Monday Shorts

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Evans counts points – Mourey counts to eight – Vuelta counts the decimal places – NetApp count on the Tour – Sanchez sans job – Chris Horner’s Dutch auction – Team Sky change powermeters?

It’s already Monday in Australia and Simon Gerrans is the new Australian road race champion. Rider nicknames are uncommon these days but if he did have a moniker then “The Sniper” seems appropriate for the way he’s able to target a race. Gerrans is a clever rider who doesn’t have the physiological firepower of Cadel Evans or Richie Porte but his “one shot” is making him a good trophy hunter, think yellow in the Tour or Milan-Sanremo. You can read his account of how he won at SimonGerrans.com. He’s now an obvious contender for the Tour Down Under.

When asked whether he wanted to win the green and gold jersey Cadel Evans replied “My objective as a professional is to get World Tour points other than the jersey, it doesn’t count for that much” which went down badly with many Aussies for obvious reasons. It wasn’t the right thing to say and he got flamed for it on Twitter. But it was probably a deflection exercise to ease pressure and expectations. After all Evans might be retiring at the end of the year, if so his points won’t count for much anyway.

Mourey makes history
Whilst the Australians and New Zealanders have enjoyed their road race championships, several northern hemisphere nations held their cyclo-cross championships. Francis Mourey (FDJ.fr) won the French title after riding away on the first lap. It’s his eighth senior men’s title, overtaking Eugène Christophe, André Dufraisse and Roger Rondeaux who each won the French title seven times. Mourey is a candidate for a medal in the worlds in two weeks’ time but it shows you can dominate at home but you might finish off the podium if you raced in Belgium or the Netherlands, a lesson that applies to most countries.

Vuelta 2014

The 2014 Vuelta route was unveiled without much fanfare but the route looks promising. There are eight summit finishes and just 44.5km of solo time trialling – so little they mention the number to the right of the decimal place and the main 34.5km includes a climb and then a long drag downhill. August and September are too far away to look forward to because there’s so much to come before. But this should be a good race.

NetApp-Endura’s goal

“Team NetApp – Endura aims for the Tour de France in 2014″

NetApp had a great Vuelta last year, more than earning their wildcard invite. The quote above is the headline from the team press release earlier this week. It’s an obvious and laudable goal but it shows how simply starting this race is important. Of course they want to win along the way, indeed strong early season performances are needed to impress ASO before it allocates wildcard invitations.

As seen on French TV?

Sanchez sans job

The Vuelta presentation saw Samuel Sanchez on stage with Alejandro Valverde. Sanchez is still without a team for this year and seems to be wearing shoes designed to attract attention. He’s been linked in reports to the Tinkoff-Saxo team. But he’ll turn 36 soon.

Horner’s Dutch auction
Chris HornerNo mention of ageing riders seems to be complete without a Chris Horner reference. Unlike Sanchez he wasn’t at the Vuelta presentation but he’s also out of work too. Horner’s lack of a team for 2014 is remarkable in some aspects but predictable at the same time. Whilst some cite doping but put that aside because we can speculate more safely on Horner’s employability:

  • In wanting a reported two-year contract for one million Euros per year, Horner wanted to be paid the going rate for a grand tour contender, a podium probable
  • But he only acquired this status following his Vuelta win, a time in the season when most teams have already determined their budgets and settled their roster for 2014.
  • However this status is far from assured, it is said a factor behind his Vuelta win was an injury that left him sitting out plenty of races so he was fresh for the Vuelta. But this implies if he’d had a normal season with mucho racing he’d have been stale by September, a player but perhaps not the winner
  • Age is also a factor, it simply makes him an unusual hire and creates uncertainty. When we’re talking about €1m a year – say 10% of a typical World Tour team budget – then the risks are considerable.

Horner’s situation quickly turned into a Dutch auction with team after team rejecting the high wage so he’s lowered his price but this has just seen more teams stand back. We’re now into January and he’s changed agents to appoint the recently retired but never retiring Baden Cooke. Some squads just don’t have the spare cash sitting around but you can imagine a team with a sugardaddy sponsor might. If Horner finds a team it’ll be far from the million Euro deal he wanted but he can surely do better than modest Danish team Christina Watches. Horner is valuable for his UCI points alone, a rider holds them for two seasons so his Vuelta haul could help any team worried about relegation from the World Tour.

Team Sky Racing Stages?
There’s not much new in the pro peloton for 2014 with most team bikes looking almost identical to last year’s models. One small change looks to be with Team Sky. SRM are no longer listed as a sponsor on the team website and instead someone has spotted the team using Stages powermeters. It could be a test, who knows.

More interestingly Stages is a relatively new company that could shake up the market. It has had some teething problems which seem to have been addressed. For a long time cycle power meters have been expensive and if the Stages device is not cheap, it still comes in at a price point lower than the alternatives.

Hayden Roulston (Trek Factory Racing) beats Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp) to win the New Zealand national championships

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{ 32 comments }

Darren January 12, 2014 at 9:58 pm

Could Cadel have been subtly attacking the points system rather than degrading the national jersey?!
Are there no points to collected in national championships?

I still think it’s embarrassing how the top tier cannot give Horner a contract! Maybe they all see his performance at the Vuelta as a ‘flash-in-the-pan’ and would rather he bows out gracefully and retires!
Pity, because his performance at the Vuelta was not alone attributable to his freshness but also to tactical display. The guy has ability and a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’…road wisdom?!

Heitor January 13, 2014 at 11:52 pm

Guy overpowered everyone. Nothing about wisdom.

othersteve January 14, 2014 at 1:28 am

You still have too know when to go! Especially if you are 42 and racing for what? 3 weeks….
guy’s a stud body and mind!

merinok January 12, 2014 at 10:59 pm

I personally enjoyed Cadel’s comment, it’s a break from the normal media savvy speak. I can see the aussies might be a little upset but he was there and by the look of the result he gave 100%. In the grand scheme of things professionals are loyal to their teams/sponsors first and foremost.

Goonie January 12, 2014 at 11:22 pm

He gave it 100% – or at least whatever he has in the tank at this time of year.

It’s a great race to spectate, by the way; small circuit with an unusually straight climb so you get a really good view of the riders every 15 minutes or so. Lots of noise on the hill.

Abdu January 13, 2014 at 12:05 am

Yep, they’ve done a good job at Cycling Australia. The race is live on free-to-air TV, they provide free buses to ferry fans up and down the hill, lots of BBQ’s and fans up there, big screens down in the finish straight, etc. Fans can stand next to the GreenEdge team van (not sure but I think Sky had a few volunteers instead of a van) in the feed zone and listen to the DS Matt Wilson standing shouting instructions. There were more fans in the regional town 1 hour out of the city than there were at the Australia vs England 1 day cricket at the MCG. If Cycling Australia provided free beer next year that would be perfect.

Pity Adam Hansen has worked so hard for the past two years but come up with donut. As he tweeted, Lotto need to hire some Aussies… He is in good shape too, was working hard in the front a fair bit. When does he even not train or race? It’s a great race for the access too, last year I spotted Adam Hansen standing next to his Dad’s (?) car after the race in the grass car park, just like any amateur, talking to anyone who cam up and spoke to him.

Jack Bobridge of Belkin looked to the be the best of the rest ‘internationals’, noting that Orica GreenEdge riders burnt their matches working hard earlier on to get Gerrans and Meyer into the selection.

Might pay some international teams to watch the race next year for the ‘unknowns’, there were a few kids riding well yesterday…

Anonymous January 14, 2014 at 11:21 am

Hansen is probably kicking himself over the year that Peter Mcdonald won, a highroad 2 on 1 against a domestic pro, the result should be a foregone conclusion. Really want to see him win a national title (not the tt) but time is running out.

Abdu January 12, 2014 at 11:44 pm

Mr Inner Ring you are such a knowledgable fellow, I’m not sure how but you have captured this with the Aussies and Cooke so well too.

Sniper is not a nice term in Australia, so Gerro won’t be called that by the fans (Sniper is a term for a thug in rugby or Aussie rules football who hits from behind). The snake might work, lying in wait then striking (except Gerro is such a good bloke that wouldn’t wash either). Gerrans had a team mate in the small breakaway yesterday, who was sacrificing himself so if it had been just Gerrans v Porte v Evans who knows? Cadel and Richie both did twice the work Gerrans did, dragging the peloton back up, etc.

Cadel’s comments were clumsy, and his manager feebly tried to defend them. They were made all the worse because Richie Porte virtually said he would die for the green and gold stripes. But I think most fans in Australia actually like Cadel, know his sacrifices and commitment to Aus over the years, and didn’t take his comments to heart. He’s just a bit prickly sometimes and a classic loner only child.

This might go back to Cadel winning the World Championships – back then the team voted who would be the protected rider and they all voted for Gerrans, except for Cadel. The team then started setting its strategy around Gerro, and Cadel was justificably upset. After arguing right up to the race start, he got one rider to help him, a guy who’s now with the Pro Conti team Drapac. Cadel allied with his Lotto teammates and some Russians and won, no thanks to the Aussies. Gerrans came 8th with the team riding for him. This might be payback from then?

Baden Cooke representing Chris Horner will be a disaster, as you noted Cooke is an abrasive type who gets upset easily. Example being how he also stupidly jumped to the defence of Rogers recently, when he really should have pulled his head in and kept quiet. Then again, I guess Horner doesn’t have any choice and Cooke isn’t going to knock back his first client…

Aussie fan January 13, 2014 at 12:08 am

It’s just a pity the ‘trophy’ for the Australian champion is a hub cap.

Has to be the worst trophy in a sport that includes a big chunk of rock as one of its best…

Adam January 13, 2014 at 2:08 am

Havve to agree. Almost like they’re expecting the winner to stay on and do a bit of gold panning before they head home (I think this is where the choice of trophy comes from – celebrating Ballarat’s gold rush history). It’s pretty uninspiring.

PT January 13, 2014 at 1:12 am

I thought Cadel made it pretty clear in his post-race chat that he came to race for the jersey and that was all that mattered. His actions certainly showed that. He also congratulated Gerro immediately after they crossed the line which was a nice gesture.

Gerro was always going to win a group finish like that I think but it was nevertheless a good race with the final lap building into a great finale with four class riders. Everyone had their chance and played what cards they had, well done to them all. When you have a world champ/TdF winner, MSR winner and Paris-Nice winner contesting the podium in the home straight, its hard to complain.

WRT the solo guys like Hansen, Evans and to some extent, Von Hoff, Bobridge, Tanner and others (ok, a couple of team-mates here and there) – it was great to see them mixing it up and using race smarts to overcome the strength of the teams. Frankly, if Gerro had not won it would have been a black mark for OGE as they had such a stacked team with multiple options. Add in the pr0-conti and domestic teams plus a couple of solo journeymen and it was a pretty classic race to me.

Also, I like the hub cap. We’re all bogans at heart aren’t we?

Adam January 13, 2014 at 2:11 am

I like that Evans tells it like he sees it and isn’t completely “politically correct.” He’d just lost the National Championships and was upset about it (who wouldn’t be?!).

It’s going to be hard for anyone to beat the GreenEdge boys in the Nationals . . . too many possibilities for the solo guys to worry about. Seems it’s more about the team you ride for than the best rider winning. (Hats off the Porte for the effort in keeping it together over the finale.) But that’s racing.

John Liu January 13, 2014 at 5:43 am

Wouldn’t it be better for Horner to be on a US Continental team than on a European Continental team? He likely has more fans in the US and could possibly ride the Tour of California. That would seem to add up to more marketing value than riding the Tour of Estonia. Since reports seem to suggest Horner’s signing with Christina Watches would be facilitated by a personal sponsor (?) maybe that arrangement could be made with a US team. Wishful thinking maybe; but here in the US I’ll be a lot more likely to be able to watch him in a US race than in the Tour de Maroc.

Sam January 13, 2014 at 10:25 am

Horner thinks he can win big races in Europe. Plus I reckon he thinks if he can just make it through this season racing in Europe – and at this point, any team will do that will enable him to do that – then Alonso’s going to come to his rescue for 2015.

Latest rumour appears to be Caja Rural – which would enable him to ride the Vuelta as well as Pais Vasco etc. But given there’s a whole media industry sprung up around his contract situation, I’ll believe he’s signed with ANYONE when and if its officially confirmed by him.

Larry T. January 13, 2014 at 3:16 pm

That Trek kit is UGLY…who designed it….someone from the Braille Institute? Is anyone else as tired of black (except for the shorts) as I am? But gray pinstripes are even worse!

Bundle January 13, 2014 at 9:24 pm

+10. It’s a terrible jersey. Bad enough for training, horrible for racing. Might sound stupid, but I think Sagan is now more of a favourite for the cobbled classics, just because he’ll look bright, as opposed to Boonen and Cancellara. And yes, many of us are also tired of black jerseys, socks, handlebar tapes… (black is only for shorts and shoes).

Rhys January 14, 2014 at 1:29 am

Unless you’re racing at a wedding black shoes are the pits.

John Liu January 13, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Hilarious series of retweets on fake/farce announcements of his signings with various “teams”, on Horner’s Twitter stream. Most seem to involve payment in junk food :-)

The Inner Ring January 13, 2014 at 4:36 pm

I was enjoying those yesterday and woke up today to discover the links to Caja Rural which have now been denied by the team.

It’s quite a saga. Like I say above a team needing points and with the flexibility to find spare cash (ie a sugardaddy owner) could be interested.

Tricky Dicky January 14, 2014 at 12:22 am

Re: the Horner saga, is Lampre full up? I’m thinking that his best chance for a WT spot is a team that doesnt really give a stuff about the Vuelta but would wlecome the publicity and the points. Rui Costa will focus on the Tour, Ulissi (I guess) on the Giro, who’s left for the Vuelta? IAM Cycling hardly has a stacked roster either, although I guess that they may be more wary about Horner’s long-term “sustainability”.

ave January 14, 2014 at 12:36 am

Regarding Horner being fresh because of not racing.
My understanding was that you one need to train to have good form.
How can he substitute training with resting especially at his age?

John Liu January 14, 2014 at 7:44 am

He recovered from the injury, trained well, rode some hard US stage races, then went to the Vuelta, trained but not over- trained?

Abdu January 14, 2014 at 1:30 pm

All these comments and no one here thinks he’s an out and out doper?

I do.

Honestly, there are just too many links and connections. The refusal of teams is partly a timing thing, but also has to be their reluctance to pick up a guy on a fat contract who gets busted by USADA five minutes later.

John Liu January 17, 2014 at 11:44 pm

Released biological passport data. One of the most tested riders last year. So it is obvious he is not an “out and out” doper. Can’t absolutely rule out clever, subtle, undetectable doping – but let’s be honest, that cannot be ruled out for any rider – or any participant in any sport.

Tom January 14, 2014 at 5:17 pm

It’s official —
“Stages Cycling join team for 2014
New Official Supplier of Power Meters to Team Sky ”
http://www.teamsky.com/article/0,27290,17545_9115530,00.html

Given the known limitions of Stages PM, I am a bit surprised that Sky or any tier-1 pro team would rely on Stages. Doubling the left-leg-only power to infer total power can lead to errors of 10% or more.

I am unaware of any reliable data — and Not funded by Stages — that a cyclist’s left-right leg power balance stays constant over a season.

The Inner Ring January 14, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Stupid question – why can’t they put a unit on the right crank too?

Tom January 14, 2014 at 6:45 pm

If you look at some of the photos at the Stages gallery,
http://www.stagescycling.com/photo-gallery ,
the strain gauge pod on the left crankarm protrudes a few millimeters toward the inboard side.

Many cranksets won’t have enough clearance, between the crankarm and the chainring, to fit the pod.

At present, the Stages is compatible only with aluminum, not carbon, crankarms — this eliminates many top-end cranksets. I suspect (but don’t know for certain) this may be because carbon is so stiff, the crankarm doesn’t flex enough to provide a consistent strain gauge signal .

The Inner Ring January 14, 2014 at 6:54 pm

Thanks

Jacques January 14, 2014 at 8:17 pm

Apart from the rugby meaning of sniper, there’s another problem – Sniper is the nickname of Nick Nuyens: http://www.slipstreamsports.com/garmin-slipstream-pro-team/nick-nuyens

But maybe Gerrans or someone else should indeed inherit it, since it’s not much that Nuyens snipes nowadays…

gilbert January 14, 2014 at 11:03 pm

bauer raced with the 2013 kit, isn’t it?

The Inner Ring January 14, 2014 at 11:09 pm

Yes but note the POC helmet, new for 2013.

Gene Sanders January 16, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Why doesn’t anyone want Samu?
Age?
Salary Demands?
Schedule Demands?
It seems to me that he can still win stages, perhaps podium in a Classic, that he’s a good teammate, and still a great climber. Yes, he’s getting older, but certainly didn’t suck in 2013, so why should a precipitous drop-off be expected. And, AFAIK, he’s never been connected with doping. What am I missing about why he’s not got a team this year?

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