Saturday shorts

Chapeau to Robert Marchand who at the age of 100 set a world hour record of 24.251km. Lapping the UCI’s velodrome in Aigle Switzerland, the Frenchman had tried an attempt on an indoor trainer before but this time made his way to a track and rode under the scrutiny of officials from the UCI.

I suppose stories like this are encouraging as they offer us the prospect of being active and healthy… although statistically Marchand is the exception in terms of longevity and ability. The hour record is his latest success, he is a regular at some French cyclosport rides and gets on his bike, indoors and outdoors as often as he can. The UCI website has the full story on his ride and his “secret” for being so active.

New London velodrome
Meanwhile in London brevity instead of longevity. The new velodrome built for the Olympics has seen several world records broken already, impressive given this is “only” a World Cup event and many riders are aiming to peak for the summer games. It suggests the track is very fast.

They have also heated the velodrome, apparently it is a tropical 28°C (82°F) indoors. This is crucial as air density is lower in warmer temperatures, therefore you ride faster. The track is so new that the resin in the pine boards is still drying out. Time and the heated sessions will help the boards “cure” and should render the track even faster. Not that speed is just down to the wood and temperature alone but it is a factor to consider.

For all the fast riding, things have not gone to plan for everyone. Some of the electronic results boards haven’t worked and journalists are feeling unloved by the food on offer. Here’s one tweet from Reuters correspondent Julien Pretot who praised the racing but then mentions the following:

But PA way too loud, can’t see the finish line from upper press seats, bad cell reception in mixed zone

So what? Well don’t forget that only a few people are given or purchase tickets to the velodrome and so the rest of us have to follow the action via the media. If these guys are in a bad mood then a negative vibe can spread across the press room and infect the coverage. Some say this happened at times with the FIFA World Cup in South Africa where some reporters were shut out from reporting on teams. It’s a tiny observation, most journos can cope with a lot worse but Pretot isn’t alone in reporting frustration. Hopefully the track gets faster and the PA volume is adjusted.

Cervélo sold
Dutch trading company Pon have completed their acquisition of Cervélo. This does not change much for the sport or industry as a whole but is probably beneficial to Cervélo to have more capital. It now places Cervélo alongside Focus, Gazzelle, Univega and Raleigh as all these brands are owned by Pon.

2008 Tour
Different riders, same factory

Inspired both by reader suggestions and the excellent series of blogs by CyclingIQ I am now trying to look at the manufacturers who operate behind the scenes. The piece needs some research and is not finished but along the way I’ve discovered the same factory produced all three of the podium finisher’s bikes in the 2008 Tour de France (Sastre, Cervélo; Evans, Ridley; Kohl, Specialized). The Who Makes What page on this site should probably be renamed Who Owns Who.

Richie Porte wins
You’ve probably seen the result from the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal where Richie Porte won the queen stage to take the overall lead. It was an impressive result. First for the tactics, with Bradley Wiggins riding tempo to shrink the lead group on the final climb and then Movistar’s talented Rui Costa went and Porte followed… and rode right past. Next it marks a return to form for Porte who had a stunning 2010 with a win in the Tour de Romandie TT ahead of Cancellara and several days in the maglia rosa of the Giro. Things didn’t go so well in 2011 but he’s back and his climbing performance makes him a favourite for more races like Paris-Nice.

It’ll be interesting to watch Porte and his team mates. Legendary French team manager Cyrille Guimard once said he needed three years to form a real team and with Sky heading into their third year things seem to be functioning very well with a range of riders able to win on almost all terrains.

Kam Po Wong wins

Kam Po Wong
Mr Gold

The 38 year old Wong Kam-Po has just won the 2012 Asian Cycling Championships ahead of Lotto-Belisol’s Iranian Mehdi Sohrabi. Wong is younger than Robert Marchand but has been around for a long time. Yet he never made it to a major pro team, perhaps he was born too early? He has consistently won races in Asia for the last 15 years and in 2007 he was world champion in the 15km scratch race on the track.

7 thoughts on “Saturday shorts”

  1. The Cycling IQ stuff is great! Not that what’s happening is so good but excellent reading. I got mostly out of bike retail before too much of the Asian-sourcing of pro-quality road bikes happened, but to me it’s sad nonetheless. While one might argue the consumer gets more value nowadays, I’d argue the customer service and overall quality of the bikes has decreased along with the prices. And back when I was managing a retail bike shop in SoCal, a pro-quality bike cost $2-3000 to put together (pro-quality frames were sold only as frames rather than complete bikes) while they cost $10K today, so maybe the value isn’t really improved either? Certainly some of my mindset is generational but it’s still tough to say t-shirt sizing in bicycles is an improvement to the consumer….or the pro who has to use extra-long stems and seatposts to get a decent position on a lot of these things. But of course plenty of the big stars still have look-a-likes constructed for them made-to-measure, just as in the days of Merckx, Maertens, etc.

  2. Biggest surprise of the day for me — Tony Gallopin finishing fifth behind Nibali on the Queen stage at the Tour of Oman. Ahead of Joaquin Rodriguez, no less!

  3. Here we have a guy setting records at a hundred years old and all LarryT wants to talk about is Asian sourcing… Or how great Italy is… boring

  4. Larry T:

    I think an interesting trend is the rise of the small, Asian-sourced, open source frame companies, such as Ritte, Aerocat, Fizzari….as more and more consumers realize their bikes are all made at the same factory, I think it will get tougher and tougher for the big players to maintain their market-share, especially for those frames which are not cutting edge (for example, the Specialized Venge is clearly at the forefront of frame design). But for the Roubaix etc…, can Specialized continue to sell those frames at their current mark-ups when cheaper options for similar frames are available?

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