Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dreams Up Down Over

Sleepless a lot lately, my thoughts have turned to dreams. But as they are mostly about the dashing of my own and nightmares that often creep, my thoughts then turned to the dreams of cyclists.

On the eve of the Tour Down Under many riders began revealing theirs. Well, at least their feelings, wishes, hopes and plans for 2010.

Here's a few:

"I'm not saying I'm going to win the Tour de France, not many people can say that, but I want to give it a go.” Mick Rogers

“I want to be one of the pillars of this team, I feel something special with this new challenge which for me is to be in a new structure with a big leader like Alberto Contador.” Oscar Pereiro

“First race day for Team Sky tomorrow, can't wait to pull on that jersey...going to be emotional.” Russ Downing

“I just want to go out and race everyone.” Greg Henderson

“I wish I was in better kit” - the entire Footon Servetto team – even Cardoso.

The Tour Down Under was also a time for some dreams to actually unfold.

While they may not have their Summer Holiday double decker bus yet, the new pro Antipodes..sorry, I mean British cycling team, Team Sky (come on, Rupert Murdoch's ours and so is half of Wiggo!) couldn't have asked for a better start to 2010 with book-end wins – the Cancer Council Classic and the final stage of the Tour. Won by Hendo and CJ, Antipodeans no less.

This from Brailsford: “If I was told we'd end the week here with two wins I would have taken it with both hands..we're going home on a high. It was a great start and while there is a lot of learning to be done, there are a lot of positives and not many negatives." Not only this, Hendo finished third. Watch out the sprint team(s) of're not going to have it all your way this year – all aboard the Sky....Bus.

Despite some exciting stage wins and breakaways from others, HTC-Columbia predictably took control of the Tour for Greipel – another dream run. While Sanchez, Evans and Valverde grappled up ahead in the breakaway on the penultimate stage, HTC rode their guts out to get Greipel over the hill and defend his 20 second lead.

BMC opened its 2010 with some good results. These were their top placings in the stages – St 1: Wyss 4th, St 2: Wyss 7th, St 3: Evans 3rd, Stage 5 Evans 4th. Evans finished 6th on the GC, Hincapie 12th. It was not only great seeing Cadel having a crack in the rainbow stripes, but what he can do when he's not schlepping for loterries and anti-snoring products – have fun. I'm looking forward to watching this team in 2010, especially Ballan, Burghadt and Hincapie on the cobbles and of course, Evans going for pink in May.

More results too came for Race Director, Mike Turtur. It's long been his hope that the Tour Down Under pavé its place on the ProTour. With three of the world's top ten riders and other big names in the 2010 field not to mention the thousands who poured $40 million into the SA economy, it looks to have conquered its very own Willunga Hill. Many respected cycling journalists agreed that the action in the Willunga and some of the other stages was up there with the best races in Europe.

Mike Turtur went one step further and said the tour may have even outgrown you know who:
"I think last year the emphasis on his comeback was significant....I think the lead up to this year's race was a bit more balanced, we saw reporting on other athletes and teams in the race besides Radioshack."

A bit more, Mike, only a bit more.

Neil Stephens too agreed about the TDU's standing in the cycling world: "If you look past Lance Armstrong there are so many top riders who come here now, even in Caisse D'Epargne, with riders like Luis Leon Sanchez and Alejandro Valverde," he said. While Sanchez finished 2nd this year and has won it before, it was quite surprising I saw none of the Australlian media really cover them, especially in the lead up. I did however see a lot of “Inside Team you know who” headlines.

While the Tour has ended and I wait for the weeks to go before my favourites, the Classics to start, I'm left again to look at my own dreams.

I think I need to take a lesson from Mick's words:

“You have to hang onto a hope, and never abandon that. It's what we do.”

(photos – A f P Media, times online, S i r o t t i

Tour de Femme - 8th November 2009 - Canberra

"You better not take off on me like you did last time Caz." Bron said

"What?" Caz asked, feeling affronted.

"Well, you're SO competitive."

"Am not. YOU are."

My two best friends then agreed to finish together, no matter what.

As they rode past the Falun Gong demonstrators - the first major bend - Bron took off and soon disappeared.

"FINE!" Caz yelled after her.

For 20 successful years, the Tour de Femme (TDF) has attracted the competitive rider - the elite and the not so - and the eager participant looking for fun. It's a day where the roads around Lake Burley Griffin are briefly conquered by around 600 bicycles.

The likes of Oenone Wood, Alison Wright, Kim Palmer, and Tracey Gaudry have their names etched in the honour roll. Even at the height of her international success, if she could, Oenone would take part in the TDF. (That's one of the reasons why she's one of Tourdecouch's favourite all-time riders). That's what's great about it: if you're just looking to have a giggle and finish, you still feel special because you know you're riding in the same race - effectively - as Australian cycling royalty.

This year, Kirsty Broun - Australian crit champion and who's had a pretty good year competing here and overseas - pipped Chloe Hosking and Jessie McLean. They covered the relatively pancake 20km parcours in 30:28.

But back to my trash talking besties. How did they fare?

Bron was a winner. She's pretty fit, but only got back on the bike a few weeks before this year's TDF after I don't know how long. She razored 15 minutes off her 2007 time and came 261st out of 596. She felt good, was in a zone and loved every minute of it.

And Caz was a winner too. Despite her DNA, she did enjoy NOT taking things so seriously.

I remember what happened the last time. They both took off on me. However, Caz didn't even start with us. She saw a friend she used to bunch ride with who happened to be clad in retro cycling gear. Caz gave Bronnie and I the once over with our clunky bikes and our daggy non-kit then quietly moved off on her light tri roadie to find a better place to start in the bunch with her friend. We were clearly holding her back.

She said later about this year's TDF "I was even slower than the year my chain came off and got stuck in the derailleur. I was even slower than the obese lady on a circus bike - she kicked my arse, and her bike went squeak, squeak, squeak - I'll always remember that squeak - under the pressure as she rode past me on the final sprint. I really need to start exercising much pain."

But she too loved every minute of it.

Landis would still be 2006 TDF champ if he only stuck with Bruyneel? (posted orig 6 Nov 2009)

“Bruyneel still wonders how the American tested positive that year

"I don't know what went wrong for him...with us at US Postal, there was never a problem at the doping controls."
”(RIDE Magazine, #46, p.45)

What does he mean exactly?

The article goes on to say:

“ the past decade, Bruyneel's riders have only made the headlines...after leaving his team...Landis, Tyler Hamilton, Heras, Beltran..."

Wouldn't it be Devine if we got what we've already paid for (Oct 30 2009 orig posted)

So Miranda Devine decided to join in the noisy din of what Cycling Central rightfully labels man bites dog.

I agree - well sort of - with her on just one point - some governments put down paint on existing roads and think this is adequate rather than building real infrastructure for cyclists. In the ACT, this is a big hobby horse of the NRMA who said something eerily similar about it just being paint on the road. The NRMA argue there is insufficient space between cyclists and drivers where these lanes have been introduced.

But while there isn't much room, the bike lanes across the ACT aren't insignificant (in size). They are also clearly signposted and marked. Surely as a driver you know these lanes are there and would expect cyclists to be in them somewhere along the road and therefore, are just that little bit more careful. It's not like we see a high incidence of cars driving along the very side of the road when these lanes aren't there on the road. Of course, the NRMA means a swerve etc..but you get my drift.

But Miranda is arguing that cyclists shouldn't expect to share the road at all. She tries to give the impression that preventing cyclist deaths is one of her major concerns and therefore why she's writing what she's writing. (ignoring the fact that drivers die on the roads cars).

But despite what she says, I'm yet to see a decent argument from a non-cyclist about why cyclists can't expect to share the roads.

The fact that cyclists don't pay registration (and/or aren't required to be licenced) for their bicycle is not that decent argument. And you can bet this old chestnut was brought out and roasted over and over on comments' pages everywhere this week. As cyclists, we know the arguments against this cliche: registration doesn't totally cover the up-keep and building of new roads...we pay registration if we have a car too..the benefits to the environment, health and therefore the economy..footpaths are built for non registered walkers.....yadda yadda.

But what if we did pay significant registration would: a) governments build us better infrastructure b) non-cyclist drivers shut the hell up? Because seriously, if that happened - bring it on!

Otherwise, it remains a stupid argument. Why pay if we won't get what cars do? Which at the very least is respect.

But as an income tax payer, rate payer, car registration payer, fuel tax payer and land tax payer, I'm already being ripped off - I'm getting a shitty deal as a cyclist.

What Vino might be sculling this year

(..and maybe he and Alby might already have been)

From the bean bag - observations of high brow/low brow moments of the past few weeks (orig posting Oct 19 2009)

I miss my bike. I miss my couch. I miss my flat. I miss Canberra.

For various reasons,we haven't fully moved our stuff. Until then,I probably won't feel more at home in this temporary rental property I jokingly call Disney Dad Bachelor Pad.

And for a couple of weeks too we didn't have a set top box so I missed One's broadcast of the first highbrow moment.

Cadel. Cadel. Cadel. Of course I stayed up late for the tweets and later read all the reports but until I saw the last ten minutes on YouTube and him driving it those closing kilometres,I didn't comprehend just how awesome it was. I don't think I've seen a sweeter ride,well,at least not that I can remember right now in my patriotic haze. It was perfect execution by the team: Rogers in a breakaway, Gerrans (10th himself) there til almost the end,Stuey bringing Cadel back to the front. It was also good to know Gilbert helped him stop Fabian-sucked in,take that,that was for your throw the rattle out of pram moment at the TDF.

Cadel is highbrow for other reasons too. E.g. for the podium at the Vuelta. After seemingly twhingeing for days,I didn't think he'd pull himself together as he hasn't much in the past when he's in a huff. But he did! Then he paid back Gilbert by riding for him at Lombardia. Looks like he and Silence are learning a lot about a)winning b) teamwork.

More highbrow:

TDF Organisers: For the 2010 route.Firstly,thank goodness there's no TTT. I like TTT but did not like what it did to 09's TDF. Secondly, COBBLES!! Lastly, lots of Tourmalet.

Cyclingtips blog for the two posts on the Magda situation. Balanced. Also,for personal insight into the HST and the Rapha team. Now THAT's bringing the racing to us fans.

CyclingCentral: honourable mention for Magda piece. Talked too about what will bring real change.

The Low-brow

Magda-for taking the Spearman Experiment gig. Otherwise she wouldn't have been pimping herself on GNW as directed by the Ten publicity department and participating in a scripted topic for improv-the cycling rant. It was quite obviously a joke and I didn't feel incited against like some would've by Alan Jones around the time of the Cronulla riots,nor do I think people will open their car doors on me in the name of Magda,but it doesn't matter.

She was wrong and offended people; those who can't ride anymore because of mirror attitudes out there and those who are afraid they won't be able to ride anymore. She was wrong,let's not get all 'we're soooo PC these days' and say it wasn't as bad as black face.

Cycling Twitter lynch mobs: a)your reactions dont make me feel safer on the bike b)Did Dennis Ferguson move into the neighbourhood?

Reactions to Magda from some high profile Australian elite cycling community members: they inserted the obvious fat joke. That also doesnt make me feel any safer on my bike. Thought I was following NRL players there for a moment.
Maybe cyclists hear such things in places like T-Mobile booze cruises. Kohl is the next low brow. Not just for his insight into life with Vino (what? boys out together drink lots? No?!), but for his insight into cycling generally. Apparently, cycling is (insert Elmer Fudd voice) very very hard. In the cold,AND in the heat. Oh yeah, and he also revealed that domestiques are important for GC TDF riders. Hold the phone!

Acronyms-dopers are still the winners when UCI and AFLD publicly embarass themselves. Extra mention for the whole 'there are more TDF08 dopers...hang on,no there's not,but isnt a coincidence we scheduled this con-ference around the launch of the TDF2010 route' thing AFLD had going on.

Cluedo-esque behaviour of Le Monde et al- it was Lance,in the hotel room,with the syringe full of Michelob Ultra.

Oo oo, I heard a rumour (orig posting sep 18 2009)

Reasons why I may have fallen for the Wiggins to Sky rumour and did not do any fact checking before 'tweeting':
-my wedding is on Sunday
-in a week I resigned and finished everything up at work
-trying to sell flat,first exhibition tomorrow
-it was the Guardian and they're still going after it
-Wiggo loud to lynch chef but quiet re bad journalism
-Vaughters still using spin like words re Contador and his Astana contract
-wanting it to be true
-didnt think THAT multi course dinner with Vaughters was a deal
breaker for Wiggo

In his own words (originally posted Aug 30 2009)

In his own words...

..or at least they’re attributed to Haussler on 26 August 2009

“That is totally untrue. It’s a dream of mine to ride for Australia, and I still definitely want to go through with it.

My goal is to carry this year’s good form into next year, and focus on riding the World Championships in Geelong as an Australian, I was born in Australia and I really want to represent Australia

I’ll even look at skipping the 2010 Tour de France to concentrate on using the Vuelta to prepare for next year’s Worlds, that’s how serious I am about riding well at home in Australia.

It’s a bit silly to think that because of my sport, I might have to give up my dual nationality.

If the UCI can look into the ruling perhaps they can amend it so it doesn’t affect the rest of my life.

I have no problem with not being allowed to ever ride for Germany again but to have to relinquish a nationality is pretty tough!

I think the UCI understand my case and I’m hoping we can come up with a positive solution soon”

Never get sick of this image (originally posted Aug 23 2009)

(photo A F P)

From the man himself at Twitter:

"Wooohooo! Winners are grinners!!!"

"missed my flight home, so in Lorient tonight, good reason to miss a flight tho :) I'm wrapped with my win. Thanks for all the messages!"

And the day before "GP Plouay tomorrow! First and likely only race in France for the season, big change from the past few years... Pretty pumped."

Quotes from the past - who said this? (originally posted July 30, 2009)

Anyone know who allegedly said this to Jonathan Vaughters - who didn't want to treat a wasp sting with cortisone because it'd show up in tests- in 2001:

“Poor Jonathan and his stupid little team...What the f*** are you like? If you were on my team this would have been taken care of, but now you are not going to finish the Tour de France because of a wasp sting.”

(must confess this was quoted in a Kimmage article, but still interesting, stumbled on it just the other day...)

a REAL tour hero

(posted July 27 2009)

My favourite moment of Tour De France 2009

G e t t y

(posted July 27 2009)