Sunday Shorts

Chris Froome Oman

Chris Froome won the Tour of Oman. Watching him attack with 1km to go on Stage 5 was a strange moment. It was exciting but not the usual “safety-first” tactics deployed by Team Sky where a rider will often only attack if backed-up by a team mate or if it’s clear they’ll go away. Froome’s move had risk all over it, if caught he left himself exposed to a counter-attack. But it all worked out and he won his first ever stage race.

More urgently perhaps, Thor Hushovd’s win was his first win since September 2011. All of a sudden we’re seeing old and new comes coming to the fore ahead of the classics season that’s now less than a week away with the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad next Saturday.

Blanco wins
Dutch team Blanco Pro Cycling have six wins this season now thanks to Boom and the others. As said on here before the team was undergoing a quiet revolution to become a more professional squad with an emphasis on sports science and clean riding rather than more suspicious practices of the past. But the sponsor left last year. Has the team found a winning way? Or is it just that all the riders know the team could fold by the end of the year so it’s time to get some results? There’s no way of telling but we’ll see how harmoniously they ride during the year, a test as whether riders see their chances together as a team or a scattered across other squads for next year.

Vichot becoming famous
Arthur Vichot (FDJ) won the Tour du Haut Var this weekend. Whilst Thor Hushovd and Lars Boom won each of the stages, the Frenchman took the overall. He won a stage of the Dauphiné last summer. He’s known to some Australian fans as the “Obscure Pro” because he was chosem at random by some Aussies to get a hero’s welcome in the 2010 Tour Down Under. Roads were daubed with his name, banners were waved. He’s only 24 and if he keeps up the progress he’ll make find the French are chanting his name too.

Wiggins Diet
Wiggins is aiming for the Giro but he could start a sideline in diet tips after revealing “I’m 82kg in the off season, 75kg now and 70kg at the Tour.” I’ve had emails and tweets asking about this and yes it’s a lot to lose but who knows, in the same interview Wiggins says he looks forward to the Giro as “it’s the only race in cycling where they never really mention doping in the whole race” which is an odd choice since the winning trophy from 2011 passed from Alberto Contador to Michele Scarponi… a man currently suspended.

Scarponi suspended
Michele Scarponi hasn’t been found but his team have confirmed to Velonation that he is suspended. As one of the rare members of the peloton to have used both the doping doctors Dr Fuentes and Dr Ferrari my sympathies are limited to put it gently. But all the same there’s something uneasy about letting teams suspend riders when it suits. Now if employers want to take precautionary or moral positions that’s fine and something to be welcomed but it’s also confusing. Should a rider on one team get linked to a doping scandal by the media they risk being suspended by their team meanwhile other teams don’t act or care, meaning an iniquitous system. Plus there’s the whole element of justice, a rider needs to race and a mean employer could suspend a rider they don’t like but on another day they might let a preferred rider continue. Don’t forget that Luis León Sánchez is also suspended by Blanco. Full pay but he’s not being picked for races.

Di Luca
Finally on the subject of old Italian pros and questionable ideas, Vini Fantini have hired Danilo Di Luca. I like the team, whether it’s the blunt charisma of team manager Luca Scinto or the fluo-yellow kit which is so much brighter than any photo or TV can convey. But I tend to agree with Italy’s Cycling Pro blog that laments this move. Perhaps the 37 year old rider will do something in the Giro but it’s a sign the team has to invest in riders from the past rather than tomorrow. Interestingly as Cycling Pro suggests the hire came about directly from the sponsors and was practically imposed on the team management.

26 thoughts on “Sunday Shorts”

  1. Suspect Froome risked it so that he could get an important psychological win. If he beats Contador now it might plant the seed of doubt in Contador’s mind which could be exploited in July.

    • that may be the effect that they are trying to affect, but from what we’ve seen from contador.. he is not particularly vulnerable to psychological attacks. i submit lance comeback 2.0 at the tour 2009 as exhibit A.

      • Agreed- Also AC has lost several one week stage races in the Spring (I remember a Paris NIce in particular when he had a Jour Sans and was beaten by Jani Brajikovic), but not too many 3 week grand tours- This man knows what he is doing and Froome, while a telented threat, is looking for psychological support in February, while AC is looking for wins in July. I will be happy to wait and see what happens…

  2. And what about Pozatto?!
    He and Hushovd have been among my favourite riders for years and am happy
    to see both to be getting some wins for themselves, after some dry spells!

    Also find it a cosmic jest that Blanco appear to be more dynamic and winning
    now than they ever were as Rabobank! Still early days though!

    I read an interview with a Kenian who had trained Froome when he was younger,
    and his winning move seems to be typical of his character…a bit of a challenge for Sky,
    I guess, contrary to their calculated minutae approach! Then again, Oman is not France!

  3. Stybar looks like he’s in good form and ready for the classics. It should be interesting to see what happens with Quickstep. Is Boonen going to be ready?

  4. Love to see a Pozzato win! Back in 2003 after winning Trofeo Laigueglia he backed up to win Tirreno-Adriatico overall on what I must assume was a less hilly course than recent years.

    Would love to see Cancellara, Boonen and Pozzato trading haymakers in a few weeks. Hopefully Boonen can pick up some great form soon in the lead up to Flanders and Roubaix. Still plenty of time and racing to gain form.

    Would love to see Pozzato go well in Strade Bianche in 2 weeks as well. Beautiful race becoming more and more of a highlight each year! Will Inrng be doing a preview?

  5. I too was shocked at the Wiggo weight comments. Just more proof that pro cycling is not a healthy activity. Wiggo looks far from obese in off-season photos but to think his weight varies by 25 pounds is scary. His Giro memories might be as foggy as his recollections of racing with BigTex? I do commend him for doing something else rather than repeating the same stuff (or trying) from last year, unlike that one-trick-pony from Texas…really not true but when all you care about is $$$ I can see why you would keep trying to win Le Beeg Shew year after year. Wiggo seems motivated by something else, something to do with SPORT. I look forward to seeing how he goes at La Corsa Rosa 2013.

    • Like almost all pros Wiggo’s always been prone to putting weight on the offie. He’s 6ft 3 so he doesnt look exactly lardy in offie pics but if you look at ones from when he was back training after his accident, you can see the difference

      As for the comment about the Giro and doping, I suspect he means the constant doping -related stuff throughout the Tour, right in the midst of the USADA stuff, rather than that no one’s ever been done for doping during the Giro. Funnily enough, there was none of that during the Vuelta – primarily because the Spanish media wont question their own riders when it comes to doping.

      Anyway…back to Wiggo and the Giro. I’m excited that he’s going for it. Should be a great battle between him, Ryder and Nibali, for starters.

      • Still, a 25 pound swing can NOT be good for the organisms overall health can it? Not trying to beat up on you here but I find it interesting that you note (as so many do) the idea of “putting weight on” as if the normal situation for males is to be in the low single-digits when it comes to body fat. I kind of look at it from the reverse side, as the extreme need to take weight off. No argument this is a tried-and-true method, taking a larger man with big heart and lungs and stripping off most everything else not needed for cycling performance. Worked very well for BigMig back-in-the-day but when you see him nowadays he just looks like a normal human male to me…while some would be aghast that he’s somehow “let himself go” to be no longer anywhere near his racing weight. Ex-pros who do this seem pretty rare and a perhaps a bit vain? Francesco Moser or Roger DeVlaminck come to mind in this category. A few years ago I remember reading anxious calls for “an intervention” from some misguided commenters when Greg LeMond appeared in photos looking more like yours truly than the guy who won LeTour all those years ago.
        Wiggo seems good for a quote quite often…I agree with Inner Ring that this is a welcome respite from the pre-programmed, approved by the team lawyer BS we so often get!

        • I’m not sure why it’s surprising. Given the huge energy intake requirements to fuel hours and hours on the bike, it’s quite easy to keep eating the same quantity of food when you stop riding as you’ve built up your appetite. I had 4 weeks off the bike after new year and went from 76->80kg in a flash.

        • In Mixed Martial Arts you have guys regularly cutting 20-25lbs in the 4 or 5 weeks before fights, with a good proportion of that being water weight shed on the day before the fight, when the weigh-ins are. For example Anderson Silva, the 185lbs Middleweight champ, is believed to be approaching 230lbs when he’s not in camp getting ready for a fight. That’s nearly 25kg he’s losing in a very short time.

          Athletes do incredible things to their bodies.

          • This was something that Ricky Hatton was criticised for wasn’t it – saying that it can’t have been good for him to have bloated and then fasted to get him down to fighting weight and that it would catch up with him in the end.

  6. just as an offside…why is every single word that Wiggins says in interviews, dissected to a degree that no other rider’s comments are? INRNG, perhaps you can comment?

    Also, what do you mean, INRNG, by your comments? They seem loaded, to say the least.

    • Wiggins gives some good quotes. Not the usual bland “I am training hard and hope to win” statements, here we have stronger words and therefore more interest. With the weight we have the skinniest rider in the bunch weighing more than Tom Boonen in the winter. It stands out, it is remarkable.

      Still, see Cadel Evans today who’s cited Armstrong and Jalabert as examples of riders who came back strong after a career “break” which I’m sure others are parsing. As for my comments, which bit do you mean?

      • INRNG, to segue from Wiggins weight straight into his comment re doping, with the linking phrase ‘but who knows’ conveys something.

        As for Wiggins giving good quotes, if I were in his situation with every single word I say being dissected and interpreted every which way, I think I’d start to say the most minimal in interviews. There comes a point at which the eternal dissection starts to get tedious. But then everyone wants riders to engage more and more – cant have it both ways.

        • I get you. Sometimes he’s joking so people should not always dissect his quotes too much. I think he said the other day that doping and Armstrong was a problem from the 1990s and in a different interview on TV he said he’d not raced with Armstrong… despite losing a podium place to him in 2009. He doesn’t always make sense although it’s often entertaining.

  7. I think as Inner Ring says, Wiggo’s good copy, and when he’s talking about cycling, he’s pretty much willing to discuss his training and what his aims are. Maybe he’s skinning down further to try and get better uphill? It’s more disclosure than many top riders will give, and maybe it’s also pre-empting comments on his weight from less sympathetic members of the press once the season is under way?

    Given that he was pretty shot at the Tour of Oman (due to recent training) then it’s also a way of showing he’s not just appearing from the winter in TDF/Giro trim, which again, is just fine by me.

    If only Team Sky were as transparent or willing to discuss their previous hiring of staff as they were their training.

  8. FYI, you can see the difference here with the winter v Oman, but he’s clearly not his fighting weight yet.


    Though he was down to 72 for the Tour last year wasn’t he? I’m sure he’s not the only rider that’s a few pounds heavy in the winter, but maybe one of the few where it’s actually discussed (or he’s happy to dicsuss it).

    • Love the group shot with Eddie, AC, Nibali and Evans…Wiggo looks ready to head to a rave whereas AC looks ready to brawl with any goers. 135 lbs goers that is.

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