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...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bush

After a fruitless trip to Asia from a political perspective, word comes out that Bush spent at least some of his time over there biking.  He got to ride part of the mountain bike course for the 2008 Olympic Games in Loashan, China, and rode with six Chinese Olympic hopefuls (who all got the socks...).  No reports of him falling again, and apparently there is now a permanent space on Airforce One for his bike...
 
I'm not a Bush fan, and could criticize everything about him and blame the time he spends riding (and falling), but in this case, I'm just jealous...

Monday, November 21, 2005

Hamilton appeal date set

Tyler Hamilton's CAS appeal hearing has been pushed back further to January 10, 2006.  The hearing was postponed from September because not all fo the evidence had been presented.  In January, it'll be almost 18 months from the original suspension in September 2004 - if CAS fail to overturn the finding and he is found guilty, he could be back on the bike 8 months later if he gets a two year ban... 
 
Which makes you realize how long he has been off the bike and how unfair that would be if he's innocent...

Friday, November 18, 2005

I guess I was lucky

Some gobshite rolled a dolly - ladened with construction supplies - out from between two vans right into my path as I was riding to work this morning, and I rode right into it. Luckily, I was on my Strida and was able to land on my feet without having to throw the bike to get a leg over it. Luckily, I didn't have time to consider swerving since there was a line of cars right beside me. Luckily, it only cost $10 to fix. Luckily, I walked away.

That's my first accident on a bike since I was about 8 years old. Luckily.

2005, what a year!

I was thinking during my morning commute about the 2005 season. To my mind, it started much stronger than it finished - I feel like the TdF has taken the wind out of the past few seasons. Anyway, I was trying to think about the best riders of 2005, and since rankings and the concept of 'best' don't make that much sense, I started thinking about 10 riders that I think made 2005 another great year in professional cycling:

10 outstanding riders in 2005

  • Boonen - Flanders, Roubaix and Worlds, second in the ProTour classification - not half bad!
  • Hincapie - KBK, 2nd at Roubaix, topping and tailing at the Dauphine, the Queen's stage at the Tour
  • Di Luca - inaugural ProTour, an awe-inspiring 4th in the Giro, Amstel Gold and Fleche Wallone
  • Vinokourov - LBL, mixing it up at the Tour - including his final day stage win
  • Jullich - Paris Nice, Crit International, Benelux Tour
  • Popovych - Catalunya and Giro (and that Dauphine break with Hincapie)
  • Armstrong - #7
  • Leipheimer - Tour of Germany, narrowly missed a top 5 at the Tour, 3rd and wore yellow at the Dauphine
  • Bettini (after mixing it up all season (without the results), pulled Zurich and Lombardy out of the bag)
  • Pettachi (Got his Milan-San Remo win, along with stages from Valencia through Romandie and the Giro (although it took 9 stages to get the first one) all the way to the Vuelta (although by his standards, he had a disappointing Worlds)


10 Notable mentions:

  • Zabel - Got the second place monkey off his back with the Paris-Tours win
  • Zabriskie (one of only three riders to wear this year's yellow jersey at the Tour)
    Botero (for his Romandie win)
  • Flecha (like Bettini, he adds excitement to every race he's in - narrowly/unfairly pipped for a rare classics win for Spain at Gent-Wevelgem and a very solid third in Roubaix)
  • Voigt (wore yellow at the Tour, narrowly lost LBL to Vino, massively influential in Jullich's Paris-Nice win)
  • Heras (4th Vuelta win - assuming it was clean...)
  • Basso (stage wins despite stomach problems at the Giro and second overall at the Tour)
  • Chris Horner (exciting debut Tour and great Swiss Tour stage win)
  • Rujano (helped to light up the Giro along with his Selle Italia colleagues)
  • Wherry - an American winner in Philly...
  • Danielson - Tour de Georgia winner


5 Muted seasons - those that didn't live up to the hype (including due to injury):

  • Freire (injuries followed up his solid Tirreno-Adriatico win)
  • Rebellin (third in the ProTour standings, but in a Thor Hushovd sort of way...)
  • Cunego (lets hope his health holds in '06)
  • Landis (needs to step up to live up to the hype)
  • Valverde (despite his stage win at the Tour)

5 things that were not so good about the 2005 season

  • ProTour event quality/consistency. The Benelux Tour suffered from amazing dis-organization and did any top riders compete in the Eindhoven TTT?
  • Gent-Wevelgem finish
  • 2006 TdF presentation without even a mention of Armstrong's legacy
  • TV coverage in the US after the TdF (Even if they don't cover live races, Cyclism Sunday was something...)
  • Mickael Rasmussen's TdF time trial


5 things worth remembering

  • Amy Gillet RIP
  • Cipo's late night run at the Giro prologue
  • American successes - Jullich, Hincapie, Zabriskie, Danielson, Wherry, oh, and Armstrong
  • The Giro
  • Armstrong overtaking Ullrich in the TdF opening time trial

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Zabel's fine farewell

After a frustrating couple of season's with a plethora of second place finishes, Eric Zabel has followed up his wins in Dortmund (with Ralf Aldag) two weeks ago, and his Paris-Tour win last month, with a win at the Munich Six Day with Robert Bartko. Lets hope his form continues when he gets to Milram...

Final day split stage at Giro in question

The Giro route this year looks set to delight the mountain goats - so much so that Petacchi is already considering skipping it and focusing on the Tour. Several mountain finishes and the re-introduction of the TTT ensures another exciting trip around the boot this spring.

And it's not just the sprinters that are unhappy. It seems the UCI is invoking its right to prevent the final day split stage at next year's Giro - which will get a lot of support from the riders. It'll be interesting to see whether they make that a consistent rule though or whether the Basque Tour will continue to get away with it.

Ullrich's weight watching

A German newspaper  has clamed that Jan Ullrich's weight is being built into his contract for this season requiring him to weigh no more than 79kg at the start of the season.  The team has denied the contract clause which the newspaper claims will result in the loss of financial bonuses should Ullrich miss his milestones.

San Francisco Grand Prix in trouble

Seems the organizers of the San Francisco Grand Prix have neglected to pay the negotiated costs to the City for hosting the 2004 race (covering police costs in particular).  Some city officials are calling for the suspension of the 2006 race as a result.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Another thought about Heras

What if he's innocent?
 
If the B-Sample comes back negative (or worse, inconclusive), will there be any inquiry into how this news was leaked?  Right now, Heras is guilty until proven innocent.  And given the result of the A-Sample, there will forever more be a cloud of suspicion over a potentially innocent man. I appreciate the desire and the need to rid cycling of drugs, but why is there no repercussion for leaking this news and potentially damaging a great rider's reputation without due cause or process?

Smoke/Fire

Following Tyler Hamilton's failed test at last year's Vuelta, this year's winner, Roberto Heras is now accused of having taken EPO based on the testing of his A sample from a TT stage.  Heras is protesting his innocence, but as you'd expect has been suspended until the B Sample results are provided. 
 
Given the protestations of innocence from the likes of Tyler, Heras, Lance, etc, I really do hope that they have their testing methods perfected.  There are times that this seems like a witch hunt (against Lance in particular) and times when you wonder whether there can be so much smoke (on a sport-wide basis) without any fire.  Only the individual riders can know for sure whether they cheat, but I really hope that people's careers aren't being destroyed based on over-zealous applications of tests or of inconclusive testing methods that are being taken as gospel.

Amgen

I have to say that I don't quite get the reaction to USA Cycling teaming up with a new sponsor Amgen for the Tour of California.  Amgen is a pharmaceutical company that makes drugs for medical purposes.  If those drugs get used illegally, how is Amgen to blame? 
 
By the rationale that companies associated with banned substances shouldn't be allowed to further associate with the sport of cycling, why, when caffeine was on the list of banned substances, were Saeco and Jittery Joes allowed to continue to sponsor professional teams?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

2006 Tour route

Commencing in Strasbourg, the anti-clockwise trip around France by bike this summer will take in such sights as LBL's Haute-Levee, Amstel Gold's Cauberg, Fleche Wallonne's Huy and Paris Roubaix's Saint Quentin.  Following a sortie through Normandy and Brittany, the race will head south to a couple of Pyrenean stages which will see riders scale the heights of Col d'Osquich, Cold du Soudet, Col de Marie Blanque, Pau, Col de Tourmalet, Col d'Aspin, Col de Peyresourde, Col du Portillon and briefly into Spain for the Val d'Aran/Pla-de-Beret.
 
The Alpine section will include such classics as l'Alpe-d'Huez, the Col d'Izoard, the easy side of the Col du Galibier (if there's such a thing), the Col de la Croix-de-Fer, the Col du Mollard, Col des Saisies, Col des Aravis, Dol de la Colombiere, Cotes de Chatillon and Lance Armstrong's 2000 Nemisis, the Joux-Plane.
 
No TTT this year, but two ITT - stage 7's 52Km flat romp around Rennes, and stage 19's 56km race against the clock that may just be the deciding factor for the final yellow.
 
Stage 10 (to Pau), 11 (to Val d'Aran/Pla-de-Beret), 15 (l'Alpe d'Huez), 16 (to La Toussuire) and 17 (to Morzine) should be the deciding mountain stages.

ProTour road block

It looks like Danilo DiLuca may end up being the only ever winner of the Pro Tour if the new boys at the UCI and ASO can't learn to get along better than their predecessors.

CSC News

Following his attempt this year to tackle both the Giro and the Tour, Ivan Basso has said that he will focus solely on the Tour in '06.  If Valverde and Cunego do the same thing, we could be looking at a "young gun" podium should Ullrich and Vinokourov fail to shine...
 
And in other CSC news, Stuart O'Grady has signed with the team for the 2006 season. He's such a professional rider and I think it's a smart move for both the rider and the team.