Wednesday, 31 December 2008

A look back at 2009

Using the power of time travel I will now look back at 2009, the mists are clearing.... I see a man in lycra, I see the police, I see a rubber glove..... oh er.....

January: The French florists federation begins legal proceedings against Kohl for the return of their floral bouquets. 'We feel outraged that our fine tradition of flower arranging is being tarnished by association with convicted dopers'. Said a spokesman

February: Stefan Schumacher gets his lawyers to sue God - 'he thinks I'm guilty' is the apparent reason

March: In an effort to stop retired riders stealing their limelight the UCI introduce a 'masters tour'. All riders have to be over 35, all bikes must be steel, all jerseys wool and doping products are restricted to amphetamines. 'We hope to return to the glory days of the sport' says Uncle Pat

April: Rapha introduce tweed shorts (£875) tweed insert £225 extra, tweed crash hat cover (£250), tweed socks (£2,500), tweed track mitts (£855), tweed bar tape (£400 per roll) and tweed bottles (£1.50)

May: Stefan Schumacher changes his name to Lance Armstrong and buys an Astana jersey off eBay, in an attempt to get back to racing. No one is fooled, except Alberto, who having lost the Giro is in a bad mood and hits him

June: Michael Ball tries to sign Dr Crippin for Rock Racing, 'He deserves a a second chance and wants to ride' says Ball

July: The first road stage of Le Tour is held up by protests. Not this time the local farmers protesting against improper sheep usage, or the local nuns striking for more dancing in the hills. No this time it's the 'European association of EPO dealers and Smugglers' who are protesting against the UCI's continued crack down on doping claiming it will put them out of business

August: Stefan Schumacher claims he is Napoleon and as such is not subject to the laws of the UCI, he threatens to sue the descendants of Lord Wellington or anyone who wears his boots or who lives there

September: Result of Le Tour still undecided (no change there then)

October: The UCI get round to requesting Vinokourovs ban be extended to two years, only to find he's had a sex change and has been racing as Hilda Knackerlova in the womens peloton for five months

November: Wii bike a big hit. The new Wii gadget, a white bike is a big hit. The UCI add Wii bike racing to the list of world championship events and British Cycling set up project Wii

December: Stefan Schumacher overheard muttering about Santa, Christmas could be canceled


Friday, 26 December 2008

Tis the season to be jolly.

This is coffee, please take a good sniff.

Our friend Jorg Jaksche is getting back on his bike, this time for a salary of one Euro!
Jaksche as you'll recall had been poking around in the medicine cabinet and as a result got sent to sit on the naughty step by uncle Pat.
He later admitted that he had no intention on returning to cycling, preferring to carry out daylight robbery and become a lawyer. However he has since changed his 'mind' and is now preparing for a season with Cinelli-OPD. That'll be the same Cinelli-OPD that Frank Vandenbroucke is riding for. Now I don't know too much about funding a professional cycling team, but Mad Frankie is bringing his own sponsors to the party, so that's two riders for the year and all for one Euro. That's a lot of publicity for, well, for nothing. Mind you in the riders riding for nothing v publicity scale it is but a small tremor compared to the fun at Astana towers.

One Stefan Schumacher, there's only one Stefan Schumacher. (thank God)
I'm joining the Stefan Schumacher fan club (assuming there is one). He's great, he really is. His level of delusion is up there with the Hamilton twins and good ol' Ginger Floyd (like Pink Floyd, but, allegedly they took fewer 'substances').
His latest outburst is looking promising, "I am innocent, I love this job and I am only 27-years-old. I want to win races again." Stefan, Stefan, hasn't anyone explained to you yet that the only way you won races is because you took the magic beans that you got offered by the naughty wizard?
The Quick Step training camp looks like it will be fun. Will they be employing bouncers to keep Stefan out of their hotel? Will they have the judges place a restraining order on him that prevents him from coming within 100 meters of them when on their bikes? Cos it looks like they'll need to do something as Stefan is determined to be there, invited or not, he's crashing the Quick Step party and he's bringing his own bottle.
"When I get a license, then we will surely sit down and talk. I will get the license, I have a valid contract and I have the goal of being successful with Quick Step." Yes Stef, but successful in what capacity, cos it looks pretty certain that it won't involve riding a bike.

Leonardo Piepoli has held his hand up like a good little scumbag and admitted that he was partaking of the substance known as 'Ricco's little helper'.
We had the usual whinging about wrong decisions and mistakes, but then we had 'It is futile to name names, it is a lot of people who were already prosecuted' So if 'a lot' of the people involved have been prosecuted that means that there are some that haven't and must therefore be offering their special brand of support to other riders. Roll on the date when the EU make doping a criminal offense and we see our first prison sentence.

Bringing it all back home.

Katusha have been 'unveiled' at a big meet the team bash in Moscow. Putin was amongst the guests, which I have to say is one in the eye for the Halfords-Bikehut team and their miserable attempt to get Gordon Brown/Tony Blair/George Bush to their presentation.

Lots of photos of riders rugged up against the cold whilst showing everybody their 'nice ' new jersey. I felt really sorry for the Italians, who seemed totally confused about what was going on, team presentations in the cold? What the hell was all that about? Filippo Pozzato and Danilo Napolitano look really unhappy, but ever game they cracked a half smile. Incidentally does anyone look less like a professional cyclist than Danilo Napolitano?

Attention race organisers.

Running a race in 2009 and need some publicity? Simple, just announce to the world that Lance is riding it. He doesn't actually need to have it on his schedule. All you need to do is drop a few hints on a convenient forum, maybe a quick call to a 'friendly' jurno who's after a scoop and 'Pat's your Uncle'. Lance will issue a denial saying something along the lines that it's a nice race, but, sorry, it's not on his schedule and he won't be riding it. You can then issue a statement saying Lance denies interest in riding your event, but you're still 'keeping open the channel of communication'. This allows you to issue a statement every few days to the effect that Lance is still not riding your event, but as ever you remain hopeful that he will change his mind. A few weeks of this and you'll up your profile so much you will have riders, teams and sponsors fighting to sign up. Not convinced it will work? You'll be surprised, it seems to be a favoured tactic of several race organisers during the 'off' season. So if your local evening 10 mile ITT is lacking a certain something......


Saturday, 20 December 2008

I'm buying Stefan Schumacher a dictionary for Xmas

My dear, dear friend, Stefan Schumacher has blood that's different to the blood that you and I have. Well OK I can't prove that for sure, but it's how I'm interpreting his stance following his highly comical legal action against the whole of France.

You see, dear reader, that the process of taking blood from someones arm, finding CERA in it and declaring that person to be 'dope taking cheating scum' (apologies if my translation from the French isn't too good) is according to the master of mirth "arbitrary" and "defamatory". Maybe Schumacher should be investigated for more than CERA, maybe he's been at the mind bending substances that fueled the average 60's hippy, there can be no other explanation, well OK there can, maybe he hasn't got a dictionary. What is arbitrary about the test? Schumacher was selected to be tested using the same procedures that any other rider, and you don't hear them complaining. Defamatory? How does that work then? Anouncing the results of a dope test is not in my humble view defamatory, well no more so than announcing the results of anything. Perhaps we should all just watch races and at the end have to guess who's won.

Still to help Stefan get some practice with his new dictionary I'm going to suggest some words he can look up.....


Would be a good place to start.

And so the French anti twat agency (sorry anti doping agency - AFLD) sat to consider the cases of (sorry laugh at) Ricco, Kohl and Deunas. The results won't be known until the holidays are over. There could be a number of reasons for this, maybe it's the way the French work, long lunch, long holiday, that sort of thing, maybe they are preparing their defense if they get a counter claim from the the three, or maybe they just wen't on the beers and won't sober up until January? Whatever the reason I hope they get the full 6 year ban from France and, fingers crossed, a few more nights in the cells.

None of them bothered to show up, with only Rico sending a lawyer. Whether this was a tacit admission of guilt or an act of unbelievable arrogance is something I can't work out. In a way I'm glad they didn't bother to show, as the inevitable media scrum would have given them a chance to whnge about innocence and pressure before the cameras.

On the House.

Elk Haus is continuing supporting a team for 2009, it's a small continental professional team, with 16 riders, so no big deal? Well maybe it is, Elk Haus have been around for a while and supporting 16 riders plus staff isn't cheap and considering their product, they make houses, you'd be forgiven for thinking that they might have put the wheels back in the garage. So their management is to be congratulated on continuing their support, it's especially refreshing when you realise that they are based in Austria and most of their races are in 'that neck of the woods' or the door step that Kohl and (allegedly) Schumacher have shat on.

Is that wheel round?

Having stripped the rear hub on my training wheels I am now in the market for a new set. Bit of a mine field eh? So far I've spoken to five riders and had five different suggestions as to what I should buy so I'm confused. I'll be honest here, my interest in bike components is low to say the least. I started racing in the early 80's and despite all those years and all those miles have yet to get past the stage of vague acquaintance with components. Oh I know all the names, I can even look at something and tell you if it's Campag or Shimano (assuming I can see the brand name) but when you get to advantages and disadvantages of one over the other I'm lost.
I can quite happily strip down, clean and repair anything you throw at me, but make an informed decision about what to buy, nah, no chance.
So thank God for my LBS, a little haven where they offer sound advice, help and never ever try the hard sell.
The only criteria I have for a set of training wheels is:
1) they are wheel shaped
2) there's one for the front and one for the back
3) the back one takes Shimano 9 speed (I never use more than one anyway (trackie at heart))
4) they can take 'a hell of a beating'
5) price - on the low side please


Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Don't eat yellow snow.

Cadel Evans? No he can't come out to play.

Lotto seem very unhappy with young Cadel, apparently he wants to stay at home in May, but his nice uncle Roberto want's him to go outside and play with the other boys.
Cadel isn't happy; 'I want to stay at home and play with Molly.' says Cadel, 'But uncle say's I have to go out and ride my bike, it's not fair'
Damiano has threatened to send Cadel to bed with no supper if he doesn't do as he's told, he's also pointed out that new signing young Thomas likes riding his bike and he's a good boy who does what he's told.
'Thomas is never any trouble and will always volunteer to ride his bike without upsetting anyone.' said Damiano.

German dopes.

A group of specialist German sports lawyers had called for all dope testing to be scrapped. In a statement issued today the 'Sports Lawyers for even high fees group' have called testing anachronistic.
'Whatever the result we are always called in to clear up the mess, it's a thoroughly profitable, sorry I mean unpleasant business.'
The lawyers went on to argue that money could be saved by scrapping testing, picking riders at random and saying they had failed drug tests.
'We have calculated that the percentage of riders that will admit doping will be the same whether they are tested or not, so if you remove the expense of the procedure there will be even more money for us, sorry, even more money can be saved.'
They went on to add, 'Look it's going to finish up in the courts whatever happens, so it's about time the UCI bit the bullet and got us involved right from the start.'

Today's the day.

That Kohl, Ricco and Duenas are all up before Le Beak. Yes it's the day our trio of fun seekers get to stand before the French Anti Doping Agency (AFLD) following on from their positive tests for being 'Twats' . The possible sanctions against them could include banning them from French territory for up to six years! Which would go a long way to ending their careers as cyclists. The only negative is that each will be allowed to bring along a 'friend', and as you'd guess the 'friend' in question will be one of Europes finest legal minds. So it is likely that this will drag on and on and on with no end in sight until we all lose the will to live.

Sadly Schumacher and Piepoli will not be in attendance, Piepoli is still claiming that the tests didn't happen and Schumacher is still protesting his innocence. Schumacher is of course threatening to sue the entire French nation for finding him guilty of doping, no matter that he has a list of past misdemeanors that would make the dead question his innocence, he is in his eye's as pure as the driven snow. (not that yellow show though.)


Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The men that came second.

Back from the dead.
In a move that shocked commentators, riders and the resurrectionists everywhere it has been announced that the winner of the 1904 Tour de France, Henri Cornet, will be riding the 2009 Giro d'Italia.
Organisers of the Giro have announced that 'a Tour de France winner' will be starting the 09 race alongside Lance Armstrong. When asked to be more specific RCS refused to name names, but replied that 'He's a previous winner of the Tour de France, but he never got to stand on the podium, he was awarded victory after the previous winner had been disqualified.'

Cornet was unavailable for comment, but it is thought that he has been in training for a considerable period and is in good shape, with one 'close source' claiming he's a 'lot lighter than he was in 1904'. The 'close source' went on to say that 'Lance Armstrong is making a comeback after three years, I know 108 years is slightly longer, but Henri has a good coach and he's confident of performing well in the race.'


Get yer rocks off, get yer rocks off honey....

Here today, gone tomorrow.

Here to stay! Perhaps one of the most unfortunate tag lines a cycling team could ever hope to have. A bit like 'All are riders are clean', there's nothing you can ever predict for sure in the world of cycling. I have long been of the belief that a team that styles itself as 'Here to stay' will be gone in a few years. Sadly my scepticism looks like being proved right as the current economic climate hits sales of rocks. (There are still plenty at our local garden centre, but alas no takers, even at 50% off). What is sad is that when (not if) the team goes down the toilet it will be the younger riders and team staff that are left out of pocket, the has beens and ex-dopers have made their money and doubtlessly have plenty stashed away. Wouldn't there be value in carrying out some cost cutting now? There are plenty of names on the list that could have a black line through them, thus freeing up some 'capital' to keep the rest of the team going.

More doper scum news.

Johan Museeuw has been found guilty of using a range of products that would cause a chemist to sit up and take note. Museeuw confessed in January 2007 to partaking in in the product now known as Ricco's little helper, the legal bods have now all collected their fees and as such the due course of the law is said to have been run.
Museeuw and three others, Jo Planckaert, Chris Peers and Mario De Clercq, have all been given a suspended 10 month sentence and a fine of 2,500 Euros (ESPN news, Yahoo) or £15,000 (Cycling Weekly).
Prosecutors had been calling for 2 years in the clink, sadly this never happened and the four will get to walk away with nothing more than a small dent in the bank account and a ban from bike racing. The investigation that led to the four getting nicked took four years, thousands of hours of police time and involved phone taps and raids on houses and offices. Needless to say the four are considering an appeal, FFS. Now I don't know much about Belgium law, but is it possible that fines can go up on appeal? That would put a smile on my face.

And the good news.

Whilst Museeuw and his evil chums do their best to despoil the image of cycling Vision 1 Racing (the team formally known as Swift) do their damnedest to go the opposite way.
Vision 1 are still looking for a main name sponsor, so if you happen to have a few hundred thousand Euro spare......
What would you get for your money? Well how's this, Nicole Cooke, World and Olympic champion (the only cyclist ever, male or female to do the double) a team of hard working racers, based in Belgium with a great management structure Team Swift

I've blogged on them before, but hey, I talk about dopers a lot and this is a hell of a lot more worth while.
Swift / Vision 1 don't play at bike racing, they have a permanent base in Belgium and compete all year round, cross in the winter and road in the summer. They are well respected in their adopted country and continually deliver good results. Go on, you know it makes sense.


Monday, 15 December 2008

Cyclist to enter Grand National

Skinsuit of the year.

Cycling again swept the board at a major event. 'Team' GB's stars carried out yet another smash and grab on the worlds trophy room. This time the looting took place at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) where they walked away with Team of the year, Coach of the Year, Skinsuit of the year and the overall winner of the year with Sir Chris Hoy.

But despite the continued flood of trophies heading to the Manchester bunker performance director David 'Dave' Brailsford was not happy.
'We may have won all the awards last night and had a great year, but there's still events we haven't won and I'm not happy, we have to target new events and raise the bar for the coming year.'
When asked what new events he was aiming at 'Dave' replied,
'Look at the Grand National, no cyclist has ever won it, starting in January we will be developing a team of cyclo cross specialists with a view to mounting a serious challenge for first place in 2010.', but that wasn't the only event 'Dave' had in mind.
'Water Polo is another area we've identified as ripe for 'plucking'! Using the experience of Jason Quealy we will be developing a team of under water cyclists to aim for water polo gold in 2012.'
When it was pointed out that Water Polo already had a team, 'Dave' replied 'I know, we've just signed them all to British Cycling'.

One noticeable absentee from the SPOTY ceremony was Riccardo Ricco. Ricco had been fully expected to 'walk away' with the Overseas Personality award, but in the end failed to make the shortlist of three.
The event didn't go unnoticed though, in a press statement the UCI said:
'It's a tragedy that Ricco failed to win the award, here is a man that has worked tirelessly to raise cyclings profile and make sure it is front page news throughout the world, to ignore the effort he has put in over the year is nothing short of a scandal.'
Ricco was equally dismissive :
'Throughout my career, as a junior, amateur and professional I have always tried to involve the UCI, the press and the police in my activities in an effort to make sure cycling stays where it belongs, the front page, the courts and the cells. To have my considerable efforts ignored is frankly quite upsetting, I'm off to Mexico.'

German TV's Tour coverage, now as clear as mud.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has issued a statement instructing German TV to simultaneously cover and ignore the 2009 Le Tour.
A far reaching decision, that legal observers believe will reach very far, is thought to set a new precedent, in a legal way. The EBU has claimed that contracts signed between ASO and German TV are binding and therefore coverage has to take place. However it also reaffirmed the belief that the tearing up of contracts by said TV stations is also a legally binding action and as such has to be abided by.
Therefore come July all German stations will be forced to broadcast live pictures from the race whilst the commentary tells views to turn the TV off and go and do something else instead or else close their eyes, stick their fingers in their ears and go la, la, la.
In an attempt at a compromise measure German TV is thought to be in the process of signing David Duffield. The plan being to allow 'Duffers' to talk over the pictures, or provide 'commentary' as it is sometimes called, thereby confusing the whole issue to such an extent that no one will know what's happening or indeed what race they are watching.

2009 Giro - what do the teams really think.

Following the presentation of the 2009 Giro route the stars and water carriers have expressed their views on an event that many are calling a 'bike race'. (please not that all translations may not be 100% accurate, thanks Google!)
First off the blocks were the Astana camp who issued a statement saying:
'We have some riders in our team, the Giro is a race, there will be weather and mountains.'
However not to be out done Gilberto Simoni called a press conference where he said:
' I believe that if a race is a race, than to win it you have to want to race in the race, and must come in the mountains'.
Marzio Bruseghin expressed himself:
'Last year I had security, again, the race is me and I am demanding hard'
Gianni Savio, Team Manager of Diquigiovanni, all around good guy, man about town and style icon has said:
'I have instructed my riders to touch. The pink jersey, the race, Simioni is a man, he can if he wants and climbing.'

More top translations next week.


Saturday, 13 December 2008

Do I care if you can't be bothered to get of your arse?

This is a bike race, it's not a difficult concept is it?

Cycling, we are told by the British press is an 'impenetrable' sport, so many different events, so many rules, so difficult to follow, so what!
Take a cricket match to France, Italy, Spain, Holland, Belgium and the vast majority of the population will be left looking confused, how many days? Five?, But sometimes it's over in half a day? Why 6 balls? Why a red ball? Why three stumps? Why white? Why bother?

The press attitude to sport is one that is both pathetic and infuriating. Make an effort to engage with a 'new' sport? Make an effort to understand rules and get a grasp of the history? Oh no, it's much easier to trot out the little Englander mentality, mock 'foreigners' and settle back to chuckle about inferiority. Take the easy route, take the route of the fat twat, get an early heart attack and die, but don't tell me it's difficult to follow, make a bloody effort for God sake.

But it's not just the press is it? Lets be honest here, I know plenty of people who understand the rules of Cricket, Rugby (either code) or Football in minute detail, yet claim it's too complicated to understand how the Tour de France works.

Over the years most cyclists will have fumed at the coverage our sport gets, but then are we any different to any minority sport? Do Sailing or Rowing or Canoeing get the crack of the whip they deserve? Of course they don't, it all drip feeds back to idle sports editors, scared to take the risk of even mentioning a sport outside the holy pantheon of Football, Rugby, Cricket, F1, Tennis, Snooker and horse racing. If sports media coverage was based on success the picture would be almost a complete negative of the current position.

Am I bitter, nah, never was, bemused has always been my stance, it's always been a case of 'Exactly why don't you get this?' It's exciting, it's fun, what's the problem? Cycling is the worlds greatest sport and certainly in the top five of the worlds greatest human activities. Of course there were / are those that moan and complain, but you could give some people a gold plated toilet and they'd still not be happy, that, I'm afraid it's mother nature at her finest. There are far more of us though walking around with slightly smug expressions on our face as we all have the same collective thought - 'See I told you so.....'

The one thing the Olympics and the nominations for SPOTY have done is stick cycling under the noses of the media hacks and fat boys that rule the roost when it comes to sports coverage in the UK. OK come Monday we may well be forgotten, and to be honest I wouldn't care too much if we were, we'd just be back doing what we do, winning races, developing talent but this time with an extra few million in the fund, works for me either way.

Er, rant over, I thank you for your indulgence.


New Giro jersey, this year it's pink!

High fashion, low fashion.

In a move that both shocked and outraged traditionalists the organisers of the Giro have unveiled a new race leaders jersey.
Those amongst us that have a keen interest in both high fashion and grande tour jerseys were jumping with joy as RCS unveiled a 'shocking' new Giro leaders jersey, designed by Dolce & Gabbana. In a move away from the tradition that has dogged the Giro for the last 100 years Dolce & Gabbana have taken the bold step of designing a jersey that incorporates the latest trends in high fashion, looks to the future and is figure hugging. Yes the leaders jersey for the 2009 Giro will be pink and made of lycra.

Someone else that could have used a jersey makeover is the new Katusha team. Their first attempt at fashion is, if we are honest, not quite at the standard set by the legendary Tonton Tapis, but non the less it shows promise. Come on guys, with all that cash floating round you could have employed a designer, rather than follow the traditional route of getting the team owners 6 year old to give it their best shot.

Don't cross the white line.

In Cali the world cup continues with the question on everyone's lips being, Why are we here? Cali is a strange event, most of the events go straight through to finals due to lack of entrants. And with the powerhouse track squads sending small or development squads the racing whilst excellent lacks somewhat the cutting edge that the European events show. The Aussies have sent the Toshiba development squad, most of the European nations have just sent a hand full of riders whilst the Chinese stuck just one rider on the plane. Logistically it's a nightmare to get teams to and with budgets tight and the world cup running to five events someone is going to miss out. With W/C points counting to World Championship places (or something like that) teams seem to pick and chose their events, with the more logistically challenging events being targeted either for development squad riders gaining experience or a desperate attempt to gain points.

One big name that I fully expected to be seeing in Columbia is Tornado Tom Boonan, as a fan of the countries biggest export I'd have thought that fastest man across the white line would be doing his bit, but sadly he appears detained at home by legal goings on, shame.

The history lesson - don't bring your dog.

Look at the rule and regulations governing how you race. Bike, clothing, 'supplements', behavior on the road, they're all covered and if you fail to know them you will at some point fall foul of them. So spare a thought for the riders that lined up at the start of the 1869 Paris - Rouen, the worlds first bike race. Of all the rules and regulations the most interesting was that riders were not 'to be trailed by a dog or use sails'. Whilst bikes and clothing have come a long way since 1869 it's a shame that some of the old rules have fallen by the wayside. Can you imagine how pissed of Cadel Evans would be if the 'no dogs' rule was brought back for the 2009 le Tour!


Friday, 12 December 2008

Evans to ride for team GB in 2010?

Oh yes he is, Oh no he isn't, Oh yes he is.

Lotto say Cadel is riding, Cadel says he's not, Molly say woof, woof, woof.

This is getting to be so much fun, Cadel is really pissed off, Lotto lost Popo over the closed season and didn't get a replacement for the Alien after he was 'unavoidably detained'. On the up side they signed Charlie boy, who looking at the way Popo rode in 08, is a good investment, but Cadel really needs someone who can be with him in the final few K of the final climb of the day, but riders like that are few and far between and expensive, they're either riding for Mr 60%, Astana or currently doing time.

So, it looks like new teams all round for 2010, hummmn, isn't 2010 the date for new GB Pro Tour team (or team Sky/Tesco/Halfords as it will be called), maybe Cadel could get a ride, the organisation, training and preperation will certainly be better than anything he's had at Lotto and the Brits are a nation of animal lovers, so Molly will be well taken care off - surely the clincher then.

Downunder with the French.

Talking of quality fields Le Tour de Downunder looks like having a massive field, the Euro-centric peloton, having spent years whinging about traveling to the other side of the world seem to have fully embraced the land of Koalas and Kangaroos (rightly so). Of course they won't be hitting form there, or in the case of the French anywhere else, but there presence is a big plus for the race organisers and for Uncle Pat, the UCI and their vision of a global race series. The TdU is a great race, the local riders will be attacking like crazy, the local citizens will be having the time of their lives, the racing will be fast, the sun will be out and the French won't win, oh, sorry, that's July.


Evans - No comeback, it's official

Woof, Woof, Woof.

Cadel Evans will not be making a comeback, apparently he's already racing.

Evans had been due to make a comeback in May at Le Giro, but according to a statement issued by Evans personal assistant 'Molly the Dog':
'Cadel will not be riding the Giro, he has other commitments in May and he is contractually obliged to fulfill those'
When asked what those commitments were 'Molly the dog' replied
'He is obliged to build me a new kennel and throw a stick for me through out May, woof, woof, woof'

But further dramatic revelations ensued in a dramatic and ensuing way, apparently Evans has not retired!
'Cadel has not retired' said 'Molly the dog' he has been training throughout the winter and is raring to go at Crufts Downunder in January, this is part of his build up to July when he will be leading a strong team of ball throwers, walkie specialists and dedicated groomers. His main target is victory in the 'Who's a cleaver boy' event in July'.

Cevelo test team, now testing toothpaste.

One rider who will be aiming at victory come May is Carlos Sastre. Having moved to the Cevelo test team (now apparently testing vitamin supplements as well) his first goal of the season will be Le Giro. Oh dear, have you seen who else is riding Carlos ? No seriously have you? If I were you I'd join Cadel and Molly, they've got the right idea. Look you're no longer at CSC/Saxo/IT skint. No Schleck's, no chance will be the motto I think. Not to deride Celevo TT, but two Grande Tours in one year may well be stretching the realms of possibility here, still I guess Carlos will be looking to give it his all come the big mountains, but he's gonna have to do some ride if he's going to overcome the ITT / TTT advantage that Astana is bound to enjoy. So the only way will be to attack, which will be entertaining. Mind you this will be the 100th Giro, so you can pretty much guarantee that the locals will be going mental of the front from the red and white to the black and white, nice....

Indecently what else are Cevelo testing? Bikes and Vitamins we know about. But what about socks? Bar tape? Toothpaste? how long is the list?
One thing they don't appear to be testing is a way of updating their web site, it's still blazing the joys of sponsoring CSC, no mention of who riding for the team for 2009 and no pics either.

And with Xmas on the way.

You have to love Cycling Weekly, no seriously you do. This week they list Xmas presents for the cyclist in your life, my favorite is a packet of pasta! How would you be if you opened you presents to find someone had sent you a packet of pasta?


Thursday, 11 December 2008

With Pat McQuaid it's crystal balls all the way.

The mists are clearing, I can see a stranger, he's holding some rubles.

Uncle Pat has stated the cycling will be ok during the crunch - "I really don't think it's going to touch cycling hugely" and he goes on to say that "I think race organisers will have more difficulties than teams", Er, hang on Uncle Pat, race organisers have problems, so no races, so, er, what do the teams do, have 12 month long training camps?

Still no worries, apparently the Tour de China is now on the cards for 2010, just as it was on the cards for 2009 and indeed 2008. But economics guru Uncle Pat goes on to explain that the Russian economy is unaffected by the crunch, so the Tour de Russia is definately on, er sometime soon, well when I say soon I mean sometime in the next 20 years, can't wait.....

Uncle Pat does make one one good point though, sorry I should have warned you, I know it's a shock isn't it. Cycling is cheap when compared to other sports and looking and the fuss and bother in F1 you have to agree. F1 'bosses' are saying that £250million a year per team is a bit expensive. £250m? God sake, you could run the whole of cycling for a very, very long time on that.
So maybe all those cigarette manufacturers that left F1 could be enticed into cycling? And don't talk to me about 'image' since when in the history of the sport have we care about image?

Seeing as Uncle Pat has the gift of foresight it might be interesting to see exactly what else he can predict, The colour of the new Team Columbia jersey maybe (I'm saying Pink, after all they'll have a lot of old T-Mobile kit left over from 07)

Meanwhile in the sticks.....

The Sports Personality of the Year betting is hotting up, the odds on Sir Chris are coming in and the odds on Hamilton are going out. But I think the bookies are forgetting one thing, or rather the bookies are ignoring Scotland and if history teaches us one thing.....
There is a massive vote Sir Chris campaign in Scotland, all the competitors at a recent half marathon (all 20000) of em, were sent a mail by the organisers calling on them to do their patriotic duty and vote for Sir. All the main papers are calling for the punters to get behind Sir Chris and yes it's squeezed in between football, football and football, but it's there. The Scotsman says... "it would be only fitting that an Olympian be crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year. And Hoy is the Olympian most worthy of receiving the accolade.".
Me? I'm on the first train to Scotland to help stoke up the nationalist tendencies.

The 2009 Giro, a full field of 180 potential winners, apparently.

Are you riding the Giro? You're not? You must be the only one who isn't. The 2009 Giro look like having one of the juiciest fields in living memory, a field Le Tour will be hard pressed to match. It'll be Armstrong's main goal for the year apparently (yeah right) and with Evans coming along to play there will be more genuine contenders on the start line than for many a year.
Opening with a TTT and with a long ITT in the middle it's playing into the hands of Astana, but we'll have to see. The race will make 100 years and there's no way the locals are going to sit back and let Lance's boys spoil the party.
Best of all is the possible ride for Filippo Simeoni, he'll be at the route presentation on Saturday. Is this a hint that his team will get a ride, I hope so, it'll be great to see the Italian National champion compete in his home tour, but even better is the possibility of a punch-up with Lance. Forget the betting on the overall I'm offering odds on Lance to win by a KO in the 10th, but not until Simeoni has proved himself a worthy opponent by flooring him in the 5th. Hopefully the two protagonists will have let their feeling fester over the intervening years and we can expect a true title decider come May, the cycling? Pah! just a side show to the main event.

Those who ignore history are destined to repeat it.

I haven't mentioned it for a while, but the ol' whiskey drinker is back and he's riding for OUCH! The interesting thing is that there has been no mention of past misdemeanors in any of the press statements. Nothing about a fresh start, nothing about a second chance or putting the record straight and sod all on proving he can do it clean or giving people something to believe in.
I can not begin to tell you how disappointed I am by this airbrushing of history. I was hoping for the usual nonsense that you get when an ex-doper, sorry someone who likes whiskey, returns to the pro peloton. But it would seem that Floyds cycling life has consisted of having an op on his hip, recovering and signing for OUCH. Apparently he rode the bike a bit prior to the op, but that was only to pop down to the local shops for a newspaper and some milk.
Selective amesia is not a good thing, and yes I know Floyds was/is innocent, cos he said so. But even so it's bizare not to mention anything. If he was guilty it would be a good oportunity to play the Dave Millar card and if he was innocent why not mention what he did pre-op?
Perhaps the op was on more than his hip, perhaps in true Bionic fashion they totally rebuilt him, you know, faster, stronger, more ginger.


Wednesday, 10 December 2008

I don't know you, I never met you, here's 7000 Euros.

Christmas is coming and your Goose is cooked.

And so is the hearing for Leonardo Piepoli, it's due next week. You'll remember that Leonardo, he failed two tests for our old friend CERA at Le Tour and most entertainingly didn't turn up at the first hearing, saying he didn't recognise it. Mind you, at the time he was claiming he didn't recognise his wife or indeed is own reflection in the mirror. Still, inability to recognise official bodies, the UCI, the police or the courts is a well known side effect of CERA.

And here's a turkey for you.

So many Franks, so much weirdness. It would seem that Frankie Schleck has no case to answer. The Luxembourg Anti-Doping Agency (ALAD) couldn't find any connection between Frankie and Dr Eufemiano Fuentes or indeed between Frankie and any other street corner dope dealer.

So the question remains, what on earth was Frank Schleck doing transferring 7000 Euros to someone he'd never met. Was the lucky recipient just lucky? Does Frank pick out bank account details from a hat at random and then just wire them a bundle of the folding stuff?
Now I've never met Frank, but I'll be logging onto later today and casually leaving a few account numbers lying abound just on the off chance, you never know.


Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Police hot on the trail of Tom Boonans wig.

Tom's wig takes a night off from it's party lifestyle.

It would seem that the hair of Tornado Tom has been taking ecstasy as well as cocaine, well I say his hair which of course will soon be revealed to be having a life of it's own, going out at night, hitting the bars and chasing the girls.

Toms lawyers have questioned the trail events that have led his clients wig to be up before the Flemish beak, 'No ordinary Flemish citizen would go to court for this, that is certain.' said the man in the legal hair hair do. Indeed, for Tom was not found to be in possession of any Class A's, but was rumbled following an out of competition test for performance enhancing drugs.

It's an interesting legal point, and no doubt there will be a lot of Euros earned arguing the toss, but one things for sure, what ever the result it puts Tom in the top draw of celebrity.

Tom should be congratulated, he is a regular in the mags that deal in the life styles of the rich and famous and will doubtlessly be on a good little earner once he gets to sell his 'My drugs hell' story to the highest paying rag. I just hope his wig is on a percentage.

Worried about retirement, join Rock Racing.

I love Michael Ball, I really do. He's done more to entertain me than any other team manager / owner in the history of the sport.
Having just registered Rock Racing as a Continental team he found that not only did he have too many riders, but they were too old. Continental teams have to be, in essence, development squads, but with 27 riders and an average age of 75 numbers had to be cut. So we now have two Rock Racing squads, there's Rock Racing Continental and there's Rock Racing club, which in essence is like any other cycling club in the US.

So now where had one team we now have two, one a team of guys who signed on as pros but are now riding as, well, not riding as pros and then we have the Continental team, ex dopers, old timers and a couple on the run from the forces of law and order.

If the Rockers had become a Continental Pro team concerns about numbers, age and criminal records would have gone out the window, so why didnt' that happen? Apparently it would have involved too much paper work, whatever the reason it's brilliant news, twice the teams, twice the entertainment, as Michael Ball says they're all about entertainment, yeah baby, bring it on daddy-o.

Gold is not enough.

Dave Brailsford was asked by the Daily Telegraph if he felt any guilt at the cyclists winning so many gongs at the Olympics. It was perhaps one of the stupidest questions you could ever ask. The likelihood that DB would feel anything other than total satisfaction at 'job done' and a desire to win more next time was bordering on non-existent. So you can imagine the non surprise at the response:
"None whatsoever, we went out and won 14 medals. End of. I'm paid to win medals and as a team we set out to win medals. We did exactly that and so the rewards should follow. I have absolutely no guilt."

Meanwhile the funding for 2012 goes up for cycling, job done.


Sunday, 7 December 2008

I don't want personalitites, I just want success.

Rock and Chips twice please.

In a couple of weeks the UK or rather BBC TV will celebrate 'Sports Personality of the year' (SPOTY).
In the UK we do things a little different from other nations, in Australia it's called 'sports performer of the year'. That simple one word difference sums up all you need to know about the difference between two sporting cultures.

In the UK we are supposed to look up to celebrity and personality, in Aus whilst the cult of celebrity looms just as large in day to day existence, sport to some extent stands apart.
We may like out sports men and women to be household names but down under they like them to win stuff.

As a cycling fan I've always avoided SPOTY. This has been for two simple reasons:
Firstly I knew that no matter how successful our cyclists were in terms of rainbows and gold they'd never get a look in, and
Secondly the whole pantomime for me sums up the one aspect of British sport that induces my dinner to leave my stomach and throw itself out of my mouth in an attempt at rebirth, namely that of the plucky amateur.

Who can forget the way cyclists have been ignored over the last few years, despite their success, Brad Wiggins was shunted to the cheap seats after 3 Olympic medals at Athens in favor of an article about dog food, sorry about a horse that had died. And who could forget Adrien Chiles asking Nicole Cooke if she 'fell of her bike often' in a season during which she swept all before her, Grand tours, world cups and most of the classics.

For me those two examples show(ed?) the BBC attitude to sport, too lazy to actually research or learn about a sport, to in the thrall of back page sports that never win anything to look through the list of great sporting achievement that happen during a year.

So this year where will I be? Will I be sitting in front of the box with my fish and chips waiting for Sir Chris to be asked if he's going to ride Le Tour? Will the fact that there are four cyclists in the final ten make me tune in? I doubt it. Will the fact the Cycling Weekly have called on all cyclists to vote for Sir Chris and stated that it would be a tragedy if a cyclist didn't make the top three induce me to pick up the phone and dial the number? Er.... no.

There's part of me that feels that I'm letting the sport down, but equally there's part of me, the greater, rational part, that feel like saying 'We've been doing this for years, where the hell have you been?' It reminds me of that Australian advert - 'Where the bloody hell are you' .

Whilst the comic may view it as a failure if cyclists don't medal (as they say on the BBC now, although quite what cyclists are doing interfering in other peoples business is beyond me) I see the glass as half full. Four cyclists? Four! After the success at the Olympics and Cav at Le Tour, maybe, just maybe, some sections of the media are starting to wake up to the worlds greatest sport. Mind you there will be another series of Big Brother soon, so I doubt it will last.

The Armstrong and AC show (that's Alberto Contador and not AC from operation Puerto) Latest update.

Lance and AC (that's Alberto Contador and not AC from operation Puerto) went for a ride, lots of photos got taken and Lance said he's not going for a Le Tor win and that AC (that's Alberto Contador and not AC from operation Puerto) is the man for that. So nothing new then, oh, hang on, there were some new hats. Sorry, but that doesn't make good copy does it, so hey why not repeat everything we knew two months ago? It'll fill a few columns and give you an excuse to fly somewhere warm for a few days.

Oh wait, someone has a scoop, apparently 'Lance eats the same meals as his team mates'! FFS is that the best anyone can do....

Lets have some new news please guys.....

Male road cyclist only please.

Tis the season to be jolly, to deck your halls and to draw up lists of the top 50 riders of the season.
Well it is if you're a popular monthly cycling magazine.

So riders / rides of the year then. Lets have a look at the various lists, Women, Trackies, Cross riders, BMXesr, XCers or downhillers the lists are packed with them. Oh hang on they're not. Pro Cycling seems to think that only men are allowed to take out professional licences and Cycle Sport believes that Nicole Cooks worlds win is only the 32nd best ride of the year and that the velodrome hasn't been invented.

In all seriousness though, credit to ProCycling who did have a massive article on Brad Wiggins. Well I say massive article, I mean they paid for the rights to copy a few pages from Brads autobiography.Why pay someone to write something original or send them to do an interview when you can sit on yer bum and do a little light cutting and pasting before lunch. (I know, I know we're talking Pro Cycling here, the magazine that thinks Lance Armstrong is still racing. What do you mean he is.... blood hell, no one told me that.)


Do as I say, not as I do.

Going over the edge.

The maxim I tend to use when coaching riders is simple, 'Do as I say, not as I do.'

My main areas of 'not as I do' tend to be: A training programme that whilst it is based on a detailed plan, actually, when executed turns in to acts of randomly riding the bike, a diet that places Chocolate as a key element and an excess in the area of recovery.

Still my words of wisdom will I hope be followed by Mr Eric Zabel. You may well remember Eric, he won the Green Jersey, oh, about 6 times, Milan - San Remo four times and so on and so on.
But now days, what I remember Eric for is his claim that he once saw the letters E, P and O written down on a sheet of paper, not that he ever picked it up, oh no, Eric has told us that he wouldn't stoop so low.

And Eric needs some coaching advice as he is now an 'adviser' for the Columbia team! I know, it's a little unexpected, but hey, this is cycling after all.
So what sort of advice will Eric be offering to the worlds most successful sprinter, the man who picked up 6 Grande tour stage wins in 2008? Can Eric's incites help the mighty Cav get to 20? Will his knowledge help the best lead out train in the business be even faster and more efficient? Who knows. What I do know is that I find it a little odd that a team with such a strong anti doping ethic should hire a Zabel, but then I guess they took him at his word, I wonder what the word was?

Dicks out again!

Dicky Pound has resurfaced. It would seem the famous toilet inspector is back on the scene. And it's good to know that he still hates anyone that rides a bike.

Apparently we're not doing all we could to halt the scourge of doping, no really? Neither is any one else, but hey why mention that when you can kick the crap out of cycling. Was Dicky boy denied a bike as a small child? Are we paying the price for some deep childhood trauma? I mean there has to be some reason for his morbid fear of cyclists.

Still the reason for this is that Jaksche did not find a new team for 2009, and that Sinkewitz had to settle for a ride with PSK Whirlpool. I quote "The fact that Jaksche was unable to get a job again is a tragedy"
Er, hang on, the reason Jaksche didn't get a ride, was he told everyone he was going back to college and didn't want to be a bike pro again, OK he may have subsequently changed his mind (mainly I understand, due to the fact that he failed the entrance exam for University, spelling his name correctly was a problem and it was all down hill from there). And Sinkewitz, seen as the final nail in the T-Mobile coffin, washed up at Whirepool as he is so bloody toxic that no-one in their right mind would touch him.

Now don't get me wrong, during his time Pound was the hammer of the dopers, something we need in all sports, it's just that the only people he seemed to hammer were cyclists.
Did he criticise the IOC when only a fraction of Olympic sports signed up to the athletes whereabouts pledge? No, Did he go after the Beijing organisers and testers when it was found that a fair proportion of samples are worse than useless? Er, nope. Has he been vocal in his condemnation of other sports approach to testing? Hummm, tough one that.

What the WADA needed was someone who got down to business behind the scenes, making the case for stronger punishments, stricter testing and whereabouts programmes, hounding the IOC, talking to Governments, securing funds to support anti doping operations, etc, etc. What we got was someone who loved the limelight, loved to see his name in print, his photo on the front page and seemed to have a unnatural fear of bicycles.
My personal view is that Pound during his time in office did little to help the global fight against either in cycling or in sport as a whole.

The flat earth society.

In the UK it's been suggested that 30! professional football players sign up to an athletes whereabouts programme. That's 30 out of God knows how many hundreds.

Football is a sport that requires endurance, speed and explosive power. At the top end players earn money that make even Lance Armstrong look like a pauper. So obviously no incentive to dope there then.

Gordon Taylor - the footballers' union chief executive in case you've not familiar with the name, has said "Is there really a necessity to be dropping in at players' homes and invading privacy when there is such an availability of access for the vast majority of the year?"
Er, yes there is actually.
He went on to offer the observation that:
"I don't think we have a problem with performance-enhancing drugs,". And he knows this how? Through a rigorous testing process? Through detailed analysis of blood and DNA? Er, no on both counts. It would seem that My Taylor just knows, in a similar way that I know the Earth to be flat I suppose.

F1 for F sake.

Apparently Max Mosley, who is clearly not the man his father was, has just said that spending £250 million a year to run a team may, just, considering these times of belt tightening and strictness, be well, be a little on the steep side.

There are somethings better left unsaid...........


Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Wash your hands before dinner.

Don't hire ex-dopers, use your own.

I'm shocked, totally shocked, shocked and stunned. It would seen that Kayle Leogrande of Rock Racing has been caught sticking the needle up his bum (that's using EPO to you and me).
That a rider of the fine and upstanding Rock Racing team should get caught on the juice is startling and surprising news.
Now you may not be up to speed on Kayle Leogrand, but he's the Rocker with all the tattoos, that it seemed was his claim to fame, his USP as they say in the business. Well we all know how Mr Ball likes a USP, sadly if you look at the Rocker roster there seems to be just one USP for the whole squad.

What made him do it? I dunno, perhaps it was peer pressure? Perhaps he didn't want to be the only one with out a criminal record? It can't have been for the event he was busted at, I mean no disrespect to the Point Premium Root Beer International Cycling Classic, but would a decent result in that race propell you into the hall of fame?

The most entertaining bit of the story though, is that prior to the test young Kayle smeared soap over his wrist in the belief that soap in the needle would somehow mask the fact he'd taken EPO. Now I'm no chemist (and obviously neither is Kayle), but even I know that as masking agents go soap is pretty low down on the list. It's a drugs test Kayle, it's not your Mum checking too see if you washed your hands before dinner.

So, where then for Rock Racing? Well there is no way they're going to leave the sport - remember they're 'HERE TO STAY'. And where to for Kayle? Well give it a couple of years and he can make a comeback, hey I know just the team that'll take him.

Brother can you spare a million Euros?

Bad news over at Mr 60% world, or the team formally known as CSC. It seems someones run off with the IT-Factory.
Saxo have said they don't want to be sole sponsor, does that mean that there's no more cash from them? or does it mean that they are expecting bad news and want someone to stand behind when the proverbial hits the fan?
Mr 60% seems confident that he will find another sponsor and I wish him well, for the sake of the riders and staff, if not for himself. But if he needs to cut costs he could do a lot worse that sack Kim Andersen.

Whilst Riis may well be a big cheese in the sponsorship world, the real big cheese, Milram, is talking about heading for the hills. With 2 years left on their deal the German dairy queens are looking to cut their losses.

How can this be? Zabel, Petacchi, surely all theses names would do a lot to enhance their public image? Perhaps they just need to put a different spin on the news. Maybe they could take a leaf ot of Michael Balls book, the more ex-dopers you hire the more publicity you get, I may not know what a Rock is, but I spend a hell of a lot of time talking about them.