Sunday shorts

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Tour of Rwanda
The overall classification was won by the USA’s Kiel Reijnen of Team Type 1 but Joseph Biziyaremye deserves a mention too. That’s him above in Pierre Carey’s photo, just look at the crowd’s reaction as he crosses the line. L’Equipe’s Philippe Le Gars tells the story better than me but if you want it in English, here goes.

No Rwandan rider had won a stage in the national race since its creation three years ago. The local star is Adrien Niyonshuti and he would have been a contender but has been carrying a shoulder injury. Niyonshuti’s qualified for the 2012 Olympics but some of the others on the national squad had not ridden a racing bicycle until just a few months ago. Amongst these novices was Joseph Biziyaremye, a pedal-powered rickshaw driver who heard about a talent-spotting race a while back. He turned up and won it, impressing Jock Boyer – the first American to ride the Tour de France – who now runs Team Rwanda, a cycling and development charity. Biziyaremye was packed off to a training camp in South Africa run with the help of the UCI for six weeks. He came back home and the Tour of Rwanda is only his third bike race. He won the final stage into the capital Kigali with a fine solo victory.

100 year old record
If Joseph Biziyaremye’s tale is encouraging, here’s Robert Marchand? Born in 1911, he started cycling in 1925 and turned 100 on Saturday. He decided to attack the hour record.

Robert Marchand

Happy Birthday Robert

Instead of the track he used an indoor trainer so it wasn’t official but it’s his birthday so he can do what he wants. He rode 23.2km and told Le Parisien that he could have gone faster but didn’t want to get his heart rate above 110 beats per minute. As Alain Rumpf points out “based on the old formula max HR = 220-age, the man rode bloody hard“. Quite true.

Marchand doesn’t just ride indoors, he is known in France for riding cyclosportifs but he was run over by a truck earlier this year and forced to cancel a few entries.

Gilbert’s dream year

Philippe Gilbert has been an inspiration this year for many too. He’s now got a book out, written by in conjunction with Le Soir’s Stéphane Thirion. Entitled “Mon année de rêve” (“My dream year”) the subject material is obvious. It’s printed by Racine Lannoo  and its ISBN 10: 9020915363 / ISBN – 13: 978-9020915365.

Vote Vinokourov
Incumbent Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev unveiled a list of his party’s candidates for elections in 2012. As well as his daughter there is a collection of celebrities, headed by Alexandr Vinokourov. If this surprises, perhaps it shouldn’t. The Astana team has long been a political vehicle designed not just to present an image of the country abroad but to sprinkle stardust on Nazarbayev.

Race organisers
The Association Internationale des Organisateurs des Courses Cyclistes have been meeting in Vienna. The AIOCC is the race organisers organisation and they’ve said they will look more at new technologies like GPS, helmet and on-bike cameras as well as cameras in team cars.

I’m in two minds about this. Bike racing is slow, a process of attrition where you need hours of racing before the selection begins. I fear too many gadgets and gizmos could be used to liven up the empty airtime and I enjoy the scenery and don’t want a heads-up display of heart rates, wattages and cadence; indeed a survey earlier this year showed the largest segment of the Tour de France audience was made of people wanting to see the countryside. But done well this need not be the case, with the internet and digital TV it is possible to have the basic coverage and, at the press of a button, to fill the screen with data.

Cycling is changing. As we’ve seen this year in the Tour de France race organisers are changing formats, see the green jersey competition with the one intermediate sprint per stage, or a 110km mountain stage that proved more exciting than most 220km stages. We’ll see if cycling goes from sport to a more theatrical and action-packed format, what the French call le sport spectacle.

Guadzilla November 27, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Re your comment about not wanting to see too much data – fair point. However, given the shaky economic status of the Pro Tour (see HTC, Geox and the Euskadis), anything which increases viewership and brings in more money is probably a good thing.

The loss of the Highroads team is an absolute travesty and one might argue that lack of long-term stability and money is one of the external factors that drives riders to dope. Certainly, the powers that be need to do whatever it takes to keep the sport and teams financially healthy in the long-term,\.

Qwerty November 27, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Nice read. Been following the race in Rwanda. How can Vino ride and have a job in politics? I guess that’s a question for voters.

Larry T. November 27, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Chapeau to the old guy! I’d be delighted to average 23 kms an hour when/if get to that age. I loved to watch Vino race until he turned out to be a doper. His ethics (or lack thereof) will probably help him in the Kazak political arena. Interesting how TdF fans want to see the countryside. I admit to the same when I watch, but knowing more about who is where relative to their competitors and seeing more of the action of directors, mechanics, etc. may make for better TV, so why not? Getting more fans to pay attention to cycling on TV is what brings in the sponsorship euros after all.

Jeff November 27, 2011 at 8:39 pm

I’ve heard of spinning in your grave….but well done to this guy for riding on his 100th birthday!

Darren November 27, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Just read a piece on cyclingnews.com where an emotional Ivan Basso is asking for the Italian cycling authorities to explain to him why he cannot represent Italy at the Worlds, saying that he has paid for his sins (2 yr ban) and has been squeeky clean since! That pissed me off! Does he not see that the hard-line ban on past dopers is to hopefully prevent any more doping scandals, considering the damage to the reputation of the rider, team, sponsors, and ultimately the sport of Road Cycling itself! Something my pa said to me when I was younger and never forgot: what you want and what you need are not always the same thing! How can Basso not see that the ban is not about him, but about dealing with doping in its entirety; past, present and future!!! No expectations!!! Do their teams not explain to the athletes how damaging the doping issue is to the sport!!! I dont get this guy!!!

Chromatic Dramatic November 27, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Re increasing technology in cycling…

without knowing which way things will blow with the introduction of more technology (ie will it help or hinder), what I will say is that your views are irrelevant! That sounds kind of harsh, but what I mean is this…

As all economists learn (and I’m not an economist), what is important is what happens at the margin. You are probably not at the margin, as you will still watch cycling regardless if things change or not. But the introduction of new technologies may will move people at the margin (who don’t currently watch) into watching, therefore (from the organisers perspective) it will be a good thing. But then again, it may have the opposite effect!

Other than that, I agree, the country side is one of the things that I enjoy, but I doubt that is enough to engage a lot of people across the whole season.

rhys November 28, 2011 at 3:13 am

I like that cycling is just riders, scenery, and phil/paul. If I want 400 stats per minute, I’ll watch the cricket.

TotheBillyoh November 28, 2011 at 10:45 am

Perhaps technology can help catch the cheaters? Speed over the ground reduced to a formula of Watts et al. In which case I am for it.

Starr November 28, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Boyer forgot to teach two-handed salutes???
Maybe the two Team-Type 1 riders gave him the win and Mr Biziyaremye felt a bit guilty.
It’s always good if a local grabs a stage though.

And I do look forward to a few more Africans (not the white boy Zuid Afrika types) in the peloton.
If we are globalizing the sport, then every continent should have at least a sliver of representation.

Larry T. November 28, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Darren – what can you expect from a guy who admits only to “thinking about doping” as the reason his blood was found in the Puerto raids? Anyone who watched him wipe the floor with everyone else in the 2006 Giro, including the second place guy who was later found to be doped if my memory is correct, will have a tough time believing he just thought about doping. I believe the VAM numbers on the Colle San Carlo climb were some of the highest ever recorded…and I seem to remember Ivan riding up there with “The Flying Trullo” who was later busted for doping too. I’m in full agreement with countries that do not want to select (and I underline select as it’s not a right) ex-dopers to represent their country/federation. They need to tell lil’ Ivan that, while we can’t exclude you, since your sanction is over, from the Giro d’Italia and other international races where you represent your commercial sponsors, we’d prefer not to have you representing Italy or the Italian Cycling Federation since you (at least once) displayed a blatant disregard for the rules.” That should be enough.

JLB November 29, 2011 at 3:47 am

I’m very interested in having a look at the survey you referenced as finding the biggest chunk of TdF viewers wanted to look at the scenery, do you have a link to it or know where I could find it?

Many thanks

The Inner Ring November 29, 2011 at 8:27 am

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