Pierre Cogan died just days short of his 99th birthday. He was eleventh in the 1935 Tour and seventh in the 1950 Tour, his career cut in half by war. But he’d been known for an alternative longevity, that as the oldest Tour de France rider.
Now the title falls to 96 year old Albert Bourlon (pictured). It can’t be something to celebrate, as if you’re next in the starting hut for a time trial and there’s a clock ticking, only hopefully this time the ramp goes upwards.
But Bourlon could be an eternal rider for he holds the record for the longest solo breakaway in the Tour de France. He was away for 253km across the South of France, from Carcassonne and Luchon, to win Stage 14 in 1947.
Lance Armstrong’s confession?
Bourlon might be the breakaway king but there’s no escaping Lance Armstrong. There’s been talk over the weekend that Lance Armstrong could confess to doping, one single source quoted in the New York Times has given rise to plenty of coverage.
Were he to “confess”, philosophers, psychologists and linguists might be fascinated to observe how someone admits to something that the rest of the world accepts to be true. His lawyers have surely explored the consequences and given advice on what can and cannot be said.
But for now the only certainty is that even banned and disgraced one mention of his name and doping is the equivalent of kicking an ant’s nest, the sudden buzz in activity is noticeable.
Vinokourov and Kolobnev’s Less Than Merry Christmas
On the subject of old stories that won’t go away we’ll soon see Alexandr Vinokourov and Alexander Kolobnev visit the UCI for a hearing on the subject of the allegations that Kolobnev sold the victory in the 2010 Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Back in November a hearing was called for Monday 7 January. Appropriately for a tale of gifting wins and spending money tomorrow is Christmas Day for Russians.
This gets reheated more often than cauldron of borscht. It first appeared in a Swiss magazine in 2011 with excerpts of the emails. The UCI enquired but the journalist did not want to give up his source and so the investigation went nowhere. Vinokourov denied everything and even promised legal action although I can’t find evidence of this being launched. Later the Swiss magazine published the email exchange in greater detail and now the Italian judiciary has the emails too and has been looking into the payments too, meaning it is a lot harder for the likes of Vinokourov to say the story is a journalist’s fantasy.
Now the pair will have to explain themselves to the UCI. It’s hard for the governing body to dig deep here but if it has a file from the Italian police then it could put pressure on the pair.
Two Weeks To Go
Two weeks until the Tour Down Under starts and we can start talking about racing. Yes some will say the season doesn’t begin until the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad but as has been said before, the Australian race sees riders scrapping for results like any other race. Collarbones crack, hips fracture.
If the fight isn’t enough, the Tour Down Under normally benefits from warm sunshine and blue skies, the ideal venue to showcase new bikes and team clothing. Better still, the 2013 race will be shown live on TV and hopefully fans outside of Australia can find a live stream somewhere. Things are warming up already with the Jayco Sun Tour, impressively won by a 20 year old Calvin Watson.
The Sun Tour has been kicked around the calendar of late but as this blog showed earlier this week, Australia is now the world’s sixth cycling nation, at least when measured by the number of riders in the World Tour.
Tour of Dubai
Talking of sunshine and new races, we are used to the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman. Now there are plans for the Tour of Dubai in 2014. As a reminder, Qatar is little more than a desert, part sand and part gravel and the obstacle is the wind that blasts unimpeded across the emirate. Oman is quite different, a landscape of palm trees, date groves with some very big mountains and large river valleys.
Dubai could provide both, showcasing the city skyline of Dubai city but also a chance to show the country has more to offer than concrete office space and the same retail outlets you find in New York, Paris or Tokyo. The Hajar mountains could prove decisive. If placed in the early part of the season it could help riders warm up in the sun without squeezing out existing events.
These events have huge budgets. They can fly out teams using their national airlines, put them up in hotels and even offer generous appearance fees for star riders.
Back in Europe
Meanwhile other races are struggling. This week alone I’ve amended the calendar several times. The Vuelta a Murcia to February has shrunk from a stage race in March to a mere one day race in February whilst it looks like the Giro di Reggio Calabria and the GP della Costa Etruschi will be cancelled this year for a lack of funds. Cuts in municipal budgets mean bike races are amongst the easiest things to get rid of. For now no big races are under threat.
Cycling Anthology Giveaway Winner
Finally if “Serge” is reading, please get in touch. They won the Cycling Anthology competition with a close guess that was only about a page away from the correct word count of the book.