From The Giro to Ukraine

Look at the picture above and what do Michele Scarponi and Roman Kreuziger have in common? Yes they’re riding the 2012 Giro, smiling and both wear Specialized helmets. Bonus points if you remember they have both hired Doctor Michele Ferrari for “training plans”.

There’s another connection. Scarponi’s got ISD on his jersey and Kreuziger’s with Astana. Both teams can trace links to the Ukraine, in particular to its steel industry. In fact five teams in the Giro share links back to Ukrainian steel. Today Ukraine is in political crisis and there’s a bizarre cycling connection to events.

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The Brave New World Series Cycling

The Gifted Group’s Jonathan Price has been briefing sections of the cycling media about the plans for the “World Series Cycling” formerly known as the Breakaway League but now a scheme that the UCI has granted with an exclusive agreement to negotiate. The grand tours and the big one day races will remain on the calendar but will be joined by a series of 10 new events, each a four day stage race.

Cycling is rooted in history, a conservative sport where change is slow. So there’s bound to be some concern and resistance about these brave new plans for the sport. Even if they were a master-plan with the Midas touch, they’re radically different to anything we know so they’re bound to disturb us.

But based on the information we’ve been given it’s hard not to be sceptical about these plans as they seem to offer a bland product that’s packaged for sponsors and TV with formulaic format that worries me. Clearly it’s all about design and implementation but fans have every right to be cautious here. Especially since these plans are no longer theory but actively under consideration by the UCI with the idea of launch in 2014.

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Sunday Shorts

Zdenek Bakala

Meet the new boss of cycling, Zdeněk Bakala. Whether he’s the same as the old boss depends but the UCI has signed a memorandum of understanding with Bakala, the Czech billionaire to invest up to €20 million from Bakala alone being cited.

Earlier this week we had news of the UCI launching a consultation exercise, now we have news that a deal is close to being signed, with Pat McQuaid saying “we look forward to making a formal announcement on this as soon as possible.”

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