The Moment the Race Was Won: The Giro

Nairo Quintana leads on the stage to Val Martello. He’d gone clear on the descent of the Passo dello Stelvio launching a post-race controversy – one of many to mark the race – but it was on the climb to the finish that he built his lead.

This was a race with plenty of action with no team was able to control the race either in the plains or the high mountains. Here’s a look back at events and some thoughts on the race.

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Pro Team Sponsors: What Do They Do?

There are 18 World Tour teams and 17 Pro Continental teams. One difference from most other sports is that cycling teams come with naming rights meaning the squad is named after its sponsors. But who are these backers and what do they do?

You might know about Garmin or Cannondale but do you know what Belisol, Lampre or Quick-Step are about? Do you know your Drapac from your NetApp and what links Johnny Hoogerland to Hello Kitty?

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The Moment The Race Was Won: Tour de Suisse

Rui Costa Switzerland

Convention says Switzerland is a boring place but convention doesn’t ride a bicycle. The Tour of Switzerland waited until the last day to pick the winner and even on the duller stages during the race the scenery made you want to dash to the Alps for a ride with a cowbell soundtrack.

Rui Costa wins the the mountain time trial up the ski resort of Flumserberg, putting enough time into race leader Mathias Frank to take the overall lead at the last minute. This was the moment the race was won.

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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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Valverde’s comeback postponed to January

Valverde Movistar

Movistar had announced Alejandro Valverde as the star attraction of a press conference in their flagship Madrid store. The banned rider was to unveil the team’s jersey for 2012. From a marketing perspective having a banned athlete as The Face of your team is perhaps a brave move. But the UCI has intervened to say he cannot take part and the event has been cancelled.

There’s a UCI rule about banned riders staying away from the sport in all forms and I quoted it last August after the rider was spotted taking part in gran fondo rides. He was breaking the UCI’s rules then and – as pictured – even wearing Movistar kit and riding the prototype Campagnolo electric gears. But nobody seemed to mind, presumably because he was being discreet instead of fronting a press conference. Now the UCI has swung into action. Good.

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Valverde on the comeback

Valverde racing

An alert reader has spotted that Alejandro Valverde is building up for his comeback to the pro peloton. The photo above comes from newspaper La Opinión de Granada. The Spaniard has been suspended for his involvement in the blood doping network uncovered by Operation Puerto but is training hard for his return with Movistar next year (note the team issue Pinarello with Campagnolo’s electronic gears and the Nalini clothing).

Not content with training hard, he’s been taking part in organised rides. Perhaps mindful of his suspension in the amateur ride above from July he didn’t have a race number… but started with the others and went on to cross the finish line first.

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The Sparrow Has Landed

Last year’s Tour Down Under saw some fans pick an obscure rider and give him the support normally reserved for a star, chanting his name and daubing paint all over the roads. It was FDJ’s Arthur Vichot, a neo-pro who went on to have a half-decent season. The campaign started on the internet and quickly … Read more

New sponsor… old ways?

Moi, controversial? Caisse d’Epargne might be withdrawing from pro team sponsorship but the French savings bank has not had its last word. Team manager Eusebio Unzue wanted to sign Ricardo Ricco, on release from Flaminia, but the sponsor blocked the deal. “Unzue wanted me but not the French sponsor” explains Ricco in the Gazzetta dello … Read more