VinoVelo

Apart from family, what could be more important than wine and bikes? Of course, there might be the odd rant about other topics on here too...

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Discovery strength

I suppose it's inevitable that the media will take Savoldelli and Popovychs' wins last week to point to the strength of the Discovery Channel team, but it seems laughable in some ways considering the number of times the camera showed Savoldelli on an incline with a team mate alongside him. Admittedly, Discovery couldn't predict Danielson's knee problems, and that Armstrong will have the support of both Savoldelli and Popovych for the tour, certainly shows considerable bench strength. It just seems so obvious to say that Discovery is so strong, when, in Savoldelli's case at least, it was the rider and not the team that was strong.

Head-turning arses and patisseries

Great article on commuting by bike (British humor so not sure how well it will go over. Put it this way, if you don't think this has the potential to be funny - If your head is turned by arses and patisseries, maybe you should take public transport - then don't read the article

Doesn't trip off the tongue like ofoto, but i'll take the free Serotta...

If anyone is going to be at the US pro championships in Philly on Sunday (June 5), might be worth swinging by the Kodak EasyShare Gallery/Sierra Nevada booth in the Expo to enter to win a Serotta bike. Doubt they'll make it custom for you, but I'd take it all the same.

Still baffles me why they threw away all of that brand equity that they had in ofoto to call it Kodak EasyShare Gallery - I can never remember the name of it and just type in ofoto...

Oh, and fixedgear, it's worth $3,500 in case any of your riding buddies are wondering ;-)

Mountain biking at Sundance

Bike Me has a post about a documentary that Gregg Betonte and Vernon Felton are developing on the history of mountain biking. They hope to preview “Klunker” (it's working title) at Sundance in either 2006 or 2007.

Ride for - or support - a cause

I got an email from the daughter of a lady named Maxine, who with a friend of hers is riding across Canada to raise money for the BC Lung Association. They are paying for the costs of the trip themselves and funds go directly to the charity. You can donate here.

Wachovia Cycling Series

The Wachovia cycling series kicks off in an hour in Lancaster, PA with 13 laps of a 7 mile circuit. It runs through this Sunday, June 5's USPRO Championship on Sunday in Philly. Fast Freddy, Bobby Julich, Max Vanheeswijk are back/here from Europe, while Ireland is represented by Navigator's duo Ciaran Power and David O'Loughlin

Great first season for Discovery

How happy must the decision makers at the Discovery Channel be? While Lance has yet to turn a pedal in anger in 2005, their boys in silvery-blue have won the first grand tour of the year, the Dodge Tour de Georgia, the Volta a Catalunya, the Three Days of La Panne and Kurne Brussels Kurne as well as second places at Paris–Roubaix and the Dwars door Vlaanderen, and several stages in several races! Not a bad start to the season, I'd say. Demonstrating the importance that most teams placed in bulking up their teams for the first ProTour season, what's also remarkable is that each of these wins has come from a different rider in each race.

If Lance can go on to win his seventh Tour, I wonder if Johan and co will consider making a bid for the Vuelta title. Will Popovych have enough left in his tank to take a run at the Spanish crown and give Discovery a triple crown of grand tour wins? Has any team ever won all three grand tours in one season? And if so, with different riders in each? I know it's way too early for such speculation, but should it happen, remember that you read it here first - unless, of course, you read it somewhere else first...

Ras finish - Newton wins GC; Elliot wins points jersey

The 2005 FBD Insurance Rás finished on Sunday, and Chris Newton became the first overseas competitor to win the race twice (having previously done so in 2003). Veteran, Malcolm Elliott was runner-up, and despite having problems with his gears and then being barged in the sprint - losing several spokes - in the final crit stage, he did enough to finish ahead of his closest rivals and win the battle for the points title.

What else would you remember?

Police (Gardai as they are known in Ireland) in Tralee, a town in the South West of Ireland, are helping Italian police who are trying to identify a young man suffering from memory loss in a hospital in Bologna. The man was recently the victim of a serious assault but, since regaining consciousness, has been unable to say who he is. He did, however, name a number of pubs in Kerry and even had the phone number of one. Posters have been placed in bars in the Co. Kerry town but so far no one recalls having seen him.

Irish swapping the black stuff for red?

While it may not be the biggest threat to Guinness, wine is rapidly rising in popularity among Ireland's drinkers, according to new figures released by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland. Wine accounted for 19.3% of the €6.4bn alcohol market in 2004, up 14.3% from the previous year. Beer accounted for 53.3% Apparently, wine consumption has quadrupled since 1990, with seven million cases sold last year. Not sure how far it had to go, but alcohol consumption rose by 1% between 2003 and 2004, but has fallen by 3% per capita since 2000.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Mountain King, pretty in pink and what could have been...

Jose Rujano raced a brilliant tactical race to take his first and wildcard Selle Italia's third stage today. He sat in third wheel behind DiLuca and Simoni up the Finestre and on the final climb to Sestrieres just left everyone else standing to win by almost 30 seconds from Simoni. He was certainly the strongest climber today and a worthy winner of the climber's jersey.

Savoldelli lost 1.55 to Rujano, but rode within himself all day to retain the pink jersey by 28 seconds. While he owes a heck of a lot to the Davitamon Lotto pair that drove up the final climb, he rode incredibly well to stay in touch on the Finestre when he was essentially all on his own. His pink is even more incredible when you consider the lack of Discover team support that Savoldelli has had on any of the hilly stages.

Simoni finished a great second. He and DiLuca who finished fourth completely lit up this year's Giro. DiLuca cramped up on the final climb to lose his breakaway companions, but he was incredibly strong at the front for almost the entire Finestre climb. In hindsight, he was towing Rujano to a stage win and almost towed Simoni into first place. An incredible Giro though for the "classics" rider.

I'm stitting on the couch exhausted just from watching today's stage!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Basso class

Basso showed his utter class in winning today's TT stage, his second stage of this year's Giro. While so many riders would have abandoned over last weekend's torturous stages with the gastro-intestinal problems that he had, he soldiered through it and got his reward with another stage win today and another opportunity to test himself in a competitive TT ahead of the Tour. Full credit to Dave Z too for another very solid TT stage. He was atop the leaderboard until Basso finished, and ended up third behind Karpets (who was 9 seconds adrift of Basso). Really makes you think that Basso would have kicked butt on GC had he not gotten ill.

Savoldelli finished in fourth, 23 seconds behind Basso, but more importantly he gained some good time gaps on his closer GC rivals ahead of tomorrow's torturous stage. There's no change in the order of the top GC riders - Simoni (who was 10th on the stage 1.34 behind Basso) retains his second place further behind at 2.09 adrift on GC but he did add 20 seconds to his gap over Rujano. Rujano and DiLuca finished with almost identical times (Rujano was 4 seconds behind DiLcua who was 1.55 behind DiLuca), so both will be looking for bonuses over the next couple of stages.

Given the climbs tomorrow, the podium pendulum looks like it might have swung in Rujano's favor, but DiLuca has continued to astound in every aspect of this year's Giro, so I wouldn't count him out - 8 seconds is not a lot of time and it could go either way. And you have to keep an eye on Garate who is only another 5 seconds back. It's going to be tough on whichever of these guys finish off the podium - Rujano and DiLuca, in particular, have added so much to this year's Giro. We can also expect Simoni to go on the attack tomorrow. He said he would either win this year's race or blow it apart trying and to be fair, he's done a decent job of trying to do both. Tomorrow's his last real chance to blow it further apart, but the gods seem to be looking favorably on Il Falco. We'll know soon enough!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Northern Irish politics - how bizzare

Sinn Fein - the political wing of the IRA, the Northern Irish terrorist organization/freedom fighters (depending on your persuasion), allegedly discovered a bugging device in the floorboards of one of their Belfast offices late last year. In a bizarre twist on the tale, they are auctioning the device! Apparently bidding is currently at $1,900 on eBay.

FBD Insurance Ras

43 year old, Malcolm Elliot - who many will remember from his years in the European pro peloton - finally bagged a win in yesterday's stage of the Irish FBD Insurance Ras, having been second twice this week to GC leader Chris Newton. Newton retained his overall lead by finishing second in the sprint finish in Templemore (home to the main training center for the Irish Gardai (police)). Elliot is second on GC - not bad for a 43 year old!

Vacation reading

Just ordered Cobblestone Dreams to take to Italy with me as vacation reading - assuming I can hold out to then and not sneak an early read...

What makes cycling unique!

Luxemburger Frank Schleck buried himself for 14K today (from the 20K to go until Basso countered a break and went clear on his own at 6K to go) to set up a great win for Ivan Basso. He tore the race apart driving the pace for 14K up some pretty steep hills. In what other sport does a person bury themselves in a race so that someone else can win?

Simoni, who came in third, gained a little over 30 seconds on Savoldelli, while Jose Rujano - from the wild card Selle Italia team - outsprinted Simoni at the line to take second giving him (Rujano) enough bonus seconds to move into third, 12 seconds ahead of DiLuca who lost over a minute to Savoldelli and a minute and a half to Simoni and Rujano.

The GC top five after this stage are Savoldelli, Simoni (currently 58 seconds back), Rujano (1.24 back), DiLuca (1.26 back) and Garate (2.11 back).

Savoldelli will be hoping to build up his advantage in tomorrow's time trial ahead of Saturday's brutal stage to Sestriere, where you can be sure Simoni and anyone else with Maglia Rosa ambitions still intact will be attacking Savoldelli on the steep slopes of the Colle della Finestre.

In tomorrow's TT, there is a 7K climb that has some steep pitches but Savoldelli is by far the best of the top five racers in the time trial discipline. In the previous TT, all of the other GC contenders lost time to Savoldelli - DiLuca (51 seoconds), Simoni (2.04), Garate (1.23), Rujano (4.20). Which might mean that we'll see Sergui Honchar, who is currently in sixth place at 4.05 behind Savoldelli, return to a top 5 GC spot - and possibly even a podium spot - considering he was only 7 seconds behind Savoldelli in the previous TT (a time that he and many pundits were disappointed with).

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Never walking alone

Utterly incredible result by Liverpool tonight. At half time, the only reason that I stayed in the pub to watch the game was because it was bordering on educational to watch A.C. Milan play. It was simply a question of how many Milan could put away. To come back from 3-0 down was one thing, but the manner that Milan played in the first half was exceptional. To get back in the game at all was amazing, to level it unbelievable, and after Dudek's double save in the dying minutes, it almost seemed inevitable that Liverpool would win on penalties. How many years until they make the movie?

Vino in Vacanza

We've just sorted out accomodation in Italy for our trip this summer. While in Umbria for a friend's baby's christening in Peruggia, we'll be staying in Podernovo home of Castello delle Regina vino. I've been drinking my fair share of their Poggio alle Ghiande Rosso lately, so I'm keen to see the vineyards as well as the surrounding area. In addition to Peruggia and Assisi, I'm hoping we'll be able to get to the nearby Marmore Waterfall.

After a few days in Umbria, we'll be heading to Castiglioncello on the Tuscan coast to my sister-in-law's summer house - although we will be just up the road from Sassicaia.

French success at the Giro

Apparently, Le Mevel's win today is the first Giro stage win for a French rider since Laurent Jalabert won at Lumezzane in1999.

It's also Le Mevel's first pro victory, having made his pro debut in 2001. According to VeloNews, a year later, his career was put on hold after a crash in the Four Days of Dunkirk severed his sciatic nerve. Bravo Christophe!

Great skill by Le Mevel

Lovely counter attacking brought Christophe Le Mevel a great win today. As they went under the 1k to go banner, he was at the back of the 6 man breakaway. It looked like Vanotti was about to attack and Le Mevel got out of the saddle to cover him. Vanotti ended up covering Brandt who attacked from the front of the group and Le Mevel shot past them both to build an immediate 5 or 6 second lead. Even with time taken out for celebration, he still crossed the line 9 seconds ahead of Brandt - who was very dramatically thumping his handlebars as he crossed the line. The remainder of the breakaway came in a further 8 seconds back and the GC boys should be somewhere around 16 minutes back...

So apart from the great result for Credit Agricole's Le Mevel, the breakaway win means Petacchi won't be recording his 100th career win at this year's Giro!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

One week to go...

Tim @ Pelotonblog has posted a great review of the first two weeks racing and the impact that the ProTour has had on the race. Heading into the final week of the Giro, Savoldelli is holding a 25 second lead over Danilo DiLuca and 1 minute 48 seconds over Simoni. For Savoldelli, the rest day may have come at exactly the right time to let him fully recover before the tough final week. DiLuca continues to amaze me in his ability to hang in there - certainly not a one-day classics rider any more. In the mean time, Simoni has started the mind games claiming that he is going to win this year's race claiming that the Finestre on Saturday will be his launching pad. Given how things have gone over the past two weeks, I wouldn't be too keen on betting either way!

Hamilton appeal date set for June

At least it will finally be over, one way or another...

Monday, May 23, 2005

Champions League Final - 19 countries represented

Wednesday's Champion's League final might see representatives from 19 different countries on the field. AC Milan is expected to field 4 Italian players and Liverpool 2 English. Other represented nations will almost certainly include Brazil, Argentina, the Ukraine, Holland, Poland, Ireland, Finland, France, Spain, Germany, Norway and the Czech Republic, while Australia, Georgia, Croatia, Denmark and Portugal will most likely be represented between the two benches.

No let up in excitement at the Giro

A great weekend by Parra and a (stomach-related) shocker by Basso leaves Savoldelli in the hot seat that is the Maglia Rosa. For me though, DiLuca is still the sensation of the Giro so far - I can't believe he's not only hanging in there, but gained time yesterday on Il Falco.

Congrats too to Petacchi who stayed in the Giro longer than the Aussies and recorded his third stage of this year's race. Would have liked to see runner up Zabel record in a win in his first Giro but Pettachi obviously has the beating of him for now - we'll see what happens after the next set of mountains...

Friday, May 20, 2005

Barbaresco

I've noticed that there's many more entries on bikes than there is on wine - probably says as much about my own comfort level as it does about the fact that the Giro (plus the TdC another ProTour event) is running right now - and it's the best Giro I remember (other than '87 which wasn't a great giro per se, but what a result!)

It's not that I don't drink wine as much as I ride, I just don't seem to be writing as much about it. Last night, though, my wife, brother-in-law and I had two bottles of Barbaresco. Actually, we only had one, but we opened two. When we opened the first bottle, I felt like it was almost impossible to decipher - it wasn't closed (it actually got worse as we left it open rather than opening up) - but my bro-in-law immediately said it was bad. It wasn't bad in a twist-your-face-up-from-a-single-whiff, just not what it should be.

It was a decent wine - a single vineyard 1996 Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva. The difference between the two bottles was astounding. The second bottle was gorgeous - big, mouthy and very, very drinkable. I do wonder though, if my bro-in-law hadn't been there, whether I'd have just finished the first bottle and assumed it needed more time. I'm getting better, but obviously have a long way to go. With more wines like last night though, I'll enjoy the journey!

McEwan (and tent) in trouble

McEwan has reportedly been taken by Italian police for questioning following the hyperbaric tent raids on Wednesday. It'll be interesting to see what comes of it seeing as the tents don't break any UCI laws but do break Italian laws. McEwan was one of the riders expected to retire from this year's Giro following today's stage, so I'm sure he'll be regretting not hightailing it out of Italy to avoid what looks like Italian authority grandstanding.

Petacchi gets his second

Nice sprint by Petacchi who leapt off Velo's wheel when Grillo went early and he (Grillo) ended up being a lead-out man for Petacchi who came around him strong and won, what looked like it might have been a very messy sprint, with ease.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Disco fever

Great day for the Discovery team with Savoldelli taking the stage and moving into second overall at the Giro, while Yaroslav Popovych finished second at the Tour of Catalonia to give him the overall lead there. He has an 11 second lead and tomorrow there's a tough 17-km uphill time-trial on the daunting Arcalis special category climb - that apparently he hasn't seen, so not sure how long he'll hold the lead. Still for a day, it's a great day!

VinoGiro

In Friulli, you'd have to have a glass of Tocai - get it now before it's name changes...

Separately, I thought I'd look back at my Giro prediction to see how it paired up with the GC half way through this year's Giro. Three of my top 5 are currently in the top 5 of the GC, but I only have Basso in the right place. Cioni is in the top 10 at least (in 8th), but Cunego is the one that makes a mockery of my prediction sitting 7.20 back in 16 position.

I guess I should have included Gonchar (or however it's spelled) but I thought that he was the surprise package of last year and not Cunego. DiLuca, meanwhile has had a phenomenal Giro to date - I hope he can continue to hang on in the hills and continue to prove me wrong!

Basso moves into poll position

What an amazing final 25K today. Once Simoni attacked the peloton, Basso just took over and drove all the way to the line. Savoldelli managed to get a 15 second gap on the decent of the penultimate hill, but once it came back together, Basso just blew the entire race apart. Simoni couldn't hold, DiLuca did an amazing job to only lose a minute, and Savoldelli did well to hang on at times and managed to come around Basso for the stage win.

Basso and Savoldelli both looked super smooth even on the toughest gradients. Basso only got out of his saddle a few times, while Savoldelli danced his way up (as Phil might say). Big losers today were Cunego - somewhere around 6 minutes - and Garzelli - who might have been suffering from the fall last week and must surely now ride in support of DiLuca and even Cioni.

Phenomenal stuff.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Penalties for cheating too severe?

It'll be interesting to see how the lobbying power of the MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL can affect the outcome of the proposed Drug Free Sports Act of 2005 (H.R. 1862) legislation. While the intention of the bill is to force uniform testing throughout sports in the United States, the leaders of these organizations seem intent on ensuring that this uniformity is as lax as possible.

Proposed penalties - a two-year suspension for the first offense and a lifetime ban for a second positive test - are criticized by these orgnaization because "A two-year penalty is, effectively, career-ending."

What aren't they getting? If you cheat, you shouldn't be allowed a career in the sport. Period.

That being said, the tests must be verifiable and absolutely accurate to avoid the current fiasco that is the Tyler Hamilton situation.

Kissena Classic this Saturday

Hoping that plans to leave the city this weekend fall through so that we can head to Kissena Velodrome on Saturday (May 21) for the Kissena Classic

McEwan hattrick

3 stages now for Robbie McEwan who executed a perfect sprint sitting on Pettachi's wheel and coming around him with inches to spare. Great to see him win a conventional sprint and not a "twisty, turny, complicated sprint that favors great bike handlers." It also continues the great run of form of Aussies at this year's Giro. Stuart O'Grady was up there too (in fifth I think) so he seems to be coming into form and should be in great shape for the Tour. Pettachi must be boiling under the surface - although he did get the perfect lead out today, McEwan was just the stronger man.

VinoGiro

I've been lax this past day or so on the VinoGiro front. Brunello and Chianti managed to miss out as a result. Being in the Veneto region (home of vinitaly) today means we have to give a mention to Amarone - a nice Tomassi would go down well tonight...

Armstrong at the Giro

Armstrong flew in from Girona to join the Disco team for the rest day yesterday before heading back to Georgia. Very nice jesture, but a pricey way to head out for an Italian dinner...

Way to pass the buck...

The White House is pressing Newsweek to go beyond a retraction and "help repair the damage" to the image of the United States in the Muslim world after the magazine mistakenly reported that a Pentagon investigation had found that interrogators at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, tried to flush a Koran down a toilet. Scott McLelland talks about the "serious consequences" and "lasting damage" from the magazine's report.

First of all, there is now an inquiry into the accuracy of the report so why call it mistaken. Secondly for the administration to point the finger smacks of the highest form of hypocricy. A war justified by false intelligence data which has led to more than 20,000 civilian deaths at a conservative count, and advice such as “Change the channel” from Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt's to Iraqis who see TV images of civilians killed by "coalition" troops has done way more than an unsubstantiated report about one form of abuse at Guantanamo to foster anti-American sentiment.

Bike lanes

I wish I'd had a camera on the commute to work this morning. Taking up the bike lane and part of the next lane beside it was a cop car - and the cop was in a deli... Would have made a great shot.

I'm not a t-shirt wearing "one less car"-snearing commuter, but it really pisses me off when cars park in bike lanes. There's only a 14 miles of bike lanes in Manhattan and not only do the cops not care if you park in them, but they'll do so themselves while they pick up their donuts! But they'll be bussing in plenty of cops on the last Friday of the month though to pick up any cyclists that bemoan our lot at a Critical Mass ride.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Understatement of the day

"This is a real step in the right direction."

23 year old Italian, Enrico Gasparotto after winning the second stage of the Tour of Catalonia today only five months after he became a professional.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Ullrich break up

Jan Ullrich has broken up with his long-term girlfriend and mother of their daughter. Professional cycling doesn't seem to be too easy on the big boys' relationships.

Game on!

CSC's phenomenal time trial results yesterday makes for a very interesting couple of weeks to come. Simoni is still claiming he can win it despite being 2 minutes back. Cunego is going to have to attack Basso who definitely appears to be in poll position - unless DiLuca can hang on in the hills, and with another time trial to come, Savoldelli could yet turn something big on!

And at the stage level, great job by Dave Z yesterday and Petacchi finally got his name on the scoresheet today. I'm loving the ProTour effect so far...

Saturday, May 14, 2005

VinoGiro

For the time trial in Florence tomorrow, I'll be thinking very fondly of our last time in Florence - for our wedding - and will most likely sink a bottle of Castello di Monsanto (where we had our wedding reception) very fondly!

Big GC Shakeup

Wow! Lampre blew the race apart today with Cunego and Simoni (as well as Savoldelli and DiLuca) getting 53 seconds on Basso, Garzelli and Cioni (who may have lost even more because of a fall), and Bettini who has, presumably, seen his last days in pink.

Amazing that the top of the GC before the hills and before any time trial is begining to look a lot like the GC we could expect at the end of the three weeks. Cunego has 30 seconds on Simoni and a minute on Savoldelli and Basso. Lets see how much his time trialling has improved. It's Game-on tomorrow!

DiLuca very deservedly back in pink - great ride, once again, by him. But, this time, he didn't have his team helping - it'll be interesting to see his form when the race goes vertical.

Friday, May 13, 2005

VinoGiro

Tomorrow's stage finishes just North West of Florence at Pistoia, which was a Roman colony from the 6th century BC. The stage passes by San Gimignano - the Tuscan town with the NY skyline. My wife and I went to San Gimignano on our wedding day to take photos - it's a spectacular town.

Pistoia is the home to the only zoo in Tuscany and it is believed that the first pistols (pistola in Italian) were manufactured in Pistoia. Capezzana is a town that overlooks the Florence-Pistoia plain from the hills of Carmignanesi. Tonight might be a good night for a 2001 Carmignano, Capezzana.

Oz trend continues at the Giro

Great team riding from Davitamon-Lotto today which saw Robbie McEwan pip fading teammate Henk Vogels at the line. It keeps up the run of form of the Ausies at this year's Giro, and if it hadn't been for Bettini's tackle on Cooke on Wednesday, it would be an Oz/Italy alternate winner every day so far - Lancaster (Aus), Bettini (It), McEwan (Aus), DiLuca (It), Mazzanti (in the absence of Cooke and DQ of Bettini) (It), DiLuca (It), McEwan (Aus). So should we expect an Italian stage winner tomorrow to continue the trend? Given the climb before the finish, tomorrow's stage might have a Bettini or DiLuca written all over it.

And, despite sharing the stage wins, the top 10 on GC is still made up of 9 Italians...

Thursday, May 12, 2005

VinoGiro

As the race enters Tuscany tomorrow, it runs along the coast to Marina di Grosseto. Further up the coast near Castiglioncello (where famiglia VinoVelo will be spending their summer holidays) is Sassicaia. While I'm not a fan of the Super Tuscan wines in general, it's certainly worthy of a mention.

Being Irish helps me love beer and spuds

A priceless headline in Yahoo! News Pope says being German makes him open to dialogue - Yahoo! News, makes me think that the only reason I'm a fan of beer and potatoes is coz I'm Irish.

DiLuca shines

Outstanding ride by the Liquigas team and a great sprint from DiLuca today. What a great first week DiLuca and Bettini have made this year's Giro!

Discovery concentration lapse

While all of the post-race commentary yesterday centered on the Bettini/Cooke acrobatics, several GC contenders were caught behind a crash 12K from the finish. Among those that lost 39 seconds (to the other podium hopefulls) due to the crash were Discovery's Savoldelli and Danielson. I sincerely doubt that Discovery would have been behind that crash had the team been shepherding Lance and not these (worthy) guys.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

VinoGiro

Tomorrow's stage which finishes in Frosinone spends most of the day in Campania, home to many of Itlay's great native grapes including Aglianico. I think I'll give the I Normanni a go

O'Grady's fixed gear prologue

FixedGear picked up on Stuey O'Grady riding a fixed gear at the Giro Prologue. A sweet looking rig, but what's amazing is that it was decked out with a 53 or 54x14 combination - ouch!

And they once fought the introduction of the helmet rule

Amazing account of Alberto Lopez de Monain's crash yesterday at the Giro. Amazing story, especially considering the fight that the Peleton put up when the helmet rule was introduced.

Liquigas class

Today was the first day that I watched the OLN streaming online (I watched the recording version yesterday). Thankfully, I switched from the live text coverage on cyclingnews (which was really slow and not updated nearly enough) to velonews (which did a remarkable job).

The streaming is interesting - it's different to TV camera work even though it's the same thing (I know that makes no sense). Maybe it's the lack of commentary, but I also think it's less edited. Either way, it's pretty exciting stuff and very good quality.

Speaking of quality, Liquigas blew me away today. I thought Bettini was going to walk away with the stage but DiLuca, Garzelli and Cioni rode outstanding tempo to launch DiLuca for the win. Interesting that Cunego had the legs and felt confident to give him a great run for his money and probably would have pipped him if the finish line was a further 10 yards away. Garzelli grabbed third to top off Liquigas' day.

All of the big hitters (Cunego, Garzelli, Savoldelli, Cioni, Simoni, Gonchar, Basso) finished in the leading group, and there was consolation for Bettini in reclaiming maglia rosa...

How much is the Jet's new stadium worth?

I'm actually a fan of the proposed Jets stadium in Manhattan, but when you look at the personal time and effort that Bloomberg has put into lobbying for the stadium, and for that matter for the NY 2012 Olympic bid, it strikes me as absolutely absurd that there was no high-level involvement in trying to keep Goldman Sachs in downtown Manhattan - I wonder if that will become an election issue...

Monday, May 09, 2005

VinoGiro

Weekends get in my way, so I'll at least get a wine per region in there and once we hit the heavyweight areas, I'll cheat on Fridays and Mondays by including weekend stage wines. Tomorrow's stage finishes in Giffoni Valle Piana in Bassilicata, the region which is famous for Aglianico del Vulture. I'll be downing a 1997 Riserva from Tenuta del Portale.

Strida update

So I got the following response from Strida to my ealier post:

hello Dave,

thanks for your recent inquiry with strida. to address this problem you
can:

a) tighten the steering pin bolts. (part number 272.) this almost always
solves the probelm

b) retighten crank bolts (p/n 167)

c) tighten bb moulding bolts (p/n 164)

d) add a little white lightning DRY-lube (http://www.whitelightningco.com/) to top seam of plastic bottom bracket-moulding (p/n 111)

c) add a little white lightning DRY-lube to steering pin (p/n 216)

d) take bike to a bike shop to make sure bottom bracket (122-xx) is
properly adjusted. regreasing bottom bracket bearings (122-03) helps.

e) install a new freewheel (177-02) (http://www.strida.com/service/detail/11702.php)

f) remove and add white lithium greast between bottom bracket moulding (111)
and bearing cups (122-04).

g) ensure adquate space between drum brake flange and brake cover plate. (see
attached image.) use flat screw driver to prise cover plate away from brake drum
flange if there is metal to metal contact.

best,

strida customer service

So it seems my only recourse having spent a lot of my own time and $37 at a bike shop is to spend more money with Strida on (e) a new freewheel, which might solve the problem. I'm gonna be creaking my way around Manhattan until I decide how to react...

Friday, May 06, 2005

VinoGiro - prologue

We'll see how far I get with this, but I'm going to see if I can highlight a winery that correlates with each stage of this year's Giro - preferably by proximity to the start or finish, but I'm sure there will be times when I sneak in a favorite from the region, just coz I can...

So, for the prologue in Reggio Calabria, I'll start with Librandi. Librandi are based in Ciró Marina and while they grow six differnt vines, one is the "black prince" as the Gaglioppo vine is known. Native to Calabria, the Gaglioppo variety has been cultivated for thousands of years. I'll see if I can pick up a bottle of Librandi's Duca Sanfelice Ciro Riserva to enjoy during the prologue.

Fixed Gear Symposium

Have to see if I can swing a business trip to Michigan in August (as much chance of that happening as Petacchi being first over the Cima Coppi) for the first Fixed Gear Symposium - sounds like a fun and laid back time.

Velo to Vino

On my way to a wine class last night, I took a bike-rickshaw from 5th Ave and 56th Street to 7th and 30th. It was a little before 6pm and the bike was easily faster than either a cab or the subway would have been. And it just felt good to (over) pay another biker for making a living out of his pedal power.

Giro online

So I've signed up for OLN's online streaming of the Giro. $6 for 13 days seems pretty reasonable to me (They don't stream any content on the 6 weekend days or the 2 rest days).

Northern Ireland election results

While all of the mainstream press seems to be focusing on Tony Blair's historic third victory, the scariest results so far are in Northern Ireland where (with two of the 18 seats still to be returned), 13 of the 16 returned seats have gone to the hardline DUP (9) and Sinn Fein (4). Hopes for peace in Northern Ireland seem to have taken a major blow today.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Saving me heartache... or more likely backache!

Great insight from FixedGear on how to teach someone to ride a bike. Another year or so away, but should save me some back pain and heartache once the wee man is big enough to learn.

Virgin Zabel

Following Eric Zabel's record winning third victory in the 'Rund um den Henninger Turm', he has been named to T-Mobile's Giro line-up. The shocking thing is that this will be his first Giro. I thought, like Sean Kelly, that there wasn't a race that Zabel hadn't raced in. Must be weird for him to enter a race as a rookie after all this time. He's one of my favorite racers and I'd love to see him pull off a stage win and possibly with several uphill sprint finishes, he could make a run for the points jersey.

Red v Blue

One game away from the FA being forced to decide whether to exclude Champion's League winner's Liverpool or fourth-placed team in the league Everton. Ignoring the rivalry/hatred that these teams have for each other (a la Red Sox/Yankees but from the same city - so really a la Spurs/Arsenal or Celtic/Rangers (Glasgow not Boston)), I think that Liverpool should be allowed to defend the trophy should they win it. And the FA can hide behind the precedent that allowed Real Madrid to do so!

Liverpool glory

Phenomenal victory last night by Liverpool over the newly crowned Premiership champions. They really have to start to introduce some technology into the game of soccer though. Cameras on the goal-line could have cut out all of the controversy surrounding last night's game. Still it might have meant that Cech would have been sent off, Gerard might have missed the penalty, Chelsea would have gained the momentum and could be readying to face Milan, so Liverpool are probably very happy with how things turned out. Controversy notwithstanding, hats off to Rafa Benitez - not even the most hardened Liverpool fan would have dared predict that the Reds would be playing in the Champion's League Final.

Strida

I've owned a Strida folding bike for the past year and a bit which I use for commuting to work. In the past couple of months, it's started creaking horribly and I couldn't find the source of it. I brought it in to Sids on 34th Street (one of my least favorite bike shops but it's where I bought it) and they can't find the problem either. I've just sent Strida a note to see what other options I have. Their website has a ton of "happy customer" language so we'll see how it goes...

Sponsorship

Bode Miller showed up at my wife's restaurant recently for a promotion event on behalf of his main sponsor Barilla pasta. The PR folks were apparently upset that he was wearing a Nike shirt. I have to say, I'd rather wear a Nike shirt than a Barilla one, but pity the German soccer players that are caught between a rock and a hard place (or an Adidas and a Nike place) in having to decide whether to re-negotiate contracts with individual sponsors in order to play on the national team which is sponsored by German company Adidas.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Cyclism Sundays on Saturdays

Ignoring the inanity of the term Cyclism, the good news (from a glass half full perspective) is that OLN is extending its Cyclism Sundays to Saturdays to allow for more complete coverage of the Giro. The glass half empty scenario is that there's only two days of coverage each week. However, OLN are also offering streaming video of the entire Tour online (without commercial interruption) for 6 bucks - that could make for a very unproductive May at work...

I'm not sure that "without commercial interruption" will relieve us of in-depth reports by Phil, Paul and Bob singing the praises of Tom Danielson and Paulo Savoldelli.

Pet peeve

I think I'm going to start a top ten pet peeve list (which I'll probably have to update regularly as circumstances dictate). Top of my list would be stupidity, which is really too easy so I'll use the examples as list items instead.

To kick it off, TSA rules. In today's NY Times, a Dr. Stephen J. Firestone of Minnesota tells of "A friend who is an FBI agent was permitted to carry her gun on board an airplane after showing proper identification. ... Her nail file, on the other hand, was confiscated because it could be used as a weapon."

It makes me feel so safe to fly with these geniuses from the Transportation Security Administration at the helm!

ProTour

Who would have expected two American's to be in the top 10 of the ProTour at this stage of the season? And not an Armstrong in sight...

Could someone find something good to say about white wine?

Survey results (which I'm not sure I believe) from morefocus claim to show that the primary reason why American's drink wine is no longer for its alcohol content but rather for its health benefits. They also claim that 77% of respondents prefer red wine to white - but alarmingly, for 22% this has nothing to do with taste and all to do with the fact that red wine can help prevent heart disease.

It would be much appreciated if scientists could stop studying the negative effects of white wine and instead promote its health benefits so that these folks quit drinking red wine and thereby bring down the prices for the rest of us!

Another reason to like Sideways?

Apparently the movie Sideways is being credited with increasing sales of Pinot Noir and seriously hitting those of Merlot. The movie is being credited with generating the biggest buzz in the wine industry since a 1991 '60 Minutes' segment touted the health benefits of red wine. The movie's good, but not that good ;-)

Monday, May 02, 2005

Strong Irish cycling results

Mark Scanlon placed fourth in the second stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon in Spain on Thursday, while young Philip Deignan finsihed twentieth in the 137 K, 1.1 ranked Trophee des Grimpeurs in France yesterday (Sunday).

Hamilton case

Great interview with Tyler Hamilton in CyclingNews. He's the only one that knows whether he's guilty or not, but there definitely seems to be something fishy going on behind the scenes. I like him and hope he's (a) innocent and (b) cleared. Time will tell...

Giro prediction

With the introduction of the ProTour and the quality of teams in this year's Giro, it's much harder than in year's past to predict this year's podium (although I didn't predict Cunego last year, so who am I kidding). Cunego's time trialling seems to have improved considerably, but I still don't think he'll be able to overturn losses he'll experience in the time trials with enough time gained in the mountains. So my prediction for this year's Giro is:

1. Basso
2. Cunego
3. Cioni
4. Savoldelli
5. Simoni

Eki may miss tour

Seems Ekimov is injured following a crash while training. Wonder if that will spell the end of a phenomenal career (which may yet add another Olympic gold)?

Chelsea

Congratulations to Chelsea FC on winning the premiership and completing the double (if the second cup allows them to claim a double). Looking forward to see if they can keep their treble hopes alive tomorrow but not especially concerned about the result. I'd just like to see tomorrow's winner go on to win in Istanbul.

Bike New York

Bike New York on Sunday was a qualified success. Mrs VinoVelo and I managed to survive our longest tandem trip intact! However, the weather seemed to play its part with many of us starting late, puddles causing standstills (and they being just one of many reasons), and a horrendous 2 hour wait for the Staten Island Ferry (during which time, yours truly managed to get sunburned!). I feel great today - the missus has a sore arse!

Friday's Critical Mass

I was walking past Union Square on Friday evening and was shocked by the number of police that were present. As I walked home, they were bussing in extra cops. It all seemed quiet enough, but with the level of police presence, a completely peaceful event seemed very unlikely. According to the NY Times, there were 18 arrests. Hard to be impartial over this, especially when it starts to bleed beyond bikers. According to the Times, "Soon after the ride began, a freelance reporter for The New York Times, Colin Moynihan, was standing on a sidewalk at Sixth Street and Avenue A interviewing people when he was briefly detained and handcuffed. He was later released by the police without charges." Good to see the boys in blue defending our constitutional rights then...