Sunday, 30 November 2008

Meths - not recomended as a refuling option.

This week I did something I haven't done for almost 9 months, I bought a copy of Cycling Weekly. Ye Gods, as they say in the surprised and disappointed business. It's worse than I remember it. (But then so's the weather, the beer at the local pub and todays youth).

Perhaps the worst £2.50 I've spent since I bought that training programme off the tramp that lives behind the bins at Asda. Mind you the only problem with him was that his suggested mid race drink was meths, which is currently on the UCI banned list.
I stopped my subscription a couple of years ago and now pick up, maybe, a couple of issues a year. The reason for my sub cancellation was simple, I felt it was no longer relevant to me, as it had basically stopped covering bike racing in any sort of detail, or indeed in some cases, at all. So 300 years of loyal readership ended.

Leaving it on the top shelf!

Most of the racers I know stopped buying it years ago as well and now it would seem that their sales target are met by sportive riders and those new to cycling or who have a passing interest in the business of riding a bike. Which is fine, I don't have a problem with that, but what I don't get is why they can't cover both sides of the tracks? Still what do I know.
I know the winter was always a slack time at the world centre of cycling news, Croyden, but seriously, 4 pages of photos that some bloke took of his mates riding Sportives, for God sake.

One of the reasons I bought CW in the past was to keep up to date with all the top cycling news, which lets be honest it never really did in any depth, if you were a Brit and racing on the European mainland you could be forgotten as quickly as last years crash.
Nowadays I can get all I need from the web and in more detail as well. Open up my RSS feeder each morning and there are dozens of exciting and hilarious stories to chose from.

Still that's the moaning about a magazine I never buy over with for the next 12 months, by the way did I ever tell you how crap Shed Monthly has become over the last two years? And don't even get me started on Central Heated illustrated or Hinge Weekly..........

Talking of Crap.

Mr Sella has been handed a one year ban, for, wait for it, 'co-operating' over his drugs bust. This will doubtlessly enrage Ricco, Kohl and Schumacher, which, come on, is the reason he's been given a shorter ban than they have.

No doubt the UCI and WADA have got totally pissed off with the collective whinging and never ending statements of innocence that the three have come out with over the last few months. The UCI can't extend their bans, so the next best ting is to really piss them off, and giving a one year ban to Sella, who has remained silent throughout the whole process, is a good way of doing it.

Diary Date.
This week sees the supposed release of the names of the riders who have funny looking scores on the old blood passport.
I was going to list the current betting, but my lawyer has warned me against it. But if you have a few spare minutes before now and Friday you could keep yourself entertained by drawing up a list and seeing how accurate it is come D day.

Personally I can't wait, anything that beats a doper is a good laugh in my book, baseball bat, lead pipe, boxing glove, UCI blood passport, I'll support anything that names new figures of hate.

Whilst I can't predict the names, I can, amazingly, predict what they will say, they will of course be:
Depending on your view and whether or not you happen to be an CERA dealer.


See you in court.

Stefan Schumacher to sue everyone on the planet.

Friday, it was cold, it was foggy, it wasn't a good day for playing out was it. Still my mood was lightened by the news that Stefan Schumacher was to sue everybody. I don't mean just the Docs who found his system dripping with magic juice. Oh no he's after everyone, the TdF, the French anti doping agencies and probably you and me for not believing him.

When a rider who was good, but not a world beater suddenly slaughters the worlds best TTers in two (count em) Tour de France TT's you have to raise an eyebrow. Well that's what we all thought didn't we, but apparently we were wrong. Just as with the Hamilton twins, just as with Ginger Floyd (what ever happened to his brother Pink?), it seems that he was right and the rest of the planet was wrong.
So sit back, put your feet up and enjoy, this is going to be a long one and should keep us entertained for the next couple of years. I don't expect it will develop the farcical extremes of the two mentioned above, but Stefan Schumacher has that manic glint in his eye, and that can only be a good sign.

This week has seen the annual CSC/Saxo/It-Factory survival camp take place. And this year they got to play with guns! Whether these will actually be used in a live combat situation, say if Astana start getting too big for their boots at Le Tour, or if Riis has really taken a strong anti-doping line and Kim Andersen is being used as a target is open to question, but as always good fun seems to have been had by all. The riders always speak highly of this team bonding exercise and it would appear it pays dividends during he road season. Maybe more teams should take a trip down toy soldier lane.
One team that seems to need no help in bonding is Rock Racing, the half way house for the rehabilitation of ex offenders.
Whilst I admire Michael Balls thirst for publicity and his charity work in giving ex dopers and riders past their sell by date a 2nd chance I was disappointed that he didn't sign Ginger Floyd. Still maybe he's keeping his powder dry, over the next few years there are going to be plenty of ex smack heads that will need rehabilitating back into the community, Stefan Schumacher, Kohl and their chums will be back in a couple of years, just as the Hamilton twins retire.

Meanwhile the UCI announce that there will be 18 Pro Tour teams registered for 09, but with 4 of those due to end sponsorship at the end of the upcoming season (Confidis, Milran, Lampre and AG2R). I wonder though how many will be there come 2010. Fuji-Servetto proves there are still companies willing to put money into the sport in a big way but I doubt if Milram will be here much longer. They have already talked about pulling out even before the seasons started, still nothing to do with Schumacher is it. Perhaps the riders and staff that lose their jobs could sue Steffan I'm sure he wouldn't mind, he seems to have some spare time on his hands.


Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Bernhard Kohl - your spaceship has landed.

Under the cardboard box, down the dark alley, live the UCI.

So Alexander Vinokurov is starting a 'charm offensive'. Christ that's something I'd like to see, must be some offensive.
He's been on on the bike with Andrei Tchmil. Andri though is none to keen on a linkup with the Kasak smack head as his team is registered in Switzerland, apparently down the same dark alley as the UCI, so it might be a tad embarrassing.

But help is at hand, it looks like he's about to get his ban jacked up from one to two years, as it should have been in the first place, but then hey, you expect the UCI to abide by or even understand it's own rules? Have you learnt nothing?

Bernhard Kohl - your spaceship has landed.

Bernhard Kohl is in trouble again! It would seem his manager is suing him for damages, allegedly. So having been banned for two years by the Austrian anti doping agency, the Alien now has to go to France to go through the whole process again.
You'd have thought with all this going on Kohl would have been busy, well apparently he is. But not too busy to whinge to the press about his treatment. FFS,
"In my testimony, I didn't protect anyone who could receive a sports sanction," said the Alien, the implication is of course that he did protect people who could receive a non sports sanction.

It's the whinging that pisses me off. I kind of hope that when they catch some twat for doping that should be the last we hear of them until they either return after a ban or die, which ever is sooner. But sadly this isn't the case, look at Landis, look at the Hamilton twins, the rubber chicken, the list goes on an on and on and on... Maybe the UCI should introduce additional penalty time for whinging, maybe stick an extra 2 months on the ban for every instance of winging. At that rate we'd all be saying Tyler who? Floyd who? Oh happy day.

Full House, tickets available via touts only.

For those of us who are regular at Manchester Velodrome, as riders, coaches or spectators the sudden influx of fans is, well, somewhat surprising, not surprising as in yuck, but surprising as in where have you been!
This years world cup sold out with the kind of rapidity that you normally expect for a boy band reunion tour and the Revolution is going just as fast. Rev 21 was sold weeks before the event as has 22 and I expect 23 and 24 will go the same way.
So how's the track fairing in Europe? Well 6 days are booming as always in Belgium and Holland, brim full most nights in Italy and uneven in Germany. So maybe there's a lesson to be learned. Maybe in some countries filling a hall for 6 consecutive nights is a lot harder than it used to be. Maybe a shorter programme 4 nights, 3 nights is the way to go.

Whilst I love the 6 day scene I have never understood why they have to be 6 days, why not 7 or 5, or 4? After all how many days does the four days of Dunkirk last? Not four I can tell you.
Would a 3 day event revitalise the track scene in parts of Germany?
With new tracks starting to pop up not just in the UK, but across Europe maybe more Revolution style events is the way to go, each week across the continent Friday, Saturday and Sunday could be Revolution nights. New fans, less stress for the riders, more marketing opportunities? Why scrap a 6 day race because you can only fill seats for 3 or 4 days? Why not make it a 3 or 4 day race?


Stand-up comedy, there's money it it you know.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

As light relief to the current round of dopers winging about how innocent they are we have been treated to the Garmin team launch.

And a big On The Banking cheer to David Millar, an ex doper who rather than sit on his ass and whinge about how tough life is has taken to performing stand-up comedy. Way to go Dave, lets top up that pension plan.

Will Bos be the new boss?

Theo Bos has signed for Rabobank Continental. Following a year in which his performances on the track have been, well, not as good as he would have expected, to say the least. Theo has decided that having spent all year getting his backside kicked by the big fella from Scotland he'll now spend next year getting his backside kicked by the little fella from IoM.

Theo has been something of the media star in the Netherlands of late, regular TV appearances of the Celeb type have made him a household name, but have also been blamed for a string of below average performances.

So will Theo make the transition? Well, track sprinters do actually ride their road bikes, but it's mostly recovery, unless they can't get to a track in which case there are 'track' efforts on the road. But one or the other, both are short and sweet. The real work for any track sprinter will be on the track and in the gym.

Over the years Theo will have built a lot of bulk that will with out a doubt be a hindrance on the road and his body will have to adjust to a totally different training programme, so I guess the first few years will be redefining his body to get used to the different regimes of training and competition that he will face. Will he be winning sometime soon? I think he will, a couple of crits in Holland and maybe a shorter flat stage or two, but will he be there at the end of 250K, no way, at least not for several years.
It'll be an interesting experiment in a way, can track sprinters make a successful transition to the road? Well it depend on how you define successful, winning the odd chipper? then yes, winning tour stages? Hummmm, not sure.

It's kind of wierd, but before this news broke I was talking to someone about track / road transition for sprinters and we talked about the mental angle as much as the physical side of things. Sprinting out of a peloton at full gas, with riders hooking and flickin left right and centre, sitting behind a train for 10k as they wind up the pace are as much a matter of mental aptitude as they are physical ability.
Theo will be used to sprinting mano-a-mano, or at most from a group of 4 on a clear velodrome, with nice dry surfaces and no head wind, out of a peloton, round tight bends, into a rainy headwind with Columbia on one side and Quick Step on the other is going to be quite a diffierent matter.

Still that aside I wish him luck, I like Theo, he's a nice fella. And certainly another fast sprinter in the peloton will make the final gallop even more interesting. Don't look for much in the first few years, but Theo is still only 25 and he's a fast learner and this move is clearly a new challenge for him, so he'll be super motivated, give it a few years and it could be interesting.


Monday, 24 November 2008

Just don't call me Ginger.

I'm not Ginger Beer, says former cyclist.

Hot of the legal press: The US Federal Court is bracing itself for a full frontal attack as supposed owner of Ginger hair 'Floyd ' I like a whiskey' Landis' attempts to prove to the world that at no point in his past did he ever have Ginger hair.

'I'm no Ginger minger, I never have been and I never will be.' Said a Ginger minger.

The latest count is almost$1.8 million for the World anti Ginger agency and close to $2 million for the man with the hair.

Mr Landis has so far been found guilty of possession of ginger pubes, a ginger tash, a ginger toupee and ginger eyebrows, by the UCI, the French agency for the prevention of Ging, the Olympic anti Ging alliance, the USAGA and that nice blond Mr Lemond, who hasn't got a ginger hair on his body!

'My hair is not ginger', fumed Landis, 'granted in the heat of a summer day and after a few whiskeys it can look a bit ginger, but if any ginger hairs have been found on me I can honestly say they are not mine.'

Should you like to contribute to Mr Landis hair dye fund all contributions of the following will be welcome: ruby red, cherry blossom, sunset rust, Australian earth and Martian crater.


Alien number 2 (Bernhard Kohl) has been banned for 2 years. His ban coming in just ahead of the UCI's proposed 4 year ban is bad news for those of us hoping that he'd just piss off and never trouble us again. Sadly he will be talking comeback sooner rather than never.

He seemed a little upset though, aw, diddums. It seems that he 'made my statement and was honest' and was therefor hoping to get a reduced sentence. Look just sod off will you, all that crap on TV and in the press about how much pressure you were under, all that shite about losing your contract at the end of the season, just give it a rest will you.

And talking of arrest......
Young master Ricco is up before the French beak and the French beak wonder why they have a sniveling little turd in front of them (the two may or may not be connected). The beak is currently wondering what to do with the 'starling', or what ever he was called. I can offer some help here, throw the book at him and lock him up. Oh it would be a day of celebration if a convicted doper actually had to do prison time for their crimes. Now as Ricco would be in a delicate emotional state I assume he would be put on suicide watch, on second thoughts......


Sunday, 23 November 2008

Cav - he really is jolly good, don't you know.

He flies through the air with the greatest of ease.

Todays Observer has a fine, fine, fine interview with his royal Cavness. Perhaps the most indepth and intelligent interview we have had with the Cannonball.

What does come across though, or at least what is mentioned, almost in passing, is that Cav upsets a fair few folk on the cycling scene. So what's my take on this, well my take is, quite simply, Bloody good show old chap, as they say in the London stockbroker belt (sorry dole central, as it is now known).

There are many reason to enjoy Cavs antics on the bike.

Firstly he wins, now there was a time when this was a rare as hens teeth in British Cycling. In-fact not only does he win, but he leaves some of the worlds fastest sprinters floundering in his wake. So max points for that.

Secondly he is passionate about the sport and about winning. None of the old time plucky loser cobblers for Cav, no, he loves winning, he wants to win and he believes he's going to win.

Thirdly, well thirdly, his heart is on his sleeve. Cav knows he's going to win and as a result his is both confused and pissed off when he doesn't.
He doesn't go into the final 200m thinking 'Oh I could do well here, if I try really, really hard.' he goes in thinking 'I'm gonna win, I faster than everybody else, so I'm gonna win' his whole body is preparing for victory and as a result there is not a micron of his being that is being wasted thinking about escape strategies, consciously or subconsciously.

Get a blank look after you ask him what it's like not to win the stage? Er, what exactly do you expect? Ten minutes of self analysis, followed by a promise to do better tomorrow? Give it a rest.

Fourthly, He's a character. God knows we're short enough of those at the moment. In a peloton of worthies, earnest triers and faceless plodders we need all the passion and character we can get. Cav's up there with the great characters, he's not quite as much of a showman as Chippo was, I doubt anyone will ever be, and his post race interviews lack the lewd, rude and unprintable that Chippo often managed, but hey, he's young, he'll develop.
I remember being at a track meet and after Cav won he rode along the straight high fiving it with the crowd. Pure class if you ask me.


Friday, 21 November 2008

Alternative careers for dopers

Jörg Jaksche says NO to pro cycling!

One ex doper who isn't making a return to racing is Jörg Jaksche. In a move that outraged the world of Professional cycling Jörg Jaksche has admitted that he has no desire to race again and instead will concentrate on his law studies and hopes to become a lawyer.

When asked by the UCI to explain this outrage Jaksche responded:
'I always intended to return to cycling, but during the hearing I found out how much I was going to have to pay my lawyer and I thought sod this for a game of soldiers. I can earn ten times as much sitting on my ass. Also it has to be said, there are no dope tests for lawyers so I won't need to give my whereabouts 24 hours a day.'

Hurray for Jorg. If the UCI seriously want to rid the sport of dopers they could do a lot worse than set up a careers service offering alternative careers for ex-dopers. When I say alternative careers I mean something other than appearing on TV saying how sorry they are, or how they were a victim or best of all how innocent they are. I have some suggestions:
Michael Rasmussen could become a sparing partnet for Joe Calzaghe, Riccardo Ricco could become crash test dummy and the Tyler Hamilton twins could join the circus as part of the traveling freak show.

Lock up your medicine cabinets.

And talking of freaks I'm pleased to see Rudy Pevenage is off to become DS for Rock Racing. Now there's a match made in heaven if ever there was one.
Logically it makes a lot of sense, you're a mid range US team, you want to race at a higher level in Europe, you need a DS with experience and knowledge of the races, one who's well known in the peloton. Sadly Rudy Pevenage's experience is mainly of avoiding dope controls and dishing out the pills during his time at Telecom.
When Rudy was Rudy and his Telecom boys were in town it wasn't so much a case of 'Lock Up your daughters.' as 'Lock up your medicine cabinets.'

Still, hat's off to Michael Ball, he likes to give people a second chance, which under the current climate is all fine and dandy. And they say all publicity is good publicity so for next to nothing Ball gets a ton of coverage across the globe for his product.
And you know what it works, only yesterday I went out into the garden and picked up a couple of rocks, mind you I made sure I gave then a full blood test before I bough them into the house.

Wanted more fat men in cycling.

Spend your time with cyclists and you begin to think 'Obesity crisis, what obesity crisis'.
Cyclists are far too obsessed by their weight. Most of us complain about being a couple of kilos over weight, although what this mythical weight is we never make clear. There is however an unwritten understand that all any of us need to do is shed those few kilos and we'll soon be 'flying'. Although actual doing some quality training would be the answer for most of us.

So it's with great pleasure that I've been catching up with the Ghent 6.
Ghent is a great 6 day race, and is, what I believe today's young people call ' Well old school, daddy-O' init!'
The reason for my love of Ghent, isn't just due to the racing. Oh no, my love of Ghent is due to Joop Zijlaard .
Joop is a Derny driver, well that's not strictly true, he is the Derny drivers Derney driver. He is to driving a Derny what Cav is to the final 200 of a race, that is the undisputed king.

Joop combines the three elements that make for a great 6 day race.
1 - Showmanship, quite simple no one, including the riders, is as great a showman as Joop, playing to the crowd, taking the piss out of his fellow drivers, toying with the riders, Joop could keep the crowd entertained on his own for most of the evening.

2 - Skill. His size belies his competitive nature, allied to an inate ability to know where he is on the track. Throw in a sense of timing and understanding of racing that most riders don't have and you're on to a winner.

3 - Bulk. Sitting behind a Derney will knock about a third of the air resistance out of your way as you peddle round. Sit behind Joop and you have a void where there is barely enough air to breath, result almost zero wind resistance.

And for a sponsor? He's a dream, you can get as much advertising on one Joop as you can on a whole team of skinny climbers.


Sunday, 16 November 2008

This is a rubber chicken, not a cyclist.

Lets all laugh at Michael Rasmussen, again.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport took five hours to decide on the case of the Chicken. Whilst their report will not be made public for a few weeks it is known is that it took 5 hours to make a decision.

I can exclusively reveal that those five hours consisted of:
Considering the merits of the case - 1 minute
Pissing themselves laughing at Rasmussen - 4 hours 59 minutes.

It's been a fun old week at CAS, not only did they have the Rasmussen case to keep them amused, but they had a submission from Riccardo Ricco to consider. Well I say consider, I mean look at, well I say look at, I mean laugh out of the building.
Because, it would appear, that Riccardo Ricco is innocent.

In addition to providing CAS with fresh comedy material, Ricco has been training. Apparently he has been training for 7 hours a day! What this training involves has not been made clear. Now I don't know much about being a hairdresser, but surely you don't need to train for 7 hours a day to do it, do you?

Vote for me I like cycling.

This time last year the Meadowbank stadium was due to be flattened as the local council pretty much said 'what do you want a velodrome for' and 'there's gonna be one in Glasgow in a few years time' and more than likely 'Chris Hoy who's he?'

Then it's all change as Sir Chris sweeps all before him and happens to mention that the demolishing of Meadowbank, with nothing to replace it is not a good idea.

After that it was only a matter of time before the council unclenched their buttocks, saw much loved votes disappearing down the drain and changed their minds.
As a result a new 200m track (covered) is being talked about, in fact two sites have been identified and I doubt it will be long before the first brick is laid. Nowadays you can get a basic 200m velodrome with changing rooms, toilets and a couple of offices for less than £1 million. Small change when compared to the average local council expenses bill.

So would there be a new track on the way if Chris hadn't won his three golds? What do you think?

Surprisingly ASO can't control the weather.

Lance and his personal valet come manservent, Johan Bruyneel are off to have a meeting with ASO. Why? I'm sure they have things to discuss, but why now and not when Lance was racing?

OK so Lance is worried that the French may attack him. But is getting a rabbit punch a la Merckx more likely now than it was 6 years ago?

I guess the meeting is to get some sort of reassurance from ASO about security. Which is as about as likely as asking Stefan Schumacher to start talking sense. Come on, traditionally the organisers of Le Tour are totally unable to control anything on the race. Riders, spectators, disruptions to the route, the weather, acts of God, ASO may believe they have full control over them all, but in reality they can just about control which shoes they wear each day.
I'm sure the the meeting will be warm and friendly, as friendly as any meeting could be where the two sides hate each other. But nothing will happen as a result other than a press statement about respect. My advice would be stay at home Lance, do something you'll enjoy, going will only rasie your blood presure. Save the money one air fare, have a coffee and go for a ride.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Brain Damage - the unspoken by-product of EPO use

Warning, EPO can send you crazy.

There's a saying in Yorkshire, 'There's nowt as queer as folk'.
Perhaps it should be re-written for the modern age to: 'There's nowt as deranged as a failed doper', It would seem to me that one of the by products of excessive doping is that it can seriously damage your mind.
Looking at the utterances of certain banned riders I can only draw the conclusion that exposure to the kidney drug erythropoietin, or EPO as we all love to call it, is more likely to bugger up your brain than turn your blood to tomato soup.

In the last couple of days we've had both Alien number 1 (Stefan Schumacher) and Alexander Vinokourov announcing come backs.
Now there is an argument that one of the side affects from doping is that it adversely affects your mental health. The argument goes that you know it's wrong and with all the stress of deception and lies you mental health is likely to be adversely affected. Personally I think it's much more simple, I think EPO just sends you nuts, crazy, loopy, barking, mad. Perhaps it's users should read the label more carefully, perhaps it should be like cigarettes and carry a health warning.

There can be no other explanation can there? How could anyone in their right mind believe that they will be welcomed back in to the sport after not just failing dope tests, God knows we've had plenty of ex-dopers welcomed back, but after failing tests in the way they did and in the circumstances they did.

Schumacher's case is truly bizare, not only did he fail a dope test, but did so on the biggest stage the sport has, under massive scrutiny and after having issued a world record number of denials about doping and made the point on camera several times that he was clean. This was bad enough, but it proved to be the final nail in the coffin for the Stutgart 6 day and the tour of Germany.
You imagine the joy in the houses of riders who have lost their sponsors, and fans who have lost much loved races on this announcement.

Schumacher contends that he has a right to race, indeed he does, it's a basic human right. In a similar way I have a right to stand at the side of the road with a baseball bat and attempt to batter the living crap out of the fool as he rides past.

And then there's Alexander Vinokourov. What can you say that doesn't involve the word tosser?
Brad Wiggins spoke after Vinokourov's TT stage win / failed test at the 07 tour about how angry he was, Brad kew his power output and new the power output it would have taken to beat him by the margin Vinokourov did. Just after his return home Brad had a press conference which included:
I grew up as a kid idolising those hero's in the Tour de France, Indurain and everyone like that. It was almost a childhood dream to ride the Tour de France. The last 2 years my childhood dream which became a reality has been pissed all over by certain members of the peloton.

Lock em all up.

But my favorite moment of the last few days is, with out doubt, Schumacher insisting that his contract with Quick Step is valid.
Now this is something I would pay good money to witness, Jan 1st - Quick Step training camp, all the riders in their new kit, new bikes polished and shinny. Imagine them all happily riding along chatting about the up coming season, meanwhile 5 meters behind in a kit brought at the local bike shop is Schumacher. Every now and then someone turns round and shouts 'piss off, you're not in the team', 'No I am, I am, I have a contract'. You see, barking mad.
Does section 26 of the mental health act apply in Belgium?

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Will the real Jan Ullrich please stand up!

Hey kids - just say no to dope and yes to pies.

In a move that shocked the cycling world Jan Ullrich denied using any 'doping product or method' from January to March 2003. So what are we talking about here? five, six weeks? Come on give the guy a break, I mean, when did he get time to indulge in burgers and pies.

I know the legal world is full of ass covering incomprehensible language that leaves someone not on 4000k a year confused, but what do they mean by 'method'?
Now as far as I can workout there are 3 ways of taking a 'doping product' :
1 - Via a needle, either through blood transfusion or a syringe
2 - Orally, perhaps washed down with a glass of water or a fine 68 Chateau Garin, or
3 - 'Up yer bum'

Now there's one question I'd like convicted dopers to answer, I think they should be made to reveal their preferred method of 'product delivery'

But once again fat Jan seemed confused about how his blood finished up in Fuentes fridge. Maybe someone should ask Jan if he ever remembers having a pint of the good stuff drawn out of his arm and if so when and by whom.
Ah, no, then you couldn't string the case out for a few years and earn some hefty legal fees could you.

Of course all this was just a side show in fat Jans claim for wages owed during his time at Coast (I hope Floyd got paid in full for his time there, hey fat Jan and the Whiskey drinker - must have been a fun team).
And when the case ended fat boy Jan had this to say about his former coast boss:
'Dahms is a cheat. I don't want his dirty money. Dahms lied in my face'
Too right fat Jan, well said, we don't like lairs and cheats in the world of cycling do we.

Don't look in the fridge.

Meanwhile, not a million miles away, Ivan Stevic has been handed a life ban. Now the Italian authorities say this is cos he was involved in the 'Oil for Drugs' affair. But come on guys, surely it was for his court room denials that the doping products found in his fridge can't have been his as he was out racing when they were discovered!

Brilliant defense that one, 'Sorry officer I know nothing about those dismembered bodies in my house, you see I was at work when you found them.' Er....

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

10 rounds, points decision or total knock out?

A lot of hot air.

For God sake just shut up and ride your bike.

It would seem that everybody is down at their local wind tunnel in an effort to shave a second off something or the other in an attempt to prove they're serious about winning a Grand Tour in 09.

First up the Lance moved to into the tunnel, quickly followed by AC (that's Alberto Contador and not AC from operation Puerto).
I don't recall AC (that's Alberto Contador and not AC from operation Puerto) spending tunnel time before, so I can only guess that this is an attempt to show Lance he's a worthy leader for Le Tour, I doubt Lance gives a toss, but hey, it's nice to be thought of.

Someone else thinking of Lance is Linus Gerdemann, he's not been in the wind tunnel, but there a hell of a lot of hot air about.
He thought Lance shouldn't be doing a 'return', then when challenged about this he replied:
'No, no, I did not say Lance shouldn't make a return, I was misquoted, what I actually said was, Lance shouldn't make a return. I hope that clears everything up.'
Then Lance says 'Gerdemann, who's he?' You mean he hasn't bought the Tour 07 highlights (extended version) DVD? Shame on you Lance.

But then in weighs Kloden, who says: "I don't have to go up to every camera and present myself as the savior of cycling", no Andreas, that's because if you did the cameraman would piss him self laughing.

Andreas Klöden was of course at T-Mobile between 98 and 2006, a time where the pills were popping like there was no tomorrow, lets have a quick roll call, Rolf Aldag, Erik Zabel, Udo Bolts, Christian Henn, Mr 60%, fat Jan and team doctors Andreas Schmid and Lothar Heinrich all admitted to being on the juice or giving it away like sweets during their time a Telecom / T-Mobile.
So no, Andreas, I think the best thing for you to do is keep your mouth closed, your head down and see out the rest of your career in the hope people ignore you.

Personally, and call me old fashioned if you like, I don't see whats wrong with young Linus saying 'hey look, I'm clean, you can believe in me and the future of cycling.'
I actually think his stand is brave, especially when he'll have to ride in the same peloton as Kloden and any of his pill poping chums from yester year.

I notice that Kloden hasn't cast comment on other riders who take an open and strong anti drugs stance, say Cav or Brad Wiggins. Maybe he only picks on skinny climbers, yes I know Brad is on the slim side, but he's a boxing fan from the mean streets of London, I know who my money would be on in a fight. (TKO Wiggins inside two rounds)

Personal hygiene - so important for today professional cyclist.

When Lance announce his return, the one thing that I was looking forward to wasn't a le Tour ride, oh no. The thing that got me excited was the inevitable re-match with Filippo Simeoni.

And when the opening bell sounded last week I sat back and waited for the blood to flow. But what happened? It's three years since these two great champions went toe to toe, you'd have thought that over that time they could have built up a little more aggression, a little more tactical awareness, but no. What a damp squib, the abuse meter hardly moved and I was left feeling well and truly let down.
My only hope is that Simeoni gets a Giro ride next summer and with this in mind I will start petitioning the organisers. Come on, forget the inevitable side show of dope testers chasing skinny climbers down side streets, what we want is a good old fashioned fist fight, if nothing else guys, think of the TV ratings.

In all the fuss about nothing there was one interesting point made by Lance, that was why has Filippo Simeoni not got a ride with a major team? OK I know hes 37, but he's national champion. Is it because of his anti drugs line? Well no, there are plenty of other riders in the peloton that take a similar line, is it cos of his age? Well there are plenty of 'older gentlemen' as well (say hi Lance), so it can't be that.
I'd welcome any suggestions, perhaps his personal hygiene isn't what it could be and maybe when Lance rode up to him in 04 and did the hand across the mouth gesture he was telling him to clean his teeth more regularly.

Discount city: Name names and get a year off your next holiday.

It would appear that Mr Emanuele Sella has got of lightly. He has 'named names' and as a result the Italian Olympic Committee are just slapping his wrists, in other words giving him a 12 month ban, so good news then, he'll be back with us next year, I can hardly wait.
To quote "He collaborated and named names, so he got a reduction, according to the WADA codes," well that's OK then is it?
Who are these names he's named? That's my question, well actually my question is what next? Well here's the latest betting on what next:
The Italian Olympic Committee to do nothing: Evans
The Italian Olympic Committee to chase and arrest several high profile sportsmen and doctors: 1000 -1
This drags on for year, no arrests and then it's all forgotten about: 1 - 100

Friday, 7 November 2008

The return of the king and the banning of the doggie position

And this time he's bringing his dog.

Every now and then in cycling an event happens that fills you so full of joy and happiness towards you fellow man that you can scarcely believe it.
Yes, I'm talking about 'the return' , no idiot, not that one, I'm talking about the return of the king, no, not him either, I'm talking about the return of the man who had a working relationship with a doctor of ill repute, no, look, once and for all, I'm not talking about who you think I'm talking about. I'm talking about the king, Mr Frank Vandenbrouke. Oh happiness, oh joy. Just when you think there are no characters in cycling along comes Frankie with talk of yet another return.

You'll recall that when our Frankie was visited by the forces of law and order in 2002 and his fridge was found to be bulging with EPO, morphine and clenbuterol, his excuse was that they were all for his dog. Well who am I to disbelieve him? The fact that his dog had just set a new world record for the pursuit of 4.10 is often overlooked (like the superman position the doggy position is now outlawed at velodromes).

So Frankie got banned and since that day he has made several comebacks, at each one his adulators have flocked to the call and rallied behind their man (I thought the doggy position was banned?). Yet despite the talk Frankie hasn't really set the world alight. Still we must salute Frank Vandenbrouke, he was the first cyclist to bring the surreal excuse into the world of doping, of course since then we've had the Tyle Hamilton twins and 'Whiskey a Go Go' (or Floyd Landis as he is known in the bible belt). But Frankie was a pioneer and for that and the unique brand of comedy he has brought to the world of cycling I for one will be continually grateful

The operation formally known as Puerto (or you can't keep a good dog down)

So the samples taken at this years tour of Portugal are to be retested, oh dear, tin hats on lads, incoming......

Portugal as you know is home to the remnants of the operation formally known as Puerto. When the Spanish fuzz riffled through Fuentes fridge they found more than moldy cheese and sour milk, they found the names of several pedigree hounds, no doubt all preparing for Crufts.

As a result a shout of 'head for the hills' was heard in the peloton and pretty soon there was queue of 'champions' offering their services at knock down prices to various Portuguese teams, who of course took up the offer. Now it looks like the chickens are coming home, not to roost, but to crap all over the place, ah, today just gets better and better.

Actually it's worth pointing out something here, Fuentes was quite indignant that only the names of cyclists have been released, and stated that he had also worked with tennis and football players.
Of course the great and the good from those sports have made sure that it's a case of 'no name, no pack drill' and now the operation is closed we may never know the extent of their involvement.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

I'm spartacus, no, I'm spartacus, no, I'm spartacus

Mars Bars, do they make a good crash hat?

The UK government has announced that the pilot schemes for the national identity cards will be carried out with staff at 2 major airports.
However there is a good case for it to be tested on the GB cycling team. The introduction of ID cards would certainly be welcomed by Chris Hoy. In recent months there has been a queue of young sprinters all lining up to claim to be Chris Hoy. As yet there's notthing to worry about as you can still tell them apart, but if I was Chris I'd start checking their kit bags when they turn up for training, just to make sure there are no blond wigs in there.

Now, what's the most popular helmet down at your local Velodrome? Well in the UK it's certainly not the Casco Wrap, but at Velodromes around the world they are catching on big time.
The reason for this is of course Hoy and Pendelton, a couple of years ago Chris n Vicky were almost the only riders on the block with them. No big deal but as soon as they started winning the population of the Wrap soared. Turn up at any velodrome form Melbourne to Carson and you'll see a fair few on offer. So do they offer any advantage over a 'standard' helmet? Well if GB riders are using them you know there have been hours of testing in wind tunnels and on the track, but are they going to make a difference to the average track league rider? I've no idea, certainly I could wear six of them and I'd still ride like a Muppet.
I suspect that there's a big element of fashion here, if Chris and Vicky had turned up at the worlds a few years ago with three Mars Bars taped to their heads there'd be a queue round the confectionery counters at your local track.

Go fast, but not too fast please.

I'd forgotten about this, until just now, but haven't the UCI banned skinsuits from downhill racing?
So how does that work then? Stupid me, I thought the purpose of a downhill race was, like all races, to win.
So why have they been banned? And do they make a difference? Well a skinsuit is going to make some sort of difference in terms of aerodynamics, but how much on a downhill course is open to question, fractions of a second no doubt, maybe even a second or two. So enough to make a difference in a close finish, yes, of course. But why ban them? A rider can wear what they want, so if they chose a skinsuit good luck to them. In my view it shows thought and determination. But in the eyes of the UCI it obviously shows something else, too much determination, too much preperation, going too fast, that's not good is it?

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

GB boss calls for fewer Olympic events

New Olympic event unveiled.

In a shock move today, British Cycling's 'Big Boss' Dave 'BigBoss' Brailsford called for there to be fewer Olympic events.
'We believe that the current situation in cycling should be replicated in other sports.' Said Dave.
'In cycling we only have 3 track events for women, 7 fewer than for the men, so I am issuing a call for Athletics to lose the womens 200m, the womens marathon, the womens 1500m and the womens shot putt. In addition I'm calling for swimming to drop the womens 50 m backstroke, the 55 m backstroke and the 60m backstroke'.

This was countered by bosses from Athletics who claimed,
'We simply haven't got enough events, we are calling for a 150m sprint, a 250m sprint, a 500m's and events at every distance from 1000m to 4750m. After all we win stuff all at the events that already exist, so this will give us a chance to win stuff all at further events.'

In addition it has been announced that swimming will from 2012 feature a paddling pool race.

Armstrong definitely to ride Le Tour.

This web site can reveal exclusively that Lance Armstrong will be riding the 2009 Tour de France.

Although Armstrong initial enthusiasm for entering the race seemed to wain over the last few weeks events in France have helped Lance to make up his mind.

In a recent survey 70% of the French stated that they did not want Armstrong to ride le Tour, this number was enough to persuade Armstrong to sign on the dotted line for a place on the starting line for 2009.
'It's a chance I can't refuse' said Armstrong, who went on to add,
'The prospect of pissing off 70% of the French population at once is a once in a life time opportunity and one I'd be stupid to turn down.'

Bernhard Kohl is on the comeback trail - It's really beyond satire isn't it.

Any excuse for a picture of a clown.

I know it's difficult to believe but alien number 2 - Bernhard Kohl, is already planning his comeback to the world of professional cycling. His trainer has said that Kohl is targeting the Tour of Spain in 2010.

However when I contacted the organisers of the 2010 Vuelta they were a little more circumspect.
'Yes we are aware of Mr Kohl's interest in the race, infact we already have an application form in from him'
When asked what their response was, they went on to say.
'We have had to tell him no, he will not be welcome, we already have clowns booked for the children's party in Madrid anyway Mr Kohl's refusal to wear a red nose would make him ineligible.'

Time to powder your nose.

It would seem that Tornado Tom's claim that he tested positive for cocaine after someone 'spiked' his drink may be, well, a little far fetched.
Hair analysis has shown that Tommys nose and the white powder were good friend over a period of months.

However Toms manager has gone on to explain this, it seems that as a major celebrity in Belgium Tom attracted more than his fair share of stalkers, and according to his manager, it was one of these stalkers that was continually spiking his drinks.

Old time dopers - that's what we want more of.

Frankie with another whopper.

That nice Mr Andy Schleck fears that suggestions that he may well have a damaged reputation following his brothers 'charitable donation' may not have been all it seems. Maybe he should have a quiet word in Frankies ear, 'next time you feel the desire to give away some cash, how about your poor old brother'.

Ah doping, it's a wonderful thing, whilst Frankie waits for the result and his bosses Mr 60% and Mr 'only failed twice' Andersen continue to believe in his innocence, Jan 'Burgermeister' Ullrich is still waiting on the result to come in from his 2 year ban. You'll remember the 2 year ban, it was the one burger boy got for passing Dr Eufemiano Fuentes in the street, investigators have issued a statement saying that they hope to finalise results of the investigation by 2020.

The little blue tablet

Now I don't pay much attention to doping cases, it's not good for the bloody pressure is it? I find if I read too many stories about dope busts I spend the next few hours riding round the lanes muttering to myself 'bastards, bastards, bastards....'
Still good to hear that Andrea Moletta has been cleared, although the poor fella no longer has a team to ride for following the departure from the peloton of the German waterboys.
According to CN (other cycling news web sites are available....) he was suspended when his father was questioned about Viagra tablets and other substances. Now call me old fashioned,
but I don't quite get how Viagra is gonna improve you cycling performance, I mean spending 6 hours in the saddle is tough enough without having an erection that lasts for that long. Surely a six hour erection would be detrimental to your riding performance, sorry a 6 hour erection would be detrimental to your cycling performance, you're gonna need all the blood you can to carry oxygen round your body, if it's all pumping percy there's gonna be less for the leg.

Old time dopers, they were the best.

Nowadays it's all this EPO, CERA, the carbon and titanium of the doping world. But go back a few years and we had proper dopers, riders stacking up on amphetamines before a 400 km stage. And the king of them all was Mr Djamolidine Abdoujaparov. Since he threw in the Lycra, Adbou spotting has been a popular pastime amongst cycling jurnos. Getting an interview would be something of a coup. So Cycle Sports joy must have been unbounded when their man on the spot bumped into Abdou out in Italy. What followed was more of a passing brief conversation rather than an in depth interview, still, the road season is winding down and we all know the monthly's abhorrence of track and cross, so getting a few words from Abdou would certainly fill a few pages, I mean what else is there?

What came across is that, well, what we thought about Abdou when he was racing was true, that is HE'S BARKING MAD. Not just a little crazy, maybe slightly eccentric, oh no, totally and utterly off the scale. - Brilliant.

Now Abdou of course holds a world record that I suspect we will never seen beaten, he managed to fail 6 dope tests, bloody hell at this rate I'm surprised that he isn't working for CSC/Saxo bank.

6 test failures is an impressive performance, just think back to the time when Adbou was riding, dope testing was about as reliable as Adbou sprinting in a straight line. So if you reckon that he was going to tested dozens of times by tests that were totally useless failing 6 is an impressive performance.
In order to fail that many the laws of probability mean that he must have spent most of his life out of his box. And you know what, the interview proved that was the case, he must have loved life out of his box so much he decide to stay out of it for good.
I think Cycle Sport should start a regular feature 'Interviews with barking mad dopers.', mind you, that would pretty much fill up every issue from now until 2012.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

French call for fewer olympic cycling events

Ban them all, demand the French.

In a shock move today the president of the French Cycling Federation called for a reduction in the number of cycling events at the 2012 Olympics.

Pierre Throughthewindow president of the FFC has written a letter to the IOC requesting that the number of cycling events in the 2012 and all subsequent Olympics be reduced to zero.

'We're fed up with getting or ases kicked every four years by nations we've never heard of. ' Said Throughthewindow. 'This continual mauling by inferior nations, such as the British, the Australians and the Americans is damaging to our national selfesteem.'

'The French are a proud nation and we feel our reputation on the world stage is being diminished by the unfair tactics employed by certain nations when it comes to cycling.'

When asked to detail the so called 'unfair tactics' Mr Throughthewindow listed in detail his greviences and the nations he personally holds responsible.

'I personally hold the following nations responsible' said Throughthewindow.

The Australians - They are totally unfair, they ride in a very aggressive manner and always want to win.
The Americans - They are very good at riding round France very quickly, much quicker than the average Frenchman, it's totally unfair!
The British - They insist on beating us in the velodrome, they invite us over to Manchester and then make us look like idiots, it should be outlawed.

Throughthewindow has also expressed doubts about the Danes, the Spanish, Belgians, Dutch, Italians, Germans and just about anyone who isn't French.
'I express doubts about anyone who isn't French.' he said.

Meanwhile in the sticks.......

GB boss criticised for not winning enough.

In a shock move today British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford was criticised in the press for not winning enough
In the house of commons the Right Honorable Sir Arnold Nonothing, shadow under secretary for bandwagon jumping called the head of British Cycling to task.

'It's been two days since British Cycling won a gold medal, this kind of shoddy performance is just not good enough. As a house we fully expect our performance directors to be winning medals every day.'
(the head of British Athletics is rumored to have left the country.)

In all seriousness though......

Not a bad weekend - but was it too good?

It has been expressed in the press and in some quarters that the British success on the track is putting some nations off, and that if it continues they might well hang up their mavics and go home.

First up I'd like to know who's actually said this, has anyone actually come out in print and made this claim? Anyone connected with track cycling that is, as opposed to lazy journalists making up stories where there aren't any.

But lets just ask a few questions here.Who are these nations that are feeling so hard done by that they are going to jack it in? and If GB wasn't beating them than who, the Aussies, the Dutch, the US?

One of the things that the GB domination on the track has done over the last few years is make everyone look at their programme and raise their game - or at least that's what it should do. When the Aussies were raining supreme did the GB squad complain? No they looked at what the worlds best were doing, copied it, made a few changes and got down to some hard work.

The position GB track is now in didn't just happen overnight, it's the result of a decade of hard and detailed work, building, testing, evaluating, rejecting, rebuilding and so on.

Right way and wrong way.

As with all things there's a right way and a wrong way, or rather a way and a way that's better. British Cycling (BC) have found a way that's better, no one at Manchester has a problem if anyone copies it, the Aussies didn't have a problem when BC copied the AIS set up, that's the way it should be.
Someone takes your method and improves on it, that should spur you on to try new things, look at developments and try to raise you game.

Now BC does have a lot of resources, but as one of the Aussie coaches said at the Worlds this year, it's not what you have, but how you use it.
What we are now seeing are nations with less to invest in a track programme target their investment, in a similar way that BC did initially - pursuit, kilo, team sprint.
So we have the Danes looking at team pursuit and ignoring the sprinters.
The French have gone sprint crazy and have forgotten about the endurance team
The Belgians are letting their 6 day riders look after the endurance and are concentrating on womens endurance and so on.
This is exactly what should happen and if BC didn't have the cash is what would happen in the UK.

But there are areas where BC still have the edge and some nations due ti the way they are set up may not be able to adapt, or at least do so without much bloodshed.

I have always felt that BC's 3 big strengths are:
1 - You have to be based at Manchester if you want to be on the team, no if's, no but's. As a result there is massive competition for places, as day by day you get to ride with and against the guys who are after your slot on the start line.

2 - A poor professional road scene. Bizarrely this helps the track squad. Would Newton, Hayles, Manning have been so readily available to spend 6months training on the track if they had a big name sponsor after their services?

3 - Excellent scouting and development programme. This is key, you need to find the riders and get them coached. BC has a well structured coach education programme which ensures all coaches are on the same hymn sheet. Add to this bodies like, Dave Rayner, Braveheart and the Dragon fund, the revolution future stars and the DHL sprint schools and there are ways of catching riders who slip through the net or don't fancy a life on the blue line.

The next couple of years should be great entertainment, personally I can't wait.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Spanish cycling boring - says top cycling web site.

Time to wake up and take a sniff matey.

In a shock move today soaraway top cycling web site blogger Mike Radar accused Spanish cycling of being boring.

'I accuse them of being boring.' said Radar. Who went on to say, 'they win everything, this year they've won all three Grand tours, hell, they've even won a race at the Olympics'.
'It's possible that this success might put other nations off. Some nations like America or Italy have realised what they can achieve if they concentrate their resources, but others might just be put off. They've won everything this year and their top riders, Miguel Indurain and Federico Bahamontes didn't even turn up.' said Radar.

Radar (17) who got his first bicycle for Christmas 2007 went on to say he wished the Spanish Grand tour riders were more like the British, 'we never win much, it's the British way, hurrah for the plucky amateur.'

Track cyclist Banned for life.

The UCI today took the unprecedented step today of banning a track cyclist for not using Mavic wheels.
In a move that outraged at least sixty million people a member of the British track cycling team was banned for life for attempting to start a race on a pair of Pro wheels.

'We haven't yet been able to make a mockery of track racing like we have with road racing', said a UCI spokesman, 'so we thought we should start somewhere and this seemed as good a place as any.'
Whilst the move was claimed by the UCI as part of it's global attempt to completely bugger up all aspects of the sport some have interpreted it as a way of stopping British domination which some have accused of being too exciting.
'I believe it's an attempt to stop the mighty Team GB' said renown prepubescent Mike Radar. He went on to offer the explanation that
'If a nation is continually getting beaten by the British, it's unfair, the Brits should move over and give someone else a chance to kick the asses of lesser nations.'