Tuesday Shorts

Coulda, woulda, shoulda
There’s been a lot of post-worlds chat, especially the Spanish tactics and the British vanishing act. It’s part of the fun to review the race but the Worlds has attracted more talk than usual. How come? Is it national pride that makes people more passionate about the performances? Or maybe because the Worlds is just once a year? Bungle the finish in the Ronde van Vlaanderen there’s always Paris-Roubaix; mess up one day in a stage race and you can still have time to come back. No such chance with the Worlds.

Gran Theft Bici – Disc Brakes – Heulot and Goodbye – Cannondale + Tinkov? – McQuaid – Flandrien Award – Giro Mountain TT – Tiernan-Locke case

Gran Theft Bici
The Worlds were great but there’s been a problem with bike theft. The Russians and Danes were both hit and lost many bikes and wheels. It’s a recurring problem and not unique to Italy, you might remember Garmin-Sharp got raided in February at the Tour Méditerranéen.

Life imitating art

Teams are not passive about this. At night the mechanics’ truck is reversed up against a wall or the team bus so that there’s no clearance to access the back of the truck. Of course thieves can tow vehicles but it’s an extra work. There’s talk of mechanics sleeping in trucks but often there’s no room when everything is loaded in and these guys work hard already, spending the night inside an uninsulated vehicle is making the working conditions even harder. Plus the thieves are so determined that the mechanics are placing themselves in harm’s way. Some have suggested team guard dogs.

Alarms might be an idea and another suggestion could be to park vehicles in a common lot which is then guarded by security staff. But this is another expense and has the added concern that a gang could knock out the guard and then have access to hundreds of bikes all grouped together.

A brake on technology

It really doesn’t matter what the UCI says. They’re only a small part of cycling and there are a lot of people out there who don’t care what the UCI is nor do they give a damn. They just want to ride their bikes.”
Rob Eva, SRAM

Cyclingtips has a good piece about disc brakes. You might not need them, you might not want them but they’re coming to a bike shop near you. Calliper brakes will of course stay. But a recurring theme is that new bike technology is coming out and bypassing the pro peloton (see “Pro Cycling As The Shop Window“). Right now we’re seeing several bike companies sponsor pro teams (Cannondale, Trek, Merida) but the worry is that manufacturers find pro cycling just can’t act as the shop window. Things will have to change.

Heulot and goodbye?
Talking of a lack of sponsorship, the Sojasun pro team will stop. Efforts to find a co-sponsor haven’t worked. But like an iceberg, you might have only seen the part that sticks out. Below the pro team is a pyramid structure with a leading amateur team which will still be sponsored by Sojasun and team manager Stéphane Heulot will return to run this. It was this structure that Heulot used to build the pro team, in effect taking promoting his amateur squad to the pro level. It’s a healthy system that could allow Heulot to return to the pro ranks once the French economy picks up and pro cycling sponsorship becomes a more attractive proposition.

In the meantime riders have known what was happening and many signed contracts or options to sign with other teams. Only these deals could not be announced otherwise it would scare away potential sponsors. No doubt many will end up unemployed but hopefully a lot of riders remain in the pro peloton.

Cannondale + Tinkov?
There’s talk that Oleg Tinkov will sponsor the Cannondale team. He pulled out of the Saxo-Tinkoff this year and left them with a funding shortfall. Viewed through a cycling lens at least, Tinkov seems to bring cash but is not there for the long term. It’s the opposite of Heulot: cash rich but lacking a structural foundation.

McQuaid to step down from IOC
Pat McQuaid has been a member of the International Olympic Committee board but the role occurred by virtue of being the head of a sports governing body. Therefore he’ll be stepping down and already the IOC website gives a 404 error for his name. One of the more ridiculous claims during the McQuaid campaign was that his membership of the IOC was essential to protect cycling. Brian Cookson doesn’t automatically get a spot and with several Britons inside the IOC he might never get a gig. But to imagine cycling curtailed or dropped from the Olympics sounded like a scare story, it’s a sport that is popular around the world.

Jan Bakelants

Flandrien of the Year
You know the end of the season is coming because there’s talk of awards. First up is the Belgian “Flandrien” of the year. The five nominees are Jan Bakelants, Philippe Gilbert, Gianni Meersman, Sven Nys and Greg Van Avermaet.

No mention of Tom Boonen and it’s not been a great year for the Belgians with Jurgen van den Broeck crashing out before he could try for the podium in the Tour de France. Bakelants has done well, Meersman has had his best season. But it’s Sven Nys with multiple wins and the Superprestige who wins on numbers although cyclo-cross has other awards and it would be the first time it goes to a cross rider.

Giro Route
The route of the 2014 Giro is being trailed by RCS. Obviously the start in Belfast is know but there have been announcements about the Barbaresco-Barolo time trial and the stage finish on Monte Zoncolan. Now Tuttobici claims to have the whole route and there’s a nod to the second world war with the Montecassino finish and a mountain time trial from Bassano to Monte Grappa. The official announcement is next Monday when we’ll get all the details, including stage lengths and which climbs will feature along the way.

Rainbow Jersey
Didn’t win a jersey in Florence last week? I don’t usually feature charity fundraising stories as there are too many to list. But someone who’s done some translating work for pro races has got a signed Gilbert jersey for sale on ebay and other items.

Finally a word on the Jonathan Tiernan-Locke story. The Sky rider pulled out from the worlds at the last moment and there was talk of an injury. But the weekend saw the story that he was being questioned by the UCI about his blood passport data and it turns out he’s withdrawn from racing “whilst his response to the UCI is prepared then considered by the UCI”. A few people have asked about the story on Twitter and by email and it’s worthy of a bigger look and I’ll return to this later in the week.

73 thoughts on “Tuesday Shorts”

  1. Orla must have mis-heard about JTL – did anyone else report it as an injury? JTL’s own tweet mention poor form being the reason. Still that was just a cover story. Was it necessary? Yes, to protect the rider’s reputation until the decision is made.

    So I ask myself, why do I know about JTL being asked to explain his values? Who decided it was public information? The outgoing president? The journalist keen to show some objectivity after being accused of being Sky’s lap dog with such vitriol?

    I’d prefer to know about this issue if either the rider’s explanations are not satisfactory and proceedings against him commence OR if there is no verdict forthcoming after the timescale allowed in UCI rules has elapsed (If there is no timescale in the rules there should be one).

    I’m concerned for the rider, not the team. Exploring Sky’s “extra” safeguards in the public press (or any other agenda) should not be at the expense of a potentially innocent rider.

    Will we ever learn?

    • JTL is or was, I think, managed by McQuaid’s son Andrew. The story was first reported by David Walsh and The Sunday Times, who is the reporter of choice for Sky. His Endura manager, Brian Smith, defended him quickly, so who knows what the truth is and why it’s already news.

      • I believe 3 weeks till the next stage of JTL’s inquiry. Unfortunately that means 3 weeks of rumour, innuendo and plain rubbish regardless of any facts.

          • When you read some cycling forums and news threads its easy to believe how they used to drown women for being witches. Things have not really moved on that much. Sad.

          • Agreed on the rumors and witch hunting. Add to that the political language of Cookson and Brailsford. Brailsford talks of support, but suspends JTL, talks of confidentiality, but then mentions that the irregularities in question were from his time at Endura, when a little homework shows that JTL was actually training with Sky almost all of last season.

          • LM (and INRNG): where is the source saying that Sky have suspended him? As per the Sky statement:

            ‘”He has withdrawn from racing whilst his response to the UCI is prepared then considered by the UCI.

            This is a very different thing from being suspended.

            As for Brailsford breaking any confidentiality….Walsh’s article already cited the period in question for the values the UCI want JTL to explain.

            And lastly…JTL was not training ‘almost all season’ with Sky. He attended a training camp alongside Sky climbers in the spring, otherwise he was racing with Endura on a full race program from Jan through to the Tour of Britain, with a break when he crocked his collarbone at Lincoln GP in May. With the exception of that Sky training camp experience, he was training mostly on his own in the West Country or with Endura, from Jan through Tour of Britain in Sep.

          • As to suspension, do you think he pulled himself from the Worlds because of performance? read the As to 2012 training, read the latest Endura Pressy and/or the article at Velo Nation. Do you think he trained all by himself for ToB? Or, with Sky?

          • We shouldn’t even be talking about this, because we shouldn’t even know about it. And, really, we don’t know anything about it. I also don’t understand what you’re trying to prove, but let’s agree to wait for both what will be an informed article here and then a fuller story at the end of the month.

    • Feel for JTL. There are two issues here.

      Firstly the leak. The McQuaid conspiracy theories are unlikely, so this leaves a leak from Sky. I have a horrible feeling that Sky have leaked this to there “good friend” to avoid the news coming from another source and, if JTL is unable to prove his innocence, avoid accusations that they covered the issue up.

      Regarding the passport data. The values that are being questioned are reported to be from Sky testing whilst he was still with Endura at the back end of 2013. Are these from internal Sky testing? How are these included in the passport system? Are the same protocols used?

      After a torrid season it was looking like JTL was regaining some form looking at his performances in Canada.

  2. A question on the brakes issue; while discs stop better in wet conditions, isn’t this maybe a case of the manufacturers flogging something that is not on the whole better and nobody needs? Discs are heavier, and more complicated, hydraulics are messy. To assimilate them into the racing peloton would almost have to be done wholesale for safety, changing a wheel becomes more complicated with more chances of failure because of disc to caliper alignment and the greater chance of a paper thin disc getting bent. Just imagine, every rider with discs, a 40 rider pile up on the second day of the Tour; instead of the bulk of the riders picking up, dusting off and carrying on, there are now 25 to 50 wheel changes just from bent discs. I’ve got discs on two bikes; they’re great off road and they’re tricky on a city commuter, but I can’t see them on a serious race bike. Am I off the mark?

    Tiernan-Locke, no matter how it all goes down and it’s not looking good for T-L, is just the the next chapter of McQuaid-Cookson, no?

  3. Why the hell would you need a rear disc on a 14lb race bike or even a front one for that matter. I can see the reasoning on a loaded up tourer but as for race bikes, the marketing BS is pure.

      • Man, looking at that list, it’s really been a bad year from belgian cycling. They’re all classy rider, but none of them has really been dominant this year.

      • Although he has not won too much; although a regular on the podium, I do feel that
        Greg Van Avermaet is due the award! After dragging Gilbert in his wheel
        the past few years he is now getting the chance to shine for himself!

  4. What does is say about pro cycling when the winner of the 2013 Vuelta does not have a contract for 2014?
    We’re going to get hydraulic disc brakes whether we like them or not I fear, but here’s an interesting take on the idea
    As to bike thefts, long-haul truckers seem to have some pretty nice sleeping compartments, nobody is asking the poor staff person to unfold a cot next to the workbench in back. An alarm system that wakes up the guy inside, who can then call the cops while he’s making a bunch of noise himself, would likely make the burglars look elsewhere for easier pickings.
    Andy Schleck’s the only one in the photo who knows why they put stems on wine glasses it seems 🙂

    • You should hold a wine glass differently depending on the drink. e.g. you should hold red wine by the cup to keep it warm but white wine by the stem so that it remains cool.

      Not that that has anything to do with cycling…

    • Not sure Horner’s contract situation say much about cycling. At his age, he’s a risk for next year, any team which signs him will want to do so at a discount. As a Grand Tour winner, he’ll be expecting a decent reward. Those two forces don’t gel easily.

      • I was taught to hold the glass by the STEM so as to not affect the temperature of the wine in any way, no matter what color the wine was – that’s why they have stems, otherwise red wine glasses could skip them, no?

        • I think you should allow the leisure of affecting your wine’s temperature with your hands if you feel like it. 🙂 I don’t like ice-cold Chardonnay, and reds are served too chilly in some places (my wife puts them in the fridge if I’m not watching). Besides, the stem seems to dignify the drink, somehow. In reverse, stem-less glasses, as in some Basque taverns, make wine-drinking somewhat less solemn and more convivial.

  5. Does anyone have a full list of which teams are disappearing next year. Seems like a lot from both WT and Pro Conti levels.
    Vacansoleil, Euskatel, Accent Jobs, Sojasun, Crelan-Euphony, Champion System?
    Any others?

  6. On the bike theft issue, why don’t they take the bikes (and maybe the wheels) inside for the night? It would be a bit of a hassle and you’d have to get an extra room to house them all but that seems much cheaper than hiring a guard and wouldn’t leave it up to someone sleeping to thwart a group of thieves. Maybe there’s something I’m missing here but this seems like a rather simple solution.

    • Easier said than done. First some hotel owners will say no, second the space might not be there and finally just think of the work, a team will often travel with three bikes per rider plus several wheelsets.

      • Agreed. In my experience continental hotels especially are quite flexible and try to accommodate bikes but many hotels wouldn’t have the space to store bikes. Extra rooms means extra expense. If a team’s staying at the same hotel for a few nights then it might be worth the hassle but most are moving on a daily basis – up and out by 10am – so the extra work would be significant.


        • Yeah the amount of work to move it all would be a pain but I thought I saw that Garmin lost $250k worth of equipment back in the February heist. It just seems like it would be worth it from a cost and peace of mind perspective. Then again if the hotel owner says no there is not much you could do, there are only so many hotels in these places.

          • Agreed that safe storage would offer peace of mind but the practicalities may not be ideal. Last year a group of 9 of us rode across mainland Europe and the UK and the hotels differed a lot in where we were able to leave the bikes. Only twice were they stored in a bedroom, the rest of the time they had to be locked in underground car parks or store rooms. It worried me and our bikes were only worth around 10,000 in total. We only had 9 bikes so you can imagine the space needed for a full team with kit.


    • Put all the riders on standard equipment. Fixed gear, steel frame, aluminium rims. Nothing worth stealing so the theft problem goes away.

      All this talk of disc brakes makes me depressed. Going to have to run for UCI president in four years time.

  7. I would appreciate some historical perspective. Is the number of teams folding this year as unusual and even calamitous as it seems? Or is this not unusual in pro cycling?

  8. re Bike Thefts:
    The costs of a night guard, or outfitting the trucks with alarms, seems pretty negligible relative to what’s at stake.
    I’ve hired night guards at major regional races in USA, to keep an eye on vendors’ booths and such. It only costs about US$ 100-150 for one guard

    • I read on another site that Trek are still in discussion with Horner but my reading was that he (CH) didn’t seem to be that optimistic.
      On the other hand, on VeloNews he is saying he would like another couple of years in the saddle: a hello come and get me cry!

  9. What’s with all the surprise about Thomas de Gendt? Yeah, he podiumed in the Giro a couple of years back, but that was on the back of a speculative breakaway ride on the Stelvio. Sure, it was a thrilling stage to watch and a great ride, but he’s never come close to achieving anything similar since. All told, what has he won this year? Or any other year for that matter? The odd stage here or there.

    Serial breakaway rider, hardly a big time rider that teams would queue up to sign. As is evidently the case. Nothing against him personally, I’m just curious as to why there is all this apparent surprise about him not being picked up.

    • Two stages in Paris Nice and a stage of Suisse is nothing to sneeze at. But more importantly he’s twice come top 5 in Tour de France TTs (long ones) and having won twice solo on mountain stages means he can go uphill, and really, that combination is the hottest commodity in cycling.
      You’d think on a team more scientific his ability could be guided to a consistent GT top 10 – valuable points for any team.

      • He seemed to flop badly when given the starring role at VCS after his admittedly brilliant Giro win. Did little of genuine note last season. Perhaps needs to ‘reinvent’ himself as a pure classics guy or a super domestique. Cos right now I don’t know what he is – he certainly isn’t viable as a GC contender for a top-ish team. He’s only 26 though so hopefully he’ll come again and carve out a place somewhere. I can see him being a mountain-engine in the Sky mould perhaps, like a Cataldo.

  10. Didn’t a pro cyclist tweet a link to his stolen bike on the German EBay site a while back? Can’t recal the details but think he was struggling with getting police action..

  11. On a related note the police still seem to treat ‘push bikes’ like someone’s nicked your wheelbarrow from the garden rather than potentially a possession worth more than many cars. Tracking has got to be in the solution. Good article by one of JTL’s former teammates and friend on one of the cycling websites. Heartfelt and convincing with regards to his innocence.

  12. Hadn’t realised that Team GB Sky still ride in addidas but Team Sky Pro are in Rapha, to me that would feel a bit weird, different seam positions etc. I assume the Addidas headline sponsor applies universally across Team GB (until it becomes Nike?), marginal gains..

    • It’s the same for most riders at the worlds – the National team clothing sponsors are different to rider team sponsors, unless they by chance ride for a national team with the same sponsor as their employer.

      In the TT Cancellara was wearing Assos (usually wears Craft) and Martin was wearing Bioracer (usually wears Vermarc).

      The Italian team is Castelli sponsored, so Nibali, Luca Paolini, Visconti and so on all got to wear Gabba jerseys that they wouldn’t usually be allowed, as none of them ride for Garmin Sharp.

      With their trade team helmets and bikes (and personal sponsor shoes) it’s a brand name mashup.

Comments are closed.