News bulletin and weather report

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Mavic Izoard

I can’t pick a single topic for the blog today so here are a few smaller points which are worth a mention.

Nice images
French company Mavic has a clunky website but the content is super-imposed on some nice background images. If you’d like the image above, click on it to open a full size version which you can then use for your computer’s wallpaper. It’s the Col d’Izoard by the way (EDIT: at the time of writing it was the Izoard but Mavic are rotating the images so if you’re looking at this again, it’s probably another climb)

Ugly prospect
Spanish newspaper As is reporting Alberto Contador’s case going to be taken to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. It’s been a likely outcome for some time but AS.com says the Spanish federation and its legal advisor are now resigned to this happening soon. Apparently they were congratulated by UCI President Pat McQuaid for their work but warned over political influence. If this is going to happen, I just hope it can happen as soon as possible. Contador is already winning races and were he to get a ban, these results would be stripped. Records already show Alejandro Valverde deleted from the results and I’ve written before about the farce of the Giro being determined by the courts.

Off balance
Garmin-Cervélo signed a sponsorship deal with New Balance for shoes and compression wear. The ink had hardly dried before riders started tweeting about New Balance products, take Dave Zabriskie or Christian VandeVelde. Such messages from riders come across, to me at least, as contrived and fake. Which isn’t a great idea image for any brand.

Evans wins in Macerata

The Macerata massacre

If some of us shout “boo” at Di Luca, it was great to see Cadel Evans winning yesterday. Sometimes I’ve thought BMC never quite worked like a team but this time the likes of Ballan gave it everything. If anything they did too much too soon as Evans was left isolated in the closing moments of the race. But the Aussie just turned on the power, covering almost every move by his rivals and then barging Visconti on the last corner to lead out the sprint and blast everyone off this wheel. If someone makes a “highlight of 2011″ DVD, this has to be included. I had Twitter open and Evan’s wife was sending out a range of messages: “300 metres“… “Hubbie there“… “GOOOO CADELLLL!!!“… “YEEEEEAHHHH!!!!!“. Now I suspect she’s biased but seeing Evans win and his wife’s delight, it’s this sort of thing that makes you forget Di Luca. Thanks Cadel.

No wins, no ride?
With Evans’s win yesterday, it leaves Euskaltel-Euskadi as the only top pro team without a win. It’s not a big deal because these guys are a fixture of summer racing and once the mountain passes open up, they’ll have their chance. But there’s a long term consideration here, namely that the team doesn’t have many proven winners. Samuel Sanchez is ageing and when a rider gets talented, he gets poached, see Benat Intxausti’s, now with Movistar. Joe Lindsey in The Boulder Report does a great job in explaining the consequences for the team, that if they don’t win more this year then they could be out of the World Tour.

Weather forecast
Like many news bulletins, I’ll finish with the weather. The forecast this week for the Italian coast from Genoa to Sanremo says lots of rain. See for yourself via a webcam.

This means a wet Milan-Sanremo could be on the cards and if there’s some wind then this might split the race up a bit more. But we’re only Tuesday here, don’t give too much weight to this. The more direct consequence is that riders testing themselves on the route are more likely to hold back a bit this week meaning they’ll start on Saturday with a tiny bit more insecurity in their mind but perhaps a little bit more zip in their legs.

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{ 14 comments }

jkeltgv March 15, 2011 at 9:52 am

“If someone makes a “highlight of 2011″ DVD, this has to be included.”

Why is it that the Italian races are nearly always better than the French races – more exciting, more picturesque, more difficult and even when the field isn’t as good (not the case for T/A vs P/N I might add) just generally better to watch?

Why won’t ASO have some of these hill top town centre finishes? Can Zomangan design the tour route one year…..just to see what he comes up with would be incredible.

The Inner Ring March 15, 2011 at 9:56 am

jkeltgv: that’s a subject I’ll return to soon in more detail. 3 things to note: the riders make the race, Italy has lots of hilltop villages and Paris-Nice has been very exciting in the past, 2011 just wasn’t a vintage edition.

Jarvis March 15, 2011 at 10:22 am

I’ve already been critical of Dan Martin doing product placement in his Procycling column the other month. Hevwas waxing lyrical about how great his new Magic tyres were compared to last seasons rubber, suggesting he won’t crash like he did in Lombardy. Given that Navigate are new to tyres and he was unlikely to have any/many miles of experience with them when he wrote the column, then it’s very cynical on his/Garmins part. Vaughters needs to be told that his team going to that extent is going to turn people off sponsors products, not get them to buy them

Euan March 15, 2011 at 11:00 am

Hesjedal was at it as well this morning:

“Ready for an adventure day on foot, New Balance has me covered. Exciting sponsor and products, compression wear is working..Thanks!”

This sort of blatant advertising was fun when it was DZ and the PDM “massage oil”. We as cycling fans tend to follow pros on twitter for their insight into the Pelaton, not to be bombarded with placed product messages in the vein of Charlie Sheen and his $50k tweets.

Sampo March 15, 2011 at 11:17 am

I thought Dave Z’s tweeting was quite sarcastic about the New Balances. Sending three tweets in a row, hilarious: http://twitter.com/#!/DZABRISKIE

Flashing Pedals March 15, 2011 at 11:58 am

Sports marketing is a fine line.
Teams entice/attract/bribe (delete as applicable) the marketing budgets from brands, and then aside from a few sponsor obligations, the PR return is very poorly managed when compared to rival sports. It is one of the weakest areas of professional cycling, although, watching a F1 press conference, you can see that wealthier sports, suffer the same problems.

Some professional cyclists are quite conversant with equipment and say what they think if its of relevance. Baden Cooke once said, he only enthused of his bikes, if they are any good.
He has got the balance right, sometimes less is more.

Team PR’s & ‘marketing experts’ take note.

gfurry March 15, 2011 at 12:46 pm

I thought it was strange that everyone was tweeting about this New Balance thing. Maybe it was just a timing thing. I understand that everyone has to get paid. My guess is New Balance wasn’t feeling the love. I thought I remembered seeing their logo on the team kit from day one. When I went to look I realized you have to look to full bibs to find the logo.

http://www.shopslipstreamsports.com/2011-apparel/2011-garmin-cervelo-bodypaint-bib-shorts.html

The Inner Ring March 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Jarvis / Euan / Sampo / Flashing pedals & gfurry : it seems many can spot the contrived feel. For me communication and advertising needs authenticity. Zabriskie’s humour helps here but that too just felt like he’d been told to stage it.

gfurry March 15, 2011 at 1:18 pm

I agree that DZ didn’t do this on his own. This is social media gone wrong. Some corporate sponsor thinking they will be cooler if they are on Twitter and forcing themselves on a team they sponsor.

Trying too hard to be cool never works. Pictures of your cool new bike or new shoes work. Calling out a product by name seems forced. RadioShack did the same thing with their Nike gear but they did it right. This seemed genuine, big corporate sponsor showing some love for cycling and the team with a custom team version. TRS also did this at the right time, in January when the riders got all their new gear. They wrote a blog post and put up pictures of the new gears. Riders tweeted about it and seemed genuinely excited about getting all this cool new stuff. http://www.livestrong.com/teamradioshack/news_mallorca-training-camp-getting-technical/

Touriste-Routier March 15, 2011 at 1:45 pm

As lame as this sees, isn’t this partially a societal problem? “New Media” is designed for short attention span and constant stimuli. Twitter is all about “followers”, the need/demand for content is high. Endorsements work, even though they are biased; do people really believe that Brand A is significantly better than Brand B? This whole scenario is symptomatic of all of these pressures colliding.

Starr March 15, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Rain for MSR?
If so, the most nervous race of the year just became a nightmare for meek descenders.

The Inner Ring March 15, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Touriste-Routier: when I see these tweets, they “smell” fake to me. If I think fake about the message then it associates with the product itself. Anyway, this is nothing big, I just wish teams would get their P right. There are so many marketing mistakes in the sport.

Starr: we’ll see. Weather forecasts this far out have a slim chance of being accurate. It rained last year, riders were climbing the Turchino Pass in rain, crashing in dark tunnels etc.

bikecellar March 15, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Is it the lens or does Evans look a bit leaner already this season? He certainly looks meaner, no one was going to beat him to the line in Macerata. Great to see.

Euan March 16, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Example of a pro cyclist using twitter to properly promote a brand

http://twitter.com/bradwiggins/status/48016654587801600

Sells Adidas and entertains

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