Relive the 2017 Tour de France in our book of race reports.
The Lance Armstrong legal battle has been the focus of much discussion lately, with pre-trial motions in full force and a trial scheduled for spring of 2018. I thought it might be useful to go over some of the history surrounding the legal battle and discuss how the legal system in the United States works in relation to the case.
All sports, no matter how skill based they are, have a big degree of luck and there are certain routines or superstitions with which an athlete can feel they can control that bit of that percentage which is luck. This can manifest itself in “rules” such as no shaving your legs on the day of the race in cycling, no shaving your face in hockey, not changing the strings in your racket in tennis, I have even heard of not changing your underwear. I really hope that last one is not true.
A lot has been said by us about the men’s UCI World Tour. We’ve talked mostly about how it really isn’t a tour around the world at all. With only three races outside of Europe, it is kind of a stretch right? The same can be said about the Women’s world Tour by the way, only three races outside of Europe. Are we sure we aren’t comparing Apples with Oranges though?
There was a lot of commotion this week on the supposed help Démare got before his first monument win in Milan-Sanremo. One of the most interesting events that happened was the removal, and subsequent reposting, of the Strava data that was automatically published online during the ride. It makes you wonder, could we use data in other ways?
After moving to the US, it seemed infinitely harder to get some decent coverage of cycling events than what I was used to. All the major events were available to me on the free public broadcasting channel on TV, of course with simultaneous livestream on their site. Besides the Dutch national channel, I was usually able to get coverage from Eurosport and everyone’s favorite, the Belgian public broadcaster. Here in the US though, not so much. If you need a list this complicated, you’re never going to get people to tune in regularly.
Since I moved here to Oakland, I’ve gotten into the habit of running. I bought some lycra running pants, some decent exercise shirts, the full package. Whilst running, I was thinking of two things. First; why on earth is it raining here, this is not what I signed up for when I moved to California from Amsterdam. Second; I’m the crazy one out here running in the rain right now, but pro cyclists have to get out there no matter what the conditions are. Not training is not an option.
It's about time the race organizers stepped up and made a tough decision to protect rider safety. Over the past few years, we have seen stages neutralized or flat out canceled, but only when the riders demanded safer conditions. Yesterday, race organizers at Tirreno - Adriatico cancelled Stage 5 due to snow covered mountain passes being unrideable. Race Director Mauro Vegni announced yesterday that, “The weather is expected to worsen. Even today [Saturday], my people were on all the stage’s check things [sic]. Unfortunately, conditions aren’t suitable to hold the race, especially as things will get worse. We’ve decided not to risk the rider’s health.”
The 2016 cycling season started of pretty good, with the first doping case so early on in the year when Vorganov was caught using Meldonium early on in February. This news of course hit the front page of all sports related sites. Cycling is known by all as the black sheep of sports when it comes to doping. Lately though, the tide has been turning a bit. Not to a sport in particular, but to a country: Russia.
Colombian cyclists are known collectively as the Escarabajos (beetles). This is a term coined in 1955 by none other than Literature Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez in the biography of Ramon Hoyos. His phrase was something along the lines of, “the cyclists in at their hunched back manner looked like beetles attached to the mountains.” This has stayed in the Colombian imagination and has become so prevalent, but most of us don't know where the term comes.
There is no sport where the commentators matter so much. Then again, there is no other sport that is televised sometimes for more than 5 hours a day for 3 weeks in a row. That is a lot of time to fill in with very little happening. A good commentator can turn those 5 hours into something worth watching.
Much has been said on the topic of Carlos Betancur. Good, bad, and in between. His case is fascinating not only because of the amount of mister that seems to surround him but also the perceived raw talent the guy has. Since I like playing devil’s advocate, let me be his.
The UCI Hour Record only takes into account attempts made under the UCI’s guidelines, the holders of which are Evelyn Stevens and Sir Bradley Wiggins. There is, however, another record that hasn’t been bested in almost two decades. Despite the recent surge in interest around the Hour Record, thanks to Jens Voigt’s 2014 successful attempt, no one has beaten the records set during the ‘superman’ era.
For a global sport to truly be global it must reach out to the entire world. The UCI World Tour only includes races in Europe, with the exception of the Tour Down Under in Australia and the two one day races in Quebec and Montreal. To be called a World Tour, the UCI needs to have races in every hospitable continent, and bring the global cycling community together through expansion.
I'm sure a lot of you who are watching the Omloop het Nieuwsblad this opening weekend had the same thought; who was that guy again? In the main breakaway of the day we found Dutchman Kai Reus. He was riding a very good race all day - being in the attack basically from the opening kilometer - until he had to drop from the lead group in an unfortunate puncture on the final cobbles of the Paddenstraat. The group he was in made it to the finish, meaning he would have finished in the top 7 in the big opening race of the season. Instead he finished 71st somewhere in the middle of the second main bunch of about 50 riders.
After the months of cold winter and waiting for the return of cycling to the road, the opening weekend is here. The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne have reminded me how amazing cycling is. Yes, there has been a number of races this year, but nothing compares to the cobbled classics in Europe.