Sunday Shorts

Mauro Santambrogio

Bad weather – How Froome’s Knigh-mare scenario in July – McQuaid’s Swiss role – UCI deny Verbruggen’s “never, never, never” quote – Tour du Farce – Chamorro, another Colombian to remember – California Coverage

The 2013 Giro’s official song Mezza Estate (“midsummer”) is feeling like a cruel joke with snowploughs working overtime to keep the roads open. Why is it raining so much in the Giro? Is Mother Nature punishing RCS for moving the “Race of the Falling Leaves” to September, ruining Il Lombardia’s autumnal feel? Maybe it’s all in the name, the Giro’s boss is Michele Acqua-rone after all.

But it’s nothing freakish. Some of the problems are man-made. First the Giro has crept back in the calendar this year, a decade ago the race started on 10 May meaning the traditional week in the Alps came later. Not much at this time of year every week makes a difference. Second the Galibier just isn’t normally cleared until late May anyway so visiting this side of June is always a gamble. No doubt the weather’s just been rotten too. The trip across the south of Italy featured many a downpour and now the cold is added to the wet. Riders who do finish risk being even more tired and prone to illness than ever because of the conditions.

Why Froome could have to ride for Wiggins – a Tour scenario

Perhaps leaving the Giro was the best thing for Bradley Wiggins and Ryder Hesjedal. What next? I don’t know but let’s imagine Wiggins starts the Tour de France. I’ve looked again at the route and here’s a plausible scenario:

  • After avoiding accidents in Corsica Team Sky perform well in the Nice team time trial stage allowing Wiggins and Froome to gain a lead on their rivals at BMC, Saxo-Tinkoff, Katusha and more.
  • The Pyrenees this year are lite with only one major stage – pictured above – posing a challenge. The Port de Pailhères climb can be ridden at high tempo by Sky’s mountain train and then the Ax 3 Domaines summit finish, a moderate finish of 10km at 6% which Wiggins will like
  • Fast forward to the 33km Avranches to Mont St Michel time trial where Wiggins blasts around the flat course in his 55 tooth chainring, taking time on everyone else putting him in the yellow jersey
  • The race then rides to the Alps where Chris Froome cannot attack because Wiggins leads the race.

The saga goes on

McQuaid’s Swiss Role
Talking of sagas, Pat McQuaid’s quest for a third term as UCI President continues. With trouble securing a nomination from Irish Cycling he’s now switched to Swiss Cycling. It’s a humiliating move because rather than stand and argue his case at an upcoming meeting in Ireland he’s switched allegiances before exhausting the Irish avenue.

Now Switzerland’s an international place and McQuaid has been resident there for years so it’s quick and easy for him to do but I hope it doesn’t make him withdraw further from public debate at time when he needs to be stating his case. Impressively McQuaid pledged to his fellow countrymen (the Irish, not the Swiss) that if they’d back him he’d launch a review of the UCI’s governance during his third term. Here’s hoping that if “Patrice” McQuaid can switch countries he’ll still stick to the the much needed review.

What Hein Verbruggen Said
If you think swapping nations is sneaky, there’s more. The UCI has produced a briefing document defending its past actions in relation to “the Armstrong affair.” It’s a subject I’ll probably return to next week in greater detail. One detail sees the UCI denying the now infamous phrase by Hein Verbruggen. Here’s an excerpt:

Only it seems they’re citing what looks to be a poorly translated quote from a newswire rather than the actual source in AD.nlHere is the actual quote with my translation added:

“Ik herhaal het nog maar eens: Lance Armstrong heeft nooit doping gebruikt. Nooit, nooit, nooit”
I repeat it once again: Lance Armstrong has never used doping. Never, never, never

What’s it all mean? Well the UCI says it’s come under “sustained attack” from the media. But a defence document that tries to set the record straight seems at best to have mistaken information or worse, still struggles to come clean over something as irrelevant as a clumsy interview.

The UCI’s got problems with its leadership but it does plenty of good. Sometimes you feel you have to state this so that people realise that the governing body is actually about 100 people working hard for the sport rather than the wobbly tandem of Verbruggen and McQuaid and the often own-goal scoring communications service.

Sans sauce

The UCI’s done some good things with women’s racing but they and the French Federation need to take a look into what’s been happening in France this week. In times past the Tour de l’Aude was one of the best women’s stage races. Held in the south of France between the Mediterranean and the Pyrenees it offered fine roads and good racing but admin problems meant in stopped in 2010. It’s come back under the name of the of the Tour du Languedoc-Rousillon, the name of the wider region. Only it’s been a farce. First teams travelling to the race heard by Twitter than the race was cancelled but then the news changed. We’ve learned policing costs and other important matters were not paid for and the riders have been lodged on a spartan campsite serving the most economical dishes. Now even the men can get cheap conditions but never this bad but it’s not the simplicity of the surroundings, it’s the way the race almost didn’t start and the eleventh hour chaos that needs to be investigated.

Chamorro leads the Ronde
Meanwhile just to the west the Ronde de l’Isard stage race has been a success. It’s an amateur stage race with a long list of famous winners and in recent years the likes of David Moncoutié, Denis Menchov, Christophe Le Mével, Michael Creed, Kenny Elissonde, Andrew Talansky and Joe Dombrowski have stood on the podium. There are many amateur races in Europe but few venture into the high mountains, the Galibier and Tourmalet are reserved for the Tour or Giro. But the Ronde de l’Isard uses the Pyrenees and often reveals talents that most other races cannot. Going into Sunday’s final stage this year’s race is being led by Juan Chamorro of 472-Colombia. The pre-race favourite, Chamorro was second in last year’s Tour de l’Avenir and is following the likes of Nairo Quintana only he seems to be a more punchy rider rather than a pure mountain goat.

California Coverage
Finally, last but not least, a few people have asked why I’ve not been covering the Tour of California. Well other people do it better. I’ve never visited the state yet alone raced or ridden there so I don’t know the geography. Plus this is a blog and not a newswire, there’s not the time with the Giro and more. Still it’s been enjoyable to follow. Tejay van Garderen and the BMC team are in control, perhaps setting up another “who is the Tour de France team leader” debate for the media? But for me it’s different at BMC. The team doesn’t have many mountain climbers so their riders have to react and invent on the road rather than rely on a mountain train.

Also the whole subject of overlapping races is something to revisit. As the USA’s premium race, the Tour of California is competing with the Giro. But only partially because the Tour of California is not on the World Tour calendar, largely so it can invite home teams for domestic interest rather than play host to squads promoting the Belgian lottery or French health insurance. For me the real problem is overlapping World Tour races, for example Paris-Nice vs Tirreno-Adriatico or the Dauphiné vs Tour de Suisse.

57 thoughts on “Sunday Shorts”

  1. Written to Michael D. Higgins , President of Irish Republic , asking him to intervene with the Cycling Ireland EGM ( ) ! Should phat the rat ignore that office , i am sure his Family will wish him to remember their needs , afterall they were an important family in Irish Cycling , in the PAST ?
    phat is ALWAYS looking out for No 1 and though he draws a salary to preserve the onstitution of the UCI , he feel that ” ALL THOSE RULES do not apply to Moi “! As James Burn , he thumbed his nose at the IOC , thus being banned from Olympic Competition for LIFE , although he was on TV in London presenting Olympic Medals .

    Laughable that the ” NEVER,Never,never episode ” is now subject to a SPECIAL report from UCI ! Thought it was only Dictators that tried to rewrite History ? But then President phat the rat , thinks of himself as a DICTATOR !

  2. ‘For me the real problem is overlapping World Tour races’

    Same here. I’ve already given up working during most of the year to accommodate cycling coverage, soon I’ll have to leave my family and give up riding my bike as well.

  3. As regards the Froome question. Dave B made a decision in January and repeated it when Wiggins started mouthing off this month. Wiggins is doing his image and the team little good by his present behavior. In my view SKY (and Wiggins) owe Froome on two accounts – one the teams word and two the help Froome provided Wiggins with in last years TdF. If I were Brailsford I would want assurances from Wiggins concerning his full support for Froome during the Tour, if they are not forthcoming I’d leave him at home. The team is bigger than one man !

    UCI and the continued re writing of reality. What do you expect ?

    • Sky’s statement on leadership isn’t as clear cut as some think. It says the plan has been for Froome to be leader but it will be “evidence-based” so Wiggins could get the nod if he’s going better. But with my scenario above I’ve tried to show how Froome could go in with the number-1 label only to find Wiggins in yellow as they ride into the Alps… therefore Wiggins becomes the leader.

      • This is true, and to be fair to Wiggins, it’s the team itself (Kerrison in particular) who have said he should be in a good position to be competitive at the Tour. It seems likely therefore that Brailsford has given a lot of thought to how he would manage the potential scenario set out above, should Froome be designated leader.
        Very happy not to be managing this myself and await July with great interest!

      • “Evidence based”, so Froome ‘s got an edge on this as he’s been doing better than Wiggo so far this year. The window of opportunity for any rider to win GTs during a career, all factors considered, is indeed narrow so this kind of intra-team disputes are quite common since the dawn of competitive cycling, and should remain so. Totally understandable, but since I wanna see lots’o’action and tough racing on the roads in July, I’m all for Froome on this one. This IS his time IMHO.

      • This whole thing with the ‘dispute’ of the leadership smacks of a publicity stunt to me. Hence the ambiguous language coming out of Sky. I doubt there is any real friction within the team, but they wish to create a controversy to play the media. My guess is they’re all laughing about it. Of course with Wiggo’s bad luck at the Giro, where he lost both his health and descending bottle, this tactic has lost a lot of impact, but can you imagine the media coverage for the ‘showdown’ had Wiggo won (talking in weird combination of future and past tense here) the Giro and Chris Froome say, wins the Dauphine?

        We shouldn’t forget who largely owns Sky and what their business is! They want to sell Newspapers and increase TV ratings.

    • just put wiggins on the front early in the race. that should tire him out enough to derail his coupe. If he is forced to set tempo at the base of some fiddley climb he could easily lose a couple of minutes before any TT. Otherwise, Froome need only ride him off his wheel every final kilometre of each hilly stage, taking the other GC contenders with him and out of Wiggins’ reach.

      The TJ vs Deli Vans has been coming since he joined and started getting so much press. The point he needs to remember is that the Cali team is stronger than the one riding at the Giro, and if put to service at le Tour, will offer the leader alot more support, more than Cadel has had in the previous three months… DeliVans needs to stop eating peroni and sausage meat, drop 4 kilograms, some muscle mass, improve hs flexibility = strength and he’ll stop losing wheels on the bigger climbs..

      • That’s just not realistic: Froome won’t have the energy to attack Wiggins like you suggest and still be able to fend off the other GC hopefuls.

    • I’m not a big fan of Wiggins nor Sky for a variety of reasons. And I think Froome is probably the better GC hope in a grand tour. But from my view in the cheap seats, if the defending Tour de France champion wants to return and defend, I say let him do it and give him your full team support.

    • I dislike team sky, but there is no way that they will actively handicap either of its potential tour winners. It is too valuable a thing to win the TdF.

      We will likely see a two leader strategy.

  4. Re Wiggins vs Froome what would actually happen if Froome ignored team orders and rode for himself? Would the team force a DNS? Is there a precedent for this in the modern age?

      • Is 1986 still considered the modern age? If so, then Hinault-LeMond is right up there as the best inner team battle at the Tour.

        • but have any rides ever been pulled from the race by their team management because they had gone ‘loco’ and ignored team orders to ride for themselves?

  5. Just let the Wiggins/Froome thing play out! The Lemond/Hinault and the Armstrong/Contador controversies are historical, and fans and journalists always bring it up as some of the most memorable moments of the Tours of the respective eras. I think it’ll be juicy to see Team Sky cut in half and still winning the Tour.

    • Well put, personally I think drama is essential for a fun TDF.
      Both Froome and Wiggins have had a big taste of success; in the end there is no way that two world class athletes , in any sport, will back down from each other for the ultimate prize. This WILL be fun to watch.

    • Let’s say Evans starts showing his age next week and Nibali has a bad day. Then the winner of this year’s Giro could be Uran! Do you think he would go back to being a Tour donkey when he has the chance for the Giro-Tour double?

      Divvy up Sky into three teams of three and let them fight it out.

  6. It sells newspapers anyhow! who would have thought that Sir Wiggo and Ryder H would be both sat at home sipping lemsips with still a week to go in the race.

  7. I first saw Il Giro in person back in 1989 and have seen at least a stage or two pretty much every year since. Mountain stages tend to be a) freezing rain/snow b) gorgeous sunshine and I’d say for me it’s pretty much 50-50 overall for my visits. I’m hoping the bad weather is over this week and the final week is good, especially as we’re bringing a few clients with us on what’s usually been just a private affair.
    The UCI SHOULD be feeling a sustained attack! What should the media do with a corrupt regime like this? Wiggo vs the guy who increasingly reminds me of the cartoon skeleton who plays his own rib cage like a xylophone? We need SOMETHING to liven up LeTour, why not that? ToC, or as I call it, the California Vacation? They should go back to an early season date and forget about screwing with the Giro.

  8. Problem with ToC in Mach or April is too many of the passes are closed on account of snow. Mid May is a good slot. Loads of riders need race miles outside of the Giro. Plus after T0C, riders have a two week turna around for the Daffy as opposed to only one if you ride Il Giro.

    As for McQuaid and his band of miscreants, they remind me of the of the old Brit-com, Yes Minister. Where the Civil Servants were more concerned about the continued survival of their bureaucracy and their jobs than they were about the betterment of their government and the citizens they are supposed to serve. McQuaid and the UCI care more about their feifdoms and personal enrichment than they do making cycling a credible sport.

    Hoping for better weather in the final week of the Giro. !

    • Well, maybe if you’re a NorCal’r that makes sense, but there are plenty of SoCal places they can run the California Vacation race in February or March…’s a vacation after all, and should be about sun and fun. If this race is so important as a build up for LeTour….where is that kid from Spain racing right now? The one nicknamed “Il Pistolero”? Only time will tell if this race is any sort of form builder for LeTour 2013…based on its past…I’d be doubtful. But who knows, Andy Schleck could surprise us all?

  9. MCQuid and Verbruggen need swilling out with the same water as LA and Brewnail and others of their ilk. It is time for a new chapter but I fear that these two will cling to power whatever it takes. The UCI will never have much credibility as long as the status quo remains.

  10. I wonder if Lone Wombat McQuaid would ever agree to an interview with Oprah…
    or Dr Phil?!
    Have a shrink hypnotise him and see what comes out! Hmmmmm!

  11. Who’s the fella in the top picture?

    I’ve never seen anyone so little with…erm such large feet. I’m continuously amazed at how big some riders feet are…

  12. “The race then rides to the Alps where Chris Froome cannot attack because Wiggins leads the race.”

    What, like when Froome didn’t attack Richie Porte in the Criterium International because he was leading the race?! Anything is possible!

    • All true. But a smaller race and Porte is still a rider finding his place on the team rather than defending champion in the Tour. And I’m not saying Froome can’t do anything, more that even if he’s given the title of leader it’s quite possible Wiggins assumes team leadership because of the course this year.

      But it’s one scenario and these things fortunately rarely stick to the script.

    • Inner Ring is not saying what WILL happen, merely what MIGHT happen. It’s just an interesting scenario for our entertainment and food for thought.

  13. “… and then the Ax 3 Domaines summit finish, a moderate finish of 10km at 6% which Wiggins will like”
    When is the last time you rode up to le Plateau de Bonascre? I rode it five or six times always after having done the Pailhères before and I can tell you, it’s not a moderate climb neither for me nor for anyone else I ever met there or who shared the pain of climbing that ramp with me.
    It has close to two kms averaging at more than 10% grade with pitches of 14. So I don’t know if Wiggo likes it or not as a stage finale but it definitely does not favor riders of his typical climbing style. It’s more something for Contador or Froome.

  14. The TdC has driven the Giro off its rightfull place on the the calendar by Drug Money(“we never thought they would use our product this way”)….. and Hubris… to quote Randy Newman”You’re living in the greatest country in the world when you’re living in the USA”
    His tune was satire, but few get it…. they belive.
    The long and the short of it is that Amgen should not be allowed sponsorship,
    nor China to jack around the Lombardia.
    Two reasons why the Mandarins at the UCI must go.
    They’ve become”Whores in the Marketplace”.

  15. I think it’s sad that not many in the comments section have added observations to your blog on the farce ensuing for the women in Languedoc-Rousillon. These female pros are receiving outrageously poor treatment and it’s ironic that one of their more outspoken members (Emma Pooley) won the stage overnight. These are great athletes – try holding Emma’s wheel up a mountain if you don’t believe me.

    It is a revelation how many women are taking up competitive cycling these days and I think it is time that we show them a bit more support, whether emotional or financial, and encourage those with influence – the media and officialdom especially – to raise the profile of 50% of the population. It’s like this sport is still living in the Dark Ages for heaven’s sake.

      • Took my daughter out for a ride yesterday and she is constantly asking whether ‘girls can ride the Tour de France’. I keep telling her that she can do anything that the boys can do but it would really help if womens cycling (and other sports) received more funding and publicity. I’ll keep encouraging and pushing her but sometimes I wonder if there is much point.

        • Totally agree!
          I go training regularly with members of a Belgian womens elite team
          and they are just as much the athlete as the men are. Even given the
          fact that a female physiology is more complex, what with the menstruation
          cycle and how that affects them, something we guys don’t personally have to
          deal with! But respect alone does not put food on their tables!
          At least here in Belgium there is dedicated support from sponsors and supporters,
          don’t know about other countries. Still, the UCI is being prehistoric in ignoring the
          issues that affect womens’ cycling! Even if they say they are ‘busy’ looking into it!
          Should have happened years ago. That org really is an history lesson (in how business/government used to think/behave)! Do you think they would ever dare to
          be proactive!

        • No woman will ever ride the Tour unless she brings a truckload of money to a team. The best women riders in the world are not remotely in the same league as the best men. That is not a cut on women, it is just the reality of the physical differences between men and women.

          • @Rocket – I think you have missed my point. I am not suggesting the women race the men, merely that they be treated with some respect so that WOMEN’S racing gets a higher profile and the female riders get a bit more respect.

  16. My blog in on 14th Jan outlines many of the deficiencies created by UCI in regards to Womens’Racing !

    Agree with ” TrickyDicky ” that i overlooked the plight in which Emma and the other Ladies find themselves . Some of these ladies , even in training , as i found riding when with the Dutch squad at the London Olympic Training Thursday in the area of Leatherhead & Box hill . Had ridden with the Aussie Ladies in the London direction when i spotted Vos & co coming towards us , in turning i lost a few hundred metres and took several km to get alongside . Those Ladies were taking no prisoners and that was ONLY the training ride !

    Had intended to be at the Romandie ITT , this year , hoping to catch up with the women there supporting the Swiss Memorial event but got side tracked . Hopefully i will find a few of the Dutch Ladies at the Dutch Cancer Fundraiser at L’Alpe d’Huez in June !

    Should people support @ GaudryT to win the UCI presidency , we can be sure that the NZ Womens’Event each January will be restored to the Womens’ Programme . UCI has been ” for profit ”
    minded for far too long . It has ejected the ” Masters ” and is trying to shed the ” Para Cyclists ” as they don’t add much to the coffers . Each of these segments of Cycling do not use brown paper bags to support their views .

    • Judging by your comments on this blog, your personal blog must be an absolute nightmare to read.
      It’s called punctuation and proper sentence structure, look it up.

  17. Santambrogio is looking rather puffy…..or dare I say Kohl-esque. Funny that it corresponds with the first time he has ever ridden well in World Tour races.

  18. Re: ToC coverage. The official website was brilliant and every other race should take note: a live feed in the middle (not the whole stage, admittedly), a profile map along the bottom showing where the leaders/chasers/peloton was, a twitter feed on the right, riders in the break and their time gap in the GC on the left, a map showing where the race was taking place and the route. It had everything I wanted to know on one page and I would be more than happy to pay for coverage like that of the TdF, Giro, Vuelta, any of the classics. Race organisers should forget TV rights, THAT is how a race should be covered using today’s technology. Apart from having a live feed of the whole stage, I could not suggest any improvement to it.

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