Monday Shorts

Bradley Wiggins Pat McQuaid

Confronted with a challenger who was once a colleague, he’s looking for ways to stay in the job and keep his lucrative salary. Is this Bradley Wiggins or Pat McQuaid?

This and more, including Sylvain Chavanel’s possible new bike for 2014. And why do track and field athletes in Moscow often wear such unaerodyanamic clothing?

Wiggins Goes for Gold
Bradley Wiggins is staying at Sky and no wonder since he’s on a very good contract with the British team, he can bank the salary of a Tour winner whilst targeting the track. It’s unprecedented to step back from road racing in order to concentrate on track racing. Of course hour record attempts have seen riders try this on a temporary basis but not across an Olympic cycle. Time will tell, after all if he’s struggling for motivation to replicate a grand tour win, will he be hungry for another Olympic medal, he’s already got four. That’s for him but it might work out well for everyone. Wiggins turned down an altitude camp before the Giro to spend the time training at home to be near to his family so now he can use the local Manchester velodrome rather than spend weeks at a time in a high altitude hotel in Tenerife. A happier family life should bring a better rider. It’s refreshing to see a rider pick the objectives they want rather than trying to chase shadows. And if it feels like Wiggins is turning his back on the road, that’s probably not the case. After all he wants to win gold in Florence although toppling Tony Martin is going to be a tough task.

Sylvain Chavanel leaving OPQS?
If Wiggins is staying put, one rider likely to be on the move is Sylvain Chavanel. The Frenchman’s been a useful rider for OPQS but his wins in the last two years have been down solely to his own work as he’s taken time trial victories. In road races he’s struggled to impose himself in the team, the Eneco Tour last weekend seemed to show him lacking team support on the stage around La Redoute. The destination is not certain but there’s a good chance he’ll be on a Pinarello or a Scott for 2014. He’s likely to move with Jérôme Pineau too.

Eneco’s Belgium Resources
Talking of the Eneco Tour the race came alive with the use of familiar roads from the spring classics. Last weekend saw the use of La Redoute and the Kapelmuur above Geraardsbergen. The race has to tour the area but using these famous roads brought an extra touch of excitement to the race and proof perhaps that a race needs to exploit the local geography and history to increase its appeal.

Linus Gerdemann to MTN-Qhubeka
Probably the most leftfield signing is Linus Gerdemann to MTN-Qhubeka. He’s been out of contract all year but training all the time and I’ve been tipping the move to the African team, especially after reading Daniel Friebe’s contribution to Cycling Anthology. It could be a great signing, the team gets a climber and GC contender and the rider has to be hungrier than he was in the past.

Vuelta on Saturday
La Vuelta 2013 logo

You probably know that the Vuelta is starting on Saturday. Only there’s not much of a build-up to it, is there? I can see teams announcing their nine riders but the race still feels like the sport’s third grand tour and not just because of it’s position on the calendar but the third in terms of interest and importance.

A full preview will appear on here shortly though plus a few pieces on the race and Spanish cycling as well as daily stage previews too.

Athletics World Championships

The Inner Ring is about cycling but the cyclist can’t help notice the athletes in Moscow. Why do runners wear such loose fitting clothing and have long hair when world records can come down to fractions of a second? Surely some lycra could help save time? If aero helmets are out of the question, can runners use hats or even a bandana to make their heads more aero? Romain Bardet has been asking the same thing too…

Take Usain Bolt who runs in a top that a cyclist would say is a size too big. Or his fellow Jamaican Nesta Carter who sprints with an untucked shirt. It’s not just the short distance and high speed events, see the 5,000m where Britain’s Mohamed Farah led the field home in a loose top and shorts. In cycling air resistance is more important given the higher speeds but surely every legal advantage counts in running too?

70 thoughts on “Monday Shorts”

  1. Cathy Freeman wore a full skinsuit for the Sidney 2000 olympics (and won the 400 for what it’s worth) so the idea isn’t new at least..

  2. Like amateur roadies shaving their legs, I think that the athletics clothing is a mixture of legacy and conforming. Not too sure about the physics, but there must be a function of the benefits of Lycra as your speed reduces.

  3. I was remarking about the athletics events while watching this weekend on TV, saying how refreshing it was to see athletes wearing non-aero specific clothing. It’s all MARKETING folks! The clothing makers no doubt know that few consumers are going to buy any skin-tight stuff for their own jogging around so why try to promote it via the athletes when, in the end it doesn’t matter. And before a chorus of “Oh no, you’re wrong” starts up, let’s be reminded that at the speeds most regular cyclists attain, the aero stuff the pros use doesn’t do much but look cool and put money in the pockets of the makers. How many times do we STILL see a group of PRO riders coming to the finish line, each with a different wheel shape? Even when they’re going 30 mph, the speed at which most will say aero wheels start to actually, well, be aero…they guy with the most aerodynamic wheel is far from assured a win.

    • Actually, I see quite a few people jogging in skin-tight shorts, especially women, but men too quite often. I guess that comes from aerobics/fitness marketing, certainly not from t&f. The few times I see someone jogging by in the kind of clothing that pro athletes wear they are very skinny and going really fast.
      There’s a lot more marketing hype in weight than there is in aerodynamics.

    • If the marketing line were true, then how do you explain all the fat cyclists wearing lycra?

      As you point out, Pros ride the equipment their sponsors require them to ride and as such as often not a good guide to what is the best equipment choice.

      Equipment choice does make a difference (that’s just a physical reality), and the difference it makes is of course variable. Just because someone with more aero equipment is not assured a win is not a particularly strong argument against its use since it’s pretty obvious that winning bike races is multi-factoral.

      The point however is to improve the chances of a win or better placing. And it’s not ony about the speed at the finish. A few watts saved over the course of the preceding hours can add up to sparing just enough glycogen to provide a little extra freshness for when the race winning move happens. Or for the next day.

      And before someone goes off about inappropriate use of such equipment, no, we are not talking about recreational rides, commutes and a trip to the local shops for bread and milk where comfort, enjoyment and practicality are more important consideration.

      There is no rule against more aerodynamic clothes in athletics, unlike downhill mountain biking competition (WTF is that all about?).

      • How do I explain fat cyclists in “aero” clothing? I guess you missed my point – MARKETING. Actually, in the US of A it’s rather amusing as sales of “aero” stuff (bikes, wheels, etc.) are strong while the most popular cycling jerseys are what they call “club cut” which most often means they look like sails billowing in the wind. A size L in one of these is similar to a 3X in European sizing!
        I’m not buying that whatever the pro team uses is chosen solely for performance reasons – how much the sponsor pays the team often has much, much more to do with it, though of course those sponsors would love to have you believe otherwise. Otherwise, the Manx Missile would have been riding something else after this, but instead they calmed him down and he later said everything was great about the bike/components or whatever it was he hated so much, once reminded about how much money they put into the team’s budget.

        • Yes, teams are sponsored by bike manufacturers, clothing manufacturers etc. They need the money and it is good marketing for the manufacturer. I hardly think there’s any surprises there, or anything to be enraged about: it’s not like anyone tries to keep the sponsorship a secret. However, the manufacturers produce a whole range of clothes/equipment from baggy t-shirts to high performance skinsuits for example, so within that range the team will choose what is best for performance. They’ll promote the brand but still choose what is best for them from within that. So if they are wearing aero clothing, then it is a pretty good bet that it provides an advantage. The brands produce what is in demand: if the pros all start wearing baggy t-shirts they’ll bring out a range of t-shirts and make their profits on those instead. Sponsorship is all about brand awareness, but not about selling a certain type of clothing.

          • i can imagine though, that sometimes a little conflict of interest can arise if a manufacturer/ sponsor wants to market a specific (maybe) new product, “used at the tour de france” makes a good argument for selling something to the eager hobby cyclist.

            and in the end thats why the sponsor these races

    • Nope, you are wrong. Over a set distance, you get more benefit from aerodynamic equipment as a slow cyclists than a fast one (due to more time spent on the course).

      The difference is remarkable. If you don’t believe me, well, I guess you don’t believe in physics…

      • While that’s certainly true, the “more benefit” needs to be qualified lest one get picked to pieces.

        A slower rider who has benefit of the same reduction in aerodynamic drag as a faster cyclist, will save more total time over a fixed distance than the faster rider, but the relative improvement in speed will favour the faster rider. This is because, as you point out, the slower rider is on course longer.

        I wrote about this counterintuitive result it on my blog but Cervelo did a nice item to explain it:

      • My example was aero WHEELS, which don’t do much of anything below 30 mph, an idea generally accepted, even by the folks who make/sell them, though of course they don’t MARKET them in this fashion. Recently I read some propaganda from a maker trying to revise this down to 30 kph…which would open up a large new MARKETING segment if they can sell the idea to the punters.

        • “My example was aero WHEELS, which don’t do much of anything below 30 mph, …”
          Technically, aero wheels don’t “do” anything at any speed. There’s no active component to them. What is true is that over the range of normal cycling speeds, aero wheels have a lower drag coefficient than standard ones, and this change is virtually constant. Lowering the drag coefficient results in less drag on the bike/rider system with aero wheels than without, again at all speeds. What the impact of this change is depends on many factors, and the significance on even more.

          • “Aero wheels will save you about 1% of power on a flat road at 30kph and no wind. Whether or not that equals ‘nothing’ is up to you.”
            There can be no effective communication if every individual is free to redefine words according to their whims. 1% of any non-zero value is not nothing.

        • No, it’s not generally accepted. The speed at which aero has an impact is anything above zero, and certainly by the time one reaches the sort of speeds typically reached by cyclists on flatter terrain, air resistance becomes the major resistance force.

          On flat ground, for example, at only 15km/h, half of the energy demand goes into overcoming air resistance. By the time you reach 30km/h, 80% of the energy demand is overcoming air resistance.

          Aero matters at just about all speeds. Some basic physics is all one needs to understand this, but basic physics is poorly understood by most. The “aero is only for fast speeds” is a myth.

          Whether or not such improvements in speed for your available power (or a reduction in power demand for a given speed) are of interest or relevant to you doesn’t mean they don’t exist, nor that they are of no interest or not relevant for someone else.

  4. whilst Freeman did wear a full skinsuit, the ladies in general wear more “aero” kit- little more than a bikini. It’s like FIFA’s Sepp Blater’s most fever dream for women’s football kit. But this seems to be more for comfort given what the men wear.

  5. I don’t think it is just ignorance, tradition or marketing. It is a compromise between aerodynamics, freedom of limb movement and cooling (the latter significant in the longer events only, of course). I am pretty convinced athletes and/or their coaches and staff know their trade.

    • Exactly! Limb movement and cooling. I run and ride. Two different worlds.

      Different story for sprinters. In Bolt’s case it’s either marketing or Bubka-esque. Time will tell.

  6. I’m a runner. I wear baggies. It’s 33% tradition, 33% comfort/cooling and 33% because lycra when you’re running about 15 mph at best just looks stupid!

  7. Cyclist shaving their legs has nothing to do with aero… if so we’d have shaved arms too, no? Leg shaving is preventative measure in the event of a crash by reducing risk of infection through easier cleaning and dressing. Just like wearing a helmet, you do it hoping you’ll never need it. For the pros in particular, it also makes massage much more pleasant and effective.

    • Yarn. How often do you have to clean and dress crash wounds? How often does the amateur cyclist receive massages? They shave their legs because it makes them look more defined. It’s simple vanity.

      • I have also heard another reason for leg shaving – to reduce the weight of sweat trapped by the hair. Not sure if this is true out not (or how significant or otherwise any weight reduction might be).

        • If this is true then they better shave their eyebrows and eyelashes, pluck all their nasal hair, underarm hair etc and get a Yul Bryner haircut. And for all those pros with wing nut ears, they had better get them surgically pinned as this could knock off 0.000001 of a second off their time.

    • On pro’s shaving their legs debate. A mate of mine (a pro snow boarder) told me when he was in hospital there was a pro cyclist. The leg shaving issue came up, aside from dressing wounds etc; seemingly its for the photos. Shaved legs simply look better with all the lycra in the photos.

      • For the photos and cause of Lycra? What a ridiculous theory.
        We shaved our legs when we had thick wool clothing, no Lycra all around and photos were made on rare occasions……

    • And those elite runners – that don’t shave their legs, they don’t get daily massages then? Always intrigued that shaving gets tons of comments (should have seen cyclingtips explode on this a few years ago) with all the excuses. It’s tradition, it’s vanity, and we have a wardrobe full of excuses none of which survive scrutiny. Road rash? So when you fall with shaved legs your arms are magically protected? But legs are more important. Oh, tell that to Tom B’s elbow infection then. Aerodynamics? Yeah, right, that’s why all those pros ride with goatees, 2 day growth, mullets, hairy arms. Massage? Yes, cyclists are the only elite male athletes who receive daily massages where their masseurs insist that they can only work with shaved legs. No work for these guys in track and field, football, nordic skiing, distance running, downhill skiiing, luge, speed skating, tennis…

    • I think the same argument you made against aero can be made against wound management. Cyclists just as often get road rash on their arms but don’t shave those. We saw riders in this year’s TdF with face grazes but most riders go out of their way not to shave before a race, mostly for tradition and superstition. For the pros it’s all about the massage. For everyone else it’s about looking pro.

    • There’s a lot of disgusting “road dirt” that will coat your lower extremities after a long ride — a mixture of oil residues, soot, rubber tire dust, etc.

      Absence of hair on legs makes it much easier to clean yourself after the ride.

  8. I used to wonder the same thing back in the 70’s. My swim team friend was all about shaving down for 1/100th of a second for big meets and we (the cyclists) were still in 1930s wool shorts and jerseys. Cycling shoes were really leather slippers while running shoes were adopting all kinds of weird plastic/waffle soled/ nylon voodoo.
    Cycling was late to the aero party, but might be leading now.

    • In swimming this has always been a really big thing – think of those suits that are now banned – because water resistance is so much bigger than air resistance, so the effects are much larger.

      • Much of the suit-banning was about buoyancy as much as much as hydrodynamicism. I think the suit materials they banned had an effect on that too, though I can’t remember how.

    • Would love to see Chavanel at Orica. Really Dont want him to go to Sky, but they did lose a couple of work horses. He will get more glory at Orica or IAM then he will at SKY. Who is gonna give him the most money….thats where he will end up.

      • Its not OGE. Langeveld’s leaving OGE, citing OGE not giving him more support in the Classics – they really dont have the classics as a priority. It wont be Sky – they’ve only bought 2 really big names before – Wiggins and Cav, 2 Brits. Otherwise they prefer to develop rather than buy in big hitters.

        Cant see him at Movistar.

        Think its IAM – with him, the team will be virtually guaranteed wildcards for the classics.

  9. It’s all in your head, lycra or old wool shorts and jerseys. If a $300 skin suite makes you feel fast at age 65 and 250 lbs thats great your are supporting cycling sponsors.

    I do prefer to sit-on behind a “competitive” women cyclist in lycra rather then wool.

    Viva la difference

  10. take it from an ex-trackie, running anything more than an 800 in a skinsuit is just plain painful. same reason anyone who is serious about running wears “short shorts” and not basketball shorts when they’re out training. as for Bolt and the Jamaican national team, I had always assumed it was because Puma doesn’t make a skinsuit. No idea if thats true or not though

  11. Following your recent review on “after TdF” INRNG, I agree the final two stages of the Enco tour made the case for exciting and dramatic racing post tour, by a mixed group of classics and tour riders on a demanding course. I for one welcome this mix of racing, which was both exciting and difficult to predict until the final 500 meters.
    Chavanel to SKY anyone !

  12. Didnt Geraint Thomas and Peter Kennaugh both step back from road racing to focus on the track at last year’s London games? Ben Swift did the same but didn’t make the cut (think it may have been due to injury?) and missed both chances.

  13. Didn’t Geraint Thomas and Peter Kennaugh both step back from road racing to focus on the track at last year’s London games? Ben Swift did the same but didn’t make the cut (think it may have been due to injury?) and missed both chances.

  14. Didn’t Geraint Thomas and Peter Kennaugh both step back from road racing to focus on the track at last year’s London games? Ben Swift did the same but didn’t make the cut — I think it may have been due to injury — and missed both chances.

  15. Guys, guys, guys… Runners don’t care about aero because it’s less important at lower speeds. So comfort >>>> aero. Runners wear tight lycra pants for the benefits of muscle compression. End of!

    • I run, and that is why I wear what I do. Lycra shorts feel good, but short shorts if it’s hot. As long as the clothes aren’t flapping about then aero is irrelevant. Comfort is everything.

  16. Chava – I love him to bits as he’s constantly animating races. Anyone else share the feeling that his actual win return is low compared to his efforts/abilities?. He’d be a great signing for the likes of IAM who need some jersey visibility though…

  17. Wiggins – not sure he’s turning his back on the road, but turning his back on GC at a grand tour surely? When he was a track cyclist before he used road racing as part of his training (with cofidis?) I could see him being part of the sky classics team now, using the spring to get the miles in for the track season.

    As someone mentioned, G focused on the track again last year, but if memory serves he still rode the Giro? I could still see Wiggins in a grand tour, but focusing on the time trial stages and supporting on the flat stages.

    • He’s says he’s doing one more year on the road. He’ll still be riding road races next year. Says he wants to ride the Tour in support of Froome. I know, I know, Wiggins can change his mind – and does a lot. But this does all has the air of decisiveness about it.

  18. To follow up on the aero in athletics: In distance running cooling is extremely important – which is why most winning marathon runners are short and skinny and wear light clothes (“When a human gets bigger, their volume expands in three dimensions while their surface area only expands in two. As they get bigger, they get worse at cooling because they’re creating more volume and less surface area”. Copied from bu there are way more sources on this topic).
    Similar to the aero issue I always wondered why everyone is only factoring in weight when talking about climbing ‘ability’ during cycling whereas cooling becomes extremely important at the relatively low speeds with which mountains are climbed – say 21 to 21 km/h which is similar to top-level marathon speeds. Some of the bigger engines in cycling may have more difficulty getting up a mountain not because they are heavier, but because they overheat sooner.

  19. 1) Wiggins should focus on the cobbles now. He could win Roubaix if he trained for it. And I think he’ll do it.
    2) The Vuelta should go back to April (and the Catalan Volta back to September). It’s one thing to be part of the pre-Tour serial, and another one to be a late season event. It would be much easier to double Vuelta-Tour than Giro-Tour, and climbers need objectives while the cobble season is going on.

  20. I agree, would like to see the Vuelta back to its early season slot, rather than the current “End of term” feel it has now. Good decision by Bradley I think he has done the right thing. Finish up at the Olympics in 2016 then go on a massive bender.

  21. I just wish the Jamaicans would test their athletes…the idea that these Jamaicans are clean is marketers’ hype and pure fantasy.

    For a nation of 2.7 million (less than New Zealand) to produce these sprinters is a giant con, ranking alongside Michelle Smith of Ireland for the failure of journalists to even question it.

    Jadco (the equivalent of USADA) has as its President the team doctor for the Olympics, there are so many conflicted and unqualified people involved I instantly thought of the McQuaid family.

    In July 2013, Jadco confirmed that they had carried out only 365 tests out of competition since 2009…in 2012 between February and the Olympic Games, they carried out 1 (?!) test, and in fact 0 in the 3 months prior to the Olympics.

    Usain Bolt could be wearing jodhpurs and still run sub 9 secs when he’s on the good gear.

    Check out SI’s story on the reality here:

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