Monday, March 31, 2014

Beating Spartacus and Sagan - is it psychological?

Simon Gerrans with the self (and DS's) belief to beat a rider like Sagan, does in fact beat him
Pic: © Julie Davies

The Fabian elbow flick. Annoying right? But in the wee hours of Saturday morning of the E3 Harelbeke, I was flicking mine right with him.

Of course it usually goes: find yourself with Fabian Cancellara, don't pull a turn on the front because you're only bringing him back to a break he will beat, and/or, you're aiding him in ultimately breaking away from you.

For 1-6 riders in a group with him, this makes sense. On Friday's E3 however, these were some of his chase group companions:

Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin), Tony Gallopin (Lotto), Borut Bozic (Astana), Tyler Farrar (Garmin), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Tom Boonen (OPQS), Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto), Luca Paolini (Katusha), Degenkolb (Giant Shimano)

Of course, let's excuse EBH, Stybar and Boonen in that group too with team mates in the break up the road. And of course Devolder who buried himself for Fabian.  And maybe Paolini who tried something be it all too late. But what were some of the others thinking? Especially Lotto with two riders up there?

Where would Fabian exactly break away from them after the last climb? And in that group in a bunch sprint, who wouldn't be able to beat Sagan? Degenkolb? He beat him last night.

With a bit of cooperation, even the ones with more lead in their legs could have had a decent crack at chasing the lead group back. At one point with just the work of Spartacus and Devolder, the gap whittled down to 16-17 seconds.

I think the unbeatable nature of Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara affect is often psychological. And maybe not just for the riders but many teams' Directeurs Sportif. What were some of those orders from the car, and why?

Perhaps the race might not have ended differently for the lead group, especially with Thomas and Terpstra describing how they felt after the race. But I also wonder what might have been if "go for the podium" wasn't perhaps the order of the day.     

Friday, March 28, 2014

Citizens on Protrol - Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne

It seems every year my tweep, Natalie Muir, or Brassyn travels to Belgium for the Omloop/KBK weekend. So, it was a no brainer I asked her to do Citizens on Protrol. Nat's insights are written and snapped below. I know this was a little while ago now, but as cycling fans, do we ever really leave Belgium?  

I can't get with the mayo on chips. Belgium just can't convince me on that.

But the attitude and enthusiasm for bike racing however, I just love it.

I love being in Flanders and watching the first two cobbled races of the season.  It's a great area to be in and explore and absorb the atmosphere of everything that is going on, especially when there is a bike race taking place.

It's usually pretty cold and it mostly always rains but somehow that feels completely appropriate.  There is just a feel to it all that is hard to define but it's definitely palpable, especially that first gathering on the Saturday morning in Sint-Pietersplein in Gent.  Just a buzz of anticipation in the air.

Omloop - start
I like arriving super early and watching everything unfold as the crowd builds up. I say super early but I'm never the first person there at either of these races. I already see a few old men sitting at foldable wooden desks taking bets, and local fans in place, on the beer and with the cooked sausages on the go. And of course, lots of chips, and if this is your thing, some kind of dried or salty fish at the finish line in Kuurne.

Belgium was the first place I saw fans with complex files and folders, indexed postcards and highlighted notes, chasing down autographs to complete their collections. Bonkers, but in a good way. 

What I like about doing the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad/Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne weekend is that it's a full race experience. For both races you can enjoy the wonderful chaos of the start (one of my favourite things to do), watch the riders out on the road and/or the cobbles and still manage to make it to the finish in time to see how it all pans out.  It's not just watching and waiting for the peloton to go past and seeing the riders just once (which alone is exciting), it's taking in all different aspects of it at different points and really feeling quite totally immersed in it all.  It's a lot of rushing around - by choice! - to take everything in, but it's definitely worth it and it's a whole lot of fun.

Both Omloop and KBK allow you to get up close to pretty much everything.  You don't get all but you do get a lot of the same riders that will be at the official classics races but with lots of access and everyone within poking distance (I wouldn't recommend poking, it's just a handy measurement).

I like waiting for the team buses to arrive, enjoy watching the parking mayhem and team bus traffic jams, seeing the mechanics getting the bikes ready, watching what riders like heading out first, who talks to who, who is a bit grumpy, who happily chats to the fans, what team plays the worst music in the bus, who has brought their mum, or their dog, how truly terrible Garmin's POC glasses are up close and all that sort of stuff.

Bryan Coquard, KBK

Johan Vansummeren, KBK

Patrick Lefevre, KBK

Nikias Arndt, KBK

Lars Boom, Omloop

Yoan Offredo, KBK

Then of course there is the racing and the cobbles. It takes my breath away being that close to the peloton on the cobbles. A genuine mix of excitement and fear as they hammer over them so hard and everyone is standing so near. It's a complete thrill, it really is, just to see and feel the speed of everyone as they go past. I don't ever get used to that, happily so, it's always so exciting and impressive to watch.

Womens Omloop
Egidius Juodvalkis' bike - Team 3M - KBK

It's a perfect compact weekend of bike racing, seeing so many different riders and just generally enjoying everything.  Oh yes and KBK has the most fabulous plushy donkey prize that ever did plush. I covet it greatly.

Words and Pics: Natalie Muir

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Rusty Crank: What doesn't give me the right to ride on the road?

Tell me, Normie Alberts, what doesn't give us the right to ride on the road if the law does? Rego? Despite mountains of evidence to the contrary saying it's a bad idea given the money cycling contributes to the economy and how bike rego will cost more to administer than it raises, I'll pay it.

Then what will your attitude be? Tell me? Will you love us all and stop calling us faggots?

Why do you have this attitude where as a consequence of what you want to do to a cyclist, we could die?

Why does being in a car give you more of a right to be on the road than me?

Why would you rather murder me than wait 10-30 seconds to go around? 

Why does Bicycle NSW Chairman Alex Unwin say we shouldn't be there cycling on that road?  This today in the Herald Sun:
Chairman of Bicycle NSW, said he tried to avoid Southern Cross Drive at all costs, given the sheer weight of traffic on the road "The people and bikes weight something like a 100kg and they're going at a decent pace. Add trucks and heavy cars to the mix and you've got a recipe for disaster."
Why are there reports of the driver at the scene saying they were in the wrong lane? Um, really given there being more reports that is likely it was inattention? Why are there also reports of the cop at the scene allegedly saying it was the cyclists' fault?  Does the cop not allegedly know the road rules he is meant to uphold?

Why were there so many people yesterday on social media with the attitude of Normie Alberts, Unwin and allegedly the copper at the scene?

Tell me, what doesn't give me the right to ride on the road?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Our Chute Doc: Sky/OGE wars, Ginger Beard Wars and other shenanigans

Let the Chute Doc heal your wounds with a light hearted look at the world of cycling. A play on the word "chute", French for fall or crash, used a lot in cycling, and also an anagram of Tour de Couch. (This section was formerly known as That's So Couch.)

Ex pro roadie and now Australian champion cyclocrosser, Lisa Jacobs shows off her burgeoning peg collection:

What are they watching?

According to La Gazetta dello Sport, it was Oleg Tinkov's live broadcast in which he sent a message to Cannondale after kidnapping Peter Sagan:

Team Sky vs Orica GreenEdge.

If you use Twitter and you live under a tree, perhaps you haven't yet heard of #skyvoge. It's marketing genius but some of us know that and are already bored. But in case you aren't, what could it possibly be? We find out Monday, but in this teaser it looks like a load of pub games.

The twitter and other social media trash talk is already at fever pitch. Now, if it was based on teams with "dodgy (but they're probably reformed now) past staffers", Sky would be kicking themselves for getting rid of Leinders, Yates, de Jongh and Julich. They'd be 4-2 already over GreenEdge.

Maybe there's also a Xenon chug off - WADA hasn't said it's illegal yet. 

While one rivalry fires up, another one has been put to rest. Froomedog v Wiggo. Apparently Wiggins has apologised to his better, and seems pretty zen:

But I think he has just refocused his angst and now sees Luco Paoloini as his rival...for the best ginger beard.

Here's Luca's luscious locks:

It is said that Wiggins challenged to Luca and Simon Geschke to a game of this:

...but he knew he couldn't win, especially after he saw Luca was able to beard Pozzatto:

...and he pulled out before he really had a chance to even compete.

Tweets of the Week:

And this one for the NAWWWWWW factor:

I leave you with this video of Lee Lin Chin's Oscars special. Of course there's no relevance to cycling, well apart from Matthew Mcconaughey probably once played bongos with Lance, but it's not the first time this week  someone in cycling has milked an irrelevant event.