Sunday Shorts

Louisville world championships

Well done to the Louisville race crew who put on a great event. Cyclocross is booming in the US as a participatory sport and the crowds partied like Belgians on the day only, as the photo by cyclocosm shows, with added fancy dress. There was even a copycat Dirk Hofman sign spotted.

With all the talk of pro cycling going global cyclo-cross remains a specialist affair within Europe alone but you’d struggle to get the Louisville atmosphere if the worlds were awarded to France, Germany or even the brewery-rich Czech republic. It was made even better thanks to the UCI’s video stream on Youtube meaning it was available around the world for free without resorting to pirate feeds of dubious quality.

French winners
Just as Americans have plenty to be proud of this weekend, the French can cheer too. FDJ, Sojasun, Europcar, Cofidis, Ag2r La Mondiale have all won races so far this year. Last year Ag2r had to wait until late May until they won their first race but the brown short brigade won this morning’s stage of the Etoile de Bessèges with Samuel Dumoulin cleverly negotiating a tricky finish to come in well ahead of the others. Sometimes a team can feel like a family but it’s literally the case with Ag2r because Dumoulin is the son-in-law of team boss Vincent Lavenu.

Swiss show
Qatar had a Swiss feel today. A breakaway of three riders surprisingly held off the bunch with Swiss duo Gregory Rast (Radioshack) and Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling) alongside Brent Bookwalter who is American of course… but BMC are a team funded by Swiss francs of course. It was the first sighting of the new IAM team and – taste is personal – the kit looks good with a more modern design.

Fork in Rule Change

The lead trio weren’t the only Swiss influence today. UCI officials were checking the bikes in Qatar for the safety tabs on the forks as a new rule for 2013 requires all teams not to modify the forks. As covered on here before French teams could not file down these tabs but everyone else did only now all teams are formally forbidden from doing this. It is slowing wheel changes. But as one team insider put it to me how the UCI can determine if the tabs have been modified or whether it’s just lots of wheel changes that have worn down the lawyer tabs at some point a few months into the season. Wheel changes will be faster by July.

Wiggins’ Strange Podium
No stranger to July Bradley Wiggins had his first trip to the podium today after he won the most aggressive rider in the Trofeo Palma race in Majorca. Did he go on a long break? Did he attack a lot? Actually neither, he was present and won an intermediate sprint. Others in the race were probably more deserving but – whisper it – he probably got the prize as he’s more of a draw to the crowds than Europcar’s Perrig Quéméneur who spent a good while in the lead. Kenny De Haes (Lotto-Belisol) won the race.

Ronde d’Aix criterium

Qatar wasn’t the only win for BMC today. Today saw a criterium in Aix-en-Provence “won” by BMC Racing’s world champion Philippe Gilbert ahead of Arnaud Démare (FDJ) and Geoffroy Lequatre (Bretagne-Séché). Only the Ronde d’Aix it was an exhibition race, not a proper contest and many participants went for a training ride in the morning before racing around the scenic town. But it’s all fun and the public get to talk to the riders before the start, pose for photos with the stars and keep the sport close to the public. Some teams – let’s not name them – are trying to control access to the riders but I can’t help feel they’re surrendering one of the things that makes cycling so good.

Reality TV
Finally here’s a taste of this proximity from the Etoile de Bessèges. It might not have the fancy dress of Louisville but it does have the same proximity and authenticity. As the sport spreads around the world I can see the obvious need to improve the TV package and encourage global brands but racing like this that is real and accessible. Long live Louisville and Bessèges.

27 thoughts on “Sunday Shorts”

  1. I watched on the UCI channel on youtube , they also showed the medal ceremony in which McQuaid was given the reception he deserved by the crowd

    Well done to Louisville and the American fans ( also some Belgian fans ! ) and great to see Sven Nys win only his 2nd world title in a sport he seems to have dominated for over a decade

    Marianne Vos did what she does and won , Olympic Road Race , World Champs Road Race , Cyclo Cross has that been done before ?

    • Oh mine, what did they do this time?

      By the way, Bernhard Baby-sitter Eisel out-sprinted his formal charge Mark Cavendish today to a fourth place at Qatar (Sky website was very kind to point that out).

      I wonder if Cav made the mistake of thinking Eisel was still providing lead out for him?

  2. I don’t see what the fuss is about re: fork tabs. I think it’s good that the rules are now the same for everyone. That’s what it’s about in a race, no? The forks are a bit safer with the tabs (unless the mechanics are all infallible), so that’s good too. If it means a change takes longer, you might want to reconsider your tire choice and pick one that is a little slower but doesn’t puncture as easily.

    BTW, is the rule now that the tabs must be there, or that they cannot be filed off? If the latter, is any team riding with stock forks without tabs?

  3. Re lawyer tabs, how difficult would it be for their equipment suppliers to make a “race skewer” which the lever action opens much more widely than a standard one?

  4. The fork tab issue baffles me. I’ve been in the bike biz for more than 25 years and have NEVER seen a properly secured Q/R fail – as in the wheel comes off. I understand the moron issue, the same reason Honda once had to put “do not use as a hedge trimmer” on their rotary lawn mowers, but these folks are pros for Pietro’s sake! What’s next, training wheels for the Schlecks so they can’t fall down and go boom on a technical descent?

  5. I once had the misfortune to have a “face plant” due to a front wheel coming out, it was on a mountain bike on which I had filed off the tabs, the bike has disc brakes and I have since read about braking forces on discs causing skewers to loosen, the cam was definitely locked on the skewer pre ride. I had popped a wheelie to mount a kerb and the sight of my front wheel rolling along in front of me was somewhat disconcerting a split second before impact of forks and face onto hard surface. Take care! 🙂

    • The problem is actually the tangential force caused by having the brake point offset from the center of the wheel. It causes the hub to creep in the direction of the braking (rotating it downward). Without the tabs eventually it will work its way out.

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