Squadra di Vecchi Tori


Grenoble Time Trial – where the Tour was won by kiwicyclist
July 29, 2011, 6:41 pm
Filed under: Pro Cycling, Rides

vAc

It seems somewhat odd writing this sitting in my Paris apartment nearly a week after the time trial has finished but I managed to get some good shots from the day Cadel clinched his historic victory and thought it would be worthwhile posting them up and giving you some personal impressions of the day.

Generally I find watching time trials pretty boring and I have to admit the first part of the day became that – we arrived early in Grenoble and were dropped right outside the Mercure where the Cofidis, Astana and Movistar buses were set up – a whole row of Look time trial bikes were stacked against the building and the Cofidis mechanics had already set up the warm-up area roped off on the footpath with their stands set up next to the bus. 

What was interesting about the time trial day is that we could wander around and get up pretty close and personal to a number of the teams and riders as they completed their runs.   We did a circuit of the large park where the start and finish areas were located and stopped for a while next to the entrance of a large stadium where most of the teams were set up behind barriers.  As it happened Cadel rode past into the area just as we arrived in full kit on his bike. I read yesterday that he may have ridden the full course in the morning – if so his kit would suggest that might have been the case as it was about 11am at that stage.

As you can see below we could get quite close to see the riders heading out across the park to the holding area.

Next we wandered right around to the area immediately behind where the finish was and this was pretty fascinating primarily because we were lucky enough to catch Cancellara finish followed almost immediately by Cavendish. 

In each case I was staggered at the behaviour of the media pack – in Cancellara’s case he seemed pretty spent with the effort and did a slow circle on the bike before coming to a rest next to the side of a large van, head down, chest heaving.  Almost immediately he was surrounded by TV crews, photographers and journalists shoving microphones in his face while his minder tried to take his helmet and put a jacket over his shoulders.

Then, while all of this was going on Cav came in, looking somewhat more relaxed than Cancellara and clearly enjoying the banter and support from the crowd and his interview.

After both riders finished with the media they headed down the road behind the finish area to warm down – each followed by a stampede of onlookers rushing to get an autograph or to just follow their heros – amazing behaviour.

Other views from the finish area:

 

After enjoying the shenagans in the finish area we wandered back towards the direction of the start area wondering how we were going to kill the next 3 or so hours until the leading group of riders including Cadel hit the start ramp.  Grenoble is a confusing flat and relatively nondescript city with no apparent centre that can be easily located from where we were wandering.  Eventually we stumbled into the centre which was located in a handsome square surrounded by some nice civic buildings overlooked by a fort up on the hill.

And we found a small square a few blocks away that had some nice cafes where we settled in for the next few hours for a nice long alcoholic lunch in front of the TV watching the progress of the time trial.  The cafe was full with a boisterous group of Norwegians cheering on Bossen Hagen and Husvold when they came through.  Next to us were two groups of older french men having a vigorous and lengthy debate over an extended lunch about who was likely to win the Tour and the relative merits of the top group of riders – one group backed Cadel and one the Schlecks with the debate lasting long into the afternoon and becoming more empassioned as the wine and warm sun took its toll.

As the start of the lead group of riders approached we made our way back to the start area which was by now packed with thousands of spectators.  I had no chance of getting a good position to view the starting gate so I headed back towards the holding area about 200 meters back to watch the final group of the leading riders come through.

Have a look at the next series of photos. 

Each rider had the story of the race of truth written in his body language – Sanchez looked like a caged tiger – constantly riding up and down and full of nervous energy, the Schlecks both looked as nervous and as anxious as a grade 3 kid about to do his first school speech, Contador looked like he always does – inscrutable. 

However look at the shots of Cadel.  He was composed, focused and completely in control. 

I thought he looked like he had already won. 

It was incredibly moving and the tension and excitement in the crowd was palpable.  I caught the eye of one of the BMC mechanics sitting in the back of the car waiting for Cadel’s starting slot and held up my hand with 2 fingers crossed and he waved back a V for victory sign in return.  It was a nice connection in amongst everything going on around.

As soon as Cadel left the starting ramp I raced down the street and ducked into a cafe to watch the next 50 minutes as Cadel went head to head with the Schlecks.  We shared the same nail biting agony as the rest of you watching in the small hours in one of the most intense hours of sport I think I have ever seen or experienced . 

When Cadel came around the final turn the cafe I was in, now packed with spectators erupted.  We couldn’t believe what we had just witnessed and an impromptu “Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi !!” erupted around the cafe.

Magic.  Intense.  Emotional. Incredible.  Historic  Epic – you name it – all the superlatives and cliches seemed appropriate at that moment.

What a year to come to the Tour.

An incredible end to an incredible day, followed by a mad dash to the supermarket for bottles of champagne, a madcap bus transfer to the train station and a fairly raucus transfer by private train up to Paris, twitter feeds going crazy with excitement.

Kiwicyclist



Bay Crits – Williamstown 6.1.11 by kiwicyclist
January 7, 2011, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Pro Cycling
Jayco Bay Cycling Classic, stage four, Williamstown:
Robbie, Aido, Simon and I headed over to Williamstown earlier in the week to catch the action on stage 4 of the Jayco Bay Crits. 
It was my first time watching this annual event and I wasn’t disappointed.  Plenty of stem chewing action with the cream of the crop of top Aussie pros battling it out around a rectangular circuit in Williamstown, one of Melbourne’s bayside suburbs.
We managed to find a pub conveniently located right next to the course – it wasn’t quite Belgian kermesse madness but sure was a nice way to spend an early January afternoon.
Graeme Brown:
Squadra form – essential training work:
McEwen, a 5 time past winner of the series:
Gerro, latter part of the race after being out on the attack with Renshaw for most of the afternoon:
A tight corner leading into the straight we were on had a slight incline heading away from the bay which meant that most riders had to get out of the saddle and stay there for 50-100 meters to regain top speed.  It eventually took its toll.  Renshaw:
Wise and honorable gentlemen surveying the form with a professional eye:
Uncle Phil, over for commentating duties and shortly to head to Adelaide for the TDU:
Exiting the turn mentioned above:
and entering it:
Post race interview:
Winner Matt Goss:
Final results for stage 4:

Elite Men :

1, Matt Goss (E3/Pure Tas)
2, Allan Davis (Bikebug.com)
3, Michael Matthews (Urban)
4, Chris Sutton (Team Sky)
5, Bernie Sulzberger (E3/Pure Tas)
6, Leigh Howard (Jayco VIS),
7, Tom Scully (Garmin Cervelo)
8, Jonathan Cantwell (Lowe Farms/Boomaroo Nurseries)
9, Nick Walker (Fly V Australia)
10, Mat Hayman (Team Sky)

Final General Classification:

1, Matt Goss, 33 points
2, Michael Matthews, 31
3, Bernard Sulzberger, 25
4, Allan Davis, 24
5, Chris Sutton, 21
6, Greg Henderson (Team Sky), 16
7, Leigh Howard 14
8, Wes Sulzberger (E3/Pure Tas) 13
9, Simon Gerrans (Team Sky) 10
10, Baden Cooke (Lowe Farms/Boomaroo Nurseries) 9.

Sprint classification: Simon Gerrans (Team Sky)

Team classification: E3/Pure Tas

Read more: http://www.velonation.com/News/ID/6970/Jayco-Bay-Classic-Goss-wins-final-stage-and-overall-Arndt-and-Gilmore-triumph-in-womens-contest.aspx#ixzz1AL3DlyJA

 Pics below:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

and a link to the full flickr set can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/48894104@N08/sets/72157625760377658/with/5330008858/
Kiwicyclist


World Champs report by kiwicyclist
October 5, 2010, 6:12 am
Filed under: Pro Cycling

Link to my photos from the Worlds can be found here:

Mens under 23 race: http://www.flickr.com/photos/48894104@N08/sets/72157624967739633/

Mens elite race: http://www.flickr.com/photos/48894104@N08/sets/72157624967903697/

Full report to follow soon.

Kiwicyclist



Merci Laurent – Le Professeur by mpozzi
September 1, 2010, 9:07 am
Filed under: Pro Cycling

“I love life. I love to laugh, travel, to read, eat well, just like a good Frenchman,” – Laurent Fignon (12 August 1960 – 31 August 2010)



July, I know where I’d rather be. by mpozzi
June 13, 2010, 12:09 pm
Filed under: Pro Cycling

For over 100 years the Tour de France has been part of part of France’s cultural and sporting heritage. Suffice to say it has also taught us more about French geography than any school textbook ever did.

In the last twenty years TV cycling coverage in Australia has come long way. In the late 1980’s, the only major race coverage was the Tour de France. Although a three week race, Wide World of Sports somehow extended it for four to five and its mixture of American cliché, little did we know early Phil Liggett’isms and a background soundtrack by John Tesh that attempted to make the race somewhat theatrically dramatic?

We were introduced to places like Aubisque, Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden, Ventoux, L’ Alpe d’ Huez, Colombiere and Galibier let alone riders like Hinault, LeMond, Fignon, Alcalá, Hampsten, Delgado and Kelly.

In the late 1990’s SBS started coverage of key stages and then moved to full coverage. With better coverage came familiarity with these famous Cols and the exploits of the new era of riders, some more charged than others. Did we care, not really, we always suspected it and besides the Festina affair of ’98 only reaffirmed it.

It is these Cols where the crowds congregate to see the riders. We don’t seem to care to much for the flat stages, these are just transition stages before another Col. We want to see pain and suffering, we want to see someone jump away on the final ascent of the day. We remember the summits and the hair-raising descents that follow.

I remember the Tour in 1998. It was still reeling from the Festina affair and had reached the Alps. Stage 15 started in Grenoble and went over the Croix de Fer, the Télégraphe, the Galibier and onto a hilltop finish at Les Deux Alpes. Marco Pantani was fully charged and biding his time, Jan Ullrich was coming off his 1997 Tour success and carrying a few extra. That said, he was in yellow and controlling the race.

Heavy rain greeted the riders and set the stage for what would be a memorable day. Six kilometres from the summit of the Galibier and forty eight kilometres to the stage finish, twenty five riders remained. Pantani jumped and no one followed. He reached the summit of the Galibier, stopped, put on a rain jacket and set off in pursuit of an earlier breakaway which he caught and then dropped on the lower slopes of final ascent of Les Deux Alpes. By the summit, Pantani turned his three minute deficit on Ullrich into a six minute advantage. Damage done, the Tour was won.

For the 2008 Tour, twenty years since Wide World Sports, I was lucky enough to be on the summit of L’ Alpe d’ Huez, where will you be in July……………………………

Sufferfest………….Vande Velde, Evans, Valverde, ASchleck, obscured Menchov and Efimkin

wilier



Lance Armstrong Tests Positive for Doping? by marcusoc
June 2, 2010, 5:27 pm
Filed under: Making Fun of Others, Pro Cycling

Now for another crazy story in cycling.

There are strong rumours of Fabian Cancellara’s motorised doping along with an equally strong denial published in L’Equipe. Check out the links for the maddest story in cycling in quite a while. And that includes the story of a rider found guilty of doping a few years back who was allowed to keep riding for a few more seasons and was then finally banned. He was allowed to keep some of his post-ban results, but not all – see if you can guess his name. It starts with Alejandro Valverde.

But back to Spartacus – short story is that there is a Youtube video (in Italian with English subtitles) which puts forward the argument that:

1.  Bikes can have a little (and quiet) motor placed inside the seat tube which is completely invisible on an external view. The engine can power a bike at up to 50kph and is operated via a button underneath the brake hood. This video seeks to add some credibility to its name by having a former (and very ordinary) Italian rider, Davide Cassani, explain the workings of the bike.

2. The second part of the video shows “suspicious film” of Cancellara’s winning rides at Roubaix and Flanders where he makes “unnatural accelerations” whilst making odd hand movements around his bars. But it should be noted that the video states upfront that “does not seek to blame anyone”. Just explains how one might cheat then shows a rider who looks like he is employing those measures. For the sake of Cassani and his pals, I am hoping Italian defamation laws are slightly different to ours!

The video is worth watching, if only for background of the Belgian (I believe) commentators’ exclamations of amazement at the Spartacus accelerations. And that footage isn’t getting old any time soon.

In terms of incriminating evidence, I don’t think its time to lock up Cancellara and throw away the key – yet. I personally don’t believe it for a second (April Fools 2 months late?) but the motor has just gone straight to the top of my “Bike Accessory I Am Going to Buy Next” list.

And as for the headline to this post, all I can say is that on seeing the Youtube video, and with Roid Landis’ Lance Drug Allegations in mind, a quick Google search brought me to the latest Trek Madone that Lance is planning on unveiling at this year’s Tour.

Whilst it comfortably exceeds the 6.8kg UCI weight minimum, think it still might raise some eyebrows…



The Good Cadel and The Bad Cadel by marcusoc
May 31, 2010, 9:35 am
Filed under: Pro Cycling

Whilst it was disappointing to see Cadel Evans miss out on the overall at the Giro, I felt there were plenty of positives to take from his efforts. He rode strongly and with panache for pretty much the whole race.

The Good Cadel

His victory at Montalcino was as good a win as one could ever see. Combine that with his dogged display on the Zoncolan, his TT on the Plan de Corones and continued fight to the end (including that little break at the end of the Gavia stage), you could say he put on a great show and was simply beaten by better riders. Incidentally, I am glad one of the winners didn’t come from one of the beneficiaries of the big break on the L’Aquila stage.

Evans also appeared positive to the media throughout – even congratulating/encouraging his team at every opportunity (“I’m proud of them”, etc etc) when they really were rubbish.

I thought this was a really healthy change for Our Cadel and that he had turned the corner into becoming (outwardly anyway) more of a “leader” and more positive.

The Bad Cadel

But then we read this morning’s article on cyclingnews, “Evans reveals he overcame illness to finish the Giro“. The article in a nutshell – I got sick before the L’Aquila stage, doc told me to quit, I didn’t and rode on. “I lost the biggest margin of form with the illness and that cost me perhaps a couple of places overall.” Blah blah blah.

Why he feels the need to slide in excuses/explanations like this at the end of a race is beyond me. Cadel, its a grand tour – invariably every rider has issues (anyone remember Basso/Nibali having the crash and ensuing difficulties on the Montalcino stage?). It was good that you kept your gob shut until after the race, but what is the point of mentioning it now? Just makes you sound like you are having a whine – you got beat, congratulate the winner (which you did), talk positively about the future and the other Aussies (you did) and take Chiara and your dog for a holiday. Move on without leaving this nasty footnote to your race.

Excuses are like backsides – everyone has one and they all stink. Let your riding do the talking or simply be positive at all times – you seemed to do this ok when talking about Lloyd and Porte so I guess you are getting better.

This aside, chapeau for your fine riding – and the points win means in years to come (when people forget how few flat stages there were) you will always be able to say that you were the first Aussie to win the Sprinter’s jersey at the Giro!