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