Thursday Shorts

Is Philippe Gilbert back? He won the Brabantse Pijl yesterday by beating Michael Matthews in the sprint but only minutes before he was making a big solo effort off the front of the bunch. It’s only his second win since the world championship title in 2012 and his first win in a BMC jersey in his home country. We’ll know more about his form and confidence this Sunday with the Amstel.

Can Cancellara Sprint?
Following his second place to Alexander Kristoff in Sanremo and then the win in the Tour of Flanders Fabian Cancellara seems to have dumped the reputation for not having a fast finish. But was this really true? For me he’s never been slow, it’s just he wasn’t experienced and was prone to a few tactical mistakes, from sprinting with his hands on the brake hoods (eg the Copenhagen world championships) or going the long way around a rider. Clearly he’s no pure sprinter but has a big reservoir of power on tap. One difference this year is that he has been working hard on his sprint with coach and manager Luca Guercilena.

Big Cheese
One rider who can sprint is Bryan Coquard. An outsider for the Amstel Gold Race perhaps given his form and his light frame. He won the hilly Paris-Camembert race earlier this week. In case you didn’t know, Camembert is famous for its eponymous cheese. Perhaps the most French of cheeses. The race has been sponsored by cheese-maker Lepetit since 1943, the longest continual sponsorship deal in cycling. Disappointingly they don’t seem to award the winner their weight in cheese any more. The win-your-weight-in-produce was a publicity coup that seems to have vanished.

No Giro for Colombians?
It’s being reported several Colombian riders have been denied a visa for travel to the UK in order to start the Giro in Belfast with Jarlinson Pantano, Carlos Quintero and Miguel Rubiano out of the race. Hopefully this can be fixed but there’s only three weeks to go.

Boasson Hagen Shopping
Sky’s Norwegian rider could move to a new team for 2015. In an article with his agent lists several criteria for the new squad: Peace of mind, good team mates, English speaking team, a good race program, he will have own chances in some races and a “promising” team.

That’s quite a shopping list for a rider who’s won more races in Norway than outside in the last two years. He’s valuable but the list looks complicated largely because where Boasson Hagen can win, others can. For example BMC Racing could hire him but he’d clash with Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaet. He could join the new Alonso team but might find himself as Peter Sagan’s understudy. Trek and Garmin-Sharp as the alternatives?

Take Part
Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race has the toerversie on Saturday. The Tour version is the open ride for all and one of the most popular rides in the Netherlands. In fact you can ride the events for four of five of the major spring classics on the eve of the pro race: Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Only Milan-Sanremo doesn’t offer this but it’s no bad thing given much of the course is dull and the exciting parts are on a busy coastal road which would chaotic to close. There is a gran fondo to Sanremo but it’s not official and held in the summer. It’s a great way to try the route for yourself, sample the local cuisine after and then watch the pros the next day.

How to change a deflated image
You know how to change a tube, right? And if you don’t there are many instructional videos on the web. After his public image was punctured, this week’s video of Lance Armstrong showing how to change a tube is a PR attempt designed to reflate his reputation rather than any practical tip.

Talking of things deflating, the stock price of TCS Group Holding reached a record low this week. Better known as Tinkoff Credit Systems the company’s stock price chart looks like the profile of a downhill time trial. The significance? Not too much because Oleg Tinkov sold out at a high point but it means business still isn’t booming.

If you watched Paris-Roubaix closely you might have seen the Sojasun logo on the Cannondale team jersey. The French company has done a deal with the squad after pulling out of sponsorship from its own team last year. But several riders in the French squad had a valid contract for 2014. It wasn’t with Sojasun but the management company of former DS Stéphane Heulot and now Heulot is trying to liquidate the company to the consternation of those unemployed riders still owned wages.

UCI News
The UCI’s appointed Sébastien Gillot as “Head of Communications” and he’ll work with current press officer Louis Chenaille. The governing body has appointed Deltatre, an agency, to help rework its website too with plans to unveil a new “portal” this summer. What a difference a year makes, last April we were treated to the news of Pat McQuaid’s botched Irish nomination.

magny cours

2015 Tour de France
We know the start will be in Utrecht but I can reveal that the race will have a stage finish on the Magny Cours motor-racing circuit. Plans can change but after a successful trial with Paris-Nice the Tour is due to visit in 2015. Who will win the sprint?

Sing Along
2015? Yes you might want to skip a year after hearing the “official song” of the Yorkshire grand départ for this summer’s Tour.

But it needn’t be this way. The 2014 Giro’s official song, “Pedala” by Frankie Hi-Nrg MC is surely better…

If you don’t get the Italian it’s titled “Ride” and about cycling as a metaphor for life with its ups and downs.

37 thoughts on “Thursday Shorts”

    • Deltatre have a good record for website design (they did the London Olympics site and Rugby World Cup amongst others) and sports info-graphics on TV as well. It should bring the UCI’s on-line presence into the present day.
      Who knows, perhaps we will even get to see a few more races, with some relevant in-race info as well.
      (Disclaimer – a mate of mine works at Deltatre. I’ll see if he can tell me a bit more of the detail)

  1. A sprint after 250 kilometres is rather different to one after 200 kilometres, but the FC certainly has the power.

    INRNG. Have you any information concerning TV showing of bike races going forward, it would be interesting to hear your take. Although demand is probably large but not enormous, there is clearly plenty of scope to grow the market. A growing market will attract more investment in the sport. This is not going to happen with the amateurish presentations at present available, Eurotrash and CK nor with pirate feeds, both of which require endless techniques to either understand/avoid the uninformed commentary or defeat pop ups. These two options lose market share not grow it.

    It is surely in the best interests of all promoters, including ASO and the UCI, that some real progress is made in this poorly presented area. I understand that SKY might be stirring !

    • I’ll write something fuller but it’s important to remember that the audiences in the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand add up in total to a smaller number than the TV audience in France for a Tour stage. For all the new fans wanting high tech TV, there are more views in Belgium, Italy and France who don’t care and just want to see the scenery in HD. But maybe next week I’ll explore the split between fans and the wider, larger audience.

      • Sorry if the TV question was a little off topic. Thanks for your reply and I look forward to your contribution.
        Although the TV audience in the countries you mention may be relatively small at present, the potential audience is vast. Without professional, modern presentation and presenters it is surprising the audiences are of the size they presently are. If you tried watching Brabantse Pijl yesterday, outside of restricted areas, it’s small wonder there were only the very keenest of fans watching. Numbers don’t always reflect true potential demand.

      • I continually amazes me that the Americans struggle so much to watch some of the biggest races of the season (classics, etc). While the overall audience may be small in the context of the races’ traditional European supporter base, surely the growth is in places like the US (the worlds biggest economy). If all of the bike, bicycle accessory and clothing manufacturers crawl all over themselves to tap the US market why aren’t the Euro race organisers doing the same? What about starting with a simple pay per view web-stream for the regions that don’t otherwise have an available live telecast? Surely that is better than the revenue leakage that happens with the pirate feeds. What may be a small market today could be huge tomorrow. It does’t make sense – particularly with all of the financial problems various races are having. I suppose we forget at times how backwards some parts of the sport really are.

        Glad I live in Australia where the available coverage increases every year with most races able to be viewed live (if you can manage to say up late enough).

        • We had that situation in the USA back when BigTex was in his salad days and before that with Greg LeMond. Just wait until you Aussies no longer have any big stage-race contenders…TV interest will flag there too I think. Meanwhile NBC has some streaming options as does Cycling TV. But with the inane commentary that comes with those plus seemingly constant interruptions for commercial messages, I take my chances with dodgy pirate-feeds rather than pony up the loot they ask for. I pulled out my ancient coverage of the 1987 Paris-Roubaix the other day from CBS Sports Spectacular, a product of the LeMond era that died as Greg’s career wound down. Great production values on these – they must have spent a fortune.

  2. Watched Pip’s impressive win yesterday via some link to a tv station I had never heard of before and with Rob Hatch doing commentary. He looked very impressive given that his solo effort to bridge across to the front group turned into a complete waste of time. Noted that Rebellin was in the top dozen and it is 10 years since he won Amstel. I am no fan of his by the way but Gilbert’s form should liven up on Sunday

  3. In regards to the Colombians having their visas denied, La Cadenilla had a short interview with Pantano where he explains that they applied for a Transit visa, which I think only applies if you’re in transit at an airport. Since that’s not the case here, it was denied. It looks like the team screwed up in this matter.

    We Colombians generally get treated like crap when it comes to international travel, but you also can’t expect any favours if you don’t do things the right way.

  4. Agree on your Cancellara statement. Especially after a 200+ km race. I still dont know wy the television commentators took van marke for a better sprinter
    in the final of Flanders.

  5. Not sure about the “successful trial” of the Magny Cours finish at Paris Nice. Bike racing at 50km/h on motor circuits designed for 200km/h just looks boring.

  6. Regarding non-payment of wages, the UCI requires the teams place some large amount of money in escrow to prevent teams folding mid-season and leaving riders in a terrible spot. And yet, these riders are not/were not paid. Floyd Landis had a skirmish with the UCI for unpaid wages. and was basically told to “get lost.”

    Somethings are not right about the UCI’s escrow policies/system.

  7. I thought Gilbert was quite a surprise yesterday actually. When his individual pursuit of the break looked like a ‘chasse patat’, it looked like the Gilbert we’ve seen since his remarkable 2011 romp: just not quite good enough, flashes but not consistent or results to match. After that big and wasted effort, I figured he’d pay the price in cash and come up short in the sprint, but he beat Matthews and the rest of the field pretty handily. Obviously the competition will be stiffer in the coming races, but I think Phil might surprise again.

    Perhaps Giant-Shimano could be a logical destination for EBH? Built around sprinters/classic types and good development programme for young riders.

    Also, this week there is a new cycling film that premiered in Utrecht, site of the 2015 Grand Depart. “Nieuwe Helden: In het Hart van de Tour” (New Heroes: In the Heart of the Tour) follows the then Argos-Shimano team at the 2013 Tour de France, focuses on team ethic and anti-doping stance. Trailer here, mostly in Dutch (warning: Marcel Kittel shower scene!):

  8. EBH and English speaking teams – would that not include the likes of Belkin and TinkovSaxo as well?

    Perhaps the topic of a future post – the language of the pro peloton

  9. Win-Your-Weight-In-Produce has not quite vanished, thankfully.
    Have a look at Ramon Sinkeldam’s Twitter feed from early October last year just after the Binche-CHIMAY-Binche race.
    Lucky boy!

  10. Toerversies are indeed extremely popular. The AGR version has 12,000 places each year. A couple of years ago they changed the allocation of places to a lottery-style system after their website repeatedly crashed due to too many people trying to sign up at the same time. It’s too big an event for my liking – the roads are very busy that day. There are many smaller tours during the year – for example, the Volta Limburg event has a nice parcours and usually attracts around 3500 riders, making it more pleasant.


  11. MSR had a citizen ride, I think it was on the morning of La Primavera, starting and ending in San Remo. RCS gave us a pitch to participate, which we didn’t act upon, preferring to pay our homage to the race with our own itinerary in June when the weather’s most likely better
    And frankly, after doing the R&D on the route (we do skip most of the flat roads out of Milan) the traffic isn’t as bad as one might think. Nobody’s on the Turchino or Le Manie while the Cipressa and Poggio are fairly quiet as well. And if Mr. InnerRing will indulge this last bit, we have a couple of places on this tour still available at present.

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