The TDU is finished, and I’m back at headquarters after a whirlwind trip Down Under. The Santos Tour Down Under produced some good stories and some eyerolling dreck, culminating with a Valverde “stage victory.” We’ve got rumours that the Jonathan Vaughters-led Slipstream Sports is or is not or is something involved with AA Drink, and don’t get me started on the Emma Pooley business, yet. Onward, brave readers, onward.
Best of the Week
Let’s see if this one drags out like every other case recently, but we won’t discuss anything to do with Ullrich or Contador or Mosquera… or will we? No, let’s talk about this very interesting case that was curiously appealed by the UCI. Here’s hoping that Alexander receives a speedy answer in order to get back to racing. It’s good news that CAS has set the appeal so quickly, which might indicate that the UCI wants to sweep this under the carpet. It would seem that the organization really doesn’t have any ammunition to overturn the Russian Cycling Federation’s decision, if those on the inside of the dispute are to be believed. The funniest part about this is the fact that Holczer came out and said that there’s no place for Kolobnev on the team, while others behind the scenes have shared with me that Holczer really has no authority in those decisions. Look for Kolobnev to be welcomed back into the fold after he receives his CAS dismissal.
The Tour d’Adelaide has been secured for a few more years with Santos topping up their commitment to the race. That’s good news, and an opportunity for Turtur and company to make some drastically needed improvements for future editions, but you can read about that a little further along. *chuckle*
He’s been hit by a motorcycle. He’s had numerous scrapes over his career. He suffered through his Team Sky years with no real sprinter to lead out, but managed to nab some outstanding victories, including stages at the Amgen Tour of California. He was a key player in Greipel’s recent victories in the land of Oz, and even after taking a tumble and injuring his little toe and taking on eight stitches, still delivered Greipel to a victory on the final stage. Greipel has described him off the record as tougher than Jens, and that no one has delivered the Gorilla to the 200m mark as well as Hendy during any sprint finish. He’s a man who marches to his own beat, even stopping during the Willunga stage to watch the final between Valverde and Gerrans on the big screen before limping in with his injuries 16 minutes later. He’s also loyal to his mates, no matter what team they’re on, including his former team (but we won’t talk about that anymore, no sir). Jens may get the press and the accolades, but Hendy is a much tougher man, in my opinion. Winners are Grinners.
Pooley isn’t one to mince words, and when she says things like, “but the people who tell me women’s cycling isn’t as interesting because it’s slower, well that’s total bullshit” demonstrates the frustration that has been building for two decades in the sport. Considering the fact that a female soigneur didn’t hit the peloton until the 1980s says volumes about equality in cycling, but that is no excuse for the state of affairs for the fairer side of the peloton. While the men’s side whines and moans about “a lack of corporate sponsorship” or “a difficult business climate,” the women’s peloton has been operating under those working conditions for two decades and is still operating. Incorporating the voice from that side of the sport could maybe even bring experience to cycling on how to navigate in a difficult economic environment. And you know what? The racing is as exciting and if not a little more unpredictable than its male counterpart. Glad to see Pooley speak out.
Yes, yes, I’m a month and a bit behind, but I just read Issue 159 this week, so it gets inclusion. @Inrng is stone for stone the most consistent blogger/journalist/conspiracy hunter in cycling. In his article for ProCycling titled, “Twitter Litter,” he talks twitter basics to the cycling fans who may not realize the impact that the social platform has on the sport. It was a nice refresher to see him “sift the inane and banal to find the gems the sport tweets.” Overall, he is careful about what he shares and does a tremendous amount of researching. He’s not afraid to state the rumours that swirl around various subjects, but isn’t one to join the angry cycling twitter mob, unless it’s warranted. It was a real treat to open ProCycling and see his writing gracing the pages. Well deserved, mate, and keep up the good work. Sorry I topped you in the cyclingnews.com poll. 😉
Worst of the Week
Lost in the hype surrounding the return of one Alejandro Valverde is the fact that Pellizotti is free and clear to ride as of May 3, 2012. He had a stellar reputation in the peloton, and it’s suspect that he was suspended due to “biological passport irregularities.” With the challenges in the biological passport programme, it would seem in hindsight that Pelli may have been selected as the guinea pig to help “sell” the concept to other sports to stroke the collective egos at the UCI. Pellizotti didn’t appeal the decision. He took his punishment and didn’t appeal it to the Swiss Federal Court. The worst part? Liquigas emphatically stated their belief that he was innocent. However, good luck when you’re one of the first cases picked in a pioneering programme, one that is being trumpeted by SportAccord to be used in other major sports. Think the system is rigged? Even the AIGCP head stated that if the decisions had been overturned, it would have been the death of the bio passport project. Nothing ever gave the indication that he was dirty. Pellizotti has said privately he’d like to come back. But will he? Will someone like Savio take a flyer in Pellizotti for this year’s Giro? I hope so.
Tour Down Under’s Race Coverage
You are a UCI-sanctioned race. You are in a first world nation. You have deep pockets, and you recently signed a deal with the ASO for television rights. So what do you do? You shite the bed and piss off your fans by ignoring a TV station that has built up a strong following to broadcast the race, and you strike a deal with another channel that is still stuck in the 90s idea of highlights at 11 pm, followed by broadcasts of the final two stages only. The result? First day returns of only 50,000 viewers of the highlight package, when in the year prior SBS had 212,000 viewers of the first stage. Then you have such dreadful updates for the press corps covering the race to the point where ALL send me DMs complaining about how poor it is. Seriously. All. No joke. Top it off with making the press wear orange smocks with numbers, helmets, and other such awful ideas. The outstanding social media army of the TDU spent most of their time apologizing. Thank goodness for SBS “alternative” coverage, for cyclingnews.com’s coverage, plus other journos like Rupert Guinness and Blazin’ Saddles of Eurosport fame.
Heal up young man. The good news? The lad was seen persistently chatting up the podium ladies at the closing party of the TDU. That’s dedication. Tough to see a fall like that after a sketchy maneuver by the Vacansoleil boys. Let’s hope Vacansoleil isn’t becoming the new “bleeding carrots” this year.
Clean it, for fook’s sake. Quit talking about it. Paris-Roubaix without Arenburg is like a Tour de France without a doping controversy. Hmm, maybe I should look at announcing a bust after one of the small races rather than always at a Grand Tour. Hmm.
You are the head of the international cycling organization. Your organization is non-profit and supposed to be transparent about the occurrences in the sport. You aren’t the CEO of a privately-held Fortune 500 company. You are seriously saying “no comment” on matters of importance to the sport. As I said to Rupert Guinness directly after the interview, the arrogance of this man and the arrogance of this organization is fooking staggering. Look, people don’t call you a “dick” because you’re Mother Theresa. It’s gobsmacking to hear the collective opinion held by those in both the men’s and women’s peloton about the leader of the sport and the organization he runs. Team owners say the same. These are the words of a dinosaur organization out of step with the sport entirely. Why force tour organizers, federations, and sponsors to hold clandestine meetings to try to take away their power? Oh right, the lemming thing. I forgot.