Lombardia, Astana and their Dirty Duo, and Women’s Prize Money (Again)

It wasn’t so much that there wasn’t enough to write about on any one of the subjects included here in the title of this article, but more that all three are deserving of being given some attention, the first because it is constantly overlooked, the second because it is an example of the willfully overlooked, and the third because well, it’s worth looking at (again).

So, not so much as a ‘Top 3 Talking Points’ but more like ‘Top 3 Things That Suck.’

What sucks about the Giro di Lombardia is that very few people seem to be bothered taking it seriously. A travesty! The Classic of the Dead Leaves (or a classica delle foglie morte for those who’ve eaten all their spaghetti) is just that, a proper classic.

The first edition was in 1905, which makes it 108 this year, an age bettered by very few one day races anywhere. It was originally called Milan-Milan for reasons I can’t quite fathom, but it does lack a little in the imagination. Not that that should detract any from what is a magnificent race.

The route has changed a great deal over the years but the two constants are Lake Como and the Madonna del Ghisallo climb, the latter of which is one of the great iconic landmarks in world cycling. Sean Kelly and the great Henri Pelissier are the only non-Italians to win the race three times, but it is the Italians who have dominated throughout the lifespan of the event, winning a whopping 67 times, compared to Belgium’s 7 wins, the nation second in the rankings.

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inside the Madonna del Ghisallo

Why is it so good? It’s not just the length that it has been running, it’s also the hilly parcours, the winding lanes that feature towards the end no matter, it seems, where it finishes, the Madonna climb, the sweeping views of the lake, the fact it is in Italy and they are mad for it, the fact Fausto Coppi won it five times and because it just is a proper classic of a one dayer.

Why has it been neglected so often? Well it doesn’t help that the organisers change the route so much, nor that it comes at the end of the year and after the World’s when many a fan is ready to hibernate or do something unfeasibly ridiculous like build up a fixie and buy a flat-nebbed baseball hat, nor that it has had its name changed from the Giro di Lombardia (its proper name), to Il Lombardia and finally now to the Tour of Lombardy.

Get a grip, please, Signori! Anyway, watch it, you’ll be suitably rewarded.

On to Astana. First Valentin then Maxin Iglinsky get popped for le dopage. Well done lads, maître must be proud, she’s raised a proper little pair hasn’t she? I raced against both these guys and I didn’t like them then. That was a few years ago now and there was a rumour that all was not as it seemed in that Kazakhstan team in which they then rode.

Ah well, they got them in the end I suppose, though not until both got some decent cash out of their flaunting of those things, what are they called… ah yes, almost forgotten them – the rules.

So what would you recommend? If you have two riders on your team busted for doping shouldn’t the management get a special prize?

Like a lifesize toy -the kind you get at the circus for knocking over bottles with a BB gun – maybe of Mickey Mouse? Or perhaps the UCI could dock the team 500 UCI points and see how they get on the next time their World Tour license comes up for revision? Or maybe we just do… nothing.

I vote for the latter. Why change things now, when they are running so smoothly.

Astana though did sign the MPCC charter, which calls for any team that has two riders test positive within 12 months to withdraw itself from competition for 8 days. However Astana will still be lining up at the start in Lombardy this weekend because they say they will wait for the return of Iglinsky’s B sample. Another example, like so many others, of a team putting itself before the integrity of the sport from which it feeds.

Maxim Iglinsky and another fine ride

Maxim Iglinsky and another fine ride

And finally, at the back end, as they usually are, the women.

What an absolute load of tosh I have been reading these past few days after what was in all honesty a dull old World Championships. Many male commentators watched the women’s race and then said it was ‘boring’, so the women (and anyone else who points it out) should shut up about the yawning chasm in prize money. A reasoned point of view that one, well done lads.

One that needs no further comment, really. One dull race does not an argument make.

But more seriously, I have first hand experience with the difficulty of changing things around when it comes to getting the pay levels raised. I am a consultant for a big Asian race and we have several fantastic female riders coming over, absolute top level riders.

In fact, so good is the women’s list looking that it rather puts the men’s in the shade, and more than a little. This in spite of the fact that the men’s prize pot is something like five times bigger than the women’s.

And yet there are several top female cyclists mailing me and still wanting to come. Why? Because they very often race for absolutely nothing, and something is better than nothing.

The other reason is that several male riders won’t get out of bed for less than a few grand. The vast majority of female riders though are living proof that women do not get into this sport to get rich – they truly are doing it for the love.

Now, personally I’d like the pot for each to be the same, but I am not funding the event. It really is a step by step deal. It is frustrating, and I am probably going to get in trouble for saying this, but it should, absolutely, be equal, but the sponsors have different ideas.

So we hope for success this year, to have something tangible to show, and then we push for more next.

Something even close would be good, and I think that is something many women who race desire and that many who moan on about this issue negatively don’t get – it is not necessarily absolute parity that is the demand of most – it is just to get somewhere even close.

Something like 400 euro for the winner of the women’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad race, 95,000 euro for the men. I mean, seriously?

And on that note – enjoy Il Tour di Lombadia on Sunday!

Crank Punk Coaching Systems: “It’s the greatest thing since energy gel flavored energy gel,” says James Cole

James Cole, for,er top-level sailor turned cyclist

James Cole, former top-level sailor turned cyclist, on the Mecca of climbs, Alpe d’Huez

Well he didn’t really say that but he should have.

James Cole, 37, originally from Oz but now living in Singapore, joined CPCS some months back in preparation for the 2014 Haute Route Alps. Here is his account of life as a crankpunker.

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by James Cole

Crankpunk got me through the Haute Route Alps (HRA). This event is 900+km over 7 days with 23,000m of climbing over the French Alps.  There is just no other way I could have completed without Lee/Crankpunk sorting me out with a program that just worked.

Living in Singapore with the highest lump only 80m above sea level, I set myself a huge challenge by signing up for HRA in July 2013.  Having only really been cycling for 6 months at that stage it was a really crazy idea to think I could do it.  At that time I getting into cycling and was enjoying it, but training?  What was that?  I just rode to work daily and did group rides on the weekends with their pre-designated sprint points and otherwise comfortable do your turn on the front and have a good chat time rides.

Then I started getting into the racing, and oh crap.  I was able to keep up for the first half, and then the suffering and the getting dropped set in and that was just no fun.  So it was time to re-evaluate my approach and ask around what the fast guys were doing. This is when I stumbled onto Lee and decided if you can’t beat them, then at least start utilising their coach and programs.

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James, training on Singapore’s Mt. Faber (I think)

So in Dec 2013 the Crankpunk relationship with Lee started.  First with the discussion of goals, what I wanted to achieve (ie complete the HRA) and working out my general timing and availability to ride.  Having 2 young kids time pressures can get restrictive, but fortunately riding to work daily (30km each way) made for a satisfactory alternative and Lee was able to work around that.  So gone were the rubbish miles rides where I rolled into work to be replaced by various types of intervals.  The work ride changed from routine to being what punishment/suffering has Lee dreamed up for me this week.  It made Sunday nights interesting as I waited for what was in store the following week.

After a few months the initial results were in. OCBC race in April came and went and finished with a 6th place in the sprint.  Never been at the front at the end of the race let alone in the sprint.  Then there was the Cycosports Bintan Race shortly after.  Got into a break which lasted for 60km before the peloton chased us down.  Never had been in a real break before let alone lasting that long in one.  So the crankpunk program was working.

Now it was time to focus on HRA.  How on earth was I going to get over those mountains when all I did was train and ride on the flat?  But somehow Lee nailed it.  When I got to France and started that first climb up Columbiere I put myself into the groove as we had trained for on those mind-numbing repeats up that 80m lump they call Mount Faber he had me do regularly. I sat in that groove, kept the cadence high but comfortable and climbed.  And then everyone seemed to be going backwards as I climbed.  I reached the top and went wow, I can do this and now for the next climb.  7 days later the HRA was complete and now it was a case of how to convince the wife to let me do it all again next year.

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So the Crankpunk program works.  It isn’t one of those cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all program, but it works around what you want to achieve and the timing you have available to do it.  It isn’t easy but you shouldn’t expect easy if you are signing up for a cycling program, but it is fun and very rewarding with a lot of variety.  Lee provides great feedback and keeps you focused.

Highly recommended.

Crank Punk Coaching Systems Testimonial: Chris Hodgson

I started working with Chris Hodgson, 47, from the UK after he contacted me with regards to getting ready for the 2014 Mongolia Bike Challenge, of which I had just been announced as the official coach. We started in March and had a good 6 months to prepare. Here is his testimonial with regards to Crank Punk Coaching Systems.
Chris & I on the finish line after the filan stage of the 2014 Mongolia Bike Challenge

Chris & I on the finish line after the final stage of the 2014 Mongolia Bike Challenge – and not comfortably numb at all…

Many thanks Chris!
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CPCS Training Testimonial
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Chris Hodgson
I was the most skeptical guy you could find where personal trainers are concerned, believing that getting fit and strong was just a matter of application and consistent hard work.
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Not a spring chicken anymore, I’d happily get stuck in to biscuits, chocolate, a bottle of single malt and plenty of beer and wine every winter – well let’s just say enough to put on 10kg over my summer weight.
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Then every spring I’d start to loose a few kg and more or less make it down to 93 -95kg for the summer and take part in whatever race plan had been born out of some alcohol induced bravado shared with my mates during the winter in some pub or other.
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The particular mates I am referring to in this case had done the Cape Epic the previous year and I suspect doubted my chances of completing the Mongolia Bike Challenge without any kind of formal preparation, so they conned [!- cp] me into signing up with Lee Rodgers, the official coach of MBC.
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Both of them then continued with their previous coach…
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Joking apart, I had managed to take part in some decent sportives such as L’Etape du Tour and some multi-stage events with Hot Chillee so I wasn’t a complete slug by any means, but I had been susceptible to cramp and hills were not my forte as you’ll appreciate. Lee and I set some goals and agreed that the Genco Mongolia Bike Challenge was the main target, and that was it.
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No power meters, no concentrating on heart rate, no sticking overly rigidly to the schedule – the plan was designed to fit my life, not the other way around. If it was pouring with rain and blowing a force eight gale, no problem, we switched to some indoor work instead of a long ride.
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No crazy diet either, although I confess my partner Lucy is a nutritionist, of InsideOutHealth, so my diet is pretty good (except for the above mentioned vice or two ). Lee actually said early on, ‘don’t worry your weight will drop naturally’ and I remember thinking, ‘I hope he’s right’.
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Now I am not saying I didn’t put the effort in and most certainly did my fair share of early morning starts but strangely, I never got tired of training. Don’t get me wrong either, there were plenty of times I pushed myself when I was supposed to take it easy to but somehow Lee always knew what was going on, which was remarkable given he only had my training notes (which where almost unintelligable ) and our weekly call to go by. I won’t give the game away here, but enough to say the results were pretty good for me, even if I say so myself.
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First race, two months in, La Rioja in Logrono, Spain. The field where all on 29’ers and most were pretty fit looking apart from the Pros who looked, well, like Pros. and me and my mates in the Vets’ section at the back.
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I took my old Specialized 26″ tank but in spite of coming in from a bar at 3 am the morning before the race, we made it to the start – just – and to my surprise, I wasn’t getting dropped and actually gained a few places throughout the day to finish about 30mins behind the slower of my two friends.
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Second day, I crashed quite heavily so although I finished the stage sadly had to withdraw on day 3. ( Sorry Lee I did that all on my own).
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However it was enough to know that some progress was being made and there was some previously unrealised power in those old legs.
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Next major mile stone the London to Paris, organised by Hot Chillee and four months into my training with Lee. Anyone who has ridden this will know that when your in group 3 the group 2 pace seems very similar and yet try and hold it for 3 days with all the GC, Sprints and red sections (climbs), that’s another story. My goal was to complete the ride in G2, something which I had failed to do twice before, having to bailout to group 3 due to cramp ( honest ). Well, this time I finished a credible mid field in Group 2 – very happy with that.
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Finally, Six months on and the Genco Mongolia Bike Challenge was upon us. I was now down to around 85kg give or take and feeling pretty tuned up. It has to be said that the three weeks prior to the race found me on business flying out to Hong Kong to London, NY and then back to  London, and so by the time we got back out to Beijing for the final leg of our journey to Mongolia I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen, if you know what I mean.
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The, the Race.
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Well, I just got stronger and stronger. There was one 170km day, after which I said to the organiser, “Willy, well done, you nearly killed me today” but in truth I was relatively fresh and the next day, another 170Km, I went even harder.
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So would I recommend Lee? Absolutely. I’m not saying the other coaches aren’t any good and won’t help generate results, but the way CrankPunk teases performance out is amazing.
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Look out Wiggo, there is a buffalo (albeit a skinny one now) on a bike and he’s coming!

Xenton Prio Road Bike Review, by Farsell Burst

Tired of reading fawning, sycophantic bike reviews that seem to have been written more in fear of losing advertising revenue than anything else? Fear not! Mr. Burst tells it like it IS…

The Xention Prio, by Farsell Burst

First of all let me say that this is THE GREATEST road racing bike of all time. It’s so great in fact that it is JUST AS GREAT as all the other bikes I’ve ever reviewed, but it is NO GREATER than the one I’m gonna review next month, because it is in fact JUST AS GREAT as that one too.

This cutting edge piece of carbon has been made much like all the other frames out there and rides much like much of all the other frames out there and is really good.

It has wheels and they are quite round, a major technological advancement, I’m sure you would agree. And the whole thing is stiff and compliant and generally – except for a few sneaky moments – complies with the laws of physics.

Gravity? This bike agrees with gravity, you can be sure about that. Thank the Xenton engineers and their patented ‘Gravity-Compliant Bi-lateral Parallel Seat Stay Thing’ for that one. This isn’t just marketing jizz because there’s a sticker on the bike that says it, so it is absolutely real.

I really like the painjob too. It looks like paint and it adheres very well to the frame. The decals are top-notch and flush to the carbon, which BLEW ME AWAY. I tried to peel them off but I couldn’t, because – get this, you aero freaks out there – they are under the paint.

How do they do it? Who knows!

On downhills the bike goes down, and on uphills it goes up. I tried to make it go sideways but it wouldn’t, which some may find limiting in a road bike costing $18,000, but I found that most agreeable, and I am not easily pleased.

I was pleased with the rubber on the tires too, because it was black and rubbery. That pleased me a lot.

The  bike comes with ‘bar tape’ which also BLEW ME AWAY because it was actually tape and it was on the bars. Some very clever name-thinking-up went on at Xenton before they rolled this puppy out.

At the end of the week, I just didn’t want to give it back.

In any case I actually couldn’t, because I came all over it.

It is that sexy.

So all in all, this bike is THE GREATEST BIKE EVER.

Just like every other bike I’ve ever reviewed.

But it isn’t without it’s faults. Because generally it’s a piece of crap. Because, erm, – well… I though the seatpost was a little too straight…maybe? But hey, who am I to grumble.

After all, I do get paid to write generic waffle that no one in their right mind could possible ever mistake for a real review.

Til next time chumps buddies!

Farsell Burst

Marketing Manager at Felt, Cannondale, Colnago, Scott, Trek et cetera et cetera and on and on and on…

The Xenton Prio. It's a crap bike.

The Xenton Prio. It’s a crap bike.

crankpunk adventures on Lezyne

Lezyne have been sponsoring me for as long as I can remember, in one form or another – i think it might be around 4 years now.

the support has always been top notch, as have the products. here is a report on the Lezyne website that was up on here a few days ago, if you didn’t catch it on cp you can read it on the Lezyne site.

cheers! you guys rock. click on the image below to head to the article.

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and check out the new products they are launching for Year 8, the KTV light is pretty funky.

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