Shorts, duel edition

Cyclist versus horse is a traditional event, I even covered the subject back in March. This time Johnny Hoogerland takes on a horse called Unforgettable. It’s in Dutch but the video is self-explanatory. The result goes down to the wire.

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Sunday shorts

First up, I’d want to say thanks to Competitive Cyclist for their continued support via the advertising. This is a blog and a lone effort but advertising is like having a good wheel to sit on, it makes it easier to keep plugging away. On the suggestion of a reader I deliberately limited the advertising to one square and if you want to do me a favour, click on the advert over there and see what they’ve got.

Giro poster

Next, the Giro d’Italia have an official poster for the race, click on the image above for the full version, it makes a nice desktop background for your computer. The image was by Jered Gruber who’s making a name for his great photography… and also making me mildly jealous of his travel and shooting skills. Obviously the poster has been tweaked with software but not that much. The rider is real, it’s Peter Stetina from Garmin-Cervélo and it was taken when the Giro tackled the Passo Giau (say “joo”) last May.

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Five of the best

Vélo d'OrPast Vélo d’Or winner Alberto Contador

With the pro road race season finished, now is the time to look back and reflect on the past season. I don’t want to spend winter doing endless retrospectives and lists of the best this and that. But hindsight does allow us the chance to review things.

Soon Vélo Magazine will publish the winner of the Vélo d’Or award (“golden bike). In football the Ballon d’Or prize is one of the most prestigious awards and this sister prize too must be one of the best awards in cycling. They ask cycling journalists around the world for their best five riders of the season and add up all the contributions to see who has come out on top. It is hard to pick five riders from a cast of thousands but for the fun of it I thought I’d see who I’d rate right now.

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Popularity: the peloton vs. the public

A rider fell down, a hero got up

Imagine the scene: it’s hard stage with several climbs and you’ve made the breakaway. There are strong riders with you and the gap to the bunch is steady. Watching each rider take their turn you’ve kept some energy in reserve and suspect the others have too and with some luck you might be able to hold off the chasing bunch. You’re 70km from the finish. Then – BAM! – suddenly one of the riders attacks, going clear in a solo bid. It’s surely futile but his attack disrupts your group, instead of a harmonious group of seven, there’s now one up the road and two trying to get across and four of you left cursing the madman. The breakaway is blown to pieces and in time everyone is caught, including the attacker who cramps up.

Alternatively imagine the move keeps going but with about 30km to go one of the riders starts missing his turn. The gap is coming down and now’s not the time to play poker. Yet this rider is wincing, his face a picture of agony as he takes a pull but oddly his pedalling is as smooth as ever. 20km to go and several are now aware of this Oscar-winning performance as the grimacing rider is taking ever shorter turns. 10km to go and the breakaway has a slender lead but its possible. With 6km to go the final hill of the day and as you crest the top – KAPOW! – the actor/rider takes off and solos to the win as the rest of you are caught with 2km to go.

That’s racing, no? But the first example is a Johnny Hoogerland move and the second is pure Thomas Voeckler. The disruptive riding and the energetic attacking might make for exciting viewing but many in the peloton resent it and the likes of Hoogerland and Voeckler are not universally popular in the bunch to put it mildly.

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