Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Froome and Sky attack a fallen Valverde. Moral bankruptcy take 3 - or "that's racing!"

It's the old story. We've all been there. Sometimes we wait, sometimes we attack. It's a moral and ethical dilemma, sure, but one we decide on the road. A rider punctures, that's unlucky. Could happen to us next time. Maybe we slow down, let them catch up? A rider (or 30) fall, again we sit up. It could have been us. But then again, if we have already attacked and have a plan that we must stick to, well, we can't wait every time, can we? After all, it's the exceptions that prove the rule.

Apparently Froome and Co couldn't wait for Valverde. That's racing. Will we see same the sort of wailing and gnashing we saw when Contador 'attacked' a stricken Schleck? I doubt it.   

Vuelta A España 2012: Stage 4 Results |
Valverde was one of a number of fallers in a crash inside the final 30 kilometres, just as Chris Froome’s Sky team was looking to split the peloton in the stiff crosswinds that buffeted the race on the run-in to the day’s final climb. Although Sky had already begun to set the pace just before Valverde came a cropper, the British team paid no heed to his plight and persisted in their efforts all the way to the foot of the Valdezcaray, in spite of the exhortations of Valverde’s teammate Beñat Inxausti.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

One for the Andy-Schleck-loving-Contador-haters: Or Boonen wins again, and other ethical questions

There you go, you Andy-Schleck-loving-Contador-haters, have a go at Big Tom for exploiting an opportunity:

Belgian Road Championships 2012: Elite Men Results |
The race was decided by a move from Boonen at 40km from the finish line, exploiting a mechanical from co-favorite Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol).

We don't really know what was in Tom's mind, but he clearly gained advantage from the move. So what is the morality here? Does one wait? Or attack? It is, after all, a bike race, and anyone can have a mechanical, even Tom Boonen. But I'd hate to be his mechanic, post-race. Now if it was clear cut and perhaps enshrined in a universal rule then everything would be cut-and-dried and sweet. We'd probably do the "decent" or "sporting" thing and simply wait. But life - and racing - is not like that.

Sometimes mechanicals are purely random and unavoidable, and at other times it's caused by "rider or mechanic's error". If you contributed to your own demise, so be it. We can't expect everyone to wait whilst you get your act together. I think Andy Schleck's famous chain trouble was probably rider error, myself, and Contador was clearly not 100% sure what had happened. You could say he should have waited anyway, just to be sure; but it's not so cut-and-dried. Racing is complicated. You may wait, others may not. And here with Boonen, how's he to know what has caused his competitors to be delayed? Even if he did know, how is he to judge fault? Why should he assume it wasn't rider error? And if the tables were turned, would they wait for him?

There is no one supreme morality, is there? We all have our set of personal, individual rules, including a sense of what is "fair". And then we apply those rules. If we make our decisions based on our personal moral foundation and it's done "authentically" or in a way true to ourselves, then we have acted "ethically". Which will never stop others questioning our actions, of course. 

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

All well and good but couldn't anyone do this?

Yes, yes, it's nice to buy a brand name (at least if the cachet means something to you) but seriously, folks, every bike racer knows how to "modify" their bike to make it lighter. I mean, really.. who hasn't slapped a lighter set of wheels on at least once?

AC Schnitzer tunes the latest BMW ... bicycle?
At just 16.3 pounds (7.4 kg), the carbon-framed M Bike Carbon Racer is already a light, lithe two-wheeler. AC Schnitzer saw the opportunity to cut even more weight by adding more carbon. It stripped components off with abandon, replacing them with carbon and lightweight counterparts. Specifically, Schnitzer added a set of carbon wheels developed in conjunction with Xentis, plus a carbon saddle, a carbon saddle support and a new crank.

According to its numbers, AC successfully cut the bike's weight by a full kilogram, down to 15.2 pounds (6.9 kg). In contrast to BMW's 16.3-pound figure, AC Schnitzer lists the original weight at 17.4 pounds (7.9 kg), a fact that could have to do with the frame size (the bike is offered in five different frame sizes).