June 2, 2015 § 16 Comments
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry broke his femur yesterday while training for the 2015 Tour de France outside of Geneva, Switzerland, putting his 2015 Tour campaign in doubt.
“According to my team boss Jonathan Vaughters, I was always on the bubble but with the compound fracture it’s possible I’ll sit out until 2016,” said Kerry through a spokesperson. “But I’ve got three purple hearts and I’m not giving up yet.”
Garmin-Cannondale owner Vaughters did not immediately confirm Kerry’s statement. “Well, uh, yeah, I know the Senator, he’s a great guy, we’ve done a few rides together, he’s strong as a horse, I mean, a 71-year-old horse, but this is the first I’ve heard about him doing the Tour with us. Isn’t he like the Secretary of Parks or something? Doesn’t he already have a job?”
The accident occurred at the bottom of the Col de la Colombière, a 16.3-km climb that has featured in the Tour twenty times, most recently in 2010. Although short, the steep 10.2% section at the end of the climb often weakens riders prior to the finish of the stage, which typically ends on a more challenging col such as Morzine, La Plagne, or Alpe d’Huez.
Kerry, who describes himself as “More of a 265-lb. rouleur to help with the sprint train than as a weapon in the high Alps,” had been in Geneva negotiating the final text of a nuclear arms deal with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif. John Kirby, a State Department spokesman, denied that the high level talks would impact Kerry’s training for his Tour campaign. “Not in the least,” said Kirby. “He’ll be back on the trainer in two weeks. He’s let his staff know that Job One is preventing loss of muscle mass. The centrifuge inspection thing can wait.”
Zarif was less sanguine. “What is, how you say in English, the fuck up with this? He is riding bike while we are doing bomb Israel plan? This crazy.”
Kerry emphasized his Tour readiness by pointing to public statements made by Vaughters, who described him in an interview with the Wall Street Journal as one of the best American road riders in his age group. “I’d be top ten at nationals, easy,” said Kerry, “if I raced.”
When asked how many 71-year-olds typically compete at nationals, Vaughters said that it was, “Uh, like, seventeen or so, I think. So I can confirm that from what I’ve seen he’s definitely top ten out of most of those seventeen. Ten of them, anyway.”
Kerry’s grueling schedule as America’s top diplomat has not interfered with his mission to get a pro contract, ride the Tour, and make $12,000 per year. Since his presidential bid in 2004 Kerry has evolved from what Boston regulars called “A complete Fred, just another rich dick with too much money and not enough mirrors at home to show him how he looks in spandex,” into “A completely delusional masters racer who, like all true profamateurs, doesn’t bother to race. Think Robin Williams without the jokes.”
The accident occurred at the beginning of the climb, when Kerry, one of the most powerful people on earth, ran into a curb and flipped over the bars like you might have done in Third Grade. Phillipe Patek de Nutella, the governor of Haute-Savoie in France, had accompanied Kerry with his security detail when the accident happened. “I no know what passed, n’est-ce-pas? He riding, comment dit-on ‘Fred’ en anglais, as a Frederique with wheel not straight and overlapping rear wheel rider in front. Then turn to whistle at girls and boom-boom he hit curb and bam-bam down like old cheese.”
Photos show that at the time he fell Kerry was wearing a pair of floppy yellow arm warmers that have not yet been released to the general public by Ugg Cycling as it transitions from women’s footwear into cycling apparel.
Kirby, the State Department spokesman, was upbeat about Kerry’s recovery, although he conceded that dealing with the crisis in Burundi, Boko Haram, the collapse of Iraq, Islamic State’s control of Syria, the outbreak of war in Yemen, the strong likelihood of armed conflict between Saudia Arabia and Iran, Grexit and the collapse of the euro, China’s aggression in the South China Sea, and the deaths of thousands of Rohingya as they flee brutal oppression in Myanmar may have to take a back seat for a few months.
“We’re confident that we can rebuild him stronger than he was before. And if he makes the Tour squad this year, at least he’ll know a critical part of the route.”
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May 27, 2015 § 10 Comments
After the gripping queen stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia in which leader Alberto Contador extended his lead over a fragmented and broken peloton, team boss Oleg Tinkov vented his fury at the way the race played out. Oleg sat down with with CitSB on a pile of worthless Russian roubles to discuss.
Cycling in the South Bay: So you’re pretty upset about today’s stage?
Oleg Tinkov: Upset? I furious.
CitSB: Why is that?
OT: No respecting was shown on Alberto, they attack him when he stop for wheel change. This was mean, very much mean and impolite on Alberto, our great leader.
CitSB: But he added to his race lead, right? Isn’t he now four minutes up on second place?
OT: Winning of thing has not meaning. Katusha bragging about putting Alberto in pain, about making him on suffer. Where is respect on great leader?
CitSB: So you’re saying that riders shouldn’t attack the leader when he has a mechanical?
OT: They should not attack him ever. He is leader, great leader. What are they trying prove on him? I tell everyone before race that Alberto was winner.
CitSB: But what if some of the other owners were telling their team leader that he was going to be the winner? Wouldn’t they have to race to find out?
OT: They say this about Russian election but is false. Russian election not need voter to decide who is great leader. Russian election always 100% voting for great leader.
CitSB: And you’ve also gone on record saying that there should be no second place finisher on the podium?
OT: No second, no third, no nothing. Only great leader.
CitSB: What about the other 189 riders?
OT: They already vote Alberto is great leader, this they all tell me in private. Now we give them each big piece black bread and shovel to build strong economy.
CitSB: I see. So what’s on the calendar for the Great Leader for the rest of the year?
OT: First we get name, all name of disrespecter and we give name to police. If innocent, get big piece black bread and shovel, if guilty each disrespecter help build strong economy in Siberia paradise vacation rental with excellent rate in January.
CitSB: Well okay, but what about the Great Leader’s race schedule? Is he going to be ready for the Tour in July?
OT: This state secret.
CitSB: Oh come on. It’s no state secret whether or not Alberto’s riding the Tour. He’s Spanish anyway.
OT: Please give name.
CitSB: My name?
OT: Yes please and living place.
CitSB: Uh, Prez. Dave Prez.
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May 26, 2015 § 16 Comments
Team Sky leader Richie Porte retired from the Giro d’Italia today and offered journalists a personal tour around the customized motorhome that will drive him from Italy to his home in Tasmania, where he plans to take a well deserved rest from two grueling weeks of racing. As he piloted the posh Mercedes-Benz Panzer IV Kustom around the docks of Naples, Cycling in the South Bay took a moment to talk with him.
Cycling in the South Bay: So, what are you doing here in Naples?
Richie Porte: Well, I retired from the Giro today and am headed back home to Tasmania.
CitSB: But why Naples?
RP: Oh, I’m just looking for the bridge. It’s got be around here somewhere.
CitSB: The bridge?
RP: To Tasmania, mate. This thing don’t float, y’know.
CitSB: Right. So, what happened in the Giro?
RP: Well, this is a pretty cool motorhome, eh?
CitSB: It’s incredible. Really first class.
RP: That’s what you gotta have when you’re the team leader, mate.
CitSB: But there’s still another week left in the Giro, and the queen stage on the Motirolo is tomorrow, and, well, with the 27 minutes you lost yesterday, plus the four minutes in the TT and the two minutes with the wheel change and the other two minutes with the crash, you’re not really the team leader anymore, are you? Especially since you’ve, you know, quit.
RP: Oh, right, that. Hey check out this espresso machine. Soy out of this spigot, steamed milk here, whipped cream over here. Pretty cool, eh?
CitSB: Yes, it’s awesome. So what happened? Before the race when you were offering tours of the motorhome, there was criticism that you should be staying in a hotel like your teammates.
RP: Right? Hey, when you take a leak in the john be sure to gel your hands with that antibiotic cream. I don’t want to get sick, eh?
CitSB: Do you think being isolated from the team hurt you?
RP: I don’t think so, not at all. It was the team’s idea anyway, not mine.
CitSB: Really? Why did they want you to sleep out in the parking lot instead of in the hotel?
RP: Oh, it’s a little thing I’ve had since I was a wee ‘un.
CitSB: What’s that?
RP: It’s nothing really, just a bit of a bed wetting habit I’ve had for a while, since I was three, actually.
CitSB: And how did that affect the team’s decision to put you in a bus in the parking lot?
RP: Well, we sleep in bunks in the hotel, and since I’m the team leader I always get the top bunk. So y’know, the blighter down below gets rained on all night.
CitSB: That sounds pretty grim.
RP: Oh, it was. It was even worse when I rode for Saxo Bank and had to bunk with Sven Gunderhausen. He was a bedwetter too, and Bjarne was always trying to cure us of it, so one night he’d put me in the top bunk and the next night he’d put Sven in the top bunk, so one of us or the other was always getting a bit of a golden shower.
RP: Yeah, finally we took to sleeping in full rain gear, but on Sky it was just me, so the team voted for the motorhome. Hey, check this out.
CitSB: What is it?
RP: It’s an automatic wet wipes dispenser with a little reservoir here for baby powder you can put on your bum after you get wet.
CitSB: These motorhomes have everything.
RP: Yeah, they really do.
CitSB: Except for a pink jersey. This one doesn’t seem to have one of those.
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May 18, 2015 § 30 Comments
After smashing the field in the 10.6-km time trial at Magic Mountain in the Amgen Tour of California, then winning the overall event, Slovakian ballbuster Peter Sagan thanked his team for their support and referred to team owner Oleg Tinkov as a “complete asswipe.” Cycling in the South Bay sat down with the Green Monster to discuss.
CitSB: You must be feeling pretty good. Two wins in a Pro Tour race after being called out by your boss, Oleg Tinkov.
Peter Sagan: Yep.
CitSB: And you called him a “complete asswipe”?
PS: Because he is. Oleg Tinkov is the pro rider’s worst nightmare.
CitSB: How so?
PS: Oh, come on. You know the type. Total wanker masters racer, buys the best stuff, wears the most expensive kit, shows up at the private training ride uninvited, and he’s off the back before the pace even picks up. Then, because he can’t keep up, he sponsors the local race club so he can be part of the team, hang out at the races, do the training rides. And everyone hates his fucking guts.
CitSB: Well, money talks.
PS: Yep, and Oleg’s is paying my bills. But imagine having said masters wanker telling you how to race your bike.
CitSB: Must be pretty annoying.
PS: You have no idea. Dude texts me a hundred times a day, I’m not kidding. “Spin more on the climbs, Peter.” “You opened up your sprint too early, Peter.” “Take on more electrolytes, Peter.” This from a guy who, ten years ago, couldn’t have picked an electrolyte from an electric car.
CitSB: You’ll admit that your results this year have been disappointing.
PS: Yes, they have.
CitSB: And Oleg’s paying you some pretty solid coin.
PS: Look, no disrespect intended, but pro racing isn’t like buying gas at the pump where you stick in your credit card and out gush six monuments and a green jersey at the Tour. It’s fucking hard and it comes down to fitness, smarts, teamwork, and luck. Tinkov has never won a bike race, any bike race. Dude’s a fuggin’ fanboy who thinks that when you’re on the rivet, your teeth filled with mud, it’s 45 degrees and raining sleet, and you’re still a hundred k’s from the velodrome in Roubaix that you need to “dig deeper.” He’s the one who needs to dig deeper, to dig his way out of that pile of fantasy shit his head is buried in.
CitSB: He seems to think he’s better at managing the team than Riis was.
PS: You know something about Riis? He was a true motivator. Riis earned his stripes at the head of the peloton, not ripping off stupid Russian consumers with payday loans and giving head to Vladimir Putin. Riis believed in you and he showed you how to focus on what you were good at while improving your weaknesses. Tinkov is Vino without the race smarts or the race legs. Rotten to the core, dumb as a box of rusty derailleurs, and as much fun to be around as a bag of cold, wet dicks.
CitSB: Bag of cold, wet dicks?
PS: Well, when they’re cold and wet they shrivel up.
CitSB: Got it. Has Tinkov’s outspokenness created tension in the team?
PS: No. Everyone hates his guts, especially Alberto, and we all call him Dickov behind his back. Did you see that shit about the Giro, where he said that all of Alberto’s rivals fear him, and that Alberto is a shoo-in?
CitSB: That didn’t go over well?
PS: Oh, it did. We laughed our asses off. Dickov thinks that riders perform best when you belittle them or make outrageous brags in the media.
CitSB: And they don’t?
PS: Riders perform best when they’re internally driven to win, they’re fit, they have a good team, they ride smart, and they get lucky. And when they use the right juice [winks]. Marginal gains, as Dave Brailsford would say.
CitSB: Right-o. Thanks, Peter.
PS: Any time.
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April 14, 2015 § 18 Comments
Ah yes, the old pray-for-a-miracle or form-changing-in-the-middle-of-a-five-day-stage-race race plan: “If I got lucky and the form changed or something then maybe I’d win it.” Chris Horner on his strategy for winning the Redlands Classic. CyclingNews, April 13, 2015.
It’s true, there weren’t a lot of fans jumping up and down saying “18th! He did it!”: “Some detractors may say him finishing 18th is a little underwhelming.” David Brailsford, trying to make the best of Brad Wiggins’s disappointing, final road race at Paris-Roubaix. CyclingNews, April 14, 2015.
The question tormenting your team is “Why didn’t you win?”: “A question has been tormenting me since yesterday!!!” Luca Paolini, complaining about why riders were allowed to slip through the closed railway crossing during Paris-Roubaix. CyclingNews, April 14, 2015.
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April 10, 2015 § 26 Comments
Phenom Tiesj Benoot, the 21-year-old speedster with Lotto-Soudal who pulled off an amazing fifth place in the Ronde van Vlaanderen was allowed to speak with the press yesterday about his expectations for Paris-Roubaix. Benoot, who is clearly on form after a string of strong early-season performances, sat down with CitSB to discuss the big day on Sunday.
CitSB: So you’re unsure of what to expect in your first professional Paris-Roubaix?
TB: Yes. I’ve ridden it as an amateur, but as a professional it will be completely different. I really don’t know what to expect.
CitSB: You don’t?
CitSB: Can I help you out with that?
TB: Well, sure.
CitSB: It’s going to be really fucking hard.
TB: Yes, but …
CitSB: There is no “but.” You’re going to get your ass handed to you on a plate.
TB: The Belgian press believes I may be Tommeke’s successor, of course that’s ridiculous, but still …
CitSB: The Belgian press believed that the Kaiser was going to invade France through Nigeria. You are gonna get stomped.
TB: Since it’s my first professional P-R, I’m unsure how it will play out. My director sportif says …
CitSB: Your director sportif will be sitting in a leather chair behind the wheel of a Mercedes sipping espresso from a spill-proof cup while The Wiggster has your nuts in a vise and holds them out for the rest of the peloton to jump on. You will get your fucking head staved in.
TB: That’s kind of negative.
CitSB: And what the nut-crushing doesn’t accomplish, the jagged paving stones will. Expect a complete beatdown.
TB: If you say so.
CitSB: I do.
*Note: After this interview, CitSB reached out to several past winners of P-R to ask them what they thought Tiesj should expect. Here is a sampling of their responses.
Eddy Merckx: It will be very difficult and hard. And long.
Roger De Vlaeminck: De Paris-Roubaix, it has a hard day. Very hard. Difficulty and hardness.
Tom Boonen: What can he expect? A hard day in the saddle, much pain, difficulty, struggle, unpleasantness, misery, dust, perhaps rain and mud, bone-jarring exhausting. Perhaps a few crashes. Hard day, for sure.
Fabian Cancellara: He can expect the hard.
Francesco Moser: Itsa hard carrera. He will have the hard day.
Frederic Guesdon: Tres dur. Dur, et difficile, sans doute.
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April 7, 2015 § 44 Comments
What do Peter Stetina, Sergio Pardilla, Nicolas Edet, Adam Yates, Pierre-He Lecuisiner, Tom Boonen, Fabian Cancellara, Jesse Sergent, Angel Vicioso, Joaquim Rodriguez, Giampaolo Caruso, Gert Steegmans, Matti Breschel, Edvald Boasson-Hagen, Martin Velits, Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, Marcel Kittel, and Lukasz Wisniowski have in common?
They are just a tiny handful of the world’s top riders who have broken bones or suffered injuries serious enough to take them out of major races in the last year. It doesn’t begin to include riders like Sylvain Chavanel (run over by a service vehicle) or those who “simply” crashed out of the race and lined up again the following week.
The absence of the big hitters has completely changed the outcome and dynamics of the biggest races in the season, including the Tour and the spring classics. But let’s forget the racing. The toll this takes on the actual human beings racing the bikes is enormous in financial, physical, and emotional terms.
European bike racing didn’t used to be this dangerous. What happened? How did the supposed champions that the fans supposedly love become disposable pieces of meat?
It’s pretty simple, actually.
- Speeds are higher.
- Pelotons are bigger.
- More riders are in contention for the win.
- Riders don’t wear safety equipment.
- There are no standards for cancelling races due to hazardous weather.
- The courses aren’t required to meet safety standards.
- Organizers are “old school” and believe that lots of crashes and injures, and maybe even a fatality or two add to the “beauty” of the sport.
Of course the fans are part of this crippled dance and many are conditioned to believe that mayhem is part of what makes cycling such an exciting sport. Why not just hang out at the ER and enjoy the “beauty” of people coming in off the meat wagon?
Those spectators are wrong. Motor sports used to think that the excitement was in danger and death until they began implementing safety standards and equipment. They learned that the danger is still there — you can’t make a car “safe” at 180 miles per hour — but by making the race as safe as possible fans still love the sport.
Normal people don’t want to see their heroes get hurt, and with regard to the sickos who do, the sport will be better off without, including the old school organizers. Bernard Hinault was one of the first superstars to openly criticize the punishment that riders were subjected to when he famously called Paris-Roubaix a shit show; Hinault suffers lifelong disability in one of his hands from the “epic” day in Liege-Bastogne-Liege when he got frostbite in his hands.
The technology exists to make safer riding equipment. Fabrics that don’t shred, reinforcements in the shoulders, back, hips, and elbows should be required. There is also no reason to run races over incredibly narrow and dangerous courses in horrible weather conditions. You think that canceling Gent-Wevelgem due to high winds makes the riders pansies? Then YOU go out and ride the wet cobbles in a packed peloton at 30 mph in a 40 mph crosswind. See you in intensive care, you tough guy, you.
As anyone who’s done a Cat 5 crit knows, the single biggest accident factor is the size of the field. Ten idiots on a tight course are safer than a hundred. The pro peloton used to be 50-60 riders smaller and there was order in the court imposed by the patron. Now there may be 190 riders crammed into the same narrow roads going much, much faster, and drugs, training, equipment, and radios mean that a huge swath of that peloton has the capability of winning. More people going faster, less space, higher average speeds and faster sprints, and you’re going to have more crashes, and the ones you have will be worse.
It’s an easy fix — reduce the fields, require safety gear, impose weather and route standards, and fewer people will get hurt. But it’s a hard fix because so many in cycling think that “spectacle” means permanent injury or that the “beauty” of the sport requires extreme danger or that safety is for wimps, which is yet another set of reasons that it will never be a mainstream sport, or even a legitimate one.
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