Gilbert. "I lost maybe 30 seconds but I didn't panic because I had studied the course really well and I knew what I was doing when I rode at my own pace. On the downhill I took a lot of risks to come back. I rode from car to car. When I made it across to the bunch I quickly moved to the first 20 positions to avoid any crashes."

Now I have a SKINS C400 Compression jersey to test as well ;-)

And I have to say this is the best one yet. I like the SKINS BIB knicks a lot but the jersey + knicks is sensational. Again it's that "1980s-feel" that reminds me of the old Soviet rubber skinsuits - it's like 'preloading' for your body (rather than your bearings). I feel the tightness gripping me all over but it's not uncomfortable, rather it gently - OK, quite firmly - hints that I should crouch down into an aero position and ride harder. I've ridden the full combo in training a couple of times now and I have been quicker, but it's too early to say "it's the SKINS gear". It could also be my new training cycle kicking off after a rest. Instead I can say that the full SKINS C400 combo (undershirt, knicks and jersey) is snug, comfy and warm on a crisp morning and IMHO feels the absolute business. It seems to hold me in a better position, more comfortably, than any other set of standard cycling knicks and jerseys ever have. And it doesn't get soggy either as I warm up. So in terms of feel alone it's a winner. It certainly puts me in the right frame of mind to ride fast.

Thanks again to Matt from SKINS for allowing me the luxury of this C400 apparel test. Whilst I've always wondered 'is it worth it' it's something I would otherwise have put off until later. Whilst I can't yet quantify the difference with any degree of certainty I can certainly say it's been a surprise and an eye opener for me. More soon.    

Friday, August 27, 2010

Think you have it tough in a local A-grade crit? How about trying a 169km Dutch Ronde at 46kmh

Mick Curran is a Central Coast Cycling club A-grader who will quickly become very bored upon his return to the local Oz race scene. He may have to organise a few local races where jumping footpaths and riding eyes-closed on Dutch-style cobbled roads scores bonus points. Either way he will have to cut back on his 26 bread rolls in one hit habit.

For those who care about my Holland/Belgium stint.
Lined up in the 14e Memorial Danny Jonckheere today in Belgium. The race was a 13km Ronde x 13 times giving a 169km outing.

Legs had quit on me Sunday so rested Monday and did some km Tuesday but needed to turn around and go home only getting 2 hours. Not sure what was wrong just worn out i guess. Left me wondering if I should line up the next day? Nothing 26 bread rolls couldn't fix. Thats not a joke, 2 x 10 packs and a 6 pack of rolls. Shocked

I did, and my legs were no different, but after 100km of the 170km they were starting to feel half normal again. By the the 150km mark I was feeling like myself again......just!

180 starters, overcast with showers throughout, 170km in 3hrs40min = Avg. 45.5km/h (just under the elusive 46mark Grin )
Uitslag 14e Memorial Danny Jonckheere 2010-08-25 - - Wielrennen
Rnk. Coureur Team Tijd NT WR
48. Michael Curran - -
63. Chris Jory - -
81. Michael England Profel Prorace Cycling Team - -

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Some old bike racing programs, including an Oakley ad from the '80s

Oakley advert_151
Originally uploaded by gtveloce
This Oakley ad brings back memories.. I have a pair just like these ones but I fear that 25 years is just too far out of fashion, even for me. I've dumped some race programs in my Flickr account, proving that I did indeed race with the likes of the McGees and Scott Sunderland, just not in the same grade!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Oh yeah, good to see Old Man McEwen back on the winners list

Eneco Tour: Stage 1, Route Maps & Results |
Robbie McEwen (Katusha) bounced back from pain and disappointment at the Tour de France to win stage one of the Eneco Tour with a perfectly-timed sprint on a testing rising finish in Rhenen in the Netherlands.

Robbie McEwen wins stage at Eneco; Svein Tuft keeps lead. - VeloNews
McEwen outkicked Saxo Bank’s Sebastien and fellow Australian Allan Davis (Astana) at the finish of the 178 kilometer stage from Steenwijk. McEwen’s lone victory this year was at the Trofeo Mallorca back in February and later notched six top-5s at the Tour de France as he searched for his winning legs.
McEwen’s Eneco Tour stage win boosts world championship chances
Robbie McEwen may well have sealed his place in the Australian squad for the world road race championships today, underlining that he is back from injury when he sprinted to victory on day two of the Eneco Tour. The 38 year old Team Katusha rider ran rings around riders ten years younger than him, proving fastest of the 81-man main bunch.
McEwen’s Eneco Tour stage win boosts world championship chances
Apart from worlds selection, today’s performance also improved his bargaining power in the hunt for a pro deal for next season. “With regards a new contract, I am less sure,” he told Belga. “Next week I'm be sitting down with Andrei Tchmil, and other teams are interested. Next year I'm sure I’ll be in the peloton, but I don’t yet know with which team.”

Nice win for Tanner and Fly V at Tour of Utah, stage 1

Taking a stage in good - hmmm, maybe even excellent - company can't hurt Tanner or Fly V's prospects, can it?

Tour Of Utah: Stage 1, Route Maps & Results |
David Tanner (Fly V Australia) is proving to be a major stage victory contender, after picking up his fifth season victory at the Tour of Utah’s Stage 1. The Australian outpaced breakaway companion Alex Dowsett (Trek-Livestrong) to claim the victory, while the Briton assumed the race lead. The dwindled peloton barreled down to the finish line where Javier Megias (Team Type 1) picked up third place on the day. - Your Cycling Source : Amgen Tour of California, Cycling News, Photos, Bicycle Racing, Mountain Biking,Fun Rides, Event Schedules and More.
Dowsett Moves into GC Lead, Tanner Wins Stage at The Tour Of Utah
8/18/10 - The first stage of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, presented by Zions Bank, came down to a two man battle for the stage win between Team Fly V Australia's David Tanner and Trek-LIVESTRONG's Alex Dowsett. Tanner took the stage win, but it was Dowsett who pulled on the AT&T Leaders Jersey at the end of the day. The University of Utah Health CareOgden to Salt Lake City road race started with three neutral parade laps through downtown Ogden before continuing up Ogden Canyon in 100-degree heat. As soon as racing was under way, subtle attacks drove up the pace. "Today was really fast and pretty tactical," said Siegfried & Jensen Best Utah Rider Jersey wearer, Jeff Louder. "There was a lot of attacking, a lot of gambling, and some bluffing. It was a fast race, but it was pretty typical for this stage."
Tour of Utah - America's Toughest Stage Race
1. David Tanner Fly V Austraila 3:22:15

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fly V to get an upgrade? Does this include Sunderland? Does it really matter?

As an Aussie and long time club-level bike racer I really don't care if an Australian team - presumably funded by putatively "Australian" or perhaps pseudo-Australian corporations - is in the ProTour or not. Sure, it's always pleasing when Aussies do well in the ProTour and an "Aussie" team (let's face it, it will have international content anyway) will fuel a bit of pride - but I actually have followed the careers of Boonen and Contador as closely as those of McEwen and Evans. I'd be happy if there was less emphasis on nationalism to be honest.

But I do take an interest in the Australians who go to Europe, no matter which club or team they end up in, or at what level they ride. I don't think it matters whether they ride for an Aussie team or not, as long as they get a fair start. Outside of the Olympic and Commonwealth Games nationalism shouldn't matter - although it obviously does. It's nationalism that puts one rider over another, and not necessarily because they perform better on the bike. It's nationalism - in company with commercial imperatives - that selects one rider for a Grand Tour and another for a lesser event. Indeed nationalism, like commercialism, can go too far if you let it. But there will be benefits to Aussie riders to have a "mostly Aussie" team in the ProTour and another rung will be placed in the ladder. It also can't hurt to provide more seats in the bus, as it were. (Ladders, buses - where am I going with these metaphors?)

As an aside, I did wonder if Scott Sunderland's move from Sky earlier this year was in anticipation of Fly V getting an upgrade. There's no sign of Scott at this moment but it wouldn't surprise me to see him take a role. We shall see if that eventuates. 

Grand plans for Australian ProTour team
White was unable to name which riders are strong chances to join the Australian team. It is known that triple Tour de France green jersey winner Robbie McEwen (Katusha) is one Australian off contract who has been linked with a switch.

White confirmed that Michael Rogers (HTC Columbia) was one Australian he was unable to recruit. "He has already signed with someone else,'' White said. ''I really wanted him."
Fly V Working To Become A ProTour Team In 2011 |
Australian cycling could be about to have its first major team in the European peloton after Chris White of the Fly V Australia team confirmed he is working on plans to secure a UCI ProTour licence for 2011.

Speaking to the Australian newspaper, White revealed he has been working with the UCI on a ProTour application. He refused to name the major sponsor of the team or the name of any major European-based riders he is in talks with. However, veteran sprinter Robbie McEwen could be one target after confirming he wants to race for one last season in 2011. Fellow Australian Mick Rogers is also believed to be considering his future and could be a possible stage race leader for the team.
Fly V Australia squad | Giro d'Italia
To become a ProTour team, Fly V Australia would need to increase its sponsorship to about $15 million a year. The team, which races mainly in the US, needs sponsorship of $8m to $10m to run as a ProContinental team.

There were rumours in last week's Tour Down Under that the Virgin Group, which owns V Australia (the international branch of Virgin Blue) might consider jumping on board in support.
Fly V Australia aiming high - Local News - Geelong, VIC, Australia
"Sporting is have you got riders with enough UCI points to be one of the 18 teams that's going to be part of the Pro Tour," he said.

"Your riders in your squad, your 15 with the most points, determine your squad's points and it's the first 18 teams with the most points that are going to be the Pro Tour."

White said about 12 of his 15 riders currently competing in America could form the nucleus of the team but he would look for about another 13 cyclists from the Pro Tour.

"You've got to go there," he said.

"They're the guys with the points, they're going to get you across the line in that sporting side of things. Riders off contract, (Robbie) McEwen, Luke Roberts we're really, really interested in talking to those guys. Matt Wilson, delightful to have Matt on-board, full of great experience."
Could McEwen lead new Australian ProTour team?
The recent confirmation by Robbie McEwen that he will do a further year in the pro peloton coincides with the news that an Australian ProTour team could be on the cards for 2011.

Team Fly V Australia, which is currently racing at the Pro Continental level, is vying to step up its game and is thought to be just over a week away from announcing a series of Australian and international backers which would give it the estimated €10 million plus budget needed.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Cycling clothing review - SKINS C400 knicks and undershirt - updated

So how are the SKINS C400 compression knicks and undershirt going, I hear you ask?

Well just fine, thanks. The knicks have become my current favourites and the undershirt is more than OK. To be honest I'm not sure my current flabby physique does either item justice but as I don't have either a TARDIS or a svelte 20-something cycling body handy I'll just have to make do.

Quality remains top notch, no signs of wear after umpteen (OK, 15) rides and washes - as you'd hope, anyway. Comfort is actually even better now with the knicks seemingly moulded to my major cycling muscles, kinda ;-)  They have a grippy, springy feel that I previously likened to the 80's-vintage 'rubber Russian skinsuits' of my youth - and it's a feeling I like. So full marks there.

Both the knicks and the undershirt feel fine, if not even great, in a 'forgot I was wearing them' sort of way. The only puzzling bit - which may be an intended effect of the compression - is that they leave me with a pattern of red, presumably blood-infused, skin. It goes away quickly and seems to have no ill-effect at all but clearly - with me, anyway - they bring blood to the skin, even in a cold Eastern Australian winter. (Well, a temperate Eastern Australia winter, anyway. It doesn't really get cold here.)

As far as measurable performance goes I have no comment to make your honour, other than they haven't noticeably lessened wattage or lowered (or raised) heart rate compared to other brands - but it's still early days. I'm collecting the data and sorting it by bike, type and difficulty of ride, tiredness, weather and anything else I can think of... hopefully some statistically significant morsel will come out of it - but either way I'll let you know.

addicted2wheels: knicks
Anyway, the nice people at SKINS (thanks Matt!) have given me a set of their compression gear to test and I'm keen to wear these out rather prosaically by actually keeping upright and not testing their road adhesion. Whilst I haven't paid for 'em they (ie SKINS) and I have agreed that I should be fair and honest and pull no punches in my assessment. So that's what I will do.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Scott Sunderland makes Hushovd's mind up for him over Stage 2. And still we go on about "fairness"

I wasn't there so I don't know - but I have an opinion on the question of "fairness". And it's a saga that goes on and on, regrettably, without a solution. And isn't that the way everything works these days? The tiniest detail gets pounced upon and sides are taken, black or white. If it sticks and goes viral it snowballs out of all proportion but no agreement is reached or solution offered.

Andy Schleck's so-called "mechanical" when he somehow "lost his chain" (when in fact it appeared to jam on his cogs, as if he'd stuffed up a gearchange) is one example, and Stage 2 into Spa is another one. And now in post-race analysis Scott Sunderland appears to be putting his (possibly biased, being an ex member of what was the CSC team) views into Thor Hushovd's mouth. As well as putting Contador in his place for not waiting for Andy when his chain jammed. But what exactly is "fair"? Is it so black and white?

Now on the day into Spa it appeared (on TV and in post-race interviews, anyway) that Thor Hushovd wasn't very pleased about the bullying tactics used by Cancellara and the Saxo Bank team to annul the slippery stage. So to say that Thor wouldn't have wanted to win like that is certainly going a bit far. If Thor has changed his mind, great - let him say that himself

Now in principle we probably agree that gaining time by leveraging other riders' misfortune is not how we would like to win a race. But it assumes several things:
  • Firstly that only the lucky got through unscathed, which is debatable. Wet, narrow descent with or without a crashed motorbike says "keep clear of other riders, slow down, pick your line" to me
  • Secondly, a corollary to the first, that skill was not involved. Again, bike handling and the ability to pick your line is paramount
  • Thirdly, that all teams played the conditions the same and were equally affected, which is not true. There was a breakaway and a chase group plus a larger group, all playing out different tactics. There are safer ways to play dangerous situations and some teams did better than others by design
  • Fourthly, that an independent referee is available to assess the conditions and make an informed but unpressured and one-step-removed decision on conditions and actions to address. Which is debatable. The race referee was certainly there but his decision was visibly informed by Cancellara, who had an obvious (and conflicted) role in firstly waiting for the Schlecks and secondly in coercing other riders from other teams into a go-slow agreement.  
Now the other side to the argument is that an unusually large proportion of riders were affected and that several riders reported conditions where "everyone" went down and that even cars couldn't stay on the road. In which case you'd think that the stage should be annulled there and then, rather than let one rider win and take yellow whilst effectively penalising anyone else who'd recovered or avoided the drama.

It's not as if it hasn't happened before. There was for example Le Tour in 1999 when an unusually large proportion of the field went down and lost 6 minutes or more - effectively ending the race for the overall there and then. But Armstrong isn't likely to hand back that Tour win because he didn't wait for Zulle, is he? Indeed his team and others actively exploited the situation. Riders are down, big fall - let's stomp on the gas!

There's always another side, another way to view things. In 1999 you had to get to the front. It wasn't just luck. The same applies in 2010, or perhaps should have applied.

You could say that we must learn for these things, and so we should. But one thing to learn from 2010 is that it isn't appropriate for race officials to appear to do a deal with the yellow jersey where obvious conflicts of interest exist. There must be a better, fairer way to deal with such situations. It isn't necessarily easy but leaving it 'as it is' is inappropriate.

Oh, and jamming your chain is just one of those things that can happen when you make ham-fisted changes on the highly-tuned engineering kludges we call bicycle drivetrains.

Where The Tour Was Won |
Sunderland: "I think the same logic should be applied to the green jersey competition. Thor Hushovd missed out on a lot of points that day but I don’t think he would have wanted to win that way."
1999 Tour de France - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The 1999 edition of Tour de France had two bizarre moments. The first was on stage 2 when a 25 rider pile-up occurred at Passage du Gois. Passage du Gois is a two mile causeway which depending on the tide can be under water. The second bizarre incident was on stage 10, one kilometre from the summit of L'Alpe d'Huez. Leading Italian rider Giuseppe Guerini was confronted by a spectator holding a camera in the middle of the road. Guerini hit the spectator but recovered and went on to win the stage.
The Tour de France At A Glance - 1999
Frankie Andreu: The main difficulty in this completely flat stage was a four-kilometer causeway that crossed a huge river. It's passable during the day with low tide and flooded during high tide. You can imagine that the causeway would be a little slick and wet by the time we arrived.

The race was calm till the first bonus sprint of the day at kilometer 30. After that the attacks started and the battle for good position for the causeway was already starting. It was still 50 kilometers till we arrived there. To make matters worse it was windy and I'm sure every team told their riders to be first into the causeway.

The battle was furious trying to keep Lance in good position to get across this causeway safely. Looking back it was a good thing we did. After the entrance to this four-kilometer causeway there was a huge crash. Guys went down everywhere. You could see riders trying to brake, but they hit the ground instantaneously. Going across the causeway was very, very scary. It was wet, slippery and windy. It felt like a risk to even turn your wheel to change directions. I was scared to ride on the edge of the road because it was too slick.

Coming out of the causeway the group had split - partially because we went fast and partly because of the huge crash. There was a front group of about 40 and immediately ONCE started riding. It took us a few kilometers to figure out why. We didn't know there was a crash at the time and in the rear group there were a few favorites.

Right away Johan told us to go to the front and help ONCE. The reason was that in the second group were Gotti, Belli, Zülle, Boogerd, Robin, and some other favorites in the overall.

In the second group Banesto started to chase immediately. They came within 30 seconds of catching us, but we were in time-trial mode in the first group with about ten guys. It became an 80-kilometer team time trial, trying to increase the gap between the second group and us. We had five ONCE riders, two Casino, two Cofidis, and Christian and I riding full tilt all the way to the finish. We put over six minutes on the guys behind. Lance lost the jersey today to Kirsipu, who won every bonus sprint, but Lance did manage to eliminate some very strong riders for the classement.

In the race today the Spanish guys had a new nickname for Jonathon Vaughters. They called him "El Gato", the cat. He got the name after he flew into a crash yesterday and went flying. Somehow he landed on his feet; he didn't get a scratch on his body. The bad news is that today Jonathon lost his nickname. He was one of the unlucky ones to get caught in the crash on the causeway.
1999- The Clean Tour - RideStrong
So the Tour had an undeniably "clean" winner, though his (Armstrong's) domination was not the unnatural performance that certain sections of the French press tried to accuse him of. Take away the stage over the Passage de Gois, and his lead over Zülle is a rather more mundane-looking 1½ minutes. And the Tour threw up several other imponderables. There were no French stage winners for the first time since 1926. The transition stages saw breaks of minor riders gain huge leads each day, with the big stars seemingly content to have four days off. Yet for all the drug-free culture, the average speed was over 40kmh for the first time ever. Even allowing for the easier route this year (and arguably it was in fact a harder route than some of those in the seventies and eighties), one is left with questions. If a drug-free peloton could ride so fast, what was the point of taking EPO in the past? And if EPO does have an effect, was 1999 really a drug-free peloton?
SBS: Tour de France 2010: Dangerous course or dangerous force?
It’s been a long time since I’ve witnessed this much carnage at the Tour de France.

The last occasion I can recall such circumstances was 11 years ago, at the 1999 Tour.

What was thought to be a relatively innocuous second stage quickly turned into a massacre, when on the Passage du Gois, a two-mile long causeway that depending on tidal conditions can be submerged in water, a 25 rider pile-up eventuated that split the field to itty bitty pieces and left Lance Armstrong’s most noted adversary, Swiss rider Alex Zülle, behind in a frantic chase that never regained contact.

Zülle along with Jan Ullrich were arguably the only two riders to really challenge the Texan during his Tour reign, and Armstrong’s 7’37” winning advantage did not really tell the full story.

I’m not saying Zülle would have beaten Armstrong in the first of his seven straight wins, but had he not crashed, the race would without doubt have played out very differently.
SBS: Tour de France 2010: Dangerous course or dangerous force?
But read this from cycling legend Eddy Merckx, who told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf after Stage 1: “It’s part of the job. Especially in the beginning of a Grand Tour, you can not blame the organisation. It is the riders themselves who [must] bear the blame. If you do not want to brake and if you are not afraid to go for an opponent who is faster, then do not be afraid of crashing.”

In the end Monday, the Schleck brothers were saved by an entente cordiale initiated by the erstwhile maillot jaune of Fabian Cancellara, who relinquished his golden fleece to perhaps the most popular guy in France right now, Sylvain Chavanel.
Where The Tour Was Won |
Scott Sunderland: "Contador pulled on the yellow jersey in Luchon but when he heard the crowd whistle and boo him, I'm sure he realised he'd unfairly taken advantage of Andy's mechanical problem."

'I know the race was 'on', that everything was decided in split seconds and the other riders attacked too, but Contador was the first to go clear and kept going all the way to the finish thanks to a special 'friendship' with Samuel Sanchez, who guided him down the descent."

I think he should have at least of asked the other riders to wait. I know these guys are competing against each other but there must always be room for some sportsmanship in cycling. The riders share the same road and face the same difficulties. Alberto is a special champion but missed an opportunity to show he has a special sense of fair play."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Whatever it takes, Part 2. More on Jens Voigt, the gendarme and that "junior" bike that saved his Tour

To me it's probably the story of Le Tour - how Jens Voigt was able to ride his way to a stage finish when all hope appeared lost.... if you persist with the video Jens describes in detail (and in his cracked Germanic-Aussie English) exactly what happened, including Bjarne Riis commanding a gendarme to wait by the side of the road with a new bike for Jens.

Jens Voigt: I borrowed a children's bike...

Pez CyclingNews: "Why on earth was Jens on a kid's bike? Well he crashed very heavily on the descent of the Col de Peyresourde and all the team cars passed and left him behind leaving him with only the ambulance and broom wagon left to help him. He could either go to hospital in the ambulance or to the finish with the broomwagon. They were his two choices as he lay bleeding, injured next to his broken bike on the side of the road. Jens didn't like either of these choices though and instead demanded for a bike to finish the race, but nobody had one! It was at that stage that chance shined upon Jens as a promotional car carrying kids bikes happened to pass by.

Jens commandeered one of those bikes and was able to remount the too small bike with toe clips and continue the descent. Check out the youtube video here for a great photo of Jens decending the Peyresourde on this bike and an interview of Jens in English as he explains his story. Chapeau Jens!"

addicted2wheels: What would Jens do? Whatever it takes. Follow this to video, pic, words on Jens on the "junior" bike

TdF Friday |

“The worst thing of all was that I almost got forced out of the Tour for a second year in a row. The problem was that the first team car was behind Andy Schleck, and the second had decided to go up ahead to hand out water bottles at the foot of the next climb. As a result I had no bike, because mine was shattered.

So then the broom wagon pulled up and was like, “Do you want to just get in?” And I said, “Oh no, I don’t need YOU!” But there I am with blood spurting out my left elbow and no bike. Finally, the race organizers got me a bike, but it was this little yellow junior bike. It was way too small for me and even had old-fashioned toe-clip pedals. But that is the only way I could get down the mountain, so I had to ride it for like 15-20 kilometers until I finally got to a team car with my bike.” – Jens Voigt

And a special note:
Just as an aside Jens is unofficially part of the 'Aussie' contingent, having been contracted by then Aussie road coach Heiko Salzwedel to race with the ZVVZ-Giant-AIS Cycling Team in the mid '90s. Although that squad lasted only 2 years it dates back earlier, starting in 1991 with GIANT bicycle company sponsorship and was involved in the later success not just of Jens but also Matt White, Pat Jonker, Henk Vogels, Dave McKenzie and Robbie McEwen in the road sphere and Cadel Evans in the mountain bike field. There were many other great riders to come out of that program - Nick Gates springs to mind - and it's interesting to reflect on where some of those have ended up post-career. Voigt and McEwen of course are still racing, but their long days sitting on pro bikes are surely numbered... and DS roles will just as surely beckon.  

Monday, July 26, 2010

Let Tour 2010 - Stage 20 - The (sadly so predictable) End. It's the journey, not the destination they say

After all of the crashes, the cobbles and the boring yadda-yadda-yadda over a s0-called "mechanical" we finally get to Paris and see Armstrong and his team playing silly games with the rules. Yawn. In a nutshell - whilst it was compelling viewing simply because it's so damn hard to string so many stages and individual performances into one long race and keep everything hanging together - it was also probably the best example yet of how much better the Giro is as a Grand Tour.

Now whilst this year's Giro was possibly flawed by a lack of some key players - like Contador and Armstrong to name but 2 - the organisers still pulled off a magnificent race as well as a spectacle. It's the racing that has deteriorated in France whilst it has prospered in Italy. Yeah, OK, I didn't ride Le Tour this year - or any year for that matter - but I know what I like. And the racing was effectively a fizzer, outside of the points and climbers classifications at least.

Of course even a fizzer of a Grand Tour beats just about anything else in sport. But it was still a dud in comparison with past glories. (I'm sure those who raced it and suffered have a different opinion but there you go. I'm one of the customers and we - all of us - are always right, eh?

Petacchi Emotional About Green Jersey Success |
Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) finished second behind Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) but had plenty to celebrate as he looked up to the Arc du Triomphe after crossing the finish line on the Champs-Élysées. With Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) only finishing seventh, Petacchi was confirmed as the winner of the points competition.
Tour De France: Stage 20, Route Maps & Results |
"This victory cost me a lot," he said, "and I'm very moved. I suffered a lot, but that's what you have to do to win the Tour."

And when the fat lady was warming up her vocal chords, readying her wide-berthed-self to sing to the tune of the Spanish national anthem, with all his might and power, down came HTC-Columbia's Mark Cavendish on the Champs-Élysées, proving for a fifth time this race, he still is the world's best sprinter.
Reactions From The Tour's 20th Stage |
Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) - 89th on stage, 126th overall @ 3:23:31: It's the 13th time I enter Paris after a long and tiring Tour de France and I have the exact same feeling every single time: goose bumps. It's a goose bump situation.

Last year I wasn't able to go all the way with the guys but this year, I would have done the final stage on a three-wheeled bike to cross the finish line with my friends.
PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling
Alberto Contador has now won the Tour de France three times. In two of those victories, he’s won by fewer than 40 seconds (23 seconds in 2007 and 39 seconds in 2010), and in 2009 he beat Andy Schleck by 4:11. Winning is what matters most, but especially this year, Contador never had a secure lead in the yellow jersey until the final 10 kilometers of the Stage 19 time trial. That’s a stressful way to win the Tour, and a risky one.

Worth a look. Always funny - in a sometimes disturbing way - and always cryptic. Matt Lloyd's blog

Matthew Lloyd : home of the professional cyclist
I think my antioxidants levels might be high after I get to Paris and enjoy a glass or two of wine and to say I am hankering for a beer is an understatement. I am also at a deep point emotionally ….. I am suffering a deep and highly involved craving ….. its a craving that is going to be dealt with and dealt with, with Authority. I don’t care what they put on their Fries in Paris I am going to be devouring some McDonlds in the very near future.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Le Tour 2010 - Stage 19 - Hesjedal and Menchov impress, but the expected happened. Except for Van Summeren's spectacular tumble

Forget the private race between friends Alberto and Andy, it was Menchov and Hesjedal that made the running. The usual Phil and Paul TV commentary was appalling and made it all sound more exciting than the fizzer it really was. But that's showbiz and the game we are playing these days. If you want to make money, make it dramatic - be it politics or sport, it all comes down to the artificial: the soap-operatic drama of it all. Thus we get the endless inquisition on the so-called "mechanical" and now how the race - a 3 week race, mind - was "really" lost on day 1 (the prologue, I mean) because of a wet road for Andy.

Perhaps we should hold Le Tour inside on single-speed bikes under controlled conditions to save ourselves from sloppy gearchangers and the vagaries of weather?   

OTOH just imagine the race we may have had if Cancellara hadn't annulled stage 2. Imagine if Andy Schleck was left holding his arm on the side of the road, waiting for a new bike - and was significantly gapped by a host of riders. Imagine if Hushovd and McEwen had got a significant swag of points instead of nothing. Just imagine. And unlike the hamfisted "mechanical" or the state of the weather it was Andy's teammate Fabian who changed the direction of the whole race. We shouldn't worry about the little details, it's the bigger fish we have to fry instead.   

Contador Elated But Admits He Struggled |
"The truth is there's a lot of emotion. I think it's the first Tour to give me this much emotion. You can't imagine how much I've given. Yes, there were few days when I wasn't in my best form, and that might be why I'm so emotional."

"The last year has been difficult for all kinds of reasons," the Spaniard said. "This year I've not been at my best all the time and that was the case today. But of course in the end I'm very happy with how the year has now turned out. All the victories this year have been the result of a lot of hard work. It's been said that I've not competed in a lot of races but I've spent a lot of time away from home preparing for this objective."
Contador Elated But Admits He Struggled |
"But this year I've not been in my best shape. Today I didn't feel too well. I didn't sleep well and woke up with stomach ache, but ultimately the day turned out pretty well for me, although I suffered more today than at any other time this year."

He would not be drawn on how far he was below his best or what his worst days had been. "I can't really say what percentage I was below my best, but there were some moments that I had the same good sensations as last year. I wasn't at the same level as last year, but I still managed to win. I won't say which my bad days were. I'll keep that to myself for obvious reasons.
PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling
The wind makes Denis Menchov’s ride all the more impressive. He was the fourth from final rider to leave the start house and he managed to finish 11th in the time trial and take two minutes out of Sammy Sanchez. He was the top-placed rider of anyone in the top 10 overall, and his performance moved him ahead of Sanchez and into third place overall. For years, Menchov has been talked about as a potential Tour de France winner, but in each of his previous attempts at the race he’s cracked and fallen out of contention. This year he quietly rode a nearly-perfect race. He wasn’t able to stay with Andy Schleck or Alberto Contador in the mountains, but with the 2009 Giro d’Italia victory in his back pocket and a really strong performance in this year’s Tour de France, he could very well return to the Tour in 2011 as a very serious contender for the overall victory. This would be especially true if the 2011 edition of the race has two long individual time trials and/or a team time trial.
PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling
There’s also no doubt that the chance to take the yellow jersey off Contador’s back today provided immense motivation, perhaps more so than last year when the two riders entered the final time trial separated by 2:26 (a gap Schleck knew to be unassailable).

But I have a hunch that Schleck’s result today was not an anomaly. I don’t think he pulled a once-in-a-lifetime effort out of his body today, but that he’s significantly narrowed the gap between himself and Alberto Contador in terms of time trials. And if Andy Schleck continues to improve in the mountains (he and Contador were equals in the mountains this year, where Contador could accelerate away from him last year) and in the time trials, he could very well beat Contador in the 2011 Tour de France.

Tour De France: Stage 19, Route Maps & Results |
"I did the first 40km really, really fast," said Schleck. "I lost more in the final 10 kilometres than in the rest but I fought to the end."

The Luxembourger accepted his defeat, even more so because it did not come down to the mechanical. When asked about the 42 seconds he conceded to the Spaniard on the Tour's very first day, three weeks ago, Schleck said, "The prologue was terrible for me but it's part of the Tour de France. I haven't got any regrets. Anything can happen in the Tour. I know that. I'm satisfied and I'll be back next year to try and win," he said.
Tour De France: Stage 19, Route Maps & Results |
Menchov will thus be the third man to feature on the famed podium on the Champs-Elysées Sunday evening, with the rest of the top ten classification unchanged except for Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions), who moved up from eighth to seventh: an excellent performance for the 29-year-old Canadian.
Tour de France Stage 19
Garmin team rider Johan Van Summeren of Belgium falls at the start of the individual time-trial. Photo: Reuters
Hesjedal into 7th overall, DZ takes 5th on day – Tour de France, stage 19 – Team Garmin-Transitions
Hesjedal’s amazing run up the overall began after the crash-marred stage 2 that saw Christian Vande Velde abandon.

“On the morning of stage 3, Matt White said, ‘It’s open, give it the best you can.’ I didn’t wait around,” he told Velonews’ Neal Rogers.

“I went for it, and I wanted to keep that going the whole race. I didn’t want to be high in the standings and fade away through the Tour de France. I wanted to stay up there.”

“I’ve always believed I was capable, and here I am now.”
I guess yesterday's - or last night's - debacle at Le Tour can be blamed on too many riders on too-narrow roads. Add some rain and maybe a sprinkle of oil and bingo, they all fall down. Well, some had better luck than others. Chavanal made his own luck and kept well clear, making his win a deserved one - but the points and time gap were not a "real" result and I'm sure even he feels a bit cheated that the remaining riders - and not just Cancellara, although he spontaneously took up the 'lead coordinator' role - turned off the chase. Yes, it was the right thing to do when big names were splattered all over the road - it's meant to be an athletic contest, not a smash-em-up derby after all. But many of us have been in bike races where conditions were bad - rain, hail, dirt roads, crashes - and still the race went on. So why last night was different I'm not sure. It was bad and riders were confused, but did it need to be neutralised all the way to the end...? What if Cancellara and others were not just seeking to be "fair" to the fallen but also hoping that their teammates made it back, too?

Phil (Anderson) was also asked about Cancellara's 'control' of the "risk" on the stage won by Chavenal, at the expense of those who had suffered and clawed their way back to the front in search of points (like McEwen and Hushovd). Rightly, Phil pointed out the obvious conflict of interest in a rider seemingly annulling a stage (his teammate Andy Shleck had been gapped for example) and pointedly called Cancellara a "bully". Well Fabian may actually be a very nice guy (Scott Sunderland said so earlier this week so it's probably true) but he certainly displayed a degree of self-assured "Tour Patron" aura not seen since Lance was the Boss. Or maybe not since Hinault last pulled on the yellow jersey and gave the peleton a piece of his mind.

OTOH there's money on the line here and decisions were made on the road by individuals with a vested interest in the final result. Now if the riders were not connected by radio to team directors I'd be less inclined to question their motivations, but in any event it was obvious that neutralising the stage was in the best interests of several teams - and perhaps the majority. And the minority who were coerced into following what the Saxo Bank team wanted could do nothing. Oh sure, they could've attacked when the main field regrouped but they would also have been chased down by the man with the yellow jersey on his back and given at least some sort of tongue-lashing, or worse.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Le Tour 2010 - Stage 18 - An otherwise dull day. TT aside, we turn to Thor and Alejet for escape from the predictable

Another fizzer, unless you like a rest day on wheels. Yeah, I know, (a) easy to say, harder to do and (b) gotta admire someone who can repeatedly win at this level, even if it means admiring Cavendish. A bit.

I think I need a ride myself. TT aside, we turn to Thor and Alejet for escape from the predictable. Anyone? Vino again with a late attack? Or will McEwen repeat his first win in Paris, when he said farewell to Rabobank in the best possible way?

Tour De France: Stage 18, Route Maps & Results |
The closing sprint was the only excitement on an otherwise dull day, and even it was pretty much of a foregone conclusion. Sky led the way into the final kilometre, hoping to set up Edvald Boasson Hagen, but the young Norwegian couldn't hold his own against the top sprinters.
Petacchi Retakes Green Jersey |
Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) was unable to match Mark Cavendish's late burst of speed on the banks of the Garonne in Bordeaux but the Italian veteran made sure he finished third and so took back the green jersey from Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam), who was only a distant fourteenth.
PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling
Under the final kilometer banner and Sky was still on the front. Oscar Friere loomed in the back, the front end fattened up some and Thor got through with some of his teammates. Cav was right where he needed to be, so was Petacchi. Cervelo led out Hushovd perfectly and then the big names got launched and Thor faded quickly. Petacchi cut left and Cav chased his wheel, enjoying the Italian slipstream.

A second later Cav launched to the right and was gone, having time to almost taunt the rest of the field by looking over his shoulder not once, not twice, but three times before sitting up and sticking his fists in the air. Petacchi slipped in for 3rd, and that was enough to take the green jersey off of Hushovd’s shoulders. Thor’s job just got pretty tough with only the stage to Paris remaining to get points back.

What would Jens do? Whatever it takes. Follow this to video, pic, words on Jens on the "junior" bike

If you want to read, see and be inspired by a guy who just keeps on trying, click the link!

TdF Friday |
“The worst thing of all was that I almost got forced out of the Tour for a second year in a row. The problem was that the first team car was behind Andy Schleck, and the second had decided to go up ahead to hand out water bottles at the foot of the next climb. As a result I had no bike, because mine was shattered.

So then the broom wagon pulled up and was like, “Do you want to just get in?” And I said, “Oh no, I don’t need YOU!” But there I am with blood spurting out my left elbow and no bike. Finally, the race organizers got me a bike, but it was this little yellow junior bike. It was way too small for me and even had old-fashioned toe-clip pedals. But that is the only way I could get down the mountain, so I had to ride it for like 15-20 kilometers until I finally got to a team car with my bike.” – Jens Voigt

Friday, July 23, 2010

Le Tour 2010 - Stage 17 - Armstrong wishes he was younger, faster: don't we all? Well some of us anyway

Le Tour - any Grand Tour, in fact - is a beautiful thing to watch, and this one is no exception. It has had the scenery, the colour and spectacle; the bare, stripped humanity of pain, suffering and glory; as well as the day to day grind and the tactical toing-and-froing that makes long stage racing so engrossing. You can keep your World Cup football, thanks: as wonderful as that round ball game may be it still boils down to short games of skill played by 2 opposing teams on flat pitches; whereas a 3-week bike race is a far longer journey made by individuals and teams over almost insurmountable obstacles, both literally and figuratively, where they all end together, covered in glory. 

Anyway, it's also boiled down to a battle between 2 riders for top dog status, and that's what we expected anyway. So no real surprises there. And if Contador wins overall in Paris we still won't be surprised. Sure there have been other surprises along the way, and lots of colourful detail to savour. So it remains compelling, whilst perhaps not being the best example of a Tour de France to date. But it is the one we have.

Armstrong: I Wish I Was Younger, Faster |
Did the RadioShack team leader have any regrets this year? “I wish that I was younger, faster. I’ve had my time and I’ve got a long history with the Tour de France. I’ve had lots of good moments, got lots of good memories, I’ve also had some good luck, so I can’t complain and I won’t complain.”
PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling
By the time Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador reached the final three kilometers of Stage 17 – and this goes for all the riders behind them as well – there wasn’t much else for them to do but maintain as high a steady pace as they could. At the intensity they were holding, and at that altitude, you only have the potential for one or two big accelerations, and pulling the trigger on those efforts could just as easy backfire on you and push you over your limit. So don’t mistake what you saw in the closing kilometers of the Tourmalet today for a passive ride to the summit; it becomes increasingly difficult for racers who spend very little time competing at elevations above 5,000 feet to launch searing attacks on the upper slopes of the high mountains.
PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling
As the gradient kicked in, Boasson Hagen was the first to be jettisoned from the leaders, Burghardt and Kolobnev pushed on leaving the others floundering in their wake. Meanwhile Saxo were setting up the play for Andy Schleck. Cancellara, followed by Chris Sorensen and then Fuglsang layed down a blistering pace sending many riders out the back; Basso and Evans the most notable, later to be followed backwards by Vinokourov!
PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling
All the pressure was on the young Luxembourger, he had to lead Contador, Schleck needs time in hand for the time trial, but with only 5 kilometres to the line he was running out of road to make his move. The gap between the Schleck/Contador tandem and the hopefuls was creeping over 1 minute.

Nico Roche was yo-yoing just behind the chasers, showing how just how fast the climb was being ridden (and how good he is!). Schleck wanted Contador to come to the front, but that was not going to happen and then at 3.8 K’s Contador shoots past, but Schleck counters and rides up to his shoulder.

Looks were exchanged between the two that would have killed lesser mortals.

Through the mist and the mad crowd the two battle on, as they come to the 1 kilometre flag and the barriers to give them a clear road to the line. 500 metres and Schleck is still on the front as both struggle towards the finish. Out of the darkness Contador comes next to Schleck, but he crosses the line half a wheel behind the young rider.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Interesting site with epic bike riding vids... the @skinsiders facebook and twitter sites

Some good first-hand accounts of real people riding their bikes the way they were intended to be ridden. Unlike my bikes, which are collecting dust whilst I get over another cold. Keeerchew! Sniff.

Yes, these are commercial sites and I am testing their product. Still a good read.

SKINS (skinsiders) on Twitter

Facebook | Skinsider
SKINS Compression Sports Wear

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And my previous mention...
addicted2wheels: Cycling Clothing Review - SKINS baselayer and Compression Knicks
...the nice people at SKINS (thanks Matt!) have given me a set of their compression gear to test and I'm keen to wear these out rather prosaically by actually keeping upright and not testing their road adhesion. Whilst I haven't paid for 'em they (ie SKINS) and I have agreed that I should be fair and honest and pull no punches in my assessment. So that's what I will do.

What I am testing right now (well not right this minute as I'm at the keyboard) is a C400 men's mesh tank baselayer undershirt (well I call it an undershirt, anyway) and a pair of C400 men's compression BIB shorts. I am hoping to get a sample jersey to test as well. The size is medium and it's a fine - if snug - fit on my 1.69m and overweight 73kg body. I like snug. I can't fault the undershirt at all (only the body underneath, frankly) and the BIB shorts (I really only wear the BIB style, it's the only way to fly) are well made and a good fit.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Le Tour 2010 - Stage 16 - Armstrong definitely human this year. Nice one Fedrigo, Moreau, Hushovd. Shame about crazy, antsy Barredo

OK, good to see Armstrong have a go - but all it really did was show us even more clearly that whatever advantage he had in the past he doesn't have right now. He looks and rides just like old, attacking and almost unbeatable Armstrong but everyone just follows him now - before attacking him.

Somehow a more sluggish Lance (it's all relative - he's a rocket compared to most of us) looks wrong, just as it looked like Barredo had drunk too much red cordial during the stage. He kept attacking and getting caught, like it was some sort of sure-fire plan to soften them all up. And yes, it definitely softened a few legs, including his own. It may have softened his brain, too, when he finally got away with a long, long way to go. "Oh sure, I can hold all of 'em off." Armstrong, Horner, Cunego, Casar, Fedrigo, Moreau - bunch of no-names really. He managed to fool the "expert" TV commentators, too, who proclaimed "they won't catch him now" just when his pursuers got serious and started, umm, catching him. Which they duly did. Gosh, caught at 1km to go, who would've thought?

Oh well, at least it was interesting viewing, unlike the laughing bunch of happy campers in the peleton behind. You know that when Hushovd is still there despite some big, big climbs - nothing much was happening in the GC bunch. Oh sure it was tough enough to hurt. But Hushovd was probably the most interesting to happen outside of the frantic first hour and the quality breakaway. Moreau clearly profited, too. Scenery's nice too.

And as for Schleck's "fury" at Alberto's "mistake", well that's all in the past. Gosh, can't remember the Badger being so forgiving in his day.

SBS: Tour de France 2010: Fedrigo makes it six for France
The Luxemburger, who rides for Saxo Bank, is still eight seconds behind Spain's two-time champion ahead of the race's second and final rest day and two days before the final day of climbing to the summit of the Tourmalet on stage 17.

A day after they fell out because Contador attacked as Schleck tried to fix his mechanical setback, the pair had shaken hands and made up.

But Schleck warned: "It's the last week of the Tour and I'm sure that we'll be battling a lot on the (Col du) Tourmalet," he said. "The Tour is not over."
SBS: Tour de France 2010: Fedrigo makes it six for France
FDJ rider Casar, who had shown his finishing skills on a similar profile to win Stage 9, had lost ground with the frontrunners on the race's fourth categorised climb, the Col de l'Aubisque.

But after he made up his gap of 1min 35sec on the descent, Barredo, perhaps sensing the danger, went off on his own only to be caught, agonisingly, with one kilometre to race.

Armstrong, who had been resting his legs for most of the last few kilometres, made a brief bid for the stage win in the final 500 metres.

However, Fedrigo dropped down a cog or two and maintained his power to surge up the inside of the barriers to beat Casar into second place at the finish line.

Casar said: "I spent a lot of energy just trying to catch the breakaway, but in the sprint I knew Pierrick would be very fast."

Armstrong's team manager at RadioShack, Johan Bruyneel, said Armstrong had told him he was tired with around 15km to race.
Contador And Schleck Make Up On French TV |
GH (referring to the video that Contador posted on Youtube in the evening after stage 15): Alberto, is it true that you apologised to Andy?

AC: Yes. I didn’t need to. But we’ve got a very strong friendship and it was for that reason that I wanted to apologise yesterday evening.

AS: I realise that after what happened at Spa the race could already have been over for me. That day the peloton waited for me. Yesterday the situation wasn’t the same, and I realised that I shouldn’t fret about it too much.
PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling
It was flashes of the Lance of old, but one thing had changed, this time his attacks were answered – first by a very strong Carlos Barredo (QS) – this time using his legs and not his fists to do the talking, and then by Bbox’s Pierrick Fedrigo who also looked very strong. It was an exciting stage – but not because of the gc – this one played out much like a transition day with the breakaway providing all the action.
PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling
Days like Stage 16 are included because of how they fit into the big picture of a three-week Grand Tour. If you wanted to make every stage of the race decisive, you could easily create a course so brutal that it would be inhumane. As it is, in this third week of the 2010 Tour de France we have four mountain stages in the Pyrenees, two of which have summit finishes (14 and 17), one which had a descent straight to the finish (15), and today’s. Stage 16 included two Category 1 climbs and two Beyond Category climbs, so even though the race ended with 60 kilometers of gradual descending roads to the finish, it was bound to be a very hard day in the saddle. And that was its biggest contribution to the race.

Just love following real race reports from local Aussie clubbies having a crack at Euro racing

Whilst I like and enjoy Le Tour - and are compelled by strange forces to watch it - I rarely get a big buzz out of it. Most of the time I'm enjoying the scenery more than the racing, which can be too controlled and predictable these days. Sure you get the odd crazed breakaway but I miss Hinault taking everyone on in the mountains when it looks hopeless and then having a crack at a bunch sprint to boot. Or Anderson taking on Hinault to Bernard's obvious displeasure. Or Roche's wonderful set of wins, the Giro, Tour and World Champs all in a row. Or Virenque off on a wild, mad sortie for polkadot points. OK, I should let go of the past - but maybe it really was better when we saw and read less but what we got was higher quality? (And when riders actually had to learn how to change gear properly instead of going click-click-click and expecting it to "just work"!)

OK, I'm a bitter old codger. But hear me out.

These days we see too much dross and get a sanitised and false "bipolar" view. Usually it's a faked you take one side and I'll take the other style of commentary; or - even worse - the real issues are completely ignored. Yes, twitter has opened up an avenue into the rider's real thoughts, perhaps - but the "expert" analysis elsewhere is both ubiquitous and too-often trivial. As in Phil will say "I think he was wrong to do that" and Paul will say "Well you know Phil I think he did the right thing". And then they agree to disagree on that point but agree later on some inane "safe" point like "I can't remember when the French have had a better Tour". And then the blogs and social media sites are full of regurgitated, unenlightened comment, often without regard for the fact that everyone who's interested has already heard Phil and Paul's "analysis". So repeating it without attribution or addition is adding lameness upon lamenosity. Even when Paul and Phil say something insightful I nod off and watch the scenery again.

But folks, ignore the Tour for a moment and instead Google up some real race reports - from the racers themselves - battling to make a mark, a career or just have a go in Europe. They may not be professionals but they are experiencing something that is a level or 2 - or more - above what the "average" club level racer may see back home. There's more genuineness here than you will see in 20 Le Tours. Below are some excerpts from Mick Curran's Dutch/Belgian race reports. Mick is otherwise an A-grader at the Central Coast Cycling Club, 100km north of Sydney, Australia. (oh yeah, and I'm a D or sometime C grader at that club so a tad biased.) You can find many similar reports from many riders in similar situations with a quick web search. You can also find some great helmet-cam reporting on YouTube from real bike riders just having a go. 

For those who care about my Holland/Belgium stint.
Team headed to Belgium on Sunday to compete in the 58th Edition of the Drie Zustersteden!

I was a kid in a candy store today. Sitting on the line ready to start the 160km classic in the north of Belgium i was rubbing shoulders with Davitamon Lotto squad, USA Nation squad, Fuji Test Team squad along with many other pro-conti teams......then, lil' ol' me! Wink

Team plan was to be present in Early Break and hope it stayed away Undecided failing that, get Arjan Dekker up for a top 10 finish.

Starters = 200. 24deg medium wind. Sunny.

First 800mts was neutral, 200riders behind a red car itching to go. My nerves could not handle this s@#t fight again so lined up early (top 30) and bullied my way to the referee car via the footpath Grin and gaps that were not there Lips sealed

Plan worked, flag dropped and I went. Before i knew it i was at the 159km to go mark and in a break of 10 with 190 guys chasing. The blackboard told me that the bunch was continuing to chase and gap never blew out over 1min.

0-40km = early break of 10. (plenty of tv time so it was all worth it Grin ) Break did not have USA National team or Lotto represented so it was a formality really that we were caught but fun while it lasted.

40km-80km = legs felt great, stayed in front 20 and chilled (if you can chill at 50km/h)

We covered 48km in the first hour. Shocked.

For those who care about my Holland/Belgium stint.
Crit 1: Thursday 15th July. 1hr30min+2laps. Wind, wind + more wind Shocked

- Felt the strongest i've felt whilst over here.
- Found myself in peloton with break of 6 up the road @1min. Did not panic because top 3 riders were still with me.
- Ended up chasing across gap with said 3 riders and 2 others to form 11. 11 was ripped apart by strong efforts in the gutter.
- Ended up being me and said 3 strong riders. 1 was my Team mate the other 2 were continental riders from separate teams.
- Team mate went with 2km to go. Plan A = If other 2 didn't react he would win. Plan B = if they did I would be on their wheel and roll them on the line.
- The other 2 played into our hands and chased therefore dragging me within striking distance. I jumped leaving the other 2 for the win, team mate hung on for 2nd Smiley
For those who care about my Holland/Belgium stint.
Last lap = I was feeling really good and got a bit excited about the whole atmosphere and dodgem cars etc so went for glory Cheesy 800mts from home, guess what? It didnt work. I was i caught by.....let me see.......20 guys in the last 300mts Ha Ha, what a move. Still gave me 25th overall pay to 30 Wink and was just stoked again to be one of the 35 finishers out of 80odd starters.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Le Tour 2010 - Stage 15 - Contador capitalises on Schleck's stuck gear. So?

Did Contador even know what happened? One moment Schleck attacked and put a gap into the others - and to my mind Alberto matched him easily and drew up to his rear wheel. But as Andy went for another gear I presume the chain got stuck between cogs, locking the back wheel solid. Schleck's momentum rotated the bike's rear-end upwards - the point where he could have fallen - but he stopped safely, all chain tension gone as the chain fell off the chainring. He fixed the chainring issue but then realised he had to fix the chain wrap too. It took time and his helpers - his teammates - were absent - they had burned themselves out on the climb. Alberto and the others just carried on - afterall they may not have known what had happened anyway. Being a bike race, they carried on with the momentum that Schleck's attack had generated.

I guess if Contador had known that it wasn't just bad bike handling - in other words a good 'ol hamfisted power-on gearchange - then he should have waited. If he had known it was a true "mechanical" - a breakage - or even a fall - then I suspect he would have waited. But it happened suddenly and the cause wasn't obvious, although someone in the bunch should have seen it clearly enough, even if Contador didn't. Even after numerous replays I still don't exactly know what happened, but assume that it was caused by pedalling during a gearchange, possibly made worse by a stuck chain link, a broken cog or something similar. In any event the problem didn't seem to recur - so he either worked around it from there or there never was a real problem - other than "rider error". It's not the first time a bike race has turned on a mechanical, but it's rarer in these "softer" days of STI-style click-click-click gear changing. (Bring back friction shifting and the fine art of getting the gear "just so" I say.)

Personally I wouldn't have waited if I thought he'd just stuffed up his gearchange. That's part of racing - we have to get it right, even gearchanging. If it was obviously a mechanical issue - and I was aware of it - then I would seriously have considered waiting. But if everyone else continued racing I'd join in - I may say something about it, but I'd go with the majority. After all, it's not as if Schleck had seemingly ridden off a cliff like Ullrich had done a few years ago!

Menchov Focused On Contador, Didn't Know About Schleck |
On Monday afternoon three men took profit from the mechanical of Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) on the Port de Balès: Alberto Contador (Astana), who took over the yellow jersey, was the primary beneficiary but the third and fourth-placed riders on general classification, Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Denis Menchov (Rabobank) respectively, also reduced their time gap to Schleck.

Menchov responded to the attack from Contador and said that he was focusing on following the Spaniard, rather than checking out what was going on with Schleck. "I can't explain [what happened with Schleck] because I didn't see what happened. We know that Alberto and Andy play with each other. We have to follow one of them. I saw the reaction of Contador and I thought it was decisive, so I tried to follow him," Menchov said.
Menchov Focused On Contador, Didn't Know About Schleck |
When asked if he felt that what Contador did was fair play or not Menchov passed on the question to the Spaniard. "I don't know. You'll have to ask him. The question [what to do with Schleck] didn't come up in me [during the race]," Menchov said.
PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling
The precedent that is most relevant, in fact, is the 2003 crash of Lance Armstrong. Lance was in the yellow jersey, Jan Ullrich was 15 seconds behind Armstrong in the overall classification, and the crash happened in the heat of the racing on the final mountain of the stage. Today Contador was 31 seconds behind Schleck, who was in the yellow jersey, and although it wasn’t a summit finish, they were on the final mountain of the stage and in the heat of the race. In 2003, the lead group – including Ullrich – appeared to wait, at least for a little while. This year, Contador didn’t wait – but neither did Sammy Sanchez or Denis Menchov.
PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling
When do you decide to wait for a rider who has a mechanical or a flat tire, and when is it “acceptable” to press on? Does it matter if the flat tire or the mechanical problem was the result of the rider’s choice (poor time to shift, ran into a pothole, jumped a curb, etc.) or out of their control?

There are precendents on this side of the argument as well. In 1999 there was a crash on the Passage du Gois that split the peloton. Alex Zulle lost six minutes to Lance Armstrong, who was in the front group. Lance Armstrong was certainly a yellow jersey contender this year during Stage 3, but he got a flat tire at a crucial part of the race on the cobblestones, and no one waited. He crashed on Stage 8 in a roundabout, no one waited. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that there are more examples of the race pressing on after a mishap involving a race favorite – in stage races and one-day races – than there are examples of the race waiting for a favorite to rejoin the lead group. It’s a race, not a tea party, and not a popularity contest. It sucks when you’re the one who falls or has an ill-timed mechanical, but that’s the way it goes. There will be another time when someone’s ill-timed crash or mechanical plays a role in allowing you to win.
PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling
if I had to make a decision today I would say that it would have been nice to see Contador wait for Schleck, but I don’t think he was obligated to. The decision to press on, however, may well haunt Contador later in this race or in the future.
PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling
The twenty or so seconds it took Schleck to remount his chain set up a no holds barred chase and duel to the finish, as both Contador and Schleck drove the pace in their respective groups, and overshadowed what would have otherwise been a big story in itself – French Champ Thomas Voeckler’s solo win on this brutal day. The gritty former Yellow jersey emerged from the day’s escape as last man standing – attacking his break mates midway up the final climb, and soloing to an inspired victory.
Procycling's Daily Tour De France Dispatch - Stage 15 |
Astana directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli in Bagnères de Luchon: "The most important thing for me is to have a clear conscience and I have that tonight. I didn't tell him to wait, that's for sure..."

Good news, Alberto - you don't even have to tell us your radio wasn't working this time...
Riis Preaches Calm In Aftermath Of Schleck's Disappointment |
To the thorny question of whether Contador should have waited for Schleck as he attempted to fix his chain, Riis shrugged again. “I would have hoped he would have waited, and I think I would have waited... I think he did wait at the beginning but then it was a while before Andy was on the bike again.

“I don’t know. Was it possible for Contador to wait in that situation, with [Samuel] Sanchez [Euskaltel] and [Denis] Menchov [Rabobank] attacking? He has to follow those guys, for sure. He might not need to pull [with them] or attack, but he has to follow those guys.
SBS: Tour de France 2010: Contador waves off controversy
Schleck had taken a 30-metre lead on Contador but just as the Spaniard began his counter move Schleck came suddenly to a halt. By the time Contador had closed the gap and passed the Luxemburger, Schleck was off his bike and screaming in frustration.

With Schleck left on his own to fix his mechanical problem, Contador raced ahead with Russian Denis Menchov and Spaniard Samuel Sanchez to crest the summit just over 20sec in front of the stricken Luxemburger.
SBS: Tour de France 2010: Contador waves off controversy
However the Luxemburger has a short memory, according to Contador.

The Tour de France champion was among the riders and teams who went beyond gentlemenly fair-play and waited for Schleck and his brother Frank after both were among the multiple crash victims on the rain-hit stage two to Spa.

But the Spaniard went further. Playing down Schleck's setback - which to most experts is simply part and parcel of racing - he said that he has race to win.
SBS: Tour de France 2010: Schleck's complaints given short shrift
Bruyneel said the real issue was whether Contador knew Schleck had encountered a problem and deliberately tried to benefit, a suggestion the Spaniard refuted.

When Jan Ullrich crashed in 2001 Armstrong waited for his German rival, who returned the favour in 2003 when Armstrong crashed, along with Spaniard Iban Mayo, on the climb to Luz Ardiden in the Pyrenees.

But Bruyneel was quick to remind Schleck that when the race is really on, you don't wait around for stricken rivals.

"The question is whether Contador was counter-attacking or just took advantage of a mechanical (problem)," said Bruyneel.

"In the heat of the race and in the final... you can't say to Contador, 'Hey, wait for Andy'. Andy didn't wait for Contador on the cobblestones (stage three) either, I guess.