possibly the longest team name in the history of cycling and there’s only one man on the team…
disaffected with most of my experiences on cycling teams i had an idea towards the end of last season – why don’t I race independently, forget racing UCI events, focus on the regional and international elite amateur road races on offer these days and start doing more international MTB events?
i approached the brands that i’ve been connected with for several years and some new ones too and wrangled both product and financial support from some and bingo, i’m a one man band now roaming the planet looking for finish lines.
supporting me through 2014 will be:
Lezyne with tools and accessories
BlkTec with wheels, stem, handlebars, seatpost and tires
720Armour with eyewear
and last but not least, Lapierre with both road & MTB frames and groupsets.
so far the calendar has only two confirmed races, the Craft Bike TransAlp (MTB) and the GENCO Mongolia Bike Challenge, though also in the sights are the TransPyr (MTB) the Crocodile Trophy in Australia (MTB), and Leadville (MTB).
on the road i’ll be racing in Taiwan in the regional series, doing the Singapore nationals again with the Lapierre Asia Cycling Team, possibly the Tour of Friendship again in Thailand, and the Tour of Bintan (again with Lapierre Asia).
i’d like to say a huge thank you to all my sponsors and to the friends and family that have supported me and continue to do so.
this year is, i hope, gonna be a corker!
thanks to Matias Lauryssens for this.
Thrilled to announce that I’m going to be sponsored this year by LEZYNE, using their kick-ass products as I venture off racing road and MTB in Taiwan, Asia and the rest of the world!
I’ll be joining a select few athletes that also represent LEZYNE such as Cedric Garcia, mad MTB legend from France, the legally blind rider Bobby McMullen who is just incredible [watch this video below, awesome stuff], and Angie Hohenwarter, a freerider who brings a great shot of glamour to the greasy business of bikes.
And of course also in the LEZYNE stable is porribly the world’s best known cyclist, Danny MacAskill.
He was in Taiwan last year and I was lucky enough to see some of the making of this film that you can watch here below. Just mind-blowing, not only the tricks, but the effort he puts in.
Thanks to all the folks at LEZYNE for making this happen, I intend to crank on!
Philippe Gilbert is one of my favourite riders on the World Tour – since he debuted with Francaise Des Jeux back in 2003, the man has done enough to be considered a living legend.
His first year in the pro peloton brought the Points Classification and a stage win at the Tour de l’Avenir, no small feat that.
2004 and especially 2005 saw a raft of wins in minor races, but it was in 2006 that the Belgian started to show his colors, flashing his peacock tail to take the mini-classic Omloop Het Volk with a raging series of attacks that saw him ride the last 7km alone.
In 2009 he again won Omloop and claimed the victory at Paris-Tours also, signaling to anyone with a modicum of bike sense that this was a serious prospect for just about any one day honor he set his sights on.
In 2010 he won Paris-Tours again, claimed the 20th stage in the Giro and managed his first ever Monument win in the Giro di Lombardia, a race he would win again the next year too.
Lombardia suited him, with its rolling hills and snaking lanes, but interestingly he was also third at the Tour of Flanders in 2010.
And who can forget his year of brilliance, 2011? He seemed to be able to win at will, with scintillating victories at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the Amstel Gold Race, La Feche Wallone and the first stage of the Tour de France, among others.
It was an incredible run of form that brought him the accolade of the Number One ranked rider in the UCI World Tour for 2011.
He signed for BMC Racing for 2012 and things generally began to come apart for Gilbert – which might seem a ridiculous statement coming in the year he won the World Championships on the road, but it’s true nonetheless.
Later, Gilbert put his dip in form down to deviating from his usual training plan to adhere to the one devised for him by the BMC coaches, and also to a switch of pedals and saddle.
But whatever lessons were there to be learnt after a generally unimpressive 2012 didn’t seemed to have been heeded as the 2013 season unfolded.
Gilbert had a dismal season in the Rainbow jersey and was in serious danger of going winless through the year, something which would have had those who believe in the ‘Curse of the Rainbow Jersey’ frantic.
He finally managed a victory at the 2013 Vuelta a Espana on Stage 12, in what was undoubtedly his worst season, win-wise, as a pro.
And so on to 2014, and Gilbert has high hopes for a victory at Milan-San Remo.
Speaking at the unveiling of a new finish for the Italian Classic earlier this week, Gilbert said he was, “happy to see that San Remo is better for me and I will focus on this.
“San Remo is a race I love and I would love to win. I’ve been on the podium a few times and I’m still convinced I can win this and now even more.
“The riders make the race, but if we climb that climb with real climbing speed, I don’t see any sprinters – apart from [Peter] Sagan of course – being able to follow,” Gilbert said.
“Sagan is the exception, because he can climb, sprint and even [time trial], but the other sprinters, I don’t see a chance for them.”
Gilbert already knows a win at Paris-Roubaix or the Tour of Flanders is beyond him, partly because of his size (at 67kg he can’t compete with the likes of the 80kg-plus Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara) and partly because of the routes of those two races (Roubaix is too flat and the climbs of Flanders come too far from the finish).
But with the arrival of Sagan – whom Gilbert correctly points out as the main man for San Remo – the Belgian has an adversary that can beat him at his own game.
Sagan can and surely will win several Classics in the years to come, and was just pipped into second last year in San Remo by Gerald Ciolek. He won Gent-Wevelgem with a brilliant solo effort, as well as a host of other races.
His second at Flanders, to an incandescent Cancellara, was a great result even though he didn’t win.
Last year Sagan put down the markers for the older riders, announcing he has the legs not just to win the hard-men Classics like Roubaix and Flanders, but also the Classics more suited to the traditional all-rounders such as Gilbert.
For Gilbert – can he win Milan-San Remo? It’s a no for me. With fast men like Sagan and Marcel Kittel improving all the time, I can’t see him ever having another 2011.
And the other Classics where Gilbert has conquered all in the past? Pit a 100% fit Sagan against a 100% fit Gilbert, and I’d say the Slovenian gets the nod every time.
by crankpunk. this article first appeared on The Roar.
Here we go! The World Tour is about to kick off with a bang in Nuriootpa in less than a week.
It will deliver us cycling fans from the long, dreary winter and its dearth of international road races, booting us off in 2014 towards a spring that includes, as it ever does, those tantalising and always delicious Classics.
There may be a case to support the claim that non-Aussie cycling fans are even more excited about the Tour Down Under than the Australians themselves.
At least Aussies have been enjoying blue skies for the past few months, able to ride and race away to your heart’s content and to watch some high-calibre racing, such as the Bay Classic Series and the recent, hotly contested national road race.
For most of the rest of the world? Cold, miserable, and nothing on the telly involving human-powered two wheelers is what they get spoon fed for these long, dark winter months.
Oh yeah, and you got the added enjoyment of thrashing my countrymen at the cricket, a sport that I couldn’t give a toss about really… unless we’re winning, that is.
Anyway, back to cycling.
Though now firmly established on the World Tour calendar and a huge success in terms of its popularity with Australian cycling spectators, the Tour Down Under comes so early in the season that it encounters a peloton whose members are in varying arrays of race readiness.
The Australian pros are in very good condition as a result of the previously mentioned national championships having been held just recently, with Cadel Evans and Simon Gerrans in particular looking extra sharp.
Gerrans will be in his first outing in that Australian champion’s jersey, something some thought Cadel wasn’t too fussed about after he stated that the jersey “doesn’t count for much” in the Sydney Morning Herald last week.
Evan’s manager was angered enough by the fallout from the comment, with some questioning Cade’s patriotism, though any doubts that the fans themselves had turned on Australia’s only winner of the Tour de France were distinguished immediately when he appeared on the start line in Buninyong.
His ride itself also proved that he wasn’t there just to make up the numbers, and he fell just short of taking the title.
Can he win the 2014 TDU? I’m going to say no.
He ran out of gas at the nationals, and though it was just by a sliver, it seems indicative of a rider who is always very, very good but who is aiming to peak later in the year.
I can’t see him sustaining the top form needed to win here over the duration, can’t see him going for the time bonuses on offer and don’t think he’d have enough in the tank to defend a slender lead up the final climb on the last day.
Simon Gerrans though is another matter entirely. The Orica-GreenEDGE rider has already won the race twice, raced to a stage win last year and will have the added incentive of wearing the Aussie colours before a home crowd too.
The 33-year-old is an absolutely cracking rider, a real ‘pro’s pro’, and he’s shown in the past that he is a rider capable of several peaks over a season, being good in January, again in April and then again in July.
He’s my favourite this time around, with the strongest team in the race behind him, just shading Belkin and Sky on that score. There’s little mistaking OGE’s ambition here to take the win.
Richie Porte gets a chance to lead a tour team, perhaps in preparation this time for the Giro in May, and he rode to a very handy third of course last week behind Gerrans and Evans. Unlike those two, who are both excellent one day riders (with Cadel also obviously being a hell of a stage rider too), Porte gets better as the days go on, and he’ll be looking to do the same next week.
Sky have such depth in numbers these days that just about any team they send out looks capable of defending a lead, and with Bernie Eisel and Geraint Thomas on the TDU squad, backed up by Ian Stannard and Chris Sutton, Porte is a real danger.
Of the other obvious choices, Robert Gesink springs to mind, backed up on his Belkin team by Jack Bobridge who had a decent ride at the nationals.
Gesink is what could be described as a mercurial figure though – the odd time he is brilliant, yet more often than not he disappoints. Time for him to shake that tag, I think, and this would be a good place to start.
In truth though he needs bigger climbs than this year’s race has to offer, so a win is I feel beyond him.
Four more riders to watch out for, the first being Jens Voigt.
No chance for the win, I just wanted to mention him because a) this is his last year; and b) I, like all sensible cycling fans, think he’s just brilliant. No other words really, just brilliant!
‘Shut up legs’, et cetera.
Next is Caleb Ewan. Can I write WTF here?
Well I did anyway.
Seriously, how good is this kid? Cadel Evans has taken him under his wing and Matt White believes he has a shot here at the overall, and if ever a rider was short on confidence, it’s not Ewan: he’s already talking of taking on Andre Greipel next week.
“To be exposed to that level of racing will be good,” Ewan said recently. “If you could beat him [Greipel] it would be a pretty big confidence boost. Maybe that is a bit too far fetched for now, but I will have a go.”
And though Ewan won’t be racing for OGE at the TDU, if his chances for the win are waning we may see him adding his support to Gerrans if necessary. Such a move certainly wouldn’t harm his career.
Next up, just mentioned, Andre Greipel. A hat-trick for the big guy? It’s a definite possibility, without any really troubling hills or hill repeats this year.
However, a better chance for the win and a greater threat to Gerrans comes in the bequiffed form of another German, Marcel Kittel. This guy is good and getting better all the time, and he has less bulk to drag up that final day’s climb than Greipel.
He has the flat speed to take wins too and to be in the mix for the bonus seconds.
Kittel has something of Tom Boonen about him I feel, if that is not too much of a stretch.
He’s lightning fast now but has a lean muscularity rather than bulk, much like Boonen.
Of course, Boonen by Kittel’s age had won far more and he is one of the greatest one day riders of any generation, but there are similarities.
He would be my favourite were it not for Gerran’s ride at the nationals and for the fact that last year he was invisible. On paper he looks a real threat, but is he just here to build form? Or did he bring his firecrackers?
We shall see, very soon indeed.
by cp. this article originally appeared in The Roar
Reason to hope? Or back to being dopes?
2013 may still be with us but like a wheezing great-uncle on his last legs, bedded down in the far-corner of the infirmary, its life, inevitably, is fading faster almost than Lance Armstrong’s fan-base did.
It was, however, a proper little rager in its youth, 2013, ringing in the full fury unleashed at the dog-end of 2012 by Travis Tygart’s Reasoned Decision in which the head of USADA named 11 cyclists who gave evidence against their one-time team leader, the aforementioned LA.
Amongst them were such good ol’ American boys, such clean and chippy next-door types as Levi Leipheimer, Dave Zabriskie, George Hincapie and Tom Danielson.
Get the heck outta here!
after plowing my lonely furrow here for what must be about a year, i’ve decided to extend the roster from just me to include a host of fantastic writers who will be contributing to the site from here on in.
we’re gonna give it two months and see how it goes. expect some great writing on all kinds of topics coming your way very soon indeed!
onwards and upwards!
what a week! quite thrilling, in so many ways.
analysis on PEZ here.