Tuesday, 24 February 2009

A book at bedtime.

I see young Alberto has requested that he be allowed to race with Lancey boy before the Tour de France. Isn't 'with' an interesting word? Open to so many interpretations. Apparently Alberto wants to 'share the team' with Lancey boy or at least that's how the Astana press machine is spinning it. But lets face facts, there ain't gonna be any 'with' and there sure ain't gonna be any sharing, my ball, my rules I'd suspect. Still, full marks for trying.

It's all going to come down to who will lead the team come July, both want the number one spot, both want the other to be their personal 'super-domestic' - oh dear, oh dear, tears before bedtime me thinks.
So Alberto has suggested that they both ride Castilla y Leon! "I believe that Armstrong and I can race together" says Alberto, shouldn't that read, "can race together but not for each other?". It will certainly be interesting if they do ride together. My guess is that they will each be out to prove that they and they alone should be the rightful leader come July. Now you could say that Lancey boy should know better, but, come on, if someone offers up a challenge, as Alberto is sure to, can you really see Lancey saying, OK, just ride away? Nope, neither can I. There will of course, be only one winner and I wouldn't like to say who I think that will be, although if I were Alberto I start practicing riding with 10 bottles stuffed down my jersey.

ioneer, winner, loony!

Something else I can't wait for is when the men in white coats finally pay a visit to crazy Frank. Now without a team since Cinelli's failure to get any sort of license Frank has been making ends meet by selling his story to the media.

Not that it's a story we haven't read before, still this time he's come over all honest about his dalliances with EPO. Indeed he's come over all honest about everyone's dalliances with EPO. "I am 100 percent certain that I had taken nothing differently that day than the second, the third, the fourth and the fifth place finishers." Says Frankie of his victory in the 1999 L-B-L. So that's Boogerd, Den bakker, Bartoli and Bettini. It'll be interesting to see what the others have to say about this 'outrageous' slander. I mean how dare crazy Frank imply that other cyclists took performance enhancing substances, the thought is really quite outrageous (er that last bit was just in case any lawyers are reading this).

Frankie then goes onto say that it was a fair race, as he was on the same juice as the rest of the peloton. He throws a few more names into the pot- Furlan, Berzins, Argentin, to add a little extra spice and doubtlessly a little more stress for his lawyers. His argument seems to be that he was a great rider and this is proved by his '94 Tour of the Med stage, when his Hematocrit was at 42 and everyone's else was at 60. Great Frankie, really great, what are we meant to do? Stand up and applaud you for your openness and honesty.

Frank seems to take pride in the fact that he was a 'pioneer' in the use of EPO and seems quite content to peddle his brand of honesty to anyone with a cheque book and a few pages to fill. There's no regret, no remorse and no apology. Just a stream of delusion that begs the question how long before the men in white coats get round to paying him a visit.

And talking of naming names.

Jorg Jaksche has, it appears, been naming names. In fact it would appear he has gone further than names, he managed to remember times and dates as well, something the idiot Kohl seemed incapable of doing.
So who and what? When and how? Well I wouldn't be holding me breath for any shocking revelations if I was you. According to Bild (well according to 2nd hand reports, my 2 words of German, a translation engine and a dictionary) the names named are not really a revelation, Riis, Pevenage, Andreas Schmid and Lothar Heinrich (ex Telecom quacks) and of course the good Doctor Death himself. This naming of names has been heralded as a big step for anti-doping, which is bollocks. Lets face it any one with a sad and obsessive interest in the doings of convicted dopers (er, me?) could have drawn up a similar list, although I guess this from the horses mouth so to speak and must therefor count for something slightly more.

The question remains what now? Do the UCI take any of this seriously? Do they continue to keep their heads well tucked in? Do they do anything at all? I suspect that they will trot the line about legal proceedings in sovereign countries being allowed to run their course and promise to look into it once they have been sent the relevant documents (BTW, why is there no letter box at the UCI HQ?). So businesses usual then.

Embarrassment again?, but lets face it Uncle Pat is keeping alive a fine tradition, namely that of 'tin hats on boys' and lets hope the nasty bogey man goes away. Yes I know Uncle Pat personally favors life bans and is limited in any action by vested interests and the threat of bank busting legal challenges (the UCI is, despite it's plush offices, always short of cash, er.... exactly!), but until life bans are introduced, and IMHO, not just bans from racing, but from all involvement in the sport the leadership of the sport, physical or moral, will remain open to question. Ah well, on a lighter far more uplifting note.

On a lighter note - A book at bedtime.

I've just read 'The eagle of the Canavase - Franco Balmamion and the Giro d'Italia' and wow, it's an impressive book. 'The Eagle' itself is a million miles away from the average sports book. It's well researched, heavily detailed, full of background colour and above all stunningly well written. Herbie Sykes structures the life of one of the sports lesser known success stories around his first Giro win, but weaves in the riders Balmamion rode with, the races he rode and Italian life in the late 50's early 60's. Apart from the attention to detail what shines out is the quality of the writing, Sykes is a master craftsman who clearly takes pride in his work, it was a pleasure to be able to share in that pride.

It's published by Mousehold press, who should continue to be congratulated on their output of cycling books. The quality is always excellent and the range outstanding, I've just read 'Tomorrow we ride' which was published last year and next on the list is Vin's biog. 'Tomorrow' was a fine work again both literary and entertaining, with more than a few home truths about cycling that riders and administrators would do well to heed. I've no idea if Mousehold ever do anything other than break even on their cycling books, but long may they continue to publish them.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I just saw this so I'm writing to thank you for your kind words about my book. Good luck ith the blog - it's excellent!

Herbie Sykes