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.