Paul Andrews

Posts Tagged ‘Giro d’Italia’

Daily Roundup: Giro to start in New York?

In Daily Roundup on November 6, 2009 at 9:00 pm

Start the Giro d’Italia in America? In New York? Little Italy? A criterium? Would Lance try to organize another slowdown? I can’t wait… I mean, what would BikeSnobNYC say?

More coasting backwards: Easton Bell, joining Shimano, SRAM and Mavic, says sales are in the tank, down 11.3 percent for 3Q.

“On the Bell side, preseason orders increased in the low single digits in part due to demand for the new Variant mountain bike helmet. At $80 retail, the helmet fills a desirable pricepoint and allows for increased presence in the important mountain bike crategory, Harrington said.”

Right on. Mountain biking will save the bike industry yet!

Local boyz do good: EVIL, FSA headline Bike Magazine’s “10 promising new products.”

Just when you think cyclists are making some headway in the political-justice system, the surreal, goofy, bizarre, inexplicable 3-year-old injunction against the SF Bicycle Plan rears its antediluvian head. And here’s the list of what the injunction is holding up.

Cyclelicio.us: Analysis of bike accidents show t-bone is most prevalent (not right hook). Like Yokota, I’m a bit surprised. You certainly read more about “hooks” causing fatalities. Studies like these are important, though, for establishing baseline data from which to make policy. Numbers work wonders for getting legislators to move. (The riding against traffic one hurts, though.)

This Day in Doping: So many syringes, so little time

In Bicycle Racing, This Day In Doping on November 2, 2009 at 1:26 am

Doping scandals aplenty, Velo News reports. They’re taking another look at 2008 Giro d’Italia samples for CERA, undetectable previously but now testable. The same may happen for the 2009 Giro and Tour as testing catches up with ever newer, previously undetectable substances.

“The report also outlined a new blood doping practice which evaded current testing protocol which monitor blood parameters. About 200ml of blood is extracted, mixed with an anti-coagulant, and re-injected. The practice does not alter blood values and is all but undetectable, the report said.”

And the UCI, whose efficacy anti-doping authorities continue to question, emerges with another black eye:

“Earlier efforts to back-test Giro samples for CERA were squashed by the UCI, but now Italian officials in Padua have taken up the case.”

The Chicken is back! Michael Rasmussen, who was on track to win the 2007 Tour de France before his team suspended him for deceiving it re his whereabouts before the race began, has picked up a new team following his two-year ban.

Rasmussen’s case bears some investigation, because he essentially beat the doping system. He never actually tested positive. He was put on ice simply out of suspicion of cheating.

Which means the system must be pretty easily beatable, because they suspected Rasmussen well before the Tour began and one would assume must have tested him rigorously during the race. So what went wrong? How could this happen? They’re so convinced he doped that they barred him, but nothing in their vast array of testing procedures could prove it?

Euskaltel-Euskadi on the comeback trail from doping scandals? Can they stay clean? And with this kind of money involved, will they get reported if they aren’t clean?

“As part of continued 1 million euro commitment to the team’s total 6.5 million euro budget, the government has included a clause in the sponsorship contract that would end the deal if more doping cases pop up. Reports in Basque Country media also point to an early exodus of title sponsor Euskaltel – the regional telephone operator – if there’s another doping case.”

Floyd Landis got caught and paid the price. Now he’s saying “politics” will keep him from ever competing in the Tour again.

Here’s an idea: Floyd and the Chicken and Tyler Hamilton and Bernhard Kohl and Vinokourov and a bunch of other banned cyclists get together and form a Tour team sponsored by BigPharma companies that make methadone. They could call it Team LiveClean.

World Champion Cadel Evans now wants to finally win the Tour, a prime motivator for his move from Silence to BMC Racing. We wish him luck. Cadel is one of the few pros who proactively says he does not dope. We trust he’s telling the truth and admire him for taking a stand. We also like him because he’s a former mountain biking champion. (So is Rasmussen, but we don’t admire him because, as with a lot of big names in cycling, there’s too much evidence he’s a cheat, even though he never actually got caught.)

Giro Wrap: Lance’s chances looking ahead

In Bicycle Racing, Bicycling on May 31, 2009 at 10:58 am

The 2009 Giro d’Italia is history, with Lance Armstrong finishing in a solid and respectable 12th place, 16 minutes off the pace after a middle-of-the-pack showing on the final rainy stage. Now all eyes, and maybe even the traveling soap opera that has become Team Astana, shift to the Tour de France, starting July 4 in Monaco.

I have to hand it to Lance: Although he fell short of general expectations, he did better than I expected. Considering he was basically riding to draw media attention to the Giro (and, as always, himself), and in protect-mode for the Tour (no more crashes!), twelfth is a commendable showing.

Yes, he said he was aiming to win. Then he said he would “be happy” with a stage win. All things considered, he’s undoubtedly pleased with a non-DNF. (Side note: Lance being Lance, he’s already engaged in revisionism re his Giro showing — see link below.)

One might assume that Lance is now primed to pounce on the Tour and bring home a record 8th, having honed his conditioning with the Giro warmup. Expect the media buzz to say just that, with a lot of speculation about Lance’s chances for a triumphant return to Paris.

In our continuing role as hype degreaser, we have just three words: Ain’t gonna happen. But that doesn’t mean Lance won’t have had a successful summer campaign. He’s gotten cycling back onto the TV and the pages of daily newspapers, all of which means big money and success for racing and his cancer foundation. For that, he is to be congratulated.

Of more concern is Lance’s crashes — one each in his past three races. Only the collarbone mishap was major, but crashes like this were things the Lance of old had no trouble avoiding. They’ve been crashes of fatigue, where the brain is too tired and reflexes too trashed to stay on point. His latest, touching a wheel and going down, could have been far worse. He landed on the side opposite his repaired shoulder and reported just some soreness and stiffness.

The crashes, combined with Lance’s instigation of the “Slow Ride” protest of a “dangerous” criterium stage in the Giro (all criteriums are dangerous, that’s what brakes are for), suggest his challenges are not entirely physical. Accidents inevitably make a rider more cautious, and the Tour will have its own “dangerous” stages.

Our best guess is that Lance will again ride for ceremony’s sake, sucking up the adulation of fandom, promoting his foundation and doing what he can for the squad, which won’t be all that much. Astana’s A team, including last year’s Giro winner and 2007 Tour victor Alberto Contador (he had to sit out last year’s Tour due to no fault of his own), stayed out of the Giro this year to “focus on” (rest up for) the Tour. The Giro is a great race, but it’s still just a warmup to the Tour. Among the big boys, Lance’s glory will be PR more than stage results.

If anything, Lance’s return has shown that what cycling really needs is another Lance Armstrong. An American No. 1 who can galvanize support for the sport in the U.S. while boosting media and commercial interest in the Tour, Giro and Olympics. You have to have icons in this day and age to ensure ongoing youth and junior development. Greg Lemond got the ball rolling back in the 1980s, Lance picked it up in the latter ’90s.

There are promising signs that “legacy Lances,” young American riders, are in the food chain — in particular Taylor Phinney, the son of another world-class American cyclist, Davis Phinney (Taylor is nicknamed “mini Phinney”). Taylor is recording some head-turning results, just today having won Paris-Roubaix in the under 23 class.

Lost in all the current ruckus is Lance’s original motivation for returning to racing. Last summer he got his hind end handed to him by a local hero, Dave Wiens, at the annual mountain bike enduro race, the Leadville 100. Lance vowed a return engagement for 2009 following his European tour, and is registered for the race.

It may be his best chance for a victory this year. He’ll have the conditioning of the tour under his belt, and his shoulder should be a non-factor by race day, Aug. 15.

But mountain biking, as Lance himself knows (having one year competed with mediocre results), is a different beast from road racing. There’s very little successful cross-over, and where there is, as in the case of Cadel Evans, Michael Rasmussen and Floyd Landis (a 2007 Dave Wiens victim who may also race Leadville this year), the transition goes the opposite direction: From top mountain biker to road racer.

Hopefully Lance will avoid another crash or other injury jeopardizing the Leadville event, because ultimately, that may be the Lance Armstrong race to watch in 2009.

New York Times Giro wrap

Team Astana faces deadline

Final Giro results from Velo News

Taylor Phinney wins Paris-Roubaix

Lance in Leadville

Bike Radar: Lance feeling “strong” for Tour, engaged in active revisionism re his Giro placement

Daily Roundup: Breakthru in Marin access, Bikewise.org in Seattle Times, new SanFran bike park, Snarky Giro, WWJST

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle Racing, Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking, Trail Access on May 28, 2009 at 9:06 am

Bill’s Trail in Samuel Taylor Park is a 4-mile, switchbacky joy ride through the redwoods. In what is being called a “historic opportunity,” mountain bikers have a chance to gain access to the trail, one of the first expansions in decades to riding in Marin, mountain biking’s renowned birthplace but also host to its bitterest battles over trail access. Here’s more from Mtbr.com. Along with the planned multi-use redesign of Diaz Ridge above Muir Beach, the efforts indicate that agencies and trail groups are taking a more collaborative approach to access issues. You can help! Click here. Congrats to IMBA and NorCal mtb groups for helping to open the doors to progress.

Seattle Times: “…a cluster of injuries reported at an intersection could get the transportation department to investigate further…” Article on Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club’s new online tool, Bikewise.org, previously reviewed on Bike Intelligencer.

Proposed Mountain Bike Park in San Francisco

Proposed Mountain Bike Park in San Francisco

In San Francisco’s McLaren Park, there’s serious discussion about installing a mountain bike park with tabletops, chutes ‘n ladders, dirt jumps and even a pump track! A bit like our own Colonnade, only on steroids…er, make that energy drinks. Anyway, you know what I mean. For all the cycling glory of the Bay Area, it doesn’t have much in the way of Skillz sites, and this would be a great enhancement to its mountain biking resume. Congrats to SF Urban Riders for a great idea, hope they can get the stim funding to make it happen.

Great snarky commentary on this year’s Giro — and the ongoing bicycle soap opera called Team Astana — from Bicycle.net: “While the aforementioned guys who were supposed to have weak moments didn’t particularly seem to, it wasn’t lost on anybody that Levi got dropped off Lance’s wheel today when Lance tried to bridge the gap to those aforementioned individuals. Nor was it lost on anybody that Lance managed to get precisely halfway across the bridge before running out of steam and dropping back to give shade to Levi. The two of them limped home licking their wounds and perhaps rethinking strategies for that little bike race in France a few weeks from now.”

The Cycling Dude: WWJST? (What Would Joseph Smith Think?) Bicycles in SLC? How dare they!

Daily Roundup: Bike to Work Day tomorrow, Whistler Saturday, Washington State No. 1, Lance “philosophical”

In Bicycling, Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking on May 14, 2009 at 6:48 am

Bike to Work Day is tomorrow! Looking outside this a.m. ain’t too promising, but the forecast is still calling for sunshine and 68 degrees. Quick check if you haven’t done so already: Test ride the bike today, lubing chain and other parts if needed and getting the tires up to pressure. Find someone to ride with, if not today then when you head out tomorrow. Riders are always happy to hook up, and there’s safety in numbers. Don’t worry about flats: Take a spare tube along and someone will help out if you run into trouble changing the tire. Have fun! Especially if the weather is good, it’s gonna be a circus out there!

And Whistler opens on Saturday! Yikes, can they really have all the snow cleared? This has been one ugly freezin’ pain in the butt Spring so far… PinkBike has details on Opening Day festivities.

Bike Rumor: How to get that non-cyclist in your life onto a bike.

Bicycle Retailer: Bike industry gets 2-year extension on lead limits. I have mixed feelings on this one. As an environmentally healthy and healthful activity, cycling should be aggressively setting the pace on eco- and “green” standards. I know it’s tough financially to turn an entire industry around, but let’s hope this extension is it and the Powers That Be move forward asap on reducing lead exposure.

Biking Bis: Washington State is No. 1 in League of American Bicyclists ranking of bicycle friendly states — for second year in row!

Velo News: Lance “philosophical” about Giro chances after being dropped yesterday.

Daily Roundup: Lance/Astana soap opera, Vancouver likes bikes, Cascade offers breakfasts, Craigslist helps cops track bike thieves

In Bicycle Commuting, Bicycling, Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking on May 8, 2009 at 11:18 am

Lance/Astana soap opera silences for now: Apparently Lance’s public squawking freed up some funding for the Giro d’Italia leg of Astana’s season. As far as the Tour de France goes, stay tuned…on Universal Sports channel, which will carry the Giro after all.

Another city adjusts to increased bike traffic: Vancouver BC is winnowing vehicular traffic on the Burrard Bridge to expand access for cyclists and pedestrians. Burrard is the chief bridge crossing from downtown to West Vancouver, and an extremely busy bike route. Previously bikes used the sidewalk (the east side is bikes only), but now the western-most outside lane will be bikes only as well. The move comes as other cities, notably Los Angeles, grapple with how to handle the surge of bicycle commuter and transportation traffic. Too many bikes make motorists angry and impatient and pose safety hazards to cars and cyclists both.

Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club will offer “Breakfast on (or near) the Bridge” the next two Fridays (the first was today) on the west side of Mercer Island to support bike commuting during construction repairs on I-90. The club will run its Bike Bus from Mercer Island to downtown, the U District and Bellevue during construction periods, scheduled for May and July.

Wrap-up report from Port Angeles on the Pro Gravity Tour initial race, congrats to Katie and Curtis!

Bellingham Herald: Craigslist ad leads Bellingham police to suspected bike thieves. “The investigation began when a woman, whose mountain bike had been stolen, told Bellingham Police she thought she saw the bicycle for sale on Craigslist, said Mark Young, police spokesman. An officer went to the Web site, tracked down the listing and saw the bike being offered for $1,500. The ad included a picture that matched the description of the womanís bicycle, Young said.”

Lance’s Chances II: Reducing expectations

In Bicycle Racing, Bicycling on May 6, 2009 at 9:38 am

On one front, Lance Armstrong deserves huge accolades for going ahead with his racing plans despite a broken shoulder. He’s making the talk-show and publicity rounds, promoting his foundation and the fight against cancer, and generally playing the role of beneficent godfather of the sport, and that’s all good.

On the other hand, you have to wonder if he isn’t about to embarrass himself.

As we’ve been saying since the accident, Lance’s chances of a triumphant Giro d’Italia and even Tour de France are gone. He’s on the far end of “old” for European racing, he has lost the powerful base he built up during the winning Tour years, and he is riding clean of any drug advantage he may have had in the past.

Lance may not even understand, at this point, how outclassed he is. The mind seldom wants to admit what the body already accepts.

While it’s viewed as a little brother to the Tour de France, the Giro is no walk in the park. Its brutal, relentless profile and cutthroat competitiveness are two reasons why no rider has won both in the same season since Marco Pantani in 1998, and only a handful in history have accomplished the feat.

Lance, remember, never even raced the Giro during his heyday, always preferring to “concentrate on” (read “save his energy for”) the Tour. His team leader, Alberto Contador, is skipping the Giro this year to focus on the Tour, despite having won the Giro last year (when he was unfairly banned from the Tour because of team violations the previous season that he had nothing to do with).

So you’ve got the second-toughest race in the season staring you in the face with only one week of racing in a non-Euro-quality event (the Tour of Gila) under your belt. If this were anyone other than Lance, he would not even be in the Giro, for nothing else than the sake of his team’s chances.

To his credit, Lance already is lowering expectations, in interviews admitting he feels “underprepared” and would like to win a stage in the Giro but is basically there to support Levi Leipheimer. If anything, Levi will help Lance win a stage.

A likelier scenario may be a Lance-in-the-pack, hand-waving and crowd-pleasing publicity tour, what might be termed a ceremonial role. And that’s if he finishes the Giro at all.

The primary goal, after all, is for Lance to ride the Tour. He cannot afford a crash or even physical strain from the Giro to endanger his Tour appearance, which involves lots of sponsorship dollars all the way from the race itself to TV and residuals.

Lance won’t be a factor in the race itself. But he has to be present and, hopefully, avoid a DNF in the Tour for his European campaign to be successful.

There’s nothing wrong with any of this, as long as it’s understood and clear. It may just be dawning on Lance that 2009 will not be what he envisioned when he made his majestic return public so many months ago. As long as he continues to lower expectations and presents an honest scenario, avoiding grandiose predictions and false hopes, he’ll exit the season the hero that we all remember him as.

From Bicycling magazine, the Giro riders to watch.

Daily Roundup: Cascade Posts Early May Bike Month Schedule, Bike Mag reassures, Lance ready

In Bicycle Racing, Bicycling, Daily Roundup on April 30, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Cascade is compiling a list of Bike Month events, here‘s the early release. Bike to Work Day on May 15th should be a barnburner this year!

Bicycle Retailer: If what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, then Bike Magazine may have a second wind after all. Here’s the optimistic outlook. The potential darker truth: Print publishing is getting hammered, and magazines are downsizing to almost nothing or going out of business altogether. Let’s hope for the best with the Bike Mag folks!

Lance is pleased with his comeback from surgery so far and still on track to “appear at the starting line” at next week’s Giro d’Italia. How far beyond the starting line he gets is anyone’s guess, but a ceremonial appearance is better than none! The main goal is to keep from reinjuring his shoulder so he can point to the Tour.

Daily Roundup: Catching up on 3-feet-please and Lance

In Bicycling, Daily Roundup on April 28, 2009 at 5:16 am

Traveling back from the hugely successful Sea Otter Classic and brought back to Seattle some digitally compressed California sunshine, 1,000/1 ratio enabling an entire afternoon of sunlight to be transported in a container the size of a bike water bottle. US Patent No. A3587468bbT It’s all in the algorithm. I have enough in store to last thru the week and the big Fluidride Cup race this weekend in Port Angeles.

Am sorry to hear from David Hiller at Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club that the 3-feet-please law died in the Senate transportation committee earlier this month. Colorado fared better and things are going down to the wire in Oregon. More wins than losses these days, though, and that means progress.

Wishing Lance all the best at Gila, but is it a warmup for Giro or…? Nothing much has been said recently about Lance competing in Italy and the Giro starts a week from Saturday. My best wild guess: Teammate Levi was sent out to consult with Lance, get a read on Lance’s conditioning, mindset, etc., and report back to Team Astana director Johan Bruyneel. Lance is probably all systems go but it may not be his decision to make. A ceremonial appearance may be the best compromise. I must say it’s remarkable that Lance is back racing already, albeit a bit risky if he’s truly counting on doing the Giro. Best of luck!

Good to be back!

Lance’s Chances: Degreasing the hype

In Bicycle Racing, Bicycling on March 24, 2009 at 12:13 pm

News reports following Lance Armstrong’s broken collarbone have emphasized that he still has a chance at “full recovery” to ride in the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France. We applaud the cycling community’s effervescent optimism. But let’s do a little reality-checking here.

We all know Lance is a tremendous champion and incredible physical specimen who has done great things in his career. But the guy is not Superman. Even without the injury, he was highly doubtful for completing both the Giro and Tour de France. Remember, at the top of his game, Lance didn’t even try to race both the Giro and the Tour. To suggest that he can come back from a broken collarbone to do much of anything in the Giro is simply wishful thinking. We can hope it will happen, but come on.

The Giro people understandably want to keep hope alive, especially given the PR value of Lance competing. But Lance himself already has cast doubt on the Giro. He may well “recover” in time, and may even be “fully” recovered. But recovered to where? At this point in the season he was in build mode, essentially training for the Tours. He still needs a bunch of road miles under his belt. A full recovery to this point in the season won’t be worth much in something as grueling as the Giro.

But health may be the secondary consideration to strategy here. If Lance rides the Giro, he opens the door to re-injury, whether by another crash or simply from riding in less-than-peak shape. If he suffers another bad break, it will put him out of the Tour for sure. Does he want to risk that? How much is the Giro worth to him if it means jeopardizing the Tour?

All this assumes some pretty big ifs as well. Broken collarbones do heal quickly. I had a similar injury at age 45 and was back on the bike, riding one-handed against doctor’s orders, within 10 days. After a month I could do pretty well. One thing about shoulder injuries is that they can actually make the shoulder stronger over time.

To suggest that Lance will be 100 percent within two to three weeks, though, is pushing it. The problem with a broken collarbone isn’t the healing, it’s the pain, especially standing and climbing. In the Giro, there’s plenty of that, and fairly early on.

Moreover, a recent crash does nothing for your confidence getting back on the bike. You cannot help but be a more cautious individual, your brain won’t allow it. I’ve seen this repeatedly with extreme sports mountain bikers. A bad crash or two pretty much ends their competitive career. In Lance’s case, the recent crash will play in his mind in any crunch situation, mitigating his past instinct to blast through.

There’s also luck. Lance had magical good fortune during his Tour years to avoid injury (he did crash a couple of notable times, but without hurting himself). The odds do catch up with you, especially as time passes and your skillz lose their edge, and your muscles their fast-twitch factor.

The relationship between steroids and other performance-enhancing medications and brittle bones also has been medically proven. To suggest a role here might be stretching it, and Lance continues to deny using anything. But many are skeptical, and the cloud of drug use over professional cycling throughout Lance’s career is well documented.

Finally there’s his age. Team doctors who say a rider can recover to top form within a month are talking about young riders in the prime of their career, and who are in top physical condition. Not only is Lance neither, he lacks the mileage base he could count on during his glory years. He hasn’t competed at world-class levels since 2005. That’s too long, no matter what his former accomplishments.

A sober, unflinching look at Lance’s chances suggests at the very optimum that he will show up for the Giro and ride till the going gets tough, then retire to focus on the Tour. As for the Tour itself, it’s all about the PR. Lance never did have a realistic shot at winning. But if he just shows up and actually finishes, especially given the injury, that will be a remarkable accomplishment in itself.

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