Thursday, 29 January 2009

Who's on the naughty step?

Who's a naughty boy then?

Cycling has always been renown for the paternalistic relationship that race organisers and managers have for their teams.
So it's no surprise that the latest manifestation of fatherly feeling towards teams is happening at the Giro. RCS clearly feel that certain teams have been playing up by refusing to go to bed at the proper time and as a result they have told them to go and sit on the the naughty step for a while.

So who are the naughty children and who been well behaved?
Well Fuji-Servetto have clearly been wicked to a level that would test the patients of a saint. Last year they played up throughout the whole of their holiday in France, staying up late and shouting and screaming when asked to go to the doctors. So now they have to stick their bizarrely clad backsides on the naughty step for a few months, in-fact their banishment to the naughty step is a lengthy one, they get to miss Milan-Sanremo, Tirreno-Adriatico and of course the Giro, huuummmm, Mummy wasn't pleased was she. CSF Navigare have been banished to the step as well, last year they were very naughty, with little Emanuele Sella pooing in his pants on at least four occasions.

Of course not all the children have been sent to the naughty step. Cofidis, who in the past have been naughty, seem to have grown up a little, but as they didn't want to come out and play are staying at home, as are their French cousins Fran├žaise des Jeux. The Spanish kids, Euskaltel-Euskadi get very travel sick and with the thought of driving across two mountain ranges Mummy and Daddy have decided to keep the family at home this May.

Which leaves us with Barloworld, who despite having three well behaved kids in Thomas, Cummings and Froom also had the naughty Moises Duenas who threw his dinner across the restaurant during last years French holiday and we all know naughty behavior is not tolerated nowadays. Still RCS have said if Barloworld are good for the next few weeks they might just be allowed to come out and play.

And so that leaves us with Flaminia Bossini Docce, the team of current National Champion Filippo Simeoni. Now as far as I know Filippo has been well behaved over the last few years. He may have a tendency to talk back to his perceived 'elders and betters', but that's only youthful exuberance. So why has he got to sit on the step come May? Maybe RCS are afraid that he might upset the posh kids that are coming from across the street, or Kazakhstan as it's known. And as we all know there's nothing parents hate more than being embarrassed in front the neighbors.

Getting the big guns out.

David 'BIG DAVE' Brailsford isn't happy. Oh no, at the paralympics GB may well have won 13 out of 14 gold medals available on the track, but for BIG DAVE, that's not enough.
'Not only did we miss out on on one gold medal', said BIG DAVE, 'But there were silver and bronze one's that we didn't win, it's outrageous and come 2012 we want to win every medal there is in the velodrome' he may have said.
With this in mind BIG DAVE has drafted in the Jason Queally (Gold at Sydney) as well as ex World Champion and 'other big Scots fells' Craig MacLean to pilot the team GB tandems. So will Jason be the first athlete to win Gold at both versions of the O's? You just kind of have that feeling don't you.

Meanwhile.

The bikes are cleaned, the riders are on their way and this weekend sees the cross worlds. I won't be there, but will be watching multiple live feeds via the web, even cutting short Sunday training to get back in time, good excuse eh?. Can't wait.


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Wednesday, 28 January 2009

When is a comeback not a comeback.

Comeback my love....

Everyone is talking comebacks, but what is a comeback? The Cambridge definition of a comeback is as follows:

1) it becomes popular again after being unpopular for a period of time.
Or:
2) a successful attempt to get power, importance or fame again after a period of having lost it

Whilst at Dictionary.com they offer:

3) a return to a former higher rank, popularity, position, prosperity

And:
4) Informal. a basis or cause of complaint: If you insist on buying these pointed shoes, you'll have no comeback when your toes start to hurt

So lets look at the three most high profile comebacks in cycling:

Lance Armstrong:
Well he was both popular and unpopular at the same time, often with the same people and if anything, his fame grew whilst he was away from cycling, glamorous partners, a global campaigner and so on. So for the Cambridge definition Lance is simply not making a comeback, he never lost his fame or indeed his popularity. And for Dictionary.com? Er, nope, Lancey boy was already in a position of high rank, popularity and prosperity, so that one's out. Now I've had a good look at his shoes and those Nikes seem more rounded then ever.
So I think we can say that with a score of 0 out of 4 Lance is not making a comeback.

Operation Puerto:
Unpopular? Only within certain dark and dank recesses of the cycling world, loved as the new hope by many, Puerto was never truly unpopular. Lets be honest here, after a brief flirtation with fame Puerto failed badly, it was never likely to have that much power and importance, there were too many vested interests and too many lawyers involved for that to happen. So it's a no comeback from the Cambridge.
Prosperity? Well Puerto never made the rich list, all it had in it's property portfolio was an old fridge with someone else's blood in it, not the mark or untold riches if you ask me. Nowadays Puerto rubs by on handouts from a friend in Luxembourg, so no riches there. High fashion? I've read the Puerto report and let me tell you, it was boring, so in order to alleviate the boredom I tried it as a hat, not so good, it fell off, so I tried it as a pair of shoes, rally, really uncomfortable and it didn't keep my feet dry. So on the come back from it's a score of 1 out of 4 for Puerto, no comeback here either I'm afraid.

Floyd Landis.
Well today's the day that former ginger biscuit makes his 'return' but is it a comeback? Floyd says it's not, but is he right?
Becoming popular after a period of unpopularity, don't make me laugh, as far as I can see there is zero chance of the Ginger one ever becoming popular again. Successful? Successful? You don't need a crystal ball to predict that whilst Floyd may get to the finish, or indeed even do a few reasonable rides 'success' will be a visitor that never bothers to call.
A return to popularity, prosperity and position? Oh how my sides ache. (that'll be a no then?). Which leaves Pointy shoes? Maybe Floyd should have changed careers and gone to work in the local shoe shop.
Comeback score 0 out of 4.

So there we have it, proof positive, indeed dictionary proof positive that Armstrong, Landis and Puerto are all definitely not making a comeback. After all, have they been out of the news over the last three years?



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Monday, 26 January 2009

The UCI, where would we be without them?

It's another fine mess you've gotten me into!

Whilst I make no bones about my dislike of dopers, sorry, that should read my hatred and utter contempt for dopers, sorry that should read, my wish that when ever satellites drop to earth they land on the heads of you local B test failure. I make no bones about the entertainment value that is to be had from their activities.

Now take Mr Schumacher (and in the words of that old music hall gag, 'I wish someone would') I'm sure you like me thought that when he was caught bang to rights that was it, end of story.
A little social dalliance with speed in Germany was followed by victory in two Tour TTs, beating the favorites and specialists in the process. He then managed a storming ride in the mountains and made us all nod knowingly, and say 'how long before he's caught?'. Well apparently not too long and pretty soon he was getting his marching orders. With two samples coming up positive for CERA we all assumed it would only be a matter of time before the hangman was sharpening his noose, or what ever it is that hangmen do.

So you can imagine my confusion when it transpires that sample B has yet to be investigated and until that is done Schumacher is in a state of limbo.
Meanwhile Patrick Lefevere is threatening to get the lawyers to go round to AFLD (the French anti-scum agency) and give them what your local gangster would term 'a slap'. To be honest you can't blame him can you? If that's what it takes to get AFLD to pull the proverbial out and get the B sample tested then 'let it be so'.

Have a look at the AFLD web site and the only mention os Schumacher is the original release saying he was found positive at two tests and that the UCI, WADA and the German federation have been notified. Since then, October 8th 2008, nothing, zilch. So where are we? Why the delay? Why no testing of the B samples? Have they been lost? Contaminated? Drunk? Smeared all over a chicken in some sort of pagan sacrifice ritual? God alone knows, because clearly the UCI, Quick Step, WADA and the German Fed clearly don't.
So we have Schumacher threatening to sue everyone on the planet, Lefevere not wanting to be associated with damaged goods (he's got enough on his plate with Tommy boy), the UCI, Tour and WADA looking like idiots again (sorry that should read, as usual) and the fans not knowing if they should start hording rotten eggs for when Schumacher next rides past.

You'd have thought that the idiots that run our sport would have to go a long way to match their previous hapless attempts at ridding us of dope cheating scum. But just when you start to believe they can't be anymore inept, they manage to pull of a stunt of such mind boggling stupidity and ineptitude that the only thing you can do is stand back and admire it, (after you throw up that is).

Blood passport, where the hell are we?
So when will the names be named? First there are statements on the web slagging the UCI for not getting the blood passport bandwagon running sooner and next the UCI are coming over all sheepish and saying that there are at lest 30 riders with questionable values and that amongst their number is one 'top rider'.

Who this top rider is, is anyone's guess. Indeed judging by the tabloid source that started these rumors that could include anyone who's ever thrown their leg over a bike. Top rider, could like, top doctor or top scientist, just be euphemism for 'some bloke we met down the pub'.

So on present form we can look forward to the UCI naming names in about twenty years.

Well you asked the question.....
Lancey boys return to the sport has seen him ask many a question, amongst one of the more interesting was the one that managed to link David Millar, Ginger Floyd and dope. It went something like, 'how come the fans are prepared to give Millar an easy ride when they aren't for Landis, Landis has served his time and should be allowed to ride'. I know full well they weren't the exact words, but to be honest I can't be ased to open up the RSS fee where I have it stored. But it was a valid question, so how come?

Well as one fan who isn't prepared to give Landis an easy ride, or indeed Millar, or to be honest any ex-doper. My view is this, simply Millar did at least confess (eventually) to doping and has since his 'dark days' at least been speaking out against doping and attempting to something about it. Landis on the other hand seems to have air-brushed two years from his existence and appears still to be claiming his elevated levels of ginger were caused by drinking too much water in a hotel and that the water in question had been discolourd by rusty French taps.
I'm not naive to believe that doping (in one form or another) will ever be eradicated from cycling but I sure as hell long for the day when it's associated whinging and complaining about unfair treatment are a thing of the past.
Maybe it's not the action on it's own that really pisses people off, maybe it's the associated protestations of innocence that finally tips the balance? Just a thought like.....



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Sunday, 25 January 2009

Happy Burns day.



A clear victory to the Scots fellas!


Now then, now then, I have finally got to grips with Cycling.TV. And today have been carrying out a scientific experiment that involved comparing the comtatoary (is comentatory a word?) offerings to be had.

Downunder we had the old stagers Phil n Paul and in the sun of Milan we had a young pretender by the name of McCrossan. The young pretender was, sadly, on his own, with the King over the water, Brian Smith, doubtlessly getting the miles in. (Brian, Milan looks a whole lot sunnier than the UK, what gives?). Well IMHO it was a clear Hoy like victory to the young pretender.
Not that there's anything wrong with the P n P show, in fact when compared to other sports they continue to trade at the gold standard. But, times move on, and personally I find the slightly more relaxed tone of McCrossan doesn't distract from the action. Generally at a bike race I know exactly what's going on and I get excited enough on my own. So the measured pace of McCrossan coupled with the insight of Smith is a winner every time for me.

The other thing that impresses me about the M and S show, is they seem to make fewer mistakes about riders names than anyone else in the business. There is of course no scientific proof in this, it's just gut feeling, which could of course be way off the mark. But I would like to see some figures here, maybe there's a well funded PHd in watching bike races and spotting the deliberate errors?

So apart from Phil n Paul, M and S who else is there? Well for starters there's Harmon and Kelly, Porter and whoever he finds hanging about in the bar the previous evening, (this is normally Gary Sutton) and of course the man who made commentating on bikes races an art form, David Duffield (normally accompanied by his invisible friend). When you compare this to other sports (which I'm informed apparently do exist) we pretty well stocked with talent.

Burns, sores and boils.

Here's a dilemma. I have developed a saddle sore, it's painful and having just examined it in the mirror, bloody huge. I had one last year and it took about a week to clear up. So, no cycling for a week then? Fraid so, the track is given over to badminton all week, so that leaves the road.
Now do I ensure it heals before I ride again or do I just give it a couple of days, wack on a reskin patch and a bucket full of Asso botty butter and see how it goes?
If I don't ride next weekend I can watch the cross worlds live in the discomfort of my own back bedroom. Hummm, maybe I should let nature take it's course. This would of course ensuring that the cross is watched in the full company of some of Mr Duvals finest.

Whatever I do I will wish you a happy Burns night, may your hangover not impair you cycling.


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Friday, 23 January 2009

Cadel Evans, my part in his success.

It's 1988, I'm in Katherine, a small town in Australia's Northern Territory, I'd gone there to paddle a boat down the Katherine gorge. I spent a few days there, bobbing down the gorge, watching the world go by, each night I'd spend in the local pizza place, eating pizza and getting wasted on the local brews. Now this happen to coincide with the Tour stage win by a certain Sean Yates and each night would see me holding forth with a great passion about the wonders of cycling and how the locals should embrace their true sporting heroes. Forget Alan Border and Wally Lewis, no Phil Anderson, Alan Piper, Hubert Opperman, Danny Clark and Dunc Gray where the men their kids should look up to. I like to think that my polemic encouraged a certain Cadel Evans to take up the sport seriously and whilst I have no proof of this I think it's far too much of a coincidence to ignore.


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Thursday, 22 January 2009

Those Schumacher questions in full.


The life and times of the three stooges.

Bernhard Kohl may, or may not be going to train as a chimney sweep as has been claimed in some quarters, which is a shame, I fight for the front of the queue in an effort to brick the bastard up in one if the chance became available.
Still we have had the odd pearl of wisdom from the 'man':
"My attorney found part of the justification of the suspension incomprehensible" He is reported as saying. Now 'call me old fashioned, call me straight laced....' but how is this possible? Unless the attorney in question is as deranged as his client. It's very simple it really is, you take CERA, you get caught, you fail to give up the name of the dealer, you get a two year ban. There are vegetables in our house that can grasp that.

Hey now, I'm glad to see Kohl's suffering financial difficulties and whilst I have no wish to see a man suffer unduly there's no unduly in this case, so as far as I'm concerned I hope he enojys the suffering.
His statement as to why he refused to go into details about his suppliers is quite something though isn't it? He claims that naming a supplier 'would neither have uncovered a doping ring nor uncovered the doping of another athlete' Well, as you're never going to name names, we can but guess, but I for one don't believe that Kohl was the only athlete that was supplied by Mr X. So naming him I'm sure would have prevented doping products going to other athletes.

And then of course we had : "I know, of course, that I didn't help cycling any with my behavior, but I am also not responsible for the general situation in cycling."
Who's a clever boy then? As Basil Fawlty would say 'Stating the bleeding obvious' are we? No, on your own you are not solely responsible for the current mess, but you sure as hell contributed to it and worst of all it's your mentality and the mentality of scum like you that dropped us in the deep end that we currently find ourselves in.

But on the bright side he has admitted that he is not currently considering a comeback, which is good news and sadly more than can said for Schumacher.
The German federation, has, apparently, a list of questions for Kohl's best friend. We may, or may not, have had a sneak preview of those questions and even if we haven't we'll take a guess at exactly what they are:
Question 1) Are you a cheating scumbag?
Question 2) Are you a cheating scumbag?
Question 3) Are you a cheating scumbag?
And so on for another 200 pages.

Exactly what is the problem here? Schumacher tested positive for CERA on both his samples, but has some how got the anti doping authorities running scared by threatening to sue them and indeed the entire French nation. WTF! Just ban the tosser for the maximum period allowable and be done with it, don't surcome to his playground bully tactics, for God sake.

Why the inaction on the Schumacher case? From what I can understand the UCI can take no steps until they have a full notification from the French Anti Doping authorities, who where the ones that did the original tests. What's the issue here? Afraid? Lost the results? Have some pathetic political point to make? Whilst the authorities drag their heals there is precious little to stop Schumacher applying for a license.

Now whilst I for one would quite enjoy the prospect of seeing Schumacher sitting in tears by the roadside as the peloton road past and he was left with no team, I don't actually want to take the risk of that actually happening. Even in the supposeed current climate of zeroish tollerance I'm sure there is some fool out there who would offer him a jersey, maybe a green and black one with a skull and the initials RR?

It has been confirmed that a certain Mr Chicken really is banned, but this hasn't stopped him training with a view to making a return.
Quite which continent he's training on is anyone's guess, hopefully Antarctica.


Tie me Kangaroo down sport.

I know as far as the worlds media goes the Tour de Downunder is the only show in town, but for God sake do we really need newsflashes every time Lancey boy takes a drink from his bottle? In fact the whole thing has got so out of hand that any rider in the race is under a microscope they normally never see until July. Today someone (not Mr Armstrong) got into a break for a whole 1k and it made it to the news wires (or should that be the news RSS feeds?)

Now I'm all for a bike race getting talked up, I'm all for the media reporting on our sport, riders being interviewed and sprint finishes making the evening bulletins, so I'm actually rather pleased with it all, but surely there needs to be a little perspective here? Ah well, maybe not. So it looks like that cool million, or whatever it was, is perhaps one of the shrewdest race marketing moves ever seen. What's it gonna be like come July is anyone's guess.

To be honest I'm watching the stages and feeling a little jealousy, not so much for watching the racing, but just for sitting somewhere warm, sipping the local wines and putting the world to rights, South Australia is a wonderful place, it's been a long time, too long.



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Wednesday, 21 January 2009

SRM - so much to answer for, apparently.

There's life in the old dog yet.

In a shock move today Ivan Basso has admitted that he has blood in his body. The former dog owner, who has recently returned to bike racing after serving a ban for taking his dog to the 'Vets' once too often has admitted on-line that following tests by 'Top Docs' his vains have been found to contain blood.

'I was totally shocked by the result' Basso may well have said. He may well have gone on to say,
'I was as surprised as the next man to have found blood in my system, but in the spirit of transparency and openness that we have all willingly signed up to in an effort to keep our jobs, sorry, I mean rid the sport of cheats, I have decided to make these result available to everyone.'

The UCI, via an anonymous spokesman, has called on other riders to be as open a Basso.
'I call on other riders to be as open as Basso' Said the anonymous person.
'It is only by publishing totally irrelevant numbers, that are incomprehensible, confusing, bare no relationship to power output and are possibly made up that the sport can advance to a bright new tomorrow.'
When asked about power output and why there has been no demand for it to be published the response was,
'No one understands power charts, and so publishing more information that no one can make head or tail of is a pointless activity, it would just cause confusion, encourage time wasting and could well be used as a smokescreen for other activities.'
When asked what other activities could be hidden behind a smokescreen of power graphs the response was,
'Well for a start Art theft, forgery of currency, prostitution and the take over of small Latin American countries by armed militias. All of these can by hidden behind power output charts, SRM has a lot to answer for!'

Armstrong or Operation Puerto, who's made the most comebacks?

Lance Armstrong may be good, he may well be very good and he maybe having a comeback, but lest face it he's still got a long way to go to have made as many comebacks as Operation Puerto.

Puerto is now on it's tenth comeback and with each comeback there is a collective tightening of the buttocks in certain sections of the peloton.

With each comeback the number of riders heading for the hills, looking to retire or combine both and race in Portugal increases.
Throw a net over a race in Portugal and the chances are you'll catch at least a couple of riders riding under assumed names, riders who have recently paid a visit to the animal sanctuary and traded in their dog for a cat.

So whilst I applaud the return of Puerto, I question whether anything will come of it. Well actually I don't as I firmly believe that despite the regular comebacks Puerto will never deliver the results many (all?) of us had hoper for, that is the arrest and trial of not just cyclist, but footballers, tennis players and anyone else who was named in the initial investigation.
Still, I fully expect WADA to be making a statement soon, oh wait, here it is.
'Let's have dinner, hell, lets have a bottle of wine as well.'
And that's about as far as they'll go, isn't it. Why rock the boat when you can have a nice expense account meal and a little afternoon nap at your desk.


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Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Taste the sick!


Pass the bucket.

'Can you taste the sick? No? Sprint harder next time round.' So said one of the coaches I recently worked with. I wasn't going to mention the last time I had a vomit related cycling incident, but now I've started..... A midday curry is not a good preparation for a 2 hour evening track session that involves a lot of intervals, well maybe it is if you're not determined to stick to the training plan, maybe actually taking the easy option is sometimes the better choice, er, nah.

I'll tell any riders I coach that they should carefully consider what they eat the day of a hard session for two reasons, 1) making sure there's fuel in the tank and 2) to avoid seeing your last meal on you handle bars. (Still at least I made it to the track toilets, which I'm sure is a sign of weakness. I believe squad riders actually do an extra lap, taste the sick and then lose it into a track side bucket.... nice). As with most of my coaching it's a case of 'not as I do'.

UCI - On the ball as ever.
Did you know that there was some road racing taking place in Australia? No neither did I. So thank God for the UCI, who have just filled my in box and wasted moments of my less than precious time telling me so. I look forward to future press releases 'Tour de France to take place in July' , 'Cobbles found on Paris-Roubaix route', 'Some Velodromes have banking', 'We know what we're doing' and so on.
It wasn't so much the 'bleeding obvious' that made me laugh, it was the fact that road racing has been happening all year round. Whilst Uncle Pat has been drinking coco and throwing another log on the fire the locals have been hard at it Africa, South America, Australia and several place in between. It's a global sport Uncle Pat, 12 months a year, someone somewhere is racing on the road.

Some random stuff I can't be bothered to fill twitter with.

Katyusha budget for the year £15 million, or 15 race starts for the old fella. Part of an annual £30 m project, according to CS. Good project though, womens team, continental squad, development stuff and the UCI/Pro tour squad, oh, and the boy Swifty, shame about the jersey though.

Watching Cycling dot TV, Phil and Paul trying to talk up the TDU, calm down dear, calm down. It's long season and you're not getting any younger. Save something for the final sprint. Must be the deal they have with the Aussie broadcaster which brings the old staggers out to play rather than allowing CTV to get their regulars out. Mccrossen is at the cross and IMHO that's the better option, hell it's colder and wetter, but the beer is a whole lot better.

Cycle Sport, good edition I thought, one of the best for many a long month, with the exception of the Cav and his donkey story it's a very good read. The donkey story has been getting trotted out for well over a year now and when I see it, I'll believe it.
They still seem obsessed with hair though, don't they? Perhaps they all used to work on 'blow dry monthly' or something similar.

Oh dear, all I've talked about today is turds and vomit, how sad. I hope for a better day tomorrow.


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Don't speak too soon.

The great smell of turd.

Just as I was celebrating a clutch of ex dopers making their way to Argentina it come to pass that Rock Racing will be staying at home, doubtlessly due to the lack of cash which plaguing them at the moment. (BTW what is the collective noun for a collection of ex-dopers?).
So spare a thought for young Ivan, he'll have less to talk about whilst he's riding and might actually have to get down to racing, poor thing.

The organisers in Argentina are after $30,000 from Rock Racing, and have said if they don't pay up the Rockers won't be asked back. As threats go this one is pretty lame, this time next year there won't be a team to not ask back. Still, maybe there's a lesson there for other race organisers, that is, if it smells like a turd it is a turd, so don't invite it to your race, cos you could finish up with it all over your face, or something similar!

Your father is your brother and your sister is your mother....

And as I glance to the right, I see my diary and I see only a little over a week until the Cross worlds kicks off. Sadly I'm not going, but I strongly recommend that if you ever get the chance then GO, GO NOW.

I've seen worlds on the road, the track and at the cross and of them all the cross worlds, especially a cross worlds close to Belgium is best of the lot. Insane crowds, atmosphere that most sporting events would give their right arm for and a supply of beer and frits that would keep a battleship afloat. (can you float a boat on frits?).
You'll come home totally knackered, hungover, unwashed and feeling sick from the diet, but it will have been worth it. You will have dozens of new friends, heaps of illegible names and addresses written on muddy slips of paper, several email addresses you cant read, friends for life and a detailed knowledge of swearing in Flemish. In short you may well need a week to recover and even longer to come to terms with the experience, but it will have been worth it.
Next year forget taking the family to the beach, stick 'em in a camper van, fill it with beer and live the dream.

That Columbia kit in full.

In a previous life I had a rather sad obsession with team kit. Sadly as I grew up i left this childish phase behind and moved on, until now.
So welcome back team High on Columbia and their fourth kit in 12 months.
I guess they're still using the same design family as with previous efforts, but this year having dispensed with the 4 year old and his big crayons they've moved onto the teenager and his obsession with Alien, or Alien II, or return of Alien, or carry on up the Alien or what ever the movie was called. So now we have a pretend six pack on the jersey and a few big black lines that have obviously been used as a guide to coloring in.

Why my obsession with team kit, general sadness I guess. But get any group of cyclists together and the second major bone of contention will be team / club kit.
In the past I rode for a club that changed it's jersey from one that looked predominately like the Belgian National champs to one that was mainly white with a few splashes of color. Que one rider immediately buying up all the old stock and making us all offers for our old kit.
More recently there was a club that split in two as a result of a new kit design, one group hated the new jersey so much they went off and founded their own club and as result had to design a new jersey! Er.... no I don't get it either.

Nowadays I'll concede that Ton Ton Tapis was a comedy classic and a work of genius. That Castorama jersey is still appaling and no matter how many years pass will always continue to be so. But so often my esthetic decisions are based on who rides for the team, hate the rider, hate the jersey. Used to quite like Rabobank, then along comes the chicken, now I hate it. Saunier Duval? Never liked it, now it enduces a mouth frothing fit.
So High on Columbia? actually I totally love it, best jersey ever worn in the peloton, oh except for Peugeot (Yates, Millar, Duclos and Piper).



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Saturday, 17 January 2009

I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it.


Getting your collar felt.

Thank God for the 'nick of time'. Nick has intervened just in time to ensure that Rock Racing can continue to race UCI events for the coming season. This is great news for those with a sense of humor.
Now of course, every silver lining has it's little cloud and in the case of the non demise of Rock Racing this is that there won't be a surge of team kit being flogged on eBay. This, however, has not stopped the odd item finding it's way onto the worlds favorite emporium, yesterday a RR skinsuit went for the princely sum of £227. Now, I'm as partial as the next man to a bit of Pro team memorabilia, but £227? For a skin suit you'd where exactly when? Turn up at our local track league or training sessions in one of those and you have the piss well and truly taken out of you. Maybe it will get an airing at the local supermarket, maybe who ever bought it is member of a special adult association that meets in secret and only contacts each other via the dark corners of the internet, you know the sort? Members of the Tyler Hamilton fan club.


Cheap at half the price?
Now according to the press, Lancey boys fee for dragging his ass to the land downunder is getting on for a cool £1m.
Fair play to him, if he can get that sort of cash for his charity good luck to him and all who sale in him. If the race promoters, national cancer charities etc have decided that a hefty slice of cash going to an overseas charity is a good investment that's all well and good. It's their cash, and they can use it as they see fit if you ask me.
But it made me think what if Lancey boy got paid a million quid to ride the tour of Britain? How would I feel? Well, not too impressed would be the starting point. I can see the argument for paying him to turn up and do his message thing with the great and the good of the counties health care providers. But it wouldn't be an argument I would happily sign up to. The questions I'd ask would be along the lines of, A million pounds? Are you crazy? Wouldn't it be better spent on helping local charities? How about local hospices? What benefit do we get, other than a few days publicity? And what happens after he goes? Still as I say, not my money, my country, my taxes etc etc.

And on a different continent.
New pro Ivan Basso starts his season in Argentina. The tour de San Luis, has like the TDU, never had it so good. Although it's having it a lot cheaper than it's friend over the water. The race site (Here) has a little video promoting the race, it all looks very nice. Peaceful roads and as all the worlds press are in Aus, nice and quiet, just the sort of low key return to racing a banned doper needs. Maybe this could be the back from disgrace race that will feature in the programmes of future criminals. Today Basso, tomorrow the Schumacher?

Now this really is a low key race, essentially an Argentinian event designed to give the locals something to aim at. It is starting to become a hot event for European teams seeking some sun, competition and a little limelight free conditioning. This year Fuji Servetto, Liquigas and Saxo all made it onto the plane as it would appear have Rock Racing. With Rudy at their helm, the rockers claim to be sending the Hamilton twins, Sevilla and Mancebo. Add in a couple of Puerto fugitives on other teams and Basso will be feeling right at home, they're his kind of people.

Politicians will be politicians.
One of the off shoots of Lancey boys pressing of the flesh and, no I don't mean throttling Filippo Simeoni, is that the local politicians have pledged to give more cash to the anti cancer fight. Great news for the people of Aus, but for me also a reminder of how scum like most politicians are, bandwagon? votes? Clebrity?




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Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Minder is coming back!


Cipollini to advise Cav?

What makes a great sprinter? Well according to Eric Zabel it's speed, Teutonic efficiency and the ability to bore your opponents to death. According to Mario Cipollini it's speed, Italian flair and a way with the ladies.
So how the hell did Cav finish up being advised by Zabel?
It's all well and good being the fastest man in the peloton, it's very well doing all that pointing business after you've won, but come on, what about making improper suggestions to the podium girls? Surely the ability to suggest an after dope test rendezvous in the team camper van whilst waving your 'bouquet' and blowing kisses to the press is the mark of a great sprinter?

What made Cipo more entertaining than Zabel wasn't the number of victories but the style, the showmanship and of course the after race interviews, most of which seemed to revolve on what was going on between his legs during the race and we're not talking that bloody Canondale either.

Here at On The Banking we're massive fans of the mighty Cav, he's a world class rider but we firmly believe that alongside Rod Ellingworth he needs to employ Cipo.
Rod may well give him a training programme that results in GT stage after GT stage, but Cipo can add that something extra.

Like any training programme the one Cipo would give 'our Mark' would start in the off season, building the 'base' and move towards specific goals during the major tours.
Off season / Recovery phase: Regular intervals of blowing kisses and waving at passers by.
Pre-Competition phase: Pointing at you 'gentleman's area' as you cross the line, whilst simulanously winking at the girls
Competition: Bounding up the steps of the podium (this time not falling over), picking up the bouquet, chatting up the podium girls, drinking champagne and waving the keys to the team camper van all at once - true multi tasking and the mark of a mighty champion.

Come on Mark, ditch Zabel, you know it makes sense.


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Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Tanks for the memory.

Bang, bang, bang.

Tanks and armored personnel carriers are to be used in a professional race for the first time at the Tour de Downunder.
The Australian Police have responded to requests for beefed up security from Astana by hiring in a detachment of the Australian armored division for crowd control.
'Astana demanded tighter security' said an Aussie copper 'But when we offered to place extra officers along the route they said it wasn't good enough. We then offered Police with riot shields, which was turned down, next we suggested riot vans with water cannon, but that was kicked into the long grass as well. So finally we put a call into the Army, they've got a few blokes free so they're gonna help us out for a week'.
At the time of making this up (sorry, going to press) there were unconfirmed reports that Blackhawk helicopters were going to be providing air support for any attacks launched by Astana during the race.

Not fair.....
This however brought a swift response from both rival teams and the UCI. Mr 60% is reported to have said 'Armored personnel carriers, yes, I can accept their usage in the Peloton, after all we must move with the times and cycling is a modern sport, but I feel the use of tanks to be a step too far. The increased fire power would disadvantage our sprinters during the final 200m of a stage.'
However the plans were given little backing by head UCI honcho Uncle Pat. 'Cycling is a sport that should be open to all and in a time of economic belt tightening we cannot expect European teams to be flying strategic battle field equipment half way across the world. It is far too expensive and will put off teams from competing in the race.'
It is however thought that the Russian Katyusha team are interested in the idea of military equipment being used in the peloton and have approached Colnago with a view to production of a lightweight artillery piece for use in the mountains.



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Thursday, 8 January 2009

That UCI press statement in full.

Today, January 8th, the UCI held a press conference to outline the future of the sport.
Our on-the-spot reporter has sent back this report, with the necessary translations from UCI-speak into English.

"The World Calendar structure is born of the need, shared by all, to return to a calm, stable environment."
- Everyone hated the Pro-Tour and it was a total farce, we're not going down that road again.

"The tensions that affected cycling peaked during the 2008 Tour de France and we found ourselves in a rather sad situation for our sport."
- It all went tit's up at the '08 Tour, just as it has done every year since 1903.

"Fortunately, these difficulties were the catalyst for us all to realise that it was no longer possible to continue in this way. "
-Now Hein has left we can't just go on holiday when the shit hits the fan.

"The World Calendar is the synthesis of the needs of all those involved in professional cycling."
-We've listened to what everyone has said and then totally ignored them

" It takes into account the heritage of our sport as well as legitimate ambitions for the global development of cycling. "
- Historically we place Ghent - Wevelgem in the same category as the Eneco Tour, that'll piss of lots of people.

"These two components can from now on coexist harmoniously within the World Calendar".
- We're still not on speaking terms you know.

"Perhaps a winner does actually exist, the winner is the sport of cycling."
-We'll just carry on as before then?

"The UCI ProTour is not in competition with the Monuments Calendar."
-No one wanted to ride our events and we couldn't stop them riding theirs, so we gave in.



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The return of the Tardis

And the new Dr Who is......


Si-Fi fans the world over were surprised, saddened, outraged and slightly amused as the BBC announced the new Doctor Who. The 11th Doctor will be played by our own, our very own, Mr Michael Rasmussen.

'Rasmussen was the perfect choice for us, he ticks all the right boxes.' said a BBC spokesman, who went on to say,
'Michael doesn't need to worry about being typecast, a fate that has befallen several other actors who have played Who. He's still fresh faced and yet has a look of other worldliness that is essential to the character.' When asked if there would be any major changes to the scripts for the new season the BBC replied, 'We don't envisage any major changes, Rasmussen's character is very similar to that of the doctor, both never quite know where they are or what the year is and both seem to have a past life that they prefer not to mention to others.'

Having a new doctor is all well and good, but what about the other key ingredients that make the show such an international hit, the monsters, aliens and of course the doctors assistant, what are the BBC's plans in those areas?
Well this is one area where there will be major changes. Following the death of Davros, creator of the Daleks a new master villain has to be found to lead the universes most evil warriors. Fortunately cycling has again stepped into help the show, with Dr Fuentes putting himself forward. 'We got Fuentes call out of the blue.' said the spokesman, 'But when he offered himself as the evil overlord intent on destroying the known universe it was an offer we couldn't refuse.'. 'In a way,' joked the spokesman, 'Cycling is a bit like the show, we keep killing off the Daleks but they keep making a coming back, we just can't get rid of them'

So, master villains and comebacks aside who, may we ask, is going to be the doctors assistant? No names have yet been put forward, but if you look at the characteristics needed to be a trusty sidekick certain names start suggesting themselves. The essential qualities for the doctors 'number two' are, stupidity, a state of permanent confusion, a belief that they are in control when in fact someone else is pushing all the buttons and an overwhelming urge to put themselves in the limelight despite having limited talent. Rumors that the first show in the series will be set in Aigle in Switzerland have yet to be confirmed.


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Wednesday, 7 January 2009

First year pro threatens to win Tour de France


In a move that shocked the world of cycling first year pro Lance Armstrong announced that he will personally fill the first eighteen places in this years Le Tour.
Armstrong went on to say that he was doing this as a favor to Johan Bruyneel.
Bruyneel, hot favorite to win the Nobel prize for literature following the publication of 'We might as well eat some cheese', was a major influence on Armstrong's early career, teaching him both how to ride a bike and how to switch on his blackberry.
'I owe Johan a lot.' said Lance, 'and I figure what better way of paying him back than by taking the first eighteen places at le Tour on his behalf'.
When it was suggested that this might not be in the best interests of the sport Lance responded, 'How can that be, Johan is the very spirit of cycling, so what's good for Johan is good for cycling.' 'Also, I'll be leaving the mountains jersey and points jersey for someone else to win.' Upon being asked if he'd forgotten about the white jersey Lance replied 'Oh yeah, I'll be winning that as well, don't forget I'm a first year pro and Johan has told me that I qualify on that basis.'

Boris Johnson to ride national 12 hour TT champs.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson is, like many a politician desperate to attract votes, a big fan of cycling. But Borris has taken his interest in the bicycle to the next 'logical' step and entered the National 12 hour championships.
'I fell in love with cycling as soon as I realised there were votes in it.' Said a flustered Johnson. 'I wanted a challenge that would stretch me, the bounds of reality, they patience of the voting public and set an example to fat chaps that didn't bother to vote correctly. So it was with this in mind that I entered the National 12 hour championships. I've been getting personal training advice from Chris Boardman, who, even though he's from Liverpool has won a gold medal at the Olympics and is therefor essential to my public image, sorry, I mean, to me doing a good time.'
When asked exactly what form of training he was undertaking he replied:
'I've decided that Derny training is the best for both speed and endurance, so with that in mind I've opened up the bike lanes in London to motorcycles so I don't look out of place when I go training.'

RTTC keeping up with the modern times.
Over the years the world of time trialing has had to endure several setbacks. Falling numbers at events, smaller prize funds, restrictions on which roads can be used and the loss of NASA as a major sponsor have all dented the image of Time Trialing.
It shouldn't be forgotten though that it was time trialing, and especially the longer distance events of 100 miles as well as 12 and 24 hours that Lord Chris Hoy and Duchess Victoria Pendleton used as preparation for the Olympic triumph. Indeed wasn't it Jamie Staff that said thanks to the Merseyside 24 hour event I was able to set the fastest time ever for one lap of the velodrome.
So it is much pleasure that we can congratulate the TTC on the use of a new font on their web site.



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Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Phone lines are now open for your calls.


Marks out of 10 please judges.

There is a rumor that there is set to be a major change in the way teams and riders are eliminated from major races and that these changes will be outlined by Uncle Pat when he announces the 2009 World Calendar this coming Thursday.

At the end of 2008 the UCI needed to regain credibility (titter ye not) with fans, teams, sponsors, jurnos, and race organisers. So they scrapped the 'Pro-Tour' and came up with the 'UCI Pro-Tour'. Now everybody is happy, the UCI rule the cycling world again, ASO, RCS and Unipublic have all bowed down before the golden throne and all cyclings problems are at a stroke, solved.
But the UCI ever keen to keep up with the times and in an effort to attract more armchair cycling fans have hit on a novel way of promoting the sport. Starting with the Tour Downunder riders will be eliminated from stage races not just for missing the time cut, crashing or failing dope tests, but also as a result of public phone vote.

Your call only costs 2 Euros a minute.

At the end of each stage a panel of experts will select 10 candidates, who will be scored on their contribution to the race, their riding style and their ability to execute certain predetermined tactics. Following the judges marking the phone lines will be opened up and the public will be allowed to vote on which rider will be eliminated. The experts for the first event of the season have yet to be announced, but it is thought that they will include, Frank Vandenbroucke, Michael Ball, Djamolidine Abdoujaparov and Tammy Thomas.

An unnamed UCI source has reportedly said 'The public vote will add and extra fun element to stage races, which until now had been boring and predictable.' He/She/It went on say that 'The added pressure will also act as a deterrent to doping and aid the UCI in their goal of getting richer, sorry, I mean getting a clean sport.'

More new races.

In addition to the ground breaking changes to race results it is thought that the UCI are also planning to unveil the new 'Tour de Russia' with the proposed date being 'all of May'. A (different) UCI spokesman has said 'the Russians are desperate to give us lots of money and we felt that the ideal slot in the calandar for a race is May, after all noting much is happening then is there? and anyway RCS have pissed us off, so up their's.'
The spokensthing refused to comment that the Tour de China was scheduled to take place in July with a top prize of a billion Euros, 'We have a very good relationship with ASO and would in no way introduce a race with a greater prize fund in an effort to bugger up the Tour de France.'

Shock new team anouncement.

Hold the front page, stop the presses. In a totally unexpected anouncement it has been anounced that British Cycling will announce that they will run a pro team in 2010 and that that team will have a major sponsor.

The team, it has been announced, will feature 'riders', some of whome will be British and some of whome won't.

In another shock revelation, sorry, announcement, it has also been revealed that the team will have a management structure that will include coaches.

As we went to press there was no anouncement about bicycles, but an insider has anounced that bicycles will be involved in the team and possibly ridden by the riders.

As yet there has been no announcement about Mark Cavendish, but it is thought that at some stage over the coming years there will be an announcement relating to Mark Cavendish and a team with a major sponsor.

More announcements as they happen.



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Sunday, 4 January 2009

Try a little tenderness? Nah!

It ain't half comical mum.

I am in a lot of pain, my legs hurt, my arms hurt, my back hurts and even my ears hurt. And this dear reader is due to an excess of tracking, or to be more precise riding the local madison session. It's been a long time since I last rode one, long enough for my technique to become crap, long enough to forget how much it hurts and long enough to forget how much I love riding them.

Luckily something I haven't forgotten is how funny Rock Racing are. The latest turn in the comic capers of Mr Ball and his merry band of dopers, has beens and never will be's is the potential court case involving the lawyers of 'businessman' Ball and Baden Cooke. Cooke was signed, then he wasn't, there was continental pro status, then there wasn't, there was a European programme, then it's all back in the US and soon there will be no team. Still the Rockers have been racing in Australia (why, if there's only cash for a US programme did Ball send his merry men downunder?) and all of their riders have been showing well, perhaps in an effort to up their profile and win some cash before the coffers run dry sometime over the summer. Whatever the reason the smoke and mirros show that was rock racing no looks like it'll be over before the sun is fully up and we'll have a few more riders looking for teams.
The good news however if you're a rider looking for a ride on 2010, is that there won't be much competition from ex Rock Racers, well I say much, actually I mean any at all. At this point we can finally put the Hamilton twins in the dustbin of history along with such luminaries as Richard Virenque?


Cross - you gotta love it, no seriously, you have.

Cyclo Cross - what a great season. As we approach the worlds it looks like the mens race could be anybodies, anybody that is providing your name is Lars Boom. The Orange rocket looks hot favourite for the title this year, he's not raced a lot and seems to be able to turn on the gas exactly when it's called for. His programme of targeting a few major races looks to be paying off, so there you go. Or do you? Sven Nys has called on the Belgians to unite against the boy Boon, but to what avail? Whilst Nys has had a good season he admits that Boon must start as favorite, still, maybe he's deliberately playing down his own chances? The Belgians certainly look strong and squad wise have the strongest squad. Nys leads the world cup and Vanthourenhout, Wellens and Vantornout are all making the podiums. Ultimately it will come down to the condition of the course, a course for bike handling should see a battle between Nys and Boon, but a fast dry track could well see Al making a bid for top spot. His vistory at Zolder was on a fast dry course, more akin to his beloved MTB tracks than the glue pots favoured by Nys and Boon. So who's my pick for the mens race? Easy - Bart Wellens.

The womens race is wide open, well, as wide as the mens. It should be a straight fight between Kupfernagel and Compton, but you'd be wise to look out for Vos, back to winning ways and doubtless desperate for another rainbow jersey and Daphny van den Brand. The womens season has been, if anything, more exciting than the mens, close races have meant that on a good day the victory could go to anyone of half a dozen riders

Tenderness my ass.

In an editorial Procycling calls for some 'tenderness' for convicted dopers. The basic argument is that they are fragile human beings, they are young and have built their self esteem on riding the bike and so when their little world comes crashing down they will suffer all sorts of problems and as fellow humans we should exhibit some compassion towards them.

Lets be honest here, do we really want to see convicted dopers suffering all sorts of mental torment as their world collapses around them and they contemplate despair, desolation and loneliness?

Well I do, the bastards.


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