Wednesday Shorts

Want to beat Peter Sagan? Then make him work. One small observation is that his position this year remains relatively upright and so he presents a bigger aerodynamic profile compared to his rivals. Once he’s done 50km in rotation with two breakaway companions, as we saw in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, then he’s likely to be low on energy. This won’t make him easy to beat, just an observation and an angle on how to tackle someone who otherwise looks formidable as his explosive power with 250m to go in Kuurne showed.

Déjà Vu: The openingsweekend provided plenty of action and a reminder why the Belgian classics are so compelling as the top names launch their moves with 60km to go and there’s plenty of suspense all the way to the finish. Still it did all look rather familiar with Greg Van Avermaet winning the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad ahead of Peter Sagan, just like last year. There were several other familiar themes: Quick Step losing out as did other teams but QS get the headline treatment for it; Sagan having little team support; Ag2r’s Alexis Gougeard going in the early moves; confusion over whether riders can use paths or not and more. All familiar? But remember one year ago both GVA and Sagan were painted a serial losers, or at least the kind of riders most able to finish second. Now in a weekend they’ve both taken significant wins.

Déjà Vu, Part Deux: the Tour de France’s grand départ for 2018 has been announced and it’s not that grand. The Vendée area isn’t famous for much, it doesn’t have stunning scenery or much of a rich history. Nor does Düsseldorf but there’s the whole story of pro cycling trying to renew its appeal to Europe’s largest consumer market. By contrast the Vendée département is sold on cycling already, it’s home to the Direct Energie team and it’s Vendée-U feeder squad as well as several local pro races… and also the host of the 2011 Tour de France start where the race began with a procession from the Passage du Gois, the tidal causeway that will be used again. The two opening stages offer nervy stages with likely sprint finishes before a team time trial.

Where will the race go next? To the Brittany region where local paper Ouest France says there will be a stage finish in Sarzeau where the local mayor is none other than David Lappartient, the outgoing president of the French cycling federation, UCI Vice-President and likely challenger to Brian Cookson for the UCI’s top job. The rest is unknown and the presentation is slated for October. But to open the speculation a summit finish at Alpe d’Huez seems very likely as it’s not been on the route since 2015 and it’s going to feature in this summer’s Dauphiné, often a clue of what happens the following year.

Sadly one race that’s going nowhere is the Route de France. Effectively the Women’s Tour de France, it’s been an eight day stage race but never enjoyed the status to match. Participants seemed wary of the race but welcomed the chance to partake in a substantial stage race. Now La Route de France didn’t get included in the new Women’s World Tour after missing the deadline last year according to a Facebook post which meant the race was awarded a lower status and clashed with other major events in August. It’s exactly the kind of event you’d like to see ASO get behind.

Communication Brake-down Was Owain Doull’s shoe sliced by a disc brake? Probably not on analysis but the subject has shown up the dysfunctional nature of peloton where riders have been cautious not to speak out against disc brakes for fear of upsetting their employer-sponsors but this incident was like a dam breaking. It shows how riders are not able to voice their concerns openly leaving them to build up. For years riders were just expected to shut up and pedal but this is no longer the case as we see a more vocal stance on matters from race safety to riding in extreme weather. Consent matters. If manufacturers want to salvage this product launch they’ve got work ahead.

What next for Doull? He had his appendix removed on the eve of his debut pro race in the Tour Down Under, then he had his shoe shredded in Abu Dhabi. Hopefully his third race is incident free.

Rui Costa Abu Dhabi

Big deal… Staying in the Gulf, the UAE Abu Dhabi team is now UAE Team Emirates after picking up title sponsorship from regional airline Emirates. This is a big deal in several ways, a new corporate sponsor entering the sport and one of the biggest names alongside Gazprom and 21st Century Fox/Sky. This would be coup for any team but even more surprising for what had been a lowly team that almost vanished during the winter. The money will start flowing and the team will presumably build a roster to match its sponsors international ambitions so we can expect them to make some cosmopolitan hires.

…Small detail: One area where the team could spend a few dollars or dirhams is social media. Upon re-branding as UAE Abu Dhabi The team abandoned the @Lampre_Merida Twitter account and its 80,000 follower count to create a new @TeamUAEAbuDhabi account that’s only got a couple of thousand followers so far when all they needed to do was log in to the Lampre account, go to settings and rename the account as they wish. It seems they still can’t work this out as the team’s Twitter account is still @TeamUAEAbuDhabi rather than @UAETeamEmirates to reflect the valuable new naming rights deal they’ve signed. It’s not a burning issue but does show how some teams struggle to get the basics of their message across. has a good series on the 1990s at the moment, the era when you could collect Panini stickers for your album. There’s nostalgia for some but if you’re brand new to the sport then it’s worth reading through the pieces as the names involved are in various managerial roles.

Housekeeping note: in case readers were hoping for a “moment the race was won” piece from the weekend: there wasn’t. It’s partly because there weren’t enough photos to accompany and illustrate the piece. Why? Well this blog wrote to the Cor Vos photo agency last year to cancel the photo account subscription, it was a big expense and even if enjoyable and useful it was a four figure sum and the single biggest cost. Races and teams offer a supply of photos and as you can see at the top of the page Getty Images allows pictures to be used for free, helpful if you’ve got your own blog or just want to browse a photo archive. So there will be many post-race pieces but perhaps not as many as before.

90 thoughts on “Wednesday Shorts”

      • That was not a nice thing to say about my favorite city in Germany! The skyline is equal to that of any “second city” in Europe and the waterfront at the river Rhine is good enough to stage a WC event in cross-country skiing!

        But I agree – or maybe I wrongly inferred that much – that there is no better way of lending some cycling fever and history than bringing the Grand Départ to virgin territory. Twenty years is a short time in the big picture and even if by strange coincidence I was reading about the 1999 TdF I think three times is not entirely deserved.

    • Excuse me??? Dortmund has no history??? Dortmund is over 1000 years old and played a significant role several times in history, especially when it comes to trading.

  1. Interesting point about Sagan’s aerodynamics. Like many, I thought he did too much in the Omloop (great for viewers, less great for him), but I didn’t think of that side of it and haven’t read that elsewhere. (Still think he and Quick Step should have got together – even if it was for less money. Again, lucky for we viewers that they didn’t.)

    I can see both sides of the pavement-riding argument:
    – They should be made to use the cobbles as much as possible and it’s potentially dangerous.
    – It is and always has been a part of Belgian racing.
    I don’t really mind which we go for, I’d just like the UCI to have a rule and stick to it. Just once. We clearly saw – again – PS, GVA, SV use the pavement whilst the others weren’t allowed to.

    Good on the TdF for supporting the roots.
    Is Lappartient that likely to challenge? As ever with the UCI president, for me it’s a case of anyone but the incumbent, although fair play to Cookson, he has finally done something about motorbike safety – with hopefully more to come.

    I’d say an eight day stage race is about half a women’s TdF and see no reason for the UCI to limit women’s races to a maximum of 10 days.

    I know nothing about brakes, but if the riders are against it the UCI shouldn’t force it on them – who knows, they might be right.

    We come here for your writing, not for the photos (and considering that cost, no wonder you cancelled that), so don’t let their lack stop you.

    • I can see why you thought Sagan did too much at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. He did if winning was his primary objective. While watching my distinct impression was he was testing himself against his rivals and winning was a secondary concern. Great training for the races ahead that really matter.

      • The Omloop’s a fairly big race – I doubt that winning was a secondary concern (he rode very differently at KBK). And winning it would have been just as good training.

        I think sometimes his ego/excitement get him carried away a bit.

  2. Just a note about the photos on this website — as mentioned above, I really come here for the writing, which is truly a dimension above other places. Really, I would not mind if there were no photos at all!

        • I’d need to be glued to the TV/browser taking grabs at all the right moments and sometimes the image quality isn’t great so it’s not ideal but I’ve done it before a few times for moments when the photographers couldn’t capture a particular moment.

        • Inner Ring – why not invite road-side fans to send their pictures in to you, and you can publish the best / most interesting?
          Ok, timescales for a piece might be tight.
          But I’ve come to appreciate your site for its great work and its free to all access.
          Improving your contact with the fans can only be a good thing, you may get some original shots which you could reference to the photographer. Imaging seeing you name in Inner Ring’s shorts!?
          Haha, you know what I mean though.
          Be great, man of the people, hotbed of revolution and cycling socialism and all that!

  3. I find it unbelievable that professional teams at the top tier of cycling can’t get their social media presence together. I can’t imagine it is corporate up to a level that equipment sponsors don’t expect yield from their products on the screens of their customers.

    The UAE TeamEmirates management could look at Belgian Lares-Waowdeals womens cycling team for a fine example. Likely less than 10% of the total yearly budget but with an online presence that includes daily posts with race results and posts about sponsored equipment in the off-season or between races.

    • I agree completely especially when everyone from kids to pensioners are tweeting or blogging. It also extends to some of the websites of the organisers. The website for the Giro and affliated races are often hard to navigate and link back to the previous race edition and not the upcoming one.

  4. Funny, I also noticed the position difference vs his rivals. Firstly though, he has short legs and a long torso so will look a bit different on the bike (not sure w/ Specialized but he rode the old Bennati mold at Cannondale which was 54×58 w/ the headtube of a 54). Secondly, his front end might actually be too low as it doesn’t allow him to get an position where his arms are level to the ground.

    • Is this a change from say, last season? The phrase “…his position this year remains relatively upright” is confusing. Does the Big-S have a special mold for his frame (or did in the past, but no more?). The disc brake bike Boonen was riding with the extra-long stem makes me wonder if that is a standard “off-the-rack” size vs the supposed custom-molded bike they were forced to create for him when Big-S took over from TIME? I thought they did the same for Sagan?

      • doesn’t seem like it. unless Big S threw some (more) dollars at him in the form of a custom mold, he’s on a stock frame. 603mm is a lot of reach for a 746mm saddle height, but nothing there looks too out of the ordinary.

        this is the most recent report i could find for van avermaet.

        visually, it looks like a difference in flexibility and hip angles.

      • Think “remains” means “is still (always has been).” In a discussion on here a couple years ago it was suggested that Sagan was having trouble with steep hills like the Paterberg because his front wheel was lifting off the ground or was on the verge of doing so, limiting his ability to apply more power. Agree or not, the idea was related to his upright position on the bike. As I said then I think it is pretty obvious from watching him pedal that Sagan does not have the kind of back/hip flexibility that the typical WT rider has. Any problems with power vs weight distribution were evidently resolved for the 2016 campaign, but Inrng mentions the unfavorable aerodynamics of the position, and rightly suggests a small, long breakaway as a good place to grind the edge off of Sagan. For the same reason he may not be as much of a threat to go solo from 50k out the way Boonen or Cancellara were known to do, so if you get him in that small break he’ll be more likely to stay there and take his pulls. Good luck!

        • Thanks, I think. Seems there’s always a critic (I’m one too, but it’s just the aesthetics for me) of someone else’ position. Sean Kelly was constantly called out for his arched back, but form didn’t seem to affect function. Chris Froome’s a more recent example of ghastly aesthetics on the bike. Old farts like me remember Fernando Escartin, nicknamed by smart-asses “The Crab” for his gawdawful position. I cringe when I watch them, but they seem to win just the same.

          • Yeah just meant to concur with Inrng that Sagan’s position is not very aero, and remind you that his “upright position” has come up here before. Nevermind all that stuff about flexibility and just say there are times when Sagan would probably get into a lower position, if he could.

          • My humble take on this Sagan debate.
            He can go aero – think of his descents, Col de Manse etc, and he’s a reasonable TT’er.

            But if you look at the rear shot of his burst at the end of KBK, he looks huge (torso, thighs, glutes) compared to the rest of the riders, even Stuyven who is a big guy.
            And yet Sagan’s stats on PCS have him as a touch over 6ft tall and *only* 73kg or less than 11 and half stones for us Brits.
            His power to weight ratio is massive!
            What you have is a guy who’s spent most of his life on a bike of one form or another and has morphed into almost the perfect racer at the top of the food chain.
            Aero or lack of aero, he’s Numero Uno.
            I’m enjoying watching him while I can, because in 20/30 years time he could be regarded as one of the greats.

        • So you think the Big-S created a special mold for a disc brake bike just for Tommeke? Of course they already had mold(s) for his rim brake bikes (after he spent a bit of time riding a Big-S branded bike supposedly made by Pegoretti using aluminum until a properly proportioned mold could be created) but I wondered if they said “the hell with it” on a disc brake model since he’s hanging up the wheels in a short time? The result could be what looks like an overly long stem on a standard-sized frame? There was a story from the same time about Big-S sending Paolo Bettini a bike too big for him and he ended up at a local Big-S dealer in Italy, BUYING a smaller size!

    • Taking just the photo above into account, Sagan is on the hoods while GVA and SVM are both in the drops. However I would agree that possibly he has less hip/hamstring flexibility. Resulting in him spending more time upright on the hoods.

      Second to that, he has never had a decent team around him to protect him from the wind.

  5. The photographs were a nice complement to the writing but as others have said, they are not what I come here for. Sharp insights and well balanced analysis are rare to find. Pictures are everywhere.
    I have the impression that the whole disk brakes debate is about something else. About being listened to, about sharing the decision making.
    Of course it does not matter to the riders whether or not they have disks. Even if they allow for better braking (which I know they do from my own experience), if everyone has them there is no racing advantage for anyone. But they have never argued for protection on chain rings, which would make as much sense as protection on discs. Also, the no mixed peleton argument is weak. Right now we have bulky sprinters and tiny climbers on the same brakes. Huge difference in deceleration potential. The riders know this, and they know they can deal with it.

  6. I initially thought that there was a typo when I read that Rui Costa had won for UAE Emirates. I know it’s all UAE, but I thought Emirates hailed from Dubai while Etihad was the Abu Dhabi carrier. So seeing this felt like ‘Lotto’ from Lotto Soudal supporting the LottoNL-Jumbo squad.

    Apart from that, ditto mostly on writing vs photos. Come here for the writing but the photos have been fantastic and having them here felt like supporting the wider circus that professional cycling is (me being a proud owner of some inrng kit). Without the cycling photographers, we would miss out, especially as you have managed to have the writing and images work together in the same way as a well-trained TTT train. Is there no way to get them individually, rather than as a subscription?

    • You’re right: Emirates is the Dubai airline, so Dubai has effectively replaced Abu Dhabi. For me the annoying thing is that the E also stands for Emirates, so the team’s full name is United Arab Emirates Emirates. It’s like PIN number, ATM machine or HIV virus: a prime example of RAS syndrome.

  7. I’m not so fussed about the pictures, but I do mind if it mean less ‘the moment the race was won’ posts, if you can’t source a photo of the moment.
    in that situation INRNG, maybe you could post a paragraph of your thoughts in the comments section of the race preview, post race? I’d hate to lose the insight, and it would probably spark a new wave of discussion…

    • Good idea. (IR could even let us know whether or not there is going to be a separate ‘the moment the race was won’ piece, so we’d know which article to comment on – not that I want to tell you what to do, but photos, schmotos.)

  8. Just a follow-up, I found the “moment the race was won” pieces to be my favorite, and the way you most differentiated yourself from other sites and outlets. The level of nuance and subtlety achieved was brilliant, and I’d argue you don’t need a specific photo of that very moment, as the level of vividness in the writing is enough to carry the piece. Any generic race photo would be more than enough for me.

      • Yes please. Remember, most of your readers are old enough to be able to enjoy reading words without having to look at any pictures at all…

        • To echo the other comments, and the one I made to you recently on Twitter, I’d much rather an all-text race report than no report at all.

          While the photos are nice and definitely bring an extra element to the coverage, I come here for the excellent writing.

          Also, I tend to read the site on my phone while commuting to work (on public transport, not cycling or driving!), so a lack of images wouldn’t really make a difference at all.

          Perhaps try a text-only report and see what sort of feedback you get?

  9. Sagan was certainly shattered from the effort at the Omloop – the clips from his interviews were funny but he was just exhausted.

    I guess this ‘Shorts’ was published just before the news of the Velon Hammer series…?

    • Not much to add about the Velon series, we’ll see how these events work out (they’ve announced the Netherlands but there’s one in Switzerland in August and another in South Africa in October on the calendar) and if the new format works but in cycling it can take years for an event to get traction, even the “instant” success of the Strade Bianche actually took a few years to get appeal so perhaps the time to judge whether this works is in a few years time?

      Step away from the press release and the interest is seeing the teams promoting a race among themselves… a small step towards the breakaway league, or at least a parallel circuit? The big question is whether this helps the teams and their finances, whether these events become valuable.

    • If it’s a one-off, it’s an interesting and novel aside. If it becomes a series, it’s a step down the road of turning cycling into ‘crits and climbs’.
      This or ‘proper’ racing – it’s not even close.
      Watered down, tactics-free leg-contests for the hard of thinking. And if there are a few of these a year, some traditional races will have to ‘make room’ for them.
      “Velon hopes to develop the series over time, with three or four races set for 2018 and even more in the long term.”

      • After reading about the new race format, my first impression is that they are perfect replacement for post Tour-criterium show racing. SAO’s annual year end outing to Japan & South Korean probably could be in the same format too or even have an accompanying event for the UCI annual Gala.

        Perfect opportunity for supporting riders to get some glory whilst star riders also make an appearance. They serve as good opportunity to attract new fans to the sport or give casual general public access to starts of the sport but should in no case replace traditional racing.

        Time-wise, post Giro & August in Swiss makes sense as well. I suppose only time will tell how success these are.

        • I very much like your ideas – and the timings thus far announced don’t seem too troublesome, so fingers crossed that I’m just being pessimistic (for a change).

          • If we’re looking at calendar spots there’s some obvious ones. January/Early February in Australia, extend the Aussie summer as there’s not much of note in that gap. Late September/Early October after Worlds is another space.
            But the calendar is already fairly packed, and the WT expansion hasn’t helped that. Post-Giro gets busy with Dauphine, Suisse and NC’s plus Tour training camps. 1st Week of June, but you imagine the Giro riders arn’t up for high intensity crits at that point. Post-Tour is super packed with the WT Triple header. Post-Vuelta runs straight into Worlds near enough. March/April filled with the big classics.

            I like that they are trying to tie the races into wider events like music and festivals and markets etc. Makes them more unique and attractive to the wider fan. But if the big riders are coming only to show up and not contest properly, your casual fan won’t be impressed or understand why. So calendar positioning is key and they need to do more than just pay the riders to attend, they need to pay them to compete properly.

      • *another “step down the road of turning cycling into ‘crits and climbs’.” See Abu Dhabi, see Dubai, see Beijing. See Guangxi?

        It’s coming and it comes with an iron gleam in its eye, great wads of dollars in its fist, and the weasel word ‘globalisation’ on its lips.

  10. Please keep up your the moment the race was won posts, don’t worry if they are without pictures, it’s your insight which is valuable! And the comments it sparks.

    • x2 for this, the analysis provided by you INRNG is superb and why I come here – I’m not bothered about photos and was refreshing perpetually yesterday and Monday looking for the Moment The Race Was Won post. I suppose the Classics bring out the pavlovian in me…

  11. I concur on the statement “make him work”. But his position being more upright than of his opponents is a bold claim. I admit, I have not seen the race. But from that picture I cannot see that. Yes, he is sitting at that moment captured on the picture slightly more upright than the other two, but only because he is on the hoods and not in the drops like they are. Without context I cannot say why he is riding like that right at that moment but coming to your conclusion based on that picture is quite gamy in my opinion. If one would take this picture as a reference: he doesn’t look to be riding anymore upright than GVA is. The only one with a seemingly constantly lower position is Vanmarcke, but he seems to be taller than the other two.

  12. Route de France seem to be trying an old school organiser tactic, except they arn’t a major race the sport must have… Too late on their WWT application, tough luck you messed up now deal with it. Other races scheduled around it, could always shift their own dates slightly.
    The UEC always seems to move around it’s dates but with it adding Elite races it becomes trickier to timetable and will more focus on avoiding big Mens races than anything else, slotting around the Tour and Vuelta more than anything. The WWT has plenty of spaces around it’s races, but the nature of the calendar means some races will always clash. If your race is good enough, teams and riders will attend.
    Last year it suffered from close proximity to other events and the startlist was the last prestigious in a long time, so they could have seen this coming and made plans earlier in the processes.
    Not that i want to see it disappear, i really like this event. But cancelling outright feels like a petty move born of spite and inflated self-importance.

    Disc Brakes… how can this debate still be going? Surely it will be easy to test if they are dangerous! Here’s my idea: 1) Get bike with Disc Brakes. 2) Put bike on Rollers. 3) Someone riders the disc brake bike on the roller. 4) Another person holds various items against the disc as the bike is ridden. 5) Record results. 6) Publish results. 7) Debate over.
    Either discs can cut through shoes and legs or they can’t. It’s been a year, how has no-one answered this question! Anyone could do the test in no time at all, and at least we’ll have genuine evidence to argue with rather than the current un-confirmed/un-reliable anecdotes and personal opinions.
    If disc cuts through shoes and legs, ban then until they can be covered. If it doesn’t then there’s no safety issue and they can be rolled out to anyone who wants them.
    Can i be the next UCI President now?

    UAE Emirates are far from the worst at social media/fan interaction. At least they have a twitter, better than some teams. And they have some media savvy riders who do a good job getting their name out and about to fans.
    But i’m still astounded how bad teams and races are at their online presence. Making a simple functioning website available in two or three languages isn’t hard at all. Not to be unfair but the Aussies, Americans and Brits seem to have a better handle on this than more old school Europeans in this aspect. ASO’s sites are alright, and the Giro one is not bad. But for businesses, or just events, overall cycling is just awful online and really letting itself down.

    • It’s not even funny anymore. No matter how polite we try to spell it out, for some it seems unperceivable, that money and professionalism isn’t something to aspire for everybody. Where you see functionalism, I see coldness. Where you see optimising, I see boring emptiness, that endlaves people, where you see networking, I see a lot of lonely, lost souls, that in the end of the day have nothing. Where you see money, I see a cancer for our societies. Where you see budiness, I see us being slaves and being controlled.

      And neither your nor my view is THE right view. I really just hate how certain people are always so sure, they are the ones who know the only way and the others are just naive or live not in the real world. I’d argue, that someone who can’t see that other people and other societies have other priorities, lives in his own dreamworld. I’d argue, that someone who thinks they are better than others lives in a fantasy. To make it clear: Not one of the societies (uk, usa etc) you mentioned I would want to be like. Their choices might be fine for them (or rather not, when one sees how two of them are deeply divided inside and thinks about the fact, that australia isn’t even able to adhere to the Geneva convention and how they treat the people who owned australia in the first place), but these choices are not the only ones or the right choices for other societies or people.

      I write and when I started to write, I opened a twitter account. And although that brought readers, I deleted the account again, because I just don’t want to be part of this. I can’t support twitter and all the hate it produces. Yes, it is practicle and helpful, but that aren’t the only point of views to assess the worth of something. twitter is also bad for communication, it creates a wrong picture of the world and divides us. And it carries a lot of hate, racism, violence. And no, to me the good in it doesn’t weigh that up. To me twitter is not real, it scales us back and in my opinion we will pay a heavy price for creating and living in massive echo chambers. We already see in uk, how people literally are unable to deal with a different opinion. They feel this is an attack. In my opinion their press and social media plays a big part in that.

      I refused jobs, that would have brought me much, much money and in one case power, because I couldn’t align myself with their way of bullying people and because I had other priorities than them.

      And to many this might look like I wasted chances, while to me it is absolutely essential to maintain my integrity, which is more to me than anything else. I want to be able to look at the mirror and be happy with myself. I want to be able to be accountable for every single thing I do. And to me this isn’t just a pretty phrase, no, to me this is my life. And I know there is a price to pay for this and I pay it happily. Because to me integrity has a worth. And although these are the right choices for me, the right priorities for me, I never would think others had to adopt them. So why do you all think you can tell others, what is right or wrong without knowing their reasons, their feelings or intentions? There isn’t just one way to run a business, there isn’t just one way for anything. Some companies thrive exactly, because they refuse all this marketing and corporate stuff, that is the bible to others. 10 years ago bio products were laughed at and ridiculed as naive, today they are huge.

      This might sound like I attack you, this is not the case. Really not. You said nothing wrong, it is just one drop too much and this is in reality an answer to all the insensitive, disrespectful comments/articles I ever have read (here). Sorry. I just can’t hear anymore, how unprofessional the non-english speaking world is and how we should adapt to them. It might burst the imagination bubble of some, but please try to understand: That is not our goal. In no way. We don’t aspire being like you. We simply don’t. Why should we?

      Just as we don’t tell you to adapt to us, please show some respect and don’t think we have to be like you.

      • You have to admit though, that with the number of races and/or that struggle for sponsors to continue their existance, they could make some simple changes to massively help their cause. Like the Androni example who couldn’t even get their own riders to support their push for a Giro wildcard. We all want to see cycling happen, but like it or not the competitive world of sports means that some of these races and teams must adapt or they will continue to disappear.

        Nothing to do with moral values, making a functioning social media and website takes an hour. That hour can lead to massive increases in traffick and interaction. In turn that makes a team/race more attractive to sponsors. Which gives the team/race money to keep going.

        • No, I think totally the opposite is true: Because everybody feels they have to adapt and have no chance otherwise, they lose out. This adopting of “standards” and “processes” (and I know their worth too, I worked as a project manager some time) leads to people getting removed from their own product, their own company. They get lazy, rely on these standards, when indeed what would be needed is, that they believe in themselves, that they stand behind their work and with that make others feel them too. Because what people react to the most, is emotional, is being human, yet we today take ever more emotions out of our working life. That this can’t end well, we increasingly see with psychological diseases becoming a major factor in our society and in workplaces.

          It would take too long to explain it properly, but I have made the experience, that if you love what you do and stand behind it, you have success. If you are honest, don’t pretend to be something, you not really are, if you are “real”, people feel that, even the most hardened business people react to that. It is just human. And even those tings that are deemed “killers” usually for a business or to get a job, don’t matter then anymore. If you see sponsors as partners, if you believe you have something worth their money, they will be your partner. When you deep inside are unsure of what you do, sponsors will be indifferent, too.

          People are totally different in ther characteristics and with uniformation, with forcing others to fill a role or to do a process the same way, just because others do it and have success (more or less) with it, in short, if you remove people ever more from their work through being something, which simply is unnatural to them, you set them up to fail. And no PR can save that. It is simple. And what matters more: If we don’t stop trying to make everything and everybody the same, because some think they can manage/control us better this way, we will fail as societies and then the economy will fail too (logically). We already see the effect of all this in the state of the world today.

          In no way am I against having processes (I love competence, I love it, if something functions flawlessly), but I think we have totally misunderstood what we can use them for and for what they seem helpful, but in reality are not, because in reality their short gain brings a massive price in the end. Right now we have the thinking, that we humans must follow the processes, we have to adapt to them, but that is wrong. With that we destroy our societies. People react to the feeling that they are not in control of their own life anymore. And they react with anger. Instead we have to make the processes work for us, adapt to us. And that some still propagate these already outdated management models, when the reality everywhere shows how unsatisfied the people are, is strange (to say it friendly) to me.

          I had the same argument with some, when Peter Sagan came always “only” second. Some seem to think life exists of winning and that someone fails, if he/she doesn’t come first. They thought Sagan was a loser. I’d argue, that although Sagan loves it, when he wins, he also knows, that not winning isn’t the same as losing. I don’t think he thinks winning bike races is the most important thing in life and he surely doesn’t think his worth as a human being depends on it. You gain other things, not only the win makes something a success. If you see it that way, why should 200 riders start a race? 190 of them know (it isn’t even a suspense, they KNOW it) they will never win. So if winning is the only goal, it wouldn’t even be worth for them to start. They could never laugh or be proud or anything, if winning is the only gain. Yes, winning is great, but it is one thing among others, that have value in a race. That is the same argument as the one above, where some think only one way/one set of values is possible. Which simply isn’t true. People are different. You (meaning not you personal) might like a slick homepage, I don’t. You look at twitter, I don’t, you might like PR a la sky, I don’t. And I think everybody should be mindful, that others have other values, goals and intentions and be respectful of that. Indeed, more respect and to accept others is sorely needed these days.

  13. Thanks, Inrng. A bit disappointing to hear about funds limiting the output. I know it has been mentioned many times by others, but I wish there was a payment/donation option, I have recently used Patreon to support a YouTube channel and would happily support your great work!

  14. Katusha has some really good physical swag still – the babushka bottles and stickers from last year or two were really cool. Hard to get a hold of in the US, but cool. Lotto Soudal had some cool stuff too. No playing cards which would be pretty fun.

    I definitely think the teams should step it up!

  15. Re beating Sagan: Pundits often describe his 2nd and 3rd places as failures. I reckon it’s exactly these results – where he shows he is beatable in a sprint – which mean riders will work with him in a breakaway. If he won every sprint he contested, he wouldn’t get to contest very many.

    • Completely agree. By coming second in Omloop, it gives him a much better shot at being able to contest the finale for the bigger races still to come.

    • Exactly, I would say this “strategy” already helped him to win Ronde last year: first he kinda lets Kwiatko take E3, than Kwiatko helps him a lot in Ronde

    • Very interesting hypothesis – hadn’t thought of that.
      He did go very wide – for no discernible reason – in the Omloop sprint.

      • Het Nieuwsblad is still on his bucket list though, so i’d be surprised if he wasn’t generally trying at the finish last week. That said, he did go generously wide – i expect out of tiredness or a simple mistake.

  16. Re: First photo, almost look like their riding 3 kids bikes, possible the angle(?) of the lens perhaps. Always amazes me how small their frames look nowadays compared to yesteryears steel frames.

  17. On the disc brake thing, I mean, how hard would it be in a crash to (1) hit the disc, and only the disc because if, say, you fell on top of the entire wheel it would instantly stop spinning, and (2) have the disc able to keep spinning after it is touched. So hard I rekon it has rarely, if ever, happened.

    Cyclists only like changes they agree with personally. I’m two years in to this wonderful sport but I have never seen a group of otherwise rational people adopt positions which boarder on superstition.

    The most hilarious is the argument that if some people of the peloton have discs they would stop sooner or something. Har de har har! You’re telling me that guys who can ride all day inches from each other cannot, virtually without thinking, react to something as simple as a rider braking more than expected? I saw Sagan bunny hop Cancellara with about 1/16 of a second notice. That’s the level of bike handling in the pro peloton.

    • “I have never seen a group of otherwise rational people adopt positions which boarder on superstition”
      I guess you haven’t been following politics in the US or Europe lately? 🙂

    • A disc need not be spinning to cut. When you shave, you simply push the blade into the hair, and it cuts. Similarly, the rider’s body part can strike the disc and, in theory, be cut regardless of whether the disc is spinning.

      Whether it actually happens or not, I don’t know. We’ll find out this year.

      As for the risk of unequal braking, this is a concern of the riders themselves. I think they know more about their reaction time and bike handling than any of us do.

  18. Emirates Air is just one of the many companies owned by the royal family. It’s good thinking to use the airline as the team name.

    Sky/21st Century Fox are all Murdoch properties.

  19. I’m a member of a cycling forum which runs off donations. I know you get some money from the kit but I and I am sure others would happily make a contribution (or even a monthly contribution) if it meant you were able to continue to illustrate your commentary to the standard you would like. I think people realise that some content is worth paying for. That this blog is free is wonderful, but if we need to drop a bit of cash to keep it going it would surely be worth it.

  20. can I mention Brailsford?… the guy’s got to go surely, as doping or no doping (which we don’t know) he’s been in charge of a regime which clearly gamed the system, cut corners and where governance was poor. He will be a giant off-putting red herring if he shows up at the Tour. If I was Froome’s people I’d be lobbying hard for him to go.
    any chance we can have a polite fact based discussion on it?

    • It’s all perfectly reasonable.
      Only today, I went to my doctor and they had no medical records for me because they keep them all on one single computer.
      And my doctor takes that computer on holiday.
      Then, it got stolen.
      The doctor had forgotten to back-up his files. Not a one-time mistake – he did this over years, despite his vast experience as a doctor.
      And no-one in the doctor’s organisation ever checked those medical files – not once – so no-one knew that they didn’t exist.
      This organisation also got me a prescription from France and flew it to me here in Britain, even though there was a pharmacist down the road where I could buy it over the counter.
      I also take a much, much stronger drug – which many people say I shouldn’t take. I take this drug very sporadically – only three times in my life. Otherwise, I don’t need it.
      The doctor had a large supply of this drug at his surgery.
      Far more than he needed for the doses that I took.
      So, I could have been taking those extra doses at different times – especially as I had a note saying I was allowed to take the drug and so they’d never know if I took it more than once.
      Lots of people who have also been involved with this organisation have said that they have been given or offered a few different drugs, which is all legal, so that’s fine.
      Maybe they were taking these extra doses of the extra strong drug too, which is legal.
      But I’ve no idea, because we’re a very disorganised bunch and we don’t keep medical records.
      My doctor’s poorly today, so no-one could ask him what’s going on.
      But the General Medical Council probably will soon.
      All I know is everything’s absolutely fine and people should just trust us.

      • haha – nicely put!
        Brailsford has to go – and none of that even touches the institutionally sexist aspects of BC that he presided over…

        • As for Sky riders, we know what Wiggins was doing – or some of it anyway (shame to see him get away with it scot-free, but many have before him) – but we don’t know what goes on now. Same applies to all the other teams too.
          Neutral doctors would be a start.

          • Speaking of Le Samyn, they did something simple I’ve been suggesting for years – sometimes the best ideas are the most blindingly apparent ones.
            ‘Race organisers at Wednesday’s semi-Classic Le Samyn took action to force riders onto the cobbles, preventing them from riding on the pavement by placing barriers every few metres.’

      • All very amusing, but what is the situation with medication that is on the General Sales List / Pharmacy Medicines that can be bought over the counter without prescription?
        You or I could walk into a pharmacy and buy them without anything on our medical record.
        Should there be a paper trail for a non-prescription of a GSL substance?

        • Fluimicil is apparently prescription-only in the UK and triamcinolone certainly is. By law, doctors must keep records.
          What’s not amusing is that large amounts of a dangerous drug were kept by Sky’s doctor. With no record and no explanation.

          • There are different forms of dosage of Fluimucil, some you can buy off Amazon uncontrolled, others that are more tightly controlled.

            Anyway, can I mention that it’s interesting to read the muses of Madiot in Cycling News….?

    • Brailsford’s all about the thin blue line. He will draw that line between activities at BC in the past and activities at Sky now, and claim the governance problems were all on the BC side.

  21. Thanks Sam W & cthulhu for your links above^^^

    I think we all can agree: Riders gonna get as comfortable as they can, given the many variables.

    I am about 1.5 generations too old to effectively evaluate a modern race bike from visual cues alone. Those fat (ugly) tubes…

    That said, per the articles (and being cautious about accepting numbers as accurate),
    Sagan is 1.82m (6’0″) tall & riding:
    • frame size 56cm
    • stem length 140mm
    • bar width 42cm
    • reach 603mm
    • saddle height 746
    • saddle setback 77mm
    • 103mm saddle-bar drop

    Van Avermaet is 1.81m (5’11”)
    — NOTE an inch does not equal a cm, so take the height comparison numbers for whatever they are worth —
    and riding:
    • frame size 54cm
    • stem length 130mm
    • bar width 44cm
    • reach 598mm
    • saddle height 768mm
    • saddle setback 67mm
    • 130mm saddle-bar drop

    Random thoughts
    • Sagan’s stem, tho 10mm longer, looks shorter than an Avermaet’s (‘fat/ugly’ applies equally to frames and parts)
    • both riders’ seat posts are way long/exposed (even accounting for my bias toward the ancient ‘fistful of post’ rule of thumb)
    I see too many differences in above stats to make informed comments about relative riding position. But…
    • 10mm difference in saddle setback might be telling…
    • 24mm difference in saddle height could be somewhat significant
    • 27mm difference in saddle-bar drop is big

    and useless but personally interesting aside:
    I am 5’10” (tho with shrinkage over time…), but I ride 57cm frames (typically – I ride lots of bikes) with the saddle pushed as far back as it will go. My saddle height is same as Van Avermaet’s. Also, my typical stem length is 120mm, my saddle-bar reach is 15mm shorter than Van Avermaet’s*, and my saddle-bar drop (70mm) is considerably less than either of them.

    *I do not think the standard saddle-bar reach measurement is particularly useful for comparison. I find more useful to measure from saddle nose to center of the top of the brake hoods – ie, where my hands actually rest on them (and measure right and left to be certain they are equal). That accounts for differences in bar width, bar forward reach & drop, bar tilt, and is more attuned to my actual body.

    • Oof.
      Edited to fix typo:
      My bar drop is 90mm, not 70 – I’m not quite so petrified yet…

      And I guess my main aim was to point out that people can’t all be equally flexible.
      Also how incomplete an analysis of their positions on the bike would be without knowing:
      • the circumstances which influenced how they got there
      • how comfortable they are
      • what that might mean to their chances 185k into a race…

      Also, count me in for photo-funding – they do add texture to the comments, irrespective of how well the comments stand on their own merits.

      OK, I’ll stop now…

  22. You cant rename facebook account once it exceeds certain number of followers. Might be the same for other social networks. It was allowed in the past but new set of rules was needed as it has been misused many times.

  23. Pictures accompanying an article are nice, but to be honest even if you just published bare bones race summaries it would be highly enjoyable and an enlightening read.. please keep up the good work!

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