Groundhog Day at Astana HQ: Vinokourov to star in classic comedy remake!

groundhogday_blog

Bill Murray was brilliant in Groundhog Day, playing the cantankerous Phil, the weatherman who woke up every day in the same day, trapped in a town he hated, a fate that drove him to several failed suicide attempts.

Playing Rita, the love interest, was Andie McDowell. Phil tried day after day (quite literally) to bed her, using each identical day to find out more about her likes and dislikes so as to present himself as her perfect (and very fake) man to finally get her under the covers.

21st Century Flops have just issued a press release announcing that they intend to re-make the film, starring none other than our favorite Kazakhstani flat-capped chimney sweep, Alexandre Vinokourov!

Vino in his last film role, the box office hit 'It weren't me Guv'nor!'

Vino in his last film role, the box office hit ‘It weren’t me Guv’nor!’

Vino was deemed to be perfect for the role after experiencing a Groundhog Day-type experience of his own, waking up every day to find that yet again an Astana man had been busted for dilly-dallying with banned substances.

With no less than five – count ‘em – five men who wear the Astana colors testing positive for banned substances in the last two months, it’s an achievement that has to go down in cycling history and surely confirms that Astana are the biggest bunch of f**kwits currently in the business.

And let us not forget young Roman Kreuziger, who’s also been suspended for returning ‘unusual’ blood values from testing done whilst at Astana.

So let’s call yesterday’s positive for Artur Fedosseyev of Kazakhstan the sixth, not bad at all. To use baseball terminology, Astana have knocked that one right out of the ball park and into the car park – the one where Brian Cookson’s car sits.

Six broken windows now Brian – how are you going to respond to that I wonder?

Reports today state that Vino has suspended the Continental team that the last three positives have emanated from, which is interesting considering that he and Vincenzo Nibali have gone out of their way to claim that the World Tour team has absolutely nothing to do with the Continental squad.

“People have to understand that they [the Astana Continental Team] have nothing to do with this team Vinokourov told Gazetta dello Sport. “ The only thing we have in common is the jersey and the name.”

And the doctors and at least one DS. The teams share the services of one Dmitri Sedoun, who is a direteur sportif on both teams.

Poor Vino, it’s really coming at him from all sides isn’t it. It is worth remembering that Vinokourov was dogged by rumors of doping in his career and actually suspended for blood doping in 2007 and that he has just been charged with bribery for his alleged payment of 150,000 euro to Alexander Kolobnev in 2010 for throwing the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic.

(And who says crime doesn’t pay? The fools.)

He made a comeback from his doping ban to become the least applauded winner of any Olympic road race ever, when he won in London in 2012.

Vinokourov should be ok though in spite of all this, proving that a Kazakhstani cat really does have 23 lives. Back home, Kairat Kelimbetov, president of the Kazakhstan Cycling Fed, has resigned and has been replaced by Darkan Mangeldiev, a close friend of Vinokourov.

So despite all travails his path to the Presidency of his homeland still looks clear, and he does have the remake of Groundhog Day to look forward to, which is some consolation.

Playing the role that Andie MacDowell filled so well, love interest Rita, will be Cycling Fans – leaving us finally in no doubt whatsoever that Vino really is trying to screw us.

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Interesting video here featuring former KCF president Kelimbetov talking about Astana at the 2014 Tour de France. Iglinsky (busted) gets singled out for praise, whilst Vino is mentioned as ‘a rider who only comes about once in a hundred years.’

Not too sure that is true Kairat, because we’ve had Ricco, Pantani, Armstrong, Ulrich, Virenque, and on and on and on. Check out the Alternative History of Cycling and you’ll know what I mean…

crankpunker spotted in Denver, Colorado: punkhunt ensues

Michael Sagermann, a.k.a Bobby Snowballs Smith, was last spotted pedaling about in an area just north of Denver, taking scalps and Strava KOMs willy nilly.

Sagermann  is easy to spot in lycra as one of his famed snowballs is bigger than the other.

Sagermann is easy to spot in lycra as one of his famed snowballs is considerably larger than the other.

armed with deep carbon rims and some serious power thanks to Crank Punk Coaching Systems, Sagermann is considered legged and dangerous and should be approached with caution.

or an espresso, as he is quite fond of those, with one of those Italian cookies on the side, the hard ones. with almonds.

here is the last known image of the man, bedecked in the fantastico CPCS kit that is still available in any damn color you can find on the Pantone chart (contact me for prices, sizing, a chat about life, advice on mullets, et cetera).

CPCS3_FDR_22.11.2014

Small Talk interviews Cadel Evans and he doesn’t like Belkin

i’ve had a bit of a soft spot for Cad Bloody El! Evans ever since he made Vinokourov cry over the white mud of the Strade Bianche on Stage 7 of the 2010 Giro.

go to about 1’04 on this video here to see Evans resplendent and filthy in the Rainbow, reminding people just what the f**k it stands for HOO HA.

and if you haven’t seen this stage before you can thank me later…

a genius ride by the Aussie.

he was recently interviewed by the excellent Small Talk of the Guardian newspaper (crankpunk’s first true love in the journalism world, as it happens).

he chats about pregnancy tests, his dislike of green cycling kits (sorry to Belkin then, but thanks for the misleading title of this post) and, when asked whether he’ll spend his retirement riding around his home town snaffling everyone Strava KOMs, he says:

“I’d rather spend my time riding my bike than talking about riding my bike.”

much unlike the vast majority of ‘cyclists’, then [cough].

click the image below to head to the article

Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 12.36.39

the Classics are coming! get yer fix with these great little videos

a shot from my trip in 2014

a shot from my trip in 2014
[image-cp.]

i know i know, you love them too, which is why even in November it’s worth getting ready for 2015 by indulging our guilty love by, well, getting all indulgent and watching some videos featuring these great races and fantastico courses.

last year i was fortunate to be invited along with Peter and Lisa Easton on their Velo Classic Tours week (thanks to PEZ Cycling) which featured a ride over the Paris-Roubaix and Flanders courses, as well as front row seats at both those races and the Scheldeprijs mid-week race. the trip featured amazing rides, incredible food and some very cool bike-mad folk, as well as – most surprisingly – brilliant blue skies all week.

Rodgers takes the win, and no one else (not even the crowd!) in the picture

Rodgers takes the win, and no one else (not even the crowd!) in the picture

 

a highly recommended adventure.

first up is a great little video by a bunch of guys who went to the race last year and also rode the route. as bucketlist items go, this has to be top three on every discerning roadie’s list.

the Tour of Flanders history up next.

Boonen gets spanked by Fabian. (We rode the Muur on the Velo Classic Tours trip).

“He’s [Boonen]  just got to keep him in sight over the top, he’ll catch him if he can.”

Ah Phil, too Liggett to quit!

and finally, not exactly connected to the Classics but it is set in Belgium. incredibly, though Belgium is essentially the home of cycling, in its capital Brussels only 4% of traffic is person-powered.

great stuff…

they even let you take a shower (if you sneak in, that is)

they even let you take a shower (if you sneak in, that is) [image-cp]

Italian cycling is the dirtiest and most corrupt, right? Think again…

*use Google translate please on the Italian websites featured)

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The Italians. Reel off the names of the heroes of Italian cycling and it reads like a Who’s Who of serious heavyweight dopers.

Mario Cipollini, Ivan Basso, Danilo di Luca, Francesco Moser, Riccardo Ricco, Emanuele Sella, Michele Scarponi, and of course the great imbiber, Marco Pantani. Let us not forget also Graziano Gasparre, busted for transporting a veritable drugstore about under his skin.

Gasparre was busted for amphetamine, EPO, HGH, testosterone and cocaine.

If you’re gonna do it proper, Graziano, do it proper!

anyone got a straw?

Gasparre: anyone got a straw?

Il Campionissimo, the great Fausto Coppi, is the greatest rider in a fine tradition of snorters, poppers and needle heads from the Old Boot, and he wasn’t shy about admitting it.

In a TV interview back in the day, he admitted taking ‘la bomba’ [amphetamine] pretty darn regularly.

Question: Do cyclists take la bomba?

Coppi: Yes, and those who claim otherwise, it’s not worth talking to them about cycling.

Question: And you, did you take la bomba?

Coppi: Yes. Whenever it was necessary.

Question: And when was it necessary?

Coppi: Almost all the time.

amphetamine: the chemical diagram of choice for riders in the 50s... and 40s... and 30s... and 60s...

amphetamine: the chemical diagram of choice for riders in the 50s… and the 40s… and the 30s… and the 60s… how they got this down their throats i’ll never know…

There’s no doubt that then that there are some pretty high profile dopers in Italian cycling, and you will often hear people – particularly the English and the Americans – cite the Italians (along with the Spanish) as being the ‘worst for doping’.

But is that actually true? In the past few years surely the highest concentration of dopers have come from the English-speaking nations, in particular from the USA.

‘Ah but ya see, like Lance said, they were just doing it to catch up!’

Yeah and that completely justifies driving what has been called ‘the greatest fraud in sporting history’ – and that is even if you believe that guff.

Back to Italy and their innate need to cheat – cos that’s what we feel it is, let’s be honest here – take a look at this report in VeloNews from back in 2011:

Doping controls on Italian juniors’

Is it a sign that things have gone too far? Or simply an effort to nip the doping scourge in the bud? Officials from Italy’s anti-doping brigade at CONI carried out controls on junior cyclists racing in an event Sunday in northern Italy. The Giornale di Vicenza reported that officials took urine samples from junior riders 13 to 14 years old. CONI confirmed it tests up to 40 juniors throughout the racing season. Italian cycling federation president Renato di Rocco defended the practice, telling the newspaper:

We have to come to accept the fact that we have to start with prevention at the age of 13. The parents and society can have a guarantee that sport will be cleaner, that everyone is racing at the same level, something that’s been questioned for a long time now.

“But something must be said, with all honesty, that there are parents who put high concentrations of caffeine in the water bottles of their own children. It’s time we make a reflection and do all we can to prevent the next generation from entering the road to doping. It’s called prevention.”

I read this and I thought ‘Whoah, those Italians are doping their kids!

I’m sure you will agree, that is hardcore. My initial reaction though ignored the other vey important factor here, and that is that the President – no less – of the Italian Cycling Federation – no less! – was coming forward and saying that yes there was a problem, that yes, the ICF intended to do something about it, and that hell yes, parents of young kids who were coming into the sport deserve to “have a guarantee that sport will be cleaner, that everyone is racing at the same level.”

Is this happening in America, where some very questionable characters still dominate USA Cycling?

No.

(If need be, google Steve Johnson or Thom Wiesel or, alternatively, just read this from me. For some real fun though, go read about American juniors being doped way back when by Chris Carmichael – damn, what a GREAT coach he is, deserves every penny of that wonga he sits on…).

Is this kind of an early, grassroots prevention plan that they have in Italy being presently undertaken by the UCI?

Not that I know of, and certainly wasn’t under Pat MacQuaid.

Even if the kids aren’t doping, and let’s hope they aren’t, this is exactly the kind of thing that this sport needs. I know it is terrible and awful to say that we need to test juniors and oh my goodness please let them be kids for just a little while longer but if this is all part of a system that educates them against doping later and means that parents have peace of mind that there kids aren’t going to be thrown to the wolves once they move up the ranks then yes, do it.

Italy isn’t shy at taking the lead on anti-doping in other respects either. You may remember that the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) went after Alejandro Valverde for doping when everyone else was happy to look the other way, it seemed.

As the article on Podium Café stated at the time:

‘According to CONI, Valverde has violated section 2.2 of the WADA code, “use or attempted use of a prohibited substance or method.” Note that a ride need not actually use blood doping to violate the WADA code, but only “attempt” to use. The Basso case provide the precedent in this context. If CONI can prove its case, the violation carries a two year suspension.

‘In Italy, the Valverde case has never sat well. While Italian star Ivan Basso sat out for two years after conviction in the Puerto case, Valverde continued to win races. Few in Italy believed that Valverde was innocent in the Puerto case. The Spanish authorities have all along proved slow to act on the Puerto evidence. So, too, has the UCI.’

The UCI? Slow to act on a doping case involving a major star? Never!

Did the Spanish federation assist CONI in its case in any way? Or at the very least, let them get in with the case unobstructed?

No. They rushed to Valverde’s defence, as they did when Alberto Contador tested positive for Clenbuterol.

Valverde got a two year ban as a result of this, thank CONI, though he still protests his innocence, as any smart doper will, because fans prefer to be lied to and know it is a lie than to be told the truth as it will mean they’ve been taken for chumps.

Funny old world eh?

Still not sure about the claim that Italy is really not as bad as you thought?

Let’s move on then to Italian gran fondos and some information provided by Uli Fluhme, director of the Gran Fondo New York (GFNY) series.

“Italy,” Uli says, “is at the forefront of doping control in amateur cycling.”

How so? Well, let’s let Uli explain.

“A Gran Fondo in Italy means racing at the highest amateur level. Anyone who doesn’t make the jump from “dilettante” (elite amateur) to pro at 23/24 years old, races granfondo. Any other kind of masters racing is almost non-existent.

“Because cycling is extremely popular in Italy, it is also highly competitive. I’ve raced as an amateur in many countries around the world. Nothing comes close to the level of racing in Italy. While the first granfondo happened in the 70s, the real revolution came in the mid 90s with the introduction of chip timing.

Uli Fluhme

Uli Fluhme

“It allowed cyclists to compete in various categories throughout one big peloton. With that kind of competitiveness you get teams, team cars, sponsors, ex-pros – and of course doping. By the late 90s the level of racing at the front was so high that doping was the only explanation. More and more the regular rider and racer got fed up with granfondo superstars that raced like professionals – and doped for it.

“At first the bigger events liked the racing and the magazines talked about the races. But soon doping controls became the norm. More and more riders got popped. Thanks to a very strict antidoping law, the Italian police started crack-downs on doping rings that sometimes involved a pro here and there but most often dozens of amateurs.”

Hence those reports that come out of Italy and seem to make no sense to the rest of us about doping operations getting busted that come with a long list of amateur riders’ names. It’s not as simple as saying ‘well in Italy even the amateurs dope.’

It’s closer to the truth to say that these guys are doping because the prestige that comes with wining these races – and many are screened live on TV – is massive. You can see a similar trend in the USA in Masters racing. It is not the cash prize that so attracts these guys, but the lure of celebrity.

“In 2011,” continues Uli, “under the tutelage of the late Andrea Pinarello (he died of a heart attack at a race, only 40 years old), the Five Stars League was formed. It contained of the 5 most important granfondos in Italy.

“It had the following rules:

 1. Ex-pros are not allowed to race granfondo for a certain number of years

2. Pros can ride but not race granfondos.

3. The Top 100 riders of the previous year are subject to blood testing before each 5 Star League event

 [the TOP 100! – cp.]

“As a result, the speeds at the races dropped and many of the Top 100 riders disappeared from the 5 big events. Of course it didn’t stop all dopers but it was a good start. While the league does not exist anymore (trying to get the 5 biggest events at one table was probably too difficult), its spirit lives on in each of the event. Ex-pros are still not allowed to race for a number of years and doping controls continue to be done by the federation at numerous granfondo events.”

The number of names, the vast majority amateur, here on this list (in fact on the first page alone!) is impressive.

“The conclusion,” says Uli, “is not that Italians are all cheaters. The conclusion is that there is testing happening at races and events (Triathlon, Half Marathon, Gran Fondo) where other countries look away.

“Look at the Granfondo Roma, where organizer and attorney Gianluca Santilli also works for the Italian Cycling Federation (Federciclismo) and is part of the amateur cycling committee in the UCI. He’s at the forefront of the antidoping movement in Italian cycling. One of his race rules is that a rider testing positive at his event has to reimburse the cost of the test. Furthermore, if he/she is part of a team, the team can be held liable as well. It’s a rule we also implemented at GFNY.”

the Gran Fondo Roma - quite popular, then

the Gran Fondo Roma – quite popular, then

And finally, another notable first that I know of in cycling, the Italian national team management decided back in 2009 to no longer select former dopers for the national team, a decision that saw them clash with the Court of Arbitration in Sport.

The British team adhered to this rule until the British Olympic Association rescinded its ban on the selection of former dopers, meaning that David Millar could compete at London 2012.

If an athlete cheated in any other way though – for example a marathon runner getting in a taxi at KM12 and getting out ahead of the field again at KM39 – would they be allowed back?

What exactly is the difference there?

Anyway, I’m wandering. Back to the Italians.

One forum commentator said back in 2009 when the Italians selected their World’s team and left out Basso that “It is ironic because Italy does have some of the toughest laws but most corrupt administrators.”

‘Most corrupt’ – not sure how to measure that, but yes, there has been corruption in Italian soccer, cycling and athletics (such as in this case , but do remember Carl Lewis et al before you start spitting feathers), but with all the evidence, noted above, to indicate a real attempt by the Italians to clean up their most beloved sport, can we deny that they are leading the fight against doping in cycling in several major areas any longer?

I think not.

Sir Bradley Wiggins becomes a Japanese anime star

i love this (i’m a bit late on it but having lived in Japan for ten years I feel i had to post, made me a little homesick, in a nice way).

El Wiggo in a Japanese anime.

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 22.58.04

 

if you watch carefully in the first few moments you’ll see how, consummate teammate that Wiggins is, he attacks his fellow Sky bods in the last 200m to win on Alpe d’Huez.

Froome must have been with him in the leading group…

in this clip, a schoolgirl is fed up with beaten on the ride to school by a male classmate, so she harnesses the Power Of The Wigg on her ride the next day.

Wiggins actually puts in a speaking appearance too. intriguingly, he is altogether more manly in Japanese. anyway, magically, our schoolgirl’s uniform turns into a Sky kit and her mammachari (or ‘granny bike’ in Japanese) into a Pinarello (she gave it back at the end though, saying her mammachari was torsionally stiffer…).

check out the kids’ schoolbags, provided, it looks like, by Rapha.

spoiler alert: our hero manages just to beat the lad, but she’s since failed a doping test and the result will not be confirmed until the result of her B sample is known.

the link to watch is here, click ‘EN’ at the top right for subtitles.

 

Will Routley interview: “We are all part of this sport and we need people to believe in it again”

Will Routley, cracking fella, was fortunate enough to entice him over to Taiwan for the KOM Challenge just recently.

Will has been a pro since 2008 and just enjoyed his best year with Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies with a win on Stage 4 and the overall KOM in the 2014 Tour of Califiornia.

I caught up with him for a chat.

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Will takes Stage 4 at the ToC

Will takes Stage 4 at the ToC

crankpunk: You’ve been in Asia before, racing, how does Taiwan compare to other areas you’ve been?

Will Routley: I’ve race in Malaysia, Thailand, Korea and also China. Taiwan seems to be more affluent, it’s clean, there’s no glass or junk on the road, I feel at ease and comfortable here. Even in Taipei, I don’t fee the hustle and bustle of other places I’ve been in Asia. The overwhelming chaos is missing!

Continue reading

another positive test: time for Astana to go

Victor Okishev, a 20-year-oldAstana rider, has tested positive for steroids from a test taken in May.

that is now 4 Kazakhstani Astana riders in the past few months.

Iglinsky, apparently not smiling now..

Iglinsky, apparently not smiling now..

when i rode the UCI Asia Tour there was a feeling amongst the peloton that the Kazakh riders generally were not all they appeared to be. it was a hunch, going off performances we had seen. at the very least the nation seems to have something of a problem, as does its national team, with the abuse of banned substances.

and mullets.

it must have nothing to do with their general manager and national hero (destined to be president too by the looks of things) being an unrepentant doper himself.

no, not at all.

Nibali, what have you got to say now? time to get out, some might argue. but where to? Tinkoff? Vaughters and Garmin? any of the other teams staffed by former dopers?

yet again, the UCWhy reaps what they have sowed, and we get to choke on it…

BRECK EPIC introduces Zero Tolerance for dopers!

proper NEWSFLASH this one…

Mike McCormack, organiser of the BRECK-EPIC MTB stage race in Colorado, one of the premier events in North America, today tweeted that his race will no longer accept as an entrant any rider that is serving or has ever served a USADA or WADA suspension.

this is awesome.

why?

because it’s a brave decision.

why?

because it’s basically a one-finger salute to the authorities and to the dopers and their facilitators (team management/doctors/masseurs/race organisers/commentators/journalists/MotoMan) who have brought our sport to its knees.

Mike’s decision reflects a growing sense of empowerment amongst organisers. they do not want their hard work nor the integrity of their event compromised by cheats.

simple.

last night i was chatting to Uli Fluhme, the organiser (alongside his wife Lidia) of the GFNY (Gran Fondo New York, sponsored by Camagnolo) series. his event also has a strong anti-doping policy, being the first in the world to exclude from competition any rider from anywhere who has ever been banned – for anything.

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 10.19.43

the Taiwan KOM Challenge that I help organise has a similar policy. Uli and I were talking about how and whether other event organisers might introduce

holier-than-thou? self-righteous?

no. why not? because we are riders too.

first and foremost, we are riders too.

we expect what the competitors in these events expect: a clean, fair and legitimate race against clean, legitimate and fair competition.

that we have the opportunity to enact these ideas is great, but it could not be done if they did not reflect the genuine desire, one held by the vast majority of cyclists, to clean up our sport.

this is our sport.

it is not theirs.

that mangled heap of a thing that Armstrong lorded over for so long, that Pat let stew like manure in his back garden, that corrupted commentators and journalists let stay covered and festering – that is not cycling.

something has begun. a quiet revolution. let’s hope this grows.