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Friday, July 16, 2010

That's so couch/TDF

The Millar Diaries:

Stage 9

Dear Diary

I told people I rode with hurt ribs and other bones because I don't think the cycling community is ready for the truth.  I came 181st because: all 180 riders in front of me are dirty, dirty dopers.  Not even the ones wearing the blue bracelets are clean.  I'm the only clean rider in that dirty, dirty peloton.

The Bogan Bracelet - Wiggins nurtures his Aussie roots?

Speaking of another type of bracelet, Wiggins has been spotted wearing the, wait for it, The...Power...Balance...Band. Tourdecouch was intrigued as to what the Power Balance Band was and after googling found this on...The...Power...Balance...Band....website:
Power Balance is designed to work with your body's natural energy field.  The hologram in Power Balance is designed to resonate with and respond to the natural energy field of the body.

Oh dear, it's starting to sound like a bit of a con.  I discovered that even Today Tonight  - an Australian tabloid current affairs TV program - says it's a bit of a con, and them saying something like that is the equivalent of Fox News supporting something Obama says.

I also found this link on the first results page of Google:

This says that only bogans, e.g. Australian rugby league footballers, wear the band.  I quote from the website:
"in its unending quest to be as xtreme as possible, there is no gimmick too improbable, no shortcut too astounding, and no celebrity endorsement too smarmy for the bogan...Currently, the bogan is being lured by the promise of up to “500% more power, flexibility, and strength”. All from wearing a rubber wristband with holograms on it. Even the bogan is initially skeptical about such a claim, but its mind is instantly put at ease when it sees that there are celebrity sports stars endorsing it."

What is a bogan, non Australian readers ask?  It's sort of like a chav, a pykey, a redneck.

When this was put to Wiggo he was appropriately surprised and said "I just didn't want to wear one of those f*king yellow or blue wrist bands."


Precious Pants

We've been startled by the accounts in the past ten days of the tour by the 'toughness' of the riders. Riders finishing gruelling stages with fractured elbows, ribs, penises, faces, and collarbones. They are very tough.  Cyclists are tough enough to ride in these conditions but they can't ride on cobbles?

Frank Schleck said, no, they cannot. The ASO was 'playing with riders lives' by staging some of the tour in the Ardennes and on the cobbles. 


Ex rider,Phil Anderson - who I'm pretty sure isn't an armchair critic hanging out in cycling forums while wearing no underpants using his PC - said "we rode cobbles all the time...we rode the alps, the pyrenees, and the cobbles, they're just being precious."

Tourdecouch said 'Frank, get thee to a spin class.' 


The Tour isn't a Gladiator Arena
 
Barredo - reacting to being elbowed by Costa out on the road in the closing kilometres - decided to start something after that day's stage.  We've all seen the footage and can clearly surmise that yes riders are tough, except when they are fighting.  So we all laughed at these men in lycra trying to cause damage to each other with a front wheel and an open handed slap.

But these skills are obviously practised by riders, check this out:




QOTW

"Why do all PRO cyclists punch like cats on LSD'  Simon Lamb, from popular blog La Gazetta Della Bici

Mark Renshaw's new title:
The Man in Front of the Man from the Isle of Man With a Little Too Much Man?


Friday, July 9, 2010

That's so couch/TDF -LA's Sheryl Crow impersonation, I come bearing gifts, WAG bra strikes

Caption Competition

As it was nothing, and it is "irresponsible to say anything different" I haven't posted 'that' photo of a big scary monster bullying a skinny little kid.  I'm also concerned they might ask me to take it down, as it was rumoured Twitter was asked to do.  So here's my impressionist-esque view:




So, what was really being said:


a) Still waiting on the watch bitch...you even gave Horner one...

b) You didn't say anything to the feds about our coffee with the UCI tester last year did you?  Did you?!!!
c) crash...crash....crash...CRASH
d) Grrr...your ad with Andy is WAY BETTER THAN ANY OF MINE - I WAS ROFL 
e) shit Berty, I think a photographer just caught me in the middle of my 'Sheryl waking up in the morning' impersonation.Yeah, I know, it's pretty funny hey?  Oh that's good too Pistolero, 'Noone's strong enough to be her man when she's like that'  LOL.  


Forget the captions, Astana and Radioshack had their own versions of what was said:

'Lance, via his Press Manager Mark Higgins, Armstrong told VeloNews he hadn’t spoken with Contador — not during Tuesday’s stage, nor at any other point during the Tour.'
'Contador’s press manager Jacinto Vidarte told VeloNews via email, “Alberto asked Lance about the fall the previous day, how he was — just a little conversation, both inquiring about the health of each other.”
“They didn’t talk here, but they talk in the race,” Bruyneel said.


First the cobbles, then the mind games - Alberto the all-arounder


He came bearing gifts.  Lance said he didn't talk to him,  he was in the middle of ahem, something else. Johan said it was a nice gesture and that Alberto has been messaging them to arrange the giving of the gifts all year, but didn't say what the gifts were. Fran said they were watches, like the ones he gave the rest of the team last year, but JB/LA missed out on getting theirs because they were at another party. Alberto's had a couple of times to give them their gifts, but he chose the Tour to do so, sans minders at the Radioshack bus, a couple of days after the cobbles stage, one stage after that photo, whether it wasn't what it appeared to be or not.  Alberto's not just a good climber.   

More on the gift:
Alberto hearing about Lance's new found love of a certain film series, changed the present and bought him a different watch.  Strangely enough it turned up later on ebay:


Condition: New with tags: A brand-new, unused, and unworn item in the original packaging.  Unwanted present.  Unwanted because I'm Team Beefcake. 

It does have engraving on it: "Dear Juan, Happy Retirement. You went to Paris last year and all you got was this watch. Cheers, Pistolero"

Bids start at $10,000 via chalkbot at www.livestrong.org/chalkbot 

QOTD



"Describes himself as having crashed down to earth from being on a cloud, which hurt badly.Says he's learned a big lesson." Cyclesport Mag's reporting of Cav's comments

"Great to see cav win today. His emotional response was the real cav. The one we all love and respect." George Hincapie 

"media gave him a lot of negative press the last 6 months, now (they'll) be blowing wind up him again  (that's what) probably rubs Wiggo the wrong way...fairly hypocritical but that's the job." Robbie McEwen


WAGs bra strike

Forget cobbles and Holland's narrow roads, there's a far more dangerous peril out there for the peloton.  WAGs on bra strikes (G also stands for groupies).  How could they stay on their bikes after that? Gaining inspiration from new patron of the peloton, Fabian 'if he's not on BMC next year I will eat my vintage cycling cap' Cancellara, Chiara, patron of the WAGs, has initiated a regular bra strike:


"Just for girls: can I promote a 'bra free day'? I had enough of it! Men can't understand.."
"Ok girls, Bra Free Day has officially started! just make sure u don't go into air conditioned rooms or where it's too cold.....he he ;o)" 


Cadel nearly fell off his bike, or, sent his missus an intimate message:


"@cadelofficial hey, aren't you supposed to race? don't get distracted mate!" Chiara tweeted back.  Can you blame the man? He's a World Champion but he's still human. 


And we know riders can get a bit lonely.  Part homo erotic, part dante's cove, if you're not laughing by the time the saxophone cranks up in the background, you're not human:



Thursday, July 8, 2010

That's bike racing

















It's hard to watch Lance on the cobbles and not get just a little bit excited.  I had the same experience watching him race in the Tour of Flanders this year.

Stage 3 saw him riding in the gutter, tired, punctured and eventually alone. Here, he is more vulnerable; here, he is just Lance, the bike rider. No bullying, no Johan (only on the radio), no mind games, no solicitors and no formidable team.  He powered over those cobbles and ensured the 1.51 deficit to Cadel blew out no further.

Seeing him ride like that, I can't help wonder what might have been had he focused on more than just the Tour each year and ridden more of the Classics.  These thoughts were also recently pondered by Anthony Tan in a post for SBS Cycling Central who suggested he shouldn't have just focused on the Tour after his comeback. 


He probably would've won a few.  Imagine the exposure for the sport, the sport that runs from January to October every year.  Imagine then too the potential for the deeper knowledge of these Classics and their history among Lance fans. And then also imagine the other potential knock on effect - up and coming cyclists wanting to hone more than climbing or time trial skills. Then, imagine the implications for the Tour - the ASO would build it, and they would come - sans whingeing. 

Stuart O'Grady said recently Lance revolutionised what was possible in cycling and made the Tour his own. Others are anticipating the 'void' he will leave again when he retires, ahem, again.

But perhaps this is where the younger generation can make their own mark, by focusing less on July and returning to the more exciting era of all-round cyclists racing each other.  (Or, even still focusing just as much on July but because future Tours will be organised similar to this year's, more Classics are added to the calendar). 

This isn't such a stretch.  Look at what the feathers Schleck and Contador did in Stage 3.  Sure, Cancellara was pretty much giving Andy a dink but still. And even though he'd lost his brother Frank, his body language seemed to scream "I'm bloody loving this."   And who wouldn't?  Flanders and Roubaix champion driving you through the cobbles with the World Champion just nearby?  It's what cycling dreams are made of. 

And Contador.  Experts the world over were predicting he'd either crash or lose so much time not even a well timed attack in the mountains could save him. I thought at worst he'd lose about three minutes max but not the amount everyone thought he would. As an awesome time trialer, it's not hard to believe his ability to drive himself back like he did after being caught up in Frank's crash.  I also don't know why we all thought his bike handling skills would be so bad that he couldn't bunny hop when needed or stay alert and balanced. Hard to believe just one session with Pete van Petegem would produce that. It's instinctive. 

Let's not forget Cadel's ride, as if we could.  Big George and BMC moved him into position perfectly, and then he made his own luck. I don't know where Cadel will be on the podium this year, (I think somewhere on the podium is the only place he will be though) but one day Cadel will realise just how awesome a one day Classics rider he is and put more focus there in the years before he hangs up the black diadoras. 

It seems they are already getting the message.  They all rode Liege Bastogne Liege this year.  Schleck rides this race regularly, Cadel rode it after winning Fleche Wallone.  It's not cobbles but if you believe what some riders said after stage 2 - and I do - it is equally dangerous because of the narrow roads and tricky descents in a rainy region.  

But what about Fleche Wallone this year?  World Champion up against reigning Tour de France winner.  World Champion triumphed.  Like cycling duels of old.  This is the shot in the arm cycling needs.  Who wouldn't lap up more chances to see Tour GC rivals outside the Tour racing each other on all terrains.

Kloden and Jens had the hide to say we fans are sadists and want to see crashes.  On the contrary, we want to see clashes.  Not automatons controlled from the car by control freak DS's.  At the Tour too, we want to see not just the best climber or the best time trialler, we want to see the best all-rounder. We want to see the GC shaken up, not by crashes but by teams being unable to totally dominate all external factors.

I can't help but think guys like Schleck, Cadel and Contador are filled with an awesome sense of cycling history and want to ride more and more Classics.  So it's disappointing when 'some riders' as Phil Ligget said, and then said "I repeat, some riders" as well as DS's come out so hard against the ASO's choice of tour route for the first few days.

Wiggins too rode well on the cobbles.  But it was his pre Tour words to Michael Barry that fills me with the most hope. “I forgot how much I love riding the cobbles. It is a fantastic feeling.” Actually, do yourself a favour and read the whole post.  And tell any riders you might be in touch with to read it too. 

Instead of whingeing about the ASO including these stages in a three week tour, maybe more riders should concentrate on all round skills.  Or at least some of the basics. Like Cadel pointed out at the time, the Giro had crashes galore because of inexperienced cyclists.  And as Phil Ligget pointed out, this Tour has 60 debutantes.    

I'm also sick of the 'you don't know what it's like' line.  No, I don't understand what it's like.  But I listen to people who do - including current riders in the peloton.  And they say some of the complaining riders are being a little bit precious.

I love Jens and I understand his emotion losing Schleck like that, especially what could be their last tour together.  However, has everyone forgotten Jens' accident last year?  He cheated death.  It was on a descent.  Noone, especially he, called for the exclusion of climbs where descents are required. 

With crashes like these or other factors they are able to accept, cyclists say "that's bike racing."

So why can't this too be bike racing?  It once was. 

There is a place for cobbles in the Tour.  And there's a place for GC Tour riders in the Classics.

-------------------------------
Tweeps who put it best this week:

Nicholas O'Donnell
"Who is to say that the only characteristics of a Tour de France winner should be just a climber or time triallist or any combination of the two? Why shouldn’t a powerful and smart bike handler who can also climb and time trial not be able to use all of their skills to win? And why is it that those people whose knowledge of the Tour only extends as far back as the Armstrong years think that the ideal race is a procession over 3,600km of hot mix and should be decided by the guy who climbs the last hill fastest? I don’t. And fortunately, I’m in the vast majority.

And @brassyn in 140 characters

"You know the course in advance, you choose whether to race. Accidents can happen on flats, on downhills, on corners. Anytime"

Monday, July 5, 2010

Stage One - Carbon-ara

The 'sort of' Tour news round-up



 - Mechanics are said to be still out on the course untangling the carbon-ara from yesterday's crash 

- Many of the riders on twitter discuss what came first, crowds or the nerves?  Crazy crowds, nerves, crazy crowds, nerves.  They all bla...chose crowds.  Stage 1 of the tour, let's go with nerves, always there causing havoc in the first few stages.  

- HTC confirms Cav WAS in the briefing and was warned about the hairpin turn at the end. The team official said "but it's pointless trying to get him to listen while his head is stuck in all those historical books like the one  about Agincourt. He's crazy for that stuff."

(ispaphoto.com)

"Read books Cav, history books...."

- After the crashes, many outlets, commentators and reporters seemed only concerned about non-Spanish speaking GC contenders.  So how's Contador? "Oh, is English even his second language?"

 - English fans - or English players - still drunk from the World Cup got dressed up in Team Sky kit and then somehow managed to find the HTC bus.  They booed Cav and told him he was "sh*t".  Cav may or may not have shoved their vuvuzelas where they aren't likely to blow anymore.  R Downing was heard to have cheered Cav's move.

Bringing down cycling, one rider at a time - unleashed scandal mongrels continues to dog cycling 

Millar - I only tried to reach out to him.  I was just being nice.  Why did he try to bring me down like that?

Basso - I told him, my dog's name is Tarello. But he didn't believe me and persisted with this unexpected attack.   

The culprit:



This guy has also talked in an attempt to relieve his conscience.  This short grab from an interview with Wall Street Journal:



WSJ - so why didn't you talk earlier
Brian - I was dazzled by the strippers tits and the blow.  actually, i'm wasted now.  (giggles)


Phil/Paul Bingo
(Paraphrasing I actually didn't make this up, from last night's coverage)

Paul   - in the last few races we've seen Contador, Astana have been stronger than anyone's giving them credit for.  I think they will be really strong here at the Tour.  Phil?  

Phil - (silence...moves on to next topic)

No surprises
 - Mick Rogers' TDF campaign suffers a blow after Hansen, valuable towards the early climbs for Dodge as well as for Cav crashes out breaking his collarbone.  Even worse for Hansen himself though.  Awesome that he finished the stage, no surprises there too Croc Man.

- People downplayed Petacchi's win.  Rather unfair because looking at the footage from the overhead view, it was an intelligent ride. 

Surprises 

There's a country called Moldova?

QOTD

"At home, my Mamma Gaudilla turns off the TV in the last kilometres and then turns it on again after the sprint. She's afraid like me." Pettachi

"Adam displayed amazing loyalty to the team today by finishing the race and working extremely hard towards the end," Stapleton.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Prologue'd - I am the motor


I saw this photo on Marcelle's twitter from a week or so ago (no, this pic is not from the Tour) of a poor Milram rider (Linus?) drinking the sponsor's product at a press conference.  For some reason I was reminded of it because of a phrase likely to be bandied around this Tour more than ‘no credibility.’

No alarms and No surprises:
 - The Wall Street Journal doesn't have the new Woodward and Bernstein in their employ 
 - John Wilcockson in his Obama sloganed shirt writing about America trashing the world and cycling, but saying an Australian is responsible for that, despite that Australian's contribution to British cycling. Also not surprised he didn't say some other non-mennonite American has actually damaged cycling 
 - Radioshack did well in a flat TT prologue 
 - Andy didn't prologue well
 - Cancellera didn't have a motor in his bike
 - BMC and Cervelo having bad luck, already down to 8 riders.  Cervelo due to a rider choosing  immediate soothing bum comfort over asking permission first

Surprises
 - Phil Ligget screaming 'YES' when a certain rider's TT split was good.  Why am I surprised? Because he had words to Matt Keenan (Australia's younger virtuouso version of Phil/Paul) during the broadcast of the World Champs in October 2009 when Matt got excited about Cadel and the Australian team generally.  Phil said something to Matt about objectivity. 
- Wiggo - anorexic-esque (don't forget folks, the camera adds ten pounds!) Wiggo might have lost too much power for a stage he was expected to, well almost beat Cancellara.  Hopefully him being so skinny means he'll surprise us with new found awesome climbing skills, or maybe he might not reach the top 10.  

Other news:
- Team Sky announces it is unlikely to listen to weather forecasters ever again. 

QOTD
"After the race, they scanned my bike, and I said to them, ‘You better scan me, because I am the motor,' "-prologue winner Fabian Cancellara.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Eleven is the magic number

There are 11 Australians riding the Tour this year. Count them. You're going to need more than two hands. Yep, that's a record. Of course, we'd have 12 but some chav rode into his line and he crashed, and that's how that goes.

If you're not Australian, and your fave rider or countrymen are letting you down - jump on the bandwagon. We've got domestiques, sprinters, lead out men, all rounders and two GC contenders.

If you're Australian or not and you don't really know how to spot them in the peloton, here's what they look like on in their full kit, and their TDF 2010 race numbers. 

Stuey O'Grady - Saxobank
#    15



















(pic Bettini at Cycling News) 


Simon Gerrans  - Team Sky
#   35

(team sky website pic)

Wesley Sulzberger - Francaise Des Jeux
# 68

  
(daily peloton pic)

Robbie McEwen - Team Katusha
#75
  
cyclingnews.com


Brett Lancaster - Cervelo Test Team
#98

(lyne lamoureux) 



Matthew Lloyd - Omega Pharma Lotto 


#106



cyclingnews.com


Adam Hansen - Team HTC - Columbia
#114

(team highroadsports website)

Mark Renshaw - Team HTC - Columbia
#117

Mark is on the right, that's Cav on the left

(cyclingweekly.co.uk)


Mick Rogers - Team HTC - Columbia
#118



Cadel Evans - BMC Racing Team
#121



Luke Roberts - Milram
#146

(cyclingweekly.co.uk)




Choosing a fantasy team - rocket science?

After selecting my two teams for two different fantasy comps with a little bit of analysis and a little bit of ‘oh just pick someone already’, I asked some people how they choose their teams. Below I consider or experiment with some of the methods I was told about:  

1. I don’t do them they do my head in
Probably should’ve listened to her advice, as yes, sometimes they do mine in too

2. Hottitude/bums
Last year a tweep chose her fantasy team purely based on riders’ bums she liked. This year she’s choosing them based on the 'hottitude' above the bum region (maybe) and based on her fave riders.

If I used this method, I would have a team of big sprinters and roleurs because skinny bike riders don’t have the kind of bums I like. Although if I’m watching a time trial and the guys are wearing white or black skin suits, then I don’t get so nauseous. However, given the results some of us have with the teams we end up choosing, I'm not giving it a bum rap.

3. Eeny Meeny Myny Mo AKA dip dip dogshit
A tweep got some bagging out for her success in the Giro fantasy league. Another tweep accused her of using the dip dip dogshit method or as it’s more affectionately known at least in Australia, the politically incorrect (or at least the version I learnt growing up from my fairly bigoted grandfather) eeny meeny myny mo.

Wait as I choose a team like that based on the ASO final rider list: Janez Brakjovic, Roman Kreuziger, Anthony Roux, Rinaldo Nocentini, Mark Cavendish, Kevin de Weert, Cyril Gautier, Sebastian Minard, Bram Tankink.

An interesting list, not too shabby.

4. Blindfold pin on it
Again, I will test this method using the ASO list and by scrolling my iphone with my eyes closed I will tap on a name: Thomas Lokvist, Manuel Quinziato, Aleksandr Kuchynski, Levi Leipheimer, Christophe Riblon, Thomas Voeckler, Maarten Tjallingii, Aitor Perez Arrieta, Thomas Rohregger

This way, I get to know riders I’ve never heard of before.

5. SKILLZ  AKA rocket science
The tweep who was bagged out, this is how she responded, I used SKILLZ. 

Whtaever the method, it’s a total crapshoot - even rocket science, I mean look at all the failed launches. 

And it's all just for giggles. In the end I chose my teams based on a mix of riders who could possibly win stages and/or finish in the top 10 of some of the stages. But I could’ve used these methods and had a better chance. Time will tell.

However, I’m off to read up about Aitor Perez Arrieta and I will definitely be keeping a track of the two teams I chose above based on the points scoring system in the two fantasy comps I’m in.

If you're interested in joining these two comps and haven't yet, you still have time I think to enter but you better hurry:

http://tdf.sbs.com.au/tdf2010/fantasy

If you want to be in the Twitter Cup mini league for this comp, @ reply @nicodonnell

or join this comp

http://www.velogames.com/

If you want to be part of the LA GAZZETTA DELLO VELOCAST mini league, after registering and choosing your team, choose to join a mini league and type in the League Code: 30222040.