Friday, 2 July 2010

Shifting Blogospheres

OK. I've been a little distracted and we've moved on a little blog-wise.
The bulk of Rouleur blogging is now at this blog so jump over. I'll work out what I do with this little beauty soon.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Race radio

Teams may not like the idea of racing without radios, but I do. Radio contact with a DS is essentially taking the guess work and risk taking out of cycle racing and that's the beginning and end of the story – no really, it is. The safety argument is a red herring, it's the fact that many of the riders are loose cannons without them, that's why the team managers want them and the control of the team hinges around using them. The managers are freaked out by the possibility of a rider messing up publicly. But why?

Before race radios, big days sometimes became big wins (Eros Poli was able to win the stage over Ventoux, or when Gilbert Duclos-Lasalle made that really long break) this sort of escapade would never happen now with radios. On the other hand neither would the deal making that goes on between teams be as easy to control and neither would Mark Cavendish's lead out train. Although I think the Columbia boys would manage OK. 

Riders from the sixties, seventies and eighties had far more to gain by taking risks, but the racing was far more open. Without radios the racing was far more unpredictable and exciting, but it also threw up surprises and encouraged attacking rides. There are very few riders these days willing to risk it all (even the wrath of their DS) and have a big dig if their legs are feeling good. Managing a team is the role of the DS and the team captain, that could be the compromise; just one rider with a radio? Not sure that would be much good either.

Some reckon that the racing would appear more 'amateur'. Well with the wired-up automatons in the peloton marking each other and watching their power/wattage/HRM and asking the DS if they can pee... it's not really a 'sport' anymore, more a methodology and a controlled experiment. And let's not mention the WWF style 'set up' finales – I think amateur and exciting may be a great improvement.

The argument seems to be setting up a big fall-out with the riders, but the Tour have realised that if the race is to remain 'interesting' they have to take some drastic steps. OK so the drama is there this year, and the fact that there are a fewin there who could still win, but how much of this is media hype and how much is actual racing incident? 

What has actually happened yet?

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Manx Mario's new bike

Cavendish's latest Scott bike paint-job has been designed by Justin Greenleaf, who works with us, from time to time (among many others). I quite like the idea of a sprinter being like a flying ace, just as long as he doesn't win too many stages as his top tube ain't that long...

BTW I have several thousand pictures from the Tour and will be working through them all in the next day or so (rest day probably). Just need to work out how to do a slide show or something on Blogspot... stay tuned.

Le Modfather

“A lot of guys are going to be thinking. 'What's Wiggins been doing?” That's unfortunate but I'm not Schumacher, I'm not Bernhard Kohl. I've worked hard for this.” 

Bradley Wiggins is on fire. His finish in Arcalis was really, really good, perhaps the best bit of riding from a british rider in a long while, certainly in the mountains at a Grand Tour. The Stage to Andorra threw up only a slight shift in the overall and wasn't as tough as I'd hoped. The Astana train is taking on this Tour head-on and perhaps, in the process, taking itself on too. Contador was definitely 'off-message' as you could see by LA's face as he crossed the line, he was not happy.

My call was Sastre to win, but he seems to have lost his spark. The chances of seeing attacks coming now will be limited to the Alps and The Geant of Provence. That should be even more exciting as this race builds the tension.

I walked the last five kilometres of the course and it was pretty quiet, no big groups of Spanish or Basques, just some over exuberant Norwegians in fancy dress and my first sighting of the devil. 

Pretty run of the mill crowds for such a fabulous finish. Like Monaco, this tax haven hardly needs (or wants) the attention.

But for me the story is all about Wiggo, forget the Astana soap opera, I reckon that if Bradley can keep this up (which is a big, big ask) he may even see the top five in Paris, the best performance at the Tour for a british rider since Robert Millar in 1984, how cool would that be?

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Les Baroudeurs

The Tour rolls on and the race continues to throw up surprises. One was Tommy Voeckler's win into Perpignan. It was a text book finish from a rider who has never really realised that there is a text book on bike racing. It was, believe it or not, his first Tour stage win. Now I know he has his critics, but to be brutally honest where would French cycling be without the panache of this man?

Attacking from the gun may be a good idea in a crit or a track scratch race, but this guy always 'throws one in' with around 200 kilometers to go. He reminds me of Claudio Chiappucci, another rider who never won much, but always had a dig. Thanks to them race radios and team tactics get forgotten for a day and you can see a rider relying on brute strength and ignorance.

Stage six was another seat-of-the pants ride from David Millar who was showing some good form on the roads around his home town of Girona. It was exciting stuff and the 'will he, won't he' was only foiled by a long boulevard and some interesting chasing from Astana – I'm beginning to despair of the turquoise terrors. I was hoping for a last minute charge from Wiggo, but alas not, he must be saving himself for Andorra.

A new yellow jersey will be on the podium this time tomorrow.