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.
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?
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.
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