Thursday Shorts

George Hincapie Lance Armstrong

There’s a fuss about George Hincapie’s gran fondo because it’s resembling a US Postal reunion. Lee Rodgers sets out the moral case on But whether your sympathetic to Hincapie or Armstrong or not doesn’t matter. The UCI rules are clear:

Note those rules apply to any event, theoretically even a BBQ run by a club that belongs to a UCI member federation is out of bounds. You’d think Armstrong had his legal entourage would know this or maybe he just wants to provoke USA Cycling into acting?

Chris Froome

From can’t to won’t? It’s still hard to understand Chris Froome’s response to the Tour de Framce route yesterday. Let’s take Nacer Bouhanni who won’t ride the Giro next year. But this year’s Giro has made him a millionaire and he dutifully showed up for the 2015 presentation in Milan a few weeks ago. Cofidis won’t ride, the French team are Pro Conti and if all goes we’ll plan to do the Tour and Vuelta. But even the straight-talking Bouhanni was making the right noises in Milan, saying he’d like to ride and praising the race. By contrast Froome’s statement is out before anyone’s digested the Tour route, he’s in effect saying “Nevermimd the ceremonial presentation, I’ve seen the predictions and maybe I’ll be washing my hair in July.” Froome is riding the Saitama criterium this weekend. That shredding sound you can hear might be his appearance fee being torn up.

Matthias Brändle

Brändle to attack hour record
Now for a more certain bid. As predicted the Hour Record is now open to all comers. Jens Voigt set a good standard with the palindromic 51.115km and now IAM Cycling’s Austrian rider Matthias Brändle is set to have a go. The whispers say 52km is possible. But he’s going to do it on the track in Aigle, Switzerland, also known as the UCI HQ. Why the “but”? Because it’s a 200 metre track. This is short and makes it harder work thanks to more laps – 260 -and more “G-force”. Aigle is not The Wall of Death but his 75kg means a lot of force on each of the 512 or more steep bends. We saw Voigt having to get out of the saddle at times to ease the strain. It’s also a cardio-vascular thing because the blood is spun outwards in the bends, impeding circulation. Still the whispers say 52km is on the cards, a good idea before Bradley Wiggins puts it on the shelf for some time. It’ll be done at the end of the month and you can watch on the UCI’s YouTube channel.

Marginal Portfolio Theory
If Brändle wasn’t your first pick for the next hour record attempt, which Team Sky and British Cycling staff member would you make as the ideal advisor for some of London’s hedge funds? Well it turns out Shane Sutton is now advising two giant asset managers on managerial techniques and performance coaching of the financial kind says the Financial Times. If you can’t read the article, paste the URL into Google’s search bar and hit search and then click on the first answer.

Team lotto NL jumbo

2015 will see Belkin become Team Lotto NL Jumbo. It’s great to see but the name is a mouthful and just as Omega Pharma-Quick Step became OPQS the Dutch team could see its name abbreviated. Meanwhile OPQS will become Etixx-Quick Step next year and Belgian rivals Lotto-Belisol become Lotto-Soudal.

At yesterday’s Tour de France presentation asked Brian Cookson about Roman Kreuziger’s biopassport case:

The matter is in the hands of lawyers and we’ll take legal advice on that. I fully expect that we’ll be appealing the case and within the time limits.”

WADA is teaming up with the UCI and is will ensure adequate funding.

The Kreuziger case will rumble on over the coming weeks and months, much like Astana’s license hearing. The case is turning into a national mission with the Kazakh sporting authorities pledging to put all pros on the athlete bio passport scheme. In L’Equipe today Vincenzo Nibali says the Kazakh sponsors are angry with the Iglinskiy brothers, especially as they’re Kazakhs. All this suggests considerable resources are going towards backing the pro team rather than abandoning it.

Sagan in green
The last word goes to a reader who’s looked at the new points scale for the Tour de France and retrospectively applied them to last July’s results. Sagan still wins by a long way.

71 thoughts on “Thursday Shorts”

    • You won’t be alone. Readers might remember Robert Marchand, the 102 year old “Hour” record holder. He’s in good health and could go again. He too rode at Aigle but was not quite leaning into the banking.

  1. Surely Cookson knew about the appeal because the CADF can’t actually appeal the case themselves – UCI have to. And being independent doesn’t mean they can’t talk to each other.

    And as for presentations, Cofidis may not intend to go to the Giro, but I bet Bouhanni would really like them to be get a Milan-San Remo wildcard. By contrast there’s little point in Froome turning up in Paris and spouting niceties.

      • He probably dislikes the course very much. You know why. And me too thinks that his chance of winning the race on this course is rather slim.
        His immediate reaction is his way of showing his dislike most prominently when all eyes are on the Tour. From his point of view it all makes sense I suppose.

      • But did ASO even ask him? They tend to invite the people who were the stars of the past year. So the attendees were the three on the podium, the two other yellow jersey wearers, a double stage winner and a retiring ex-champ. The only other rider I saw noticed there was Cavendish.

        The absence of Majka and Sagan (both jersey wearers, both Tinkoff riders) is more interesting than Froome, I’d say.

        • Riis organizes a team-building in Africa (!) at the end of October, hence the absence of T-S riders is no boycott.
          I understand CF’s response to over-reduced TTs, it is clear anti-Froome (and pro-Quintana) measure. We are used to him behaving always “professionally”, but somehow his furious first reaction is … human.

  2. Few questions about today’s article:

    >>Froome is riding the Saitama criterium this weekend. That shredding sound you can hear might be his appearance fee being torn up.

    I understand the point you are making that it would be better for Froome not to bite the hand that feeds him, but what is the relationship between an appearance fee in Japan and attending and hauling platitudes at the TdF route presentation? Not being snarky, just wondering if I’m missing anything.

    >>This is short and makes it harder work thanks to more laps – 260 -and more “G-force”. Aigle is not The Wall of Death but his 75kg means a lot of force on each of the 512 or more steep bends.

    Is the applied Gforce really significantly higher on a shorter track? Are the bends really sharper/steeper on a shorter track? If so, by how much? On an oval track, wouldn’t some (most) of the difference between 250m and 200m be taken out of the straightaways rather than the curves?

    Certainly, a higher portion of the 60 minutes will be spent with the rider leaned over and subject to Gforces, so the cumulative amount of g-force will be greater.

    >>It’s also a cardio-vascular thing because the blood is spun outwards in the bends, impeding circulation.

    Is this really a known medical condition? Makes sense that blood is affected by gforces, but what are the actual effects on the body? Does your right leg (outer) become super strong and your left leg (inner) become weak? Seems like the bigger effect would be on the brain/dizziness.

    Thanks in advance.

    • ASO owns both the Saitama criterium and the Tour de France. You bet they will shred the Saitama appearance fee over Froomie’s cold, public, not at the presentation, response.

      You have to wonder what happened between Froomie/Sky and ASO.

      • Froome acted solo with his pronouncement re the Tour. It was absolutely not sanctioned by Sky.

        He’ll be at the Tour because Sky don’t pay him his vast salary in order that he can choose not to ride it because he doesn’t like the route.

        Why did he act like that? Petulance and to show ASO his displeasure over the route and lack of TT kms.

        It ain’t gonna fly.

    • I’ve ridden a low-bank 250m, a modern 250m and a 333m track. It’s hard to describe as turning with steep banking, but the g-forces do strange things to your body as the banking sweeps/carries you into and out of the corners on a steep 250m track.

      IMO, a 200m track would be a little more challenging, but not as hard as pushing all that air out of the way to break the new record.

      Dizziness is mitigated by tilting your head in the corners.

      • >>IMO, a 200m track would be a little more challenging, but not as hard as pushing all that air out of the way to break the new record.

        Certainly agree that the most difficult is actually riding the 52k, though still wondering how much more challenging it would be on a smaller track.

        I’ve only been on a steep banked 333m track, so have nothing else to compare to. Did you feel like 250m high bank was significantly more difficult on your body than 333m?

        • I’ve ridden a 154m track with 47° banking and very short straights, and after a few dozen laps (e.g., during a pursuit race) you feel like laundry inside a tumble dryer, your lungs and shoulders being compressed and released in short intervals, it can get very uncomfortable very quickly.

          • The Aigle track has bends which are the same as a 250m track, the distance is cut from the straights. It’s more of a circle than an oval.

            Although I haven’t ridden on the black line for a hour in Aigle it didn’t feel quite as hard as some shorter tracks can do.

          • Wow, that’s not too far from this:

            Thanks for the insight.

            Trevor, thanks also for the info – would seem to indicate that the Aigle track bends should not cause any more discomfort per turn than the one Jens rode in Grenchen. Brändle will have to make 25+% more turns, however, which certainly won’t help him.

  3. A few typos in the Froome paragraph:
    “the Tour de Framce route yesterday”
    “if all goes we’ll plan to do the Tour and Vuelta”
    “Nevermimd the ceremonial presentation”

    While the time trials might not be ‘interesting’ for TV, it _is_ strange they’re so truncated next year. People on Twitter calling Froome a chicken for his reluctance was pretty funny (almost as funny as ‘Nibali considering re-signing with Astana’ being interpreted as ‘definitely going back to Astana to shove more EPO capsules up his nose’) but I’m not surprised he’s uninterested. A bit disappointed by his lack of enthusiasm, but not surprised. Maybe he just doesn’t want to play Tinkoff-Saxo’s hype game? There’s still a way to July yet.

    I wondered about the choice of guests for the presentations too. It’s weird I didn’t seen Quintana at the Giro or Tour presentations–is his shoulder injury that bad, is he in Colombia, is he not interested, or was he not invited? Majka or Sagan seem like glaring omissions too, as Rich said…

    You made good choices when you were licensing photos. RK with the Devil makes me smile every time (or smirk, depending on the context). Thanks again for your work!

    • Also, Froome’s Saitama appearance fee being shredded–can the ASO do that? I may be showing my ignorance (or taking intended hyperbole too literally) but I thought his appearance would be under a contract or some other arrangement that would have fees agreed already? It’s astonishing to think ASO won’t pay someone for turning up and racing, just cos they’re miffed at them!

      Even if you had some public-face/’don’t bring organisation into disrepute’ clause, does ‘writing a cold blog post about a different race everyone is opinionated about’ count? Maybe Froome should have used more emoticons???

  4. You’d think Armstrong had his legal entourage would know this or maybe he just wants to provoke USA Cycling into acting?

    USA Cycling wanted to let Armstrong ride, but the rules are clear and public opinion appeared too strong.

    USA Cycling is still run by the same guy, Thom Wiesel, and his assistant Steve Johnson, who were instrumental in creating the Armstrong doping scandals. Thom loves Armstrong as much as Armstrong loves Armstrong. If Thom had a problem with doping, then USPS would not have happened because he was involved almost on a daily basis during some races. Thom thinks doping is perfectly okay and has stated this before.

      • I was almost in the same situation but put the UCI rules up to show it was black and white, Armstrong can’t ride despite all the different views going around. Coincidentally or nearly so, n hour after this post went up USA Cycling have said he can’t ride either.

  5. I noticed no one seemed to kick up a fuss about JTL riding that Gran Fondo in Exeter in the UK last week. While I appreciate they have been banned for slightly different things, JTL probably shouldn’t of been riding it.

    I can only assume that the GF in the UK wasn’t a British Cycling event. Otherwise I would say it’s a bit hypercritical really.

    Regardless I don’t think you can have one banned rider doing a Gran Fondo just because it isn’t a Federation affiliated race, while another can’t because it is. Surely the rules need to be consistent here?

  6. Andy, the rules are consistent . How would a governing body govern an event that it doesn’t sanction? Assuming , of course that the Exeter event you mentioned is not a British cycling event

    • But that’s my point, if someone is banned they should be banned full stop, I dont think it shows any consistency that just because an event might not be a BC event or whatever that a rider can ride for example.

      The Exmoor Beast didnt appear to be a BC event so I guess you can ride that, but as I said I find it a bit insane that because an event isnt a USA Cycling or BC Sanctioned event someone can ride.

      • Andy, WADA,the UCI and its affiliated member organizations have no power over events that they don’t sanction. It’s that simple. So if the organizers of non-sanctioned events are happy to have dopers ride, there’s nothing that WADA and the like can do except exert moral pressure.

        • Non sanctioned ( by a uci federation) races have welcomed dopers for years. Tyler Hamilton ( and/or his twin) rode the mount Washington hillclimb while under suspension back in the day. It would be a good thing, imo if regular everyday riders refused to participate alongside cheaters, and told the organizers why they weren’t signing up but it looks like the Loyal Lieutenant uses it as sales feature. So much for supporting clean sport ,sigh

  7. Since you are THE source for this kind of information on the interweb tubes, I have a question: How is it that the Belkin squad is out of uniform before the end of the year AND in their team’s new kit? Thanks!

    • Btw, the great plus for cycling is that a big corporation such as Jumbo (a chain of supermarkets) is stepping into sponsoring cycling. Instead of bike-manufacturers (Trek, Cannondale, Giant), private owners (Tinkoff, Greenedge, BMC) or betting-companies, we see the return of mainstream consumer-oriented corporations. That has been some while ago.

      • Well, the Lotto is still a sort of betting company, they’re part of the name too. And Jumbo is not a very internationally oriented company, so in that sense it’s more a step back than forward from Belkin and Rabobank. But still I’m happy they’re jumping aboard. I recently moved and my neighbourhood supermarket is now a Jumbo so they may count me as an extra customer brought in by cycling sponsorship 🙂

  8. Interesting feature about Shane Sutton. Not really surprising that folk like him are being approached by big business. BC/TeamSky psychologist Steve Peters has also branched out into other sports (the list of teams/sports gets longer every time I hear it).

    So does this mean Sutton has moved out of the flat above the bike shop and bought an ironing board yet…?

      • I’m sure Nicole Cooke would have a view on Shane Suttons’ managerial abilities!

        Steve Peters’ star has dimmed slightly since branching out. Coaching mental toughness to the Liverpool and England teams didn’t sound a great advert after both teams’ dramatic collapses under pressure last year.

        • Trying to stop Gerrard doing a lunatic back pass is beyond anyone!

          All the BC people benefitted from having some f****** talented cyclists! It helps.

    • Ha! Will’s Wheels

      I think Shane is a classic Aussie fella of a certain age who doesn’t believe in splashing the cash ‘unnecessarily’ 🙂

      (he actually had and has a house elsewhere)

  9. Forget the criteriums /aso/ sky involvement etc. froomes response to a tdf with good climbing opportunities is utterly bizarre in the context of his last 3-4 years in cycling. While a reasonable tt rider is is hardly a great tt rider. I am pretty sure he has put more time into his fellow gc riders in mountain stages than in his tt rides in the last few years… Think dropping wiggo in tdf 12, dropping Quintana in tdf 13 and smashing most in vuelta 11. So what gives? Is this actually an admission that power meter climbing is not going to top trump the likes of Bertie, Nibs, the Q ‘climbing cyborg’, Aru et al…or has he realised this past vuelta that he is past his sell by date and doesn’t want to risk another tdf failure, plus cobbles, in 2015? Another failure would seriously hurt his market value and probably more importantly Sky’s value. And no athlete is bigger than their paymaster…

    • He’s an Olympic medalist on a flat TT. It’s clear that if he wants a revenge against Contador he is more likely to achieve it in the Giro. I also suspect he has fancied the Giro for some time, and that he would finally like to grab the Vuelta after thrice coming close. I think if the Vuelta has some seriously considerable flat TT, Froome would be stupid to go to the Tour (which might in the end depend on ASO).

      • Some people are reacting as thought Froome has the say. He doesn’t. Its not and will not be his choice. It will be the team’s choice, and the team and their sponsor will want him at the Tour.

        • Or will they, if the oppertunity cost is Giro/Vuelta double? Given that the other big three will focus on Tour, there is a realistic chance he can achieve the double.

          He’d worth more for Sky as a Grand Tour all rounder rather than just a Tour winning machine especially given the negative connotation caused by Armstrong. Sky the team is half Italian whilst the other Sky has some serious business interests in Italy. Here is an exception from Sky Italia’s wiki page (okay, not the most reliable source but this particular bit is sourced from Reuters:

          Following media speculation, on 12 May 2014 Sky Italia’s sister company, BSkyB, confirmed that it was in talks with its largest shareholder, 21st Century Fox, about acquiring 21st Century Fox’s 57.4% stake in Sky Deutschland and its 100% stake in Sky Italia. The enlarged company would be likely to be called “Sky Europe” and it will consolidate 21st Century Fox’s European digital TV assets into one company.[3][4] The sale was announced on 25 July 2014 which is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.[5]

          I’d say given Sky Europe’s creation, absorbing Sky Italia in the process, I’d say it’s just the right time teamsky makes some splash in the Giro (they’d been mediocre there so far). Nibali’s been dragged to do some random Kazakhstan race for the benefit of the sponsor, now Froome is offering to do Giro which is certainly beneficial to Sky, why refuse?

          • That Anonymous was me. My bad on Sky being Mediorce at Giro, Uran did a very good 2nd place in 2013. It’s still under appreciated, and does not have the same effect of a win for the sponsors.

  10. Armstrong is free to compete in local events in any sport other than cycling after 4 years from data of his lifetime ban taking effect, provided it’s not an nationally/internationally competitive event that could earn points or status for further selection/representation/qualification for higher levels.

    e.g. IOW could race a local triathlon any time after 24 August 2016.

    He is however prohibited from any cycling event organised by any body that falls under UCI/WADA regulations, except pre-approved anti-doping rehab and assistance events.

    WADA Code (2009) 10.10 applies. Same provision applies in the 2015 Code as well.

  11. ” As predicted the Hour Record is now open to all comers.”

    No, it’s not. Approval needs to be granted in advance by rider’s national federation to the UCI and the UCI are under no obligation to confirm a record. If they don’t want you to ride it (no matter the reason), they’ll make up any excuse and either not grant approval or not confirm the record.

    e.g. UCI refused to permit UK TT specialist Matt Bottrill from making an attempt citing a requirement to be in bio-passport program even though there is no such requirement in Section 3.5 (World Records) of the UCI’s own rules.

      • No, and neither are any of the masters aged riders who set age category records. But they do have to submit to a doping control process which must be negative for a record to be approved as required by UCI rules. It the same rule for open record. Except for the rules they make up along the way.

        It seems that Brändle is using a custom modified bicycle, which is also not permitted under UCI rules without many months of prior notification and approval from UCI and for the bike design to be made commercially available. But hey, not following their own rules been par for the course for the UCI .

  12. ” As predicted the Hour Record is now open to all comers.” It always was.
    And to try and ride the fastest hour on drop bars is also open to real contenders.

  13. Re the ASO. Try the following: 1) think of a top class French TT man, other than Chavanel, who won’t ever win the Tour. 2) think of a good TTT French team, 3) think of a top class French climber or three. Then remember that ASO is French and Frenchmen took 2nd and 3rd places last year. They might welcome Chris Froome’s absence. Vive le TdF 2015.

    • But I gather the route was in progress for 18 months or so, ie not a reaction to 2nd and 3rd this year.

      I may be naive, but I think ASO just like to shake things up / not have the same contest and same winner every year. Makes sense to me.

      I’m guessing Froome has had discussions with DB and sees this as a good opportunity to pad put his plamares and win all 3 GTs, after all not many people have won all 3.

      • The basics may have well have been under consideration for the last 18 months, but the actual details about how to get between the various start and finish towns, whether to go round or up and down any mountains in the way and how many mountains to include before a summit finish, and how long the TT will be can be varied at any time up to the presentation day.

        The ASO wouldn’t be human if they didn’t from time to time include a course likely to favour their own compatriots. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the route had been tweaked towards the French strengths after last July.

  14. Thanks for the reference. Nice to see my lunch time efforts recognised!

    I also noticed that Sagan score 100 points more than Kittle in the intermediate sprints. Getting rid of them or moving them into a separate contest would be the easiest way to shake up the green jersey.

    The Tour of Britain has separate points and sprints jerseys and as much as I dislike loads of jerseys the sprint winner is normally the person who won the most stages

  15. One thing I noticed between Voigt’s hour record bike and the one Brandle has been pictured training on is that Voigt’s had 2 disc wheels where as Brandle only has a rear disc. With wheels being such an important factor in total drag isn’t this a bit of a silly oversight? Brandle wants to beat Voigt’s time by 1.7%. I wonder what % reduction in drag he would see if he put a front disc wheel on?

    • There was a piece about that on, but it seems the website is down. The drag of both the wheels is about 10% of all drag, switching out a front disc for a tri-spoke makes only a very small difference, I forgot how much but it was somewhere in the 0.1% range if I remember correctly. But anything is relevant for the hour record of course. Wonder when the real top engines like Wiggins, Cancellara and Martin try this, if they don’t the whole changing the rules thing hasn’t changed much.

      • Not only does DT not do a front disc their rear collaboration disc with Lightweight is not track compatible. In that vein, Lightweight also does not make a track disc under their own brand. Wonder what he’ll use.

        In the same vein, Bontrager makes neither a front nor a rear disc, let alone a track disc. What did Jens ride?

  16. Alex, where did this info on Armstrong’s lifetime ban come from? My understanding is he’s done with any olympic sport. He can still skydive. If he wants to ride, maybe the red bull rampage?
    What could they possibly do to LA if he rode the fondo?give him another lifetime ban?
    Certainly it would create problems for George next year.

    • He’s banned from any event sponsored or sanctioned by an entity that is a signatory to the WADA code. Pretty simple. If the rampage was USAC sanctioned, he’d be out there too.

    • Read Section 10.10.1 of the WADA code. He’s life banned from national/international/Olympic level events, but not local events in sports other than cycling.

      WADA code:
      10.10 Status During Ineligibility
      10.10.1 Prohibition Against Participation During Ineligibility
      No Athlete or other Person who has been declared Ineligible may, during the period of Ineligibility, participate in any capacity in a Competition or activity (other than authorized anti-doping education or rehabilitation programs) authorized or organized by any Signatory, Signatory’s member organization, or a club or other member organization of a Signatory’s member organization, or in Competitions authorized or organized by any professional league or any international- or national-level Event organization.

      An Athlete or other Person subject to a period of Ineligibility longer than four (4) years may, after completing four (4) years of the period of Ineligibility , participate in local sport events in a sport other than the sport in which the Athlete or other Person committed the anti-doping rule violation, but only so long as the local sport event is not at a level that could otherwise qualify such Athlete or other Person directly or indirectly to compete in (or accumulate points toward) a national championship or International Event.

      An Athlete or other Person subject to a period of Ineligibility shall remain subject to Testing.

  17. Armstrong rides/ doesn’t ride a Gran Fondo. Give us a break! It makes no difference to my life. I was a massive fan of LA. Companies, journalists, sponsors all got rich on the back of LA.
    Now they won’t let him ride a Fondo?

    • Them’s the rules and the ban is one of the consequences of his actions.

      No skin off my nose either but why have bans at all if they are not going to be enforced? Or do we simply get to pick and choose which parts of the WADA code are enforced and which are not based on whether you like someone?

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