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.
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.
the first of two ‘Lee’s Lowdowns’ on the Tour de Suisse, appearing on Pez Cycling News!
click the image below read the article.
(and can I just say a big thank you to Richard Pestes and editor Chris Shelden, for allowing me to write whatever I want and never cutting a single word – unless it’s gramatically incorrekt…!)
this article originally appeared on The Roar
Bradly Wiggins is “arrogant,” conceals himself in a “gruff geezer cloak,” and so dominated the atmosphere around the 2012 Team Sky Tour de France squad that the others on the team had to “ride around his moods like he was a traffic island.”
These are the words of Christopher Froome, written in his new autobiography, The Climb, which is currently being serialized in the British newspaper The Times.
In the book, Froome goes on to explain that he was not invited to the ‘Yellow Ball’ that Wiggins threw later in the year to celebrate his victory, nor was he given his share of the bonus that is traditionally dished out to the riders on the winner’s team.
Wiggins strives to give off the impression that he hasn’t got much time for what other people think, but in this case he’d best be bothered, as Froome is Sky’s main man for the 2014 Tour de France and will start the race as the favorite. Froome has a great chance to defend his 2013 title and if he is not pivotal in helping to choose the team to support his attempt it would come as a great surprise.
There was a sense in 2013 that Dave Brailsford, Sky’s man behind the controls, owed Froome for his riding for Wiggins in 2012. Froome, for his part, entered that race, which eventually saw Wiggins emerge as the first ever English winner, fully expecting to be able to go for the Yellow Jersey himself, if the opportunity arose.
In 2011 it was touch and go as to whether Froome would stay with Sky, but contractual talks with Brailsford left Froome certain that he would be an equal to Wiggins in the 2012 race.
In the end however, Froome came to realize that he was always set to be Wiggins’ super-domestique in that edition, and felt that Brailsford had not been fully forthcoming with the plans he had seemingly already formulated.
“Dave’s approach was rather like a character in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass,” Froome says. “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – ‘neither more nor less’. My understanding was that I would go to the Tour as a protected rider but the details were never teased out. Dave’s words would mean just what he chose them to mean.
“I realised, at last, that everything had been geared towards this,” he writes. “It was never going to be any different. The story was completed long before we got to France. Bradley wins. The book is written. The documentary is made. The promise is fulfilled. We had just been acting it out.”
Cue 2013 and Wiggins is having a stinker but Froome is replicating his teammate’s previous season to a large extent, winning a series of important stage races through the year and stamping his credentials as Sky’s leader long before the Tour. The potential fireworks that might have come from a Wiggo/Froome battle royale at the Tour never come close to being realized. In the end, Froome dominates the Tour and wins at a canter.
Fast forward to 2014 and Wiggo seems to be back at somewhere near his best after a win at the Tour of California. Realising a desire still existed to partake in another Tour de France, Wiggins started to make conciliatory noises in the direction of his team and Froome, saying he was ready to doff his chapeau and tow the party line.
“I’d love to be back at the Tour de France. That’s the long-term goal – to be part of that successful team,” he said back in April.
“I missed it last year and had to watch it on the TV. When you see it from the outside then you see just how great the Tour de France is. Obviously there’s a huge opportunity with it starting in the UK this year. Coming back as a former winner and it being there is fantastic.”
In March Wiggo gave an interview to The Independent in which he stated his ntention, if he were to be included in the Tour team, to support Froome.
“There were a couple of times last year when Chris was really isolated and I want to be in a position that I can be there when that happens,” he said.
Taking these words at face value one could argue that Wiggins has had a change in attitude and is now willing to defer to Froome, who has proven to be superior in consistency as well as longevity in the past two years.
However, Wiggins’ appeals to Brailsford and Froome – which is exactly what his words in the press amount to – appear rather hollow and desperate to most observers. Froome’s comments in his autobiography are his own personal opinion of course but they echo what many cycling fans have been saying on club runs and on cycling forums for some time.
The timing of the release of Froome’s book couldn’t come at a worse nor a more embarrassing time for Wiggins, sitting as he is on the bench hoping to be picked for the Tour roster.
Brailsford may have felt like he owed Froome the team leadership in 2013 but he is a man with little time for sentiment, and this time around he knows that he has a rider capable of bringing Sky their third Tour win in three years, something that would be a remarkable achievement by any standard.
He also knows that Froome needs to be protected from friction, and that he has men like Richie Porte to support him. Also, if and when the big men step up and Froome does become isolated, the Kenyan-born Briton has already shown he can handle himself perfectly well alone.
The truth is that Wiggins has an ego the size of a jumbo jet, but one made out of egg shells. He is a winner, yes, and a fine bike rider, but he is also tetchy, rude, petulant and divisive when he wants to be.
Of the day in the Alps in 2012 when he rode away from Wiggins, Froome writes that he could not understand the furore his actions created. As far as he was concerned, he was defending the Yellow for Sky, meaning that whether it was to ultimately rest on his or Wiggin’s shoulders, the important thing was just to win it.
“Brad was folding physically and mentally, and quicker than I had thought possible,” he writes. “I got the feeling that he would literally just get off his bike were I to carry on pushing. What was a simple and perfect plan to me seemed to translate for Brad into a public humiliation.”
And there you have it. Wiggins is just not a team player. He was not in the Sky recce team that went to ride the Yorkshire stages recently, not the one that went to scout out the cobbles.
If Wiggins is not invited to ride on the Sky team for 2014, he really only has himself to blame.
What is it about Team Sky that rankles so? Why do the come across as mirthless, joyless automatons? Can it be because they actually are? Or is there more to it than that?
Unlike football teams, cycling teams generally lack a definable character and so generally it’s hard to truly love or dislike a team. With that in mind, Sky have really outdone themselves to draw such opprobrium from cycling fans.
by Cillian Kelly
Milan San Remo: 2nd
Tour of Flanders: 7th
Tour of Lombardy: 2nd
These are the best results in all five monument classics in the career of a particular cyclist. It’s an impressive collection of placings for any rider in any era. This rider, despite never making the podium there during his career, always wanted to win Paris-Roubaix.
He said: “I would have given anything to win Paris-Roubaix. I felt like I was good technically on the cobblestones, but I don’t think I ever had a peak day. I’ve always felt I’m a summer rider. I’ve always been a warm weather rider. The guys who excel in the early season either train all winter and are in their very best shape, or they’re Belgian or they’re Irish. Cold weather, rain, I’ve never felt good in it. I always wished there were more classics in August”.
But before we reveal the identity of our mystery classics rider, let’s consider another rider who has struggled of late in the cold and rain, Bradley Wiggins.
Now that Chris Froome and Richie Porte have taken over the primary and ancillary stage racing duties at Team Sky, Wiggins, aged 33, is in the market for one more specialist niche to occupy before he calls time on his career.
In recent weeks and months, Wiggins and his team manager Dave Brailsford have, apparently, been making noises about targeting Paris-Roubaix next year. The Belgian-born Brit has a habit of reinventing himself. He’s already shifted from track virtuoso, to time trial king, to Tour de France winner. Could he carve out one more niche as a classics contender?
The following are Wiggins’ best results in all five monument classics:
Milan San Remo: 44th
Tour of Flanders: 50th
Tour of Lombardy: DNF
Not great, but not terrible. Unlike every other Tour de France winner in the last quarter of a century, he has actually ridden all of them.
It is the 25th place in Paris-Roubaix coupled with his time trialling ability being roughly on a par with Fabian Cancellara’s that seems to be the foundation for next year’s plan to tackle the Queen of the Classics.
This subject is broached in the February 2014 edition of Cycle Sport magazine. It is confirmed that Paris-Roubaix is ‘on the radar’ for Wiggins and Team Sky. There are also the thoughts of directeurs sportif from all of Wiggins’ previous teams on whether he stands a chance against the seasoned cobbled competitors like Cancellara and Tom Boonen.
The responses vary from FDJ’s Marc Madiot, who says ‘yes… he can be a contender’, to Eric Boyer of Cofidis, who says ‘no, he can’t’, to more pragmatic answers from Jonathan Vaughters, Brian Holm and Roger Legeay who all think he could be good, but a win would be unlikely.
Wiggins won’t be the last rider to try to combine the Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix on to a single palmarés, but he most certainly isn’t the first either.
Fourteen riders can claim to have won both races during their career – Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx, Jan Janssen, Felice Gimondi, Louison Bobet, Fausto Coppi, Sylvére Maes, André Leducq, Henri Pélissier, Francois Faber, Octave Lapize, Henri Cornet, Louis Trousellier and Maurice Garin.
But it is becoming a rarer feat with the passing of time, as eight of those fourteen completed their double before World War II. The most recent rider to complete this unlikely career double was Hinault, having won the Tour in 1978 and 1979, he added Paris-Roubaix in 1981.
Although Hinault hated Paris-Roubaix, it is a common misconception that he only rode this race once. He actually rode the Queen of the classics on five occassions, never finishing lower than 13th. When he finally won it in 1981, he owed much of his success to a 19 year-old Greg LeMond – well, that’s according to LeMond himself.
The American was just beginning his first season as a professional cyclist. In an interview with Bill McGann, he said:
“In April I felt actually quite good in Paris-Roubaix. I was really helping Hinault. He won his first and only Paris-Roubaix that year. I loved it. I did a big final attack that split the race up for Hinault and then I just bagged it after 230 kilometers.”
Let’s now revisit the list of monument classics results that we started with – these are of course belonging to Greg LeMond.
The American gets labelled these days as a rider who focused only on the Tour de France and world championships. This label is somewhat applicable to the latter stages of LeMond’s career, after he was accidentally shot in 1987. But throughout LeMond’s early years, he was as good a classics rider as any on his day.
If you take the best result in each of the five monument classics, as we have done here with LeMond, for every rider in the current peloton (who have ridden all five races), the rider with the lowest score of any active rider is Greg van Avermaet. The BMC rider ends up with a score of 36.
Perennial monument winners like Cancellara and Boonen don’t even make the list because neither have ridden either Liege-Bastogne-Liege or the Tour of Lombardy. The only monument winners to make the top 10 of the list are Alessandro Ballan (with a score of 41), and Phillipe Gilbert (with a score of 60).
Greg LeMond can boast an impressively low total of 18.
LeMond merely dabbled in the classics as he got older. He still had enough class left to finish ninth in Paris-Roubaix in 1992. But his last great classics result came in 1986, before his body had been blasted with lead. He had come close to a win on many occasions and by the time he had ceased focusing on the Spring classics he had most certainly learned what it was like to lose one.
Wiggins on the other hand, has none of this experience. He has ridden Paris-Roubaix and the other monument classics, but he has never been in the shake up at the end of one. All of the greats have had to learn and win, armed with the experience of losing – Eddy Merckx, Sean Kelly, Francesco Moser, Roger De Vlaeminck, Boonen and Cancellara all came close to victory in Paris-Roubaix before eventually winning it.
Wiggins’s Team Sky are meticulous. But there’s no amount of meticulousness will prevent a loose elbow from a rival nudging you slightly off the line you were taking over the cobbles and instead steering your front wheel into one of the places where a cobblestone used to be. Can motor pacing over the Hell of the North replace the experience and anguish embedded in the head of Zdenek Stybar having clipped a spectator last year, momentarily losing Cancellara’s wheel and forever losing that race?
It is no wonder that Team Sky remain coy about Wiggins’ chances over the cobbles. They have trumpeted classics ambitions loudly in the past and have fallen hugely short. However, if the 2012 Tour de France winner does decide to aim for Paris-Roubaix it is a hugely exciting endeavour and one we have not seen attempted for a generation.
One can’t help but think that Wiggins will need a few years to woo the Queen of Classics, as everyone else has done – to build up a classics palmarés similar to LeMond’s before eventually tasting success. LeMond voluntarily ran out of time because he shifted focus away from the classics and on to the Tour.
Wiggins is doing the opposite and at 33 years of age, taking the age demographic of Paris-Roubaix winners into account, he still has a fair amount of time left. But with talk also of an attempt at the hour record and impending retirement shortly thereafter, you’d have to wonder how much time he’d be willing to give it.
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.
whatever your take on Rapha & Sky, they do make some cracking films, like this short on Wiggins and the Giro…
yes, he really did look like that… read all about it on PEZ
or read the whole thing here…
The big news from Stage 4 of the Giro weren’t the boos that arose in the coffee shop where I watch the race when Danilo DiLuca took off up the road, but the look on Wiggo’s face as he crossed the line in Serra San Bruno, where he did a very good impression of a constipated turtle.
(Also love the image of the Lampre rider behind, he’s probably gasping for air in reality, but it looks for all the world that he’s having a good old laugh at the 2012 Tour de France winner – and while I’m on the subject, I will again nominate that Lampre kit for inclusion in the top ten ‘Worst Kits of All Time’ list…).
Well, the big news wasn’t so much the bunged-up reptile look, remarkable though it was, but the reason for that look: yes, Wiggo is misfiring.
Surely he and his DeathStar team have him honed to perfection, as tight as you like and ready to go off on another British Blitzkrieg once again, no?
Well maybe not, but why not? Isn’t it obvious? He really does have a dark and sinister master plan: namely – Le Tour!
Look out gloomy Froomey, your tilt at the stars is about to be given a very definitive jolt. It’ll be Hinault vs. Lemond all over again, but in that peculiarly English way, all handbags at dawn, grand gestures reduced to the rolling of eyes and heavy tut-tuts, breaks for tea and all the painful stoicism.
But yes, no doubt about it: whereas Nibali, that Ryder fella and even – gasp – the aging, Cadel I-thought-he-was-dead? Evans are all chalking their cues and casting Paul Newman-style glances through the fug of the pool hall, Wiggo’s powder looks to be decidedly damp.
And I do think, seriously, that it’s because he is waiting for July. Maybe even he didn’t know it til yesterday. I think that his body may have become a little ‘locked in’, due to the fact that he’s been preparing for the Tour so hard for the past few years.
Whatever it is, he didn’t lose time just because of the crash, but because he got gapped on a pretty tiny hill.
Of course, he’ll probably smash the TT and get Pink and leave me all red-faced.
Now, is it just me or is anyone else tired of seeing this Old Guard still popping up? Yes, Di Luca served out his ban and yes by the laws in place he is allowed back, but I don’t know, seeing him and, if I’m honest, some of the Garmin-Sharp team rolling back in like nothing ever happened, it all leaves me a little nonplussed.
I’ll probably cop it for saying that, but there it is. Perhaps if the UCI were addressing all that has happened in a responsible and thorough manner, one that let the fans feel ‘Heck, they’re really doing something about it this time,’ it would seem a little less like ‘business as usual.’
As it stands it kind of feels like yesterday’s fish still out on the market stalls.
Onto Cadel! Not literally of course, not sure the old man could take it. Now as a journalist it is my job, as we journos are all sworn to do, to react to everything with a massive knee-jerk and to cut people down just as quickly as we build them up.
So yes, I did write recently elsewhere in the Ethernet that I thought the grizzly wee Aussie was done in. Washed up. Ready for the glue factory.
And then faster than an Aussie can down 24 beers whilst sat astride an emu (the record stands at 3.8 seconds), back up he pops and takes second on stage 3 and takes 6th on stage 4.
Evans should have that great Mark Twain quote stitched into his jersey:
‘Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.’
Suits him perfectly. Never write off a good man. Still a long way to go in the Giro, thankfully, because it’s been very good so far, and the wheels may come off for the former World Champ in those high hills, but it is great to see him doing well.
He may not be the most liked character in the peloton but he is one of the most respected. Would be nice to see him in Pink for a bit.
A final note on Battaglin’s win. Great to see an Italian winning, that should keep the tifosi happy for, ooh, 4 minutes?
Could Nibali keep them quiet for a bit longer and grab the win? It would certainly be something to have another, serious rival to the Sky domination in the mix.
We shall see.
i’m moonlighting again.
served up with an only slightly mouldy breadroll here
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…