I have tried to make it a point to stay away from all this doping stuff in cycling nowadays. It is so mind boggling, frustrating, and old news. And, frankly, I’m tired of it. But, it never stops and keeps getting more convoluted.
So, these Polish brothers that got 1st and 2nd at U23 Worlds tested postive for EPO. Now they will give the jersey to the French guy that finished 3rd. I bet he is thinking “great”. But, how to you think Belgium phenom, Tom Meeusen, feels now?
Read this report on the race. Tom Meeusen was the prerace favorite by miles. He had been beating up on the Elite riders all season long. During the Worlds, he killed himself trying to keep the Polish brothers in check and eventually faded to 4th. It was a 1st or who cares mentality I’d guess. So, does it seem right that they give the jersey to the French rider? It’s better than nothing. But doesn’t make it right. I don’t think so.
It is such a shame. Cyclo-X is such a perfect sport. But, it has become pretty polluted, as the rest of the cycling has, with drug usage. When the young riders that are moving up to the Elite ranks are still willing to use drugs to cheat their fellow competitors, it doesn’t make the future look that much better than the past.
Just after I made that post a couple days ago about too much media, I realized that I’ve been spending at least an hour a morning watching the live finishes of Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico. This, along with the NCAA basketball tournament, is by far the most “TV” watching I’ll be doing this year. (Minus the Tour de France of course.)
Anyway, if you want to join me in wasting away some of your mornings watching bicycle racing, check the links out below. Paris-Nice is in about any language you’d like to listen to. Tirreno isn’t. Enjoy.
Since I’m on the Paris-Nice theme today, here is a photo from Velonews.com from a good article on Paris-Nice. I’ve been a team mate of both Bernard Hinault and Phil Anderson (Panasonic rider watching). These guys must of really pissed off Hinault. He is a pretty civilized guy. I’m kind of surprised that Phil didn’t jump in on the action actually, being Australian and all.
Driving down to Fayetteville Arkansas for the Hell’s Kitchen Road Race. It’s got a pretty big hill. Something close to 2 miles long and pretty steep (20%) in places. The weather isn’t great anywhere in the Midwest. Like Paris-Nice and Tirreno it’s going to be really cold when the race starts at 10 am (9am real time). I won the race a couple years ago and Brian won it last year, so maybe it’s Bill’s turn. Or someone else’s. Guess we’ll find out tomorrow. I figure that there is almost no chance I’d be riding nearly 90 miles tomorrow unless I raced. Racing to train.
I was pretty thrilled to wake up this morning to the headlines below. Finally, Kansas, as a state, has a law against indoor smoking. Better late than never I guess. Plus, KU is playing KSU tonight in the Big 12 finals. No downside to that no matter who wins.
I like slow Saturday mornings. Sourdough pancakes are normal.
With fresh fruit.
And pure maple syrup always. I like the Grade B syrup with more molasses.
Well, that is over. I wasn’t really looking forward to racing 80+ miles in moderately cold weather. But, I needed to.
Hell’s Kitchen Road Race is 4 laps of a 20.3 mile course down in Hogeye, Arkansas (suburb of Fayetteville). It is adjacent to the Hogeye Circuit Race at the Joe Martin NRC. But, it is a much harder course than Joe Martin. There is only one climb, okay, one climb and another small one. But, the climb is pretty hard. Pretty steep. Long enough. I think around 40 guys started the Pro 1-2 race. Enough to make it frustrating and not enough to hide out in. It was in the lower 40’s at the start and didn’t warm up too much all day. Kind of windy, but that didn’t factor too much into the race.
3 of us from Tradewind Energy came down from Kansas. So, it was going to be impossible to control the race. The best defense is offense in that case. We cruised most of the first lap. The whole field stopped to relieve themselves pretty early. I overheard a few guys saying how cool it was and that they’ve “never done that before”. I was thinking, “wow”, I’ve stopped to pee during races hundreds of times. Anyway, nothing got going until the 2nd time up the climb at around 30 miles.
The climb is said to be 2 miles long, but I’d guess it is a little over half that long. It is only steep for a few hundred meters towards the top. Going over the top the 2nd lap, I put in a little test dig. 3 guys came with me, Joseph Schmalz, Mercy, Chris Uberti, Panther and Alex Battles-Wood, Team Hotel San Jose. I didn’t realize that over half the field had been shelled lower on the hill. So, 4 of us went over the top and thru the feed zone together. I was more interested in what was going on behind us. Brian Jensen (Tradewind teammate) jumped out of the field solo and caught on pretty quickly. That was good enough for us. So, we started working together and rotating pretty quickly. I thought we were going alright and distancing ourselves from the remaining field. About 10 miles later, I checked and there were 10 guys or so less than 30 seconds back. Bill was sitting on I presumed.
Bill made a super move on a small hill and bridged up to us solo. Brian punched it so hard that I was hurting pretty seriously. I assumed Bill nearly got dropped. But that was enough to destroy the mentality of anyone left chasing. There is nothing more demoralizing in bike racing than organizing a chase with the end result being the result that happened here. Now we had 3 out of 6 riders with 30 miles to go.
So, all of us keep rotating for the next hour. I thought it was great everyone was pulling hard. It’s early season and we all needed the training. I knew it would be best if our guys all stayed together over the climb until 6 miles to go. By then it was down to the 3 of us plus Joseph Schmalz and Chris Uberti. Alex Battles-Wood, didn’t make it up the climb with us the previous lap. Bill had been taking more than his share of the work and lost contact on the steep pitch towards the top. When he caught back on over the top he immediately attacked. Chris chased with Brian on him. Joseph chased them with me sitting on. When it came back together, I got away 5 miles out. It is mostly downhill to the finish. I didn’t have to ride very hard after I got away. I had a pretty big gap.
The finish was out in the boonies and was on a small hill. I was a little surprised when I looked back with 500 meters to go that Brian and Chris weren’t that far behind. They had nearly been out of sight a mile earlier, but I wasn’t pedaling too hard for the majority of that mile. Brian had been sitting on Chris and came around him to finish 2nd only a few seconds behind me. Brian said that Chris was going really good at the end. Joseph was alone in 4th and Bill finished 5th.
I felt pretty good at the end. It’s always nice to repeat win a race. And regional races where I’m kind of marked are never easy. But, with 3 out of 3 guys on our team in the break, it was pretty much a sure thing. I could of gone another lap or two if I had to. But, I didn’t really want to. That was plenty far for March.
On the way home, the AC compressor in my van seized up and we were mildly stranded for an hour. I had another serpentine belt, but the clutch pulley was red hot and not moving. I put the new belt on after it cooled and we limped home the last 100 miles. Upon stopping in my driveway, the 2nd belt melted through and broke. Car work time tomorrow I guess.
Somehow I got some stomach flu type thing last night and am still under the weather. I’m not sure if it was something I ate or just one of those things, but I’m not moving very fast today. Gonna go for a ride with the gang now. Daylight savings time and all.
The break after the finish. Joseph, me, Brian, and Chris (Bill obscured).
Here’s a short video from youtube of the Cat. 3 finish and PRO 1-2 finish at Hell’s Kitchen.
The race is super organized. We were nearly still on our bikes when they were giving out prizes. I love these Devil's pitchfork trophies.
The jersey, short, knee warmer and bike combination from Chris's Panther Cycling Team looks super professional. I think that most predominantly white kits look great.
Yesterday, Cyclingnews wrote a article about one of the Polish brothers, that I posted about a couple days ago, tried to commit suicide. I felt pretty shitty. I was thinking, “is there even a remote chance he saw my posting and that affected his decision?” Almost impossible, but that was my first thought. The article went on to imply that it is understandable why they took EPO. Mainly citing that their father only makes 250 Euros a month and that they were going to make 10 X that amount with their new contracts.
That is what is so stupid about the whole doping thing. Justifying the actions. I feel bad that the guy was so shamed, embarrassed, depressed, whatever, that he thought it best to kill himself. But obviously, he only felt that way after he was caught for EPO. I received a comment about how the riders are always taking the blame for all the drug positives and that other factors come into play. These guys didn’t even have enough funds to afford a systematic drug program most likely. But, ultimately the riders are responsible for the end result. It’s their lives. Maybe you should think that if you’re doing something that is going to make you want to kill yourself if you get “caught” later, you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. But, maybe you don’t know how you’ll feel until the situation arises. I don’t know. Anyway, he obviously knew he was doing something that was not right in the first place or he wouldn’t of reacted like he did. Enough said.
But, Valverde is much different. I’m torn with Valverde. Puerto almost seems old news. And I love the way the guy rides. I think that most modern day cyclists don’t have the complete package. Valverde does. I like that he sprints at the end of stages during Grand Tours. Climbs well and TT’s reasonably. But, I don’t think that he should of been racing bikes the last couple years. He should of done his “timeout” like Basso did and say he is sorry. I’m not sure what I think about the way the Italians got his blood from Puerto and matched it with his blood from the Tour. But, his blood is his blood. And the blood in the bag had EPO in it, so he wasn’t keepin’ it around just in case he was in an auto accident. So, he needs a timeout and sit in the corner for awhile.
I very much doubt that Alejandro Valverde is going to be so remorseful that he will try to commit suicide because of all these accusations. But, like I said, you never know how you react until you’re in the siutuation. Let’s hope not. He’ll most likely get an international ban from the UCI, train for a couple years and come back like Basso and be stronger than ever.
The biggest loser here might be Contador. He’s not going to have Alejandro and his Caisse d’Epargne Team around to set tempo for him in all the big races when Astana isn’t strong enough to do so.
Or Contador pulling around the Caisse d'Epargne Team.