I’ve always seen racing bicycles as a privilege. Something that I love to do. I stayed with Jeff Bradley during the Quad Cities weekend. He used to ride for 7-11 back in the 80’s. He rode the Tour. The Giro. A lot of other European one day and stage races too. I was asking him how many times in his career that he set tempo on the front for his team. He said zero. The answer didn’t surprise me. I never set tempo. Ever. Up until the maybe Telekom in the Tour, the teams didn’t ride tempo all day. Riders raced. If you go back to the 1986 Tour when Lemond was having his issues with Hinault, Andy and Steve Bauer etc. didn’t ride at the front all day to set tempo. La Vie Claire riders finished 1st, 2nd, and 4th in the 1986 Tour de France. That doesn’t leave many to ride at the front. I feel bad for these guys that never get to race their bikes for themselves. It seems like a lot of domestic Pros are watching way too much Tour de France TV and want to race like that. What fun is that? Rotating at the front with 6 other guys for day after day. Plus, it is as boring as hell sitting behind these guys day after day.
I bring this up because Nature Valley Gran Prix starts next Wednesday. And the TT is the very first race, Wednesday morning. This is going to make the next three days into non bike racing. That’s too bad. On Saturday, the Mankato race finishes on a circuit that is too hard for any domestic Pro team to control. So, we’ll ride tempo up to the circuit for the first three hours and then race for an hour. Then back to the tempo thing on Sunday for the Stillwater Criterium. Stillwater has a course that climbs up from the St. Croix River. It is super hard. I’ve always said if you can tempo that criterium, you can tempo any race. And that has been the case the last few years. It should be carnage with a climb that hard. But, it’s just carnage for the back of the field because of the slinky effect for the tempo riding. I’ve suggested a few time to USAC that they need to limit the number of riders at a NRC event to 6 per team. That would alleviate many of the problems that are happening now in US racing. US stage races are normally 2-5 days long. They aren’t Pro Tour events with a crazy amount of climbing and/or days. Limiting the number of riders to 6 would make the racing more aggressive. It would even out the playing field (I’d guess that less than half of the teams at Nature Valley have 8 riders registered). And it would be much less expensive for teams to field at team at a NRC event. The bigger PRO teams, if the had the budget, could be racing at two events the same weekends. It doubles up their chances of results. Everyone is still racing their bikes. But, under this new structure they actually have to be racing their bikes everyday instead of letting their teams race for them.
Sorry for the rant, but I’m just having a hard time getting enthused about riding in line for most of next week. Maybe something will happen to surprise me.
Talk about a job. Contador is going to race again at the Dauphine’ Libere’. Velonews said he hasn’t raced since April. That sounds about right. Now that is a job. Training hard enough to win Pro Tour events without racing for month periods during the season. I don’t get it. I have never been able to train hard enough to race fast. I need to race to race fast. Wonder how many race days he’ll actually get this year? Bet I have more. Something is wrong with that.