“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.
yup, right here on PEZ.
“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.
Team Sky and messrs. Porte & Froome get the once over.
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…’
i analyse the last stage of the Dauphine and deal with doping allegations, La Vie Claire comparisons and a Badger, all right here.
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.”
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.
well it certainly has been a while, apologies i think should be offered, but you know what? i’ve been riding, for hours and hours a day (well 4), and i’m loving it. after almost 3 months laid up with a severe case of lackofmotivation, followed by various injuries, i’m finally back on the bike and just can’t get enough. tiredness has been winning though, i’ll have to up the greens.
these periods of BikeLove are not to be pondered. just go ride the sh*t out of your steed, till your arse hangs in ribbons and your hands look like you actually do a Real Man’s job (miner, dock hand, florist). such times are to be cherished, not questioned, for sure enough it won’t be long before the pain wins out – if, that is, you’re riding you’re bike properly…
anyway, where was i? oh yes Paul Kimmage. this guy doesn’t just poop out the party at the party, he actually drops one in his pants in the car on the way over. that’s why his face looks like that.
when i read on CyclingSnooze the headline ‘Kimmage unconvinced by Sky & Wiggins‘ my immediate reaction was oh Paul, give it a rest. It was an instinctive reaction, from the gut, not the head.
here’s what he said:
“If you apply the same standards to Tour winner Bradley Wiggins as to Lance Armstrong, concerning inquiries and logic, then there are similarities which are alarming.”
“You look at how dominant their teams were: Postal for Armstrong, Sky for Wiggins. They had a core of four, five riders, who rode strongly for those three weeks without one single weak day. You think: is that logical?
“You look at what happened after the Tour. Sky threw out the team doctor and three others. Michael Rogers left, he was one of the strongest riders. I don’t know anyone who could say that this was a fully convincing Tour win.”
and then i thought, ok, let’s think about this. so i did. and here’s what i thunk. first off, thank **** that we are at a point in time where someone can actually say stuff like that, about something that troubles them and is concerning doping, without being burnt at the stake. in any case, if you keep up with the forums, you’ll know that many of the guys on there have have exactly the same misgivings.
also, what have Sky done to be above reproach, above questioning? have they made their internal testing available online? no. have they requested the UCI publish their riders biological passport info? no. have they had a dodgy doctor and one rider admit to doping? yes. ok, Wiggins has spoken out about doping and i want to believe him, but he has the misfortune of being a very very good rider in a historically dirty sport and at a time when the abuses of banned substances has been shown to be – or have been – institutionalized and systematic.
and then there’s the news of EPO Z and another new undetectable drug that actually changes muscles, and, uh, well read it and despair.
so don’t give it a rest Paul. keep it coming.
next: Curse of the Dopers.
ok, so Katusha are free and welcome to race at Pro Continental level. awesome. no dopers at WorldTour level, but come race and probably dominate at the second tier, that’s fine.
this whole way of thinking is affecting me personally, because at Continental level you have the situation where unscrupulous managers are hiring well-known dopers to race for them. in some cases they’re South Americans who have a shed load of UCI points but who more established Euro teams won’t touch with a barge pole – yes, they are THAT dirty.
but they get rides on UCI Conti teams in other countries, then that team gets invited to certain races cos of the points they have (as they look strong), which means that teams like mine, and others, lose out. one particular team i know just signed two uber dodgy dudes for this very purpose, but, fortunately, a highly-placed friend of mine who knows the UCI hierarchy, has lodged an official complaint. we’ll see what happens.
the whole system needs to be addressed – dopers should get 4 year bans that exclude them from riding for any team from Continental up. otherwise it’s nothing but a farce…