Wednesday Shorts

Luka Mezgec of Giant-Shimano wins the final stage of the Giro. He was visibly faster and the image above helps show why.

Look at him compared to Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp), Mezgec’s head and shoulders are angled low while the other two have their heads higher than their backs.

Does the camera lie? You could think it’s possible the image has caught an instant in time but look closely and you see all three have virtually the same phase in the pedals with their left foot at or about 12 o’clock. You can see Mezgec has a level position throughout in the video highlights of the stage too.

Mezgec’s low position alone doesn’t explain the win but at close to 70km/h every aerodynamic advantage counts and position is the biggest one going. Several riders have improved their technique while Mark Cavendish is famous for producing relatively few watts but being so low on the bike that he can reach higher speeds than the others.

Mezgec has to be one of the best signings in recent years too. Hired initially because he had a stack of points after winning in Asian and the Dutch team were worried about staying in the World Tour the Slovenian has proved fast enough to win targeted races.

FDJ’s Sprint Dilemma
Now to a story about two sprinters trying to hold their heads up high. FDJ have a management dilemma with Arnaud Démare and Nacer Bouhanni both wanting to ride the Tour de France. Two cohabiting sprinters is a tough ask but especially since the team has promised Thibaut Pinot can have two climbers and two bodyguards for the flat stages. Add on the two sprinters and that’s one lead out each per sprinter. One solution, reports today’s L’Equipe is to identify suitable stages and alternate the sprint leadership from day to day. Bouhanni wasn’t supposed to ride the Tour (he did it last year) and has been exploring transfer options soon after he was dropped from FDJ’s team for Milan-Sanremo. But as pointed out on here the other day, the team is having a great season with 16 wins only 15 of these have come from their sprinters. Lose Bouhanni and they lose a lot of wins and points. It’s complicated but suggests management problems where roles and goals were not set out clearly early enough in the year. All this might seem like a lot of trouble just so a rider can finish 4th in a Tour bunch sprint. Démare and Bouhanni are good but have yet prove invincible.

Sky’s Wiggins Dilemma
Rivalry, doubts over selection and talk of leaving the team? Obviously there’s the case of Bradley Wiggins too but that’s all over the media. Tales of rivalry and selection are good for the media with expert analysis of the Kremlinology: “does Wiggins’s selection for the Tour de Suisse mean he’s not in the Tour Team?” etc.

One of the revelations of the Giro was Alexis Vuillermoz. Part of the Sojasun team that folded last year it was late into October before he signed with Ag2r La Mondiale. His nickame is Pikachu, after the Pokémon character and came about after he wore a yellow helmet. That’s him above in the offending article.

Rider nicknames have gone into decline with monikers like “Froomey” and “Dodger” or francophone “Juju” and “Kiki” as opposed to classics like “the Eagle of Toledo”, “The Butcher of Sens” and “the Eternal Second” but presumably this is because they’re dreamt up on the team bus rather than created by the wordsmiths of the press room. A superior exception in the peloton is “El Condor” which is being used for Nairo Quintana. This name had been used by José Rujano but he’s vanished from the scene and seems to have vacated the name too.

What Next for Nairo Quintana?
The Colombian his having a break and his next race will be the Vuelta a Burgos in August before he rides the Vuelta. He’s also moving to Monaco according to newspaper reports. There goes the Col de la Madone record.

Alex Dowsett’s “forbidden” record
Onto another Movistar rider and a different record. Alex Dowsett set a new 10-mile record in Britain the other day with a time of 17.20 (average speed 55.7km/h), a sign he’s on form as he hopes to ride the Tour de France. But you might remember the row over “forbidden races”, namely events run outside of the remit of the UCI and its member national federations. Such events include many US mountain bike events but also a lot of time trials in Britain which are held under the rules of an alternative governing body which does not subscribe to the UCI. Of course Dowsett is unlikely to be sanctioned, rather it’s a reminder of the absurdity of the UCI’s rules which try to prevent people from riding alternative events and that this issue has yet to be resolved. Hopefully it is agreed by the UCI Congress in September.

Critérium du Dauphin-early
I’ll do daily previews for this race. One thing to note ahead of the race is the early timings with most stages forecast to finish at 2.50pm French time which means breakfast in America while Australians don’t have to burn the midnight oil.

Skoda Tour of Luxembourg
The race starts today with an evening prologue and Jimmy Engoulvent is not riding; he’s won the prologue in 2010, 2012 and 2013 making him on of those arch-specialists who seem to excel in one race above all others. Think Greg Van Avermaet who’s taken almost half his pro career wins in the Tour de Wallonie or Simon Špilak, the Tour de Romandie specialist. We’ll see the Schleck brothers back in action – remember them? They will ride the Tour de Suisse too but the local race should be a way to gauge their form. Whatever you think – and Twitter seems full of abuse directed at Andy – the story of Andy Schleck showed a rider on the dawn of a golden career… which never flourished in the way we expected. A note of caution for all hype when a rider appears on the scene in a stage race.

Orica’s French mission
Orica-Greenedge are the fun lovin’ team and sponsor Orica might want continued good publicity this July. It manufactures explosives for mining and other specialist chemicals and has a long list of environmental accidents. The latest concern is the stockpile of hexachlorobenzene. Considered carcinogenic, the solvent is stocked in Sydney but there’s no means to dispose of it there and the company has been trying to find somewhere, anywhere, to dispose of it safely. It’s now found a possible destination: France. A previous attempt in Denmark failed after pressure from environmental groups. Johnny Halliday on air guitar? Serge Gainsbourg’s Je T’Aime Mon Non Plus? On second thoughts, please no.

Housekeeping / Donation Update
Work’s ongoing for on a donation function for readers to contribute. If it happens you’ll see a pop-up on screen but there’s no obligation: zap it with a click if it’s not for you and it won’t appear every time you visit. The plan is that anyone donating over a yet to be worked out amount in $/€/£ etc will get a cap or some socks sent back.

97 thoughts on “Wednesday Shorts”

  1. Good idea having a tip jar for us to throw a few euros your way for providing this nice forum, still the most civilized and informative out there. Sponsorship’s a bit too rich for us, but we’re happy to chip-in to keep you going.

  2. Robert Gesink is (in Dutch) nicknamed the ‘condor van Varsseveld’, Varsseveld being his hometown in a country so flat that no condors dare. My two cents about the donation – I’d prefer a cap over socks, and I’ll send more than 2 cents when you’ve established the function button.

  3. In most countries, the UCI federations have at least national olympic committee funding as well as government funding and enjoy their government-sponsored monopolies. If they formally loosen the rules to permit elites riding non-UCI events, it weakens their monopoly.

    I think this rule stays on the books, and softly enforced by “encouraging” riders to avoid unsanctioned events. In the U.S. elite riders will simply ignore it as nearly all do not make much more than barista wages anyway. Other countries may have better luck having better funded competitive cycling economies.

  4. What’s the background of the Giant-Shimano management team? They seem to have done a fantastic job in developing their sprinters. I’ve only heard praise for Giant’s late-burst trains and use of altitude training to boost power (do OPQS and Lotto do the same?), and no suspicion raised about their recent success. Do they have a squeaky clean track record? In cycling terms, I mean – i.e. are they Julich I-didn’t-inhale types or more of the Bruyneel I-injected-spectators-with-my-epo-tipped-devils-horns-just-for-shits-and-giggles variety.

      • Sorry to put you on the spot, inrng. It was intended as an open question. It’s just odd how I know what Brailsford uses to treat his IBS (it’s called the Tour de Suisse), but very little about other successful teams. And, an Inrng Suspicion Index would be (potentially costly) fun. Certainly more useful than a Clinic Index ranging from 8.9 “His Mum told me she force fed him from birth with her testosterone-infused implants” at the lower end to 9.0 “His blood supply has been entirely replaced with xenon and oxygen-generating nanites” at the top.

  5. Another vote for cap over socks. A link/button rather than a pop-up might be better long-term, although a pop-up once or twice seems reasonable to me.

  6. “Je t’aime… MOI non plus.”

    I vote for socks! Can’t have enough of them.

    A link to PayPal is a good idea–people might not want to donate on the first or even fifth visit, but sooner or later the value of INRNG is inescapable, and then they’ll want to hit up the ol’ tip jar.

  7. I’d be happy to donate but I dislike (and block) pop-ups. A permanent link underneath the sponsor banner would be my preference. And socks because I would want to wear INRNG gear while cycling and don’t like a cap underneath a helmet.

    • Hopefully there will be a permanent page too. The pop-up should appear once but kill it and it won’t come back the next time. There are settings I can use that it returns, say, every 10, 20, 30, 100 visits or whatever. I’m not looking to shakedown readers nor annoy everyone so will set it at a level that doesn’t annoy.

      • P0p-up, bad. Permanent link, good. Better yet, a way to make on going contributions with a set it once and done option. I don’t mind ongoing contributions to sites that are worthy, National Public Radio (NPR), etc. Inner Ring fits that criteria for me. Cap or socks? Who cares just keep the Inner Ring turning!

      • Now that you are headed down the slippery technical slope:

        Since I (and probably a couple more readers) run a number of plugins to “tame” my Internet experience, I’ll never see the pop-up and the cookie that the server checks to pop-up X-times is never set.

        You need a permanent link on the side.

        Don’t give up. You’ll get it sorted out.

  8. Love your write ups, would be up for an inrng cap….wonder what your threshold will be! Wonder as well if once donated, will the pop up continue appear? Also tend to block pop ups, so will there be another way to donate?

    • A bit like AK above if you zap the pop-up because you don’t want to donate, it won’t appear for the next X number of visits – I’ve yet to set the count and don’t want it flashing up all the time as obviously this would be annoying and I’m not here to waste people’s time.

      But if someone does donate I understand it won’t appear at all for a set period, the time period I can set too. Was thinking 6 months would be a suitable period? But feedback welcome.

      The general tone is to avoid being intrusive, this is a blog and not a commercial venture.

  9. Big tick for a Inner Ring cap for the follically challenged portion of your readership. A Paypal tie up would be the ideal way to contribute to some of the best cycling content on the interweb.

  10. I suspect you have this covered but I would suggest that the pop up doesn’t appear instantly to new readers.

    I like the fact that part of the reason behind the donation page is inrng responding to the demands of the readership. I’m sure a secondary career in customer relationship management awaits!

  11. As someone who reads almost exclusively on the mobile platform, I’d also like a link to a donation page, as I think safari mobile disables pop-ups (if they’re even available). This site is fantastic, and I’d love to support it in any way possible.

    • CN have seriously lost the plot when it comes to ad space / ad pop ups. And that’s another reason I come here! That and the civilised nature of these comments!

  12. Vote for cap over socks but you could offer a choice. Vote for PayPal link in top right hand corner rather than pop-ups. Look at veloviewer, who in a different way, offers similar value.

    • Caps too. I would really like to contribute because the quality of Mr Ring’s articles is so great; I learn so much every time I visit the Inner Ring!

  13. Just the other day I was thinking about the generally lame quality of nicknames in cycling these days. However, on Wikipedia it says Phillipe Gilbert’s nickname is the Boar of the Ardennes, is this true or not? That’s pretty cool, but I’ve never heard anyone call him that.

  14. One aspect that seems to have been ignored in the discussion in that podcast about Wiggins is the role of sponsor Sky in this. This blog does an excellent job of covering cycling as not only a sport but a business, yet much of the talk around Sky’s TDF selection is just focusing on form and personality.

    Wiggins is a huge figure not just in British pro cycling but Britain in general. and is the face of much of Sky’s publicity and even recreational riding, ads for getting people on bikes use Wiggins. Therefore while Froome and Brailsford might be thinking about which 9 men will best win Sky it’s 3rd TDF on the trot, the sponsors who pay their salaries might have a different view.

    As we recently saw with the Tour of California which was in part dictated by the American sponsors (according to Cyclocosm 44% of the pro peloton is directly supported by American name and/or bike sponsors), the moneymen have a significant say in who rides where and when. All the arguments against Wiggins lining up in July are very rational, but rationality isn’t everything, especially when it’s business.

    • Oh I think it is very rational to keep businessmen happy. Wiggins, I think, could also be helped by being in the tour seen working for Froome, it’ll go a long way to soften his image of a C-word dropper with the patience of a honey badger.

      • I sincerely hope we won’t be denied the prospect of Wiggins ending up in yellow after the first week and a half, before any of the big hills come in to play, and all the delightful ramifications that might ensue…. please please please…

        oh, cap and socks to encourage multiple trips to the tip jar…

    • There will probably be a few calls between Dave Brailsford and James Murdoch but ultimately the goal is to win the Tour de France, if Wiggins can contribute to this in any way from being a windshield domestique all the way to be being team leader then he might ride. Remember we went through a lot of this last year too although this year’s start in Yorkshire ratchets up the pressure as does Wiggins’ form in California.

      • And the cobbles on st 5, INRNG. And Stannard having to be discounted (he’d have been an almost auto-pick for the Tour squad) doesnt help things either. They need some big engines, some mix of rouleurs in there. That first week in particular is chock full of traps.

      • Of course last year Wiggins’ injury (although there have been doubts cast on its severity) and lack of form kept him out of selection anyway, sparing Sky this sort of agony 12 months ago. This year is the real sequel to 2012.

        The other thing Wiggins’ selection could do to help would be to take some of the media heat off Froome, especially if the latter is in the Yellow Jersey. Of course if he were selected there would be endless questions about the team leadership (unless of course Wiggins loses a lot of time fast) but there will be just as many, if not more, such questions if Wiggo isn’t selected. Wiggins is definitely a better media performer than Froome and his responses to the, also inevitable, doping questions (which I like to think would be somewhat akin to Hinault’s from last year) will keep everybody amused and give Froome a slightly easier time (which will please everybody, including Michelle Cound).

    • Agree entirely. There is a huge battle going on between BT and Sky at the moment which could, literally, be a fight to the death. Sky would do immeasurable harm to their reputation if they didn’t select Wiggins. More harm than a third Tour win could compensate for.

  15. I presume the cap will be a casquette and not a baseball cap? Love the fact that OPQS have binned the podium baseball caps this season in favour of proper cycling caps. Has anyone else noticed that?

  16. Ideal scenario for Sky is surely to start with both beanpoles and let them sort it out on the road. First to the top on each summit finish gets protection for the following day. Makes no team sense but would be fun to watch and the loser would just have to shut up and live with it.

    • I think the problem isn’t so much the performance on the road, it’s the ones off it. Given what we’ve seen Froome is the better stage racer for the hillier route, he can match Contador in the mountains when Wiggins probably can’t. Instead it’s the morale and teamwork issue, bad moods on the team bus etc can sink and divide the team.

      • Your thoughtful reply is over-generous to my flippant proposal. At least we can take comfort that Sir David Brailsford is earning his keep in sorting the whole thing out.

        PS – Richie Porte might have a few things to prove given his non-Giro too. The ultimate team man but still……

        • If Brailsford had sorted things out at the time i.e. before the end of the 2012 season, instead of trying to ignore the whole thing, there may not have needed to be this discussion. Whatever way you look at it, failure to deliver up the 2 British Tour winners on the start line of the Tour starting in England this year…will/would raise a big question mark over his man management skills.

          • Excellent point. You can’t imagine a proper manager like Allan Peiper letting something go to the point where wives and girlfriends are having a public spat and why didn’t someone sort out the bonus thing sooner?

  17. WRT the sprint issues at FDJ: surely there’s enough room on the bus for both egos? Giant-Shimano seems to manage and they arguably have three sprinters.

    • Don’t forget they are backing Pinot for a good GC ride, he gets four riders. So that leaves a sprinter and three riders in support. Two sprinters means no lead out train. Also the big difference is they’re French. Riding the Tour de France takes on another meaning, to ride the Tour is to exist.

  18. pop ups…nooooooooooooooooo….fools gold: see earlier comments about bounce rate and the ire at cyclingnews’ descent in to the darkside with their pop-up fiascoes.

    Just sell branded sprocket brushes, etc

    This is the best cycling site on the web, don’t drop the ball.

  19. Caps? Socks? Either really as long as they fit. “One size fits all” doesn’t work for socks and it’s positively criminal that some companies think it should be allowed to work for hats! Rant over. Sorry 🙁
    //INRNG socks would be my preference (decent ones, though!)

    • We’re only talking socks and caps as opposed to anything, eg I’m not giving away oil paintings or the latest phone… but as we all know the quality can vary. I’m only interested in the good stuff.

      • It may affect the donation amount required as they are not cheep, but consider asking Walz to do caps if you go caps. Quality is A+, a few sizes to choose from too. The best there are!

  20. Nice finishing shot of Mezgec, Nizzolo, and Farrar – dilemma of team sponsoring at its best.
    Will it be a common sight soon to only see the logos of bike makers dashing to the finish line?

  21. Would you consider a donation system similar to LFGSS ? If you are not familar with it, a tab at the top glows bright red if you have not yet donated, then blends with the others once you have. Not in-your-face but a gentle reminder that the service you are enjoying ad-free (making appropriate allowances for the single ad here which is great btw) does not appear as if by magic each day. And it makes you feel good once you have donated, as if you use the site a lot you want to support it.

    The site offers different ways to donate, either one-off or regular, and provides template amounts eg. GBP3 per quarter or the ability to enter your own figure.

    Given the general feel of the site I wonder if this would be less intrusive/commercial than a pop-up. Cyclingquotes seems to have just introduced a pop-up (albeit for a 3rd party ad I think) and this has made me think twice about visiting as it is pesky to say the least. I know you say any pop-up here would disappear once clicked but I think it risks changing the tone of the blog for the worse. You have a great product in your writing, insight and knowledge – please preserve it!

    • Hi, the software I’m looking at uses something similar to this. As with others the “pop-up” won’t appear often, just once and then a gentle reminder maybe once every two weeks rather than the alien zombie that stalks browsers of cyclingnews and ravages screens and monitors.

  22. It seems I’m out voted but I would far rather have socks!

    Orica GreenEdge’s nicknames are definitely team given and many are typically Australian (when in doubt, stick an o on the end) although a special mention for ‘Ween Dog’ for Peter Weening and ‘Bling’ for Matthews.

  23. Interesting the voting for cycling caps verses socks. I would bet most Americans are voting socks
    most caps gather dust in cycleries here in the US. Euro’s want the caps?

    dedicated button over popups looking forward to contributing

  24. Socks for this Euro woman please -don’t think I’ve ever worn a cap, casquette or otherwise, in my life, and now it’s far too late to do so with any dignity. But you’re never too old for socks!

  25. +1 on permalink and caps

    Maybe a link at the bottom of every post that says: enjoy this content? Feel free to support inrng. Donate here. Regular font.

    I think i would find that less intrusive, but would get seen more.

  26. Another tour without wiggo. Whatever the politics and sporting considerations the race will be poorer for the lack of interesting personalities. Facial hair can make a legend!

  27. On your piece on Dowsett, time-trialling in the UK is even more complicated that just being run by one non UCI body. In Scotland the vast majority of time trials are run under UCI rules via Scottish Cycling. Scottish Cycling use British Cycling’s insurance & licence structure, but are not strictly speaking part of British Cycling, a separate limited company in fact. So in Scotland, time trials are run under control of a body not directly affiliated to the UCI, but associated to one & under UCI rules. There’s quite a debate on equipment rules right now, they’re not really being enforced like they are on the track in Scotland, so in the future it may all change. Or it may all change completely if Scotland vote to leave the UK in September.

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