Race fixing

Contador and Tiralongo

The sport of cricket has two international players jailed after a trial in Britain. The case is about match fixing, in particular the players conspired to bowl the ball wide in return for money and that these actions would allow a gambling syndicate to bet on the outcome of these mid-game incidents. Rightly so this is a scandal.

But I can’t help contrast match fixing in many sports with professional cycling, where attitudes are very different. Put simply riders sometimes conspire to fix the results of a race. But this is different.

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The Gruppetto, as seen on cyclingnews.com


My latest piece for cyclingnews.com is now online to read. I wanted to take a look at the back end of the race because whilst we’re all thinking of the race up front, many are going full gas just to finish the stage. We think of the sprinters in the race as guys who struggle in the mountains but it’s all relative. The time cut-offs mean even those at the back are racing to get to the finish line.

Indeed as I put it, of the 7,000 amateurs who rode the Etape du Tour cyclosportive last week in the Alps, only four would have avoided the Tour de France’s cut off. Yet they started with fresh legs and enjoyed fine weather. Those sprinters sure can climb.

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Chapatte’s Law

Robert Chapatte

Robert Chapatte was a professional cyclist for 11 years, riding the Tour de France nine times and finishing 16th in 1949. He was the first French cyclist ever to do a TV interview and perhaps this encounter with the media changed his career forever.

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Is cycling a team sport?

Rabo team

“I really view cycling as a team sport… …that in order for their to be a sustainable business model behind cycling you need to have people identify with the team and not the individuals… …if we want the sport to be successful you have got to generate long term loyalty to organisations and not individual athletes”

Those are the words of Jonathan Vaughters, team owner of Garmin-Cervélo in a recent interview with podcasters The Flammecast, explaining his vision for pro cycling as a team sport in the years to come. But glance at the results and it is very much an individual sport, for example the records show Johan Van Summeren won Paris-Roubaix this year. So is cycling a team sport or one of individuals?

The simple answer is that it is an individual sport conducted with teams. But it gets more complicated than that, particularly if we look at the history of the sport and where things might be heading at the moment.

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Cycling, an evolving team sport

One of offshoots of the radio debate has been an idea that riders are now radio controlled, mere chess pieces to be manipulated by their manager. Indeed part of the desire from those wanting to scrap radios is to make the sport more reliant on individuals, to diminish the role of the team.

Fausto Coppi

The rise of the team within cycling is one of the unmentioned themes in the sport. Here’s a quick sprint though the last 100 years…

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Did Sanchez brake in the sprint?

A curiosity. Yesterday’s sprint between eight riders saw Andreas Klöden get the better of Samuel Sanchez. Some were surprised to see Klöden win, he is famous for being slow in a sprint finish. But he had a good lead out from a Tony Martin keen to boost his GC chances and Radioshack team mate Janez … Read more

Thirsty work for Goss

The image is from yesterday’s Paris-Nice. With 1.7km to go, the HTC-Highroad sprint train is trying to set the pace and race leader Thomas de Gendt interrupts things with an impulsive late attack. In less than 90 seconds’ time Sky’s Greg Henderson will win the stage. But look closely and HTC-Highroad’s Matt Goss is having … Read more

Wild is the wind

I’ve just heard French journalist Jean-Paul Brouchon announce that the wind is “terrible, blowing at 80km/h” near the finish of Stage 2 in Paris-Nice. Conventional weather reports suggests it’s much calmer but that a 20km/h breeze is possible. Note the map of the stage, in particular the section at the end. The race heads in … Read more

The lowdown on sprinting

Meanwhile some people are racing bikes. And in a deliberate effort to look for encouraging stories that aren’t related to doping and scandal, here’s a quick observation from today’s bunch sprint in in the Tour of Oman. The sprint was won by Rabobank’s new recruit Theo Bos, the photofinish putting him ahead of Mark Cavendish. … Read more

Hit the Pavé

The guys over at Pavé were kind enough to mention to their readers that The Inner Ring had moved. To return the favour, I’d recommend you visit them, that is if you’re not already a reader. There’s plenty to read and I particular like the race previews on the eve of the classics. Right now … Read more