Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Do you really need a $10K bike? (Short answer = no.)

But if you have the money to spare, why not?

A $10K bike will absolutely fly, even with me riding it. And it will look great. And it will start conversations and draw admiring glances. Well so you hope, I guess. But the law of diminishing returns applies to bike hardware, big time. That last extra $1K you spend gets you maybe 0.5% more performance. And the preceding additional $5K got you 2%. If that.

Well 2% extra oomph is still worth having, isn't it? You'll win with that, surely? Well, it depends. A $4K bike - or even a $2K one - will be almost as well built and reliable as a $10K one. Sure there will be differences, a top-name brand may indeed be better put together and will most likely weigh less and slip through the air easier, but the differences aren't as major as the marketers and magazine reviewers would like you to think.

A human bieing pedalling a chain driven bike is very efficient anyway and there is little to be gained from the transmission alone. And a triangular frame of any material is stiff by design, so any stiffness (and concomitant power transmission) gains are tiny. And if you think that crank stiffness really matters then you are doing too much time in the gym or are a track sprinter, or both.

You may get some aerodynamic gains - but these don't really matter below 30km/h and only pay off significantly over 40km/h. But even these gains don't really matter unless you are in a solo break, time-trialling or fronting the bunch over long distances. If you are drafting then the savings are non-existent to vanishingly small. But if you are a solo-break kinda rider, especially one with a big personal frontal area,  then it may matter; if only to give you more confidence and motivation to stay out there and fry.

You will get some comfort gains, perhaps, or improvements in feel, and maybe - just maybe - better handling from a more expensive bike. But all bike designers know how to make a bike handle, it's not really a black art. And handling will vary with your personal setup and skill in shifting your weight around on the move. So a cheaper bike will likely as not perform much the same as a top-spec one. You may notice a difference when you swap from bike to bike but whether it helps you in a race is debatable. It may all be in the mind.         

Mind you, I can't talk: I spent $5K on a Look carbon bike in 1990. That was a lot back then and I thought it would revitalise my racing and training. It was a motivational aid, if you will, and it worked for a while. Until it just became another bike. And then I swapped the groupset to my favourite steel-framed ctit bike and hung the carbon frame up for a while. Mind you, unlike most of my other bikes - and especially the steel ones (all rusted out or sold on) - it's still in my hands and rideable. And it remains light and fast. So it wasn't a bad investment, really.

But did I need to spend top dollar? No. My winningest bike was my first "race" bike, or first bike I raced anyway. It was steel and made in Japan. It was a Shogun. It had mid-spec Shimano components. It was around $700 new in the early '80s. It worked. It won. And as I went up the grades I ugraded from clinchers to tubulars (glue-ons or singles). It went faster still - and still won. But it really wasn't the bike, it was me.

I was motivated, racing was new and fresh to me and I liked winning. So I trained hard and raced even harder. Although I "upgraded" the bike many times (to Gitane, Colnago, Look and a semi-custom steel frame) and went as far as I could go in the local crit grades I never really did any better than I did on that relatively heavy, low-end Shogun.

And to be honest the biggest improvement I ever made to a bike was swapping from clinchers to tubulars. If you really want to go faster, invest in better wheels.

Now if spending big on a bike motivates you to train and race then so be it. Spend the money. You may not get the performance enhancement you expected but you may get a nicer bike that will last longer. And - most importantly - keep you cycling.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cinelli leather hairnet - blast from the past

Cinelli leather hairnet_0144 by gtveloce
Cinelli leather hairnet_0144, a photo by gtveloce on Flickr.

A what?

Once, long ago, this is what racing cyclists wore on their heads to ward off evil spirits (if they didn't wear a cap and a cabbage leaf as well, anyway). Now they wear plastic and polystyrene foam. Which is weirder?

They were light and cool. They fastened with a simple strap and buckle. They did little to protect the head from anything other than minor object impact. But it's what we had, at least until the "esky" was invented, circa 1980.

The esky was a bulky, hot and heavy alternative that provided much better impact protection but suffered from being, umm, hot and heavy. It was avoided as much as possible - even scorned - at least until the design improved and it evolved into the lightweight, cooler and more effective helmets we wear today.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Another astute signing - Riis signs Cantwell as leadout/sprinter

The problem with riding and winning consistently in the US is that you get typecast as a "US-based" rider; especially so when you win crit after crit. Everyone knows you are good - but who wants a 'crit specialist' in a WorldTour team? Well Bjarne Riis is taking a punt on one such prolific Aussie rider and I suspect he'll prove a valuable signing for 2012.

Cantwell To Saxo Bank-SunGard For 2012 |

"Jonathan has won many races in the past four years whilst riding in Australia and the States and has shown he is a winner,” said team owner  Bjarne Riis. “I feel he now deserves a shot at the very top level. He is a hard working person and a tough guy, and I believe he can further lift his level. So I see Jonathan as an asset for us in the stage races, when it comes to helping out J.J. Haedo in the sprints, or going for a win himself.”


Friday, October 21, 2011

Interesting SBS story on Adam Hansen's adaptation to a new pro team

Wonder what happened to Adam Hansen? Big news one day, sorta forgotten the next? Well a change of team was on the cards anyway but he jumped ship a bit earlier and perhaps paid the price. He certainly took a while to get his skill-set noticed and used to good effect in his new team. Something to remember when changing teams - or clubs. Unless you are clearly a winning sprinter or top GC rider you have to rebuild your reputation a bit, gain some respect and market yourself. All over again.

It's a good read...  

Lotto-Ridley set to strike: Hansen : Cycling Central on SBS
Australian super domestique Adam Hansen is tipping big things for the new-look Lotto-Ridley team and marquee sprinter Andre Greipel in 2012 after a season spent adapting to the outfit.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Prior user Sevilla pinged 6 months for potential masking agent - and other moral dilemmas

Not that I'm against it at all, doping in sport is as legitimate as breaching technical regs in any sport - or in life generally. After all it's as human to lie, cheat and deceive as it is to be decent, sober and honest. What you are doing is running a calculated risk. If it was motor sport we could almost admire the cheats for their cunning - think about a certain famous Aussie racing driver activating his fortuitously aimed engine-bay fire extinguishers just when his turbo-charged engine needed a denser dose of air - and just let it ride. But when we are the engine on top of the machine it becomes somewhat more of a dilemma. Someone could permanently injure their health by that form of cheating. Should that matter to us, or should we just address the inequity in performance enhancement by drugs?

So by enhancing yourself with a product - any product really - then you are taking yourself into ethically interesting territory. It's just a matter of distinction by degree where you personally draw the line. Drugs vary by effect and danger. Altitude training and cryotherapy costs money and isn't available to all. Some bike makers claim weight, stiffness or aerodynamic advantages that aren't available to others. And so on. How you personally address your individual ethical situation is up to you. You can take a stricter or looser approach and balance your risks accordingly.

Now Oscar Sevilla has previous form here but we should forget that and just look at the situation as it stands. He's a good rider, perhaps even a great one, who has taken decisions that have led to various penalties. He's paid the price. And now he's paying again. Is it any different from speeding in your car and paying the fine or accepting the disqualification?   

Sevilla Given Six Month Ban For Hydroxyethyl Starch Positive |
Oscar Sevilla (Gobernacion De Antioquia-Indeportes Antiquia) has been handed a six month suspension by the Spanish Cycling Federation for his Hydroxyethyl Starch (HES) positive that occurred in last year’s Vuelta a Colombia.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nice work by Durbridge, Hepburn, Allen at road world champs. Blurred vision and up over the footpath

It's not just that they are Aussies, it's the style in which they have claimed their medals, too.

Durbridge's blurred vision on lap 1 says it all. Any athlete who has pushed themselves to their limit knows the feeling. Personally I - lowly clubbie that I am - found it easier to achieve on the track in a 1km time trial or 4km pursuit, although I've had it happen on the road when I've been coming back from injury or illness and have tried just a bit too hard to keep up with faster guys or gals in the hills. For the uninitiated it's unnerving and just a little unsafe. You go a bit light-headed and the vision strays a bit. It's a struggle to keep both eyes focused on the one spot. I'm sure many people hold back at that point, if they reach it at all. If you go further then you get the "seeing stars" effect and a general dimming of the lights. Your legs lose their power and you feel all over the place. Now you've gone too deep. (Don't even try it without many months of serious training. And don't blame me if you push your body over the edge and can't come back.)  

UCI Road World Championships: U23 Men Time Trial, Route Maps & Results |
"About a lap in, I was 20 seconds up and then 25 seconds. James (from the team car) told me to keep concentrating and I had little bit of blurred vision because I started fast. But the course suited me and it was just about grinding it out on the flat. In the last 10km, I started to enjoy it. I knew I was up and only had to stay up and bring it home."
Hepburn also had a go, but demonstrated another side of pushing the limits:

UCI Road World Championships: U23 Men Time Trial, Route Maps & Results |
Michael Hepburn of Australia was also favoured for a medal, and set a new best time halfway time. But he appeared to be pushing too hard, one time going up on a pavement after a turn. The final blow came when he took a left hand turn too fast, had his front wheel slip away and down he went. A ripped kit was not the least of his worries, as he had to change bikes as well.
Still, a bronze ain't bad and he certainly got noticed. Sometimes it just doesn't work out. You aim to be fast and smooth but you get fast and ragged instead. One off-line corner leads to a worse one until you are way off course and up on the footpath, or hard on the brakes. Or on the ground.

Nice job by Allen, too:

Allen wins gold for Australia at road world titles : Cycling Central on SBS
Jessica Allen opened Australia’s medal count at the 2011 UCI Road World Championships​ winning gold in the junior women’s time trial.
And that was just day one.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Nice debut GT win for Sutton at Vuelta - Farrar, Boonen, Petacchi miss out

I've never met Chris Sutton - but his dad (a world champ on the bike) sold me a track bike once. How's that for a connection? Oh, and I kept a safe riding distance from his hot-headed uncle Shane, too! (I think he's a bit less tense these days.) 

Anyway, a nice debut win in a Grand Tour, especially so in front of his mum. I'm sure Uncle Shane wasn't far away either. 

Vuelta A España: Stage 2, Route Maps & Results |
Chris Sutton took his debut stage win at a grand tour, out-sprinting Vicente Reynes (Omega Pharma-Lotto) at the end of a disorganised sprint into Playas de Orihuela. The Australian timed his final surge perfectly, jumping in behind Reynes as the Spaniard hit out for the line from the top of the final rise with 300 meters remaining.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

One for the trainspotter, the film buff and the freaky bike rider

Oh I think I can do maybe 1 or even 2% of what this guy can do on a bike. And I'm not going out there now to try some of this out.

It's a nice bit of editing in its own right. Called "Industrial Revolutions", starring street trials rider Danny Macaskill. He's freaky, in a good way. It's been filmed in a deserted Ayrshire industrial area, including a train yard and some derelict buildings. Directed by Stu Thomson. Wow.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Why cycling really isn't a team sport

A couple of weeks after Cadel Evans has won Le Tour 2011 and I can confidently assert, not for the first time, that cycling is simply, definitely not a team sport. Sure, we dress it up like it is, and we cobble together a passing representation of a team sport at times - look at the team time trial for example - but when it really matters, when the winners stand on the podium, it's clearly, obviously, all about the individual: Cadel won. We glorify the man, who politely thanks his team. But his team, BMC, didn't even get the team prize at Le Tour. Instead they got one man standing atop a podium and a shared prize pool. 

This individualism is what appealed to me in the first place. You don't need a team to ride, or to train, or to race. You don't even need a specific time or even an agreed place - you just need you, a bike, some time to spare and some terrain to ride on. After all, it's far more like walking or running than like football or netball, isn't it? Sure, we wrap it all up in an organisation, 'cause people need to organsie things and make it all tidy and legit, but at its essence it's just you and a bike. You call the shots, you hurt, you suffer, you win. Or get dropped. Or whatever.

OK, the teams aspect is real enough at times, true. Cadel didn't win on his own, although at times it looked that way. He had a team behind him who protected him and kept him out of trouble. But when he had to ride, he rode alone against the other talented loners. All of these guys are used to riding long miles on their own. Sure it's great to ride with others, be they teammates or just a loose arrangement of riders you stumble upon. It's fun. It's natural to form a bunch and ride together. But it's neither essential nor the point. Just as surely as it's not about the bike, it's also not about the team, your teammates or your club. Or even your coach. It's about you. And deep down we all know that.

Don't see Gerrans leading the Tour of Denmark every day, do you?

Lots of Aussies in the mix in Denmark but it's Simon Gerrans who has taken the GC lead. (Nice stage win by Fuglsang, too.)

3 stages to go, including a TT. I suspect Gerrans will be overtaken but I'm not sure when or how. The TT may be the real stumbling block for the Victorian classics and hilly-stage specialist.

Tour Of Denmark: Stage 3, Route Maps & Results |
General classification after stage 3 Result
1 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Sky Procycling 13:03:15
2 Matti Breschel (Den) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:04
3 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Leopard Trek 0:00:08

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Good, short summary by Millar on why Evans won

Worth a read. Not mind-blowing but incisive and concise nonetheless. Robert Millar was the Scottish climber who really should have won Le Tour but fell short. Life's like that, try and try again as you will but sometimes there's nothing more you can do. Luck can be a factor, as can the presence of another in-form GC guy who just has a better team or better prep. Millar's grasp of the issues makes it plain that the early know-it-all commentary that Cadel's team was wasting energy has a flip-side. But you knew that already, of course. 

Why Evans Beat The Schleck Brothers |
In the end, confidence was probably the difference. The whole race, Cadel Evans looked like he was riding to win the Tour, while the Schleck brothers looked like they were trying not to lose.

FWIW I agree with Mia. And I reckon Cadel would, too

Not that I would presume to know Cadel Evans well enough - or at all - to imagine what he'd think. But I don't believe he'd be so self-opinionated as to back the vitriol that's been poured on Mia Freedman just because she's not prepared to label sportspeople as "heroes". Frankly, it's all about perspective. Athletes, sports personalities, whatever - they may be good, or even great at what they do, they may even inspire you in some way. And that's fantastic. In that way they can be seen as a personal hero - but as a national hero? Well, it's a stretch. Whilst I accept that sportspeople are prominent in Australia's recognised or 'popular' cultural pantheon, if you like, that may have a lot to do with our short history as colonisers here and our lack of knowledge - or recognition - of what came before the British invasion. In time we may well achieve more balance and recognition for others from a wider, more varied selection of fields.

Hopefully from here on we can embrace all achievements in any field and not over-emphasise sport - or Ned Kelly for that matter - over all else. Public holiday for winning Le Tour? I don't think so. However I think there's room here for celebrating Cadel's achievement and recognising that - as he himself has said - he's just a guy riding a bike. 

Cadel Evans - is he a hero? Mamamia
I think pursuing a life doing something you’re good at for the benefit of yourself is not heroic. It’s not a BAD thing, I’m not dissing Cadel (of course not!) but the idea that a sports person should be idolised because they can ride far or jump high or swim fast is, to me, a bit odd. I guess I’m just flagging the fact that if you do well in sport, the country and the media stop to worship you in a way that doesn’t happen to anyone else for doing anything else.

The abuse I received was instant and it continues, seemingly unabated. I have a pretty thick skin but by 8:15 I was in tears. I genuinely miscalculated the level of viciousness my comments (which I have made many times before) would provoke. My bad. Not for stating my opinion but perhaps for misreading the mood and the audience.

Many people have made the point that it’s great to have role models for kids to look up to, to encourage them to get on a bike or kick a ball. I agree absolutely. They’re certainly better role models than rappers or reality TV stars.

But I only wish other kinds of heroes would receive the same media and popular adulation, that kids could see that you could be wildly popular for helping others or doing something other than having a physical skill.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Unsurprisingly BMC team would like Evans to win again in 2012. Nice SMH story anyway

A lot is made of Cadel's age but - despite many falls and broken bones - he's in good health and - for a cyclist especially - he's not especially old at 34. It's not swimming or gymnastics, after all. And in some ways he has also been 'saved for later' by previous teams holding him back from even starting Le Tour; it's not as though he has ridden 16 of them after all. And older, more Grand-Tour-experienced riders like Hincapie and Voigt have shown that Grand Tours can be ridden at seemingly undiminished intensity until you are 38 or 39. Perhaps older. Ekimov comes to mind, too. I guess the Armstrong example also leaps to mind, in the sense that he didn't exactly make his body - and luck - work as well in his last year as he did during his seven straight wins. But how hungry was he, really, the second time around? And what physical effects did the 'retirement' have? Cadel OTOH has not retired and returned, and has just started winning at the Grand Tour level. So his motivation is strong. Personal experience tells me that racing after 40 - even at club level - gets more complicated. But there's little difference in performance between 34 and 35, or even 39, if you maintain a decent level.

BMC chief tipping Evans to go back-to-back in 2012
Evans told his guests at a BMC team celebration dinner on Sunday night that the seed for his desire to one day win the Tour was planted when he was 14 years old. That was in 1991, when he watched Spaniard Miguel Indurain beat American Greg LeMond to win the first of his five successive titles.

''I thought, 'Hey, one day that would be nice to ride that race, wouldn't it'?'' Evans told about 300 guests. ''Many years later, and many, many months, hours and years of hard work, here I am today. Having crossed the finish line on the Champs Elysees with this jersey is really something I can't quite believe.''

BMC chief tipping Evans to go back-to-back in 2012
John Lelangue says Australian is training 'like a junior'. Rupert Guinness reports from Paris.

John Lelangue, the chief sporting director of Cadel Evans's BMC team, says the Australian Tour de France champion could top his remarkable achievement by returning to win cycling's most prestigious race for a second time next year.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

On Ligget the Patroniser. Or Forget Le Tour, how about Nankervis winning the Brenco Crit?

If you were a newbie to cycle racing and took Phil Ligget's word as Gospel truth (God forbid) you could be forgiven for thinking that some - probably most - of the riders in Le Tour had "never won a race in their lives". Believe me I cringe every time he says something patronising like that, as I know that even the lowliest domestique has won umpteen races and could blow apart just about any field in any club race in the world (with the possible exception of Belgian kermesses of course). That they have turned pro and been selected to ride the Tour de France is just another waypoint - a big one, admittedly - in a sporting career that has run for most of their lives. Everyone racing at Le Tour is a winner, even if Phil only counts winning UCI Pro Team points as a worthwhile measure.

Which leads me to mention a US-based ex-Melbourne Aussie cyclist who has 'pursued the dream' on the US crit circuit since around 2006 or so with some success: Tommy Nankervis. Who? Well he has slipped under the radar a bit but here he is picking up a win in Canada's BC Superweek, something not to be ignored. It may not be Le Tour but it's a pro race on a North American racing circuit that pays decent money and employs a lot of Aussie pro cyclists. Well worth noting!

BC Superweek: Brenco Criterium, Route Maps & Results |
Nankervis tops sprint in Brenco

Cycling News
July 10, 18:13,
July 10, 18:14

Full Results
1 Tommy Nankervis (Aus) Pro Cycling Team 1:14:29
2 Andrew Pinfold (Can) United Health Care
3 Michael Smith Larsen (Den) Socalcycling team
4 Carlos Alzate (Col) Team Exergy
5 Jacob Schwingboth (Can) Isorex

Friday, July 08, 2011

Peleton skills 101: ride in the middle or the edge? The back or the front? Leipheimer surfs the guardrail

It's the little details that I like, post-race. What actually happened to Levi? Well he was back too far and on the edge, trying to take his opportunities to move forward. Now if you pick your moment this can be fine - but get it wrong and you pay.

If you are a TdF newbie or have simply never ridden in a large peleton then it's possibly not clear how difficult all of this can be. Deep inside the peleton is warmer, faster and easier - it sucks you along. But it's nervous spot, too. You can't move left or right and there's always someone in front and behind. Getting out of the middle to do anything, be it attack, counter or take 'a natural' involves a lot of work. And if one guy falls, you all go down. So you want teammates around you or 'safe hands' at least and you want to be up the front so you can avoid dramas. Now whilst you may want to be up the front all of the time so does everyone else, and a pecking order develops with special skills employed to enable you to out-compete the others. Sometimes you simply follow a known front-runner and hang on grimly. Other times your team mates take you forward. Or you just give in and make the best of it.

If you are a known rider it may be easier, or harder, depending upon who you need to pass. Risks are taken, and riding on the edge may be the only way to get ahead. And if you are making your way forward just when the peleton gets squeezed by a narrowing road then you have few choices. You ride the grass, accelerate into a gap or drop back - if you can. And if you simply get caught out then you cross your fingers and hope for the best. It may mean a bunny-hop over a gutter or some cross-country work, or a fall. Levi took the fall this time.   

Leipheimer Loses Time In Crash |
"You just try to shoot through some gaps and one time, it closed up on me, and I was pinned against the guardrail. I kind of surfed the guardrail for 20 metres. Thankfully that slowed me down.

"Eventually the guardrail ended, and then I fell onto the ground. It didn't do anything. I scraped my elbow a little bit. Compared to yesterday's crashes, that's nothing."

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Sunderland makes good sense in his analysis of the 2011 TdF GC riders

Stage 4 was clearly another short but fierce climb at the end of a punishing stage, one that would sort out the GC guys from the rest - at least by a few seconds. And as expected, Gilbert and Evans were there, their teams making it so by working together in the inevitable chase and final launch. No-one was surprised either to see Contador try to steal some time, although it was a little surprising to see him unable to accelerate into a gap like he usually does. Perhaps the Giro really did take it's toll? Or is he holding back? But in the end it was Evans who had to overcome mechanical adversity, get back to the front and take a gritty win. In so doing he stamped some further authority on himself and his BMC team.

Not forgeting Hushovd's amazing feat in hanging onto the skinny guy's wheels up a wall!

Whilst it's still early days, here's a nice, fair overall analysis by Scott Sunderland from today's SMH:   

This time Evans can win, says his spoiler
''Cadel is a very strong time triallist, and a very good climber - the third asset he's got is his positioning [in the bunch]. And in the stages before the mountains he can still do something. We've seen in the classics that he is a bit above Schleck and Contador there … the only thing he is missing is the accelerating speed and power that Schleck and Contador have in the mountains. If he can be calm and reserved and the team and management can protect him, then in the third week when it comes down to attrition, they won't be able to ride away from him.''

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Crash splits field, GC leaders wait for Contador... uh, maybe not this time

Of course it's different if you drop a chain or make a clumsy, newbie gear-change, then you are expected to wait, aren't you? But if a spectator brings half the field down then it's open slather, apparently. (Armstrong proved that in '99.) And of course Cancellara didn't call a "too dangerous" truce this time either. That nit-picking aside, it's sad to see the competition for stage honours reduced in such a way, let alone Contador losing over a minute. And no I'm not a fan of waiting for riders who have made their own mistakes, but it's a fine line that gets drawn sometimes and a difficult one to be certain about. That's bike racing.

I still don't think the pure sprinters had a chance but a few of the more experienced hands would have played things differently had they been able to get up the front, post-crash. Mind you, Hushovd had a dig, unlike Boonen, Cavendish, Renshaw and Goss who seemed to hit the wall somewhat. At least they were there. Can't blame Greipel, he did a ton of work for Gilbert. In the end it was Lotto's protected rider doing what he does on a hill like this, and Cadel Evans pretty well doing what he does best as well - grinding it out steadily up a hill at a pace few can match. If there had been another 100m to go then Evans may well have passed Gilbert, but it's all in the timing, ain't it?

Tour De France: Stage 1, Route Maps & Results |
when they realised that Contador wasn’t among them, they showed no mercy, driving the group and quickly carving out a forty-second advantage. Behind, Contador seemed isolated.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sudden interest in this shot of Camperdown velodrome

Camperdown-velo-Sydney-1000 by gtveloce
Camperdown-velo-Sydney-1000, a photo by gtveloce on Flickr.

Why has this pic of Sydney's Camperdown Velodrome suddenly taken lots of hits on Flickr? Don't know.

This is the Sydney 1000 final in 1982. It was a warm day during a dry spell. The riders, officials and spectators are all (obviously!) much older now - and the velodrome is gone.

The advertising is interesting. Last time I Iooked Cyclesport was still a shop at Thornleigh - but I'm not so sure that Bennett Bicycles is still with us. Fortunately we do still have Tempe and Bass Hill velodromes to play on, and the rest... but a lot of memories went with this track.

I suppose I should mention that Camperdown velodrome replaced my local velodrome at Henson Park in the late 60s/early 70s. It was a massive, shallow saucer around the then Newtown RLFC home ground. Luckily I rode my (road) bike on it before the council ripped up the old track to put in better floodlighting. (Not that it did any good for Newtown, which was relegated anyway). Dulwich Hill bike club got the more compact Camperdown in exchange, at least until about 10 years ago when it was closed down, cleansed and remediated as parkland (apparently the previous use as a tip had left an excess of toxins).

View Larger Map

Monday, June 20, 2011

For some reason I feel awfully sad about those 4 seconds. Cunego was meant to win this time, surely?

It's something about the company he keeps, I guess. I used to like Leipheimer's style and I guess I still do... a bit. But to my mind Cunego should have taken it. Just one of those feelings I guess.

Leipheimer snatches Tour de Suisse victory from Cunego : Cycling Central on SBS
Levi Leipheimer stole overall victory on the final day of the Tour de Suisse with a strong performance in the ninth stage, a 32.1km time trial won by Fabian Cancellara.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

25m? Yes, that's a small velodrome. A TTT would be interesting...

With thanks to impactcycling forum for pointing it out..

I initially thought "ridiculous" but then warmed to the idea. There were somewhat larger but still small indoor velodromes during cycling's hey-day in Sydney early in the 20th Century, like the (140m?) Surry Hills board track (later moved to Canterbury before being added to the current horse racing reserve). And reportedly an even shorter and steeper(100m?)track in an old shed at Carlton near Hurstville. Some people believe that the shed still exists as an art supplies shop - and whilst I can visualise it (I've been there to check it out) it can't have been even 100 around, surely, and it must have reached the roof to get enough banking... perhaps it was just a bit bigger than this new London one... which is 25m!!

A hot lap is around 3.2 seconds or so... and the trick is to ride smooth with constant pedal pressure and stay low on the banking.

Anyone for a sprint?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What we don't want = possible defendent getting 'awkward' with probable witness

I can understand Armstrong's position - he has a lot a stake and only one small (annulled) doping violation to his name (for topical cortisol, if memory serves) - yet here he is getting all "awkward" with a doubly-busted-for doping ex-team-mate who has gone public with a bit of a lively story. Be the yarn true or not, why bother talking with the guy? Let alone getting awkward about it. Was he just stilted in his conversation, or was there a bit more aggro there?  

SBS: Cycling Central : Awkward encounter for Armstrong and Hamilton
Tyler Hamilton, who recently went public with his claim that Lance Armstrong doped, had an awkward encounter with the seven-time Tour de France champion at a Colorado restaurant at the weekend, US media reports. reports Hamilton was unnerved enough by the incident to inform his lawyers, who told the sports website they had formally notified US authorities of what they consider "aggressive contact" initiated by Armstrong.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hmm. Stand-up and run "bike" the ElliptiGO has everything except the "go"

Whilst I can understand the "why" - bikes can feel alien at first, especially for runners - I'm not so sure that this idea isn't so niche as to be next to useless. Unless you absolutely have to stand at all times and can't imagine pedalling, why bother?

Just imagine - standing all of the time, constantly in the wind, creating as much drag as you possibly could. And when you hit a hill over 5% what happens? Do you get off and walk? Just to put all of this in perspective I can "comfortably cruise" at 30kmh on my bike, or walk similar distances at around 10-12kmh. In both cases I can handle inclines of up to 21% or so pretty comfortably. So the ElliptiGO would fall in between but be a real get-off-and-slug up hills.  And then there's the price... I guess there'll be a market - there's always a market for something "look-at-me" whacky.   

New ElliptiGO 3C 'running on air' bike released
The company says that runners/riders should be able to comfortably cruise at speeds of between 12 to 15 mph (19 - 24 kph) and be able to handle inclines of up to five percent, or can push their workout up a notch and get up to 20 to 25 mph (32 - 40 kph). Different-sized users can be accommodated by adjustment of stride length (between 16-25 inches/41-64 cm) and by way of the telescopic steering column.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Contador victorious in Giro 2011 - for now at least. Do we care?

It's not just the appeal hanging over his head, it's the whole sense of unease that hangs over the sport. Part - if not most - of which is the residual "Lance effect", that feeling that winning should not look so easy and be so repeatable. As in endlessly repeatable. Yes, I know, you can't judge effort on appearances, and you certainly can't pass judgement on a rider - a person - simply because of their performance on a bike. But Contador was streets ahead, again, against a field that - let's be honest - lacked some of the stars that it should have had. Which probably wouldn't have mattered, given Andy Schleck's current form, but it somehow made this Giro a little less compelling.

Which leaves room to wonder if he'll be able to peak again in July, given that the CAS appeal has slipped back. At least we'll see all of the big guns there, hopefully motivated and on top form for a long, hard - and closely fought - Tour.

And we can't leave Italy without noting the sad loss of life: RIP Wouter.

Giro D'Italia: Stage 21, Route Maps & Results |
Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-SunGard) sealed overall victory in the Giro d'Italia on Sunday with a third place finish in the concluding time trial in Milan, won by David Millar (Garmin-Cervélo). In the battle for second place, Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) held off the challenge of a flagging Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale), on a day that saw few decisive brushstrokes added to the Giro's overall picture.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A story worth retelling... David McKenzie and that Giro stage win, 11 years ago...

It didn't get much notice in the local Aussie mass media back then but it was certainly noted by the cycling community. Not just a stage win but a mammoth effort to ride away solo and win alone, almost a minute ahead of the pack. Hard enough to do that in a club crit let alone in a Grand Tour...

SBS: Cycling Central : L’Amore di Teramo
The stage was 182km in length. McKenzie took flight just 18km in.

Some stories say you made a bet with Robbie McEwen, who was riding for Farm Frites at the time...

“It wasn’t so much a bet. They started the stage (with the) usual attacks, left, right and centre. And then I rolled up beside him, and I was trying to get through to attack. By then everyone had called a truce; they called ‘piano’.

“And they were all across the road, and I said (to McEwen): ‘I want to go! I’ve got good legs, I want to attack!’ And he just said, ‘Go! Duck up the inside here. Jump out.’ You know what Robbie’s like – he’s like, ‘F**k ‘em, just do it!’ That was the conversation. That was pretty much what was said.”

SBS: Cycling Central : L’Amore di Teramo
the peloton completely miscalculated the strength and tenacity of the blond-haired boy from Ballarat, and McKenzie won the stage by 51secs. “Nothing beats it. You wish you could go back and have the last 300m of the stage. Every now and then, I wish I could have it just once more,” he told me in our October 2005 interview, days after he announced his retirement from professional cycling. On the 22nd of that month and following the finish of the Melbourne to Warrnambool, a race he won four years previous, ‘Macka’ called it a day.
Some more background...
McKenzie heralded his coming of age with a career highlight by winning stage seven of the 2000 Giro D'Italia in a 164km solo break-away. He capped off a great year by being named Australian Male Road Cyclist of the Year.
And another retelling of that stage win....
Where Are They Now? -David McKenzie
Dave talks about crossing the finish line as if it somehow broke a spell, and recalls Jens Voigt’s comment once about it being a special moment that only the rider can enjoy and understand. Dave is too positive for regrets, but he would love to experience those last few hundred metres again.

The little Aussie Espresso crossed the line 51 seconds clear and was rugby tackled off the bike by an exhuberant support team. The rest is a blur, except the vivid memory that each and every one of the Aussies racing that day all came and hugged him, sharing his special moment.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Backfire marketing - run a cycling-related competition that excludes NSW, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, India, Rhode Island, New York, Florida, Puerto Rico...

Don't you love seemingly global competitions that deep down in the fine print exclude significant populations? Yes, I understand national and state laws are the usual "reason" for this but somehow I think it could be worked around a bit better, or at least made more obvious. Otherwise readers just waste their time looking at web pages and filling out forms. And whilst that's the point of this marketing exercise anyway it does set in train some negative feelings when you realise that you've just done what they wanted - for little or no return. You aren't likely to win anyway but in fact you were never even eligible. Sucked in, as they say.   

CyclingNews is a familiar culprit and they are up to it again with this Specialized comp (and I like and use Specialized gear, by the way):

Rules - Win Specialized Bikes Gear with
6. Unless otherwise stated, each Competition is open to all who are 18 years and over, except: 6.1 residents of Belgium, Norway, Sweden, India, Rhode Island, New York, Florida and Puerto Rico, New South Wales (Australia) and any country embargoed by the United States

Not forgetting this catch-all that doesn't apply in the case above but is another nagging irritant, especially given that CyclingNews started in NSW, Australia in the first place:

FutureNet - Competition Rules
Unless otherwise stated, each Competition is open to all GB residents of 18 years and over, except employees of: (a) the Company; and (b) any third party appointed by the Company to organise and/or manage the Competition; and (c) the Competition sponsor(s).

Grrrr. I must move on and get a life.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A wet Coogee Crit circa 1987

Coogee Crit 1987_042 by gtveloce
Coogee Crit 1987_042, a photo by gtveloce on Flickr.

This is a wet Coogee crit during the Bank Race. Judging by the mix of toe clips and Look pedals plus the 'leather hairnets' it's probably 1987 or so.

Dean Woods was in the crowd but strangely enough he didn't recognise me (not that he should've!)

The Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic was Australia's biggest road tour, running for 19 years until (I think) 2000.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bling takes another win in Europe

Nice to see that Michael 'Bling' Matthews is back to his winning ways. Meanwhile Cadel Evans returns this week to contest Romandie after quite a long break. Given that he is skipping the Giro this year presumably he'll be fresher than last year when he starts Le Tour. And if that doesn't go well he can always say he was underdone. Let's hope we see no need for any such excuses. 

Michael Matthews takes sprint victory in Rund um Köln
Michael Matthews (Rabobank) won the 95th edtion of the Rund um Köln (Tour of Cologne), the race traditionally held on Easter Monday each year, at the head of a bunch sprint. The Australian under-23 World champion outsprinted Marcel Kittel (Skil-Shimano) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Leopard Trek) at the end of the hilly 203.5km race.

Cadel's Diary | Cadel Evans 2011 - The Official Site of Cadel Evans - World Champion 2009, Tour de France runner-up in 2007,2008.
From here, the focus of the pro cycling world shifts towards the stage races. And now, after a month of physio, recovery and lighter than planned training, I get ready to start back at an old favourite race of mine, Tour de Romandie.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Injured Aussie climber Matt Lloyd released by his team? For 'behavioural reasons'? That sounds about right

Or is he simply injured and struggling to regain form? He has been in the wars physically, especially with the back injury, and coming back to top form after any injury is hard enough (some of us never get back at all, do we?). Well that may well be, but you'd imagine Lotto would stand by him for at least a full season. As a side issue he is also just a bit too philosophical about life, isn't he? And we can't have that! Let's put him in the 'too much like Cadel' basket and move on. Perhaps he'll get an offer from BMC in due course?

SBS: Cycling Central : Lloyd released by Omega Pharma-Lotto
The Belgian Omega Pharma-Lotto team announced today the termination of its contract with Australian rider Matt Lloyd.

The team strongly clarified that doping was not behind the decision but hinted at unspecified behavioral reasons for the termination of the specialist climber.

Omega Pharma-Lotto Release Matt Lloyd |
Lloyd won the climber's competition at the 2010 Giro d'Italia but had a difficult winter after being hit by a car in Melbourne in December. He underwent surgery on his shoulder and also suffered spinal injuries.

Omega Pharma-Lotto Release Matt Lloyd |
"Of late, subconscious elements have crept in slowly and steadily leading to a bogus phase of being so eager to be involved mixed with the slow process of recovery we cannot be 100 percent sure the first race will be of the highest quality, but thankfully the people surrounding me have blessed me with the confidence to once again feel the heat around the corner. Not to mention a brilliant team who’ve given me the opportunity to once again step it up a notch in order to remain directly driven towards the event I anticipate the most - The Giro D’Italia..

"If I've been bleeding in places you cant see, and feeling the affects of doors being locked, I’ve called the people who change the locks, and the gate is open...All I have to do is ‘open the gate’.."
Lloyd Suffers Second Training Accident In Three Months |
"There was a lady and she was on her way to a Valentine's date and she was late," he explained. "She turned into a driveway and she wasn't looking. She said, 'sorry, sorry I'm running late for my Valentine's date.' I said, 'don't worry about it it's just my knee, make sure you're not late for cupid's arrow.' She was pretty nice and I just thought, shit happens, let it go."

Lloyd Breaks Shoulder, Injures Back In Training Accident |
It is his second back injury, following damage to his lower back in a crash at the Amstel Gold Race in 2009. “There’s damage to two or three parts of the upper part of the spine, which is okay for me because I think last year I broke seven of the lower ones so I’m trying to spread it out a bit,’’ Lloyd said.

The X Rays show it’s (vertebrae) a bit buckled and twisted due to the swelling, but generally according to what (the doctors) said that can slowly repair itself and everything can come back together quite smoothly.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Boonen wins Gent-Wevelgem but note that Mitch Docker was 6th - ahead of Cookie

Can't say it's a bad day when you end up 6th in the company of greats in a Spring Classic... plenty of stars (including McEwen) waaay back.

Gent - Wevelgem: Results, Route Maps & Results |
6 Mitchell Docker (Aus) Skil - Shimano

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Evans waits and wins Stage 6, and Simon Clarke hangs on to some classy wheels

A nice win by Evans but whilst the Italians were doing their best to smash each other it's also notable that Simon Clarke was still there in that same lead bunch... and there are some classy riders behind him.

Tirreno-Adriatico: Stage 6, Route Maps & Results |
Cadel Evans (BMC) took advantage of the internecine rivalry between Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) on the final climb to Macerata to strengthen his command of Tirreno-Adriatico. The Australian watched as the Italian pair shut one another down in the finale and then unleashed a devastating acceleration of his own to take a resounding stage victory and consolidate his overall lead.
Tirreno-Adriatico: Stage 6, Route Maps & Results |
Riders of the calibre of Andy Schleck and Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) were among those deposited unceremoniously out of the back once the road pitched upwards, but it was at the front end of the race where the real drama took place.
Tirreno-Adriatico: Stage 6, Route Maps & Results |
1 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 4:37:58
2 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli
3 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD
4 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
5 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
6 Wout Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
7 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
8 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
9 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
10 Tiago Machado (Por) Team RadioShack
11 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
12 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Katusha Team
13 Simon Clarke (Aus) Pro Team Astana
14 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Sky Procycling 0:00:09
15 Marco Pinotti (Ita) HTC-Highroad
16 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:00:11

SBS: Cycling Central : Evans grabs gutsy Tirreno-Adriatico stage win
Evans went into the penultimate stage with just a 02sec lead on Italy's Ivan Basso (Liquigas), and, riding into the finish after strong support from his BMC team, found himself facing several attacks late in the 178km stage from Ussita to Macerata.

The Australian, however, fought back every time a gap opened up, and even had to deal with some elbow argy-bargy in the final kilometre with former teammate Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), before pulling away from a select group in the final few hundred metres.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Should mentions: Goss wins stage, takes Paris-Nice lead, Henderson's sprint win... more from Jens

Just so I can say I mentioned it... you may have missed it, who knows? Since I was on the website anyway I may as well post something and add to the noise...

Haussler, Goss, Henderson... all have their sprint legs on but have the ability (like Hushovd) to get over the hills, too. It'd be nice to see them all line up in France in July, but it's a long season... and it takes a lot of planning as well as skill, fitness and luck to keep it together throughout a year. Freire is also in fine form and fall-plagued Cavendish shouldn't be discounted. San Remo is certainly looking good.

Nice also to see NZ neo-pro Sergent take a big win. RadioShack seem to be doing quite well without Armstrong...

SBS: Cycling Central : Goss in charge following Paris-Nice third stage
Tasmanian Matthew Goss took the Paris-Nice race lead after edging out Heinrich Haussler and Denis Galimzyanov at the end of the 202.5km stage from Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire to Nuit-Saint-Georges in Burgundy.
SBS: Cycling Central : Henderson wins Paris-Nice second stage
New Zealand's Greg Henderson won a sprint finish to take the second stage of the Paris-Nice overnight.
SBS: Cycling Central : Team time trial to set tone at Tirreno-Adriatico
British sprinter Mark Cavendish and his HTC-Highroad team will hit the ground running at Tirreno-Adriatico starting tomorrow night.

The seven-day race will for the first time open with a team time trial that will set the tone for the 160-strong field competing in Tuscany.

The world’s best sprinters and one-day specialists traditionally use the Race of the Two Seas as preparation for the classics, especially Milan San-Remo (March 19).

SBS: Cycling Central : Sergent claims Three Days of West Flanders
New Zealand neo-professional Jesse Sergent added a big win to his palmares claiming the Three Days of West Flanders overnight in what was a clean sweep for his RadioShack team.

Not to mention yet another word or 1,000 from Jens Voigt....

Cycling Tips
This week Christopher Jones from Bicycles Network Australia contacted me about something exciting you’ll all be interested in. Christopher spends his time living between Sydney and Berlin and after months of trying to line up an interview with Jens he finally got his chance. Once he got Jens on the phone, the next day they were sitting in a cafe around the corner having a chat.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Racing, radios, HUD, SMS, nano-tech... if they aren't puppets on a string yet, maybe next season

In 30 years of racing I have never used a radio. OK, it was just club racing, I know, but it mattered to us. Nevertheless we always found a way to communicate during a race. Although most of my racing has been as an "individual" rather than in a team, club mates would still magically "coordinate" to be in the right place at the right time, to close down or block as needed. And we usually found out about hazards, too, although the pack of roos suddenly crossing our path during one Canberra 2-Day Tour was an interesting surprise. I doubt a DS on the radio yelling "watch the roos!" would've been of much extra use.

What we didn't always know were gaps, and sometimes - rarely - we missed that a guy had gone "up the road". Until we rolled in later and found out we were only riding for 2nd. Now if we'd had a DS with a radio maybe we'd have ridden harder, earlier, and closed the gap. That's my preamble to this radio debate, anyway. 

Now if I can edit this down to a few key lines, the argument against 2-way rider radios in pro bike races is simply that the riders lose some spontaneity and independence in their actions, leading to greater predictability and "sameness" about the racing tactics and strategy. Big, hairy audacious attacks are less common because one team DS will say "no, don't do it!" or the others will say "chase!".

OTOH as Scott Sunderland has pointed out in his interview in the link below some of that spontaneity has been lost anyway because fewer riders are racing all season and using racing as training. They are now racing less but when they ride they are all racing, almost all of the time. So bold moves are shut down quickly in the modern manner. He also notes that poor communication of hazards, incidents or tactics could jeopardise the chances of a key - and expensive - investment, namely the modern pro bike racer. And in the modern world of sponsored teams that matters.

But others will still say that the sport is suffering and that we will all switch off if it doesn't regain that "heroic" scale of bold move again. If the fans switch off then we'll still lose sponsors. We can't win either way so a compromise is in order, perhaps. And so they (the UCI and the teams) will finally sit down and talk.

But what if we went the other way, and we imposed even greater control? Just as an idea, as a concept, it is becoming plausible that the DS in the car could not only direct the riders tactically but also use wireless technology to control the bike. I'm not saying "let's do it" but it's interesting to ponder as a "what if".  With electronic gearing there's nothing to stop the team from overriding a rider's gear choice - apart from a missing radio link to the gear actuation mechanism, anyway. With that link in place the DS could look at the biological parameters of their star rider - heart rate, power and possibly in the near future core temperature as well - and choose a "better" gear for their rider than they would choose themselves. Or if a rider disobeyed the DS then they could be overridden by a remote gear selection that slowed them down. It's just a thought.

I'm sure it'll never happen, but like miniature electric motors hidden in hubs or bottom brackets, it could be done. (Riders could also swallow nano-scale biological sensors before their race and relay key real-time data to their support staff. Now that I think will definitely happen.) 
SBS: Cycling Central : Different battlefield, different weapons
“A lot of the tactics and analysing the race and how it will go – for example, the year that Stuart [O’Grady] won [Roubaix] – my decisions and tactics come into that. But through the events of the day, they knew where they needed to go and I was just giving them information – time gaps, whether they need to go a bit quicker or slower. They still need to make so many decisions: riding in the wind or out of the wind, what gears they’re pushing... No, they’re not puppets on a string.”

Leopard-Trek have actually won (and placed) a race? My world has collapsed.

At last.

SBS: Cycling Central : Klemme wins Le Samyn for Leopard-Trek
Germany’s Dominic Klemme celebrated a solo victory at the GP Samyn overnight to put Leopard Trek on the board for the 2011 season.

The 24-year-old attacked on the final climb of the 193.1km race into Dour passing Belgium’s Kevyn Ista (Cofidis) who finished eight seconds off the pace for second.

Klemme’s Leopard-Trek team-mate Robert Wagner finished third in what was a successful day for the new ProTeam outfit that silenced critics questioning its lack of victories this season.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Why did Boonen attack? Did he really think the winning move was at the 6km mark? Practising his TT?

It looked like he was committed, so he probably meant it. Was it just to show his face to the fans (and sponsors), knowing that his sprint is under-done? Extra intensity training? Anyway, nice lead out work by Sky lead to a good win by Chris Sutton. Dad Gary and Uncle Shane will both be pleased.

OffLine: Sutton wins Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne classic - Final 6 km video
Sutton wins Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne classic - Final 6 km video
Sutton clearly wins but the Belgian commentators are somewhat surprised and take a while to be certain. Boonen wastes himself in a bold attack but is brought back. And fun and games as riders miss the roundabout and find a photographer instead (4km to go mark).

Thursday, February 17, 2011

McEwen's interesting training ride from Nashik to Mumbai - a good story

With all of the assumed and presumed doping and what have you going on you could easily lose sight of what makes the bike so enjoyable - the sheer pleasure of covering long distances under your own steam. It's what drew me into the sport in the first place, a mere 37 years ago! Bravo to the likes of Hunter, Elliott and McEwen for taking the scenic route!

Robbie McEwen and Co. head cross-country in India
McEwen was joined by RadioShack teammates Sam Bewley and Robbie Hunter, the South African Bonitas team, keen to put in some miles ahead of next week’s Tour of South Africa, and members of the UK-registered Motorpoint team, including racer/manager Malcolm Elliott.

They rode 140km, heading out of Nashik and taking in the opening 50km of Friday’s race route. Instead of turning around at the bottom of a wide gorge, as they did Friday, they kept on heading southwest toward Mumbai.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Nice win for Moncoutie - Feillu really needed a body swap with his brother to win this one

David Moncoutie always seems to have the goods when it matters, although this has to be one of his better, more tactical wins. As for overnight leader Romain Feillu, he really needed to swap his sprinter's legs for younger brother Brice's climbing ones. But that's probably not allowed under the rules, eh?

Tour Méditerranéen Cycliste Professionnel: Stage 5, Route Maps & Results |
Yellow jersey Romain Feillu (Vacansoleil-DCM) was never likely to hold on to his advantage on the 9.9% slopes and he would ultimately lose 2 minutes and slip to 25th overall by the day’s end as the peloton fragmented on the climb.

Tour Méditerranéen Cycliste Professionnel: Stage 5, Route Maps & Results |
Moncoutié’s Mont Faron experience was to prove telling in a dramatic finale, however, as he intelligently timed his effort. He pressed clear of a ten-man chasing group in the final two kilometres and went on to catch and pass Péraud 350 metres from the line. He came home 7 seconds clear of the AG2R man and 18 ahead of Wouter Poels (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Cervélo). Other pre-stage favourites Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and Dan Martin (Garmin-Cervélo) could only manage 12th and 36th, respectively.

Romain Feillu - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Romain Feillu (born April 16, 1984 in Châteaudun, Eure-et-Loir) is a French road racing cyclist who rides for UCI ProTeam Vacansoleil-DCM. He is the older brother of Brice Feillu, who is also a road racing cyclist.

The 2 Robbies deliver on flat tyres... didn't Sean Kelly specialise in this sort of rim-riding?

It's always disappointing to feel that softening tyre under you, more so when you've ridden through all but the last few kays of a race. So Hunter can be doubly pleased to still get the win.

I can recall Irish hard-man sprinter Sean Kelly doing something similar back in the 80's but can't remember which race that was. I think he won on the rim itself - but maybe not? As McEwen said, it's hard to control the fishtailing when you have bottomed out.

The ‘two Robbies’ deliver big weekend in India for RadioShack
“We actually both punctured. He won the race on a half-flat tire. When I was coming off the bridge with about a kilometer and half to go, I felt it was half-gone, but as I got across the bridge, my rim was hitting the road. I couldn’t pedal without my bike just fish-tailing,” McEwen said. “Just as I was about to tell Rob – I saw him bouncing on his (wheel) – he turned around and said, ‘I’ve got a flat!’ I said you have more air than I have, so go for it. Mine was totally gone, but it was too late to change a wheel and get back, it was never going to happen. We were coming down the bridge at full speed, so I told Robbie, you’ve got to sprint on yours because mine is gone.”

Monday, January 31, 2011

Good velonation interview with Lachlan Morton, U23 Aussie rider in Langkawi race

Being based in Boulder may work against being noticed back in Oz, but he should be...

Lachlan Morton interview: Youngest rider in Langkawi field shining against pro competitors
It’s notable that the Tour de Langkawi race leadership was held this week by a 42 year old, but what is even more impressive is the stunning ride by the Australian Lachlan Morton. He turned 19 years of age earlier this month and in his first race as an under 23 competitor, is underlining why he is regarded as one of the most promising young riders in cycling.

Lachlan Morton interview: Youngest rider in Langkawi field shining against pro competitors
“It went a bit better than my expectations,” he told VeloNation the day afterwards. “I always wanted to do well there – it is the sort of race that I believed would suit me. The team put faith in me and rode for me pretty much all day. When you get to the bottom of a climb like that and you haven’t really touched the pedals yet, I figured I’d better try and finish it off.”

Lachlan Morton interview: Youngest rider in Langkawi field shining against pro competitors
Competing against his own age group, Morton won the 2010 Tour de l’Abitibi. The UCI World Cup race is regarded as arguably the top junior stage race in the world and he took a road stage, the time trial and the overall general classification. In doing so he echoed the earlier victories of Taylor Phinney, Tyler Farrar, Taylor Phinney, Laurent Jalabert and Alex Steida in the event.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Can't wait for the press conf. Only 1 year off for Bert? I guess Andy won Le Tour after all.

There's so much to think about here. Alberto can appeal, firstly. Or he can cop it sweet and have another rest year. Or he could just retire. It also opens up a spot for an unemployed rider or 2 in Bjarne's team. And it presumably moves Andy Schleck up a place into the winner's spot of the 2010 Tour. He'll really want to win this year to prove himself. And with no Contador it opens up the 2011 season once again. All very bizarre.

It's a tough enough sport anyway without this constant revisionism. Whilst a level playing field is ideal - as a rider myself the concept of "fairplay" makes a lot of sense - this is terrible price to pay for what I described earlier as a homeopathic dose of a drug that may in fact do very little. Sadly there also remains a chance that Contador took it unknowingly, as much as we may like to think we've just brought down another cheat. Either way, rules are rules.

SBS: Cycling Central : Contador one-year ban is offiicial
"Alberto Contador has received today a notification of one year ban proposal by the Competition Committee of the Spanish Federation," said the spokesperson.

"Therefore, together with Bjarne Riis (director of his team Saxo Bank), a Press Conference will be held next Friday, January 28, at 16:00 hours (2am AEDT, Saturday), at the Hotel Son Net in Palma de Mallorca, to express their opinion about this case."
Contador To Receive One-year Ban For Clenbuterol Positive |
Contador tested positive for a low level of the banned substance Clenbuterol during the 2010 Tour de France's second rest day in Pau. He claimed the adverse finding was the result of contaminated meat. He was provisionally suspended by the UCI in September after the announcement of the test results was made.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Media get braver as Lance gets closer to 2nd retirement. Crucifixion next?

The "old lies" may well be old but they are getting aired to a wider and deeper audience than ever before. Armstrong has always denied these claims, and he has been deified instead for his achievements as a cancer-survivor, fund-raiser and athlete. But as he nears his 2nd retirement he has become something of a big, slower-moving target. Just as he draws praise for his positive impact on the Tour Down Under, so he comes under fire by the "old liars". It's feeling a bit like open season at the moment, especially with fellow Tour-winner, former teammate and adversary Alberto Contador facing his own inquisition.

The truth is out there, but will it ever be known?  Or trusted?

Lance Armstrong faces tough ride - ex mechanic |
A Wellington bike shop owner whose testimony could help bring down Lance Armstrong believes the seven-times Tour de France champion is in danger of becoming a permanent "symbol for decades of corruption".

Matt White wins, gets sacked for 'referring' Trent Lowe to dodgy USPS team doctor?

Who knows. Was it really because of this 'referral' or was it at least partly because of his suggested 2012 'GreenEdge' connection? Vaughters has certainly played down any speculation about doping, or about a potential GreenEdge or Aussie national team conflict. It has to be said also that Matt White tested clean as a rider and whilst speculation has surrounded his past racing connections it has not amounted to anything more that. So his 'referral' of Trent Lowe (ex-Discovery as well as Garmin-Transitions) can be taken at face value - an arguably poor choice of doctor.

Whilst White's past employment with the US Postal team is well known, there's really nothing proven (in a negative way) about that outfit. The US Postal team has certainly copped flack (read speculation), especially since morphing into Discovery and latterly into Radio Shack - not for what it achieved as a pro cycling squad that successfully launched Lance Armstrong to successive Tour victories - but for what has happened to many of their riders since. The list is long, including Landis and most recently Contador. Sure, it's speculation, but like mud - it sticks. 

No suggestion of who will replace White but Henrik Redant (ex Pegasus) is probably available. I'm sure there are several aspirants polishing their CVs...

SBS: Cycling Central : Garmin-Cervelo sacks White
It has just come to the attention of Slipstream Sports Board of Directors that in April 2009, Matt White referred former rider, Trent Lowe, to the Sports Institute of Valencia to Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral.
Garmin-Cervelo Fires Team Director Matt White | This Just In
Del Moral is the former ONCE and US Postal team doctor who has recently been accused of participating in systematic team doping by Floyd Landis. Former Kelme rider Jesus Manzano also claimed that he collaborated with his Kelme doctor Walter Viru, so that his USPS riders knew when International Cycling Union (UCI) doctors would visit the team for random drug testing.

Del Moral denies the charges.
Garmin-Cervelo Fires Team Director Matt White | This Just In
Vaughters added that despite the Spanish doctors controversial reputation, he is convinced that White sent Lowe to see Del Moral for legitimate reasons. “Moral runs a government-funded lab in Valencia. Lowe lived in Valencia and clearly needed body composition and VO2 testing and this was the closest place for him to go. But it showed extremely poor judgment on White’s part and a slap on the wrist is not a solution in this day and age of cycling.”
Trent Lowe - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Trent Lowe (born 8 October 1984 in Melbourne) is a professional road bicycle racer from Australia. He rode for Garmin-Transitions on the UCI ProTour from 2008 to 2010. Lowe was one of only two Australians on the Slipstream Squad, the other being Chris 'CJ' Sutton who came from Cofidis in 2007. The former full-time professional mountain biker had a breakthrough year on the road in 2005 riding for the US domestic team, Jittery Joe's, where he caught eye of Discovery Channel sports manager Johan Bruyneel. He was signed for Discovery Channel for his superior climbing abilities. In 2002 he won the UCI MTB World Junior XC Championship, then he won the under-23 Australian National Mountain Bike Championship in 2003 and 2004.

Following 2 seasons of injury and chronic fatigue, the young climber signed with the new Australian team, Pegasus, [1] before the announcement that they has failed to obtain an 2011 UCI World Tour license.
Matt White (cyclist) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
After 2 years with the Australian GIANT-AIS Cycling Team, White then went through Italian teams Amore e Vita (1998) and Vini Caldirola (1999) before finding himself on the US Postal Service team from 2001 through to 2003. In this period White was not selected to ride the Tour de France with Lance Armstrong but did ride the 2003 Vuelta a España in support of Roberto Heras. [2] In 2004, Matthew moved to the French Cofidis team to join fellow Australian Stuart O'Grady.