Some more thoughts about Vinokourov and Hincape

I’ve been thinking more about who will lead the Discovery team next year. Obviously for the Discovery team, the consideration isn’t about what’s best for American cycling, it’s about what’s the best use of their advertising dollar and which will get them the most press. But US Postal and now Discovery have been doubly blessed by having an American team lead by an American rider who is winning, and winning big in the biggest race in the sport. A lot of American sponsors have come and gone because they weren’t able to field a winning team or because their wins weren’t being done by an American.

If it came down to having an American rider leading but not winning, or having an non-American rider leading and winning, I don’t think either of those is going to be good for American cycling or Discovery. So I think they’ve got to go with Hincape and hope that in the next two weeks he proves himself capable of leading and winning.

A tale of two super domestiques

This time of year, I’m majorly enthralled by the Tour de France. I’m going to presume to explain a few things about professional cycle racing even though I’ve only been following it avidly for 7 years now (and a little less avidly back when one of the riders in the peleton was a guy I’d shared tips on preventing penile frostbite with). Some of this might be laughably wrong to people who are really into the sport, but it should be close enough for the rest of you.
Continue reading “A tale of two super domestiques”

Anecdotes from the Tour

Watching the Tour de France coverage the other day, a couple of riders were accidentally shown by the cameras on a “natural break” (normally they show something else when the riders stop to take care of the biological necessities), and Phil Ligget was talking about how the riders won’t attack when a rival is taking a “natural break”. Paul Sherwin said that when he was riding, there was one rider who frequently attacked at those situations, so one day when he was off his bike for a break, the other riders stole his bike and pushed it a few kilometers up the road before abandoning it in a ditch. The rider had to wait for his team car to give him a spare bike, and maybe learnt a bit of a lesson about pay-back.

Then Phil told a story about when he was racing, and there was a guy who used to sprint on ahead until he was out of sight of the peleton, and then he’d hide and wait, and rejoin the peleton, and then enjoy being sucked along as the peleton tried to chase down this break that they couldn’t seem to catch sight of. He said this would continue for a few minutes until somebody recognized him in the back of the peleton. I guess this was before the days of race radios.

Just a couple of amusing anecdotes to while away the days before the race begins in earnest, with the first mountain stage on Saturday.

It’s nice to see Lance in yellow again, though.

I have a theory about this year’s race. The two time trials in the early flat stages of the race make it seem like it was designed to make Lance and his team have to get yellow earlier than they like and force them to defend it. And then the fact that both Saturday and Sunday’s mountain stages have long downhills to the finish means that no matter what Lance does in the mountains, the other “big men” will have a chance to catch him back up for the finish. I think Tuesday stage with two 1st category climbs and a mountain top finish will be the one that really shows whether this is Lance Armstrong’s tour again.

Spring Update

Ah, Spring.

Last night Vicki and I went kayaking. It was great. Vicki used Baycreek’s new Hurricane Aquasports Tracer which looks like a really nice West Greenland style kayak, very similar lines to my Skerray or the Avocet she was using last year, but made of “Trylon” plastic using a new vacuum forming method. Surprisingly sharp bow for being plastic. So is my Skerray RMX, but Valley are famous for how good their rotomoulded kayaks are. We saw lots of geese, some guarding tiny fluffy goslings. Also saw swans, most of them in aggressive postures, swallows, red winged blackbirds, a flicker (which was a surprise) and a kingfisher (which was also a surprise). The river was fast, but not so high as to make the weir too challenging. The reeds are starting to come in, but they’re still low enough that we could see what was down the other branch when the creek diverged. We went pretty far, and my elbows aren’t that sore today.

As another highlight of spring, today was the first real mountain stage of the Giro D’Italia. It’s been great how the sprint stages have managed to avoid being “the Alessandro Petacchi show” that they were last year, but it’s good to be up to the part that matters, where the GC riders make or break. Basso did great today, and I was surprised to see Cunego lost ground to Simoni. I’m still mad that OLN TV isn’t covering it daily like they did last year. And the “live streaming” software only works on Windows and probably wouldn’t work through the company proxy server anyway, plus what’s the point without Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwin? It’s hard to get a real feel for what’s going on when all you’ve got is the web updates, but is doing a pretty good job.

And the third highlight is the Kodak Perigrine Falcons. I haven’t been following them as obsessively as I used to when I could compare notes with Maddy, but it’s good to see that they’ve hatched another 5 this year. Pigeons beware!