Thursday Shorts

Here’s the new Italian jersey for the worlds by Castelli. The marketing says it’s faster than a standard jersey, a 20W survey at 40km/h. But if the Italian tricolore flag is green, white and red why do the Italians wear blue?

It all goes back to the royal family. Italy is a republic today but over the years the Dukes of Savoy built up a kingdom that eventually included all of the Italian peninsula until a referendum in 1946 opted for a republic. The ruling family had used light blue, or azure, on their emblems and heraldry and to this day Italian athletes representing their republic turn out in the blue tones of the old monarchy. This is why those on the national team are called azzurri, the “light blues”.

The biggest pro cycling sponsor?
You’ll spot the Škoda logo on the jersey too. The Czech car manufacturer started as a bicycle repair workshop and today is part of the Volkswagen Group. The Škoda brand is everywhere in cycling, they provide the race vehicles for many races and sponsor many races, for example the are the sponsor for Tour de France’s white jersey. Christian Prudhomme’s car in the Tour de France even had a Czech numberplate. The more you look, the more you find Škoda.

Worlds on TV
Watching the Italian jersey and its logo on TV is another matter. The UCI has nominated sports marketing Infront Media to handle sales of the broadcast rights for the World Championships. Remember the UCI owns the worlds and the road world championships is the UCI’s single largest source of income and TV rights account for a lot of this, along with the hosting fee. Website has more on the deal and which channels will be broadcasting the race.

McQuaid vs Cookson
The fight goes on but things seemed to have calmed down since last week’s bizarre collection of press releases. Last Sunday saw Pat McQuaid and Brian Cookson give 15 minute presentations to the European Cycling Union (UEC), an umbrella group for Euro federations and then a vote was cast to determine who the UEC would back for President.

Thailand’s Pat McQuaid and Britain’s Brian Cookson pose for the cameras

The result was a foregone conclusion with Cookson winning. It’s a humiliation for the incumbent President not to get nomination from the largest federations in the sport but it was expected so it doesn’t change much. The UEC was behind Brian Cookson from the start and the delegates voted 27-10 to support Cookson which suggests McQuaid still has residual support. Listening to the podcast (I’d link but Episode 6 isn’t up on the site), Richard Moore briefly noted that McQuaid believed he had strong support in Europe. This sounds hard to believe but if it’s true then McQuaid’s boasts of support in Africa and Asia could fall flat. But even if the 14 UEC delegates are now mandated to vote for the Briton, it’s a secret ballot and so even the assured Euro votes are not certain. The vote takes place in one week.

Tour of Britain vs World Championships
Bradley Wiggins leads the Tour of Britain and the race is due to finish in London on Sunday. But Sunday is also the start of the world championships in Florence with the team time trial. Wiggins will surely want to win his home tour but it means he can’t ride for Team Sky on Sunday. Wiggins is obviously a very strong time triallist but he’s also reputed to be excellent in the team time trial, in part thanks to his team pursuit background. Apparently Alex Dowsett has special permission to leave the British tour so he can help Movistar on Sunday.

It’s another example of unfortunate calendar clashes. The team time trial is an odd event at the worlds with pro teams rather than nations and if the sport’s top-ranked team can’t bring their biggest rider because he’s leading another race then it’s something that needs to be addressed for the 2014 season.

A Classic Tour de France?
The Tour de France route is usually known 18 months in advance although sometimes competing towns in a region can wait until the last minute before the October presentation to get picked. One story this week says there will be a time trial between Bergerac and Périgueux on the last Saturday of the race. The quickest route between these towns is just under 50km meaning a classic final time trial to settle the GC.

With massive interest in the race and the internet it’s possible to hunt for snippets in the regional press detailing possible stage starts and finishes and then a few phone calls to likely hotels can help determine the date for the race because when the Tour comes to town it has to accommodate thousands of people from riders to team staff to race officials and the media. This detective work is mastered by Thomas Vergouwen and his Velowire blog.

Heavy Battery

Finally some bike tech prompted by the tweet above. Shimano and Campagnolo both offer electronic shifting but curiously come with prodigious battery capacity. Now it’s great you can shift gears for months without having to charge up the bike but this seems unnecessary given they’re fitted to high end bikes that need to be cleaned, lubed, checked and tweaked every week; even if you are the laziest of home mechanics then charging the bike once a week is not too taxing. Perhaps it’s psychological, the battery is so big in order to reassure consumers that it won’t go flat during a ride. Sure this is no auto battery, the weight is already low at around 60g from Shimano’s internal BTR2 but 130g for Campagnolo’s external pack. Yet many riders are weight-concious when it comes to components and happily spend a lot to save grams. I wonder if we’ll see “performance” batteries that contain a half the charge and half the weight?

62 thoughts on “Thursday Shorts”

  1. Never knew the reason behind the Italian blue jerseys. Interestingly, the same goes for the Dutch riding in orange, even though the national flag is red-white-blue. The royal family’s name is “van Oranje”, hence orange being the national color of the country.

    • following oher sports, I already knew about the Italian blue- as it isn’t only the cyclists that wear it. One I don’t understand is the sky blue of the Belgian team- none of the other Belgian national sports teams wear this.

    • Another intersting tidbit about the Dutch orange is that that royal family last name actually comes from the French town Orange in the Provence region. The ‘founding father’ of the Dutch royal family was a prince there.

      • German national teams’ tradition of black and white harks back to an earlier era too, to that of the flag of Prussia. I’d like to know where the Aussie tradition of gold and green comes from.

        • Green and gold (never the other way around!) were used by the Australian cricket team in 1899 and officially adopted in 1908 for future cricket teams, and in 1912 for the Olympics. Australia didn’t become a nation until 1901 so we started using green and gold before there was a national flag. Supposedly they represent the colours of our national floral emblem, the golden wattle.

          • I guess in the early days, green and gold were seen as avoiding a choice between the blue of Victoria, light blue of NSW and maroon of Queensland.

    • So that’s Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and now Australia explained. Can anyone explain why the hell the British team took to the roads in a (partly) GREEN kit in the 1990s?
      Answers on a postcard please…

      • I read about this. The British team had lots of problems and new performance director Peter Keen wanted to make lots of changes and one way to show things were different was new kit. So out when the obvious design and in came some strange/original designs.

        • Does anyone else remember “British racing green” of the Sterling Moss era in formula one? Was that perhaps behind Peter Keen’s choice for cycling in the 1990s? But I cannot tell you the “why” of British racing green…Sir Sterling, are you listening?

  2. with team cars (especially for Pro Teams) is the arrangment simply that the teams/sponsors provide their own for races in Europe (though most are Skoda) whilst the race organisers elsewhere arrange hire of vehicles?

    • Most teams have a vehicle sponsor who will provide cars for European races.
      I assume that when racing non other continents, the local branch of the same car company will provide vehicles for their sponsored teams, while it seems the rest are provided by the race organisers (or Skoda!).

  3. Sorry, but this bore fest of the UCI Head Honcho contest does not seem to have any end in sight. I thought it took a while to elect a new Pope, but hasn’t this been going on now for decades or does it just seem that way. Secret ballots here, presentations there, for christ sake what a load of Shyte.

  4. Thanks for clarifying the Italian jersey colour, it has bothered me for a while that the Belgians and Italians are hard to differentiate during the road race.

    Another example of Inner Ring bringing something useful to my day.

    Keep up the good work!

  5. I was surprised when I saw that there was an overlap between the tour of Britain and the world championships, I assumed the first day was junior races. I wonder why they didn’t start a day earlier, surely the last day of the tour is going to have a severely reduced field.

    • I’m not so surprised given the ToB is only a cat 2.1 race (I think), so world tour teams don’t need to race in it. Up to the ToB to fit around the world champs I’d say not the other way round.

      On team Sky though, I’m guessing stannard would’ve had a decent chance of a place in the team time trial team as well. Anyway, on Wiggins specifically, my guess is that he wants the ToB on his palmares greater than a worlds team time trial so he’s told his team that’s where his focus is.

      • Agreed although it’s a world championship event it’s still a clash. Hopefully it is fixed for next year… we might see the British tour upgraded too.

        It’s in the UCI’s interest to have the best riders take part in their event too.

        • The ToB was moved back a week this year presumably because the Vuelta was also a week later, although there was still a one-day overlap. As Cilmeri noted, the 2.1 category means the ToB has different teams from the ToB.

          It’s public knowledge that the ToB, which has grown from five days to eight since it was revived, would like to extend it to 10 and shorten the transitions. It will be interesting to see whether the UCI calendar allows them to do that.

          • Same thing happened last year, but I don’t think anybody cared back then! ToB finished 16/9, same day as Worlds TTT. ToB has to move up to 2.HC as it was part of the deal for Sweetspot (the organising company) getting the rights to organise it again for the next few years.
            It’s interesting nobody has made anything of the transfers this year, after the stage on Friday they’ve got an approx 300km transfer from Haytor to Epsom for Saturday’s start.
            Brutal without even taking into account Friday traffic!

          • The teams usually stay in Heathrow hotels if there are final stages in the South East. They will head there from Devon and set up base for the weekend. Epsom, Guildford and London are all a short hop from there. It’s still 3hrs though, via Bristol M5/M4.

        • I’m not sure I’d want to see the ToB upgraded. As it stands it’s big enough to attract some star riders and internationally known teams, but we still get to see the smaller/less well funded UK trade teams who might not get invited to a bigger/higher category race and so might lose the TV and press coverage that keeps sponsors interested. Given that I think, at least for the moment, that the current set up is better for UK road racing because it keeps interest alive, healthy and funded at a level near(er) the grass roots and gives our best and upcoming riders a race that they stand a good chance of riding in with the chance of moving up to world tour level if they perform well.

          • T-ha – Haytor to Epsom is a journey I happen to know well and the dodgy roads for part of the route mean they are probably looking at a minimum of 3 hours for the transfer; I’ve no idea how that compares to transfers in other races around the world.

          • Fair point. As a 2.1 race WorldTour teams constitute a maximum of 50% of the field; a switch to 2.HC would result in a max of 70% WorldTour teams. At the same time I think the ToB does deserve the upgrade, I can’t imagine many races at 2.1 (probably even at 2.HC) level are as well supported beside the road as the ToB.

      • Agreed, but you can see Sky, as a British based sponsor, allowing UK riders to prioritise their only domestic Tour (with live TV coverage in the UK) over the Worlds TTT.

  6. Inner Ring (or anyone who knows), as you possess a wealth of information on all things cycling, any answers as to why Mr. Horner was sporting what looked to be wrist guards (made with kinesio tape?) during most of the Vuelta? Did he have wrist tendinitis? Was it just added support for spending so much time out of the saddle? Thanks in advance.

  7. Calfee Design in Cali, USA offers an internal battery retrofit. It’s only a little lighter, 8%, and still goes thousands of miles. But, someone is going to want one that only lasts 600 miles. Who would have ever thought such a short time ago, that we’d be talking to people around the world, with a keyboard, about electronic bike shifters.
    Now, if someone could invent a bullshit detecting video camera, we could make short work of any political race.

  8. Sorry to see such a heavyweight as Sir Brad miss the TTT. Goes to show this TTT would certainly be taken more seriously if it was contested by national teams.

    • But nations don’t really have time together to practice TTT, therefore the only practical solution I think is for teams to compete. Plus if it was nations competing then who would wear the rainbow jerseys during the year and at which events?

      (but saying that didn’t OPQS win it last year and were not allowed to wear the jerseys in the TTT at the tour de France?)

  9. By the way, on Eurosport missing out on the Worlds, hasn’t the UCI or its proxy company, by any chance, tried to sell the TV rights in a bundle with the rights to other, less important and appealing events? Or am I going paranoid by now?

  10. IF that really is the final TT for the 2014 TdeF it promises to be a real classic, because whichever road or route is used its properly up and down all the way from Bergerac to Perigeux…

    • It’s lumpy there as it crosses from one river valley to the next. We’ll see what the route is, it could be longer. In the mid-90s they had Périgueux-Bergerac (the reverse) and I think it was over 60km. But things have changed, it’d be unlikely to be so long.

  11. 20W of gain? On a jersey! Wow! I’ll get me one and add to the other 20W of my aero carbon wheels and dimpled tires. Plus the 45W gain of my aero frame, and another 10W for my aero helmet, and the advertised 20W total for my aero cranks, shoe covers and gloves. That ammounts to about 115W of aero gain on my road setup. Excellent, should be enough to catapult my mediocre FTP to world-class level!

    Marketing… it is faster!

  12. The “Classic Tour de France” with the almost 50km time trial at the end seems to eliminate certain riders from winning the overall GC. Guys like Froome and Wiggins are far better than other GC contenders and came make up/gain more than a minute on far shorter courses. I realize a guy like Tony Martin can win the stage but he will not be in GC contention. Maybe its just me but I dont like the focus on long TTs. However I do the hilly TTs where riders have to choose between there TT bikes and regular road bikes. I find these exciting. There was one like this earlier this year where riders changed bikes with a few KM to go( i cannot remmeber which one. someone please remind me) and in the end much of the GC guys including I think Rodriguez were only a few seconds back.

    • I don’t like long flat TTs either. As you said it doesn’t widens the number of GC contenders (with the likes of Tony Martin or Cancellara), instead narrows to only a few. If it has to be long than it should be sg like 2009 Giro’s TT at Cinque Terre.

      • I agree, but I also see an advantage for the spectators.
        Last Grand Tours riders in the GC-to-10 were merely clinging on to the guys placed just above or behind them in the GC. Mollema, for an example, just focused on the wheel of Fuglsang to protect his 6th place in the GC.
        With a long time trial on the last saturday of the Tour it’s not possible to defend your GC spot, just by riding “Evans-style” in the wheel of your direct GC contenders.
        Riders like Rodriquez, Sanchez, Mollema, Pozzovivo etc, have to attack in the mountains to create a sufficient gap to hold off the more skilled time trialists.
        Except crazy mountainfinishes like ‘Alto l’Angliru’ the defining mountainstages in a Grand Tour are always disappointing, GC-contenders just watching each other.
        An all deciding time trial on the business end should have a positive effect on the GC-contention in the last week of a Grand Tour.

  13. Wasn’t be such an issue in the old days when you had climbers and TT’ers as different guys that excelled in different courses.
    These days, we see guys who are the best in both disciplines. Another disadvantage of the PED era, most likely.

  14. Skoda were a bit of a joke when their cars were first launched in the UK. Now they are a highly-respected brand. Their sponsorship of pro cycling would certainly recommend them to me if/when I look to buy a new car. I wonder whether Skoda cars are bought by cyclists more than other brands?


  15. Ha! …20 watts for a jersey – Can I have a job in the cycling marketing department please? Any will do, it seems all you have to do is have a long break at lunchtime which obviously involves copious amounts of alcohol or funny cigaretts, dream up the most far-fetched claim possible and “Bobs your Uncle” job completed !! – honestly, the marketing men in cycling are really getting desperate aren’t they? Laughable.

  16. The battery comments are interesting but surely a lighter battery is only going to appeal to Strava bunnies as most bikes these days need weight adding to them to get them up to the UCI limit anyway?

  17. One of (if not the) most exciting TT stages of the Tour was the 1989 romp down the Champs. Why did the organizers move away from that format?

  18. Tour de France 1961, stage 19: Bergerac – Périgueux 74,5 km chrono

    1 Jacques Anquetil FRA 1:42’32”
    2 Charly Gaul LUX 2’59”
    3 Guido Carlesi ITA 3’37”
    4 Hans Junkermann BRD 3’41”
    5 Jean Gainche FRA 3’47”
    6 Raymond Mastrotto FRA 4’38”
    7 José Pérez Francés SPA 5’19”
    8 Gérard Thiélin FRA 5’25”
    9 Rolf Graf SWI 5’54”
    10 Joseph Planckaert BEL 5’59

    Tour de France 1994, stage 9: Périgueux – Bergerac 64 km chrono

    1 Miguel Indurain BAN SPA 1:15’58”
    2 Tony Rominger MAP SWI 2’00”
    3 Armand de las Cuevas CAS SPA 4’22”
    4 Thierry Marie CAS FRA 4’45”
    5 Chris Boardman GAN GBR 5’27”
    6 Bjarne Riis GEW DEN 5’33”
    7 Thomas Davy CAS FRA 5’35”
    8 Abraham Olano MAP SPA 5’45”
    9 Arturas Kasputis HAZ LTU 6’01”
    10 Piotr Ugrumov GEW LAT 6’04’

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