New Versus Commercial

by Jack  

Link: http://www.takebackthetour.com/

A new "Take Back The Tour" Versus commercial aired this past Sunday during both the Philadelphia Championships and the Tour de Suisse coverage. The first commercial with Thomas Voeckler was somewhat inspiring and clearly showed that we are moving forward while this one is a bit controversial. It shows some of the great moments in the Tour in rewind including Jan Ullrich and Floyd Landis as well as images of David Millar. What do you think?

I personally disapprove of this commercial because it starts to get into assumptions of not only the guilt or innocence of a cyclist but also what the fans personally think. Yes, there are clearly individuals who have proven to have done something wrong but there are also some riders that have not been proven guilty or are still going through the judicial process. I think Versus, and us as fans, should give some of these people the benefit of the doubt. At the very least, Versus should let us make the judgment. I can keep watching the first commercial but watching this new one makes me sad more than anything.

Tour de Suisse Review

by Jack  

The 72nd Tour de Suisse ended today and completed the last of the major warm ups for the upcoming Tour de France in July. While the racing was certainly exciting, it was the eventual winner that was the biggest surprise of the tour. 22 year old Czech rider Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) defeated German Andreas Klöden (Astana) and Spain's Igor Anton (Euskaltel - Euskadi) and won one stage in the process.

The race started with Spain's sure thing, Oscar Freire (Rabobank), winning the stage 1 sprint and the first leader's yellow jersey. The mountains began immediately on stage 2 with the first mountain top finish up the Flumserberg. Igor Anton won over Luxembourger Kim Kirchen (High Road) while major contenders Damiano Cunego (Lampre) and Andreas Klöden all lost some time. Anton also became the leader of the race from here forward. The next 2 stages saw Aussie Robbie McEwen (Silence-Lotto) reclaim his winning ways by taking the field sprints in stages 3 and 4.

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New Poll - Update

by Jack  

First, let me just say thanks to all who have voted in the poll on the right so far. As I stated in my post here, the Tour de France is the next big race and what better time to gauge how people feel about the 3 American Tour winners than now?

So far, we see the first American winner, Greg LeMond, leading over the last American winner, Floyd Landis. This leaves our all too famous cancer survivor and seven time winner, Lance Armstrong, bringing up the rear. I’m I surprised? Yes and No. Yes that Greg is number 1, no that Lance is last. It’s nice to see Floyd still getting props as we wait for the CAS verdict due any day now. We’re waiting with bated breath.

This poll will be up to just before the Tour so if you haven’t voted, please do. And for those that have, thanks again for participating! Oh, and please don’t try to vote more than once. The program is smarter than that, I think.&#59;)

So can Greg’s success as the cyclist you like better continue? Stay tuned…

Frank's Lucky Day!

by Jack  

Just in case you need a reminder that cycling is a dangerous sport, here's a video of today's Tour de Suisse stage that will really make you want to enjoy a nice beach vacation rather than a bike ride.

Luxembourger Frank Schleck was about to ride into the leader's jersey and possibly the stage win before he abruptly lost control on the descent to the finish. If you were watching CyclingTV, you'll know he was very tentative throughout the descent before the incident. But it was his lucky day, he was fine and finished the stage a few minutes later. Grab a hold of something when you watch this, the crash is about 20 seconds in and you'll be taken for a ride.

A Quick Roundup

by Jack  

A couple of quick mentions of some very important news happenings from today. Let's start locally first.

Car-Free Saturday's!!!
Mayor Bloomberg, together with a bunch of other figures including Lance Armstrong (currently last on the poll to the right), announced the creation of "Summer Streets", a car-free city route for health and recreation. Three Saturday's this August, the city will shut down one of the major north/south thoroughfares from the base of the Brooklyn Bridge to East 72nd Street. The route will be closed from 7am to 1pm so wake up early! This program is roughly modeled after similar ones in Bogotá, Colombia and Paris, France. Please read the Streetsblog article here as well as the official press release here. Can you say alternative to congestion pricing? I'd like to thank Elizabeth for reminding me to write about this today. Thanks!

Team Columbia!!!
Back to the world of the pro peloton, Team High Road announced that they had secured a main sponsor for the next 3 years and it's an American company! Columbia Sportswear have taken the gigantic leap into the sport, the same leap that USPS and Discovery did a few years ago as well as the same leap 7-11 and Motorola did even more years ago. For Bob Stapleton to be able to sign a big name American company is such a huge deal in light of the recent bad news in the sport related to doping. This certainly shows that faith has returned and we can begin to see much brighter pastures to come. The team will start sporting their new kits at the start of the Tour de France on July 5th! See the Velonews article here.

Harlem Rocks!

by Jack  

Link: http://www.harlemrocks.com/

My wife and I enjoyed a nice afternoon in Harlem this past Sunday watching the 35th Annual Skyscraper Harlem Cycling Classic. As you no doubt may have seen or heard, Rock Racing was in town! Their fearless leader Michael Ball brought in flare and some of his best cyclists. (You might be interested in this interview of him by Velocity Nation.) Fast Freddie Rodriquez, Tyler Hamilton and Rashaan Bahati all made the trip this year. Ball also recruited a couple of Toyota-United riders including the Cuban Missile, Ivan Dominguez to make up a world class field.

Too bad Rock didn't win. Leave it up to a youngster, Eric Barlevav of Time Pro Cycling, to steel the thunder. Not only did he out throw Bahati at the line, he proceeded to cross the finish line on the ground. It seemed like he preferred to win with a belly flop rather than the traditional salute. Job well done though. Take a look below at his soon to be patented salute. I don't recommend this to anyone.

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Click on pict for entire album.

See the final results here.

Dauphiné Review

by Jack  

The 60th Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré ended on Sunday and so far presented us with the best preview of what is to come in July at the Tour de France (Tour de Suisse is going on as I type). Well, as accurate as it can be if Astana would have been invited to the Tour. If you were able to follow this race, you’ll know it was very exciting. Spain’s Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) was very impressive as he took the top step over Australian Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) and American Levi Leipheimer (Astana). Can you say potential Tour podium? Too bad ASO had something else in mind.

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Pro Tour Expands to...Russia?

by Jack  

The UCI is expanding the Pro Tour to Russia in 2009 by including a tour of the Sochi region. (This happens to be the site of the 2014 winter Olympic games.) What the heck is the UCI thinking? I'm usually a pretty big supporter of the UCI (as evidenced in my pro UCI rant here) because I feel that cycling does need a governing body to regulate the sport, but this is ridiculous! I totally understand globalizing the sport and making it grow but why grant Pro Tour status to an untested event? How the UCI can overlook proven events like the Tour of California or the Tour de Georgia is beyond me! It just seems logical to expand the Pro Tour with a race in the US rather than Russia.

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Oh No! Tornado!

by Jack  

Another disappointment and more negativity for pro cycling today as news broke about Tom Boonen’s cocaine abuse. As most of you have no doubt already heard, Tom Boonen tested positive for the drug during an out of competition test on May 25th, just days before the start of the Tour of Belgium. He went on to win the final stage. Though he probably won’t face a professional suspension because it wasn’t taken during a race, he could have legal trouble in his home country. But more importantly, he has to face himself, his family and the millions of people that count as his fans. His team, Quick-Step, will hold a news conference on Wednesday, supposedly with Boonen, to address this situation. Because Boonen is such an idol to so many young kids, cyclists or not, he has to be able to stand up in front of everyone, acknowledge his mistakes and propose how he will fix them. So many young ones have counted him as their role model so anything close to a run around would be disastrous to his image.

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Versus extends Tour coverage!

by Jack  

Link: http://www.takebackthetour.com/

This news broke earlier today. Versus, the US cable network, just extended coverage of the Tour de France for an extra 5 years! This is fantastic news for us cycling fans as it was clearly touch and go for the last few years after Lance retired and then the doping scandals hit. They released this promo video and it's very exciting to watch. Take a look:

ASO vs UCI

by Jack  

This past week, we learned that ASO bought into a significant stake of Unipublic (49% to be exact), the organization that controls the Vuelta. This continues the negative trend in pro cycling as we see ASO becoming a monopoly in the sport. With ASO controlling a large number of the major races, they have effectively become the Microsoft of cycling. I see many similarities between ASO vs UCI and Microsoft vs all other software companies. Microsoft uses bullying tactics to get their way; ASO uses bullying tactics to get their way. Microsoft buys their competitors; ASO buys their competitors. But before we totally blame ASO (or Microsoft) for all of this mess, we have to consider how they became the Goliaths of their industries.

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Speaking of Greg LeMond...

by Jack  

Since Greg is part of the current poll on the right side, I thought you might be interested in this classic video. As a treat to cycling fans back in the late 80s and early 90s, I found this old commercial featuring the man at the time, Greg LeMond. Do you remember this? Are you rolling your eyes when you see this? Well, I can remember thinking, "Geez, that's a big helmet. Why is he wearing that ugly thing?" You'll remember helmets back then consisted of foam strips wrapped in leather, then tied to look like an outfielder's baseball glove and were quite popular for the non-helmet wearing pro peloton. Too bad they couldn't save you from a fall or make you look cooler.

Those of you around back then will remember that Greg was one of the first advocates of helmet wearing in professional races. He and his teammates would be one of the few who would wear helmets in the Tour, at least on the flat stages. A step in the right direction and setting a good example for our young.

Here's the video

New Poll Added!

by Jack  

There's a new poll on my sidebar so please take a moment to submit your answer. I know it's a tough question for most fans. Very few will be able to argue their abilities on the bike but both have demons in their closets that will cause people to cringe when their names come up. Since the Tour de France is the next big race, who of the three American winners of the Tour would you pick? Submit your answer now and lets find out!

"Road to Roubaix" Review

by Jack  

Link: http://www.masterlinkfilms.com/

My wife and I attended the world premier screening of Road to Roubaix this past Sunday here in New York City as part of the first leg of the ’08 Bicycle Film Festival. As soon as we arrived, we immediately said to ourselves, “only in NY”. It seemed more of a get together for the city’s bike messengers and the alternative crowd rather than a bunch of cyclists with farmer’s tans owning $5000 bikes. Not to be stereotypical, of course. The screening was held at the Anthology Film Archives building on the edge of the East Village and the Lower East Side. Located in an old Courthouse building, the organization geniously plugged up the buildings beautifully detailed windows to create 2 theatres inside.

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91st Giro Final Assessment

by Jack  

Now that the race is over, you might be thinking to yourself, what have we learned from this year's Giro? Well, let's see!

Here's a list, but in no particular order.

1. ASO sucks.
2. The Giro is harder, at least on paper, than the Tour de France.
3. The mountain stages in the Giro = WOW!!!
4. Astana confirms they are the best stage racing team in the world.
5. Johan Bruyneel and his director sportifs are geniuses.
6. Alberto Contador is good.
7. Contador can beat the best the Giro has to offer at 80% (okay, maybe 90%).
8. Levi Leipheimer was the biggest disappointment here, but he'll win the Dauphiné.
9. Danilo Di Luca is angry like a "killer". But maybe that's not such a revelation.
10. Di Luca hates ear pieces.
11. Di Luca likes yo-yoing in the peloton.
12. Riccardo Riccò is immature and a whiner.
13. Riccò and Di Luca enjoy showing off for the camera.
14. Gilberto Simoni is old.
15. But Simoni can still ride (mountain bikes).
16. Emanuele Sella!
17. What else?

Giro organizer's RCS should be applauding themselves today for making the correct decision to invite Astana. It would not have been as exciting of a race without them. Though it's almost sad to say, even right now, we can probably assume that Contador will not return next year to defend his title as he sets his sights towards a run at a second Tour de France title. But something tells me RCS will not be upset about that. This year, they have brought the Giro to another level and single handedly shown ASO what racing fair means. We know that ASO will not change their minds but we do hope that they have started to hear whispers behind their backs and begin to wonder whether they did the best thing for the sport. So with all due respect to Cadel, Alejandro and Damiano, it won't be until July 2009 before we know who the best cyclist in the world is.

91st Giro - Stage 21: Contador!

by Jack  

Alberto Contador (Astana) sealed the deal by winning the 2008 Giro d'Italia, finishing 11th on today's final time trial stage into Milan. Confirming that the best man won, he was by far the fastest of the top GC contenders in today's stage and increased his overall lead over Italian prima donna Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval - Scott) to 1 minute 57 seconds. Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre) held onto his 3rd place by a scant 2 seconds over fellow Italian Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), who is clearly setting a tone before Ivan Basso joins the team after his suspension.

stl_stage21stl_stage21-2
Click for larger images.

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91st Giro - Stage 20 Genius!

by Jack  

Alberto Contador (Astana) successfully defended his maglia rosa on the last mountain stage of this year's Giro. In what was a brilliant display of tactics by Johan Bruyneel and Sean Yates in the team car, Astana was able to manipulate the outcome of the stage so that Contador could have an arm chair ride to the finish.

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Click for larger images.

Two massive climbs including the Passo Gavia and the Mortirolo weren't enough for public enemy number one, Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval - Scott), to take 4 seconds from Contador. Although the fireworks didn't start on the Gavia, the climb still lived up to expectations as it was still littered with snow at the top and, coupled with the unexpected rain, it was almost 1988 again. In it's first genius move, Astana was able to insert Antonio Colom into a break on the Gavia effectively giving them the edge over the other contenders. This then forced Danilo Di Luca's team (Team LPR Brakes) and Gilberto Simoni's team (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni)) to chase on the descent and in the valley so that Colom wouldn't have such a huge advantage over the Mortirolo. If he went over the climb ahead, Contador would have a teammate ready to help if he was in trouble. This is what the other teams did not want to happen.

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Cycling TV How To Guide

by Jack  

For those that are subscribers to Cycling.TV, you know full well about the problems with signing on to the Premium channels, especially for a very popular race like the Giro d'Italia. While I'm not professing my support for Cycling TV's infrastructure, it is the best (by far) option for viewing the most popular races in the world. Plus, the english commentary is a nice bonus.

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91st Giro - Stage 19: Wow!!

by Jack  

Italian Danilo Di Luca (Team LPR Brakes) finally put his legs where his mouth was by setting off on a dramatic escape 50 km from the finish during the descent of the 3rd to last climb. With the help of his teammate, Il Falco Paolo Savoldelli, the two quickly built a lead of over 2 minutes. There was no panic back in the chase group containing leader Alberto Contador (Astana) and all of the other favorites. Most, including me, thought Di Luca's attack was suicide and too far from the finish.

stl_stage19stl_stage19_2
Click for larger images.

Contador's teammates Antonio Colom and Andreas Klöden bravely brought him to the final climb before the rest of the action commenced. Contador accelerated but couldn't distance anyone. Finally, Italy's Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Scott) put in a full forced effort that no one could respond to. Remember, he was only 41 seconds behind at the start of this stage. Di Luca powered on to finish 2nd on this stage after Belarussian Vasili Kiryienka (Tinkoff Credit Systems), who was the lone survivor of an earlier breakaway. Riccò followed shortly after gasping for each breath. Then the countdown began.

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91st Giro - Stage 18: Big Jens!

by Jack  

German tank Jens Voigt (Team CSC) won today's stage after leaving his breakaway companions with about 36 km to go. Stage 18 traversed over this year's world road race championships course and was dominated by a big breakaway that included both Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) and Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) as well as Voigt. None of his companions were able to catch Voigt as he cruised to his first ever stage win in the Giro d'Italia.

It was once again piano for the peloton as conserving energy for tomorrow's stage was crucial. Once again, the fireworks will reappear for the final push through the Alps. The Italians will have a hard time defeating a team like Astana who are so experienced at delivering a win in a grand tour. They might be more interested in consolidating their positions considering none of them can time trial better than Alberto Contador (Astana). Don't forget, this race ends with a final individual test to Milan on Sunday. We look forward to seeing Levi Leipheimer cap this Giro for Astana with a stage win of his own.

stl_stage18
Click for larger image.

Top 10 Results for Stage 18
1 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC..............................................3.22.46
2 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Quick Step........................................1.07
3 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
4 Gabriele Bosisio (Ita) LPR Brakes
5 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas..............................................2.04
6 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step
7 Félix Rafael Cardenas Ravalo (Col) Barloworld
8 Alan Perez Lezaun (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
9 Mauricio Alberto Ardila Cano (Col) Rabobank
10 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne............................2.06

See the complete results here.

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