Sunday Shorts

valkenburg limburg cycling

It was a close contest for the men and women. Look at the faces of the victorious Omega Pharma-Quickstep team as the picture says plenty although maybe the €100,000 prize pot had something to do with it (the women got a more modest €30,000).

In a brief “the moment the race was won” analysis, when BMC went up the Cauberg we saw gaps start to appear as Tejay van Garderen surged ahead and the others, notably Alessandro Ballan and Taylor Phinney, were in trouble and had to regroup. The extra effort, the briefest confusion and then the acceleration was probably worth more than three seconds, the margin of victory on the day.

It seems odd having the world championships whilst other races are happening although given the intensity of the effort, it might be hard to cram it into the week. For example Team Sky’s best performance was Mark Cavendish’s stage win in the Tour of Britain today whilst Argos-Shimano will be pleased with their win in the GP d’Isbergues thanks to John Degenkolb.

Tour of Britain success
A home winner in a national Tour is always a useful story. When it was announced that Bradley Wiggins would ride the Tour of Britain I wondered how the local media would view it if he “lost” to someone else, since cycling is a sport where winning is infrequent but the reports of Wiggins during the Tour and the Olympics had gotten Briton used to him winning. But they have a home winner to celebrate in Jonathan Tiernan-Locke of Endura Racing. He’s even joining Team Sky next year. We saw Mark Cavendish win the final stage, his last win in the rainbow jersey and probably with Sky too?

Transfer News
We know Tiernan-Locke is off to Team Sky. Want to know which rider is going to which team? Someone asked if I could create a list of rider transfers but this is a giant task. Luckily though the excellent cyclingfever website offers just this. You can even sort the transfers by “rumour”, “negotiation”, “confirmed” and other options.

Tour News
Talking of a giant task, the 2013 Tour de France route is almost fixed and will be unveiled in a month’s time. The local media on Saturday claimed an exclusive with a tale of a time trial around the Lac de Serre-Ponçon, a large artificial lake in the mountains that counts as a kitesurfing spot as it is often windy. They say we will also get the return on Mont Ventoux on 14 July, it’s a Sunday and the French national holiday meaning the mountain will be packed. The local media are often first with these things but the trouble is keeping track of it all.

But one blog does and it’s that gives all the tips and suggestions for the upcoming route. Blogger Thomas Vergouwen even double-checks things, using the sneaky technique of phoning hotels in the area where he suspects the race will be, pretending he wants to making a booking for a conference in July and thereby discovering if they are already booked up. Normally only the Tour makes corporate bookings this far in advance for one or two nights at a time. Velowire is usually the best reference. All is revealed on 23 October.

Lampre Turns French
The Tour is so big that it’s not just fans projecting themselves forward nine months but teams are also working hard to make sure they are on the start line. This time last year Ag2r boss Vincent Lavenu was busy recruiting riders from as far as Iran so long as they had enough UCI ranking points to help him keep his team ranked amongst the top tier. It worked as the team kept its licence. But once the season started the brown short brigade were struggling and they’ve won just four races this year. Fortunately Lavenu has done the mother of management U-turns and will start next year with the likes of Domenico Pozzovivo, Carlos Betancur, Yauhueni Hutarovich and neo-pro Julian Kern, the 2011 Euro U-23 champ.

Ubeto gets a free baseball cap

Now it seems Lampre-ISD are hunting for points. They’ve won just seven pro races this year… embarrassingly that’s one less than their ISD-Lampre development squad. Obviously the team’s status is in doubt and so the Italian squad has signed Miguel Ubeto from Androni-Giocattoli. A Venezuelan, Ubeto leads the UCI America Tour and so comes with plenty of points thanks to wins in his home Vuelta a Tachira and Vuelta a Venezuela. But he’s 36. Hardly the future and in blunt terms, probably doesn’t need to turn a pedal in 2013 as he’s hired for the points.

The Secret Is Out

NYT Best Seller List

Finally, on the subject of valuable commodities, Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle’s book “The Secret Race” has jumped in at Number 3 on the New York Times Best Seller List. It’s strange to think this book is up there with books on Osama Bin Laden and President Obama. Cycling books don’t usually have that reach.

Judging by Twitter the book seems to leave an impact on those who read it, the detail of blood doping is laid out as  as chilling as Dr Fuentes’ refrigetator. But if it leaves you feeling down about the sport I’ve got a review of another book which might just be the remedy to the cynicism, scandal and dirt. More next week.

31 thoughts on “Sunday Shorts”

  1. interesting that top of the “rumour” list on cycling fever was a Slovenian rider off to Eskatel-didn’t know they had opened the doors to foreigners.

  2. Interesting that Hamilton’s book is so popular. I must admit I thought it would be of interest only to cycling fans, not the general public. But bad news for BigTex who probably hoped that would be the case. I guess enough folks are interested in the kind of cheating Tex was involved in to make this story very popular. So far I’ve read only to the point where Tyler’s moved to CSC, but this book for me has been far less interesting as a “page turner” than Walsh’ “From Lance to Landis” was – that one I couldn’t put down!

  3. Now that his tenure is over as world champion, does anyone know what the record amount of wins in a season with the rainbow jersey is? I believe Cav got 15, correct me if I’m wrong. I’m guessing Eddie Merckx probably got more though.

  4. Talking of points, wasn’t it in Sky’s interest to have JTL win, once their own riders were out of contention? Any other examples of a team helping. or not hindering, a rider because they know the points he wins will be coming with him next season?

    • Narr. Kid’s like dinosaurs. No-one likes the UCI.

      Seriously, €100,000 is about 20% of a Women’s team budget and <1% of a top Mens team. It's more than any women get paid in the sport and might keep a team going that may otherwise disband at the end of the year. Parity my arse!

  5. Daniel Coyle is a talented writer – Lance Armstrong’s War is one of the definitive books of its genre. The book on Hamilton is similarly well done…a great read.

    The level of detail, the thoroughness of the writing and the fact checking done by Coyle will do considerable harm to LA’s reputation. Even now, it is amazing how PED use was so widespread in the peloton.

  6. interesting to see how generous was david walsh’s review of the secret race in yesterday’s sunday times. walsh feels that coyle has fully redeemed himself after the smoke and mirrors of ‘lance armstrong’s war’

  7. BTW Inrng what happens to these UCI-points guys the year AFTER they are hired.

    Are the teams so cynical as to find a way to drop them once they no longer bring points to the table… like kids who lose interest in a grown puppy.

    I can imagine the public service ad:
    “This little feller was brought all the way from Iran and promised lots of money and massages.
    But once he’d lost his sparkly points his owners no longer took him for rides.
    He was found chained up at a kermisse being fed frites and stroopwaffel, things no pro cyclist would ever eat in the wild. Barely fit for an audax.
    This tragedy affects dozens of Pro-Conti riders every year, when directeurs try to buy the love of their sponsors.
    Only with your help can this tragedy can end…
    Only with your help can we shut down the UCI Team Rescue home where innocent cyclists are farmed out to unscrupulous managers.
    Write now to P McQuaid c/- The Gravy Train, Aigle, Switzerland. And make sure to include a substantial donation, because otherwise he won’t give a f*ck.”

  8. Re Ventoux – I did the climb a couple of weeks ago. The rental store in Bedoin where I got my bike said it was pretty common knowledge in the area that the TdF would be back to the mountain in 2013.

    • Rental store in Bedoin? My, how things have changed. There wasn’t much of anything there back-in-the-day when we were there to see Eros Poli win the TdF stage, contributing greatly to the legends about this climb. I’ve climbed it from both sides but what I remember most was the descent….some serious high-speed fun there! I think BigMig almost ran off one of the curves one year racing down.

      • Larry T – I think there are 2 rental stores (at least) in Bedoin now – the one I used had a shed full of high end Madones, Lynskeys and alu Treks for hire. Very reasonable rates relative to getting your own bike out there (from Canada, for me). On the way up, there were a number of photographers at strategic points taking pictures of riders and sticking a card in their hands giving details of website where the photos could be bought. It’s quite an industry for the area. And following up on yesterday’s comment, the impression I got from the store was that it would be a summit finish on the 14th. They said the village was preparing for 500,000 people to come in for the stage.

        • It is amazing to me how much “industry” has developed to cash in on cycling interest. Same with Alpe d’Huez. Last time we were there it was mobbed with cyclists and photographers taking photos of them. Quite a change from the days we’d go there (other than when LeTour visited) and it was just a sleepy little town.

  9. lampre will change also the bikes.
    from willier to merida.
    the boss isn’t so happy with the season so far as the WCTTT was a disaster too.
    they are waiting for the Mantova doping ring’s trial. and scarponi is waiting for the conclusion of padua/ferrari investigation.
    only radioshack had a worste season among pro-tour teams

    • Maybe Radioshacks season was relatively poor, but they still won a stage, and team classification of the TDF along with yellow for seven days. It could have been better, but Lampre really were pretty poor, so too were AG2R.

      • Radioshack might have had the worst season, but they have Jens Voigt.
        On the topic of AG2R, they have some pretty promising signings for next year. I’m glad they’re no longer banking on Roche. I never rated him at all, however now he’s to be at a new team maybe we’ll see if it was his ability or his team holding him back.
        Imagine if Fabian had signed for AG2R. It’s not like he has any support during the classics in his current tenure.

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