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 | Cyclingnews.com
"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 - Wielerland.nl - 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 | Cyclingnews.com
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 | Cyclingnews.com
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.
SoCalCycling.com - 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 | Cyclingnews.com
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.