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.