Friday, December 29, 2006

Now You See Him...Now You Don't

I always thought this business of Our Boy Lance and Bad Boy Floyd participating in the Leadville Trail 100
So now it turns out that Lance won't be there.
"Lance had a scheduling conflict come up and he regrettably cannot participate in the event," said mountain-bike race in Colorado next August was premature.Mark Higgins, the seven-time Tour de France champion's manager.
OBL's as-yet-to-be-stripped successor as Tour champion, Floyd Landis, also has expressed interest in racing the Leadville 100. But the event carries a NORBA sanction, which means Landis would not be able to compete should he be suspended for his positive testosterone test at the 2006 Tour.
The course starts at over 10,000 feet of elevation and peaks at 12,600 feet. Armstrong's longtime coach, Chris Carmichael, raced in the 2006 event and finished in 9 hours, 18 minutes.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Return of Paolo Savoldelli

Remember Paolo Savoldelli, who was rather unceremoniously discarded by the Discovery Channel team during their off-season house cleaning?
Savoldelli now rides for Astana, and he plans to ride in both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France next year.
"In 2007 I will focus on the Giro and Tour. The Giro is open and up for grabs and it will be better for my chances. At the Tour I will support Alexandre Vinokourov and Andreas Kloden, but I will also have my own space.
"In 2005 I was at the side of Lance Armstrong, launching him to his seventh Tour victory, and I was successful in conquering the stage to Revel."
Savoldelli also won the Giro that year, his second title in that tour (his first triumph came in 2002).
It looks like Astana is shaping up to be a strong team as the pro cycling tour reshapes for 2007.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Oscar The Grouch?

You gotta feel sorry for Oscar Pereiro.
Sometimes, even Oscar starts to feel sorry for himself over still be called the "virtual Tour de France winner."
It almost sounds like a video game.
Last July, the Caisse d'Epargne rider finished second in the Tour to Bad Boy Floyd Landis. However, BBFL tested positive after the 17th stage and ... well, you know the rest of the story.
"If the decision finally comes that I have won the race, then I prefer to know it today unstead of in some years so I can still enjoy my victory," the Spaniard told the Spanish sports paper Marca.
"Everybody gives me the feeling of having won the Tour de France, but I haven't and I am still ranked second."

Abt: 'An Extremely Bad Year'

How does Samuel Abt, the official cycling writer-favorite (next to Granny) of the Crankset, characterize the year in cycling?
Writes Abt in the International Herald Tribune:
"A bad year, an extremely bad year, nears its close for the sport of bicycle road racing, which, after a series of scandals and loose-lipped suspicions, has now acquired all the credibility of professional wrestling. The next season hints at no improvement."

'You Might As Well Win'

Our Boy Lance's former Director Sportif, Johan Bruyneel, has a website. On it, you can read the first chapter of his not-soon-to-be-published motivational book (Houghton Mifflin, Spring 2008), aptly named "You Might As Well Win."
On the site, you can read short columns by Bruyneel, news updates, and even book Johan for YOUR events.
What, you don't have events?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Why Do These Things Take Forever?

The American anti-doping agency USADA will announce its verdict in Bad Boy Floyd Landis' case in March 2007, Landis said during an interview with Belgian sportspaper Sportwereld.
"I want to be a cycling pro again. I don't know if this will be the case next season, or the year after. But in March I'll show to the world that nothing happened," said the 2006 Tour de France winner.
"And after that, I'll do anything in order to win the Tour a second time."
Anything?!
A lot of folks already think you did "anything" to win the Tour.
Watch those translations, Floyd.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Holidays!

To Granny, Tooth and all our cycling friends!!!

Gift For The Season

"It gives readouts for speed, maximum speed, time, distance, cadence and number of dog turds you've run over."

It's Bad Boy Floyd and Valverde in 2006

In case you missed it, Bad Boy Floyd Landis was VeloNews magazines choice as the top North American rider of the year.
Making its 19th annual awards, the magazine's 2006 International Cyclist of the Year was Spain's Alejandro Valverde, the overall champion of the UCI ProTour.
"No category produced a more debatable outcome than top North American man," said VeloNews editor Kip Mikler. "Whatever the outcome of the yet-to-be-resolved charges that Landis used testosterone on stage 17 of the Tour, he outperformed his fellow Americans, including George Hincapie and Levi Leipheimer, throughout the rest of the season. Though the coverage wasn't always positive, Landis landed on five VeloNews covers in 2006, a Lance Armstrong-like achievement."
During the first five months of the 2006 racing season, Landis won the inaugural Amgen Tour of California, the prestigious Paris-Nice stage race in France, and the Ford Tour de Georgia prior to finishing the Tour de France in Paris wearing yellow.
How do you feel about the VeloNews choices?

Hincapie's Plans Spring Eternal

The Discovery Channel's sometimes forgotten George Hincapie will, once again, pursue the Spring Classics in 2007, according to CyclingNews.
"With Hincapie, we have a deal that he will going after the Classics again this year," said directeur sportif Dirk Demol. "In 2006, Hincapie focused on the Tour, which didn't work out. He was disillusioned with his performance and put aside his Tour plans again."
With the departure of Leif Hoste, Roger Hammond, Max van Heeswijk and Vjatcheslav Ekimov, Discovery has lost some of its panache for a successful pre-Tour de France Classics season.
"We are weakened for the Classics," Demol admits.
But Discovery still has Vladimir Gusev and Stijn Devolder in addition to Hincapie for the spring in Belgium and Northern France.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Comings and Goings

Erik Zabel, now 36, is one of the classy guys in pro cycling.
No one ever accuses him of doping.
Of course, he rarely wins anymore.
Zabel plans to races two more seasons, according to EuroSport.
"It's only two years until the 'long vacation'," the six-time Tour de France green jersey winner told the CyclingNews."I still enjoy the sport ... I would like to stay involved in cycling. But I have Plans A, B and C for the time after I stop riding. One of them has nothing at all to do with the sport."
Zabel plans to participate in the Tour de France and Vuelta.
On the other hand, Jan Ullrich, who is 33, would like to ride one more year. But it won't be on the pro tour.
"I have understood that there will not be a place for me on a ProTour team," Ullrich told French daily L'Equipe on Monday. "But I want to ride at least one more season."
Maybe on the W&OD Trail?
"I imagined winning the Tour de France this year and announcing my retirement the night of the arrival in Paris," Ullrich said. "Events upset my plans.
"So, I want to have another chance, and even with a Continental Pro team that would be able to allow me to ride a Grand Tour, like the Giro for example.
"I don't have any reason to be angry, but I just want to show certain people that they were wrong about me."

Still Not Sure About Floyd

Among the things I'm not really sure of (although it does appear that I've successfully converted to a new Blogger account and interface), I still wish I was convinced that Bad Boy Floyd Landis was a cheater -- or not.
Ever since this scandal inside a scandal that sidelined the two '06 Tour de France favorites, Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich, then knocked out the apparent winner after a spectacular Stage 17 appearance, I just haven't known who or what to believe, who or what to care about. I'm not reading as much about the sport, not keeping up with this blog, not even riding as much as I did before the summer. I don't know that I can legitimately blame the latter on the scandals of the past year, but I do know that after several years of increasing enthusiasm for the sport, my interest has definitely peaked.
Will it return, rebuild, regenerate? It's still too early to tell. But I can feel Floyd's pain, that's for sure, when he says, "As things stand now, I don't see myself as a bike racer."
As of now, I don't seem myself as the cycling fan I once was.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I Went to Spin Class...

and this guy ends up being my instructor for the day! YIKES! "Ahh, sir, excuse me sir, but this isn't supposed to be one of our intensity interval days..." Crazy thing is, some of those hardcore "spinners" probably fed the "Hope" his lunch (at this point in his off season training).

Tom Danielson leading a spin at a local Denver gym

Friday, December 15, 2006

Cranky, YES...Surly, You Bet!

Oude Granny was taught to never judge a book by its cover...but sometimes the cover just fits. Take for instance the case of former elite sprinter, Jarmila Kratochvílová (inset right) of the former Czechoslovakia. In a side-by-side comparison to her contemporaries, her, and what has been described as, "less than feminine features," certainly made her stand out and bring to question whether the sprinter was less than honest about performance enhancing drug use. Of course those were during the days where drug controls weren't the standard.

Now comes word that former elite cyclist, Tammy Thomas, wasn't so forthright is her BALCO testimonies. A picture says a thousand words...in this case it might say anabolic steroid use. Cranky...yuppers...Surly...as Burly as Surly gets!


For the full story, Velonews.com

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Weather Outside Is...

Well as of 12-11-06, it isn't really that frightful. But for us northeners, we all know its a comin'. For Oude Granny, the image that always pops into my mind when I see snow is Andy Hampsten muscling his way over the Passo Gavia, as a Velonews reader exclaimed..."My god...it would have paled in comparison to what the hard men of days gone by suffered through. When Hampsten rode over the Gavia to secure his 1988 Giro win in a blinding snowstorm, it was -4 Celsius. He was knocking snowballs from his hair for god's sake (and he had quite a head of hair!)"


On a lighter note: here's Andy, Bob Roll, and Ron Keifel (Team 7-Eleven) on a much different type of road machine. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What Now...

An ethical stand to clean up the sport...or the equivalent to taking your ball home when you don't like the rules of the game? Whatever the case may be, one of the most internationally laden teams in the ProTour is now excluded from it. Oh, they still have their license, but what does that mean? You're part of the Pro tour, but you're really not? Go figure, its America's team, Discovery Channel Pro Cycling.

The why...because of Ivan Basso's signing. The question is, however, would there even be a Pro Tour if they excluded all the teams who had someone "implicated" in Operacion Puerto on their respective rosters?

For more, read on...Velonews.com

Monday, December 11, 2006

New Eyes...

"The real voyage of discovery comes not in seeking new vistas, but in having new eyes..." -Marcel Proust


Two years ago, Tyler Hamilton, asked us to simply BELIEVE. Maybe that charge was intended for his defense of doping charges, or maybe it was a charge to believe in the possibility(-ies); the possibility of humans erring, of erroneous tests that claim to be 100% full proof. But whatever way you've chosen to employ that charge, belief rarely belies reality. As they say, "the proof is in the pudding." Unfortunately for Oude Granny and the rest of cycling's fanbase, the pudding is a murking tapioca concoction. The LA Times article below is just another ingredient.

Cyclist blames 'flawed' test: Tyler Hamilton says the blood exam that labeled him a 'cheater' was rushed into use

By Michael A. Hiltzik, Times Staff Writer

To anti-doping officials, the case against Olympic and Tour de France cyclist Tyler Hamilton for an illicit blood transfusion ranks among their greatest victories: a sanction for "intentional cheating at its most sophisticated," in the words of Travis T. Tygart, general counsel to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

To others, including independent scientists who worked on Hamilton's defense, it underscores one of the most glaring flaws of the international anti-doping system - its reliance on scientific research performed hastily and on the cheap.

The novel blood test used to condemn Hamilton as a cheater and suspend him for two years was developed by researchers in Sydney, Australia, on a $50,000 USADA grant - that sum is a fraction of what's normally spent in medicine to develop and validate a diagnostic test.

"This test was not ready for prime time," says Carlo Brugnara, professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School.

Brugnara was a member of the peer-review committee that approved publication of an article outlining the test in 2003. However, he felt so strongly that it was prematurely implemented in Hamilton's case that he volunteered to testify at an arbitration hearing for the cyclist in 2005.

Hamilton, a native of Marblehead, Mass., was considered one of cycling's toughest and cleanest riders when he came under suspicion for blood doping shortly before the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. He went on to win the gold medal in the individual time trial.

At Athens, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee had introduced a new field test that had to be fast-tracked for the Games. Authorities feared a rash of prohibited blood transfusions among endurance athletes seeking a boost from extra oxygen-producing red blood cells.

At the Games, Hamilton's blood sample was declared negative, though "suspicious" for blood doping, by WADA's Athens laboratory.

A month later, he was tested again at the Vuelta d'Espana, a grueling Spanish race akin to the Tour de France. This time, authorities said the test - performed by WADA's lab in Lausanne, Switzerland - had identified a small concentration of foreign blood cells in his sample. He was charged with doping.

Richard W. Pound, the WADA chairman, trumpeted the results as vindication of suspicions in Athens. "We got him on the second bounce," he crowed.

On the surface, Hamilton's alleged violation made little sense. Athletes seeking a blood-doping boost almost certainly would transfuse from a stored supply of their own ? not only because it is nearly undetectable in doping tests but also because it carries no risk of illness or infection.

Indeed, use of another person's blood is so unlikely that one WADA scientist speculated that Hamilton must have done it accidentally. "The most likely scenario is that he meant to get his own blood but was given someone else's," says Michael Ashenden, a member of the Sydney team that developed the test.

Experts supporting Hamilton contend the concentration of purportedly foreign cells in his blood at Athens and the Vuelta was too low to have boosted his performance in those events and possibly too low to be accurately measured.

They say the test results indicate that if Hamilton transfused at all, it would have been more than two months before the Olympics, a wasted effort, because performance-enhancing effects would have worn off well before the Games.

"If someone was really doping, it would be really obvious," says David Nelson, professor of cell and molecular biology at the University of Rhode Island and a consultant on Hamilton's defense. "But these results were wacky."

Hamilton declined to comment for this article. On his website, he calls the tests "flawed and inaccurate" and says he "did not transfuse."

There is little dispute the test was rushed to implementation. Sydney researchers had published results from trials on only 58 blood samples using a process known as flow cytometry when WADA summoned them to teach the technique to scientists at the Athens Olympics.

For any diagnostic test to be used in medicine, regulatory agencies often require hundreds if not thousands of trials in a variety of clinical and field settings to demonstrate reproducible results under all conditions.

"It was appalling for me to see the low bar they set," said one of Hamilton's expert witnesses, Dr. V.K. Gadi, a blood specialist and oncologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. "The way the test was designed and implemented would never pass muster in any other regulatory situation."

During its first field application in Athens, the test encountered problems. The lab failed a proficiency test just before the Games, lab director Costas Georgakopoulos told The Times in an e-mail.

As a result, he said, he refused to certify Hamilton's sample as positive for blood doping, a decision that infuriated his blood-testing team. They considered the cyclist guilty.

With the lab's proficiency in question, Georgakopoulos said, "reporting positive cases would endanger the whole Olympic doping control program."

Meanwhile, on opening day of the Athens Games, Ashenden sent out a blistering e-mail complaining that the Lausanne lab was "not yet capable of performing the test to an acceptable standard."

He cited changes the lab had made in the test that might produce false positives.

Ashenden said in an interview that Lausanne had corrected all its flaws before it examined Hamilton's sample from the race in Spain.

"Lausanne was keen to rush through the test, perhaps prematurely," he said. "But it was only a matter of days before they started to get the results we wanted to see."

One scientist testifying at Hamilton's hearing contended that Australian researchers had not taken even rudimentary steps to determine how susceptible their test might be to false positives. David E. Housman, professor of biology at MIT, also told The Times in an e-mail: "This process wouldn't cut it in the world of testing for any medical condition."

Australian researchers had argued in published papers that false positives "do not appear to be a problem," without showing they had investigated the issue.

That seemed a "cavalier" dismissal to D. Michael Strong, chief operating officer of Puget Sound Blood Center, a Seattle blood bank, who testified for Hamilton.

"I don't know of a test that doesn't have false positives," he said in an interview. Common scientific standards require developers of diagnostic tests to identify and quantify the possible causes of false positives, Strong said.

At Hamilton's first appeal of sanctions, arbitrator Christopher L. Campbell issued a rare written dissent, citing "a number of bizarre and inappropriate occurrences" in the case.

For example, soon after the Athens Games, anti-doping authorities hand-picked an expert panel to reexamine Hamilton's Olympic sample. One member was a developer of the controversial blood test, an arrangement Campbell called a conflict of interest violating the "cardinal rules of drug testing."

The panel did declare Hamilton's Athens sample positive. However, because a confirmation sample already had been destroyed, the official negative finding stood and the cyclist retained his gold medal.

Based on tests from the Spanish race, however, Hamilton was suspended for two years.

Campbell, highly critical of the entire test validation process, said that the arbitrators' decision to accept the test despite its deficiencies "establishes a dreadful precedent."

Hamilton's suspension ended in September, and he has resumed racing.

As for the feared crisis in blood doping that led to the crash implementation of the test, WADA never found it. Only two athletes have ever been declared positive, Hamilton and a second cyclist who chose not to contest his sanction.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Tink-y Tacky

Here's Tyler Hamilton in his new team togs.

OBL Plays The Basso Drum

The Discovery Channel team -- George, Ivan, Levi and the boys -- have been in Austin this week training for the 2007 season. And yes, Our Boy Lance has been going along for the ride(s).

So, here's OBL on Ivan Basso:

"I know that he [Basso] wants to win the Tour. I will make available my time and passion. He is very concentrated in this new challenge; I am not only speaking of the sporting aspects. The personality of Ivan will be able to add a lot to this group. We are all with him."

Signing Basso was the culmination of a long process for Lance and the team:

"It is not a secret that we have tried over the years to sign him. We have come close [to signing Basso] at least on three or four occasions. To have him in the team has been a dream for a long time; now it is a reality. ... I became aware of him in the 2002 Tour, when he won the white jersey for best young rider. I got to know him better in 2003, at the century edition of the Tour, and the idea to have him [in the team] was already there."

Why did Discovery sign Basso, despite his guilt by association with the Spanish doping probe?

"Cycling has always been a sport with lots of integral conflicts. Everyone believes they have a reason to talk bad about the others. The truth is that all of the big teams wanted Basso. Ivan was acquitted by CONI [Italian Olympic Committee] and his federation, and for us this was the green light. "The case is closed, it is missing the other elements. Basso is clean. There is a telephone call that was linked to him, but nothing concrete. And then he gave his availability to DNA testing. What more can he do?"

And OBL asks my question:

"The real questions is why was this boy was not allowed to race the [2006] Tour?"

Gearing Up For Climate Change

David Kroodsma and Bill Bradlee plan to set out on their "Ride for Climate USA: Global Warming and Action" tour on April 21, 2007.

Their mission:
to raise awareness of global warming while encouraging action and promoting solutions.

They will be giving presentations in various communities along the way. And these guys know what they're talking about. Kroodsma, who's currently riding solo from California to the southern tip of South America, received his master's degree at Stanford University studying climate change and, in particular, how carbon dioxide cycles through the biosphere. Bradlee earned his graduate degree in environmental studies from the Evergreen State College.

Say What?

What is it about Italian that just doesn't translate well?
According to Johaan Bruyneel's Discovery of the year, Ivan Basso, Oscar Periero is the "moral winner" of the 2006 Tour de France. The Spaniard finished second to Bad Boy Floyd Landis, who is accused doping following his incredible Stage 17 victory.

Says somebody translating Basso: "For me, Pereiro is the moral winner. But still I hope that everything expires good for both Landis and Pereiro. But that is impossible."

No wonder there is so much confusion in professional cycling!
And you would think that Oscar would get the occasional cycling magazine cover, wouldn't you?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

First Look At The 2007 Giro d'Italia

Are the grand tours too tough?
If the climbs, if not the distances, were more reasonable, would there be a lesser tendency to cheat?

Do these races ask too much physically of the cyclists?

Well, the 2007 Giro d'Italia isn't lightening up, according to a wonderful review on the VeloNews site by John Wilcockson. The Giro returns to the Tre Cime de Lavaredo for the first time since 1989 to conclude stage 15 on May 27, then visits Monte Zoncolan to finish May 30 three days later.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Wide Brush

Maybe somebody can help me out here.
Hans-Micheal Holczer
, Gerolsteiner's team manager, still has his doubts about Ivan Basso and his plans to participate in the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France in 2007 for the Discovery Channel team. "It's just not going to be as simple as it seems," he said over the weekend.

Here's what I don't quite understand. Just why did Basso, and Jan Ullrich for that matter, drop out just before the start of last year's Tour de France? Just what was it that they did or what was it that they were guilty of? I realize that their names surfaced during the Spanish doping scandal, but who found them guilty -- or at least any more guilty than other top cyclists? You can paint all professional cyclists with a wide brush, like my fellow Crank, Tooth, or you can demand more proof.

I'd still like to see more proof in individual cases.
Like Basso's case.
Like Ullrich's case.

What does Holczer know that he isn't telling us? Does it apply to his former rider, Levi Leipheimer, who now rides for Discovery?

"I don't really want to comment on Basso's statements and prospects. I continue to assume that no rider will be allowed to start in any ProTour race unless he has made a DNA test, as the team managers agreed in Salzburg," Holczer said about Basso's planned 2007 comeback.

There seems to be plenty of anti-Basso and Ullrich sentiment. Deutschland Tour manager Kai Rapp said: "Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme will also be rigorous." Yet even when the Tour is rigorous, as it was with Bad Boy Floyd Landis, there's still doubt.

So, show me the evidence if you're going to paint Basso, or Ullrich, with that wide brush.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Cyclocross

Interested in the sport of cyclocross?
The New York Times has a pretty good story about the emerging sport. It begins:

"The burgeoning pro tour for the sport of cyclocross had a successful fall: big crowds, thrilling finishes, the emergence of a superstar in the 6-foot-5 Ryan Trebon. But because of what most people consider good weather at several stops throughout the country, the United States Gran Prix of Cyclocross, in its third year, headed into last weekend’s finale here lacking mud, one of the sport’s most important elements."

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Saturday Wheelings and Dealings

And holiday greetings to my fellow Cranks and our cranky readers.
I haven't been in much of a posting mood these days, although there have been little nuggets of news here and there.

So, off the top of my head:
-- I don't think Bad Boy Floyd is anymore guilty than anyone else on a bike these days. Like Tooth, I think just about everyone pushes the envelope with meds and such. Sometimes, they cross the line. How stupid of it would it have been for BBF to cheat with the expectation of winning the Tour knowing he would be tested? I don't think he's the brightest bulb in the universe, just a little naive at times. I don't like the coyness; everyone knows what everyone else is doing. But I don't think he overtly cheated.

-- Ivan Basso might as well ride for the Discovery Channel as anyone else. I don't think we really know why he didn't ride in the Tour. Or Jan Ullrich. Were they unable to purge their systems in time? Was there something to purge?

-- I do know this: I just don't care as much as I did. Maybe that's why I haven't been posting.

-- Oh yeah. Our Boy Lance. What's up with him? He's diluted his impact, I feel, for cancer research over the past year with his playboy period. But who's to say he wasn't entitled? He still does more than almost anyone else. He's still the poster boy for cancer research. As long as he remains on message, let the boy have a little fun.

-- Finally, Tyler Hamilton is back with some new Italian team called Tinkoff Credit Systems. I don't recognize a single other name on the team (but Granny probably does).

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Resurrecting Floyd

Alright, he hasn't been eloquent in his defense, but he has been consistently steadfast in his message...I DIDN'T DO IT! But after countless other cyclists before him who pleaded their innocence after having tested positive, Floyd Landis just seemed like the next guy to cry wolf. And after his "B" Sample came up positive, it didn't really matter to anyone what Floyd, his associates, his God-fearing parents, or his trainers or doctors said, he was guilty.

Well, let's borrow a phrase from Lee Corso..."Not so fast my friend."

There are new reports that there may have been a serious error at the French lab...how serious? They reported the wrong numbers. So these numbers, the positives, may not even be his...someone was cheating, but who? The French Conspiracy Theory against American cyclists just may have gotten a boost, as it seems the blinders may have been on at French lab.


Who do you believe...at this time, do you even care?

At least a group of people in the San Diego area still do, and right now they are the only ones that matter.

Allez Floyd!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Not Your Ordinary Hump Day...

THE GAME
You're gonna have to excuse Oude Granny for a bit here as I have to start off with a comment on THE GAME this weekend. As a sports fan, I'm proud and extremely happy to say that I fall on one side of two of the greatest rivalries in sports; that being the Yankees - Red Sox and Michigan - Ohio State. And in both cases, I'm even prouder to say that I'm a fan of the latter.

Interestingly enough, there are striking similarities among the teams. Both fan bases of the Sawx and Buckeyes are generally referred to as "Nations," as in Red Sawx Nation or Buckeye Nation; and they are equally as diehard. While the fans on the other side are often viewed as harboring a "superiority complex" for having beaten their rivals soundly over the years (26 World Series titles to 6, and although the Buckeyes have played Michigan even during the modern era of football, Michigan still holds a 17 game advantage in the win column; Derek Jeter - UM/Yankee Poster Boy).

Now how does this all relate to cycling, well for a Sawx and Buckeye fan it all starts and ends with PASSION.

The TC started this blog earlier in the year because we "were" extremely passionate about the sport of cycling. I say "were" because the luster came off when the scandals hit...And NO, although T-o-03 keeps up with OBL, we weren't just "Lance" fans whose interest suddenly waned because he had retired. The once fervent have been reduced to a group of dispirited cyclist. How does Oude Granny know this? Well around this time of year, when the route of the Tour de France is announced, there was about as much excitment and anticipation as THE GAME has this weekend. This time last year, we would have broken down our favorite stages, marked down which ones couldn't be missed, and maybe, just maybe even planned a trip to take in some of the race.

Don't get me wrong, the TC still loves to cycle and to talk about the events in and around cycling, but until the sport is able to honestly confront its issues, it'll be difficult to wrap our arms around any of the sports "athletes."

What A Hack...
Oude Granny shouldn't be surprised by the lengths and depths some individuals may take in order to perpetuate a lie, or in this case a defense. But it saddens me to hear that one of Floyd Landis' mates may be involved in a computer hacking conspiracy to clear his name. Apparently, one of Floyd's associates "hacked" into the computers at the French lab that ran all his tests and sent out fake emails to all the heads of the major cycling governing boards claiming past laboratory mistakes. Word to the wise, plan ahead!!! At least have a native French speaker write the letters, not someone who knows the French language as well as Bob Roll (sorry Bob, but your "Tours de France" have been killing me all these years). To read the sad details, follow this link to Velonews.com.

We Believe - Part (what f*%$^@ part is this now)
Tyler Hamilton
is officially back (my apologies for the painful pun to the left) in cycling as there are reports that he has signed with a team. Many have reported that its the new continental pro cycling squad headed up by Oleg Tinkoff, Tinkoff Credit Systems. But no one is letting the cat out of the bag, yet. The question, however, still remains for those ardent supporters of Tyler's who waited out the sentence of a presumably innocent man - Do You Still Believe?? For the rest of the details, check Cyclingnews.com.

Fro-Yo, Now Cy-Yo...Huh?
That's right!! No, it's not from the makers of Fro-zen Yo-gurt, but from the state that has some of the best fro-yo and ice cream (if you're ever in Beantown, run, don't walk, over to JP Licks), Massachusetts. Now comes a marriage of seemingly polar opposites, but one that makes a whole lot of good old fashion sense...Cycling and Yoga, or Cy-Yo. Although Granny hasn't participated in one of these classes, they are apparently more Yoga than Spin, with a focus on the alignment of your body in order to cycle better. As I've done both, albeit separately, in the past, be prepared to get your arse kicked and love every minute of it. Check it out at Cy-Yo.com.

Incidentally, Buckeyes 24 - Michigan 10.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The TC's Got The Fever!


The Fixed Gear Fever that is...

If you're a regular reader of this blog or have stopped by on occasion, you probably know that Oude Granny tried out his cycling skills on the track this summer/fall. Well in order to incorporate another flavor to this blog, we've added the site Fixed Gear Fever to our list of sites to visit (see sidebar). The site is probably the most comprehensive of its kind on the internet (although I've seen some great track site solely devoted to juniors). Anyway, if you don't have a local velodrome or don't know much about Track Cycling, give The Fever a whirls.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mr. Right

Wondering how the 2007 inception of Discovery Pro Cycling will perform with all the recent turnover...wondering if they signed the right guy(s) in the off-season? Well this picture by CorVos for Pezcyclingnews.com kind of speaks for itself, as Ivan Basso is already back to training in full Discovery regalia days after his signing.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

In Weather Like This, We Ride!

Mike Armellino and I got out on the W&OD Trail here in Northern Virginia this morning for a brisk 35 miles in about two hours. Temperatures were in the 60s (with mid-70s predicted for the afternoon). Our little ride seemed like a good event to celebrate the Cranks' 400th post since last March!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Granny's Wayback Machine...Approaching 400th

To commemorate the TC's fast approaching 400th post (it'll be the next one as this is #399), Oude Granny is busting out the wayback machine (and incorporating some of the technology that's sweeping the blog-o-sphere; that $6 Billion thing called You Tube), so Sherman if you will...Ah, right away Mr. Peabody.

Let's take you back to Stage 13 of the 1986 Tour de France...Bernard Hinault is in the Maillot Jaune, but his La Vie Claire team is splintered. Greg Lemond is seeking revenge on his boss for having reneged on last year's promise of "as he has bled for me so I will bleed for him." Amazingly, this mountain stage victory marked the first time an American had won a mountain stage in the TDF. If you're not a fan of Greg Lemond, at least enjoy the "wonderful" 80's music that's been dubbed in with this video, and the commentary of a young Phil Liggett.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

2007 TDF Discovery Motto

Its a cliche, but Oude Granny couldn't help having a bit of fun with the news of Discovery's latest signing...Will Johan Bruyneel ever reach the leadership status that Tony Soprano has achieved (albeit through the cycling world's Belgian Mafia) or is he forever saddled with the epitaph of having the best gun on the toughest crew??? The 2006 TDF did nothing for his reputation as one of the greatest Director Sportifs, and Basso's signing is sure to lessen that credibility.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Welcome Back Granny...Race 2 Replace, Finished

Well after another prolonged hiatus, Oude Granny is back. So what has Granny been stewing up since his last post?

Let's start with some thoughts on Basso to Discovery. This whole year has been about who might replace LA, not only as the boss of the peloton, but also as the head of Discovery Channel Pro Cycling. The answer, for most, didn't come as quickly or as decisively as some of LA's past exploits in the Pyrennes or Alps, but the correct answer has finally arrived.

Early, some looked to "Gentleman" George Hincapie, the faithful lieutenant, to pick up the mantle, but his crash in the Queen of the Classics set his preparations back and he was never able to recover the form which helped him win a Stage in the 2005 TDF. Others looked to Bad (or should he now be referred to as Badder) Boy Floyd Landis. After his dramatic come from behind win in the TDF, Floyd not only looked but sounded the part. Then the wheels literally came spinning off.

Enter Ivan Basso...

Although he is Italian and has never ridden on the same team as LA, Basso was a close Armstrong confidant during a time when Basso's mother underwent cancer treatment. Basso has also been as close to an LA apprentice as one could imagine without actually being on the same team. His climbing style of "dancing on the pedals," as Phil Liggett might remark, is reminiscent of the low gear, high octance cadence that LA once employed, and he has become an excellent time trialists. His recent and decisive victory in the Giro d'Italia, only confirmed his talent in the Grand Tours. Now he's on the only American sponsored Pro Tour team...

So come next summer, from the North End of Boston to Little Italy in San Diego, Italian-Americans will have more than the World Cup to celebrate, and American cycling fans should start getting used to Grappa rather than Shiner Bock.

Basso is the Latest to Join Discovery

It is a sign of the times in cycling that Italy's Ivan Basso, arguably the world's top stage racer and the runner-up to Lance Armstrong in the 2005 Tour de France, could sign with Our Boy Lance's old team, Discovery Channel, without much of a stir.
This should be huge news. However, Basso, 28, who won the 2006 Giro d'Italia, joins Team Lance after leaving Team CSC a few weeks ago after he had been banned from participating in the Tour de France because his name was linked to the Spanish drug investigation, Operation Puerto.
Basso and Germany's Jan Ullrich, also thrown out of the 2006 Tour because his name surfaced in documents seized during the raid on a sports doctor's office in Madrid last spring, were the co-favorites to win the Tour until they were both sent home before the start of the race in disgrace.
Basso would have been trying to become the first rider since the late Marco Pantani in 1998 to win the Giro and the Tour de France in the same year.
The Italian Olympic Committee and the Italian Cycling Federation have said they will take no action against Basso and have cleared him to return to racing. That prompted Discovery's interest after CSC released released him from his contract.
The Italian paper, Gazetta della Sport, said Basso has agreed to a three-year, $6 million contract to lead one of just two American-sponsored teams on the Pro Tour.
Armstrong and Basso became close when the world's most famous cancer survivor attempted to help Basso's mother in her own fight against cancer. She later passed away.
Basso will become Discovery's new leader after a year in which the team struggled to find its way without Armstrong, whose seven yellow jerseys are the Tour's all-time record. Although George Hincapie wore the yellow briefly and Yaroslav Popovych won a stage, no Discovery rider placed higher than 19th in the 2006 race.
And young American Tom Danielson proved at the Vuelta in September that he wasn't yet ready to step into the leader's role when he struggled in the mountains early and, despite an impressive stage win late, placed just sixth.
Discovery had previously added Levi Leipheimer, 33, to its team. After Basso and Ullrich were banished, the American Leipheimer was considered a threat to claim the yellow jersey, but he never contended, placing 13th, almost 19½ minutes behind Floyd Landis.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Running of the OBL IV

“Which way to the hot tub?”
That was Our Boy Lance's final comment after finishing the New York Marathon in just under three hours Sunday.
Writes Juliet Macur in the New York Times:
His dark green shirt was soaked with sweat, his gait stiff. He said his calves felt as if someone were squeezing them, hard. And his shinsplints were flaring up again.
“That’s when I started to feel helpless,” Armstrong said afterward, while being driven back to his hotel opposite Central Park. “I thought: Uh-oh, maybe I should have trained a little harder for this. I think I’m in trouble.”
And:
Exhausted and nearly walking, Armstrong crossed the finish line in 2 hours 59 minutes 36 seconds. He was 869th, with a pace of 6:51 a mile.
“I can tell you, 20 years of pro sports, endurance sports, from triathlons to cycling, all of the Tours — even the worst days on the Tours — nothing was as hard as that, and nothing left me feeling the way I feel now, in terms of just sheer fatigue and soreness,” [OBL] said, looking spent, at a news conference.

Inside with Outside

Our Boy Lance can still sell a magazine if you put him on the cover.
The December issue of Outside features "The O List":
"Lance Armstrong, Richard Branson, and Warren Buffett in a full-on philanthropic smackdown! The first energy-independent city in the U.S.! Your phone, your trainer/GPS unit/Web interface! Oh, yes, the time has come to sing the praises of 100 things — be they vegetable, animal, mineral, or secretary of the interior — worth getting overexcited about right now."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Running of the OBL III

856th!!!
But Our Boy Lance finished.
Not only finished, but finished under three hours to meet his personal goal.
Read all about it:
NEW YORK -- His face twisted in pain, Lance Armstrong virtually walked the last couple of steps. He slowed to a halt immediately after the finish line and bent to the ground, his green shirt soaked with sweat.
No one’s more familiar with how painful achieving goals can be.
Still, not even he saw this coming.
Armstrong barely met his lofty goal of breaking 3 hours in his first marathon, but it came at a price. No Alpine climb on his bicycle had ever been as tough as Sunday’s New York City Marathon, he said.
“For the level of condition that I have now, that was without a doubt the hardest physical thing I have ever done,” said Armstrong, who finished 856th. “I never felt a point where I hit the wall, it was really a gradual progression of fatigue and soreness.”

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Running of the OBL II

Here's a little fact for you: Our Boy Lance, 35, and past his prime (time?) in competitive cycling, has not raced -- on a bike or otherwise -- since winning a record seventh Tour de France in July 2005.
So that's why there is such interest in OBL's participation in the New York Marathon on Sunday?
OBL's goal? A sub-three-hour time. Lance will be paced by greats Alberto Salazar, Joan Benoit Samuelson and Hicham El Guerrouj.
"I haven't felt this kind of buzz since I raced," OBL says. "And I've never been passed in Central Park."
Is that a challenge? Has Lance thrown down a challenge?
"I wasn't born to be a runner. I was born to be other things," says Lance. "It would be foolish for me to say I've done workouts. I simply run. I don't do intervals. I just go every day and run, there's no science behind it. It's not about being competitive or winning, it's a personal goal. I needed something to keep me going. I don't want to say there's no question I'll finish, but I can always crawl. If I start smart and conservatively, I'll be OK from a fuel and energy standpoint. From a pain standpoint, I can deal with it."
Here are some other stories about Lance and the marathon:
-- NYTimes: Run of Luck: Bet the Favorites and Armstrong, Too
-- Reuters: Armstrong swaps bike for NY Marathon running shoes
-- NPR: New York City Marathon Runs Sunday (audio)
-- USA TODAY's Sal Ruibal: No pedaling, just running, this time for Armstrong

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Running of the OBL

Can't separate yourself from Our Boy Lance, who's running in the 2006 ING New York City Marathon Sunday?
Well, now there's RunnerCam, which allows viewers to track specific participants -- like Lance Armstrong -- throughout the entire marathon.
NBCSports.com is working with MediaZone to provide this live online coverage of the Marathon Sunday starting at 9:30 a.m. ET., the first time in the 26-year-history of the event that it will be broadcast on the Internet.
Actually, there are two viewing options: the "RunnerCam" and "LanceCam."
LanceCam is a dedicated camera that will track the seven-time Tour de France champion and cancer survivor as he runs a marathon for the first time. Fans can watch OBL for the first 30 minutes free of charge -- then continue watching him finish the race for $4.99 (you thought this would be free?!).
If you have a horse in the race, RunnerCam allows friends, family members and race enthusiasts to enter the bib number of any of the 37,000 race participants. They then receive a notification when the runner is approaching and passes three camera equipped points along the course for -- again for $4.99. The price includes all five camera feeds, "RunnerCam" interactivity, real-time leader boards, and the ability to watch live or on demand.
How long before you can keep a camera on anyone at anytime for $4.99?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Wilcockson: The Big Questions

As much as I like the writing of Samuel Abt of the International Herald Tribune, John Wilcockson of VeloNews is a close second -- maybe even 1A.
I just got Wilcockson's review of the '06 Tour, "Triumph and Turmoil for Floyd Landis," and have enjoyed his recaps of the Tour since 2003.
Wilcockson has a terrific article on VeloNews that includes a detailed analysis of the '07 course.
Wilcockson writes:
"Next year's Tour de France doesn't include any of the rumored features. No Paris-Roubaix cobbles. No team time trial. No Puy-de-Dôme. No climb over the unpaved Colle della Finestre in Italy. No Mont Ventoux.
"But the bigger questions, particularly for American fans, are: (1) can the 2006 Tour-champion-in-limbo Floyd Landis win his appeal against a drugs violation, fully recover from his hip surgery, and find a team that will start the Tour? And (2) can the riders caught up in Operación Puerto, headed by multiple podium finishers Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso, also find teams that will race the Tour?"

Sunday, October 29, 2006

London Will Be Ready

With the '07 Tour de France starting on July 7 in London, there are concerns.
Tour director Christian Prudhomme says the city will be ready.
I hope so. I'm thinking of visiting my son and his girlfriend, who are relocating to London (she's already there) from Wiesbaden (due to her job).
In fact, Mike Armellino and I are talking about doing another Trek Travel trip to the Tour -- maybe the second week in the Alps?
What do you think Granny, 53rd?
Back to London ...
"London is a big city, they will do everything in their power to make things go smoothly," Prudhomme said.
The Tour will start exactly two years after attacks on London's transport network killed more than 50 people.
"Every precaution will be taken, like for any big event," Prudhomme said.
I trust they will handle security better than they handle doping.
The 8km prologue will leave Trafalguar Square and end in front of Buckingham palace.
The first stage will then leave the British capital to Canterbury through Kent over 203 km.
"We will have everything -- London's prestige, its momuments and then the famous Canterbury Cathedral through the beautiful English countryside," said Prudhomme.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Indulge This Detroit Tigers Fan For a Moment

As a life-long Detroit Tigers fan, I know that these World Series opportunities don't come around often enough to waste.
And this was a monstrously wasted opportunity.
A wasted opportunity that didn't have to be.
A wasted opportunity I saw building just before the All-Star break, even when the Tigers were still winning.
There were two Detroit Tigers this season.
The over-achieving, not-quite-ready-for-prime-time youngsters that for two-thirds of the season and seven-straight games in the playoffs were the best team in baseball.
And the error-plagued under-achievers who were too young to focus and seize the day that could have been theirs.
It was not by accident that their two best players in the Series were their most experienced, Kenny Rogers and Sean Casey (yes, sign him for next year, but NOT for the $8M he got this year; maybe half).
It was not by accident that NOW 30-year-old Jeff Weaver was the better pitcher down the stretch than 23-year-old Jeremy Bonderman, not to mention a nearly overwhelmed Justin Verlander, especially in those frightening first couple of innings.
The Tiger pitchers, by the way, didn't pitch poorly. Just not quite good enough (and Rogers will never get to pitch that sixth game now).
And as ESPN is replaying over and over and over and over and over again (my worst fear; I will NEVER watch the WS highlight DVD!), oh those errors: Every one of the EIGHT made a difference.
Will the Tigers be better next year?
Probably. But so were the White Sox this year following last year's world championship.
And the AL Central is a great division (not to mention the AL East, which has the Yankees and Boston and an up-and-coming Toronto). And look at the A's and Angels in the West.
Like I said, these opportunities don't come around very often.
When they do, you have to seize them when you can.
The Tigers didn't this past week (and we're just talking about one week in October), and despite the many, many successes of the season, I will remember this season as one of wasted opportunity.
The window of opportunity, given free agency, is very small. Mike Ilitch is never going to approach a $200M payroll (maybe $100M) like the Yankees or the high-payroll Red Sox. The farm system will have to continue to produce (like the A's) because as the Tigers get older and more experienced, they will lose players to free agency. We aren't going to grow old with this team; these players will be Yankees someday.
So, you have to grab the ring when you can.
I saw this self-destruction (which it was, ultimately, embarrassingly in the glare of the WS stage) coming as early as June 21 (really), a 4-3 loss to Milwaukee in which the Tigers blew a 3-1 when Joel Zumaya gave up a winning home run for his first loss.
The game that really bugged me was a 3-2 loss to Seattle July 9, the day before the All-Star break; the Tigers blew a 2-0 lead and Nate Robertson gave up a 2-run homer to a nobody when manager Jim Leyland didn't pull Robertson as he weakened late in the game.
The next sign came the very next Sunday in their first loss to KC, 9-6, as they made 3 errors (more of that to come, of course, at the end of September).
The Tigers blew a 5-run lead against Oakland (that was last we saw of Zach Miner) on July 22 in a 9-6 loss.
And then there was the game Bonderman blew up, the awful eighth-inning, 4-error, 6-4 loss to Minnesota July 30.
Everyone knows how the Tigers struggled in August and September, finishing 19-31 after starting 76-36. But I point to those four games as to where the wheels started to come off and Leyland didn't or wasn't able to fix it as he did following the now famous 10-2 loss to Cleveland on April 17. Maybe one more tongue-lashing was needed, and the Tigers gave Leyland plenty of chances in August.
So, it was a strange season. Monstrously satisfying when it was good, ultimately disappointing when it counted. Kind of like the Wings (last year), eh, 4-3 winners AT Dallas last night as I segway into hockey.
I wish I could say thanks for the memories, Tigers, but if you watch SportsCenter today -- and I'm not watching it the rest of the day -- those will be the memories we're left with, I'm afraid.
It didn't have to be.
It could have been better.

Saturday Wheelings and Dealings

Here's a fun piece from the Cycling News with comments on the 2007 Tour de France.
Here's just one comment:
Eddy Merckx: "This will be a special year for the Tour. The course is well designed, balanced and tough. One thing sticks in my mind is what Christian Prudhomme said; 'I hope there will be a winner in Paris'. That is necessary and that’s what everyone wants to see."
Bad Boy Floyd Landis should have been in Paris for the Tour announcement Thursday, but he is persona non grata now. Our Boy Lance, too. Way to treat American cyclists, Frenchy.
Floyd was at a cycling safety awareness event last weekend in Madison, Wisconsin, and had this to say about his case and the UCI:
"I'm going to do everything I can to bring the down the UCI."
Way to make friends and influence enemies.
Landis, by the way, has started to ride outdoors on a bike following his hip surgery earlier this month.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Cycling's Doping Culture: An Investigation

The Daily Peleton has a terrific two-part article (Part I, Part II) aptly named "Cycling's Winter of Discontent." It seems that Thursday's announcement of the 2007 Tour de France route did not generate the usual excitement that it normally does. In this post-Lance Armstrong era of rampant doping allegations, professional cycling is a beautiful sport in trouble. Obviously, it has been sick for a long time -- for at least a decade if not longer.
The article's subheads tell the story.
Part I looks at the problems:
-- The Sport of Doping Scandals
-- The Sport of Questionable Ethics
-- The Sport of Misguided Loyalty
-- The Sport of the Doping Suspect
-- The Sport of the Doctors
-- The Sport of Doping Controls
-- A Sport in Disrepute
Part II looks at the solutions:
-- More Openness
-- The Teams must start Acting as if Doping matters
-- The Cyclists must start Acting as if Doping matters
-- “Truth and Reconciliation”
-- Fight the facilitators of doping, rather than the dopers
-- Cycling must start acting as if Ethics matter
The long investigation's second part, by Michael Akinde, begins with this famous quotation:
“Now is the winter of our discontent”
-- William Shakespeare, Richard III

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thursday Wheelings and Dealings


We still may not know who really won the 2006 Tour de France, but it's time to start thinking about the 2007 Tour.
During the annual Tour presentation in Paris Thursday, the traditional eight-minute film of the preceding Tour ended with Bad Boy Floyd Landis on the winner's podium. The screen then switched to become a cracked mirror.
"The deception we felt was capital," Tour director Christian Prudhomme said.
The Crankset weeps for the French.
Oscar Pereiro still considers Landis to be the Tour de France champion, if his English is to be understood.
"I don't consider myself the winner of the Tour de France," the Spanish rider said. "The statutes show that Floyd is still the winner."
Statutes?
Statues?
Whatever.
Writes Samuel Abt in the International Herald Tribune:
The '07 Tour includes "shortening the usual first 10 flat stages to seven and pushing both long time trials into the final nine days. The Tour will start in London, as has been known for a year, on July 7 and end in Paris on July 29 after covering 3,547 kilometers, or 2,120 miles.
"There will be six daily stages in the high mountains, three first in the Alps and then three in the Pyrenees, comprising 21 major climbs, as the race travels clockwise around France. One stage in the Alps and two in the Pyrenees will finish at the summit of mountains, allowing no opportunity for riders to make up lost time on descents.
"In addition to two days in England, one stage is scheduled in Belgium, with a flypast in Spain on a stage in the Pyrenees. The Tour will include two rest days.
"There will be no team time trial but three individual races against the clock are scheduled: 8 kilometers in the prologue in London, 54 kilometers on July 21 and 55 kilometers on July 28."
Jonathan Vaughters, the American director of the TIAA-CREF team and another former Tour rider, said he thought it would be "an unpredictable Tour."
"There's no one decisive stage," he said. "It seems they're promoting an aggressive race because things will be left open till very late."
Some other stories:
-- procycling: 2007 Tour route announced
-- PEZ Insider: 2007 Tour de France Presentation
-- CyclingNews: 2007 Tour offers a modern yet classic parcours
-- VeloNews: '07 Tour route unveiled

Getting Ready for the '07 Tour

Later today, we'll officially know the route for the 2007 Tour de France July 7-29.
Cycling News has some partial details right now that include the start and first two days in London (that's Buckingham Palace to the right), the start of Stage 2 in Dunkirk and a quick visit to Belgium.
Other details:
-- There will be on team time trial for the second-straight year.
-- The Tour procedes clockwise this year, visiting the Alps (and possibly Mont Ventoux) first before heading west to the Pyrennes.
-- There will be new climb to the Tour, the Port de Bales, which has been featured in the Route de Sud race. The climb tops out near 1,750 meters and includes 20kilometres of climbing.
In the second year of the post-Lance era, not to mention the first race since all the unsettled Bad Boy Floyd controversy from the '06 race, cycling appears to be suffering a lull in interest. Or maybe it's just the Cranks?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Some Sunday Crank-iness

The good thing about the Internet is that there is a lot of stuff in cyberspace.
The bad thing about the Internet is that a lot that stuff is crap.
Most of the crap these days involves Our Boy Lance and his boy-toy pal, Matthew McConaughey, and all the "are they gay" rumors.
Gossip sites like SpotLightingNews and The Bosh will print almost anything -- and generally do. Conventional wisdom goes that if they can break up with babes like Sheryl Crow and Penelope Cruz to hang out with each other, then, like duh, they must be gay ("Not that there's anything wrong with that," as Jerry Seinfeld once so-famously said).
The point to be made here, though, is that you can find almost anything about everything on the Internet these days. Is Lance gay? Not gay? Do you care?
Hopefully, we all care more about whether OBL doped or not. So far, there's been no conclusive proof. That doesn't mean there won't be. Just keep reading on the Internet.

Speaking of doping, the Daily Peleton has a terrific article, "Lance Armstrong – No More Heroes," as does the incomparable Samuel Abt in the International Herald Tribune, "Cycling: Much off-season ado about doping charges."

And finally, I love to bike on Cape Cod. So I was pleased to read this story in today's Travel Section of the New York Times: "On Two Wheels, It’s Still High Season on Cape Cod."
(Photo is the Vineyard Haven bike path.)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Arrrrggghhh! Not Another Lance Expose!

Our Boy Lance has assailed yet another new book (read: cottage industry) going on sale in France today as "another baseless attack" against the seven-time Tour de France champion. The book, "L.A. Official" by Pierre Ballester and David Walsh, is based on testimony given in a legal dispute between Lance Armstrong and Dallas-based SCA Promotions that had a bonus contract with the cyclist.
The VeloNews has OBL's full statement.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Arrrrggghhh! Not Another George Hincapie Story!


Yup. British import procycling magazine calls it "A Season of Discovery":
"George Hincapie and his Discovery Channel team-mates soon discovered this year that life without Lance Armstrong was much tougher than expected. We spoke to Hincapie in his South Carolina home ... and looked back over a season that delivered more frustration than success, and found out what he thinks are his strengths having seen both the Classics and the Tour pass him by this year."
Stale, stale, stale.
Isn't there anybody new on the cycling scene to splash across the cover?
Who would YOU like to see on the cover(s) of upcoming cycling magazines?
(YOU are out there, aren't you?)
How about second-year Discovery Channel pro Janez Brajkovic?
Or doesn't he sell magazines (yet)?

Does He or Doesn't He?

So, Ivan Basso is a free man.
The Giro d'Italia winner has left the CSC team in the wake of doping allegations that resulted in him being dropped just prior to the start of this year's Tour de France.
Basso was cleared to resume racing last week when the Italian Olympic Committee recommended that all charges against him be dropped.
But CSC still didn't want him back.
"It has been a very difficult decision, but both parties agree it is time to move on," said CSC team manager Bjarne Riis.
Basso, who is 29, told French sports daily L'Equipe on Monday that he has been courted by Discovery Channel.
"They made me a concrete proposal but I am open to other solutions," he said.
It doesn't sound like Our Boy Lance's old team made Basso an offer he couldn't refuse.
Basso said there was also a chance he could join an Italian team.

Car Up!

From the latest Adventure Cycling Association newsletter, Bike Bits:
"Your reference to 'Car back!' in the last Bike Bits [Vol. 8 No. 19] reminds me of how strange that sounded when I rode for the first time with a bunch of Americans on this year's TransAm ... In Britain, it's [more typically] 'Oil up!' or 'Oil down!' (up being a car coming up from behind, down being one bearing down on you). France, where I live, has nothing that exciting. Here, the lads just shout 'Voiture!' (Car!) What, I wonder, do they shout in Canada, in Germany, Mexico, and Brazil?"
-- Les Woodland, Puymirol, France

All About the Boy Toys

So, Our Boy Lance and Matthew McConaughey.
What's up with that, anyway?
The November issue of Details magazine goes where I'm not going to go, but you can go there if you want.

Ready for the Tour of Missouri? Kevin Livingston Is

The Cranks remember and think fondly of Kevin Livingston, a former U.S. Postal teammate of Our Boy Lance. Livingston rode with Cranks' Trek Travel group during the '03 Tour de France (that's me, Tour of '03 with Kevin) and imparted cycling tips that have helped make all of us better riders.

Livingston's name popped up in a story I read this morning about the 600-mile Tour of Missouri, a stage race expected to draw 128 riders Sept. 11-16 that organizers hope will rival the interest that the Amgen Tour of California and the Tour de Georgia have created for professional cycling in the United States.

Who knows? Maybe the sports will be talking about the American classics someday (OK -- maybe not!).

How tough is Missouri?

"It's quite undulating in the Ozarks area, up-and-down, up-and-down," first-year pro Brad Huff said of potential courses in southwest Missouri. "It's all shorter, steeper," he said of the terrain. "Some gradual climbs down in the Branson area. It's short, and steep, and unforgiving."
Livingston, who helped Lance Armstrong to two Tour de France wins, will play a major role in laying out the Tour's course.

Sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale and USA Cycling, the race must have five foreign teams compete.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Is Basso the Latest Discovery?

There isn't a top rider who, at some time or other, isn't rumored to be heading to the Discovery Channel team.
Only the best, after all, for Our Boy Lance's mantle, right?
Did you really think that Levi Leipheimer was the answer?
So, after the silly rumors about Jan Ullrich, and the non-starters surrounding Bad Boy Floyd, it was inevitable that Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso, looking to race again after the Italian Olympic Committee recommended that doping allegations against him be dropped, would be rumored to be courted by Lance Armstrong's former team.
"They made me a concrete proposal but I am open to other solutions," the Italian rider said in an interview published on Monday by French sports newspaper L'Equipe, Lance's favorite newspaper.
Discovery has been looking for a replacement for Armstrong, who retired after winning his seventh consecutive Tour de France in 2005.
Basso could stay with his current team, CSC, or join an Italian team (which would make sense).
"Everything is possible, but at the moment -- and I am being sincere -- I hope that I can continue with CSC," said Basso, who is contracted with the Danish team until 2008.
Basso and Ullrich were excluded from this year's Tour after they and/or teammates were implicated in the Spanish doping investigation. The riders were alleged to have had contact with a Spanish doctor accused of running a blood doping clinic.
Basso denied the allegations. All cyclists deny doping allegations. All cyclists probably dope. That's the nature of the sport and no great discovery.
Stay tuned.

Getting Back to Cranking

As Granny and Tooth well know, life often interferes with blogging.
Fortunately, my absense has only been a matter of time management, not more serious matters.
As my fellow Cranks know, I teach cross-platform journalism at George Mason University. I teach three classes, oversee the Journalism concentration (one of five) in the Communication Department, and coordinate the Electronic Journalism minor. I'm also proposing a new Sports Communication minor. It keeps me busy!

But back to cranking out some cycling tidbits (and I've been saving up plenty) ...

I couldn't resist this little piece of information from Jane Greig of the Austin American-Statesman this morning about Our Boy Lance:
Q: What is Lance Armstrong's height and weight? Has he gained any weight since he retired from racing?
A: Yes. The retired Tour de France competitor has bulked up to about 180 pounds. He has "put on about 15 pounds of muscle," says Mark Higgins, Armstrong's manager at Capital Sports and Entertainment. Height? 5 feet 11 inches.

How about a tricycle race as part of the opening-day festivities in London for the '07 Tour de France?
"The Tricycle Association have opened negotiations with London and the Tour de France organisers for a tricycle race to feature as one of the warm-up races as part of the build-up to the opening prologue stage of the Tour, " says Wayne Baker, a tricyclist.
The story says that the prospect of racing in London and being part of the Tour de France would be a huge boost for tricycle racing, "giving this little-known sport the opportunity of international media exposure."
Since professional cycling is already a three-ring circus thanks to doping scandals, well, why not?
I wonder if tricyclists dope?

And speaking of doping, how about this story from the Townsville Bulletin, a South Queensland newspaper:
"Matt DeCanio, a confessed drug cheat and now an anti-doping crusader, tells tomorrow night's Insight program on SBS TV that he's willing to go before an inquiry and name cyclists, including any Australians, who are using drugs. 'At the highest level I would say 99 per cent of the guys are on it (drugs). If I were to have to bet my life on how many athletes in the Tour de France are on drugs, I would say one guy was clean,' " the 29-year-old told the program entitled "The Cheating Game."

And more to come ...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Match Made In Heaven...

Or possibly in Rachel Ray's kitchen. C'mon even Oude Granny with my febile and senile mind (not from age necessarily, but from too many of a Piraat. All hail to Belgian Triple Boch Beer!) could've put this match together. "You just keep putting 'em up and I'll keep knockin' 'em down." For the uninformed, check out the Colavita website.

From Cyclingnews.com:

Colavita and Cooking Light add Sutter Home


Sutter Home Winery has joined Colavita USA and Cooking Light to sponsor the Colavita/Sutter Home Women’s Cycling Team presented by Cooking Light, one of only two U.S.-based women’s team to qualify for cycling’s prestigious UCI designation for the 2007 season.

The Colavita/Sutter Home Women’s Cycling Team presented by Cooking Light will be led by Tina Pic, ranked #1 among women cyclists in the U.S. Joining her will be teammates Dotsie Bausch (USA), Sarah Tillotson (USA), and Iona Wynter-Parks (JAM). The team has also added Canadian powerhouse Alex Wrubleski, who currently holds the twin titles of Canadian National Road Race Champion and National Time Trial Champion, Candice Blickem (USA), Mackenzie Dickey (USA), Andrea Dvorak (USA), Stacey Spencer (CAN), and Alison Powers (USA).

"We are thrilled with the roster we’ve lined up for the upcoming season," said Team Director Jim Williams. "We’ve got a well-balanced squad, which will allow us to compete for the overall win in stage races as well as one-day events. I’m looking forward to working with this great group of accomplished riders."

The Colavita/Sutter Home Women’s Cycling Team presented by Cooking Light will race against the top U.S. and European teams at UCI events in 2007, including Australia’s Geelong Women’s Tour and World Cup and Italy’s Giro d’Italia Femminile.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Good Things Come...

To Those That Wait (or in T-o-03's case, "Whipping Boy Comes To America.")

According to Hedwig Kroner at Cyclingnews.com, Der Kaiser may be headed to Discovery Channel Pro Cycling.

"In the light of the latest news coming out of Spain, according to which the information from the Operación Puerto investigation cannot be used for sports-disciplinary proceedings, Discovery Channel is reported to have made the first move on Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich, who may be free to choose a new team if he is cleared. Spanish AS.com reports that Johan Bruyneel has made the German champ an offer to lead his team during the next season."

Yes, T-o-03 you might be seeing a lot more of Mr. Ullrich in the future.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Latest on Floyd II

My USA TODAY friend and cycling writer, Sal Ruibal, has an online exclusive with Bad Boy Floyd. The story updates Landis' surgery and legal battles to clear his name from doping allegations resulting from a positive test during the Tour de France that could end up costing him the title (AP photo).
The story was posted at 6:07 p.m. ET Saturday, off of USAT's Monday-to-Friday publishing cycling.
Good for Sal.
Good for USAT.
Good for print journalism in general, which finally realizes that you don't have to wait for the paper to publish the news.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Latest on Floyd

Oooohhh, not pretty: Floyd Landis and Brent Kay, Floyd's personal physician, look at his surgery scar before changing the dressing and bandages on his right hip during his first rehabilitation session at his home in Murrieta, Calif., Friday.
(AP photo/Kevork Djansezian)

Although a two-hour procedure Wednesday by Dr. David Chao revealed greater damage to Floyd Landis' hip than initially shown in MRI screenings, Bad Boy Floyd appears to be on the road to recovery.
Landis, whose arthritic right hip was injured in a 2003 crash, returned to his Murrieta home Thursday and will immediately begin six weeks of physical therapy. He can start low-intensity training on his bike in 1-to-2 weeks, a spokesman said.
Landis hopes to be back to full health in time to train for next year's Tour de France, which will begin in London.
Other developments:
-- Jeremy Whittle in the Times of London: Landis eyes window to race in 2007 Tour
-- AP: Discovery boss adjusts to not winning the Tour de France

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Seen on the Sidelines

Lance Armstrong and his former wife, Kristen, were on the sidelines for the Texas-Ohio State game Sept. 9 in Austin, Texas. (AP photo)

Friday, December 29, 2006

Now You See Him...Now You Don't

I always thought this business of Our Boy Lance and Bad Boy Floyd participating in the Leadville Trail 100
So now it turns out that Lance won't be there.
"Lance had a scheduling conflict come up and he regrettably cannot participate in the event," said mountain-bike race in Colorado next August was premature.Mark Higgins, the seven-time Tour de France champion's manager.
OBL's as-yet-to-be-stripped successor as Tour champion, Floyd Landis, also has expressed interest in racing the Leadville 100. But the event carries a NORBA sanction, which means Landis would not be able to compete should he be suspended for his positive testosterone test at the 2006 Tour.
The course starts at over 10,000 feet of elevation and peaks at 12,600 feet. Armstrong's longtime coach, Chris Carmichael, raced in the 2006 event and finished in 9 hours, 18 minutes.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Return of Paolo Savoldelli

Remember Paolo Savoldelli, who was rather unceremoniously discarded by the Discovery Channel team during their off-season house cleaning?
Savoldelli now rides for Astana, and he plans to ride in both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France next year.
"In 2007 I will focus on the Giro and Tour. The Giro is open and up for grabs and it will be better for my chances. At the Tour I will support Alexandre Vinokourov and Andreas Kloden, but I will also have my own space.
"In 2005 I was at the side of Lance Armstrong, launching him to his seventh Tour victory, and I was successful in conquering the stage to Revel."
Savoldelli also won the Giro that year, his second title in that tour (his first triumph came in 2002).
It looks like Astana is shaping up to be a strong team as the pro cycling tour reshapes for 2007.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Oscar The Grouch?

You gotta feel sorry for Oscar Pereiro.
Sometimes, even Oscar starts to feel sorry for himself over still be called the "virtual Tour de France winner."
It almost sounds like a video game.
Last July, the Caisse d'Epargne rider finished second in the Tour to Bad Boy Floyd Landis. However, BBFL tested positive after the 17th stage and ... well, you know the rest of the story.
"If the decision finally comes that I have won the race, then I prefer to know it today unstead of in some years so I can still enjoy my victory," the Spaniard told the Spanish sports paper Marca.
"Everybody gives me the feeling of having won the Tour de France, but I haven't and I am still ranked second."

Abt: 'An Extremely Bad Year'

How does Samuel Abt, the official cycling writer-favorite (next to Granny) of the Crankset, characterize the year in cycling?
Writes Abt in the International Herald Tribune:
"A bad year, an extremely bad year, nears its close for the sport of bicycle road racing, which, after a series of scandals and loose-lipped suspicions, has now acquired all the credibility of professional wrestling. The next season hints at no improvement."

'You Might As Well Win'

Our Boy Lance's former Director Sportif, Johan Bruyneel, has a website. On it, you can read the first chapter of his not-soon-to-be-published motivational book (Houghton Mifflin, Spring 2008), aptly named "You Might As Well Win."
On the site, you can read short columns by Bruyneel, news updates, and even book Johan for YOUR events.
What, you don't have events?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Why Do These Things Take Forever?

The American anti-doping agency USADA will announce its verdict in Bad Boy Floyd Landis' case in March 2007, Landis said during an interview with Belgian sportspaper Sportwereld.
"I want to be a cycling pro again. I don't know if this will be the case next season, or the year after. But in March I'll show to the world that nothing happened," said the 2006 Tour de France winner.
"And after that, I'll do anything in order to win the Tour a second time."
Anything?!
A lot of folks already think you did "anything" to win the Tour.
Watch those translations, Floyd.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Holidays!

To Granny, Tooth and all our cycling friends!!!

Gift For The Season

"It gives readouts for speed, maximum speed, time, distance, cadence and number of dog turds you've run over."

It's Bad Boy Floyd and Valverde in 2006

In case you missed it, Bad Boy Floyd Landis was VeloNews magazines choice as the top North American rider of the year.
Making its 19th annual awards, the magazine's 2006 International Cyclist of the Year was Spain's Alejandro Valverde, the overall champion of the UCI ProTour.
"No category produced a more debatable outcome than top North American man," said VeloNews editor Kip Mikler. "Whatever the outcome of the yet-to-be-resolved charges that Landis used testosterone on stage 17 of the Tour, he outperformed his fellow Americans, including George Hincapie and Levi Leipheimer, throughout the rest of the season. Though the coverage wasn't always positive, Landis landed on five VeloNews covers in 2006, a Lance Armstrong-like achievement."
During the first five months of the 2006 racing season, Landis won the inaugural Amgen Tour of California, the prestigious Paris-Nice stage race in France, and the Ford Tour de Georgia prior to finishing the Tour de France in Paris wearing yellow.
How do you feel about the VeloNews choices?

Hincapie's Plans Spring Eternal

The Discovery Channel's sometimes forgotten George Hincapie will, once again, pursue the Spring Classics in 2007, according to CyclingNews.
"With Hincapie, we have a deal that he will going after the Classics again this year," said directeur sportif Dirk Demol. "In 2006, Hincapie focused on the Tour, which didn't work out. He was disillusioned with his performance and put aside his Tour plans again."
With the departure of Leif Hoste, Roger Hammond, Max van Heeswijk and Vjatcheslav Ekimov, Discovery has lost some of its panache for a successful pre-Tour de France Classics season.
"We are weakened for the Classics," Demol admits.
But Discovery still has Vladimir Gusev and Stijn Devolder in addition to Hincapie for the spring in Belgium and Northern France.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Comings and Goings

Erik Zabel, now 36, is one of the classy guys in pro cycling.
No one ever accuses him of doping.
Of course, he rarely wins anymore.
Zabel plans to races two more seasons, according to EuroSport.
"It's only two years until the 'long vacation'," the six-time Tour de France green jersey winner told the CyclingNews."I still enjoy the sport ... I would like to stay involved in cycling. But I have Plans A, B and C for the time after I stop riding. One of them has nothing at all to do with the sport."
Zabel plans to participate in the Tour de France and Vuelta.
On the other hand, Jan Ullrich, who is 33, would like to ride one more year. But it won't be on the pro tour.
"I have understood that there will not be a place for me on a ProTour team," Ullrich told French daily L'Equipe on Monday. "But I want to ride at least one more season."
Maybe on the W&OD Trail?
"I imagined winning the Tour de France this year and announcing my retirement the night of the arrival in Paris," Ullrich said. "Events upset my plans.
"So, I want to have another chance, and even with a Continental Pro team that would be able to allow me to ride a Grand Tour, like the Giro for example.
"I don't have any reason to be angry, but I just want to show certain people that they were wrong about me."

Still Not Sure About Floyd

Among the things I'm not really sure of (although it does appear that I've successfully converted to a new Blogger account and interface), I still wish I was convinced that Bad Boy Floyd Landis was a cheater -- or not.
Ever since this scandal inside a scandal that sidelined the two '06 Tour de France favorites, Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich, then knocked out the apparent winner after a spectacular Stage 17 appearance, I just haven't known who or what to believe, who or what to care about. I'm not reading as much about the sport, not keeping up with this blog, not even riding as much as I did before the summer. I don't know that I can legitimately blame the latter on the scandals of the past year, but I do know that after several years of increasing enthusiasm for the sport, my interest has definitely peaked.
Will it return, rebuild, regenerate? It's still too early to tell. But I can feel Floyd's pain, that's for sure, when he says, "As things stand now, I don't see myself as a bike racer."
As of now, I don't seem myself as the cycling fan I once was.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I Went to Spin Class...

and this guy ends up being my instructor for the day! YIKES! "Ahh, sir, excuse me sir, but this isn't supposed to be one of our intensity interval days..." Crazy thing is, some of those hardcore "spinners" probably fed the "Hope" his lunch (at this point in his off season training).

Tom Danielson leading a spin at a local Denver gym

Friday, December 15, 2006

Cranky, YES...Surly, You Bet!

Oude Granny was taught to never judge a book by its cover...but sometimes the cover just fits. Take for instance the case of former elite sprinter, Jarmila Kratochvílová (inset right) of the former Czechoslovakia. In a side-by-side comparison to her contemporaries, her, and what has been described as, "less than feminine features," certainly made her stand out and bring to question whether the sprinter was less than honest about performance enhancing drug use. Of course those were during the days where drug controls weren't the standard.

Now comes word that former elite cyclist, Tammy Thomas, wasn't so forthright is her BALCO testimonies. A picture says a thousand words...in this case it might say anabolic steroid use. Cranky...yuppers...Surly...as Burly as Surly gets!


For the full story, Velonews.com

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Weather Outside Is...

Well as of 12-11-06, it isn't really that frightful. But for us northeners, we all know its a comin'. For Oude Granny, the image that always pops into my mind when I see snow is Andy Hampsten muscling his way over the Passo Gavia, as a Velonews reader exclaimed..."My god...it would have paled in comparison to what the hard men of days gone by suffered through. When Hampsten rode over the Gavia to secure his 1988 Giro win in a blinding snowstorm, it was -4 Celsius. He was knocking snowballs from his hair for god's sake (and he had quite a head of hair!)"


On a lighter note: here's Andy, Bob Roll, and Ron Keifel (Team 7-Eleven) on a much different type of road machine. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What Now...

An ethical stand to clean up the sport...or the equivalent to taking your ball home when you don't like the rules of the game? Whatever the case may be, one of the most internationally laden teams in the ProTour is now excluded from it. Oh, they still have their license, but what does that mean? You're part of the Pro tour, but you're really not? Go figure, its America's team, Discovery Channel Pro Cycling.

The why...because of Ivan Basso's signing. The question is, however, would there even be a Pro Tour if they excluded all the teams who had someone "implicated" in Operacion Puerto on their respective rosters?

For more, read on...Velonews.com

Monday, December 11, 2006

New Eyes...

"The real voyage of discovery comes not in seeking new vistas, but in having new eyes..." -Marcel Proust


Two years ago, Tyler Hamilton, asked us to simply BELIEVE. Maybe that charge was intended for his defense of doping charges, or maybe it was a charge to believe in the possibility(-ies); the possibility of humans erring, of erroneous tests that claim to be 100% full proof. But whatever way you've chosen to employ that charge, belief rarely belies reality. As they say, "the proof is in the pudding." Unfortunately for Oude Granny and the rest of cycling's fanbase, the pudding is a murking tapioca concoction. The LA Times article below is just another ingredient.

Cyclist blames 'flawed' test: Tyler Hamilton says the blood exam that labeled him a 'cheater' was rushed into use

By Michael A. Hiltzik, Times Staff Writer

To anti-doping officials, the case against Olympic and Tour de France cyclist Tyler Hamilton for an illicit blood transfusion ranks among their greatest victories: a sanction for "intentional cheating at its most sophisticated," in the words of Travis T. Tygart, general counsel to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

To others, including independent scientists who worked on Hamilton's defense, it underscores one of the most glaring flaws of the international anti-doping system - its reliance on scientific research performed hastily and on the cheap.

The novel blood test used to condemn Hamilton as a cheater and suspend him for two years was developed by researchers in Sydney, Australia, on a $50,000 USADA grant - that sum is a fraction of what's normally spent in medicine to develop and validate a diagnostic test.

"This test was not ready for prime time," says Carlo Brugnara, professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School.

Brugnara was a member of the peer-review committee that approved publication of an article outlining the test in 2003. However, he felt so strongly that it was prematurely implemented in Hamilton's case that he volunteered to testify at an arbitration hearing for the cyclist in 2005.

Hamilton, a native of Marblehead, Mass., was considered one of cycling's toughest and cleanest riders when he came under suspicion for blood doping shortly before the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. He went on to win the gold medal in the individual time trial.

At Athens, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee had introduced a new field test that had to be fast-tracked for the Games. Authorities feared a rash of prohibited blood transfusions among endurance athletes seeking a boost from extra oxygen-producing red blood cells.

At the Games, Hamilton's blood sample was declared negative, though "suspicious" for blood doping, by WADA's Athens laboratory.

A month later, he was tested again at the Vuelta d'Espana, a grueling Spanish race akin to the Tour de France. This time, authorities said the test - performed by WADA's lab in Lausanne, Switzerland - had identified a small concentration of foreign blood cells in his sample. He was charged with doping.

Richard W. Pound, the WADA chairman, trumpeted the results as vindication of suspicions in Athens. "We got him on the second bounce," he crowed.

On the surface, Hamilton's alleged violation made little sense. Athletes seeking a blood-doping boost almost certainly would transfuse from a stored supply of their own ? not only because it is nearly undetectable in doping tests but also because it carries no risk of illness or infection.

Indeed, use of another person's blood is so unlikely that one WADA scientist speculated that Hamilton must have done it accidentally. "The most likely scenario is that he meant to get his own blood but was given someone else's," says Michael Ashenden, a member of the Sydney team that developed the test.

Experts supporting Hamilton contend the concentration of purportedly foreign cells in his blood at Athens and the Vuelta was too low to have boosted his performance in those events and possibly too low to be accurately measured.

They say the test results indicate that if Hamilton transfused at all, it would have been more than two months before the Olympics, a wasted effort, because performance-enhancing effects would have worn off well before the Games.

"If someone was really doping, it would be really obvious," says David Nelson, professor of cell and molecular biology at the University of Rhode Island and a consultant on Hamilton's defense. "But these results were wacky."

Hamilton declined to comment for this article. On his website, he calls the tests "flawed and inaccurate" and says he "did not transfuse."

There is little dispute the test was rushed to implementation. Sydney researchers had published results from trials on only 58 blood samples using a process known as flow cytometry when WADA summoned them to teach the technique to scientists at the Athens Olympics.

For any diagnostic test to be used in medicine, regulatory agencies often require hundreds if not thousands of trials in a variety of clinical and field settings to demonstrate reproducible results under all conditions.

"It was appalling for me to see the low bar they set," said one of Hamilton's expert witnesses, Dr. V.K. Gadi, a blood specialist and oncologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. "The way the test was designed and implemented would never pass muster in any other regulatory situation."

During its first field application in Athens, the test encountered problems. The lab failed a proficiency test just before the Games, lab director Costas Georgakopoulos told The Times in an e-mail.

As a result, he said, he refused to certify Hamilton's sample as positive for blood doping, a decision that infuriated his blood-testing team. They considered the cyclist guilty.

With the lab's proficiency in question, Georgakopoulos said, "reporting positive cases would endanger the whole Olympic doping control program."

Meanwhile, on opening day of the Athens Games, Ashenden sent out a blistering e-mail complaining that the Lausanne lab was "not yet capable of performing the test to an acceptable standard."

He cited changes the lab had made in the test that might produce false positives.

Ashenden said in an interview that Lausanne had corrected all its flaws before it examined Hamilton's sample from the race in Spain.

"Lausanne was keen to rush through the test, perhaps prematurely," he said. "But it was only a matter of days before they started to get the results we wanted to see."

One scientist testifying at Hamilton's hearing contended that Australian researchers had not taken even rudimentary steps to determine how susceptible their test might be to false positives. David E. Housman, professor of biology at MIT, also told The Times in an e-mail: "This process wouldn't cut it in the world of testing for any medical condition."

Australian researchers had argued in published papers that false positives "do not appear to be a problem," without showing they had investigated the issue.

That seemed a "cavalier" dismissal to D. Michael Strong, chief operating officer of Puget Sound Blood Center, a Seattle blood bank, who testified for Hamilton.

"I don't know of a test that doesn't have false positives," he said in an interview. Common scientific standards require developers of diagnostic tests to identify and quantify the possible causes of false positives, Strong said.

At Hamilton's first appeal of sanctions, arbitrator Christopher L. Campbell issued a rare written dissent, citing "a number of bizarre and inappropriate occurrences" in the case.

For example, soon after the Athens Games, anti-doping authorities hand-picked an expert panel to reexamine Hamilton's Olympic sample. One member was a developer of the controversial blood test, an arrangement Campbell called a conflict of interest violating the "cardinal rules of drug testing."

The panel did declare Hamilton's Athens sample positive. However, because a confirmation sample already had been destroyed, the official negative finding stood and the cyclist retained his gold medal.

Based on tests from the Spanish race, however, Hamilton was suspended for two years.

Campbell, highly critical of the entire test validation process, said that the arbitrators' decision to accept the test despite its deficiencies "establishes a dreadful precedent."

Hamilton's suspension ended in September, and he has resumed racing.

As for the feared crisis in blood doping that led to the crash implementation of the test, WADA never found it. Only two athletes have ever been declared positive, Hamilton and a second cyclist who chose not to contest his sanction.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Tink-y Tacky

Here's Tyler Hamilton in his new team togs.

OBL Plays The Basso Drum

The Discovery Channel team -- George, Ivan, Levi and the boys -- have been in Austin this week training for the 2007 season. And yes, Our Boy Lance has been going along for the ride(s).

So, here's OBL on Ivan Basso:

"I know that he [Basso] wants to win the Tour. I will make available my time and passion. He is very concentrated in this new challenge; I am not only speaking of the sporting aspects. The personality of Ivan will be able to add a lot to this group. We are all with him."

Signing Basso was the culmination of a long process for Lance and the team:

"It is not a secret that we have tried over the years to sign him. We have come close [to signing Basso] at least on three or four occasions. To have him in the team has been a dream for a long time; now it is a reality. ... I became aware of him in the 2002 Tour, when he won the white jersey for best young rider. I got to know him better in 2003, at the century edition of the Tour, and the idea to have him [in the team] was already there."

Why did Discovery sign Basso, despite his guilt by association with the Spanish doping probe?

"Cycling has always been a sport with lots of integral conflicts. Everyone believes they have a reason to talk bad about the others. The truth is that all of the big teams wanted Basso. Ivan was acquitted by CONI [Italian Olympic Committee] and his federation, and for us this was the green light. "The case is closed, it is missing the other elements. Basso is clean. There is a telephone call that was linked to him, but nothing concrete. And then he gave his availability to DNA testing. What more can he do?"

And OBL asks my question:

"The real questions is why was this boy was not allowed to race the [2006] Tour?"

Gearing Up For Climate Change

David Kroodsma and Bill Bradlee plan to set out on their "Ride for Climate USA: Global Warming and Action" tour on April 21, 2007.

Their mission:
to raise awareness of global warming while encouraging action and promoting solutions.

They will be giving presentations in various communities along the way. And these guys know what they're talking about. Kroodsma, who's currently riding solo from California to the southern tip of South America, received his master's degree at Stanford University studying climate change and, in particular, how carbon dioxide cycles through the biosphere. Bradlee earned his graduate degree in environmental studies from the Evergreen State College.

Say What?

What is it about Italian that just doesn't translate well?
According to Johaan Bruyneel's Discovery of the year, Ivan Basso, Oscar Periero is the "moral winner" of the 2006 Tour de France. The Spaniard finished second to Bad Boy Floyd Landis, who is accused doping following his incredible Stage 17 victory.

Says somebody translating Basso: "For me, Pereiro is the moral winner. But still I hope that everything expires good for both Landis and Pereiro. But that is impossible."

No wonder there is so much confusion in professional cycling!
And you would think that Oscar would get the occasional cycling magazine cover, wouldn't you?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

First Look At The 2007 Giro d'Italia

Are the grand tours too tough?
If the climbs, if not the distances, were more reasonable, would there be a lesser tendency to cheat?

Do these races ask too much physically of the cyclists?

Well, the 2007 Giro d'Italia isn't lightening up, according to a wonderful review on the VeloNews site by John Wilcockson. The Giro returns to the Tre Cime de Lavaredo for the first time since 1989 to conclude stage 15 on May 27, then visits Monte Zoncolan to finish May 30 three days later.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Wide Brush

Maybe somebody can help me out here.
Hans-Micheal Holczer
, Gerolsteiner's team manager, still has his doubts about Ivan Basso and his plans to participate in the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France in 2007 for the Discovery Channel team. "It's just not going to be as simple as it seems," he said over the weekend.

Here's what I don't quite understand. Just why did Basso, and Jan Ullrich for that matter, drop out just before the start of last year's Tour de France? Just what was it that they did or what was it that they were guilty of? I realize that their names surfaced during the Spanish doping scandal, but who found them guilty -- or at least any more guilty than other top cyclists? You can paint all professional cyclists with a wide brush, like my fellow Crank, Tooth, or you can demand more proof.

I'd still like to see more proof in individual cases.
Like Basso's case.
Like Ullrich's case.

What does Holczer know that he isn't telling us? Does it apply to his former rider, Levi Leipheimer, who now rides for Discovery?

"I don't really want to comment on Basso's statements and prospects. I continue to assume that no rider will be allowed to start in any ProTour race unless he has made a DNA test, as the team managers agreed in Salzburg," Holczer said about Basso's planned 2007 comeback.

There seems to be plenty of anti-Basso and Ullrich sentiment. Deutschland Tour manager Kai Rapp said: "Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme will also be rigorous." Yet even when the Tour is rigorous, as it was with Bad Boy Floyd Landis, there's still doubt.

So, show me the evidence if you're going to paint Basso, or Ullrich, with that wide brush.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Cyclocross

Interested in the sport of cyclocross?
The New York Times has a pretty good story about the emerging sport. It begins:

"The burgeoning pro tour for the sport of cyclocross had a successful fall: big crowds, thrilling finishes, the emergence of a superstar in the 6-foot-5 Ryan Trebon. But because of what most people consider good weather at several stops throughout the country, the United States Gran Prix of Cyclocross, in its third year, headed into last weekend’s finale here lacking mud, one of the sport’s most important elements."

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Saturday Wheelings and Dealings

And holiday greetings to my fellow Cranks and our cranky readers.
I haven't been in much of a posting mood these days, although there have been little nuggets of news here and there.

So, off the top of my head:
-- I don't think Bad Boy Floyd is anymore guilty than anyone else on a bike these days. Like Tooth, I think just about everyone pushes the envelope with meds and such. Sometimes, they cross the line. How stupid of it would it have been for BBF to cheat with the expectation of winning the Tour knowing he would be tested? I don't think he's the brightest bulb in the universe, just a little naive at times. I don't like the coyness; everyone knows what everyone else is doing. But I don't think he overtly cheated.

-- Ivan Basso might as well ride for the Discovery Channel as anyone else. I don't think we really know why he didn't ride in the Tour. Or Jan Ullrich. Were they unable to purge their systems in time? Was there something to purge?

-- I do know this: I just don't care as much as I did. Maybe that's why I haven't been posting.

-- Oh yeah. Our Boy Lance. What's up with him? He's diluted his impact, I feel, for cancer research over the past year with his playboy period. But who's to say he wasn't entitled? He still does more than almost anyone else. He's still the poster boy for cancer research. As long as he remains on message, let the boy have a little fun.

-- Finally, Tyler Hamilton is back with some new Italian team called Tinkoff Credit Systems. I don't recognize a single other name on the team (but Granny probably does).

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Resurrecting Floyd

Alright, he hasn't been eloquent in his defense, but he has been consistently steadfast in his message...I DIDN'T DO IT! But after countless other cyclists before him who pleaded their innocence after having tested positive, Floyd Landis just seemed like the next guy to cry wolf. And after his "B" Sample came up positive, it didn't really matter to anyone what Floyd, his associates, his God-fearing parents, or his trainers or doctors said, he was guilty.

Well, let's borrow a phrase from Lee Corso..."Not so fast my friend."

There are new reports that there may have been a serious error at the French lab...how serious? They reported the wrong numbers. So these numbers, the positives, may not even be his...someone was cheating, but who? The French Conspiracy Theory against American cyclists just may have gotten a boost, as it seems the blinders may have been on at French lab.


Who do you believe...at this time, do you even care?

At least a group of people in the San Diego area still do, and right now they are the only ones that matter.

Allez Floyd!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Not Your Ordinary Hump Day...

THE GAME
You're gonna have to excuse Oude Granny for a bit here as I have to start off with a comment on THE GAME this weekend. As a sports fan, I'm proud and extremely happy to say that I fall on one side of two of the greatest rivalries in sports; that being the Yankees - Red Sox and Michigan - Ohio State. And in both cases, I'm even prouder to say that I'm a fan of the latter.

Interestingly enough, there are striking similarities among the teams. Both fan bases of the Sawx and Buckeyes are generally referred to as "Nations," as in Red Sawx Nation or Buckeye Nation; and they are equally as diehard. While the fans on the other side are often viewed as harboring a "superiority complex" for having beaten their rivals soundly over the years (26 World Series titles to 6, and although the Buckeyes have played Michigan even during the modern era of football, Michigan still holds a 17 game advantage in the win column; Derek Jeter - UM/Yankee Poster Boy).

Now how does this all relate to cycling, well for a Sawx and Buckeye fan it all starts and ends with PASSION.

The TC started this blog earlier in the year because we "were" extremely passionate about the sport of cycling. I say "were" because the luster came off when the scandals hit...And NO, although T-o-03 keeps up with OBL, we weren't just "Lance" fans whose interest suddenly waned because he had retired. The once fervent have been reduced to a group of dispirited cyclist. How does Oude Granny know this? Well around this time of year, when the route of the Tour de France is announced, there was about as much excitment and anticipation as THE GAME has this weekend. This time last year, we would have broken down our favorite stages, marked down which ones couldn't be missed, and maybe, just maybe even planned a trip to take in some of the race.

Don't get me wrong, the TC still loves to cycle and to talk about the events in and around cycling, but until the sport is able to honestly confront its issues, it'll be difficult to wrap our arms around any of the sports "athletes."

What A Hack...
Oude Granny shouldn't be surprised by the lengths and depths some individuals may take in order to perpetuate a lie, or in this case a defense. But it saddens me to hear that one of Floyd Landis' mates may be involved in a computer hacking conspiracy to clear his name. Apparently, one of Floyd's associates "hacked" into the computers at the French lab that ran all his tests and sent out fake emails to all the heads of the major cycling governing boards claiming past laboratory mistakes. Word to the wise, plan ahead!!! At least have a native French speaker write the letters, not someone who knows the French language as well as Bob Roll (sorry Bob, but your "Tours de France" have been killing me all these years). To read the sad details, follow this link to Velonews.com.

We Believe - Part (what f*%$^@ part is this now)
Tyler Hamilton
is officially back (my apologies for the painful pun to the left) in cycling as there are reports that he has signed with a team. Many have reported that its the new continental pro cycling squad headed up by Oleg Tinkoff, Tinkoff Credit Systems. But no one is letting the cat out of the bag, yet. The question, however, still remains for those ardent supporters of Tyler's who waited out the sentence of a presumably innocent man - Do You Still Believe?? For the rest of the details, check Cyclingnews.com.

Fro-Yo, Now Cy-Yo...Huh?
That's right!! No, it's not from the makers of Fro-zen Yo-gurt, but from the state that has some of the best fro-yo and ice cream (if you're ever in Beantown, run, don't walk, over to JP Licks), Massachusetts. Now comes a marriage of seemingly polar opposites, but one that makes a whole lot of good old fashion sense...Cycling and Yoga, or Cy-Yo. Although Granny hasn't participated in one of these classes, they are apparently more Yoga than Spin, with a focus on the alignment of your body in order to cycle better. As I've done both, albeit separately, in the past, be prepared to get your arse kicked and love every minute of it. Check it out at Cy-Yo.com.

Incidentally, Buckeyes 24 - Michigan 10.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The TC's Got The Fever!


The Fixed Gear Fever that is...

If you're a regular reader of this blog or have stopped by on occasion, you probably know that Oude Granny tried out his cycling skills on the track this summer/fall. Well in order to incorporate another flavor to this blog, we've added the site Fixed Gear Fever to our list of sites to visit (see sidebar). The site is probably the most comprehensive of its kind on the internet (although I've seen some great track site solely devoted to juniors). Anyway, if you don't have a local velodrome or don't know much about Track Cycling, give The Fever a whirls.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mr. Right

Wondering how the 2007 inception of Discovery Pro Cycling will perform with all the recent turnover...wondering if they signed the right guy(s) in the off-season? Well this picture by CorVos for Pezcyclingnews.com kind of speaks for itself, as Ivan Basso is already back to training in full Discovery regalia days after his signing.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

In Weather Like This, We Ride!

Mike Armellino and I got out on the W&OD Trail here in Northern Virginia this morning for a brisk 35 miles in about two hours. Temperatures were in the 60s (with mid-70s predicted for the afternoon). Our little ride seemed like a good event to celebrate the Cranks' 400th post since last March!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Granny's Wayback Machine...Approaching 400th

To commemorate the TC's fast approaching 400th post (it'll be the next one as this is #399), Oude Granny is busting out the wayback machine (and incorporating some of the technology that's sweeping the blog-o-sphere; that $6 Billion thing called You Tube), so Sherman if you will...Ah, right away Mr. Peabody.

Let's take you back to Stage 13 of the 1986 Tour de France...Bernard Hinault is in the Maillot Jaune, but his La Vie Claire team is splintered. Greg Lemond is seeking revenge on his boss for having reneged on last year's promise of "as he has bled for me so I will bleed for him." Amazingly, this mountain stage victory marked the first time an American had won a mountain stage in the TDF. If you're not a fan of Greg Lemond, at least enjoy the "wonderful" 80's music that's been dubbed in with this video, and the commentary of a young Phil Liggett.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

2007 TDF Discovery Motto

Its a cliche, but Oude Granny couldn't help having a bit of fun with the news of Discovery's latest signing...Will Johan Bruyneel ever reach the leadership status that Tony Soprano has achieved (albeit through the cycling world's Belgian Mafia) or is he forever saddled with the epitaph of having the best gun on the toughest crew??? The 2006 TDF did nothing for his reputation as one of the greatest Director Sportifs, and Basso's signing is sure to lessen that credibility.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Welcome Back Granny...Race 2 Replace, Finished

Well after another prolonged hiatus, Oude Granny is back. So what has Granny been stewing up since his last post?

Let's start with some thoughts on Basso to Discovery. This whole year has been about who might replace LA, not only as the boss of the peloton, but also as the head of Discovery Channel Pro Cycling. The answer, for most, didn't come as quickly or as decisively as some of LA's past exploits in the Pyrennes or Alps, but the correct answer has finally arrived.

Early, some looked to "Gentleman" George Hincapie, the faithful lieutenant, to pick up the mantle, but his crash in the Queen of the Classics set his preparations back and he was never able to recover the form which helped him win a Stage in the 2005 TDF. Others looked to Bad (or should he now be referred to as Badder) Boy Floyd Landis. After his dramatic come from behind win in the TDF, Floyd not only looked but sounded the part. Then the wheels literally came spinning off.

Enter Ivan Basso...

Although he is Italian and has never ridden on the same team as LA, Basso was a close Armstrong confidant during a time when Basso's mother underwent cancer treatment. Basso has also been as close to an LA apprentice as one could imagine without actually being on the same team. His climbing style of "dancing on the pedals," as Phil Liggett might remark, is reminiscent of the low gear, high octance cadence that LA once employed, and he has become an excellent time trialists. His recent and decisive victory in the Giro d'Italia, only confirmed his talent in the Grand Tours. Now he's on the only American sponsored Pro Tour team...

So come next summer, from the North End of Boston to Little Italy in San Diego, Italian-Americans will have more than the World Cup to celebrate, and American cycling fans should start getting used to Grappa rather than Shiner Bock.

Basso is the Latest to Join Discovery

It is a sign of the times in cycling that Italy's Ivan Basso, arguably the world's top stage racer and the runner-up to Lance Armstrong in the 2005 Tour de France, could sign with Our Boy Lance's old team, Discovery Channel, without much of a stir.
This should be huge news. However, Basso, 28, who won the 2006 Giro d'Italia, joins Team Lance after leaving Team CSC a few weeks ago after he had been banned from participating in the Tour de France because his name was linked to the Spanish drug investigation, Operation Puerto.
Basso and Germany's Jan Ullrich, also thrown out of the 2006 Tour because his name surfaced in documents seized during the raid on a sports doctor's office in Madrid last spring, were the co-favorites to win the Tour until they were both sent home before the start of the race in disgrace.
Basso would have been trying to become the first rider since the late Marco Pantani in 1998 to win the Giro and the Tour de France in the same year.
The Italian Olympic Committee and the Italian Cycling Federation have said they will take no action against Basso and have cleared him to return to racing. That prompted Discovery's interest after CSC released released him from his contract.
The Italian paper, Gazetta della Sport, said Basso has agreed to a three-year, $6 million contract to lead one of just two American-sponsored teams on the Pro Tour.
Armstrong and Basso became close when the world's most famous cancer survivor attempted to help Basso's mother in her own fight against cancer. She later passed away.
Basso will become Discovery's new leader after a year in which the team struggled to find its way without Armstrong, whose seven yellow jerseys are the Tour's all-time record. Although George Hincapie wore the yellow briefly and Yaroslav Popovych won a stage, no Discovery rider placed higher than 19th in the 2006 race.
And young American Tom Danielson proved at the Vuelta in September that he wasn't yet ready to step into the leader's role when he struggled in the mountains early and, despite an impressive stage win late, placed just sixth.
Discovery had previously added Levi Leipheimer, 33, to its team. After Basso and Ullrich were banished, the American Leipheimer was considered a threat to claim the yellow jersey, but he never contended, placing 13th, almost 19½ minutes behind Floyd Landis.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Running of the OBL IV

“Which way to the hot tub?”
That was Our Boy Lance's final comment after finishing the New York Marathon in just under three hours Sunday.
Writes Juliet Macur in the New York Times:
His dark green shirt was soaked with sweat, his gait stiff. He said his calves felt as if someone were squeezing them, hard. And his shinsplints were flaring up again.
“That’s when I started to feel helpless,” Armstrong said afterward, while being driven back to his hotel opposite Central Park. “I thought: Uh-oh, maybe I should have trained a little harder for this. I think I’m in trouble.”
And:
Exhausted and nearly walking, Armstrong crossed the finish line in 2 hours 59 minutes 36 seconds. He was 869th, with a pace of 6:51 a mile.
“I can tell you, 20 years of pro sports, endurance sports, from triathlons to cycling, all of the Tours — even the worst days on the Tours — nothing was as hard as that, and nothing left me feeling the way I feel now, in terms of just sheer fatigue and soreness,” [OBL] said, looking spent, at a news conference.

Inside with Outside

Our Boy Lance can still sell a magazine if you put him on the cover.
The December issue of Outside features "The O List":
"Lance Armstrong, Richard Branson, and Warren Buffett in a full-on philanthropic smackdown! The first energy-independent city in the U.S.! Your phone, your trainer/GPS unit/Web interface! Oh, yes, the time has come to sing the praises of 100 things — be they vegetable, animal, mineral, or secretary of the interior — worth getting overexcited about right now."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Running of the OBL III

856th!!!
But Our Boy Lance finished.
Not only finished, but finished under three hours to meet his personal goal.
Read all about it:
NEW YORK -- His face twisted in pain, Lance Armstrong virtually walked the last couple of steps. He slowed to a halt immediately after the finish line and bent to the ground, his green shirt soaked with sweat.
No one’s more familiar with how painful achieving goals can be.
Still, not even he saw this coming.
Armstrong barely met his lofty goal of breaking 3 hours in his first marathon, but it came at a price. No Alpine climb on his bicycle had ever been as tough as Sunday’s New York City Marathon, he said.
“For the level of condition that I have now, that was without a doubt the hardest physical thing I have ever done,” said Armstrong, who finished 856th. “I never felt a point where I hit the wall, it was really a gradual progression of fatigue and soreness.”

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Running of the OBL II

Here's a little fact for you: Our Boy Lance, 35, and past his prime (time?) in competitive cycling, has not raced -- on a bike or otherwise -- since winning a record seventh Tour de France in July 2005.
So that's why there is such interest in OBL's participation in the New York Marathon on Sunday?
OBL's goal? A sub-three-hour time. Lance will be paced by greats Alberto Salazar, Joan Benoit Samuelson and Hicham El Guerrouj.
"I haven't felt this kind of buzz since I raced," OBL says. "And I've never been passed in Central Park."
Is that a challenge? Has Lance thrown down a challenge?
"I wasn't born to be a runner. I was born to be other things," says Lance. "It would be foolish for me to say I've done workouts. I simply run. I don't do intervals. I just go every day and run, there's no science behind it. It's not about being competitive or winning, it's a personal goal. I needed something to keep me going. I don't want to say there's no question I'll finish, but I can always crawl. If I start smart and conservatively, I'll be OK from a fuel and energy standpoint. From a pain standpoint, I can deal with it."
Here are some other stories about Lance and the marathon:
-- NYTimes: Run of Luck: Bet the Favorites and Armstrong, Too
-- Reuters: Armstrong swaps bike for NY Marathon running shoes
-- NPR: New York City Marathon Runs Sunday (audio)
-- USA TODAY's Sal Ruibal: No pedaling, just running, this time for Armstrong

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Running of the OBL

Can't separate yourself from Our Boy Lance, who's running in the 2006 ING New York City Marathon Sunday?
Well, now there's RunnerCam, which allows viewers to track specific participants -- like Lance Armstrong -- throughout the entire marathon.
NBCSports.com is working with MediaZone to provide this live online coverage of the Marathon Sunday starting at 9:30 a.m. ET., the first time in the 26-year-history of the event that it will be broadcast on the Internet.
Actually, there are two viewing options: the "RunnerCam" and "LanceCam."
LanceCam is a dedicated camera that will track the seven-time Tour de France champion and cancer survivor as he runs a marathon for the first time. Fans can watch OBL for the first 30 minutes free of charge -- then continue watching him finish the race for $4.99 (you thought this would be free?!).
If you have a horse in the race, RunnerCam allows friends, family members and race enthusiasts to enter the bib number of any of the 37,000 race participants. They then receive a notification when the runner is approaching and passes three camera equipped points along the course for -- again for $4.99. The price includes all five camera feeds, "RunnerCam" interactivity, real-time leader boards, and the ability to watch live or on demand.
How long before you can keep a camera on anyone at anytime for $4.99?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Wilcockson: The Big Questions

As much as I like the writing of Samuel Abt of the International Herald Tribune, John Wilcockson of VeloNews is a close second -- maybe even 1A.
I just got Wilcockson's review of the '06 Tour, "Triumph and Turmoil for Floyd Landis," and have enjoyed his recaps of the Tour since 2003.
Wilcockson has a terrific article on VeloNews that includes a detailed analysis of the '07 course.
Wilcockson writes:
"Next year's Tour de France doesn't include any of the rumored features. No Paris-Roubaix cobbles. No team time trial. No Puy-de-Dôme. No climb over the unpaved Colle della Finestre in Italy. No Mont Ventoux.
"But the bigger questions, particularly for American fans, are: (1) can the 2006 Tour-champion-in-limbo Floyd Landis win his appeal against a drugs violation, fully recover from his hip surgery, and find a team that will start the Tour? And (2) can the riders caught up in Operación Puerto, headed by multiple podium finishers Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso, also find teams that will race the Tour?"

Sunday, October 29, 2006

London Will Be Ready

With the '07 Tour de France starting on July 7 in London, there are concerns.
Tour director Christian Prudhomme says the city will be ready.
I hope so. I'm thinking of visiting my son and his girlfriend, who are relocating to London (she's already there) from Wiesbaden (due to her job).
In fact, Mike Armellino and I are talking about doing another Trek Travel trip to the Tour -- maybe the second week in the Alps?
What do you think Granny, 53rd?
Back to London ...
"London is a big city, they will do everything in their power to make things go smoothly," Prudhomme said.
The Tour will start exactly two years after attacks on London's transport network killed more than 50 people.
"Every precaution will be taken, like for any big event," Prudhomme said.
I trust they will handle security better than they handle doping.
The 8km prologue will leave Trafalguar Square and end in front of Buckingham palace.
The first stage will then leave the British capital to Canterbury through Kent over 203 km.
"We will have everything -- London's prestige, its momuments and then the famous Canterbury Cathedral through the beautiful English countryside," said Prudhomme.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Indulge This Detroit Tigers Fan For a Moment

As a life-long Detroit Tigers fan, I know that these World Series opportunities don't come around often enough to waste.
And this was a monstrously wasted opportunity.
A wasted opportunity that didn't have to be.
A wasted opportunity I saw building just before the All-Star break, even when the Tigers were still winning.
There were two Detroit Tigers this season.
The over-achieving, not-quite-ready-for-prime-time youngsters that for two-thirds of the season and seven-straight games in the playoffs were the best team in baseball.
And the error-plagued under-achievers who were too young to focus and seize the day that could have been theirs.
It was not by accident that their two best players in the Series were their most experienced, Kenny Rogers and Sean Casey (yes, sign him for next year, but NOT for the $8M he got this year; maybe half).
It was not by accident that NOW 30-year-old Jeff Weaver was the better pitcher down the stretch than 23-year-old Jeremy Bonderman, not to mention a nearly overwhelmed Justin Verlander, especially in those frightening first couple of innings.
The Tiger pitchers, by the way, didn't pitch poorly. Just not quite good enough (and Rogers will never get to pitch that sixth game now).
And as ESPN is replaying over and over and over and over and over again (my worst fear; I will NEVER watch the WS highlight DVD!), oh those errors: Every one of the EIGHT made a difference.
Will the Tigers be better next year?
Probably. But so were the White Sox this year following last year's world championship.
And the AL Central is a great division (not to mention the AL East, which has the Yankees and Boston and an up-and-coming Toronto). And look at the A's and Angels in the West.
Like I said, these opportunities don't come around very often.
When they do, you have to seize them when you can.
The Tigers didn't this past week (and we're just talking about one week in October), and despite the many, many successes of the season, I will remember this season as one of wasted opportunity.
The window of opportunity, given free agency, is very small. Mike Ilitch is never going to approach a $200M payroll (maybe $100M) like the Yankees or the high-payroll Red Sox. The farm system will have to continue to produce (like the A's) because as the Tigers get older and more experienced, they will lose players to free agency. We aren't going to grow old with this team; these players will be Yankees someday.
So, you have to grab the ring when you can.
I saw this self-destruction (which it was, ultimately, embarrassingly in the glare of the WS stage) coming as early as June 21 (really), a 4-3 loss to Milwaukee in which the Tigers blew a 3-1 when Joel Zumaya gave up a winning home run for his first loss.
The game that really bugged me was a 3-2 loss to Seattle July 9, the day before the All-Star break; the Tigers blew a 2-0 lead and Nate Robertson gave up a 2-run homer to a nobody when manager Jim Leyland didn't pull Robertson as he weakened late in the game.
The next sign came the very next Sunday in their first loss to KC, 9-6, as they made 3 errors (more of that to come, of course, at the end of September).
The Tigers blew a 5-run lead against Oakland (that was last we saw of Zach Miner) on July 22 in a 9-6 loss.
And then there was the game Bonderman blew up, the awful eighth-inning, 4-error, 6-4 loss to Minnesota July 30.
Everyone knows how the Tigers struggled in August and September, finishing 19-31 after starting 76-36. But I point to those four games as to where the wheels started to come off and Leyland didn't or wasn't able to fix it as he did following the now famous 10-2 loss to Cleveland on April 17. Maybe one more tongue-lashing was needed, and the Tigers gave Leyland plenty of chances in August.
So, it was a strange season. Monstrously satisfying when it was good, ultimately disappointing when it counted. Kind of like the Wings (last year), eh, 4-3 winners AT Dallas last night as I segway into hockey.
I wish I could say thanks for the memories, Tigers, but if you watch SportsCenter today -- and I'm not watching it the rest of the day -- those will be the memories we're left with, I'm afraid.
It didn't have to be.
It could have been better.

Saturday Wheelings and Dealings

Here's a fun piece from the Cycling News with comments on the 2007 Tour de France.
Here's just one comment:
Eddy Merckx: "This will be a special year for the Tour. The course is well designed, balanced and tough. One thing sticks in my mind is what Christian Prudhomme said; 'I hope there will be a winner in Paris'. That is necessary and that’s what everyone wants to see."
Bad Boy Floyd Landis should have been in Paris for the Tour announcement Thursday, but he is persona non grata now. Our Boy Lance, too. Way to treat American cyclists, Frenchy.
Floyd was at a cycling safety awareness event last weekend in Madison, Wisconsin, and had this to say about his case and the UCI:
"I'm going to do everything I can to bring the down the UCI."
Way to make friends and influence enemies.
Landis, by the way, has started to ride outdoors on a bike following his hip surgery earlier this month.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Cycling's Doping Culture: An Investigation

The Daily Peleton has a terrific two-part article (Part I, Part II) aptly named "Cycling's Winter of Discontent." It seems that Thursday's announcement of the 2007 Tour de France route did not generate the usual excitement that it normally does. In this post-Lance Armstrong era of rampant doping allegations, professional cycling is a beautiful sport in trouble. Obviously, it has been sick for a long time -- for at least a decade if not longer.
The article's subheads tell the story.
Part I looks at the problems:
-- The Sport of Doping Scandals
-- The Sport of Questionable Ethics
-- The Sport of Misguided Loyalty
-- The Sport of the Doping Suspect
-- The Sport of the Doctors
-- The Sport of Doping Controls
-- A Sport in Disrepute
Part II looks at the solutions:
-- More Openness
-- The Teams must start Acting as if Doping matters
-- The Cyclists must start Acting as if Doping matters
-- “Truth and Reconciliation”
-- Fight the facilitators of doping, rather than the dopers
-- Cycling must start acting as if Ethics matter
The long investigation's second part, by Michael Akinde, begins with this famous quotation:
“Now is the winter of our discontent”
-- William Shakespeare, Richard III

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thursday Wheelings and Dealings


We still may not know who really won the 2006 Tour de France, but it's time to start thinking about the 2007 Tour.
During the annual Tour presentation in Paris Thursday, the traditional eight-minute film of the preceding Tour ended with Bad Boy Floyd Landis on the winner's podium. The screen then switched to become a cracked mirror.
"The deception we felt was capital," Tour director Christian Prudhomme said.
The Crankset weeps for the French.
Oscar Pereiro still considers Landis to be the Tour de France champion, if his English is to be understood.
"I don't consider myself the winner of the Tour de France," the Spanish rider said. "The statutes show that Floyd is still the winner."
Statutes?
Statues?
Whatever.
Writes Samuel Abt in the International Herald Tribune:
The '07 Tour includes "shortening the usual first 10 flat stages to seven and pushing both long time trials into the final nine days. The Tour will start in London, as has been known for a year, on July 7 and end in Paris on July 29 after covering 3,547 kilometers, or 2,120 miles.
"There will be six daily stages in the high mountains, three first in the Alps and then three in the Pyrenees, comprising 21 major climbs, as the race travels clockwise around France. One stage in the Alps and two in the Pyrenees will finish at the summit of mountains, allowing no opportunity for riders to make up lost time on descents.
"In addition to two days in England, one stage is scheduled in Belgium, with a flypast in Spain on a stage in the Pyrenees. The Tour will include two rest days.
"There will be no team time trial but three individual races against the clock are scheduled: 8 kilometers in the prologue in London, 54 kilometers on July 21 and 55 kilometers on July 28."
Jonathan Vaughters, the American director of the TIAA-CREF team and another former Tour rider, said he thought it would be "an unpredictable Tour."
"There's no one decisive stage," he said. "It seems they're promoting an aggressive race because things will be left open till very late."
Some other stories:
-- procycling: 2007 Tour route announced
-- PEZ Insider: 2007 Tour de France Presentation
-- CyclingNews: 2007 Tour offers a modern yet classic parcours
-- VeloNews: '07 Tour route unveiled

Getting Ready for the '07 Tour

Later today, we'll officially know the route for the 2007 Tour de France July 7-29.
Cycling News has some partial details right now that include the start and first two days in London (that's Buckingham Palace to the right), the start of Stage 2 in Dunkirk and a quick visit to Belgium.
Other details:
-- There will be on team time trial for the second-straight year.
-- The Tour procedes clockwise this year, visiting the Alps (and possibly Mont Ventoux) first before heading west to the Pyrennes.
-- There will be new climb to the Tour, the Port de Bales, which has been featured in the Route de Sud race. The climb tops out near 1,750 meters and includes 20kilometres of climbing.
In the second year of the post-Lance era, not to mention the first race since all the unsettled Bad Boy Floyd controversy from the '06 race, cycling appears to be suffering a lull in interest. Or maybe it's just the Cranks?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Some Sunday Crank-iness

The good thing about the Internet is that there is a lot of stuff in cyberspace.
The bad thing about the Internet is that a lot that stuff is crap.
Most of the crap these days involves Our Boy Lance and his boy-toy pal, Matthew McConaughey, and all the "are they gay" rumors.
Gossip sites like SpotLightingNews and The Bosh will print almost anything -- and generally do. Conventional wisdom goes that if they can break up with babes like Sheryl Crow and Penelope Cruz to hang out with each other, then, like duh, they must be gay ("Not that there's anything wrong with that," as Jerry Seinfeld once so-famously said).
The point to be made here, though, is that you can find almost anything about everything on the Internet these days. Is Lance gay? Not gay? Do you care?
Hopefully, we all care more about whether OBL doped or not. So far, there's been no conclusive proof. That doesn't mean there won't be. Just keep reading on the Internet.

Speaking of doping, the Daily Peleton has a terrific article, "Lance Armstrong – No More Heroes," as does the incomparable Samuel Abt in the International Herald Tribune, "Cycling: Much off-season ado about doping charges."

And finally, I love to bike on Cape Cod. So I was pleased to read this story in today's Travel Section of the New York Times: "On Two Wheels, It’s Still High Season on Cape Cod."
(Photo is the Vineyard Haven bike path.)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Arrrrggghhh! Not Another Lance Expose!

Our Boy Lance has assailed yet another new book (read: cottage industry) going on sale in France today as "another baseless attack" against the seven-time Tour de France champion. The book, "L.A. Official" by Pierre Ballester and David Walsh, is based on testimony given in a legal dispute between Lance Armstrong and Dallas-based SCA Promotions that had a bonus contract with the cyclist.
The VeloNews has OBL's full statement.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Arrrrggghhh! Not Another George Hincapie Story!


Yup. British import procycling magazine calls it "A Season of Discovery":
"George Hincapie and his Discovery Channel team-mates soon discovered this year that life without Lance Armstrong was much tougher than expected. We spoke to Hincapie in his South Carolina home ... and looked back over a season that delivered more frustration than success, and found out what he thinks are his strengths having seen both the Classics and the Tour pass him by this year."
Stale, stale, stale.
Isn't there anybody new on the cycling scene to splash across the cover?
Who would YOU like to see on the cover(s) of upcoming cycling magazines?
(YOU are out there, aren't you?)
How about second-year Discovery Channel pro Janez Brajkovic?
Or doesn't he sell magazines (yet)?

Does He or Doesn't He?

So, Ivan Basso is a free man.
The Giro d'Italia winner has left the CSC team in the wake of doping allegations that resulted in him being dropped just prior to the start of this year's Tour de France.
Basso was cleared to resume racing last week when the Italian Olympic Committee recommended that all charges against him be dropped.
But CSC still didn't want him back.
"It has been a very difficult decision, but both parties agree it is time to move on," said CSC team manager Bjarne Riis.
Basso, who is 29, told French sports daily L'Equipe on Monday that he has been courted by Discovery Channel.
"They made me a concrete proposal but I am open to other solutions," he said.
It doesn't sound like Our Boy Lance's old team made Basso an offer he couldn't refuse.
Basso said there was also a chance he could join an Italian team.

Car Up!

From the latest Adventure Cycling Association newsletter, Bike Bits:
"Your reference to 'Car back!' in the last Bike Bits [Vol. 8 No. 19] reminds me of how strange that sounded when I rode for the first time with a bunch of Americans on this year's TransAm ... In Britain, it's [more typically] 'Oil up!' or 'Oil down!' (up being a car coming up from behind, down being one bearing down on you). France, where I live, has nothing that exciting. Here, the lads just shout 'Voiture!' (Car!) What, I wonder, do they shout in Canada, in Germany, Mexico, and Brazil?"
-- Les Woodland, Puymirol, France

All About the Boy Toys

So, Our Boy Lance and Matthew McConaughey.
What's up with that, anyway?
The November issue of Details magazine goes where I'm not going to go, but you can go there if you want.

Ready for the Tour of Missouri? Kevin Livingston Is

The Cranks remember and think fondly of Kevin Livingston, a former U.S. Postal teammate of Our Boy Lance. Livingston rode with Cranks' Trek Travel group during the '03 Tour de France (that's me, Tour of '03 with Kevin) and imparted cycling tips that have helped make all of us better riders.

Livingston's name popped up in a story I read this morning about the 600-mile Tour of Missouri, a stage race expected to draw 128 riders Sept. 11-16 that organizers hope will rival the interest that the Amgen Tour of California and the Tour de Georgia have created for professional cycling in the United States.

Who knows? Maybe the sports will be talking about the American classics someday (OK -- maybe not!).

How tough is Missouri?

"It's quite undulating in the Ozarks area, up-and-down, up-and-down," first-year pro Brad Huff said of potential courses in southwest Missouri. "It's all shorter, steeper," he said of the terrain. "Some gradual climbs down in the Branson area. It's short, and steep, and unforgiving."
Livingston, who helped Lance Armstrong to two Tour de France wins, will play a major role in laying out the Tour's course.

Sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale and USA Cycling, the race must have five foreign teams compete.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Is Basso the Latest Discovery?

There isn't a top rider who, at some time or other, isn't rumored to be heading to the Discovery Channel team.
Only the best, after all, for Our Boy Lance's mantle, right?
Did you really think that Levi Leipheimer was the answer?
So, after the silly rumors about Jan Ullrich, and the non-starters surrounding Bad Boy Floyd, it was inevitable that Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso, looking to race again after the Italian Olympic Committee recommended that doping allegations against him be dropped, would be rumored to be courted by Lance Armstrong's former team.
"They made me a concrete proposal but I am open to other solutions," the Italian rider said in an interview published on Monday by French sports newspaper L'Equipe, Lance's favorite newspaper.
Discovery has been looking for a replacement for Armstrong, who retired after winning his seventh consecutive Tour de France in 2005.
Basso could stay with his current team, CSC, or join an Italian team (which would make sense).
"Everything is possible, but at the moment -- and I am being sincere -- I hope that I can continue with CSC," said Basso, who is contracted with the Danish team until 2008.
Basso and Ullrich were excluded from this year's Tour after they and/or teammates were implicated in the Spanish doping investigation. The riders were alleged to have had contact with a Spanish doctor accused of running a blood doping clinic.
Basso denied the allegations. All cyclists deny doping allegations. All cyclists probably dope. That's the nature of the sport and no great discovery.
Stay tuned.

Getting Back to Cranking

As Granny and Tooth well know, life often interferes with blogging.
Fortunately, my absense has only been a matter of time management, not more serious matters.
As my fellow Cranks know, I teach cross-platform journalism at George Mason University. I teach three classes, oversee the Journalism concentration (one of five) in the Communication Department, and coordinate the Electronic Journalism minor. I'm also proposing a new Sports Communication minor. It keeps me busy!

But back to cranking out some cycling tidbits (and I've been saving up plenty) ...

I couldn't resist this little piece of information from Jane Greig of the Austin American-Statesman this morning about Our Boy Lance:
Q: What is Lance Armstrong's height and weight? Has he gained any weight since he retired from racing?
A: Yes. The retired Tour de France competitor has bulked up to about 180 pounds. He has "put on about 15 pounds of muscle," says Mark Higgins, Armstrong's manager at Capital Sports and Entertainment. Height? 5 feet 11 inches.

How about a tricycle race as part of the opening-day festivities in London for the '07 Tour de France?
"The Tricycle Association have opened negotiations with London and the Tour de France organisers for a tricycle race to feature as one of the warm-up races as part of the build-up to the opening prologue stage of the Tour, " says Wayne Baker, a tricyclist.
The story says that the prospect of racing in London and being part of the Tour de France would be a huge boost for tricycle racing, "giving this little-known sport the opportunity of international media exposure."
Since professional cycling is already a three-ring circus thanks to doping scandals, well, why not?
I wonder if tricyclists dope?

And speaking of doping, how about this story from the Townsville Bulletin, a South Queensland newspaper:
"Matt DeCanio, a confessed drug cheat and now an anti-doping crusader, tells tomorrow night's Insight program on SBS TV that he's willing to go before an inquiry and name cyclists, including any Australians, who are using drugs. 'At the highest level I would say 99 per cent of the guys are on it (drugs). If I were to have to bet my life on how many athletes in the Tour de France are on drugs, I would say one guy was clean,' " the 29-year-old told the program entitled "The Cheating Game."

And more to come ...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Match Made In Heaven...

Or possibly in Rachel Ray's kitchen. C'mon even Oude Granny with my febile and senile mind (not from age necessarily, but from too many of a Piraat. All hail to Belgian Triple Boch Beer!) could've put this match together. "You just keep putting 'em up and I'll keep knockin' 'em down." For the uninformed, check out the Colavita website.

From Cyclingnews.com:

Colavita and Cooking Light add Sutter Home


Sutter Home Winery has joined Colavita USA and Cooking Light to sponsor the Colavita/Sutter Home Women’s Cycling Team presented by Cooking Light, one of only two U.S.-based women’s team to qualify for cycling’s prestigious UCI designation for the 2007 season.

The Colavita/Sutter Home Women’s Cycling Team presented by Cooking Light will be led by Tina Pic, ranked #1 among women cyclists in the U.S. Joining her will be teammates Dotsie Bausch (USA), Sarah Tillotson (USA), and Iona Wynter-Parks (JAM). The team has also added Canadian powerhouse Alex Wrubleski, who currently holds the twin titles of Canadian National Road Race Champion and National Time Trial Champion, Candice Blickem (USA), Mackenzie Dickey (USA), Andrea Dvorak (USA), Stacey Spencer (CAN), and Alison Powers (USA).

"We are thrilled with the roster we’ve lined up for the upcoming season," said Team Director Jim Williams. "We’ve got a well-balanced squad, which will allow us to compete for the overall win in stage races as well as one-day events. I’m looking forward to working with this great group of accomplished riders."

The Colavita/Sutter Home Women’s Cycling Team presented by Cooking Light will race against the top U.S. and European teams at UCI events in 2007, including Australia’s Geelong Women’s Tour and World Cup and Italy’s Giro d’Italia Femminile.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Good Things Come...

To Those That Wait (or in T-o-03's case, "Whipping Boy Comes To America.")

According to Hedwig Kroner at Cyclingnews.com, Der Kaiser may be headed to Discovery Channel Pro Cycling.

"In the light of the latest news coming out of Spain, according to which the information from the Operación Puerto investigation cannot be used for sports-disciplinary proceedings, Discovery Channel is reported to have made the first move on Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich, who may be free to choose a new team if he is cleared. Spanish AS.com reports that Johan Bruyneel has made the German champ an offer to lead his team during the next season."

Yes, T-o-03 you might be seeing a lot more of Mr. Ullrich in the future.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Latest on Floyd II

My USA TODAY friend and cycling writer, Sal Ruibal, has an online exclusive with Bad Boy Floyd. The story updates Landis' surgery and legal battles to clear his name from doping allegations resulting from a positive test during the Tour de France that could end up costing him the title (AP photo).
The story was posted at 6:07 p.m. ET Saturday, off of USAT's Monday-to-Friday publishing cycling.
Good for Sal.
Good for USAT.
Good for print journalism in general, which finally realizes that you don't have to wait for the paper to publish the news.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Latest on Floyd

Oooohhh, not pretty: Floyd Landis and Brent Kay, Floyd's personal physician, look at his surgery scar before changing the dressing and bandages on his right hip during his first rehabilitation session at his home in Murrieta, Calif., Friday.
(AP photo/Kevork Djansezian)

Although a two-hour procedure Wednesday by Dr. David Chao revealed greater damage to Floyd Landis' hip than initially shown in MRI screenings, Bad Boy Floyd appears to be on the road to recovery.
Landis, whose arthritic right hip was injured in a 2003 crash, returned to his Murrieta home Thursday and will immediately begin six weeks of physical therapy. He can start low-intensity training on his bike in 1-to-2 weeks, a spokesman said.
Landis hopes to be back to full health in time to train for next year's Tour de France, which will begin in London.
Other developments:
-- Jeremy Whittle in the Times of London: Landis eyes window to race in 2007 Tour
-- AP: Discovery boss adjusts to not winning the Tour de France

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Seen on the Sidelines

Lance Armstrong and his former wife, Kristen, were on the sidelines for the Texas-Ohio State game Sept. 9 in Austin, Texas. (AP photo)