Monday, December 27, 2010

Loved and Hated it, Pro Cycling in 2010

A wild year in Pro Cycling to say the least - from Tour Down Under all the way through to the Worlds it was a very unique season.

5 things I enjoyed in 2010:

1. Cadel actually attacking in races!

You would find no bigger critic of Cadel Evans prior to his win at the Worlds.  I used to say he might as well ride a Hoover since he only sucked on wheels.  I always thought he was a very talented rider that was just happy to be on the podium.  It didn't help that he talks like an Aussie Mike Tyson and blows up in front of TV cameras as often as Lindsey Lohan.  I was even a member of a group on Facebook titled "Cadel needs to grow a pair".  I have to say his riding blew me away in 2010 and I am no longer a member of this group.  Watching Cadel come around Conta at Fleche' was amazing! That was my favorite race finish all year. Then he earned big points as a hard man by winning the EPIC and nasty stage 7 of the Giro.  Bravo Cadel!

2. Lance on the cobbles chasing at the Tour de France.

I will never apologize for being an Armstrong fan.  I have always said of athletes like MJ or any of the boxers that made comebacks, that it is their talent and gift to use up as they see fit. Some think that Jordan's time as Wizard was a failure.  I still remember he dropped 50 points in a game as a Wizard and mentored a guy named Rip Hamilton that went on to win a ring. The Tour did not go as as anyone would have predicted for Lance.  To see him raging on the cobbles reminded  me of the killer instinct that got me to watch him since 99. To see that max effort after the flat tire was to once again see him fly like he did on Sestriere. I will also give him props for finishing the race and not letting Lemond's prediction become true.  Love him or hate him, you watched! 

3.  FABIAN THE MACHINE!




What can I say - he made my 2 favorite races of the year into boring affairs as he just ripped the legs off the field.  He timed his attacks to perfection and left everyone looking for 2nd place. 






4.  Vino being back to being Vino:



I know, I know, a majority of you hate Vino.  I have to ask why?  Is it because he is like a cycling version of a Bond villian?  The doping?  If it the Bond villain thing, I guess that's fair because he really is that type of character.  If it is the doping, I would just ask you if you supported Basso's comeback.  I am way better with Vino's attempts to deny, then finally admitting to his "dark years", than I am with Basso's Clintonian  style "I only thought about doping" after he won the Giro by NINE minutes.  If Basso get's another chance at glory and race wins, so should Vino.  I am a bit biased, as I have been on 2 stages at the Tour that Vino has won and I have always liked his "Damn the Torpedoes" style.  He has a bit of Cannibal going on and I kinda dig it.  It think the sport is better with Vino as a character (assuming that he is as clean as the next former doper). Watching him win Liege to a chorus of boos was cool and shitty at the same time.

5. Young Guns taking USA jersey's:


The future of USA cycling is very bright with Taylor Phinney and Ben King taking out all the USA championship jersey's for 2010.  I was blown away that 2 under 23 riders could take the TT and Road Jerseys. I look forward to one or both of these guys racking up some big pro races in Europe.




The 5 things I hated in 2010:

1. Stage 17 of the Tour de France:


I was looking forward to an all out war between Schleck and Conta after "Chain Gate".  Andy has been fuming with his "Stomach Full of Anger" and I thought this could lead to one of the greatest stages ever.  What I got instead was a tit for tat race up the mountain with Conta gifting Andy the stage.  I was stunned as I watched the finish.  I could not believe that Andy not only took the gift, but posted up (worst looking post up in cycling! He looks like a constipated version of DJ Qualls) as he crossed the line.  Conta gave up a stage and made Andy his bitch and BFF all in one well played move. As @HeidiSwift  tweeted after the stage "They must have had amazing make up sex." Pisterleo is one of the shiftiest guys to ride on 2 wheels.  Many times he did not see "it" or could not hear "it" in his radio and apologizes for "it" as he goes on to win.  This was another example of a skill set unique to Conta.

2.  WTF is up with that kit?

Fotton Servetto shocked the world of all things tasteful at the Tour Down under.  In a move that would not even have been supported by the GAP or zoo keepers they showed up in khaki Lycra.  In one way I can respect the concept of a kit so effing ugly your riders are ravenous to get into ANY leaders jersey or National Champions jersey.  Other than motivation to get out of this kit, it was just wrong to have pro athletes rolling in kits that appeared to have their asses hanging out of them.  This kit karma came back to bite them in the ass as they were denied a Pro Tour license this year.  As we say at Handlebar Mustache,  "If it's not PRO, it's a HELL NO!" and this kit was far from pro!

3. The Spanish Cycling Federation:




The fact the Alejandro "Valvpitti" Valverde was still racing and taking wins and money from other pro riders in 2010 is enough reason to hate the Spanish Federation.  They are the only county in the world that seems to be out to hide and protect their athletes.  Even the Kazaks and Chinese will suspend their riders without having to go all the way to the CAS.  I am convinced the Spanish would defend one of their riders even if they took a transfusion on the podium.  The country that brought you  Dr. Fuentez and Manalo Saiz now has the Clenbuterol steak affair to deal with.  Bets on if Conta's case has to go all the way to the CAS?

4.  The Giro Prolight helmet:

Especially in ORANGE!  I don't care how light this lid is.  I don't care if it has more vents than other helmets.  I don't care if it has performacne enhancing herbes built into it.  It looks like a $10 child's helmet from Walmart.  In orange it makes even a cool cat like David Millar look like an Umpa Lumpa. If you head is that heavy shave it and just stick to the Ionos guys!








5.  Bjarne "Mr. 60" Riis being Bjarne Riis:



I have always wondered how Riis can keep falling into dookie and come up smelling like he is wearing Sex Panther.  A few historical highlights of Mr. 60:
* The 1996 Tour winner that admitted to doping in order to win that Tour
* Directs Ivan Basso to a win the Giro by 9 minutes then he get busted in Operation Puerto 2 months later.  Riis drops him like a bad habit.
* Is linked to a 7 thousand Euro payment to Dr. Fuentez for Frank Schleck's "training plans"

2010: He negotiated with Alberto Contador while his rider Andy Schleck was battling it out for the overall with him at the Tour.  He sends home long time great teammates Staurt O' Grady and Andy Schleck from the Vuelta for "staying out too late". Obviously a huge moralist, I am sure Bjarne would have played this the same way if these guys were riding for Saxo in 2011. All that said, he still is able to secure sponsors when others teams drop like flies.  Bjarne must have pictures of several really high level people doing some pretty interesting things.

2011 brings new sponsors, new teams, new gear, new talent and a ton of opportunity.  We are sure there will be more drama on and off the roads.  We are confident that it will be a very interesting season ahead and it starts in just a few weeks.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

1 day riders > GC riders







Super Model Stephanie Clerckx (when asked what she thought of the "make up" after Chain Gate)




After reading yet another Andy Schleck interview where he talks about being disappointed yet content. I had a realization about my own views on Pro Cyling. Over the last 11 years I  have changed quite a bit..on the road and off the road.  The Grand Tours is what hooked me, and the main thing I used to watch.  Then I quickly discovered the Classics and watched those as well.  I was a huge fan of several GC riders and pulled for certain guys in the Classics.

Fast forward to 2010 and I am ALL IN as a fan of 1 day riders like Stijn, Fabian and Boonen.  The GC guy's are not what I remember with Armstrong vs Ullrich with Pantani thrown in there.  Those guys had real deal battles and some deep feuds.  The current GC riders ]are not close to legendary hard men like Merckx or Hinault. There is no "Patron" these days and Tour 2010 showed us that.  Perhaps Cippo is right and the GC guys are now on the "soft" side.  Here is a part from his recent interview with Cyclingnews.com: 

“Seeing Schleck and Contador embrace on the Tourmalet after crossing the line and then seeing Contador affectionately pinch Schleck’s cheek during his interview was unreal for me,” Cipollini exclaimed. “Logically, Schleck should have been raging; he had just lost the Tour after all."
“After the chain slip incident on the Port de Bal├Ęs, he should have attacked the Spaniard day after day, in front of the microphones and on the air too, without giving him time to piss!”

Hard to argue after seeing Andy go from a "Stomach full of anger" to "We are still good friends" in 24hrs. Conta gave him the you just won a stage and are now my bitch gift at the top of the Tourmalet.   I had been waiting and waiting and hoping to see the next great Tour shoot out but instead I got the bromance ending.  Cippo also dropped the mangina line on us with this one:
“I read an interview with Umberto Veronesi, a scientist, a reputed oncologist and Minister for Health,” Cipollini continued. “In five hundred years or more, human beings might have both sets of genitalia, male and female. I don’t want this evolution to have started already in cycling…”

Compare that to guys that train in crappy weather, crash on cobbles and attack each other every chance they get.  The current generation of Classic guys are as hard as the guys that came before them.  Sparticus is a hard core cat that will rip your legs off.  Boonen will go all out on the cobbles and go toe to toe with Cav in a sprint.  Stijn's back to back wins at the Ronde are two of my favorite races of the decade.  I recently saw this quote from Devolder about staying in Belgium while teammates go to warmer places to train. “It is not so cold that you freeze on to your bike. You go from a temperature of zero (Celsius) to minus one and you’re not dead; It hardens your character.”

Hoping for a great year of Pro-cycling in 2011, but I will be paying a bit more attention in April than in July this year.  I will be paying more attention to the guys training right now on the bergs and cobbles or sweating it out on rollers.  I will be a little less attentive to these guys in July.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How many of us used to be Sk8ers?

Not feeling too perky today; I have some weird headache, nausea thing going on...so I have been sitting around and started watching Dogtown and Z Boyz. It got me thinking about many cyclists I have ridden with that were skaters in their youth.  What's the connection? The freedom? The challenge? Culture?

I remember my first bike and my first board.  I put the first away for many years and got deep into skating.  I will NEVER forget buying that hot pink Tommy Guerrero board.




What followed was....

A ton of learning:

It was so damn hard to learn how to ollie but once I got that, it was on.  I had a burning desire to skate every chance I got. 8hr a day in the summer was the norm, and skating until sun down after school was a nightly thing.  If the weather in KC was bad we would try it anyway.  That worked until the grip tape got wet, then it was off to someone's basement.  We watched videos and copied what we saw.  As Henry Rollin's said in the Dogtown movie, those magazines were an escape to a place with good weather and amazing skating. Best thing about skating was that you were never done learning and trying to improve.

Some removal of skin:

If you skated, you crashed and got torn up some - it just happened.  We probably missed more tricks than we landed, but we didn't care.  We were willing to take risks to land the trick and impress our friends.


Being part of the community and a culture:

Kids that didn't skate, didn't get it and we were glad they didn't.  I can't recall how many times I was asked about my long bangs, skate shirts, notebook stickers and torn up shoes.  I heard, "Skate or die" yelled from every angle by every jock/prep I ever knew.  But, put 2 skaters to together and we could talk, skate and watch each others backs.










Geeked on the gear:

I can't really put into words the excitement I would get walking into a skate shop to buy a new deck or trucks.  I remember trying to save up and be the 1st one with a new H-Street Matt Hensley.  You bought the best coolest gear and then went and put it in harms way.

Any of this sound familiar as a cyclist?

Learning, I am still learning and get something out of having my ass handed to me by faster riders.

Losing some skin...done some of that on a bike too! Can't wait to heal enough to get back on the bike.


Community: Shaved legs, odd tan lines, talking wattage or gradient - I would say we are part of a unique community the non-cyclists don't get.  The same guy that didn't understand my Search for Animal Chin tee has no clue why my shirt  now says SHUT UP LEGS! Now the stickers that confuse are on my car instead of my Trapper Keeper. Tell a non-cycling co-worker you rode 70 miles and they will be mind-blown like the Jr. High Baseball stud was by seeing you land a kick flip.  Getting cross with motorists now instead of jocks, but still feel a bit better when others are out there with you.



Geeked on the Gear..YES!!! I get the same feeling when I buy a new frame that I used to get when I was spent saved up change for a deck at age 13.

They both use my legs, get me outside and change the way I look at the world.  Both have been true passions and sucked me into their cultures.  I was never the best skater, but I was pretty solid. Same with cycling - I will never be the fastest guy, but I can put in a dig and I will keep trying.

PS- I still hate posers!

Here is to staying young at heart and never outgrowing your desire to get better and be a bit different!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

How to make your ride hotter than Tom Bonnen's Lambo!


I have to admit many dollars were misspent in my youth on cars.  It was my 2nd passion and I had a blast (almost died a few times, but still had a blast). I might have even dropped lines like the horrible quote from Dom in Fast and Furious "I live my life a quarter mile at a time".  I made a clean break from that part of my life and have been driving very normal "tame" cars for 11 years.  I now spend all my "extra" money on bikes and I get healthier while doing it.



Do I ever miss turning heads at a stop light?  Do I miss the looks of envy in a parking lot...on occasion.  Now I have that back, and for only $3! 

What did I do to my 07 base model Subura Imprezza to make it hotter than Tom Boonen's Lambo with a 17 year old hottie in the passenger seat?  How did I make my car 312% sexier? 



I dropped on a few of these stickers from the guys at Ritte Van Vlaanderen and instantly my car could wear this license plate (probably won't but, it could!)  I have to keep the doors locked at all times to keep the young ladies from piling in.  What will happen when I add my Bosberg to the roof rack?  I'll let you know when it arrives in early 2011!



Want to make anything sexier and much more Belgian? Here is the place http://www.ritteracing.com/

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Contafecta?

My gut reaction to Contador's statement that he would attempt to win all 3 Grand Tours in a year was to mutter...Bullshiiitttt! Then I started thinking about his Grand Tour wins; my perception was that other than the 2009 Tour they were all VERY close (including his 1st Tour when the Chicken got pulled while leading by by 3:10).  I did a bit of research and here is what I found:

2007 Tour de France margin of victory 23" over Cadel Evans

2008 Giro margin of victory 1'57" over Ricardo Ricco'

2008 Vuelta margin of vistory 46" over Levi Leipheimer

2009 Tour de France  margin of victory 4'11" over Andy Schleck

2010 Tour de France margin of victory  31" over Andy Schleck

Not really sure why he would attempt to win all 3 Tours rather than focus on winning by say more than 30 seconds.  With his "Stomach Full of Anger" I am sure Andy will be focused on the Tour, and now Basso will make the Tour his main goal.  What is Pistolero thinking trying to win the Giro..recover...win the Tour...recover and then win the Vuelta?  I'm not sure what his training plan will be or what his new director, Mr. 60 has up his sleeve, but I am concerned it may not be exactly "legal".




It appears that they are using some kind of crazy science experiments on one of Conta's entourage.  Look closely at this photo the poor man now has 2 sets of eyes on top of his head...what was the goal a 3rd lung? a 2nd heart?  Pretty scary stuff!