Wednesday Shorts

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Later this year I’ll probably review a few highlights of the year. Stage 9 of the Tour de France is likely to make the cut because it started with a bang. It was the day Chris Froome was isolated as constant attacks from Garmin-Sharp ripped up the race from the start. The video by humansinvent.com above tells how it was done.

Of course you apply hindsight but it’s interesting to see the team used probability calculations to work out which day of the race would be suitable. Humans Invent is an interesting website and you’ll find their new cycling podcast there if you haven’t already discovered it.

Team Alonso
It’s great to see the Basque Euskaltel-Euskadi team saved for 2014 thanks to the arrival of Fernando Alonso and his money and sponsors from Formula 1. But the team still has a mountain to climb as riders need to be retained, the worry is their best athletes have been cherry-picked by Astana and OPQS. They’re never prolific when it comes to winning and without their stronger riders 2014 could be a lean year until the likes of Alberto Contador show up. But even if Contador were to join, what would he win in 2015? This is thinking too far ahead but it shows how the squad has to think of the future.

Team Colombia’s Dilemma
Some teams can worry about hiring riders, others have to worry about retaining them. BMC Racing have signed Darwin Atapuma from Team Colombia. It’s said Esteban Chaves could be going to Orica-Greenedge. It’s good to see talent spotted and recruited and this Colombian team helping riders to make the move from South America to the European pro peloton.

But it leaves the team itself with problems. No sooner does it get a good rider then the rider is poached by a World Tour team meaning it’s hard to retain talent, get sponsors to buy in and secure crucial wildcards. Of course the team can look to recruit riders in Colombia and it can itself “poach” riders from the Colombia 4-72 team like Juan Chamorro but again if someone is very good in Colombia there are now means to get them straight to a top team, see Sergio Henao going from the Antioquia regional team to Sky in one go.

Giro Dopes
Talking of dilemmas, how about announcing to the world an A-sample positive and then not being able to do the B-sample? I’d been counting the days since the positive test announcements from the Giro of Danilo Di Luca and Mauro Santambrogio because time passed and yet there was no news on the B-sample. La Gazzetta Dello Sport now says Di Luca waived the B-sample test so he’ll face a full ban. But it seems Santambrogio’s B-sample is negative for EPO so he could now be cleared. Even if the A-sample is positive, the B-sample must match.

Going down?

It’s an interesting ethical issue because Santambrogio now rhymes with erythropoietin only he’s set to be cleared. You might think he’s slipped through the net but it shows the problems of the UCI’s curious policy of broadcasting news upon the A-sample “non-negative” rather than being patient for the B-sample. On the one hand it stops someone from racing from the moment there’s something suspicious, on the other hand it’s a serious accusation to make and not being able to back it up with the B-sample is worrying.

Lance Armstrong Documentary

Even if you’re bored of Armstrong it seems “The Armstrong Lie” is a good documentary. The maker Alex Gibney is well regarded and a review from the Venice film festival liked it. We’ll see, often when cyclists watch a film about cycling they get frustrated by the way racing is simplified or other aspects are skipped in order to make the subject matter more accessible. But it seems this one includes a lot of time on blood chemistry and interviews with Michele Ferrari. Of course the story is not finished and there seem to be more suits than Brooks Brothers.

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{ 13 comments }

Chris September 4, 2013 at 9:56 pm

On the subject of Team Colombia, one thing that hasn’t been publicized much is that apparently the riders have not been paid since May of this year, while the rest of the team staff has. This will only contribute to a possible exodus for the team’s top talent. Corti was even at the Vuelta a Colombia scouting riders…

The Inner Ring September 4, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Good point. The story seems to be a sponsor has not transferred the money. There should be a UCI guarantee in place but it can take time to draw down on this.

Anonymous September 4, 2013 at 11:36 pm

is there anything in UCI ethics rules about this? there should be a bond system that is monitored regularly to ensure that riders are at least paid, otherwise what is the U in UCI for?

Samuel G September 4, 2013 at 11:33 pm

Re Team Alonso/Santander, I wonder if Janez Brajkovic and some riders from Vacansoleil-DCM might fit in well? cyclingfever.com seems to be saying pretty much all the Eusk riders are staying on with the new team though, as of yesterday

Oliver September 4, 2013 at 11:42 pm

“The Armstrong lie” preview looks a little scary: what with just Armstrong talking. I guess the lying continues, though I have to say the prerequisite for a good documentary on Lance is not to have his “spin” on things. Imho, of course.

Btw, wanted to let you know the book still has not arrived.

LM September 5, 2013 at 4:47 am

If the UCI waited to go public until after the B sample has been tested, the commenter mob would have burned all the UCI employees at the stake by now for lack of transparency.

Evan September 5, 2013 at 8:18 am

did david millar just call dan martin the best rider in the world?

The Inner Ring September 5, 2013 at 9:10 am

Well he’s in the top-10 on the UCI rankings and has been top-3.

Sam September 5, 2013 at 10:53 am

He still aint the best rider in the world. Sorry Dan

Brr September 5, 2013 at 12:37 pm

I hear you Sam, that was a very strange statement.

I would have liked some footage of the parts of the race they are referring to, whilst they were talking. The video become a few talking heads instead of what could have been fascinating.

Stephen_M September 5, 2013 at 3:35 pm

For probably the 1st time, I think I might be in agreement with Dave Millar. Stage 9 was a fantastic bike race and the only stage of the whole Tour I enjoyed. In fact, it was probably the only bike race I can think I’ve really, really enjoyed in about 20 years. Most of the others have blurred into some sort of medoicrity.

Dan Martin is world class and one of the few athletes I believe in, so watching him race is always enjoyable. Thanks for sharing the video!

Also highly amusing to see some old-washed-up Texan trying to tell me something about the ‘truth’ – that’s a good one! Once he’s got past the hookers and cocaine, maybe he can start telling us about his steroid programme as a junior triathlete? Maybe then, how it got him wired into the ‘good stuff’ for winning bike races? Then we might be starting to touch on the truth? Reconcilliation might still be a way off though…

Nick II September 5, 2013 at 6:15 pm

One piece of transparency from the testers/UCI that might be helpful would be to clarify why some doping tests take so long. I’m sure there’s a long queue of samples that need to be tested, but if an A-sample comes up glowing, why wouldn’t the B-sample be immediately tested? I realize there’s the right of the rider to be present at the testing, and that slows things down, but I wonder, hypothetically, how quickly a B-sample could be tested after the moment and A-sample is positive.

As far as Team Colombia, isn’t the threat of poaching what most domestic pro teams face? In the US, there’s Bissell, UHC, 5-hour, etc. I imagine any of these teams faces the same threat of losing riders to the European peloton as do Colombia. Or is there something different about Team Colombia that makes them stand out?

RocksRootsRoad September 6, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Santambrogio’s B-Sample Negative?

I thought that there were reports that the B sample analysis had shown only small traces of EPO, and this was not enough to conclusively prove doping. Therefore, he escapes the gallows by a whisker…

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