Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Why I Love Cycling Commentators

From Eurosport's David Harmon commentating on a decent crash in today's Paris-Nice stage 3 - 

"his rear wheel swept left, then right, and then it spat him out on the cold, wet tarmac of France."

Friday, January 6, 2012


After three months off the bike and plenty of re-shuffling, re-organizing and re-vitalizing, it’s finally time for the cycling season to begin for RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK. Tonight, the team, the new kit and the team bikes were presented to 5,000 enthusiastic fans at the ‘Rockhal’ in Esch-Sur-Alzette, Luxembourg. After the presentation, a surprise concert by Karl Bartos (Kraftwerk) put a musical end to a successful night.
While the riders have had time to return home and spend time with family and friends, behind the scenes the management and staff of RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK have been very busy preparing for a super season of racing.  Directors have met with riders and penciled out tentative race schedules, kits have been designed, casual clothing has been sized and delivered, bikes have been produced and logistics have been put into play.  With everything in place, now it’s time to start the season.
With more than 250 racing days on the calendar, there are plenty of opportunities for the team riders to shine throughout the year.  First out of the gate is the World Tour Santos Down Under, January 15 to 22. RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK plans to send Daniele Bennati, Linus Gerdemann, Jan Bakelants, Tiago Machado, Hayden Roulston, Jesse Sergent and Jens Voigt to compete in this season opener that plenty of riders love to participate in as they escape the winter cold of Europe for the summer season in the Southern Hemisphere. Best of luck to the team riders in the inaugural representation of RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK in Adelaide!
The 2012 season is looking very promising, with a very exciting Classics season in March and April as the first big chapter. Expect plenty to report about during Milan-Sanremo (March 17), E3 Prijs Harelbeke (March 23), Gent-Wevelgem (March 25), Ronde van Vlaanderen (April 1), Paris-Roubaix (April 8), Amstel Gold (April 15) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (April 22).
In May comes the Amgen Tour of California (May 13 through 20th), where Chris Horner will defend his title, and the Giro d’Italia (May 5 through 27), where the team will hold a special thought to their fallen team mate Wouter Weylandt.
As June rolls around and national championships take place, the main focus will be on the lead-up races prior to the June 30th start of the 99th Tour de France in Parc d'Avroy, in the heart of Liège.  With the full support of a team designed to put Andy Schleck in the maillot jaune in Paris on July 22nd, leaving behind three second-place finishes, July’s Tour promises to bring exciting daily racing for three solid weeks, covering a total distance of 3479km/2160mi.  While Andy is our key player in the drama unfolding on the roads of France, make no mistake that other perfectly capable support riders are ready to step in if called to do so.  With the likes of brother Fränk, Andreas Klöden, Haimar Zubeldia and Chris Horner all previous podium or top ten finishers, the team’s top priority is to win in Paris.
No break after the Tour, as 2012 is an Olympic year and no doubt from July 27 to August 12 there will be opportunities to see riders from RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK represent their home countries in the XXX Olympiad in London.  While not a “team” event, the Olympics hold a special place in every pro athlete’s heart and we hope to see many of our riders enjoy being Olympians and going for the gold. Fabian Cancellara is the defending gold medalist from the Beijing time trial and would certainly love to add to his medal collection.
Highlights in the last part of the season will be the Vuelta a España (August 19 through September 9), the World Championships in Valkenburg (with the first edition of the Team Time Trial for UCI Teams), and Il Lombardia (September 29).
While many people look to the new year to make resolutions and declarative statements about what they hope to accomplish but quickly forget about their resolve, the goals for RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK remain constant throughout the year: race hard, win with integrity and put on a great show for the RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK fans.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ride vs Write

There's a saying, "Men plan, God laughs." I keep looking over my shoulder this year with certainty that someone or something is chuckling loudly at my expense.

With a healthier back and clarity of purpose I expected to be back on the bike. Racing was optional, although the tandem version was discussed often with my race partner John. Riding, for the pure joy of it wasn't optional. I was really excited about riding the bike, especially up long mountainous roads; Europe even seemed likely. And then those Godly snickers grew to chuckles, now it's full on laughter.

The real joke is one of the reasons I can't find saddle-time is researching and writing about other people riding their bikes. There seems an injustice brewing. I now know more about the history of the bike (especially in the Tour de France) and pro cyclists (especially in the Tour de France) than any sane person except Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen, Sam Abt, Bill Strickland, John Wilkinson, Les Woodland and a few other Tour journalists. I only hope I can write about cycling with the skill and grace of some listed above.

So on this bright and sunny day, one of the first of spring in Portland, am I riding? No, I'm writing. I sit captive of the laptop and research, and soon start packing for the a trip to the Tour of California. No, not to ride as all my non-cycling friends assume, but to interview and write about riders. Then it's back for a couple more chances in the saddle locally here in Portland before taking off for France and more writing about riders as I chase the Tour counter-clockwise around the land of great baguettes and 400 cheeses.

I'm certain next week when I interview Jens Voigt he will explain with some quintessential and classically humorous Jensism that "this is crazy, you should riding not writing." I will have my bike with me, maybe I'll follow his advice.

Note: This is the last posting I will likely do here for some time - my connection to cycling is evolving. My current cycling book projects, Le Domestiques: The Dog Soldiers of July and Chasing the Lanterne Rouge, have shifted the connection I have to the bike and the Tour. I think that connection can best be explored in a other writings, on a different site. Please join me at Le Velo, Le Tour.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Slow Road to the High Road

What ever you think of Jonathan Vaughters one thing you have to give the man credit for is an effort to chart a new path both in the business of pro cycling and in running a healthy team. Sure, like all men, Vaughters plans, gods laugh. But all-in-all the course he has been charting and sailing for Garmin (currently Garmin-Cervélo) has been heartening.

Headlines of doping in cycling are a dime a dozen if that's you schtick. For some "news" organizations like the New York Times cycling is less a sport and more a drug invested European sideshow. For the NYT and similar landing a big fish doping (Lance for example) would be their winning the Grand Boucle. But headline grabbing sells papers, rarely the truth. Headlines are just that - lines - not even paragraphs, much less the whole story.

Cyclingnews today confirmed that Jonathan Vaughters is in the process of testing Thomas Dekker with possibly signing him to Garmin-Cervélo’s development team, but there are some big IFs before the ex-Pro suspended for EPO violations can spin a sprocket for the anti-doping crusader Vaughters.

"It's a slow process," added Vaughters, "but history has shown us that it's a mistake to bring an athlete off suspension back to the top level without a measured rehabilitation period."

"I asked him [Dekker] to contact WADA and offer his total cooperation with any questions they have on that [his EPO use]. That was a condition to even be considered. Not to sign." - read the whole CyclingNews article.

We don't hear enough about the work behind the races people like Jonathan Vaughters are doing to push the sport we all love into a more respectable future. Vaughters was on those early U.S. Postal Cycling teams and road as a pro through much of the dope-invested waters of the 1990's, he was a domestique and knows better than most it's a slow road to the high road, but sometimes you have to simply put it in the granny and grind it out to the top.

For the rest of us it's worth remembering doping headlines are just that - lines - not even paragraphs, much less the whole story.

Photo above - Jonathan Vaughters, CEO and Director Sportif of Garmin-Transitions from ESPN Magazine.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Carnage on the cobbles

"Even those lucky enough to make it to the velodrome in Roubaix, those who hadn't crashed, face days of recovery from muscles battered by jackhammering over the pavé and spent hacking up half the French countryside from their lungs."

Nice little bit and photos in CyclingNews today:

Photo gallery: Carnage on the cobbles

And some lovely Paris-Roubaix slow-mo video from over on - Amazing Slomo Footage

Monday, April 11, 2011

With Panache Second IS Winning

It's been 24 hours now and most of the pave dust has settled back into the Flanderian farmlands for another cycling season. But with a week before we move on to the Wallonne it's worth considering the cobbles one last time - and the superman efforts and "strategerie", as our former President would have called it, of perhaps one of the finest "old school" cyclist of our time - Fabian Cancellara.

I say old school with great affection here. To me old school means 'panache', it means having the cojones to attack and make racing your bike what it is - fun! And when you are done it means knowing you gave everything and being incredibly proud of that.

Ya ya, I know it's professional, and sponsors pay for wins, and contracts are based on doing your job, but for heaven sake it's also about riding your bike. And that's why we love guys like Jens Voigt and Gilbert and Cancellara - they love riding their bike, they have panache. Somewhere along the line they found the old mold and discovered it wasn't broken. Ya know, the one that created Bernard Hinaut and Eddy Merkx, Fausto Coppi and Henri Pélissier.

"Cancellara’s biggest error was undoubtedly his performance in E3. It sounds perverse but did he need to show his hand that early, did he need to demonstrate such dominance in a race of mediocre importance? From that moment on, he moved from being Cancellara the favourite to being Superman, and every team, every rival, based their tactics not perhaps on their strengths but on his weaknesses."

Maybe Cancellara would argue there is no "race of mediocre importance". Cycling may be the one sport in the world where second is a winner: because it's done with panache - exploding out of a group of wheel-suckers (including the rainbow jersey wearer) to bridge a seemingly insurmountable gap to the remainder of the break group, then blow them away to finish second. Panache IS winning.

It would be interesting to the Cannibal's take on "biggest error."

The kids at CyclingNews went on to add -
"Yet it’s still hard to be critical of a rider who was essentially riding as a one-man team. The CN staff joked about letting him ride the TTT at this year’s Tour de France by himself this July. We stopped laughing once we realised he could actually win." -

Yes, I think the boy could knock off several other entire teams. Not because he is fast, which he is, nor because he is insanely strong, which he is, but because he would try it - he has panache!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Cancellara Inspires the Crotchety Old Guys

Ya gotta love the old Pros who pull no punches - the grand beauty of getting old - besides getting to tell everyone how old you are.

Gazzetta dello Sport also asked De Vlaeminck about Filippo Pozzato. He dismisses the Italian with some hard truths and blunt criticism about owning a Ferrari.

“Pozzato was a champion when he was young and had more class than Boonen. His problem is that he’s too good looking to be a rider.”

“A Ferrari is not the car for a rider, it’s for a footballer. The boss of Brooklyn (Giorgio Perfetti) gave me a Ferrari when I won Milan-San Remo but I couldn’t get my bike in the boot and had to take the saddle off, which I then forgot at home. I sold it after a year.”

More of Roger's bluntness: De Vlaeminck picks Cancellara as his Paris-Roubaix heir