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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

TDF 2010: who'd make the cut if next year's rules were used?

As reported in Cycling News today “as of next year, the selection process will change under an agreement between the organisers of the three Grand Tours and the UCI. The first 17 teams in the world ranking as of the end of the 2010 season will automatically be invited to the 2011 Tour de France and the organisers can issue wildcard invitations to fill the remaining places.”

What if that was the rule this year? Here’s the top 17 teams in the UCI world rankings at the end of 2009.

1. Astana
2. Caisse D’Epargne
3. HTC
4. Saxobank
5. Liquigas
6. Silence Lotto
7. Cervelo
8. Quickstep
9. Rabobank
10. Katusha
11. Garmin
12. Euskaltel
13. Lampre
14. SERRAMENTI PVC DIQUIGIOVANNI
15. Acqua & Sapone
16. Francaise des Jeux
17. AG2R

Present in the 17 are Cervelo, Katusha and Garmin – all who required (and received) wildcards for this year’s tour. This would’ve freed up 3 out of the 5 remaining wildcards (based on 22 teams riding).

Interestingly, present too are Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni and Acqua & Sapone.

Absent from the top 17 but who were automatic entries this year under the 2008 agreement, is Milram (18th 2009), Bbox (19th), Cofidis (20th), and Footon Servetto (23rd). BMC ranked 33rd.

Of the 3 teams disappointed not to have been included this year, in 2009 Vacansoleil ranked 21st, Skil 26th, and Saur-Sojasun was under the name Besson Chaussures-Sojasun and is not on the list I found on the UCI website

2 wildcards would’ve still gone to Sky and Radioshack. And let’s say they would’ve gone for BMC again.

Who would you give the remaining two wildcards to out of let's say: Bbox, Cofidis, Vacansoleil, Skil Shimano and arguably Saur-Sojasun and Milram. And what do you think of next year’s system?

For info’s sake too, here's the current rankings (as at March 2010) via Cycling News.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

That's So Couch - 25 March 2010



The Shack and the City*


We watched happily when the form was better in the first few series, but you watched the last two because you didn’t really want it to end. You watched the movie…because it's too hard to look away; you want to know if there’s still ‘some’ life in the old girls yet.

Main characters/multiple personalities:

Lance - Lance

Carrie – Lance – Lance’s real conscience/personality– has Lance’s Madonna’s arms, a little bit of a believer

Samantha – Lance – the personality who wants to screw people

Charlotte – Lance – the na├»ve, curing cancer, spending time with all the fans at races, believing everything Coach Guy says Lance

Miranda – Lance – the lawyer personality who also wants to screw/sue people and if she can’t win – anything Lance

Coach Guy – Johan


Episode 1 Shat and the Shitty

Lance had the shits today. Literally. Samantha, and Miranda all thought he was faking it, I said, orgasms yes, but he’s had cancer, he would never fake being sick. I also said that I’d seen Personal Trainer guy put something in his food and straight after heard him say to someone on the phone “Yes Mr Argyle, I will also say “who Wal-Marted”**  at the appropriate time.”

But Samantha and Miranda said that was “bullshit”. THEY suggested the idea to fake being sick coz Milan-Sanremo guy said he hadn’t invited The Shack to some party called the Giro. Sam said they wouldn’t have been seen “old” at that party anyway.

Charlotte agreed and said “No wonder he’s faking the poo-poos to get him out of that very long bike race, Coach Guy wrote a letter to Milan-Sanremo guy that The Shack didn’t even want to field a B team and he took a break from his latest venture - fashion for the clueless – to teach the media,especially that Stephen Farrand, – some ethics.”

I said, “but Coach Guy publicly stated a few times in the press since “if we get invited, we won’t go for GC” coz I remembered feeling bad for Klodi.”

They told me shut up, who was I to judge as I had an affair with Big on Aidan. They also said if I didn’t shutup I couldn’t come with them to the Tour of California, I said “meh,” put on You Got the Love, lit up a smoke and danced around the house in clothing inappropriate for my age.

Episode 2 – An American in Paris

I’d always dreamed as a little girl I’d one day make it to Paris. And I did. 7 times. I remember that last time we stood on the podium as Lance told us a girl should believe in fairy tales, especially in the city of love:



This time, we went to see the President. Samantha and Miranda ended getting all Sar-Kosy and Coach Guy gave him a nice shiny bike let down by its outfit. I then overheard them plotting with Sarkozy - who confirmed he’d help - to frame Lance’s main hubris rival with a positive dope test. They all said it was the only way to beat him.

But I managed to talk Lance out of it by saying – a person who has defeated cancer has won the biggest race of all, they don’t need to cheat. Carrie is no yes-man-hands!

But Sam still called me a c word and said she’s in PR and it could be spun this way: he cheated death; he could also cheat the pistol.

To reap revenge, Sam and Miranda also put this up on his twitter account, but I think Charlotte might have gone in and deleted it because it disappeared a few hours later….I could only find it again by searching in Twitter









Couchiest Quotes etc

(R e u te r s)

Stephen Roche on 2010 Milan San-Remo (VeloNation)

“If you saw the way the riders rode up the Poggio and the Cipressa, it was a waste. Nobody attacked when Garzelli was on the front, they left it too close to the top. (he) set a blistering pace up the climb, and nobody moved until it was too close to the summit to open a sufficient gap. A lot of guys were sitting on the wheels there, even though they had no chance of winning if it came down to a bunch sprint. Yet nobody even tried getting out of the saddle,” “If you saw Garzelli, he was on the front and everyone would think he was riding a stormer. He was indeed riding a stormer, but he was waiting for someone to attack so he could take a rest. When the first guy did attack, he just pulled over and went straight from the front out the back door. If someone had attacked earlier, that would have upset the whole train and set another race in motion.”
The Cat pounced. Legend.

Joel Felicio tells us via twitter that Bob Roll was only quoting what is fact: others have the wrong idea about Alberto, and he didn’t agree that Alberto’s decision to ride in the CI this weekend was hubris. Joel tells us to look closely, it’s not biased:


I'm a little bit surprised that Contador has dramatically altered his race program to race specifically against Lance, although Lance is taking a much different trajectory to arrive at his best form later in the season during July. For conspiracy theorists, Alberto has changed his program to show the world that he is the best. It may be Contador's hubris that is his undoing.
I looked closely Joel.


John Candy in Cool Runnings:
“…a gold medal (or winning) is a wonderful thing. But if you're not enough without it, you'll never be enough with it.”
There’s also another quote in the movie about needing to win all the time, but I couldn’t remember it. But after seeing how they reacted this week about the Giro rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb I remembered these quotes. Even if they are right, do they have to even win at this?

The I deserve to have the shits (not those shits though of course) award – Andre Greipel and Robbie McEwen after both their teams put their Milan San Remo eggs into the one Cav and Pozzato gift basket.


*Got SATC idea from @dnlbenson and took it way further

**sharted

Friday, March 19, 2010

That's So Couch 19 March 2010

The Cycling Rivalries

1.   Cav  v   Pozatto

Two metrosexuals head to head for quotable quote about MSR:

Pozzato (on his Cycling News blog)
I know some people think San Remo is boring because we ride for 300km and then everything happens in the last 20 minutes but that's like saying foreplay is boring. You can't have a great finale without foreplay! 
Cavendish (to Cycling Weekly)

San Remo is not about climbing, it is about resilience. You don't have to be a climber to win San Remo, you have to be resilient. It's about suffering. And you can't suffer without training. I can't suffer, that's the thing.

It is a shame that I can't go in saying 'I want to win, I want to win.' That would have been the nicest thing. I love it, it is my favourite one day race. Just how the story unfolds, for me, for the others sprinters, for the climbers, for the spectators: it is the tension, the build up to the finish. 'They will or they won't', 'they will or they won't' all the way to the finish, for the last 100K, that is the great thing about it."

"It is so easy sometimes to pop.. "Milano-San Remo is a f*****g hard race.
One, an Italian using foreplay as a simile for MSR, the other, a Manx Man using MSR as a metaphor for foreplay.

2. Garzelli v Scarponi

"It's crazy, you'd never believe it, it's like a film, but I had nothing to lose, and today I was rewarded for my two runner-up places in the sprints," said Garzelli.

Scarponi "This is the first time this has happened to me, and it doesn't give me a great deal of pleasure." (a f p) 

(Bettini)


3. Cadel v Alberto

Cadel - posted March 18th - A day in the life of a pro rider: 7h photos and travelling...



Posted March 16th - I spend many hours of suffering in the saddle



Spot the Difference

Twitter - on Tuesday 16th March 2010, @grahamwatson10 said:


@trek60 ..no, I don't think Alberto has the ruthlessness in him to try that, nor the right entourage to guide him. His motivation might be a lack of start money in Catalunya, and a wish to embed him and Astana with ASO prior to the Tour; Astana needs an invite as well. There are already rumours that salaries are unpaid, that Contador might need to play up to ASO to get into the Tour...on another team.


Lance - a few times now (Velonation this one) 

“And the rest I do not think is from Alberto,” he continued, “but the people around him. If you ask anyone else who has been in contact with that group. It is the first time that I say this: be careful with his entourage.  
But Graham sure did tell/start some juicy rumours to a complete stranger. The juiciest rumour Graham alludes to is that Alberto obviously must be aware of doping on his team, seeing as ethical reasons (i.e. doping) is the only instance – other than ASO’s general zaniness – that ASO can stop one of the guaranteed 16 ProTour teams riding in 2010 (under September 2008 agreement between UCI and ASO). Unless the ASO’s zaniness clause covers exclusion for past doping, and therefore Vino’s reputation doth proceed him. All I can say is that it’s a lucky thing Armstrong’s reputation also proceeds him or going on current performances, Radioshack would never get an invite.  Graham might not be enthused about Alberto's performance 6 days out of the 7 at Paris-Nice, but Astana hasn't exactly been stuck in Loserville. 

You can get some of the pictures Graham takes while he analyses all the racing backwards - including his critical analysis that Astana dragged AC through the TTT in the 09 TDF (wha? protect your leader's legs, no!!) - by going to his online shop:

Guns Don't Kill People, Alberto's fingers do


According to quite a few US cycling fans on forums and blogs Couch read this week, they hate, yes, hate - not even concede like Lance and Johan he’s a class above - Alberto because….wait for it…. they think he’s so into killing because of the pistol salute and therefore is bad for cycling. Is this for serious? Lame-o salute yes, but hateful of life?

Well, darn, how long ‘til the NRA is after him offering endorsements? They were in talks with Tiger, but he kept getting this quote wrong in preliminary meetings “this is my rifle, and this is my gun” by both times grabbing his crotch.

What harm would there be in AC saying yes?  He could get so many red necks into cycling. They might not try to run you over, but alas, they could try to shoot at you with their finger.  #conflicted

Twit's and blog's so couch 

After not hearing any progress from Wiggins about this for a a couple of weeks: 
also met my nutritionist who has given me a pot of green powder, in his words "it will make you piss like a donkey for days" 12:39 AM Mar 3rd
it's good to hear that it's finally made it through his system:
I'm on my death bed tonight with the two-bob-bits! about 6 hours ago via web (mar 18th)
 Any wonder he was all clogged up if this is Sky's diet (as posted by Sunderland)

 Chris Horner does what most Americans do when they visit Europe, sniff out the nearest Maccas:

Luckily for me, there was a McDonald's close by, and yes, I definitely hit it up! I ordered the full menu (biggest combo available in Europe) plus another burger and hot fudge sundae, then I went back to hotel for a big salad with the team at dinner
Bonnie D Ford, rather than try to take on the un-take on able RT’d an article by Jim Caple from last year about Tyler Farrer’s Dad. Well worth reading. http://bit.ly/uJ6iH

Lance-a-lot a lot

- Lance allows only one day for the wearing of green, not black and yellow "Happy St Patrick's Day to you all. Wearing green?"

- Lance was too busy boosting a shock sports jock’s ratings by admirably fighting for cyclists and missed a chance to RIP a rock star, from a band who I would find it hard to believe with his awesome music taste (I'm serious) he wouldn’t have on his ipodphone. Alex Chilton, from Big Star.

To finish up, I leave you with a rare Couch love song and dedications:


Big Star - Thirteen from Warren Deans on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

That's So Couch

Tales from the Sky Bus



“Wow guys, great effort!  You did great today, you all found the bus in the car park…that’s a marginal gain of eight seconds on yesterday, must be that strobe light and the Sky++…. EBH…THERE IS NO BATHROOM.”


Vote in an exclusive Tourdecouch Poll:

Tell me, what is worse:

A. that Versus put a poll on its website asking whether Contador should’ve been disqualified for becoming unclipped during a stage of Paris-Nice

B. or that 39% said yes he should’ve been

Thankfully, this poll has been pulled from the website.  But maybe the damage has already been done.  Especially if you go here and see what kind of bent the commentary was alleged to have- check out especially what Rides like a Girl wrote about it.  I bet those who switched from Direct TV when Versus no longer was on it, are happy they don't have to put up with that kind of commentary anymore, now that Versus is back on Direct.  Think I’m going to turn down the TDF commentary this year in Oz.

Lance a lot – a lot


Border Security
Oops someone dropped the ball in Lance’s yes/no entourage getting stuck for a time at the South African airport because there were no pages left in his passport. I blame Impey, his one job - the reason he was allowed on the jet - was to handle everything passport for Lance.  The problem was solved but not until after Lance did his very own impersonation of an economy class passenger chucking a mental at airport security staff for something that was only their job.  Kinda like what he did to AC after Stage 17, TDF 09.   

Anyway, he finally got some new pages for his Texan themed passport and he posted them on Twitter:


(amazon.com)

Spycling
No, I’m not talking about this widely posted and interesting article, but something else afoot in the world of cycling. At first after his recent performances, I thought Lance might be faking it, you know, trying to play mind games because they worked so well last year. But I knew I was wrong when I saw on Twitter that newly converted Mellow Johnny Graham Watson noticed Lance WAS REALLY suffering in the Murcia TT.

So there’s only one conclusion - Vaughters sent Allen Lim to Radioshack not to help, but to sabotage.

My proof? "I've spent the last two months with Lance,” Lim said. This directly correlates to Lance’s performances. Sure, Lance's TT with the ironman was under Lim's watch, but secret information was blacked out from that result.  Apparently, Lim’s using Armstrong as “his guinea pig for a team-wide plan”. Levi is s*it scared as his form has been pretty good of late. He therefore must have managed to stay away from Lim so far. Hang on, maybe not anymore, Levi's form started to slip at Paris-Nice later in the week, and Armstrong finished 9th – ‘competitive’ said most of the cycling press - in Cape Argus, maybe Armstrong might win MSR if Lim’s off his back now.

Lim added “now it's about making that trickle down to the rest of the team."

Watch out Klumpy (Kloden), sounds like you're next.

I can just see it now - Vaughters laughing maniacally as he polishes all of the framed Toto prints of himself.

 
Twit’s so couch

Another merchandising clause revealed in BMC rider contracts, Cadel’s stuff: first Frei now Hincapie: “Just finished @CadelOfficial book."close to flying" really enjoyed reading it. Check it out....”

Wiggins all about the brands now he’s at Sky:

“Off to watch Chelsea at The bridge with the family courtesy of those lovely people at Sky” (oooh, how ironic)
And this wasn’t in the airport so he wasn’t even forced to go there:

“Sat having coffee in starbucks on castle st, Liverpool with Mrs”
Then these too:

My little boy is flying his patriotic flag this morning wearing his full England away strip 12:45 AM Mar 13th via mobile web

Blimey, this eurovision lark is amazing! 1:59 PM Mar 12th via mobile web

BA Lounge in Manchester airport with the kids running a muck!
It’s understandable, if he stayed at Garmin, all he’d have is a pair of those glasses that stay dark well after you go inside out of the sun.  Not cool. Marginal gains.

Friday, March 5, 2010

That's so couch - 5th March 2010

Cycling Weekly: name change? and the Siege of Harfleur

For some reason, some of us still hold out hope Cycling Weekly aims to bring us cycling coverage from the world.  It'll just be easier for all involved if they change their name to Roleur Brittania or something equally spiffing, maybe even Argyle News (which covers their references to all things Garmin-Transitions and David Millar).  In this week's CW: 
NEWS
Team Sky toast Juan Antonio Flecha’s Het Nieuwsblad victory
Bradley Wiggins looking good at Ruta del Sol
Who’s in the 2010 Tour Series?

FEATURE
We join British team Endura at the Tour du Haut Var
Their Tweets weren't as bad.  This morning I counted that out of 16 tweets, 10 were about something British or Garmin.  Here's some of them (direct quotes, I'm not couching it up):

"Russell Downing 8th and Ian Wilkinson 10th in Tour of Murcia"
"Wiggins finishes in the main bunch"

Here's the couchiest one I found last week though:

“Cavendish and Wiggins battle through rainstorms in Andalusia.”

Reminds me of:
Once more unto the breach dear friends…..
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother
Except this whole blood brothers thing does not extend to the relationships between Lionel Birnie and Wiggins or at this stage Wiggins and Millar.

Graeme goes bananas over Robbie - the other one

After finishing second, a second day in a row, and to another Robbie, it was all too much for 2009 Murcia double stage winner Graeme Brown, so he did what he does best – mouthed off– even lodging a complaint. Now I haven't yet seen footage of the final sprint, so he could be innocent. Until that is proven, I'm going with the Robbie Hunter version of events and agreeing with his advice about where to ride in a sprint:



Spirited Robbie, but crazy?  Is riding your bike at a commissaire crazy?  Let's hear from the man himself, as reported in AAP 13 Jan 2010? "Just to be in the right position to start your sprint you've got to go bananas...you've got to flick the switch, flick the brain off and go for it."   Surely Graeme, Robbie, Robbie, Baden and the commissaire can't be wrong?

A sprinter and a gentleman

But Robbie Hunter doesn’t get away from the couch treatment this week either. He’d been moaning all day about how long it took him to get to the land of frites and mayo, so to feel better he wished somebody else a comfortable journey home:



 
New segment - Lance-a-lot-a-lot AKA why follow him on Twitter or read about him in any of the cycling publications, if you can get it all here in one convenient place:

- LA travelled to Valencia (that's in Spain he tells us) for JB’s son’s baptism.  He posted a pic with this caption:

"a good place for a baptism”

and here's the pic:


Unconfirmed sources say the service was not only conducted in Latin and Spanish but a long lost dialect from that shitty little town that that skinny little kid never leaves (so JB couldn't interpret) and JB junior was not baptised into the Lord but instead the priest said: “there can be only one rider….you are baptised unto the cycling LORD, Alberto Contador…you shall not worship Lance nor shop at The Shack”

- Some cycling publications also ran the story in the last few days that Lance's current focus is just the time trial.  How is that news? He's been posting pics to his twitter account and so on for weeks now about focusing on the time trial.  Are...they..merely...increasing...traffic...by..mentioning...Lance? Or was it a ploy by Lance in case he finishes well down the GC at Murcia?  And because other GC contenders for the Tour such as Cadel, Alberto and Mick Rogers and Levi have all RACED well thus far - oh yeah, and can time trial, would he cover his arse by saying "My number one priority isn’t cycling."  Glad he got off the couch then to show Sastre how to ride.

On the buses – AKA Mine’s bigger than yours


The Shack

Alternate uses: picking up the kids and the missus from the airport.  


BMC

Alternate uses: mobile sewing factory for Hincapie's clothing range.


 Team Sky

(team sky website)

Alternate uses: for plotting The Empire's return to its former glory.  Colonials welcome again for the fight.  First stop, Argentina.

Couchiest quote:  this comment was left on Lance's twitpic after posting the picture of The Shack bus:

"That bus just isn't as cool when you actually have to work for Radioshack." (@katyjo81)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne

Glad I was tucked up in bed and on the other side of the world when this was race on…sort of:

Kuurne Brussel Kuurne 28/02/10 from An Wauters on Vimeo.