Tagged: sky

Kate Smart takes a ganders at the 2014 ProTour kits

by Kate Smart

Team kits, men’s cycling fashions, call it what you will, but the time has come to give the new 2014 kits of the pro teams, the Smart treatment.

 I love a bit of retro and red goes faster

The 2014 Lotto-Belisol kit is Retro-licious. I love it. Looking at the promo photos for the kit, it’s almost like being a kid again.

he's not exactly lookin' thrilled but it is a decent kit

he’s not exactly lookin’ thrilled but it is a decent kit

My only criticism would be the colour as I have a personal preference for a more fire engine red.

Team Katusha has always been the red for me, although this year, they seem to have toned it down a little. Don’t they know, ‘red goes faster?’

mean, moody... and less red

mean, moody… and less red

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend

I love diamonds. Of course I do, I’m a woman.

And there is no better diamond pattern on a cycling kit, than Garmin Sharp. The American team are taking the notion, ‘cycling is the new golf’, seriously with the golf style diamond lines, too.

Argyletastic

Argyletastic

The blue is also darling. It’s more nuanced than a pastel or a sky blue, but not too deep to be dark and depressing. This is surely going to be the easiest kit to accessorise with.

Astana’s use of a richer blue also deserves a special mention.

cp says..... uh....

cp says….. uh…. well… ummmmm

Their pale, pastel blue of previous years has had a refreshing facelift although it does border slightly onto Avatar alien blue and let’s be honest, that’s three hours of our lives we’ll never get back.

Speaking of blue, FDJ are on to a winner!

3295-fdj-renouvelle-jusqu-en-2016This year’s kit is much improved on last year’s white, which was a perfectly fine kit except the thought of having to wash a white kit always gave me nightmares.

Ditto Argos-Shimano.

Black is the new black

thumbs... almost up?

thumbs… almost up?

Omega-Pharma Quickstep has increased their percentage of black with this year’s kit.

A team representative has described the kit as ‘elegant and stylish at the same time’.

Melbourne is a city where there is only one occasion when a woman does not wear black and it is her wedding day. Wedding guests are also permitted a rare foray into colour.

In fact the city’s motto is, ‘got any blacker’, so clearly I am an expert, by birth on if a black outfit is elegant and stylish.

OPQS can be thankful that I completely concur with their statement.

The OPQS 2014 kit is cycling’s equivalent of the LBD (little black dress).

I’m absolutely loving it.

anything beats this though... everything is just so very, very wrong here...

anything beats this though… everything is just so very, very wrong here…

Sky has decided to continue on with, well practically the same black on black, with one exception.

Keeping this in mind, there are some rules to wearing black and the first of these is to steer clear of the sheer, everything including my nipples are on show.

I’m not sure what’s more offensive, the barely there time trail kit or the porn star pose of Chris Froome modeling the offensive kit.

Avert your eyes, the pain is too great.

now this image is indelibly tattooed onto your brain, too...

now this image is indelibly tattooed onto your brain, too…

I firmly believe that we should all cover up, at all times.

I know so many of you will be reading this, thinking, ‘oh, she’s so lucky, she lives in Australia where it’s always hot and the hot Hugh Jackman type men get around with their shirts off, all of the time, and blah, blah, blah.’

Let me dispel a few of these myths.

  1. It’s freezing in Melbourne right now. Seriously, winter was warming than this.
  2. There is only one Hugh Jackman and most Aussie women desperately want more Australian men to put some Goddam clothes on.

Sky’s time trial kit borders on obscene and here’s hoping common sense and decency will prevail.

Either that or a nasty case of gravel rash from a half decent fall will convince the Sky powers that be to get their riders to cover up.

Once again, BMC are doing black with red well.

bzm6qircyaaybhn.jpg?w=604

I’m a lifelong supporter of the Essendon Football Club (AFL) and hence am unable to say anything other than black and red make a wonderful colour combination.

Navy blue is so stately

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I do like the deep blue of Movistar and I’m pleased there has been little change to this handsome and manly kit, with the fun fluoro green M.

screen-shot-2014-01-01-at-9-21-08-pm

Adding to my approval of the use of this stately deep blue is Australia’s Orica GreenEdge.

These are two riding kits you could go to the polo in. They say mature, worldly and upper class.

15108_06-01-2014_2670

It works because they’re French

I have a little confession.

I have always liked the AG2R kit.

I like it because the teal offsets the brown perfectly and with the inclusion of brown shoulders to match the brown shorts, the look has been perfected.

Quoted on the velonews website, AG2R La Mondiale general manager Vincent Lavenu said, “I think this is both an aesthetic and technical success” and I think he’s right.

It stands to reason that the Frenchies would concern themselves with ensuring aesthetics are combined with technical consideration.

they say he can fit on your keyring...

they say he can fit on your keyring…

 

Kermit does a wheelie

Well, I’m sure Sagan will do at least one wheelie this year and possibly a chicken dance and I’m quite sure he will keep his hands to himself as he cycles through the pro-tour in his richer green Cannondale kit.

he wqs punched in the nuts soon after

he was punched in the nuts soon after

I like this green and I bet Belkin wishes they had of got in there first. I can’t help but think Belkin arrived too late at the clothing suppliers and had to settle for second best green.

Their kit really does lack imagination.

[this is one of cp's faves, but don't tell Kate that...]

[this is one of cp's faves, but don't tell Kate that...]

2014 should be another exciting year on the road for the pro-tour riders.

It’s also turned out to be an exciting year for stylish cycling kits.

____________________________________________

Kate Smart is a Melbourne based freelance writer. She writes mainly on cycling, although tennis and Australian Rules Football (AFL) are her other topics of interest. She has a strong anti-doping stance and is most interested in the institutional cultures that encourage and foster such transgressions. After a lifetime on the sidelines, she discovered the joys of getting off the couch and getting involved. She’s completed a couple of half marathons, very slowly, and rides her bike in the same manner. You can find her on twitter @katesmart12

Dr. Conor McGrane on the UCI’s Independent Commission

by Dr. Conor McGrane

Brian Cookson seems to have delivered on his election promise to set up an independent commission to investigate the UCI’s actions during the doping crisis which included the Armstrong era. In Dick Marty, Peter Nicholson and Ulrich Haas he has appointed a heavy weight group of politicians, sports lawyers and even war crime investigators.

Interestingly the UCI is fully funding this commission, one of the reasons I believe the one proposed by Pat McQuaid fell was that he wanted WADA to part fund it.

There doesn’t seem to be any guarantee of amnesties or reduced bans for those who co-operate and I suspect we all have mixed feeling on this.

Over all though it looks a strong group with a wide ranging remit and a large amount of independence.  They aim to report within a year and we should all look forward to this although I suspect many involved with the sport will do so with trepidation.

In parallel to this, other processes are ongoing.

The MPCC (of whom I am very proud Cycling Ireland was the first national federation to join) continues to examine the practices of medics involved in the sport. Not only do they look at WADA restricted drugs but they also look at the workings of other drugs. Recently they asked member doctors to stop prescribing the painkiller tramadol in competition. This is something that Sky’s doctor has said they used to do but have now stopped in competition and indeed was something I personally prescribed but have now stopped as well.

v_roger-legeay-le-dopage-ca-suffit-1362253328

The honestly of Sky’s doctor on this issue was something I found refreshingly open and honest and something to be applauded.

It also opens Pandora’s Box on other drugs permitted under WADA but about which there are concerns.

Cortisone in its many forms remains a useful drug in treating inflammatory conditions but is also a drug which can be abused.

There is also a drug used to treat high blood pressure called telmisartan which has reputed fat burning properties. I have heard anecdotal evidence it is being used in pro cycling (and presumably other sports). It should have no place other than in treatment of high blood pressure and again is something which needs monitoring.

I suppose my point is again that outside of banned drugs there is a large grey area where drugs which have a useful role in treating illness are being used in healthy athletes with the aim of improving performance.

The fight against doping is not just about avoiding banned drugs but also about avoiding inappropriate and indeed unethical use of others.

If we want fair and open sport then we need doctors who are bound by ethics somewhat above and beyond that of simply avoiding the use of banned medications.

We have a long way to go but with the UCI making moves in the right direction, organisations like the MPCC bringing issues like the above out into the open and doctors in teams starting to speak out openly and honestly, I see genuine hope that we are starting to change the culture of pro cycling.

There is however no room at all for complacency…

2013: Kate Smart’s Review

by Kate Smart

It’s that time of year when we reflect on the year that was.

So, in no particular order, and, at times, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, here’s my two cents worth of the moments in the 2013 cycling season that I enjoyed the most.

 

Cyclists with magnificent hair

As I’m talking about my highs for the year, no pun intended, Marcel Kittel and his magnificent quiff takes first prize.

 

Quifftastic

Quifftastic

Dear reader, I must confess to being an absolute sucker for a quiff and Mr Kittel has provided one of the best I’ve drooled over in a mighty long time.

In fact, I’m almost tempted to change my position on bike helmets. Surely, it must be some kind of travesty to hide a mane that superb under such a bulky and unflattering piece of kit.

Let that beautifully sculpted hair run free, I say.

In all seriousness, though, Kittel had a successful 2013, capped off with four stage wins in the Tour de France and ending Mark Cavendish’s grip on the final sprint along the Champs Elysée.

I do look forward seeing more of the German sprinter in 2014.

 

The Giro

This year’s Giro was one of the best three week races I’ve stayed up very late for.

At times, I thought I’d wondered into The Lord of Rings, as Gandalf bravely attempted to take the fellowship over Caradhras, with Saruman sending a violent and punishing snowstorm crashing down them to stop them.

But alas, it was not a movie. The snow was all very real and the action was fascinating.

Giro-dItalia2013

Vincenzo Nibali won his first Giro and he did it with style. The Italian showed us how you can lead a three week race, for almost three weeks, and not bore us to death.

Were you watching Team Sky?

 

Spring didn’t get the memo

This year’s spring classics never eventuated, instead we were treated to what I call the ‘prolonged winter classics’ and what a chocolate coated treat it was.

First mention, here, goes to Milan-San Remo.It was bloody cold and in this instance, I’m sure you’ll agree that pictures speak louder than words.

972391-15904659-640-360

 

Thor Hushovd

Thor Hushovd

If a Norwegian is feeling the cold, what hope is there for anyone else? Thor Hushovd.

The team bus had better have good heating. Left to right: Robbie Hunter, David Millar, Fabian Wegman.

millar641

 

Why I love Spartacus

He may not have finished on the top step at Milan San Remo, but the big Swiss, Fabian Cancellara out foxed and out rode Peter Sagan, attacking for the final time on the Paterberg Hill and winning his second Tour of Flanders. It was fitting for the Easter Sunday Easter Egg race, I mean bike race to be won by the Swiss maestro.

Then came Paris-Roubaix.

We may once again have been robbed of a Cancellara v Boonen showdown, but we were not robbed of an exciting race.

Spartacus took this as an opportunity to give young Belgium, Sep Vanmarcke of (what is now Team Belkin) a lesson in how to play cat and mouse and come out the victor in the Roubaix velodrome.

I suspect, that even the most ardent road cycling fan, for just a second, discovered a new love for the tricks of track cycling.

 

Nairo Quintana

Surely everybody enjoyed watching the young Columbian attack and attack again during the Tour de France.

He didn’t win on Mont Ventoux, and it wasn’t through lack of trying either, but he wasn’t put off from trying again and again to win a mountain stage. He then went on to give a mountain stage victory another crack on Alpe d’Huez, although it wasn’t until stage 20, that he finally took a stage victory.

Quintana finished the TdF 2nd overall as well winning the white and polka-dot jerseys.

I just want to put this little munchkin-like South American on my mantle piece.

Quintana has put the goat into mountain goat and I can’t wait to watch him climb next year.

 

Australian Highs

Yes, yes, I’m a biased Australian and I’m gloating over our Ashes victory and now you’re all subjected to my patriotism.

 

Cadel Evans

Cadel Evans has once again proved his detractors wrong.

The gutsy Australian rode a fantastic Giro to claim a place on the podium. Evans is the first Australian to podium on all three Grand Tours and just when everyone is sticking the knives in, writing him off, out he comes and shows his tenacity on a little roll around Italy.

There are some who just can’t help themselves, though and insist on taking continued pot shots at Cuddles.

You know how it goes, “Oh, he only did so well because they had to reroute some of the stages”.

Or how about, “Yeah, but one more day and he would have been off the podium”.

Seriously, the last time I watched the Giro, and yes it is rather late at night for me here in the Southern Hemisphere, but I’m pretty sure all of the riders ride the same days in the same conditions.

 

Orica GreenEdge at the Tour de France

Ok, jokes about the bus stuck under the gantry aside, finally, the stage victory we Aussies had been sitting up all night for arrived.

Admittedly, I think many of us were hoping for a Gossy victory after coming so tantalizing close last year, but we were undoubtedly super excited for our first World Tour team, claiming their first TdF stage victory.

Simon Gerrans surprised everyone, including Peter Sagan, when he rolled across the line first on stage 3. The two riders were separated by what my mother would describe as ‘a bee’s dick’.

The team then won stage 4 by what was a similarly narrow margin, over OPQS.

What a wonderful tour for the Aussie team and with a couple of days in yellow to boot, we were all gloriously delirious with TdF love.

 

Adam Hansen

I have left my favourite rider and favourite Australian til last.

7 Grand Tours in a row is an awesome feat.

Winning his first stage in a Grand Tour at this year’s Giro in the pouring rain was priceless and well worth sitting up to the wee hours of the morning.

The man is also a twitter champ. His posts are hilarious, especially his posts chronicling Lotto training camps. Take a look if you haven’t already done so.

He’s also named his whippet, Lotto, which I think is fantastic. I love dogs and I desperately want a puppy, a term I attribute to all canines and seeing Lotto curled up on his owner’s lap, just makes want a dog more.

And as with Crankpooch, I am, in my spare time, plotting an abduction of Lotto.

These are some of my top moments from 2013. There were a few others that didn’t quite make the cut and I’m sure your list may be a little less Aussie centred, but I hope you enjoyed it anyway.

For those of you reading this who celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a very merry and safe one.

For those of you who don’t, you’re super lucky as I suspect you won’t be on the verge of a diabetic coma in the coming days…

 

think you’re hard? pfffft! try a Tour with a broken pelvis!

“What sport in the world demands the same focus and attention to all details, all the time, that the Tour de France does of its potential winners?

A Grand Prix? Nope, that’s over in two to three hours or so. A 15-round boxing match? Again, too short.

The closest I can imagine is a non-stop individual sea voyage lasting a similar time, but even then there are periods of monotony there, of peaceful seas and relaxation.

No, nothing on the planet compares with the Grand Tours and in particular the Tour de France in terms of the focus and concentration required – no traditional sporting event in any case.

These men are tough physically, but it all stems from the core of their being, from an inner steel that the normal man in the street will never comprehend.

Like Scott and Amundsen crossing frozen wastes, Cook setting off into uncharted waters and Hilary and Norgay Tenzing reaching the summit of Everest, these riders are driven by something else, something almost other.

It all makes no sense when considered rationally, and yet it all makes such absolute, perfect and beautiful sense in so many other ways.”

I take a look at the physical and mental strain of the Greatest Race on Earth here on The Roar.

Image courtesy of Sky ProCycling

Image courtesy of Sky ProCycling

 

Are you a Froome Believer? I just can’t do it

“The problem resides in me. I lack the requisite faith to make any of what I see worthwhile. The signifiers elicit only one possible meaning, rage headlong to the same inevitable assumption. I want to believe but I cannot. I just can’t make it happen.”

i’m like a Catholic who’s been excommunicated. read all about it here.

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 上午8.16.49

Dauphine wrap up on PEZ

ever close we edge to the Tour.

and with every step it feels like Sky are going to smother the thing like a mafia killing on an sick informer.

don’t struggle Alberto. it’ll all be over soon…’

stop him! he's trying to kill Le Tour!

stop him! he’s trying to kill Le Tour!

i analyse the last stage of the Dauphine and deal with doping allegations, La Vie Claire comparisons and a Badger, all right here.

PEZ, Sir Brad and that chap Cav: what a difference a year makes

hup! hup!

image courtesy of Pez Cycling News

image courtesy of Pez Cycling News

crankpunk & the Giro, analysed on Pez, read it here, or here… below.

“That’s the difference for me. I can do miraculous things when I have a team that believes I can do it as well. I’m on form in the head and my heart.”

 Mark Cavendish

I try not to write about the obvious. That, after all, was my brief for this series from the editors at Pez. Yet when one guy is smashing the living daylights out of the peloton and generally proving that he is without doubt the greatest in the world at what he does, and doing it with an ease that borders on the violent, but another guy has slipped so far from the heady Graceland he inhabited for just about the whole of 2012, well, there’s really not much choice but to get on with it.

Yesterday the rampaging Cavendish won a sprint for which he really had no business even being around to contest. The parcours was not overly challenging, has to be said, but the speed at which the peloton covered the last kilometers, up hills, was.

There was one image of the Red Jersey wearer riding just off the front of the peloton on the way up the day’s toughest climb with about 30km to go, already eager, sniffing the line like a shark sniffing out a shipwreck. The best though was on the last rise, when the entire Omega Pharma-Quick Step train went missing for five minutes as a result of the pace Astana was setting up at the front.

Only one rider from the Belgian team was able to keep his place, and that rider was Cavendish. And that makes absolutely no sense.

Cav’s 2012 season with Sky was, on his terms, little short of a disaster. He claimed 13 stage wins over the season, claiming ‘only’ three at the Tour and missing Green. The win on the Champs on the last day of the Tour was somewhat of a salve to his wounds and would have made just about any other rider’s year, but this is a man, lest we forget, that had won the previous three Champs Elysees romps.

Just another day at the office, really.

Also, lest we forget, 2012 was his Rainbow year, something of which he was immeasurably proud and yet an honour that became, albeit not perhaps by intention, something of a side show at Sky.

2012 was the Year of Wiggo and it was not only Chris Froome that felt somewhat of a casualty. We needn’t reel off all the victories that Cavendish has racked up over his career, we’re all aware of those. That we take them for granted says something about the dominance of the man. If he were as majestic as Mario Cipollini or as charismatic as Tom Boonen I feel we would be singing his praises even more highly.

That he is ‘prickly’ at times certainly does him no favors, but then he is, after all, a sprinter. He’s easy to dislike, with his quick temper and expletives to camera. But make no bones about it, the lad is a stone cold genius on two wheels, the greatest sprinter of all time already, and he still has years to go.

Yesterday’s ride was for me a revelation. It was as though I suddenly realized just how good he really is. With a body full of slow-twitch muscles, a cardio system designed for track sprinting and a smallness that means he has less horsepower to play with than his big-boned rivals, he defied all the odds and rode with a heart over those last 30km that spoke volumes for the determination of the man.

In a modern world full of power meters and cycling coaches, where everything is defined and refined, contained and controlled, Cavendish turns up with buckets of stuff you cannot even begin to measure: willpower.

Revenge? I don’t know how he sees it – though the opening quote gives us a glimpse – but he already has 11 stage wins this year and a GC victory under his belt (Qatar), and all that with a team that, many said at the tail end of last year, wouldn’t suit him. Points Classification at both the Giro and the Tour? 5 stage wins in each?

If you’re a betting man, those odds probably aren’t good enough for you.

On the flip side of things, we have Mr. 2012, Sir Bradley Wiggins. I wrote about him in my last article here also, about what I perceived as a lack of respect for his teammate, Rigoberto Uran, and of the sense that, in many fans’ eyes, his stock has definitely fallen somewhat as a result of the toing and froing over the Froome/Tour question.

But let’s look at his form. Two wins this year, though both came in team time trials. Two 5th places in smaller races on the GC, Trentino and Catalunya. A teammate riding better than him here at the Giro, which he eventually abandoned, citing illness. Certainly no need to take him out behind the barn just yet, but he hasn’t looked very good all year.

And ok, he may well be sick right now, having something similar to the condition that befell Ryder Hesjedal, but illness didn’t make him crash and lose time in the rain, nor dent his descending skills on every downhill after that. A sudden case of the Andy Schlecks?

Possibly. Either way, 2013 has been altogether a bit shoddy for El Wiggo, whereas his former teammate is sat in a very purple patch, smiling from ear to ear.  One of them has demonstrated not only incredible power and a will to keep winning, but also a longevity that has to underlie any label that includesthe word ‘legend’.

The other, despite a Tour de France win and Olympic gold, realizes now perhaps that you are only ever as good as your last race. Now he and Sky find themselves in a tricky position. Wasn’t the Giro for Wiggo and the Tour for Froome?

If Wiggo does now turn full attention to the Tour and try to pull rank, it won’t only be his form we are decrying, but also his reputation.