Monday Shorts

Mathieu van der Poel

Mathieu van der Poel looks built for the road. When you look at riders like Lars Boom or Zdeněk Štybar you can see a crunched ball of muscle suited to shorter, explosive efforts but “VDP” is a different shape with limbs like spatulas and maybe he will cross to the road in time with great success?

Van der Poel is linked to a contract with BKCP until 2017 so any return to the road will be provisional. It’s rare to see long contracts but arch rival Wout Van Aert is locked-up until 2018. Such longevity is great but you wonder if they’re locked into U23 pay deals for years?

Sanne Cannt bemoaned “part-time cyclo-cross riders” and later retracted the comment via Twitter, a useful medium for those who feel misquoted or regret saying something. Cannt’s right because Pauline Ferrand-Prevot isn’t a full-time cyclocross rider, she spends the rest of the year winning championship titles on the road, MTB and more instead. What about the track for PFP? No, she says, it’s not for her but the plan is to do the road race and XC MTB in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Jack Bobridge Lap Times

One person who needs to get back on the track soon is Jack Bobridge. Easier said than done and the pain of his effort was visible. But, from the comfort of my keyboard, I think he can smash the UCI Hour Record if he tried again. He appeared to start too fast and faded over time. The chart shows his lap times were exceptionally fast to start with but got longer and longer. Later when he tried to pick up the pace, shown by the shortening lap times, he quickly paid the price and the lap times went out again. But adopting a slightly lower gear and staring slower could see him take the record. The question is whether he bids in the next few days only to see Rohan Dennis tackle it with fresh legs.

From one Aussie who needs to get back on the bike to another who has just climbed off. I wanted to write a send-off to Cadel Evans but found so many other pieces offering a shared view. Essentially he was competitive during an era when his peers had more blood bags than a hospital and if people labelled him a wheelsucker in retrospect that’s a lot better than being a bloodsucker. Totally clean? Guarantees are hard but few have a bad word to say about his ethics. Maybe he wasn’t celebrated enough during his career? His riding style resembled a crab climbing a cliff and his personality played a part too, a tough and resilient rider but with a sensitive, private side which meant he struggled to embody the All-Conquering-Champion image. But review his highlights like Flèche Wallonne, the Montalcino Giro stage, the 2011 Tour de France, especially the Galibier stage and, the Mendrisio World Championship win and you have a rider who could do it all. He’s now going to be an ambassador for BMC and it’ll be interesting to see how he fits into this new role.

Lotto-Soudal’s Pim Ligthart won the GP La Marseillaise. The French opener is said to have a curse but the practical response is that whoever is in form in January is too keen too soon. Ligthart by contrast won a bunch sprint rather than proving himself all day so could do well later in the year but the Dutchman isn’t a prolific winner anyway.

“We want our credibility back”
That’s Alexandr Vinokourov from the team’s launch today but did the team ever have much credibility? Lead by one of the few people to have worked with both Michele Ferrari and Eufemiano Fuentes, the team was born from the wreckage of the Liberty Seguros team which imploded following Operation Puerto. That might not seem like long ago but it was only a few weeks ago that the team appeared to be gaming the MPCC’s rules in order to ensure a convenient suspension. It’ll be hard work to win people around. The Kazakhs behind the team did thing about stopping but say they’ll continue but raise the possibility of slashing the budget by 30%. Update: 30% budget cut? Maybe but in the context of a new sponsor arriving, they could be making way for a Dubai partner rather than leaving the team in the lurch.
Now for a team with an easier story. Is it me or is there a piece every other day on about MTN-Qhubeka and its riders? It’s no bad thing given the team has quite a story to tell or rather many stories. Kudos to their press officers for planting so many stories.

Tour of Qatar

Sandbox cycling
For software developers a “sandbox” is an area to test code and programs and the same idea applies to cycling in the next few weeks with the upcoming Ladies Tour of Qatar, the Dubai Tour, the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman. These are desert races, sandblasted by crosswinds and very much ideal prep for the classics, to test sprint trains and other plans without pesky cobbles, mud and narrow lanes. Look at the results but watch the details too, which team is deploying what kind of tactics and who looks the best collectively.

Paris-Nice route unveiled tomorrow
The route’s been listed by bloggers since last August and officially communicated to local government officials since November so tomorrow’s route announcement seems strangely late. Anyway we’ll learn more and see the missing pieces of the jigsaw fall into place, probably with a Col d’Eze time trial to finish the race.

Thanks to Seven Cycles
Seven Cycles will get a proper mention of thanks but for now a quick doff of the cap to Seven Cycles for their support in February, you can scroll to see their ad.

34 thoughts on “Monday Shorts”

  1. Wondering if Pelucchi will follow steps of Fenn and his wins in Malorca will be the only ones in whole season or he will step and and join the first league of sprinters like Modolo did last year (even tough his season was ruined by injuries).

    Sandbox cycling sounds great 🙂 a while back people were laughing about those races in Middle East but now both Qatar and Oman are important part of calendar for most of the WT teams.

  2. MTN-Qhubeka’s press officers might be doing a good job but their riders didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory at the Cadel race. Farrar finished, a long way back, at least, but the rest were out the back and in the car early.

    • Farrar seemed to end last season in good form with his win and points jersey in Beijing, maybe the hills were too much for him? Also apparently Goss hadn’t raced since September when he was benched by OGE and at least one other of their riders was caught up in a crash. Hopefully they can get some results in this week’s Herald Sun Tour.

    • Personally I’m not a$%^d about MTN-Q, but to be fair their two wins in Challenge Mallorca last week will more than make up for a poor show in the Race of Cuddles.

      Not every team can do that fandango on every single race, and even less so at the start of the season when riders are all over the shop, level-wise, across the peloton.

  3. Kudos to Cadel Evans and bon voyage. I became a fan of his after won the Rainbow Jersey. IT was a great treat to meet him and watch him take out two stage wins at last years Tour of Utah.

  4. It would be interesting to add a line to your graph of Bobridge’s lap times to show the average lap time he needed to sustain to beat the record.

    • Bobridge needed to have been lapping at 17.35sec to (just) beat the record.
      If he’d kept going at 17.1sec (equivalent to the early spike on the graph), he’d have put 780m on Brandle’s record…

  5. Caught the cyclocross championship on Eurosport and was very impressed with VDP’s physique and riding style–very smooth, seemingly effortless. Also noted his technique of bunny hopping the skiffs rather than dismounting added a second or so with each lap. Heard his father is his mechanic / coach. Hope he develops well to the road later on in his young career.

      • I am not so sure about Mathieu going seriously roadside. Adrie van der Poel left a sucessfull roadcareer for CX, David van der Poel (brother) is also with BKCP since the beginning of his career. So it seems they are very happy where they are. Btw: This year Mathieu van der Poel won the “GP Adrie van der Poel”

      • Also worth to mention that between his 2 worldchampion titles as Junior in CX 2012-13 and now in pro category, he also was worldchampion on the road as U23 in 2013. He can do both and proofed it.

  6. It seems like Bjarne’s taking a break as the witch du jour, but why is Vino the new witch? At least they belong to MPCC, for whatever that’s really worth. Makarov would be my target (what’s he Really up too?): Citracca certainly qualifies, Unzué has got to have some experiencia de dopaje all the way back to Indurain and Vaughters and his band of ex (maybe) dopers are deserving of some scrutiny (Assuming that they are now clean… if your team sucked for as long as Garmin has sucked, despite the excess of media minutes, either he’s just a bad manager or it’s a strong case for they don’t take what it takes. If the latter, why has no one from that team ever said a word?) Then, there’s the IOC, etc…

    • I love the Poulidor stories.

      I recently read that a very high percentage of well paid professional athletes end up broke, or nearly so, within 5-10 years of retiring. Poulidor was a successful human. And if he really did sell himself into second place often, good for him. He knows who the winner was.

    • As inrng explained, Astana’s presence in the MPCC is starting to be counterproductive and embarassing for both parts. And Vino accusing other teams because of their absence from the MPCC is quite ridiculous.

      That said, I myself find it a little annoying that a story like “one of the few people to have worked with both Michele Ferrari and Eufemiano Fuentes” goes on and on.
      A bit cyclingnews style.
      The last time I read about this idea, I was said the fact that Vino worked with Fuentes is backed up by can’t-remember-who saying he saw Vino in a café in Madrid just outside Fuentes’, supposedly waiting to go in. Or something like that. It’s pretty weak.
      On the other hand, when ASO was trying with every possible mean to have him out from 2006 Tour, they couldn’t find anything convincing on his relation with Fuentes, and they were finally forced to kick the whole team out, banning so many *other* riders that the team got under the minimum limit. Note that to do so they accused several riders unfairly, as it was subsequently proven. That is, ASO was really ready to stick to whatever kind of unreliable information to have them out, still they couldn’t find anything directly binding Vino and Fuentes. Nor from the investigation leaked out anything about that. And, know what?, from that investigation we had a good pack of leaks.
      A couple of years ago, the Fuentes’ trial brought to public knowledge a tapped phone call between Jaksche and Fuentes. Fuentes said to “Bella” that Saiz had, indeed, asked him to work with Vino, but that “it was impossible” because he was working with Ferrari.

      Hence, I’d be very happy to gather new information about the subject, if it exists (and, out of sheer curiosity, who appear to be the other “few people” who worked with both?).

        • Absolutely true, but it’s a bit different when – as it is in Scarponi’s case – we’re speaking of “after Puerto” years, when Fuentes was definitely out. And it looks like there’s a five years time interval between the two “collaborations”.
          Way different from what’s being hinted about Vinokourov.
          My point is that it was quite difficult to work with both (or swiftly switch sides) when the two “stables”, as Fuentes calls them, were active. Remember also what Ferrari wrote about Ullrich.
          Besides, when we’re referring to Scarponi, we’re also speaking of a “second phase” of Ferrari’s career, when he apparently starts to be a little less selective choosing his clients.
          That said, literally enough Scarponi “has worked” with both doctors, even if in two very different moments and ways.
          I’m not so sure about Vinokourov: waiting for further information, I’d maintain he didn’t.

        • The most important part is understand that almost Absolutely Everybody dope(d)(s). It seems difficult to single any one pro out.

          The next important part is that, even though everyone knows (or thinks they know) now about Fuentes and Ferrari, those two are a small (successful, yes) percentage of all the doping enablers. Past and present.

          The doctors who are behind the present record breaking successes of the top riders who all test clean, we have never heard of. The top, most successful people in Every aspect of the doping business all learned from the mistakes of the past, Willy Voet’s, Rabo’s, Puerto, Balco, etc., etc. Stealth, fewer clients, more, untraceable money, fewer team members…

          • Not everyone did. There was an arms race whereby some were doping and others willingly followed by several refused. For example see David Moncoutié who even beat those on EPO on a good day. As you suggest though, it’s important to look beyond the riders and see the system, the “enablers”.

          • When I say almost absolutely everybody, I am saying except Moncoutié, Obree and Bassons. I know there are a few others, but very few.

            Without the enablers, almost no rider could dope effectively. Especially now, with how far the science has come.

          • I also really appreciate that you allow the subject to be addressed, even just briefly, in a civil manner. Because the subject is so polarizing, it is very difficult for rational, thoughtful discussions to be had in order to weed through an inordinate amount of misinformation.

      • Which is worse, being a rule abiding member or refusing to be a member? And, what is the MPCC, really? it’s a nice polite way to make an effort, but is it reducing the prevalence of dope in the peloton? I don’t believe so. Do you believe that every MPCC member team beside Astana is 100% clean? That might be a little naive.

        I do understand that Vino gamed the rules, but they had a conflict of sponsor obligations and who wants to go to China anyway. Should they have pulled themselves immediately? Maybe. Did they break a rule of membership to MPCC? No.

  7. The other winner at the World CX Champs were disc brakes.

    Both van der Poel and Ferrand-Prevot rode disc brake equiped bikes to their respective wins so I expect within a couple of seasons disc brakes will be the norm for the majority of CX riders.

    Road racing will follow in a few years, it is only a matter of time now.

  8. I’ll miss Cadel. Love that picture too; grumpy look on his face as he reads the paper. I always enjoyed his press interviews and his often entertaining responses to pretty daft questions – not one to suffer fools. Tough cookie on the bike too, no question – for the last couple of years he was just a bit short in the Grand Tours but to watch him refusing to accept that fact was compelling!

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