Friday Shorts

Friday, 14 June 2013

L’Equipe in English
Having reviewed their app yesterday, French newspaper L’Equipe get a mention again. They’ve produced a superb interactive piece about the climbers and the mountains of the Tour and it’s even available in English. With giant photos, videos, graphics and more it’s a good scroll even for the illiterate but the writing is a bonus too. More at lequipe.fr/explore/born-to-climb

Yannick, Son of Manuel
L’Equipe doesn’t mention the 1978 Tour de France King of the Mountains winner, Mariano Martinez. The Frenchman isn’t so famous but his son Yannick has won the opening stage of the Route du Sud stage race. A modest pro event it occupies a good slot on the calendar, a final tune up before the Tour de France and benefits from the benediction and implicit support of ASO.

Mariano Martinez has two sons, first was Miguel who was mountain bike world and olympic champion in 2000. Miguel then switched to the road with the Mapei team before signing for Phonak in 2003 but never enjoyed the same success on the road. Unlike his father and brother, Yannick is a bigger build, a sprinter who also won a stage of the Four Days of Dunkerque this year.

The Tour and The Street
The Tour de France can feel like a three week bubble but just as it borrows the roads of France it is part of the socio-political landscape too. In recent months the French government has legislated to allow homosexual marriage and it has proved controversial, attracting large street protests. People often take to la rue,the street, for some flag-waving and a walk. These marches are part of French political life, so much that when they take place enterprising sellers emerge along the route to sell sandwiches, drinks, t-shirts and more to the crowds, a bit like a music festival.

Now the protesters are turning to the Tour de France. This has got some worried but they’re promising not to disrupt the race, only to benefit from the media coverage in the same way farmers highlight their work by field displays. But note the farming fun is highly co-ordinated to the point of sending GPS co-ordinates to the TV production crew so that the helicopters can locate the scene. By contrast I can’t imagine TV wants to film scenes of political protest. But the Tour has long been the scene of protest. In 1982 angry steelworkers even stopped a stage but usually protests are contained, publicity is given to the cause in exchange for the pledge not to disrupt the race.

Swiss Timing
Protest is too strong a word but many riders are not happy with the alternative timings in the Tour of Switzerland where the stage finishes after 6.00pm every day. It’s not just a case of changing habits and timings, it means teams get to the hotel late and sometimes find the kitchen is closed and then the next day riders are awoken by the sunlight and have to sit around in the morning before having breakfast at around 10.30am. L’Equipe reports it’s to help TV audiences so if the riders don’t like it, ultimately its good for their sponsors and wages.

No Di Luca B-sample
Talking of things late, it’s 20 days since we got news of Danilo Di Luca’s EPO A-sample during the Giro. It’s taking a long time to get the B-sample tested, no?

McQuaid interview
Irish TV interviewed Pat McQuaid as part of a report on cycling and its doping problems (it starts after 16 minutes). It’s frustrating to watch because he makes so many mistakes and inconsistent statements. But your jaw only drops if you’ve read up on the subject. For example less than 60 seconds after dismissing Armstrong’s positive test for cortisone in 1999 McQuaid states the UCI is a body that can only follow its own rules… which it ignored to let Armstrong race on after his positive test. Once again even if the French sports ministry bought into the “skin cream” hypothesis the UCI rules were black and white: Armstrong did not present the paperwork and so the UCI rules stated that he should have been suspended mid-race. But to a member of the public who hasn’t checked the facts McQuaid probably comes across as determined rather than confused.

Cookson interview
McQuaid’s challenger Brian Cookson has done an interview with Red Kite Prayer. You can learn some things about his position in the interview but the language stands out. Whereas McQuaid’s interviews are the verbal equivalent of accidentally tying your shoelaces together, Cookson is slick to the point of oily. We get the polished tone of a politician where phrases are repeated to hammer the message home. He also appears to talk in language exclusive to politics and the corporate world:

“[I] gained wide experience in strategic management of multi-facetted organisations, and of managing teams of staff engaged in major programmes of urban regeneration and renewal”

Apple and Bardiani-CSF
What do consumer electronics giant Apple and Italian pro continental team Bardiani-CSF have in common? Well they both use Ireland’s low tax laws to save money. For more on this and how teams exploit “financial doping” to help them compete, see my column in Issue 5 of 2r Mag available for the iPad and iPhone

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{ 24 comments }

Dieter June 14, 2013 at 11:49 am

The McQuaid interview starts at 16:25 into the RTE video.

The Inner Ring June 14, 2013 at 11:59 am

Good point, I’ll update the wording above.

Gingerflash June 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm

The leader of an organisation like the UCI ought to use management, political and corporate speak. That’s the nature of the job. He should not be someone who describes people as “scumbags” at official events!

Sam June 14, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Quite agree. What do you want, Pat ‘verbal disaster area’ McQuaid, or Cookson who though INRNG might have found his language ‘oily, isnt going to make people hide under their desks from the fall-out every time he opens his mouth. This role is a mix of business and politics. Dont look for off the cuff, casual ‘let’s just have a chat over a pint’ words from Cookson – he’s running a proper campaign, it’s not amateur hour.

tintinbike June 14, 2013 at 2:43 pm

I posted this observation back when Brian Cookson announced his candidacy – I still think his professionalism is what UCI needs.

I was a British Cycling Federation member when Brian Cookson took over from a tired and discredited regime, lack of funding, close links between members of the federation and suppliers to the GB team and strange electoral shenanigans relating to Tony Doyle when he tried to reform things.

See http://www.independent.co.uk/news/sproat-puts-a-spoke-in-cyclings-big-plans-1312454.html

Obviously I am a Brit and probably biased but Brian does have a track record in clearing out the stables…………

The Inner Ring June 14, 2013 at 5:03 pm

My point about Cookson wasn’t meant to be critical, more an observation on how polished his campaign seems to be. He’s not sending out letters smearing people nor calling people “scumbags” during press conferences, it’s a very different tone.

Evan June 14, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Inrng i figured so. LOL. it did sound as if you did though. I know your knowledge and perspective and gave the benefit of the doubt. TY for clarifying. And keep up the amazing work!

Redeye June 14, 2013 at 10:23 pm

To be honest, cycling could do with a bit of polish at the moment. Brian Cookson may not be the best alternative to Pat McQuaid, but at the moment he’s the only alternative.

BadRequest June 14, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Cookson’s interview read almost like a press-release. Don’t know if I can call it ‘refreshing’ having read too many PMQ and HVB interviews…. He knows what’s he’s doing. Would be great to see a change of face for once.

Alfredo Brioschi June 14, 2013 at 12:48 pm

I highly recommend downloading the 2R app/magazine if you have either iPad or iPhone. You’ll be familiar with Inrng’s very good writing but you also get regular quality stuff from Vroomen and Kimmage, and a lot of nice videos

cd June 14, 2013 at 2:56 pm

+1. 2R is great and free!

Anonymous June 14, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Fat Pats reign seems to have been going on for decades. Please let see a change, Go Brian.

Tim June 14, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Did anyone else catch the irony of the comments about Apple and Bardiani-CSF being available in “see my column in Issue 5 of 2r Mag available for the iPad and iPhone”.
Thank you for the great work, Paved goes well with the morning coffee.

LM June 14, 2013 at 4:10 pm

On the UCI presidency

While it’s seems that the majority of the fans and pundits want a change badly enough that any change will do, I think it’s important to take three steps back and take an objective look at the shiny new model.

I think we’re getting closer to Cookson as the future fact as we start to see the behind the scenes tactics reveal themselves and Pat, in panic mode, sticks his foot in his mouth with increased frequency. Cookson is clearly more adept at politics, public speaking, backroom consensus building, politics… But, remember, he is not the second coming or the new messiah. He is an insider. Now that the shock of the Armstrong revelation soap opera has worn off, it’s worth asking if the concept of cycling going straight is any different that Organized Crime going legit. It’s a culture; with a century of history and learned behavior. This is the very reason McQuaid is in trouble today.

His rumored backing by Makarov could easily be lawful, appropriate politics and extremely fortunate for him. But Makarov’s business and political background, to be fair status quo in Russia, and Katusha’s still unexplained fuzzy math accounting that led to their temporary loss of Pro Team status is worth two minutes of consideration.

The amazing rise of British cycling with Cookson at the helm shows he’s no pretender. His, and the Country’s intertwined relationship with Sky Cycling’s juggernaut of success might, fairly, raise a devoted conspiracy theorist’s eyebrows.

Evan June 14, 2013 at 4:24 pm

I don’t agree that being a diplomat and professional is aloof nor less than honest. Cookson is known as a person of integrity. His words and actions have been congruent. Yes we should review his past and judge accordingly. But please let us not paint him with the same brush that Pat has taught us.

BC June 14, 2013 at 5:17 pm

The best case against PMcQ was made by none other than himself in the Irish TV interview.
What a disgraceful twisting of the truth with everybody to blame but himself. The man is truly delusional.
Can nobody rid us of this man ?

Birillo June 14, 2013 at 8:13 pm

“Cookson is slick to the point of oily” Inrng, you’ve got it in one. Let’s have a look:

“[I] gained wide experience in strategic management of multi-facetted organisations, and of managing teams of staff engaged in major programmes of urban regeneration and renewal”

I think this means that he has “experience of management in urban regeneration”. If I’ve interpreted his statement correctly (and you never know when it comes to management-speak) his version is 400% more verbose than mine. Is that what the UCI needs? Is that what we want?

Contrast that with the Brian Cookson who regularly posted on the Veloriders forum (http://www.veloriders.co.uk/phpBB2/index.php). A member of British Cycling’s hierarchy who was actually prepared to put his head above the parapet and speak to cyclists! He duly won respect for his commitment and sincerity. He came over very well in TV interviews in the aftermath of the Armstrong “confessions”: articulate and principled. A good egg.

Which Brian Cookson will we get if he becomes president of the UCI?

Paul June 15, 2013 at 12:43 am

Cookson’s views on the Veloriders forum are very “interesting” if you race off road.

His views on women’s racing seem to have Nicole Cooke’s endorsement as well ;-)

Johnefe June 15, 2013 at 9:05 am

I am not surprised that Cookson’s interview was management-speak. The “interview” was questions and responses by email and he has also engaged a PR company in support of his bid.

I am not a racing cyclist so can only go on news reports but he seems to have integrity and as Paul mentions, it’s good to have someone who supports women’s racing. We have some great women cyclists at the moment, led by Marianne Vos, and they need our support. And Cookson is not Pat McQuaid.

Finally as a first post, many thanks to Inner Ring for a consistently good review of cycling issues, it’s my favourite cycling blog.

Joe June 15, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Cookson sounds so polished because his interview was an e-mail exchange. Patrick notes in the comments that he was asked to submit written questions. This was “not an ideal situation,” he admits, but it was a chance to hear something from the man himself, rather than just media reports of his activity in cycling.”

Many of us write differently than we speak. I would very much like to hear more about Cookson’s plans, and I’d like for him to sit for interviews rather than answer questions behind the time-delay screen of written questions that allow for these kinds of hyper-composed bullet-point replies. But let’s wait for a verbal interview before writing Cookson off as oily.

Darren June 15, 2013 at 9:25 pm

I’ve referred to him as a dinosaur in the past; he who we could refer to as ‘Pastman Pat’,
with his Catholic-Church-in-the-Middle-Ages style of politics and pre 1990′s management
style! For heavens sake, the man has hugged, smiled and winked at Verbruggen…what
more can you expect! ;-)
As for Cookson; true, there may be something oily in his communication (I’ve known
a few diplomats and their communication style is like an overflow of jizz curls!), however,
the man does appear to have something Pastman Pat does not have – integrity!
Besides, olive oil is healthy!!! :p

LM June 16, 2013 at 4:30 pm

“Appearances are often deceiving.”

Don’t forget that Pat did not invent doping, the winners have. There is also so much more to his job than the issue of cheating in Pro cycling, a lot of which he has gotten right. It is true, his time is probably up, his style is rough, but he has loved and worked for the sport as very few could have.

Alex June 16, 2013 at 8:53 am

Is there any way to access 2r without an “i” device? My phone is android.

The Inner Ring June 16, 2013 at 9:26 am

Not for now… and I don’t have an iPad either but have been borrowing one from a friend.

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