10 Predictions for 2015

Alberto Contador

Cycling’s never a predictable sport, it can’t be in a contest where 200 riders can start together as opposed to the binary contests in other sports between two teams or just two players. Add to this the varied of geography, extreme weather and other variables and picking winners is difficult. Plus there’s all the activity outside the races, from tech to politics, business to doping scandals. With these excuses in mind, here are 10 predictions for 2015.


The Ardennes week will have a different feel. First there might be a new finish for Liège-Bastogne-Liège. There’s been vague talk of a finish in Liège itself rather than the drab suburb of Ans. The final climb has ensured a selective finish but the parcours has become too predictable. In 2013 they had to remove the Côte de la Roche aux Faucons, a surprise late change and on paper the revised route didn’t look so hard. But it was unknown and riders were forced to take risks, to improvise. A flat finish in Liège would mix things up, especially as the climbers would have to go early to ditch those with a sprint. If familiarity breeds contempt then a new finish is worth trying.

Second sister race Flèche Wallonne will be enhanced by the contenders because the Mur de Huy finish also appears in the Tour de France. Consequently the experience of racing up “the wall” is deemed essential, teams want to learn more about the race to the foot of the climb and the leaders can learn to pace themselves. The mantra of seeing “the best riders together in one race” won’t apply, no sprinter has much to gain but we could see Chris Froome vs Simon Gerrans, Philippe Gilbert vs Vincenzo Nibali.

Alberto Contador Giro

Alberto Contador will win the Giro. Sadly this prediction feels too easy, raising the prospect of a great race reduced to a victory parade across northern Italy during the final week. Closer study of the route suggests it’s not as savagely selective as the past so we could see queues forming on his back wheel with challengers keen to push themselves to the limit knowing Contador might try to hold something back with a view to the Tour de France? But this sounds like hope over experience, we’re likely to see more restless legs syndrome from Contador and the best way to win the race would be to establish an early advantage and use his team to control the race thereafter.

Andrew Talansky

The Criterium du Dauphiné will be a very different race. It used to be said that you can’t win the Dauphiné and the Tour de France in the same year, so much so that many thought Bradley Wiggins was doomed in 2012 after winning the Dauphiné. But Wiggins won the Tour and Olympic gold and Chris Froome did the Dauphiné-Tour double in 2013. The week-long Alpine stage race became a pre-Tour dress rehearsal. Only this year both Vincenzo Nibali and Jean-Christophe Péraud were not racing the Dauphiné to win and this should affect the approach for 2015, racing hard in June might dip out of fashion; more so if Alberto Contador is resting in between the Giro and Tour. Last year’s race was great – not every stage was gripping – so this year’s edition can’t be as good. Paradoxically if the racing is less intense it might open the door for a repeat by Andrew Talansky or another young pretender like Wilco Kelderman who will seize a chance rather than bide their time for July.

Marcel Kittel

Marcel Kittel will be the sprint king and his Giant-Alpecin team will thrive. Kittel is in such a strong position that other sprinters are looking around for alternative results in the classics or on the track. But Kittel is staying focussed on the pure sprint finishes with team mate John Degenkolb as back-up for hillier days and the classics. The team has a lot of resources dedicated to supporting Kittel. Success breeds success and this team is growing bigger and better with more sponsors and tapping into the German market. The team has grown from humble beginnings and should keep its momentum thanks to sprint wins from others like Luza Mezgec plus wins on other terrain from the likes of Tom Dumoulin and Warren Barguil.

Diego Ulissi

A year without a major doping scandal? Wishful thinking but look at 2014 where things were relatively quiet. We’re still waiting on Diego Ulissi’s case, the verdict is due this week. Of course the Iglinskiy brothers were busted followed by the Astana Continental team implosion but a lot of La Gazzetta’s reporting in December was a reheat of past allegations. A lot of the scandalous headlines in 2014 related to older events like Dennis Menchov, Alessandro Ballan, Carlos Barredo, Jonathan Tiernan-Locke being finally put to bed. 2015 might have “old” doping news like Roman Kreuziger’s case being resolved but there’s a downward trend in big busts and scandals. Not to say there’s no more doping but it looks like athletics is becoming the whipping boy of anti-doping.

Cycling will remain impossible to watch: millions can watch the Tour de France but other prestigious races on the World Tour calendar are hard to find. Each race owns the broadcast rights to their own event and sells them to the best bidder but often the domestic market is the main market and foreign followers are an afterthought. It means following the sport requires multiple cable, satellite and online subscriptions and yet still some races are out of reach. No wonder that many resort to pirate streams with more viruses and pop-ups than a children’s library. There’s nothing to suggest this will change.

Tour de France

The Tour de France gets sold. This story comes around and it’ll be back for 2015. In 2013 Arnaud Lagardère sold his 25% stake in the Amaury group which owns the Tour and newspapers like Le Parisien and L’Equipe. Lagardère’s sale means meaning potential buyers won’t find a third party shareholder frustrating them. Now the Amaury family are said to be in talks with French media company Vivendi which has billions to spend following the sale of mobile phone assets in France and Brazil. ASO is a potential target, largely for its newspapers. The idea is that Vivendi can buy Le Parisien and L’Equipe on the cheap given their falling sales, use its digital know-how to turn them around and therefore make the deal work. Stockmarket experts say the Tour de France can be screened on Vivendi’s Canal+ subscription satellite channel making a deal fit even better. Only there’s a government decree that stipulates the Tour de France must be screened free to air which kills this part of the deal so as predictions go, there might be talk of a deal but inking it is the uncertain part.

Brian Cookson

The UCI’s 2020 reforms get diluted and delayed. This piece began as a draft in December and now it’s mid January it’s a more obvious call as some are already speaking out. So to take things further, let’s imagine the teams and the UCI at loggerheads. We’ve already seen the team’s make angry noises about the sweeping changes to the rankings system, a sign that there’s little dialogue before reforms get announced and that the usual communications channels are being closed off, Dutch team boss Richard Plugge for example has told the UCI where to stick its ranking reforms. If teams are this upset with changes to the arithmetic of points, imagine how they’ll feel on more weighty topics? With Velon taking a sharper focus than the AICGP we can expect more antagonism between the teams and the UCI. So far Velon’s been all about on-bike cameras but there’s little to no money behind this. After all an entire live rights broadcast to the Tour de France was sold to German broadcaster ARD for just €5 million. So instead we’ll see coordinated action between the member teams and a deliberate stance to put themselves first ahead of other teams. Expect simmering arguments with ASO, the UCI and others.

Oleg Tinkov

Oleg Tinkov will continue to provoke. Some might think he’d calm down now the excitement of team ownership wears off. But unlike a fantasy game you can forget, commanding Tinkoff-Saxo is real so the stress will stay high. He’s made a career out of provocation and seems unlikely to change, even if his nervous chatter looks bad for a banker who ought to look stable: one minute he wants to build the best team, the next we’ve got headlines about pulling the plug. Some are even saying he’ll have to quit cycling. I think he’ll stay but it’ll be fraught. He might have learned lessons after insulting Alberto Contador on Twitter but if Peter Sagan bungles a classic he’ll be the first to share his frustration. Expect podium photo bombing antics and, his new past-time, more Brailsford-baiting.

Bike tech won’t bring anything new. In recent years we’ve seen universal adoption of carbon rims, electronic shifting, new power meter companies and so on but there doesn’t seem to be much to get excited about on the horizon. New product launches look like iterative refinements rather than big changes. We’re still waiting to see proper integrated electronic shifting, the idea of buying a $10,000 bike and then using cable ties to hold CPU units or shifter buttons shows there’s still a long way to go, maybe FSA manages to fix what Shimano and Campagnolo have not? Or perhaps the biggest change is regulatory with the UCI finally changing its 6.8kg rule and allowing lighter bikes?

Tour de France podium 2014

Finally there are some things beyond prediction. Take the Tour de France, if it’s the biggest event then who will win it is the biggest question. Only it’s impossible to predict. Allowing for post-race adjustments and wartime interruptions, we’re now in the longest streak of individual winners: as soon as someone wins the race one year, the next it is won by someone else. 2015 means a decade years without consecutive wins for anyone. If Vincenzo Nibali’s chances look slim on precedent then he’s up against Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana and Chris Froome. Picking one of these four names is hard, each has their strengths and watching their approach to the Tour will be interesting, a story in itself. This time last year the bookmakers were pricing Froome as a certainty but now the prime contenders are all at about three to one, a refreshing uncertainty. By all means pick one of these four, you can start to make a good case for each one… until you think of the others. We’ll get an early clash in the Ruta del Sol with only Nibali missing.

76 thoughts on “10 Predictions for 2015”

  1. less a prediction and more of an observation, it feels like we’re changing generations with younger riders coming to replace familiar names.

    Contador had a great time last year but he wasn’t as convincing in 2013, do you think we’ll see him as good as last year or not?

    • Certainly some new names for the classics and it might be Cancellara and Boonen’s last chance.

      For Contador, it’s easy to think of the phrase “you’re only as good as your last race” and if so then it’s promising for him but as you say the year before wasn’t the same for him. 2015 looks different as he’ll try to avoid racing too much, he’ll be more focussed. As for the Giro-Tour double, they’ll be studying Majka and his files, he went from the Giro to the Tour with no problems.

      • I’d have to follow up on his position and relative time in the first week or so, however I recall Rafał having a fairly quiet early tour. Which could suggest resting in the flats and saving energy for the mountains? Effective. But has some limitations if you are going for the GC outright.

      • Majka soft pedalled and got dropped intentionally in order to save energy to support Contador. After Contador crashed out, he again saved energy when he is not contesting the stage. Contador will not have this opportunity, but if they insist on going for the double and they definitely know Contador much better than me.

  2. In the metaphor, the whipping boy is punished for the crimes of other people.

    Tinkov, I think, is actually very calm. The noise is just headline excitement and it’s a team tactic: Contador on his Twitter page: “Bad day today. The healing of the wound is getting complicated… Goodbye to the Vuelta.”

  3. “pirate streams with more viruses and pop-ups than a children’s library” – possibly my favorite expression so far this year. Being an avid fan in North America, I can say I concur whole heartedly. We’ve been looking for a decent online cycling package for years. We are happy to support the sport but cannot find anyone to take our money. As a consolation we use VPN and pay for a legit eurosport account. About the same quality stream as a pirate feed but at least we can watch races on our schedule and support better coverage.

    • Feel the pain of being left out of quality race coverage here in California.

      DNAtsol, please elaborate on VPN and getting a “legal” eurofeed for races?
      did not know we have options.

      Viva la resurgence of French GC potential, perhaps more to come this year?
      Hopeful but not to enthusiastic with US riders improving with any significance, maybe Talansky.

      • Use a VPN service (I use witopia.net, there are lots of other options) that allows for international PoPs (points of presence). Basically, from California, I create an encrypted tunnel to London or Amsterdam. To the Eurosport player, it looks like I am in Europe, and I can subscribe to their service, which is not available in the UK.

        If you are a Downton Abbey fan, you can do the same to use the BBC iPlayer to watch episodes 6 months ahead of their airing in the US.

        There are also bittorrent options. It is a bit of a grey area as to the legality of watching a torrent of a Sporza feed of a cyclocross race. I doubt Sporza cares. I like to watch the Tour with Eurosport’s commentators instead of Phil and Paul. Granted, they have a hard job to keep talking for hours, but half of what they say is just not accurate. That said, half of what Sean Kelly says on Eurosport in just not intelligible.

      • Hey Othersteve, Hobbanero basically explained the concept quite well. There are companies that host servers in a variety of countries around the world such that when you log in your ip address appears to be local (if you’ve tried to signup for a Eurosport account from North America the typical response is that the service is not available to you based on your ip address (ip ranges are assigned to different regions which is how it is possible to determine where you are signing in from). A VPN creates an encrypted connection connecting you to an account given a regional ip address and hence you can sign up for and pay for a eurosport account with a CC. Eurosport does not care where your CC comes from.

        The encrypted connection needs some overhead and will eat into your available bandwidth and there can be congestion on the links between NA and Europe, which is why the quality of the feed tends to be degraded and I cannot get a HD quality stream. There might be a way to increase your bandwidth with your VPN provider but you will start paying big $$ for high bandwidth and encryption (that takes a lot of computing power to decrypted a streaming signal quickly) plus you need a fast local connection with your local ISP which is typically more expensive as well.

        Not promoting a specific provider but the one I use is a company well suited for beginners. Tunnelbear is super super simple. The setup is so simple my mother could set it up. Limited options but good enough if this is your first foray into VPNs.

  4. My 50c you are not waiting for.

    1) disagree, we keep waiting until Cauberg, final time Huy, Saint Nicolas
    2) agree open door
    3) Indeed more like 2014 if someone strong enough is not affraid to lose his GC position or damage his Tour prep. I think it a youngster who did well (top 5) in the giro will win either Suisse or Dauphine.
    4) Giant & Kittel are already the Kings of the sprint. Don’t think they can inprove on last year besides winning the green jersey but they will win less sprints in total.
    5) Agree (just for the sake of optimism)
    6) I am Dutch: Belgian Sporza FTW!!!
    7) Won’t happen
    8) Doesn’t UCI mean diluted and delayed?
    9) And we all love it (secretly)
    10) not into the bike tech but I am sure they will come with something small to keep the sales up.

    Own prediction: Wiggins sets an hourrecord over 55kmph and the hourrecord will be soon forgotten afterwards.

  5. … the idea of buying a $10,000 bike and then using cable ties to hold CPU units or shifter buttons shows there’s still a long way to go,…


    • The idea of a $10,000 bike that weighs 6.8Kg when the average car in the US costs $30,000 weighs 266 times more with much more engineering, tech and testing is really sort of insane. And, do we really need a 6Kg bike?

      • We don’t “need” a 7kg bike either. But it’s odd to see 6kg bikes having chains dropped inside the frame just to add weight to meet the rules which were originally designed to enhance safety and ensure equal competition, a bike below 6.8kg is no longer reserved for the most wealthy.

        • Adding chain into the seat tube does, I agree, seem ridiculous. I understand that a frame has to be produced with a certain amount of leeway to accommodate the different sizes and different weight component combinations. I don’t know enough about this particular topic, so maybe the smallest frame with the lightest grouppo is 6.2kg and the same frame at 62cm, properly engineered, with a heavier grouppo, just weighs in.

          I agree that the weight of that chain as structural carbon would probably be safer. But, while it made a great story, the chain is probably just being added so that they can accommodate the variables and ensure that any bike is not 1mg overweight.

          As to cost, I think we’re approaching the era where what they ride is not what we ride and it probably shouldn’t be. I would absolutely love to own a Citroen DS3 or a VW Polo rally car with a license plate on it to drive my bike to the mountains in the summer and go skiing in the winter, but that’s just not going to happen. What is the difference in the riding experience between a $2k bike and a $10k bike? How about a $20k bike? I like bikes, but.

  6. Another good piece and thus far my quote of the week “…more viruses and pop-ups than a children’s library”, probably only other parents and or pirate stream viewers (I happen to be both) will fully appreciate this one 😉

  7. Porte wins the Giro
    Sep Vanmarcke wins a Monument
    GB’s dominance on the track is over despite Team Wiggo…
    and I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Cav

  8. 1) Cancellara doesn’t win a monument / Sagan finally wins a monument.
    2) Wiggins will win Paris-Roubaix or set the hour record, but not both.
    3) At least one rider will ruin their Tour chances in the Giro.
    4) Pierre Rolland will have a decent crack at the Tour and get a podium place.

    Just for fun…

    Giro – Aru
    Tour – Quintana
    Vuelta – Contador

    MSR – Sagan
    De Ronde – Vanmarke
    Roubaix – Wiggins
    LBL – Valverde
    Lombardia – Valverde

    World RR – Cancellara

    Hour (at the end of the year) – Tony Martin

      • unlikely I’ll grant you – but this would be dull if everyones predictions were “Kittel will win a sprint” – “the Tour will be won by either Contador, Froome or Quintana… unless Nibali wins it”

        Rolland will never get a better route, he isn’t on a WT team which may offer him a greater flexibility over his schedule…. he was 4th in the Giro last year as well.

  9. The Tinkov Galacticos will only last one year, they will lay everything on the line in an effort to take advantage of a collection of talent that will never be assembled again in a single team. Contador will with the Giro/Tour double and will not be able to resist going for the treble upon which he will retire.

      • I’m impressed also by his personal awareness of being playing on Cycling History’s chessboard.
        It means that you’ve got (or they’ve given you) an intuitive perception of an important – and more specific than most people would imagine – characteristic of this sport.
        And the *right* vision of what are the targets that matter in that kind of playfield.
        Wiggo is maybe another rider that has that kind of vision.
        What’s sure is that – whatever you’ve got that perspective or not – it’s not easy at all to get the needed backing from sponsors and teams, sadly enough.
        We know Wiggo struggled to mark his path, and I think that Contador is being allowed to try this for strategic and opportunistic reasons, too. And they’re among the biggest players in the sport. Nibali himself couldn’t obtain a pinch of that freedom.

        • I disagree with you here; Nibali and the ’13 season, what could have been at the World Champs. There’s a good chance that Nibali, when he’s all done, will be seen as a versatile artist.

          • I’m seeing him (Nibali) like that even now, imagine that! – since I tend to take into consideration how a rider races and, at least, podia gained, not just victories (for example, you’ve got to dig back nearly twenty years to find another GT rider on the Sanremo podium).
            I’m quite sure Nibali has got a good “cycling culture”.

            But what I was hinting at was that in 2014 his schedule was brutally determined by the team, hindering the second part of the season’s build up for official Kazakh visits’ sake and taking him out of Lombardia to race Almaty (the rider strongly expressed himself in favour of Lombardia).
            Thus, it’s not just on you and your vision to set your goals in the sport… You must find a team and sponsors with enough of a wide perspective to allow you to go and try what you’re feeling.

  10. Nice list. I gotta say though…that I’m okay with cycling being a bit disorganized and hard to watch. I’m an American and I find that I can no longer stomach the sports I grew up watching (basketball, football) due to the fact that they seemed rigged, corporate, corrupt, slow, and boring. They’re too highly managed.

    I love watching cycling because it’s pure fun – no team to pretend is “my” team, just a bunch of dudes gunning for a win. It’s constant excitement and lovely scenery. I’m happy that it’s a largely ignored sport by most ‘murcans.

      • Yes x 1000

        I’m Australian and your description of basketball and football is my exact thoughts on Aussie Rules and limited over cricket. It feels like the whole thing just exists to sell you something and everyone is waaaay to over-hyped. Its like reading a tabloid compared to reading the penguin classic that is cycling….ahh that’s cheesy, but yeah.

    • “…due to the fact that they seemed rigged, corporate, xxxx, and boring” Well, I believe Cookson’s going to change all that And make it faster. The sports you don’t watch anymore are more profitable than ever and are the Cook’s template. At this moment, he’s producing his version of the Mitchell Report. I’m sure you are familiar with how effective that was.

      But, I’m with you for now; cycling is one of, if not, the most beautiful, nuanced sports on the planet. Riding a bike is pretty fun too.

  11. Pretty lucky that here in the UK a basic satellite subscription gets virtually all races at WT level live plus loads of others (all on Eurosport), with a premium satellite deal (Sky Sports) bagging a few more not carried by Eurosport (live and / or highlights).

  12. I remember reading that bike manufacturers were hoping that with a change at UCI, there would be a possibility to review the required diamond shape frame (apparently that shape is not the most efficient). Whilst I doubt this would ever get up, it would take bike development to a new level.

  13. 1. Bertie struggles for form all year.
    2. Astana drug failure.
    3. Wiggo to put Hour out of reach and kill the event for 5 years.
    4. Wiggo to win one race this year.
    5. Froome close to 2013 form and to win TdF.
    6. Cav to win on Champs.
    7. Sagan to be very quiet all season.
    8. Wiggo plan for Rio cancelled when he realises GB pursuit squad has no chance of closing the 4 sec gap between them and Oz.
    9. G to win 2 GT stages.
    10. Bike announment. Future dates released for weight change and discs.

  14. A prediction of no major doping scandals, followed by a photo of… Bjarne Riis.

    Maybe the Danish anti-doping probe will finally catch up with him in 2015, and perhaps CIRC will release a report on its findings which will get some airtime. But yes, let’s hope for no ‘new’ major doping scandals.

    • There’s a lot from the past to clean up, the CIRC will report back and we’ll what the Danish review brings. But it’s unlikely to be “new”, we’ll learn more about what went on in the past rather than 2015.

    • Everybody dope(d)(s). It has been part of the culture since the very beginning of the sport. There is a way to have a dope free sport, but it would be Very restrictive. There was an attempt to clean things up, but UCI (and WADA and the IOC) and the voters that have created the new administration have chosen the easiest, most lucrative route: no major scandals.

        • +1

          Whenever someone is foolish enough to make a claim like ‘everybody dope(d)s’ I’d like to see this backed up with credible sources.

          Tell you what, Anonymous, Velorooms did a Q&A with Marco Pinotti yday – you could have popped in there, restated this claim and see what his response was.

          So very easy to write what you want, isnt it.

          • Yes, so easy to write what you want and say that other opinions are foolish. Don’t know why in Cycling everybody thinks to be the one and only owner of truth and knowledge

          • Pinotti… too intelligent a guy to tell the truth. Even if it means to play dumb or performing every kind of discourse flip and somersault.
            Very bergamasque (Harlequin, you know).
            It’s an old story, you don’t need to read this recent Q&A to recognize that he’s typically mixing faux-naïveté, skirting issues and even indirect denial, as he often did (not that you don’t have examples of that, here, too).
            The good old sequence “as long as I know, things are going better now” followed by “wow, I’m shocked, how could I be so gullible” (eventually restart and repeat) may be more or less believable for you from a rider who worked in Polti, Saunier Duval, T-Mobile: however, it means that, in the better case, this person is lacking the insight to be an effective witness of cycling’s state.
            Not that I blame him but, speaking of “credible sources”…
            At least, we can say that, at present, he appears to be deeply contrary to eject from the sport people who had been involved in cases of team doping. Will this stance endure the passing of time and the changing of political opportunities? We’ll see.

          • I’d like to point out (since I’ve been harsher than I really intended) that I respect quite a lot Pinotti on a personal level – as I do with most if not all cyclists. As an athlete, I appreciate him more than a lot of his more valued colleagues.
            I consider that, whatever his views, in any case he wouldn’t be in the same conditions of free expression as a person who doesn’t belong to that professional world, which is also deeply influenced by an unequal distribution of power.
            But the question is precisely that he can’t be considered an unbiased source of information who you’d quote to make a point about the actual state of doping in cycling… (just as every person who goes on working in that context).

          • No offense, Sam, but.. One could fill an encyclopaedia with the real truth about ethics in sport in general. I will not claim to have a secret dossier, but:

            1. As the mortal that you are, to put the subject in very real perspective, train for three months as hard as you can and then ride 200km to your personal best. Three days in a row. Now, imagine a pro’s schedule. Now imagine, and this will be hard, the mind of someone who truly wants to be The Champion; focused, single minded, at all costs.
            2. Now, Google the name of your favorite historical pro cyclist with the word doping or drugs. Follow with stories of the more obvious; Simpson, Pantani, Armstrong. Read about Poulidor and the first drug testing at the TDF. Read about Saiz. Keep going; it will take you years.
            3. Why is it, in this new era of “clean cycling”, that climbing time records are being set? Times that would put Lance who was doped to the gills with the testers paid off, etc. somewhere towards the back of the lead bunch on a good day?
            4. How does the guy who fought for and introduced the bio passport, the greatest tool of it’s time in the fight against doping, get tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail for “allegedly” being corrupt with a Mysteeerious dossier full of evidence to prove it?
            5. How does Igor Makarov, President and Chairman of ITERA, the FIRST private gas company in Russia (red flag. read the news?) and founder of Katusha, one of the dopiest teams on the pro tour (just how long ago?) (whatever happened with those allegations?), how does he become President of the Russian Cycling Fed and then get appointed to the Management Committee of the UCI?
            6. Ever read Cookson’s resume? light reading…

            Now, let’s look at a few generally believed to be clean cyclists:
            1. Basson. Why was he shunned to the point of quitting his career by the Entire peloton? As a non doping pro, he won 1 stage in the Dauphiné Libéré. He was probably a great athlete (imagine riding 21 days on bread and water..), but, clean, he was never going to be a champion. Admirable guy, he got screwed by the peloton.
            2. Moncoutie. He is one of my favorites. I can’t do him justice. He is exactly what clean cycling would look.
            3. Obree. This guy is what a clean champion looks like. He is a freak of nature in every way. He is a living example of what you have to be to win without drugs. One in a million at best and all the pain and suffering and unimaginable stress that goes along with it. To be Graeme Obree would crush every one of us that reads this blog like a black hole.
            This guy is The hero.

            I have been involved in sport at many levels for a long time. I have ridden all of my life. Bicycle racing is one of my favorite sports, but I am a realist:

            Pro cycling is a very difficult sport.
            Professional athletes have cheated since the beginning of professional sport.
            Politics are a vacuum of ethics.
            “Corruption is authority plus monopoly minus transparency.” – Anonymous

          • Honestly, I could deal with the ‘everybody dope(s)(d)’ comment at face value without far more easily than ‘the entire administration is corrupt’ 😛

            I asked earlier if anyone had reasons–not even irrefutable proof, just quotes or something–for why people (particularly anonymous comments on inrng) keep saying the UCI etc is corrupt. What I got then and what I usually see are nothing but circular ‘the administration is corrupt because the administration is corrupt’ statements. At least the person who wrote the lengthy comment below has put some effort into their argument. It’s annoying that I only got something approaching an actual response by making an obnoxious Wikipedia joke, but hey!

          • @GB
            Current UCI administration is “too new” to say anything about it. People trying to do that are, indeed, rushing judgement (to say the least).
            However, previous administrations have till recent times proven their long-term and widespread notable level of corruption, hence you can imagine that there’s an atmosphere of distrust lingering around.
            Your request to receive examples or quotes implies that you’re forcing other readers to spend their time on a (probably OT) subject that is otherwise well-known by cycling followers, and – even more important – that you yourself may easily explore through a tool named “Google”.
            You can try typing the simple “UCI corruption”, but you’ll find something interesting also with “keirin corruption”, or “Verbruggen Armstrong”. If you feel inspired you can text “hein verbruggen” + “faire un coureur positif”.
            It’s not “proven corruption” but we could mention the quite inappropriate abundance of conflicts of interest in the vast McQuaid family, too, or the timely changing of rules just before the last UCI elections (those nevertheless won by Cookson, largely thanks to the plots of his Russian friends).
            If you’re asking about corruption in the IOC, too (I doubt it), well I could just say… O____O

          • @GB: Everybody who followed the sport for some years knows this. For years we saw the UCI first make and then bend their own rules, say this today, deny that tomorrow. Some riders were untouchable while others were thrown under the bus in the worst way possible, then came the pain – and shameful protection of some riders from the States -I only say Filippo Simeoni – (all just to crack that holy market). The UCI are responsible with their actions and words for creating an atmosphere of mistrust, of greed, of disrespect towards riders and races and we all surely could go on with stories of those days for weeks. Today with so many riders confessions, there is indeed no doubt that they were corrupt. Although the UCI is a small fish in this pond. I assume you are a relatively new fan? If you really are interested in this part of cycling history, there are many ways to educate yourself. From the pdfs of doping cases over books to interviews. Personally I don’t see the new president in much better light, the interviews I read could also have been from Pat or Hein and they showed that there is still no respect towards the riders, that he still is informed and talks about things he shouldn’t know and talk about etc. . Cookson is probably just better in selling himself or has better consultants (although I would be truely happy if he would prove me wrong in the future).

          • gabriele and Nina: You’re both right, I am a new fan and I was asking because I didn’t trust Google to give me anything more than the circuitous answers and was wondering if I could get a direction to go in here. Which I did, so thank you. 🙂

  15. I hope that Froome can stay upright throughout the Tour, which again features cobbles, so that we can see the mighty 4some–Nibali, Quintana, Contador & Froome–fight it out while they’re still in their prime…, mostly.

  16. Regarding cycling being impossible to watch: I generally follow the live-blogs anyway. Certainly I miss out on the visual, but the blogging is fun to follow.

    New tech: What about dropper posts on road bikes? Specialized recently introduced it on a new model – the Diverge, I believe. Anything to sell a bike, I guess.

  17. a lot of ungrounded optimism here about Wiggo and paris-roubaix. I give him a 20% chance, which is pretty good given that the field has 200 riders. but we’re saying that a) Wiggo and b) team sky have the smarts to beat the likes of pSpartacus and Boonen when neither have any sort of pedigree in this event or in pretty much any one day classic?

    agree that he will totally destroy the hour record though.

    • Absolutely agree regarding Paris-Roubaix/Wiggins (to be honest, I wasn’t sure at first if it was serious or joking. On second thought, maybe it was serious joking?). This is one of the few remaining races riders seem to have emotions for and for some it is a life’s dream to win this race, some have tried year after year and had a complicated hate/love relationship with the race. So every team and rider will try really, really hard to win, because this win really means something and can immediately create an identity – everybody in cycling knows what a Paris-Roubaix winner went through and suddenly a rider isn’t rider x anymore, he is the winner of Paris-Roubaix. Never say never and in cycling the strangest things happen, but I don’t see Wiggins anywhere near the podium. I think he really can be happy with his 2014 result (his best, I think in Paris-Roubaix, I think he never even was in the top twenty before that), but he won’t be able to top that. But as I am not interested in Sky, Froome, Wiggins in any way, this wouldn’t bother me at all!

      • After 2012 TdF, the only thing I care about regarding these two is that BW’s Palmares overwhelm CF’s when it’s all said and done.

        • We might disagree on certain points but we can definitely agree on this one.

          And BW’s palmares already blows CF’s out of the water for sheer breadth and diversity. Whatever happens this year.

  18. Just for fun

    1. Wiggo breaks hour record but does not win paris Roubaix
    2. Sky do not win a classic again
    3. Quick step win all four spring monuments with four different riders = cavendish for San Remo, Boonen for Flanders, Terpstra for Roubaix, and Kwiatowski for Liege.
    4. valverde wins Fleche
    5. Contador becomes first man since Pantani to win Giro Tour double,
    6. froome does not get further than the cobbles again, then has a big bust up with Brailsford saying you should have sent me to the giro.
    7. valverde wins the Vuelta then gets onto the WC podium again but still does not win it.
    8. Cancelara wins worlds RR
    9. Astana implode due to yet another drugs scandal and Nibali and Aru leave to join a newly formed Italian superteam
    10. Wiggo has a spat with his team principal (himself) and quits cycling to reform the Jam with Buckler and Foxton.

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