Friday, August 31, 2007

On Tap...

Laboring Day
When I was a child, Labor Day was always one of those holidays I never quite understood. Beside the fact that I would always get it confused with Memorial Day [which is in the Spring, or is it the Fall], it never made much sense to me since my parents always had to work on the day that was originally intended to give laborers time off.

In any event, for those racing this weekend I hope that it ends up being more fun, than labor.

The major event on the calendar this weekend is the USPRO National Road and Time Trial Championships in Greenville, SC. Both defending champions, George Hincapie and David Zabriskie, respectively, will be there to defend their jerseys. Hincapie could be considered a decided favorite to retain the Stars & Stripes on the road, considering he lives and trains in the area. But, there are a bevy of serious contenders in both disciplines.

Hincapie may see his major competition come from his current Discovery Channel teammate Levi Leipheimer, who many believe provided a helping hand in Hincapie's victory last year. Others in the mix are Christian Vande Velde, Zabriskie (CSC), Danny Pate (Slipstream/Chipotle), and Chris Wherry (Toyota-United).

In the ITT, Zabriskie will be challenged by the likes of last year's runner-up Chris Baldwin (Toyota-United), Mike Friedman and Danny Pate (Slipstream/Chipotle), Bobby Julich (CSC) and Ben Jacques-Maynes (Priority Health).

Baldwin Fueling Up With His Ride in the Foreground
(Image: Sean Weide)


According to the Crankset's USPRO Championship "Insider," Sean Weide (Communications Director for Toyota-United), the real wild card for both events will be Slipstream/Chipotle and Team 5280 who will definitely be banking on their strength in numbers. Toyota-United on the other hand is banking on a solid hand of four featuring Wherry, Baldwin, Justin England and Burke Swindlehurst.

Also this great tidbit from Sean, Tyler Hamilton (formerly of Tinkoff Credit Systems) will be following Michael Rasmussen into the world of racing in a non-descript jersey. The former Olympic Time Trial Champion will most likely compete in the ITT, but it remains to be seen whether he will be competitive in either race given his long absence from top competition.

But perhaps the most compelling story to follow this weekend in Greenville will be the return of Saul Raisin (Credit Agricole). Our friend of the blog, author of Tour de Life: From Coma to Competition, Dave Shields, believes that "no matter how [Saul] finishes, it will be an inspirational victory...but could you imagine how amazing a top result would be?"

From the press conference, Saul likewise seemed amazed at his very presence at the championships after recovering from a crash that saw him lapse into a coma. From Sean Weide,
"It’s already a dream come true just to live a normal life. When I came here last year to watch the race, it was my first organized group ride. It hit me yesterday when I got here and thought, I’m racing in two days.”
Saturday, Sept. 1 | 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
USA Cycling Professional Individual Time Trial Championship presented by The Cliffs
18.7 miles (30.1 km) time trial from The Cliffs at Mountain Park to The Cliffs Valley soccer fields.

Sunday, Sept. 2 | 1-5 p.m.
USA Cycling Professional Road Race Championship
110 miles (177 km) in Downtown Greenville
(Three start circuits of 3.76 miles (6.1 km) each, followed by four full laps of 21.85 miles (35.2 km) each and three finishing circuits of 3.76 miles (6.1 km) each. Start and finish circuits are the same. The full laps include the climb up Paris Mountain.

Other races going on this weekend in select regions in the country:

08/27/2007 to 08/31/2007
2007 USA Cycling Masters Track National Championship
Trexlertown, PA

09/01/2007
Skull Valley Time Trial
Tooele, UT
Long St. Tour/Ohio State Criterium Championship
Columbus, OH
State Time Trial Championship
Harvard, IL
LARPD Cyclocross Race Series
Livermore, CA
Challenge Challenge 2nd Annual
Challenge, CA
John Fitzpatrick and Dave Staub Memorial Far West
Encino, CA

09/03/2007
Giro Di San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
Team 02/Cadiex Bicycle Race
Auburn Hills, MI
PA State Time Trial Championship
Harrisburg, PA

For results/photos of any of the above, click through to Truesport.com


Vuelta All The Time
If the organizers of the Vuelta a Espana are feeling like Jan Brady [the middle child] at the moment, who can blame them. As the last of the three Grand Tours on the calendar, its the one that has to jump up and down or act out to get any attention. Its not that the racing or the parcours are inferior, but it often goes unnoticed due to horrible scheduling.

Run in the late spring, the Giro d'Italia is like Cindy Brady [the youngest child]. Although distinctly different, the Giro gets attention simply for being a prelude to the Tour [Marcia Brady, the eldest]. The Giro's beautiful scenery and racing may turn out to be as stunning as the Tour, but her cute appearance merits a pinch on the cheek rather than swooning over.

The Tour is well, the Tour. Its the race that other races what to be and all riders want to win over [unfortunately with some going to extreme measures to impress].

The Vuelta...its not even being shown on the Versus channel [Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!!!]

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Definitely Thater Than Sooner

With Mark Hekman (A & F Pro Development) on the shelf for the season, Frank Travieso and Yosvany Falcon (AEG - Toshiba Jet Network) looked to inherit the overall lead in the USA Crit series with a good showing at the Chris Thater Memorial Criterium in Binghamton, NY this past weekend. Neither slammed their fist on the table with any authority in an effort to claim the top prize, finishing 10th and 18th, respectively, but then again they didn't really need to.

The same protective attitude seemed to pervade the rest of the field, as Health Net presented by Maxxis, looked to maintain their NRC lead in the team category over Toyota-United. With only two other teammates in the field, Health Net's Karl Menzies described their dilemma to Cyclingnews' Kirsten Robbins.
"The problem was the NRC for us, the team title. Our only objective today was to make sure we stayed ahead in the NRC standings. We didn't care about who was up the road as long as we stayed glued to Toyota to keep close in the points standings. We didn't win but we took third and fifth in the race points gaining more points total than their second place [Ivan Dominguez] today. It's a s**t way to race but that's what we came here to do."
Taking the victory was Kyle Wamsley (Navigators) whose relentless attacking paid off.

Men's Podium:
1 Kyle Wamsley (Navigators Insurance)
2 Ivan Dominguez (Toyota-United)
3 Karl Menzies (Health Net)

On the women's side, Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Verducci Breakaway; and formerly of Wolverine Sports Club) claimed the victory ahead of Kelly Benjamin (Cheerwine) and Erica Allar (Penn-State) in a unusually small field for an NRC race.

USA Crit series points leader, Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine), maintained her position coming in fourth.

Armada Unveiled

Jonathan Vaughters and Slipstream/Chipotle are set to unveil their 2008 line up tomorrow, Friday, August 31st.

I'm not quite sure if they will also give us a preview of the new bolder colored kits [how much bolder can you get than powder blue and orange argyle?], or if this means that Vaughters is done signing riders for the upcoming season?

In any event, a live Web cast will be available on www.slipstreamsports.com at 2:30pm, EST.

Where's Waldo?

Kurt-Asle Arvesen cycling onto the Trafalgar Square stage.
(photo by Steve Klein)


You could call it my "Where's Waldo?" moment.
Find me if you can. But there I am, on page 13 (a lucky number among Scandanavians, which I am among in the picture) of the latest issue (September) of Cycle Sport America magazine.

I was one of the 35,000-or-so cycling fans who crowded London's Trafalgar Square on July 6 for the Opening Ceremonies of the Tour de France. I had the good fortune to settle in along the far-right stage fence with Knut-Walther Baldersheim, a Norwegian restaurant-bar owner, and his family.

In the Cycle Sport two-page photo spread, you can see the banner of Kurt-Asle Arvesen the family is holding over the fence. The Baldersheims are big supporters of their fellow Norwegian and CSC team member, for whom Knut-Walther does the English translation of the cyclist's website.

I don't have a copy of the Reuters photo to share on the blog, but I do have this photo (above) of Arvesen giving a thumbs up to his friends as he cycled onto the stage with his CSC teammates.

Arvesen finished 67th in the Tour, by the way, 2:24:36 behind Alberto Contador.

Knut-Walther (right) and his son holding their Arvesen banner.
(photo by Steve Klein)

The Baldersheim family sans Knut-Walther (photo by Steve Klein).

And the Winner Is ...

So, who really won the Tour de France? The Onion knows.


"While Kvistik's achievement is being celebrated by cycling insiders, critics of the Tour de France maintain that not enough is being done to combat the use of performance-enhancing substances in cycling's premier event.

"Nonsense—pure nonsense," said Tour general director Christian Prudhomme, who was vacationing in Switzerland as Kvistik crossed the finish line. "We have done everything we could imagine, both in terms of prize money and other incentives, to promote riders who compete without pharmaceutical aid. But we simply do not have the resources, nor the viewers the interest, to televise the entire two months it takes for a normal, unadulterated human to circumnavigate an entire nation on a bicycle.""

Vuelta Time

Remember the good old days when Versus (then OLN) used to cover the entire Vuelta a España? Now, you can't even find weekend coverage on television.

The options? CyclingTV online (sign up here).

The 62nd Vuelta begins Saturday in Vigo (Pontevedra, Galicia). Iker Rioja of the Cyclingnews has a short-and-sweet analysis of the teams that will race over the next three weeks to the race's conclusion in Madrid.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Teflon Lance



As the cycling world finds itself reeling from yet another year of disappointment, overall shady behavior and teams losing sponsors only a hair faster than a president can lose his cabinet, the "king" rises above it all yet again. And I say this with all sincerity.

If you haven't yet heard, LA has hosted the LIVESTRONG Presidental Forum on MSNBC over the last two days. Leading up to these events, LA has promoted the LIVESTRONG message and reminded us that in fact 1500 Americans die every day from the wretched disease. He also reminds us that a paltry $6B is spent by the US Government each year to research America's 2nd killer. Considering the same entity has shipped $12B in cold cash to Iraq since the war began and can only account for $8B, Lance may be on to something here. He's quick to tell us that the best researchers are leaving the US to work aboard because all the programs are getting cut and morale is very low in the cancer research industry.

As I've listened and watched LA over the last several days, I simply cannot hold against him the shortcomings of the sport. He is a leader in every way and is, without question, on this earth for a purpose. His approach to this issue is timely, logical and he challenges each candidate in a respectful yet accountable way. All while claiming himself to be "apolitical". We'll see how long that lasts. To his credit and point, "cancer crosses the aisle."

All of LA's interview's including Tim Russert and the Forums can be found at MSNBC.

Regardless of the dark cloud that looms over our sport, LA, as always, transcends it all. And like always, most of us are indeed pulling for him.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Brokeback Bicycle?


At this same time last year, there were reports that Jake Gyllenhaal was set to portray Lance Armstrong in an Armstrong biopic. Now it seems that Jake may actually be reprising his role in Brokeback Mountain, in real life. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Friday, August 24, 2007

You Might Be A Roadie...

Not exactly in the realm of Jeff Foxworthy, but this was sent to me by one of the members of the Wolverine Sports Club. If you fit the description, you might just be a tried-and-true roadie.

Road cyclists are the biggest sandbaggers and secret trainers around. They'll say anything to soften you up for the kill. Don't let this happen to you.

Study this handy rider's phrasebook to find out what they really mean when they say:

"I'm out of shape."
Translation: I ride 400 miles a week and haven't missed a day since the Ford administration. I replace my 11-tooth cog more often than you wash your shorts. My body fat percentage is lower than your mortgage rate.

"I'm not into competition. I'm just riding to stay in shape."
Translation: I will attack until you collapse in the gutter, babbling and whimpering. I will win the line sprint if I have to force you into oncoming traffic. I will crest this hill first if I have to grab your seat post and spray energy drink in your eyes.

"I'm on my beater bike."
Translation: I had this baby custom-made in Tuscany using titanium blessed by the Pope. I took it to a wind tunnel and it disappeared. It weighs less than a fart and costs more than a divorce.

"It's not that hilly."
Translation: This climb lasts longer than a presidential campaign. Be careful on the steep sections or you'll fall over backward. You have a 39x23 low gear? Here's the name of my knee surgeon.

"You're doing great, honey."
Translation: Yo, lard azz, I'd like to get home before midnight. This is what you get for spending the winter decorating and eating chocolate. I should have married that cute Cat 1 racer when I had the chance. (I think I've actually heard this one before?)

"This is a no-drop ride."
Translation: I'll need an article of your clothing for the search and rescue dogs.

"It's not that far."
Translation: Bring your passport.

On Tap...

The last weekend in August [yes, next Saturday is September 1st], brings one of the final three races on the US Cycling National Racing Calendar and my former team's criterium.

The elite professionals will be in Binghamton, NY this weekend to participate in the NRC and US Crit Series race, the Chris Thater Memorial. From the events website:

"The Chris Thater Memorial was named in honor of a young man whose life was tragically cut short by a drunk driver. With a core mission of promoting a STOP-DWI and healthy lifestyle message, the Chris Thater Memorial makes everyone a winner."

This race will mark the official debut of Ivan Stevic's (Toyota-United) blue and rainbow colored "B" World Championship jersey in the American peloton. Stevic has been nursing a bum knee in recent weeks. From the Toyota-United press release, Stevic seems ready to give it a go although his form is obviously lacking from the lay-off.

“I’m happy to finally get back out there and do a race,” Stevic said. “My form is not that great. Still, I want to be there to help the guys.”

For the US Crit Series, this will be the final race before the World Criterium Championships in Las Vegas, NV during Interbike week. After seven races, the standings are as follows:

Men:
Mark Hekman (A&F Pro Development Cycling) - 1352 pts
Frank Travieso (AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork) - 1206
Yosvany Falcon (AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork) - 1170

Women:
Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine) - 1390 pts.
Shontelle Gauthier (Team Ultralink) - 874
Kelly Benjamin (Cheerwine) - 862

Unfortunately, current points leader, Mark Hekman, found out yesterday that the injuries that he sustained in a crash at the rain filled USPRO National Criterium Championships last weekend were more severe than initially thought. He has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a broken heel. File that news under "S" for SUCKS.


One of the requirements for a US Cycling team/club is to host an event. For xXx Racing - Athletico that event is the Sherman Park Criterium. Sherman Park was one of ten revolutionary Chicago parks which opened to the public in 1905. Located at W. 52nd and Racine, Sherman Park was one of the city's largest parks at 60 acres. It is named after John B. Sherman (1825- 1902) who founded Chicago's Union Stock Yards and served as a member of the South Park Commission for 25 years.

08/24/2007
Red Robin's Madison Cup
Trexlertown, PA

08/25/2007
Sherman Park Criterium
Chicago, IL
Alaric Gayfer Junior Criterium Championship
Trexlertown, PA
High Rock Lake Road Race
Salisbury, NC
San Ardo Road Race
San Ardo, CA
Warsaw Downtown Classic
Warsaw, IN
Valley City Street Fair Road Race
Valley City, OH
Advantage Benefits Rockford Criterium
Rockford, MI
Worlds Collide CX
Heber City, UT
Sanpete Road Race
Spring City, UT
Chiropractic Partners Criterium
Brookfield, WI

08/26/2007
Chris Thater Memorial
Binghamton, NY
Summer End GP-11th Annual
Ontario, CA
Glencoe Grand Prix
Glencoe, IL
2007 Skull Valley Road Race
Skull Valley, AZ
University Road Race
Santa Cruz, CA

08/27/2007
IL. State Velo Sprint & Team Sprint Championship
Northbrook, IL

For results and photos of the listed races, click through to Truesport.com.


On the Conti
With the Tour of Ireland all but wrapped up, all the focus will be on the Eneco Tour of Benelux. To date, Cofidis is ruling the roost. Dutchman, Michiel Elijzen won the Prologue while Belgian Nick Nuyens took Stage 1.

Overall Standings After Stage 1
1 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone 4.48.39
2 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 0.10
3 José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 0.17
4 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval - Prodir 0.19
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Predictor - Lotto 0.25
6 Leif Hoste (Bel) Predictor - Lotto 0.37
7 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance 0.38
8 Leon Van Bon (Ned) Rabobank 0.44
9 Bram Tankink (Ned) Quickstep - Innergetic 0.49
10 Paul Martens (Ger) Skil - Shimano

With six more stages, concluding with a final ITT, its still anyone's race. If the current overall stays this way through the weekend, David Millar may have another victory to follow up his British National Road Race Championship earlier this month.

Swim, Bike, Run
For my tri-compadres, the Accenture Chicago Triathlon is this weekend. Like the Chicago Marathon, this event has really taken off over the years. If you've ever wondered what doing a triathlon in a big city is all about, be sure to check out the action along the beautiful Lake Michigan lakefront. You may even be in for an Oude Granny sighting.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Breakaway

How do you judge a successful break? When it helps you to win the day? When it helps to put time into your competitors? How about when it wins you a 5 Stage road race?

This may be the circumstance at the Inaugural [I guess 15 years is a sufficient amount of time between races to consider the next the first] Tour of Ireland.

During Stage 1 from Kilkenny to Cork, a group of nine escaped early on. The remainder of the peloton was content to just sit in and lost over 13 minutes to eventual winner, Belgian Stijn Vandenbergh (Unibet.com). Vandenbergh's late attack may have won him the day, but his breakaway compatriots had to be all smiles as well.

Image: Stephen McMahon

With such a short stage race, one that doesn't feature any other road disciplines like a time trial, the winner should surely come from one of these nine. Stage 2, which featured 5 categorized climbs was won by CSC's Matti Breschel, but he still sits 13:15 back!

On the likelihood of his winning the Tour of Ireland, Vandenberg had this to say to Velonews' Andrew Hood:
"These were the two hardest stages, so now I am more confident I can make it to Dublin," Vandenbergh said. "My legs actually felt better today than they did on Wednesday. I'm feeling good about my chances."

No pints until Dublin, though Vandenbergh admitted he did treat himself to one glass of the "black stuff" after his win in Cork.

"If I make it to Dublin in the yellow jersey, I will drink a few Guinness to celebrate," he said.
A wee nip of the mother's milk? Guinness for strength, laddie. BRILLIANT!

Not Quite the Haka, But...

It may be a little late in the game, but there's still time to check out The Flight of Conchords on HBO. The show incorporates the folk musical comedy of New Zealanders, Bret McKenzie and Jermaine Clement into a sit-com that follows the "trials and tribulations of a two man, digi-folk band as they try to make a name for themselves in their adopted home of New York City."


Below, the pair protest the fact that there's too many "mutha uckers" as they cruise around the city on their "shitty bikes."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Medical News: Smith & Nephew Recall

I ran across this item from Reuters in an online medical journal:

"LONDON (Aug 16) - Smith & Nephew has recalled 185 hip implants due to a packaging error by a subcontractor, it said on Thursday.

The British firm said different sizes of a part of its Birmingham Hip Resurfacing System had been mixed up during the packaging process.

A spokesman said that two patients were found to have been implanted with the wrong-sized device but that some other cases may come to light during the recall process.

The Birmingham hip was the first of a new kind of less-invasive hip implant to be approved by U.S. regulators, and Smith & Nephew said earlier this month that demand for the device had exceeded its expectations.

"All hospitals and surgeons who have received these implants have either been notified or are in the process of being notified," S&N said in a statement. "A number of implants have already been recovered in their packaging."

It said the devices were distributed to a number of countries including Britain and the United States and that it had notified both the UK Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of the voluntary recall.

"Distribution of the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing product continues as normal and is meeting demand," it added."

How is this relevant to cycling?

The BHR is the implant that was used to treat Floyd Landis' condition (inset, flying the Smith & Nephew colors at Leadville; Photo: Jeff Cricco/Rodale). I doubt that his was one of the affected implants as the pounding of the Leadville 100 surely would have revealed any discrepencies [plus, Dr. Kay seems happy with the results].

But, for the former Tour de France champion, who seems rather in and out these days awaiting his cycling fate, let's hope that the above doesn't pertain to his case.

[And yes, that's Floyd, far left, on the TC banner. Taken during the 2003 TDF.]

What the Benelux?

The 3rd Eneco Tour of Benelux (formerly the Benelux Tour) begins today as well. The 8 stage tour across Belgium and the Netherlands is on the Pro Tour calendar and therefore features most of the prominent teams.

Only in its third year, the race already has a fairly decent following. The fact that this race crosses two cycling mad countries has certainly contributed to its immediate success, but it is also due to the fact that this fledgling race has already been marred by a bit of controversy.

The 2006 edition featured a crash during the final stage that saw leader George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) taken out by Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) in the finale (Photo: AFP). The latter eventually won the overall as a result of Hincapie being on the pavement. Officials determined that the crash was coincidental, which left Discovery and Hincapie shaking their collective heads. Neither, however, is scheduled to participate in this year's race.

Stages
Prologue August 22 Hasselt (Bel) ITT (5.1km)
Stage 1 August 23 Waremme (Bel) - Eupen (Bel) (189.5km)
Stage 2 August 24 Anvers (Bel) - Knokke-Heist (Bel) (199.1km)
Stage 3 August 25 Knokke-Heist (Bel) - Putte (Bel) (170.8km)
Stage 4 August 26 Maldegem (Bel) - Terneuzen (Ned) (182.7km)
Stage 5 August 27 Terneuzen (Ned) - Nieuwegein (Ned) (179.9km)
Stage 6 August 28 Beek (Ned) - Landgraaf (Ned) (177.4km)
Stage 7 August 29 Sittard (Ned) - Geleen (Ned) ITT (29.6km)

Rolling on the Emerald Isle

After a 15 year hiatus, the 5 stage Tour of Ireland that we previewed back in May, kicks off today. The start list features 3 American teams, Navigators Insurance, Colvita - Sutter Homes presented by Cooking Light, and Slipstream/Chipotle [the first two each having an Irish lad], and three Pro Tour teams, CSC, Unibet.com, and T-Mobile.

Irish Legend Sean Kelly & Irish model Jenny Lee Masterson
(Photo: Gerry McManus/www.gerrymcmanus.co.uk)

The team to beat [on paper] looks to be Team CSC, which boast a strong contingent and is headlined by the Brothers Schleck, Frank and Andy. Unibet.com and T-Mobile will most likely be led by their respective sprinters, Baden Cooke and Bernhard Eisel. Another notable on the start list is Belgian Cyclocross superstar, Sven Nys who will be riding for Rabobank Continental.


Stage 1 - August 22: Kilkenny - Cork (St. Patrick's Hill), 160 km
Stage 2 - August 23: Clonakilty - Killarney, 167 km
Stage 3 - August 24: Tralee - Ennis, 190 km
Stage 4 - August 25: Galway - Galway, 212 km
Stage 5 - August 26: Athlone - Dublin, 135 km

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Residue

The folks over at UrbanVelo got me reading some of Roger Lootine's Residue Comics, which he describes as being "like a coffee enema."

The poster [click to enlarge] below perhaps exemplifies the true nature of the car versus bike debate, one which our own 53rd Tooth was pulled (or rather, slammed) into. His actual Jersey Girl court hearing was last week, and full details are forthcoming.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Alpe D'Huez 2001



Feeling nostalgic and missing the "innocent" days.

If you're not in Zone 3 just watching and listening to this, you're not a cyclist.

Ground Control to Major Tom...

I'm kind of a techie guy, then again aren't most men (boys and their toys, and all). But in regard to the smoldering debate of using race radios, the pendulum has definitely swung the other way for me. I once thought this simple technological implementation was great. Ongoing race communication allowed teammates to better function as a whole, and it seemed to level the playing field for most riders as the strongest could easily thwart any attacks.

But now I've come to realize that some riders [and teams] have become overly dependent on using race radios and most have lost their racing instincts that perhaps helped them get to their current level. It's also made most breakaways nearly impossible to succeed.

MORE: 2002 Cyclingnews article on the debate

Enter wireless technology into the game. My only questions are: Will the riders be able to pick up phone calls or satellite radio with those things? When will the iHelmet be coming out?

Brad Huff (Slipstream/Chipotle)
(Photo: Kurt Jambretz/www.actionimages.cc)


And, the time trialing version on Paolo Bettini (Photo: Bjorn Haake)


Down[pour]-ers Grove

One of the unfortunate circumstances of sports is that the women's events are not viewed in the same regard as the men's. We've heard it all before, women aren't as athletic, aren't as strong, or aren't as fast. As such, most of the women's events are viewed with less interest and are often held as a precursor to the main attraction, the men.

But looking at what the riders, especially the women, had to endure this weekend at the USPRO National Criterium Championships in Downers Grove, IL, you can definitely take "aren't as tough" off the list [if you haven't done so already].

On Saturday, the 18th, a deluge of rain made for some precarious conditions during the Women's Pro 1/2/3 International Challenge. Coming through it all was Tibco's Brooke Miller (Photo: Kurt Jambretz).

By the time the men came out to race, the rain had subsided but it was still a soggy affair. The conditions turned many of the big names into spectators, as they chose to save themselves for Sunday's National Championship races.

The Men's Pro 1/2 International Challenge was won by BMC's Kelly Hanson who beat Dominque Rollin (Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada) and Darren Lill (Navigators) to the line.

The rains continued on Sunday for the National Championship races. Navigating the wet roads during the Women's race was the venerable Tina Pic (Colavita/Sutter Homes), who had to feel a bit of vindication after last year's finale which saw her pull the endo of all endos (at least ones that I've seen captured on film) when Laura Van Gilder's foot got caught up in Pic's front wheel (see inset, click to enlarge).

The 50km Men's race was won by Daniel Holloway (VMG Racing),

All Holloway
(Photo: Kurt Jambretz/www.actionimages.cc)


while the 100km race was won by Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast's Martin Gilbert. The Canadian (center) barely pipped Ada, MI's own Kirk O'Bee (Health-Net presented by Maxxis) at the line.

Photo: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us

The Stars & Stripes jersey, however, went to O'Bee (Photo: Casey B. Gibson). In an interview with Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski, O'Bee admitted to being a bit disappointed coming by the jersey for the second time under similar circumstances.

"I was upset I lost the race overall and it overshadowed winning the jersey. I wanted to improve upon the last time. It was Harm Jansen last time - he attacked with a couple to go and there were a lot of Americans in the break and we all looked at each other. It almost worked out this time."

For the former USPRO National Criterium Champion and Forest Hills Central High School product, it's been a long way back. In 2002, O'Bee was suspended for 1 year after he tested positive for a high testosterone-epitestosterone level (haven't we heard that somewhere before). Winning the Stars and Stripes is certainly the culmination of a great season; one which saw O'Bee return to the podium in several races and once again living up to the promising status he once held while racing for Navigators Insurance.

Friday, August 17, 2007

On Tap...

Unbelievably, its mid-August. The road and track seasons are coming to an end and cross events will soon be filling up the racing calendar. But not just yet. If you've been thinking about trying your hand in racing there is still some time to whet your appetite and plant the racing bug into your system for cross season or for next year. Below is a list of races in specific areas of the country.

If you've come by the site to look for results or photos of any of the races listed, click through to Truesport.com.


The featured race on the calendar this weekend is the USPRO National Criterium Championship in the western Chicago suburb of Downers Grove, IL. The race features a figure eight course with an infamous finale that is ingrained into American cycling tradition. The race usually comes down to who can first reach [and survive] the final turn, as it sits only 150m from the line.

Ivan Domniguez (Toyota-United) has to be considered one of the favorites coming off easy victories at Hanes Park and Elk Grove. But this race hasn't been particularly kind to Domniguez in the past. As such, the race shapes up to be wide open.

For the women, look for the usual suspects in Tina Pic (Colavita-Sutter Homes) and Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine).

If you're in the Millersburg, PA area for the Tour de Millersburg, make sure to look for the special Master of Ceremonies, Bob "Bobke" Roll.

08/17/2007
Air Products Finals
Trexlertown, PA

08/18/2007
USCF Criterium Championships
Downers Grove, IL
Wine Country Classic
North East, PA
Tour de Millersburg
Millersurg, PA
Encino Velodrome Championships
Encino, CA
Dunnigan Hills Road Race
Yolo, CA
Carlisle Grand Prix
Newville, PA
Tour de Gap
Brian Head, UT
Carolina State Track Champ & 2007 Velo Champ
Ashville, NC

08/19/2007
Mt Lemmon Time Trial
Tucson, AZ
Suisun Harbor Bicycle Races
Suisun City, CA

08/20/2007
IL. State Velodrome Pursuit & TT Championship
Northbrook, IL

Tubing
As mentioned previously, the Versus [check your local cable listings] channel will be airing highlights of the Nature Valley Grand Prix stage race this Sunday the 19th with a replay on the 21st. The race took place in June with the overall titles going to Ivan Stevic (Toyota-United) and Kristin Armstrong (TEAm Lipton). However, depending on the highlights that are aired, we may all be in for a treat as this may be the first opportunity for many to see the precocious talents of Mara Abbott (Webcor Builders).

Ready or Not...

Here It Comes [and Goes]
Whether the good folks in Missouri are ready or not, the full glare of American cycling will be focused on the inaugural Tour of Missouri.

What looked a couple of weeks ago to simply be a stage race joining the elite ranks of the Tour of California and Tour de Georgia will now serve as an American send-off for Discovery Channel Professional Cycling [and the American riders on its roster who will certainly be employed elsewhere after the season].

Discovery will feature an all-star cast headlined by Tour de France champion, Alberto Contador, and third place finisher Levi Leipheimer. Also of note will be George Hincapie, Yaroslav Popovych, and Antonio Cruz. It will also be one of Director Sportif, Johan Bruyneel's final races, as he has previously announced his retirement.

The race begins on September 11th and runs until the 16th.


EVENT SCHEDULE
Tuesday, September 11 – Kansas City to Kansas City
road race (85 mi / 137 km); START: 1 PM EST FINISH: 4:30 PM
Wednesday, September 12 – Clinton to Springfield
road race (125.6 mi / 202 km); START: 11 AM EST FINISH: 3:30 PM
Thursday, September 13 – Branson
ITT (18 mi / 29 km); START: 11 AM EST FINISH: 1:55 PM
Friday, September 14 – Lebanon to Columbia
road race (133 mi / 214 km); START: 10:30 AM EST FINISH: 3:25 PM
Saturday, September 15 – Jefferson City to St. Charles
road race (126.6 mi / 204km); START: 11:30 AM EST FINISH: 3:40 PM
Sunday, September 16 – St. Louis
circuit race (74 mi / 119 km); START: 1 PM EST FINISH: 3:40 PM

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Better Late Than Never?

If you’re a “fanboy” or “fangirl” of all things cycling then you’ve probably come across one or all of the items below. In the eventuality that you haven’t, then permit me to take you on a wild ride.

Elkish Cash-terium
I didn’t coin the term, but it certainly suffices for the seemingly disproportionate amounts of prize money being given away for some criteriums these days. It’s not an entirely new concept in sports, as appearance fees or prize money has been used to draw the prominent names to less than prominent events. Mind you, it doesn’t mean that any of these none too easily recognizable events aren’t great races, they just might fall outside a riders schedule or racing program.

In any event, one of our featured races this past weekend was the Alexian Brothers International Tour of Elk Grove, in of all places Elk Grove, Illinois. The two day event featured a stage race for the male participants, which consisted of an opening 4.5 mile prologue and then two criteriums. On the women’s side, there was a lone criterium held on Sunday the 12th.

The men’s races were to feature the debut of Ivan Stevic’s (Toyota-United) “B” World Championship Blue and Rainbow colored jersey, but he was a DNS due to some knee issues. The Toyota-United banner, however, was held up during the weekend by another Ivan, Dominguez in this case, as he made easy work of the field on Sunday.

Easy Rider Ivan Dominguez
(Photos: Kurt Jambretz/www.actionimages.cc)


The overall was taken by Australian Nathan O’Neill (Health-Net presented by Maxxis), who rode to victory in the Prologue and finished respectably in the subsequent crits. For his efforts, O’Neill garnered a whopping $31,000 [that is not a misprint]! Evidently, the victory made the 32 year old O’Neill a hot commodity, as he inked a contract earlier this week to ride for the second year American Continental Professional team, BMC. He joins Antonio Cruz (Discovery Channel) who also signed with BMC for the 2008 season.

The first and longer Saturday crit was won by Predictor-Lotto’s “Fast” Freddie Rodriguez who was led out perfectly by his teammate Chris Horner. As expected, neither seemed to be feeling any ill affects in their legs from their Tour participation.

Fast Freddy Center Stage
(Photo: Kurt Jambretz/www.actionimages.cc)

As for the women, it ended up being a very cheery afternoon as Cheerwine swept the podium. Catherine Cheatly cruised to victory, while Laura Van Gilder and Kelly Benjamin were the best of the bunch to take 2nd and 3rd place respectively.

Cheerwine's Podium: Van Gilder, Cheatly, Benjamin
(Photo: Kurt Jambretz/www.actionimages.cc)

Lance-less in Leadville
The on again, off again, on again, scheduled match up between Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis (Photo: UltraRob) in the Leadville 100 never materialized as Lance withdrew. Although race co-founder, Ken Chlouber held out every semblance of hope saying, "The deadline for us mortals was February, but for Lance it will be 30 seconds before the starting gun goes off. Actually, let's make that 10 seconds." If Lance shows up, he'll be in the front row right alongside Floyd Landis."

Of course, as news came out of Discovery’s folding before last weekend; Lance probably had more urgent matters to which to attend.

The race was won by 5 time winner, Dave Wiens who broke the 7 hour mark for the first time in Leadville history. A few minutes behind was Floyd [who probably could have pushed Wiens in the finale, if not for an early crash], who for all intents and purposes [thanks for the catch tbv] showcased his form for any team that might need his services. That is if he isn’t suspended in the foreseeable future.

Wrong Rectified
The following definitely falls under the main header of better late than never, but it really speaks to something that should have never been done at all.

If you haven’t been following the mini saga of British mountain biker, Jenny Copnall (Photo: Jenny Copnall), she was earlier excluded from the British roster of riders to compete in the World Championships being held on September 3rd through the 9th, in Scotland [on home soil no less].

Did British Cycling suddenly forget that the 4-time British national cross country champion was the country’s best placed rider in World Cup events for the past 5 years?

The indiscretions didn’t end with Copnall’s exclusion, however, as they chose not to include any of their elite women in the cross country events.

None to surprisingly, after a uproar from the UK mountain bike community, British Cycling has now updated their roster to include Copnall and several other cross country racers.

Seriously, what was British Cycling thinking to begin with? Had they all of a sudden reverted back to some type of “good ole boys” network mentality? Women, bikes, dirt…how will they ever make it through without getting their knickers in a bunch?

Cup of Sand
One of the more memorable dialogues from the Michael Douglas presidential movie, the aptly titled, The American President, was this exchange with Michael J. Fox’s character, Lewis, regarding leadership.

Lewis: …People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand.

President Andrew Shepherd: Lewis, we've had presidents who were beloved, who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty. They drink the sand because they don't know the difference.

Two months after its completion, the Versus channel has decided to air footage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. The stage race held in Minneapolis from June 20th - 24th was won by Kristin Armstrong (TEAm Lipton) and Ivan Stevic (Toyota-United), respectively. For me, an ardent fan of cycling, this scheduled showing amounts to nothing more than the proverbially cup of sand. Was the racing great and entertaining? Sure. But, it happened so long ago, you could probably find the video out on DVD.

So as it goes, are you thirsty enough to view something Versus could have shown us in June or will you drink the Versus kool-aid because you don’t know the difference?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Crumbling Infrastructure

Having read all the accounts of Tailwind Sports' decision to fold up Discovery Channel and walk away from the European cycling table, I was frankly disappointed that the decision seemed to be so business-like, so cut and dry. Although Lance Armstrong and his partners made it a point to relay the difficulty with which they made their decision, it seemed as vacuous as one of Armstrong's looks while climbing in the Pyrenees.

The tradition, the sentimentality, the undevoted fan loyalty, and the responsibility to the riders Armstrong once battled with, wasn't enough to sway the decision in favor of staying in the game, despite the fact that "...it wasn't about sponsorship."

Rather, the decision hinged on the profitability of investing in a machine that is in need of fixing. "We couldn't in good conscience ask someone to spend the sort of money that it would require to sponsor the team in the current situation. It's not an environment conducive in our opinion to make an investment," said Bill Stapleton, general manager of Tailwind Sports.

But juxtaposed against the Unibet.com season long saga [which ended with Unibet folding today after being effectively sanctioned against racing any of the big races despite having paid for a Pro Tour license], the inability of governing bodies, race organizers, and an organization of team managers to agree on superflous matters, and the persistent battle to clean up the sport, it is difficult to argue against Tailwind's less than popular decision.

In the United States, civil engineers have long recognized the need to address the crumbling infrastructure of our cities. Perhaps Discovery Channel's departure can be likened to the Minneapolis Bridge collapse; the ultimate signal to cycling's governing bodies like the UCI, AIGCP, ASO, IPCT, etc., that the infrastructure is in dire need of fixing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

And So It Begins...

Although highly speculated, but not formally confirmed or announced, George Hincapie will not go down in the books as the first Discovery Channel rider to find a new employer [T-Mobile]. That distinction belongs to Antonio Cruz, who inked a new contract with American Continental Professional team BMC. Right on the heels of his signing was that of the precocious talent, Slovenian Jani Brajkovic who will ride with T-Mobile next year.

The movement of riders from the soon to be defunct Discovery Channel Professional Cycling team isn't quite on par or as dramatic as the fire sale that engulfed the Florida Marlins after their 1997 World Series victory [afterall, its not like the team won and then disappeared the next year], but for fans of American cycling its close.

The nationalistic pride that once accompanied following an American team in the European peloton is quickly being reduced to keeping tabs on individuals. Twenty years later American cycling is back to where it began.

The Asphalt Conundrum

From the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation:
"A 27-year-old bike messenger was reportedly killed instantly when he was hit by a truck in the South Loop neighborhood on Monday afternoon. The bike messenger, who was identified by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office as Ryan Boudreau, of the 4000 block of North Oakley Avenue, was working when a truck struck him and killed him, according to a Central District police captain...

The Chicago messenger community will hold a vigil and memorial ride for Ryan this Friday. Meet at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Skylark at Cermak Road and Halsted Street. Friends will speak briefly on Ryan and then lead a silent ride to the site of Ryan’s death at Clark and 18th streets."

Unfortunately, Ryan isn't the first and probably won't be the last cyclists killed in the big city. Its perhaps the biggest conundrum there is, car, trucks, and bikes need to share the road, but at times neither group has a healthy respect for each other, and each feels entitled to the road.

But I'll say this, and it doesn't come from having darted through Chicago traffic for 13 years, unless the cyclist is riding as if he has no respect for his/her own life, then cars and traffic have to have a greater awareness of those on two wheels (whether motorized or not). Does it sound like I'm preaching to the choir, or like I'm an ardent bicycle activist? Maybe. But it really comes down to common sense and physics.

If a bicycles runs into a car or truck on accident, the most damage that those vehicles will incur is a dent or scratch. If the situation is reversed, its potentially someone's life!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Front Runner

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the Gift." -- Steve Prefontaine

Although he passed away over 30 years ago, Steve "Pre" Prefontaine remains one of the most beloved, and greatest, long distance runners America has ever known. The diminutive runner from Coos Bay, Oregon at one point held every American track & field record from the 2,000 to the 10,000 meters. Pre was a notorious "front runner" who thought races more like art work "...that people can look at and be affected in as many ways as they're capable of understanding." Though he didn't win every race he ever entered, he made sure that the others had earned their medal.

"A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more. Nobody is going to win a 5,000 meter race after running an easy 2 miles. Not with me. If I lose forcing the pace all the way, well, at least I can live with myself."

Channeling the Mentality?

Every single time I have had the opportunity to correspond with our friend, Liz Hatch (Vanderkitten) or see a race photo of her at the head of the race, I always have a grin on my face thinking that Liz is somehow channeling Pre's personality. Take for instance her last race at Patterson Pass, Liz's response to blowing up on the final time going up the pass, "I just HATE sitting in the pack. and you never know... sometimes it works out. I'd rather die trying than sit in."


This may seem blasphemous to the running community but with Liz's mentality accompanied with her unbridled potential, her accomplishments may just one day rival Pre's; Liz "Pre" Hatch?

Go PRE!!!

"We're talking 'bout practice..."

Unfortunately, Allen Iverson (formerly of the Philadelphia 76ers) never fully comprehended the true message of his former coach, Larry Brown. As cyclists, we all know too well how valuable practice and training can be not only to our own ambitions, but also to our welfare and the welfare of those around us in the pack.

If you ever wondered what it's like on the track during practice, one of the coaches, Ed Gostin (Wolverine Sports Club), out at the Mike Walden Velodrome (Rochester Hills, MI) shot this great video with a handlebar mounted camera.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Not Another Hockey Item...

...On a Cycling Blog?
I should have left this one for T-o-03, as he could probably throw his vast knowledge of the subject around from his many years of covering the frozen chunk of rubber.

I have followed the Beanpot, a collegiate hockey tournament of the four major hockey schools (Boston University, Boston College, Harvard, and Northeastern) in Boston, MA, in the past but without much rooting interest.

Well that all changed with my recent acceptance into Boston University [definitely known more for their hockey team than their cycling team, which competes in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference or ECCC].

So now I can say "Go Terriers," with some pride rather than for sheer amusement.

Drama Kings

Cycling is a beautiful sport on the road, but recently the real drama has been held in the laboratories, the press rooms, and sometimes the court rooms.

With reports that 2007 Tour de France champion, Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel; photo: Agence France Presse), will be releasing a statement in response to doping accusations from German anti-doping activists Werner Franke [without answering any questions afterwards mind you], there has been more suspense, intrigue, and hand wringing than during the final Tour ITT.

The manner in which Contador approached the accusations was Lance-like, in control and cut-and-dry. And that's exactly what we got from his statement, nothing more:
"I won the Tour with clean means. I do not understand the attacks against me from people that don't even know me. I never doped and never participated in any doping scandal."
Contador has never tested positive for any performance enhancements, but neither did a hand full of riders, Ivan Basso and Michael Rasmussen included. Is this just another case of deny, deny, deny? Or is he truly believable? Is there still room for giving riders the benefit of the doubt?

Whether you believe in Contador's accomplishments at this moment or not, the way people are digging around for proof of guilt it won't be long before he's confirmed or implicated.

But the real drama was with the man sitting next to him, Johan Bruyneel. Although he was at Contador's side for support and translation, he could have easily swept away all of our thoughts about doping.

According to the LA Times and confirmed by Tailwind Sports, American cycling will indeed take a step backwards [hopefully to take two steps forward in the future], as Discovery Channel Professional Cycling has failed to produce a sponsor for next year and beyond.

The European peloton will be without an American team for the first time in two decades; when Team 7-Eleven first touched down on the Charles de Gaulle tarmac. Yes, the news of Team Slipstream does take away a bit of the sting from the announcement, but as a Professional Continental team, they are not secured a spot in any of the top European races. If organizers choose, Slipstream could meet a similar fate [albeit by different circumstance] as Unibet.com, who despite being a Pro Tour team was excluded from all the major races. Will that happen? Most likely not, but with what's transpired over the past year in cycling, its anyone's bet.

The Discovery disbandment also means that a Pro Tour license will be available. If they choose to, Slipstream has the opportunity to buy into the Pro Tour this year rather than wait till 2009 as planned. But according to Jonathan Vaughters, who had been advised several times to build a team up slowly, engaging in the Pro Tour may be too daunting a task at present.
"The ProTour requires that teams race the Giro, the Tour and the Vuelta -and that's a huge undertaking."
For Discovery Channel, the team once partly owned by Lance Armstrong, it marks the end of an amazing run. The Big Blue Train was arguably, the greatest cycling team of all time [where's a young Muhammed Ali when you need him?]. In fact, who could reasonably argue with their overall palmares?


So what happens next?
George Hincapie
seems poised to tackle the cobbles in pink with a T-Mobile signing imminent. As for the rest, look at the prominent names suddenly available for the pickings:

Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer, Stijn Devolder, Yaroslav Popovych, Vladimir Gusev, Benjamin Noval, Volodymyr Bileka, Tom Danielson, Jani Brajkovic, Chechu Rubiera, Pavel Padrnos, Egoi Martinez, and Tomas Vaitkus.

Also suddenly on the waiver wire:
Special Photography Contributors - Graham Watson & Liz Kreutz
Director Sportifs - Johan Bruyneel, Dirk Demol, Sean Yates

Armstrong's reaction to the end of the era:

"I do not think you have seen the last of this organization in the sport,but clearly things need to improve on many levels, with a more unified front, before you would see us venture back into cycling."

On Tap...

In this week's edition, the track is featured heavily as both the Ed Rudolph and T-Town will be boiling over holding several State Championships in various track disciplines.

For those in the Chicagoland area, the NRC makes its way into the Midwest with the Alexian Brothers International Cycling Classic Tour of Elk Grove. How's that for a mouthful? Many of the top continental professionals will be in the area for the two day event. Spectators and riders alike will be treated to the debut of the blue rainbow colored jersey of the current "B" World Champion, Toyota-United's Ivan Stevic.

Elk Grove was the first crit that I participated in so it holds a special place in my heart, and in my legs. I can still feel the pain from the fast pace and technical course. It was also my first DNF as I was blown out the back instantly. Needless to say, I learned many lessons about proper positioning in the field and even at the line.

As always, check into Truesport.com for results and/or photos for any of the races listed below.


08/10/2007
Festival of Speed
Trexlertown, PA

08/11/2007
The Chesapeake Criterium
Chesapeake, VA
Arizona State Track Championships
San Diego, CA
Tour of Elk Grove
Elk Grove Village, IL
BTR Bicycle Race
Kalamazoo, MI
Patterson Pass Road Race
Tracy, CA
Tour de Christiana
Lancaster, PA

08/12/2007
The Smith Dairy Milk Race
Orrville, OH
Esparto Time Trial
Esparto, CA
San Luis Obispo Criterium
San Luis Obispo, CA
Hines Park Time Trial
Westland, MI
Southbay Wheelmen DR Time Trial
Palos Verdes, CA
Atlantic Regional Masters Track Time Trial Championship

Trexlertown, PA

08/13/2007
IL State Velodrome Kilo Championships
Northbrook, IL

08/14/2007
thevelvdrome.com ISGP #2
Trexlertown, PA

08/16/2007
IL. State Velodrome Points Race Championships
Northbrook, IL

Alternatives?
I would like to provide you, the reader, with some alternatives to these competitive events or in case the weather is less than desirable, but I am actually going to refrain. The calendar has flipped over to August, and this month is for riding. So go out and ride!

Friday, August 31, 2007

On Tap...

Laboring Day
When I was a child, Labor Day was always one of those holidays I never quite understood. Beside the fact that I would always get it confused with Memorial Day [which is in the Spring, or is it the Fall], it never made much sense to me since my parents always had to work on the day that was originally intended to give laborers time off.

In any event, for those racing this weekend I hope that it ends up being more fun, than labor.

The major event on the calendar this weekend is the USPRO National Road and Time Trial Championships in Greenville, SC. Both defending champions, George Hincapie and David Zabriskie, respectively, will be there to defend their jerseys. Hincapie could be considered a decided favorite to retain the Stars & Stripes on the road, considering he lives and trains in the area. But, there are a bevy of serious contenders in both disciplines.

Hincapie may see his major competition come from his current Discovery Channel teammate Levi Leipheimer, who many believe provided a helping hand in Hincapie's victory last year. Others in the mix are Christian Vande Velde, Zabriskie (CSC), Danny Pate (Slipstream/Chipotle), and Chris Wherry (Toyota-United).

In the ITT, Zabriskie will be challenged by the likes of last year's runner-up Chris Baldwin (Toyota-United), Mike Friedman and Danny Pate (Slipstream/Chipotle), Bobby Julich (CSC) and Ben Jacques-Maynes (Priority Health).

Baldwin Fueling Up With His Ride in the Foreground
(Image: Sean Weide)


According to the Crankset's USPRO Championship "Insider," Sean Weide (Communications Director for Toyota-United), the real wild card for both events will be Slipstream/Chipotle and Team 5280 who will definitely be banking on their strength in numbers. Toyota-United on the other hand is banking on a solid hand of four featuring Wherry, Baldwin, Justin England and Burke Swindlehurst.

Also this great tidbit from Sean, Tyler Hamilton (formerly of Tinkoff Credit Systems) will be following Michael Rasmussen into the world of racing in a non-descript jersey. The former Olympic Time Trial Champion will most likely compete in the ITT, but it remains to be seen whether he will be competitive in either race given his long absence from top competition.

But perhaps the most compelling story to follow this weekend in Greenville will be the return of Saul Raisin (Credit Agricole). Our friend of the blog, author of Tour de Life: From Coma to Competition, Dave Shields, believes that "no matter how [Saul] finishes, it will be an inspirational victory...but could you imagine how amazing a top result would be?"

From the press conference, Saul likewise seemed amazed at his very presence at the championships after recovering from a crash that saw him lapse into a coma. From Sean Weide,
"It’s already a dream come true just to live a normal life. When I came here last year to watch the race, it was my first organized group ride. It hit me yesterday when I got here and thought, I’m racing in two days.”
Saturday, Sept. 1 | 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
USA Cycling Professional Individual Time Trial Championship presented by The Cliffs
18.7 miles (30.1 km) time trial from The Cliffs at Mountain Park to The Cliffs Valley soccer fields.

Sunday, Sept. 2 | 1-5 p.m.
USA Cycling Professional Road Race Championship
110 miles (177 km) in Downtown Greenville
(Three start circuits of 3.76 miles (6.1 km) each, followed by four full laps of 21.85 miles (35.2 km) each and three finishing circuits of 3.76 miles (6.1 km) each. Start and finish circuits are the same. The full laps include the climb up Paris Mountain.

Other races going on this weekend in select regions in the country:

08/27/2007 to 08/31/2007
2007 USA Cycling Masters Track National Championship
Trexlertown, PA

09/01/2007
Skull Valley Time Trial
Tooele, UT
Long St. Tour/Ohio State Criterium Championship
Columbus, OH
State Time Trial Championship
Harvard, IL
LARPD Cyclocross Race Series
Livermore, CA
Challenge Challenge 2nd Annual
Challenge, CA
John Fitzpatrick and Dave Staub Memorial Far West
Encino, CA

09/03/2007
Giro Di San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
Team 02/Cadiex Bicycle Race
Auburn Hills, MI
PA State Time Trial Championship
Harrisburg, PA

For results/photos of any of the above, click through to Truesport.com


Vuelta All The Time
If the organizers of the Vuelta a Espana are feeling like Jan Brady [the middle child] at the moment, who can blame them. As the last of the three Grand Tours on the calendar, its the one that has to jump up and down or act out to get any attention. Its not that the racing or the parcours are inferior, but it often goes unnoticed due to horrible scheduling.

Run in the late spring, the Giro d'Italia is like Cindy Brady [the youngest child]. Although distinctly different, the Giro gets attention simply for being a prelude to the Tour [Marcia Brady, the eldest]. The Giro's beautiful scenery and racing may turn out to be as stunning as the Tour, but her cute appearance merits a pinch on the cheek rather than swooning over.

The Tour is well, the Tour. Its the race that other races what to be and all riders want to win over [unfortunately with some going to extreme measures to impress].

The Vuelta...its not even being shown on the Versus channel [Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!!!]

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Definitely Thater Than Sooner

With Mark Hekman (A & F Pro Development) on the shelf for the season, Frank Travieso and Yosvany Falcon (AEG - Toshiba Jet Network) looked to inherit the overall lead in the USA Crit series with a good showing at the Chris Thater Memorial Criterium in Binghamton, NY this past weekend. Neither slammed their fist on the table with any authority in an effort to claim the top prize, finishing 10th and 18th, respectively, but then again they didn't really need to.

The same protective attitude seemed to pervade the rest of the field, as Health Net presented by Maxxis, looked to maintain their NRC lead in the team category over Toyota-United. With only two other teammates in the field, Health Net's Karl Menzies described their dilemma to Cyclingnews' Kirsten Robbins.
"The problem was the NRC for us, the team title. Our only objective today was to make sure we stayed ahead in the NRC standings. We didn't care about who was up the road as long as we stayed glued to Toyota to keep close in the points standings. We didn't win but we took third and fifth in the race points gaining more points total than their second place [Ivan Dominguez] today. It's a s**t way to race but that's what we came here to do."
Taking the victory was Kyle Wamsley (Navigators) whose relentless attacking paid off.

Men's Podium:
1 Kyle Wamsley (Navigators Insurance)
2 Ivan Dominguez (Toyota-United)
3 Karl Menzies (Health Net)

On the women's side, Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Verducci Breakaway; and formerly of Wolverine Sports Club) claimed the victory ahead of Kelly Benjamin (Cheerwine) and Erica Allar (Penn-State) in a unusually small field for an NRC race.

USA Crit series points leader, Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine), maintained her position coming in fourth.

Armada Unveiled

Jonathan Vaughters and Slipstream/Chipotle are set to unveil their 2008 line up tomorrow, Friday, August 31st.

I'm not quite sure if they will also give us a preview of the new bolder colored kits [how much bolder can you get than powder blue and orange argyle?], or if this means that Vaughters is done signing riders for the upcoming season?

In any event, a live Web cast will be available on www.slipstreamsports.com at 2:30pm, EST.

Where's Waldo?

Kurt-Asle Arvesen cycling onto the Trafalgar Square stage.
(photo by Steve Klein)


You could call it my "Where's Waldo?" moment.
Find me if you can. But there I am, on page 13 (a lucky number among Scandanavians, which I am among in the picture) of the latest issue (September) of Cycle Sport America magazine.

I was one of the 35,000-or-so cycling fans who crowded London's Trafalgar Square on July 6 for the Opening Ceremonies of the Tour de France. I had the good fortune to settle in along the far-right stage fence with Knut-Walther Baldersheim, a Norwegian restaurant-bar owner, and his family.

In the Cycle Sport two-page photo spread, you can see the banner of Kurt-Asle Arvesen the family is holding over the fence. The Baldersheims are big supporters of their fellow Norwegian and CSC team member, for whom Knut-Walther does the English translation of the cyclist's website.

I don't have a copy of the Reuters photo to share on the blog, but I do have this photo (above) of Arvesen giving a thumbs up to his friends as he cycled onto the stage with his CSC teammates.

Arvesen finished 67th in the Tour, by the way, 2:24:36 behind Alberto Contador.

Knut-Walther (right) and his son holding their Arvesen banner.
(photo by Steve Klein)

The Baldersheim family sans Knut-Walther (photo by Steve Klein).

And the Winner Is ...

So, who really won the Tour de France? The Onion knows.


"While Kvistik's achievement is being celebrated by cycling insiders, critics of the Tour de France maintain that not enough is being done to combat the use of performance-enhancing substances in cycling's premier event.

"Nonsense—pure nonsense," said Tour general director Christian Prudhomme, who was vacationing in Switzerland as Kvistik crossed the finish line. "We have done everything we could imagine, both in terms of prize money and other incentives, to promote riders who compete without pharmaceutical aid. But we simply do not have the resources, nor the viewers the interest, to televise the entire two months it takes for a normal, unadulterated human to circumnavigate an entire nation on a bicycle.""

Vuelta Time

Remember the good old days when Versus (then OLN) used to cover the entire Vuelta a España? Now, you can't even find weekend coverage on television.

The options? CyclingTV online (sign up here).

The 62nd Vuelta begins Saturday in Vigo (Pontevedra, Galicia). Iker Rioja of the Cyclingnews has a short-and-sweet analysis of the teams that will race over the next three weeks to the race's conclusion in Madrid.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Teflon Lance



As the cycling world finds itself reeling from yet another year of disappointment, overall shady behavior and teams losing sponsors only a hair faster than a president can lose his cabinet, the "king" rises above it all yet again. And I say this with all sincerity.

If you haven't yet heard, LA has hosted the LIVESTRONG Presidental Forum on MSNBC over the last two days. Leading up to these events, LA has promoted the LIVESTRONG message and reminded us that in fact 1500 Americans die every day from the wretched disease. He also reminds us that a paltry $6B is spent by the US Government each year to research America's 2nd killer. Considering the same entity has shipped $12B in cold cash to Iraq since the war began and can only account for $8B, Lance may be on to something here. He's quick to tell us that the best researchers are leaving the US to work aboard because all the programs are getting cut and morale is very low in the cancer research industry.

As I've listened and watched LA over the last several days, I simply cannot hold against him the shortcomings of the sport. He is a leader in every way and is, without question, on this earth for a purpose. His approach to this issue is timely, logical and he challenges each candidate in a respectful yet accountable way. All while claiming himself to be "apolitical". We'll see how long that lasts. To his credit and point, "cancer crosses the aisle."

All of LA's interview's including Tim Russert and the Forums can be found at MSNBC.

Regardless of the dark cloud that looms over our sport, LA, as always, transcends it all. And like always, most of us are indeed pulling for him.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Brokeback Bicycle?


At this same time last year, there were reports that Jake Gyllenhaal was set to portray Lance Armstrong in an Armstrong biopic. Now it seems that Jake may actually be reprising his role in Brokeback Mountain, in real life. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Friday, August 24, 2007

You Might Be A Roadie...

Not exactly in the realm of Jeff Foxworthy, but this was sent to me by one of the members of the Wolverine Sports Club. If you fit the description, you might just be a tried-and-true roadie.

Road cyclists are the biggest sandbaggers and secret trainers around. They'll say anything to soften you up for the kill. Don't let this happen to you.

Study this handy rider's phrasebook to find out what they really mean when they say:

"I'm out of shape."
Translation: I ride 400 miles a week and haven't missed a day since the Ford administration. I replace my 11-tooth cog more often than you wash your shorts. My body fat percentage is lower than your mortgage rate.

"I'm not into competition. I'm just riding to stay in shape."
Translation: I will attack until you collapse in the gutter, babbling and whimpering. I will win the line sprint if I have to force you into oncoming traffic. I will crest this hill first if I have to grab your seat post and spray energy drink in your eyes.

"I'm on my beater bike."
Translation: I had this baby custom-made in Tuscany using titanium blessed by the Pope. I took it to a wind tunnel and it disappeared. It weighs less than a fart and costs more than a divorce.

"It's not that hilly."
Translation: This climb lasts longer than a presidential campaign. Be careful on the steep sections or you'll fall over backward. You have a 39x23 low gear? Here's the name of my knee surgeon.

"You're doing great, honey."
Translation: Yo, lard azz, I'd like to get home before midnight. This is what you get for spending the winter decorating and eating chocolate. I should have married that cute Cat 1 racer when I had the chance. (I think I've actually heard this one before?)

"This is a no-drop ride."
Translation: I'll need an article of your clothing for the search and rescue dogs.

"It's not that far."
Translation: Bring your passport.

On Tap...

The last weekend in August [yes, next Saturday is September 1st], brings one of the final three races on the US Cycling National Racing Calendar and my former team's criterium.

The elite professionals will be in Binghamton, NY this weekend to participate in the NRC and US Crit Series race, the Chris Thater Memorial. From the events website:

"The Chris Thater Memorial was named in honor of a young man whose life was tragically cut short by a drunk driver. With a core mission of promoting a STOP-DWI and healthy lifestyle message, the Chris Thater Memorial makes everyone a winner."

This race will mark the official debut of Ivan Stevic's (Toyota-United) blue and rainbow colored "B" World Championship jersey in the American peloton. Stevic has been nursing a bum knee in recent weeks. From the Toyota-United press release, Stevic seems ready to give it a go although his form is obviously lacking from the lay-off.

“I’m happy to finally get back out there and do a race,” Stevic said. “My form is not that great. Still, I want to be there to help the guys.”

For the US Crit Series, this will be the final race before the World Criterium Championships in Las Vegas, NV during Interbike week. After seven races, the standings are as follows:

Men:
Mark Hekman (A&F Pro Development Cycling) - 1352 pts
Frank Travieso (AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork) - 1206
Yosvany Falcon (AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork) - 1170

Women:
Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine) - 1390 pts.
Shontelle Gauthier (Team Ultralink) - 874
Kelly Benjamin (Cheerwine) - 862

Unfortunately, current points leader, Mark Hekman, found out yesterday that the injuries that he sustained in a crash at the rain filled USPRO National Criterium Championships last weekend were more severe than initially thought. He has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a broken heel. File that news under "S" for SUCKS.


One of the requirements for a US Cycling team/club is to host an event. For xXx Racing - Athletico that event is the Sherman Park Criterium. Sherman Park was one of ten revolutionary Chicago parks which opened to the public in 1905. Located at W. 52nd and Racine, Sherman Park was one of the city's largest parks at 60 acres. It is named after John B. Sherman (1825- 1902) who founded Chicago's Union Stock Yards and served as a member of the South Park Commission for 25 years.

08/24/2007
Red Robin's Madison Cup
Trexlertown, PA

08/25/2007
Sherman Park Criterium
Chicago, IL
Alaric Gayfer Junior Criterium Championship
Trexlertown, PA
High Rock Lake Road Race
Salisbury, NC
San Ardo Road Race
San Ardo, CA
Warsaw Downtown Classic
Warsaw, IN
Valley City Street Fair Road Race
Valley City, OH
Advantage Benefits Rockford Criterium
Rockford, MI
Worlds Collide CX
Heber City, UT
Sanpete Road Race
Spring City, UT
Chiropractic Partners Criterium
Brookfield, WI

08/26/2007
Chris Thater Memorial
Binghamton, NY
Summer End GP-11th Annual
Ontario, CA
Glencoe Grand Prix
Glencoe, IL
2007 Skull Valley Road Race
Skull Valley, AZ
University Road Race
Santa Cruz, CA

08/27/2007
IL. State Velo Sprint & Team Sprint Championship
Northbrook, IL

For results and photos of the listed races, click through to Truesport.com.


On the Conti
With the Tour of Ireland all but wrapped up, all the focus will be on the Eneco Tour of Benelux. To date, Cofidis is ruling the roost. Dutchman, Michiel Elijzen won the Prologue while Belgian Nick Nuyens took Stage 1.

Overall Standings After Stage 1
1 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone 4.48.39
2 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 0.10
3 José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 0.17
4 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval - Prodir 0.19
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Predictor - Lotto 0.25
6 Leif Hoste (Bel) Predictor - Lotto 0.37
7 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance 0.38
8 Leon Van Bon (Ned) Rabobank 0.44
9 Bram Tankink (Ned) Quickstep - Innergetic 0.49
10 Paul Martens (Ger) Skil - Shimano

With six more stages, concluding with a final ITT, its still anyone's race. If the current overall stays this way through the weekend, David Millar may have another victory to follow up his British National Road Race Championship earlier this month.

Swim, Bike, Run
For my tri-compadres, the Accenture Chicago Triathlon is this weekend. Like the Chicago Marathon, this event has really taken off over the years. If you've ever wondered what doing a triathlon in a big city is all about, be sure to check out the action along the beautiful Lake Michigan lakefront. You may even be in for an Oude Granny sighting.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Breakaway

How do you judge a successful break? When it helps you to win the day? When it helps to put time into your competitors? How about when it wins you a 5 Stage road race?

This may be the circumstance at the Inaugural [I guess 15 years is a sufficient amount of time between races to consider the next the first] Tour of Ireland.

During Stage 1 from Kilkenny to Cork, a group of nine escaped early on. The remainder of the peloton was content to just sit in and lost over 13 minutes to eventual winner, Belgian Stijn Vandenbergh (Unibet.com). Vandenbergh's late attack may have won him the day, but his breakaway compatriots had to be all smiles as well.

Image: Stephen McMahon

With such a short stage race, one that doesn't feature any other road disciplines like a time trial, the winner should surely come from one of these nine. Stage 2, which featured 5 categorized climbs was won by CSC's Matti Breschel, but he still sits 13:15 back!

On the likelihood of his winning the Tour of Ireland, Vandenberg had this to say to Velonews' Andrew Hood:
"These were the two hardest stages, so now I am more confident I can make it to Dublin," Vandenbergh said. "My legs actually felt better today than they did on Wednesday. I'm feeling good about my chances."

No pints until Dublin, though Vandenbergh admitted he did treat himself to one glass of the "black stuff" after his win in Cork.

"If I make it to Dublin in the yellow jersey, I will drink a few Guinness to celebrate," he said.
A wee nip of the mother's milk? Guinness for strength, laddie. BRILLIANT!

Not Quite the Haka, But...

It may be a little late in the game, but there's still time to check out The Flight of Conchords on HBO. The show incorporates the folk musical comedy of New Zealanders, Bret McKenzie and Jermaine Clement into a sit-com that follows the "trials and tribulations of a two man, digi-folk band as they try to make a name for themselves in their adopted home of New York City."


Below, the pair protest the fact that there's too many "mutha uckers" as they cruise around the city on their "shitty bikes."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Medical News: Smith & Nephew Recall

I ran across this item from Reuters in an online medical journal:

"LONDON (Aug 16) - Smith & Nephew has recalled 185 hip implants due to a packaging error by a subcontractor, it said on Thursday.

The British firm said different sizes of a part of its Birmingham Hip Resurfacing System had been mixed up during the packaging process.

A spokesman said that two patients were found to have been implanted with the wrong-sized device but that some other cases may come to light during the recall process.

The Birmingham hip was the first of a new kind of less-invasive hip implant to be approved by U.S. regulators, and Smith & Nephew said earlier this month that demand for the device had exceeded its expectations.

"All hospitals and surgeons who have received these implants have either been notified or are in the process of being notified," S&N said in a statement. "A number of implants have already been recovered in their packaging."

It said the devices were distributed to a number of countries including Britain and the United States and that it had notified both the UK Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of the voluntary recall.

"Distribution of the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing product continues as normal and is meeting demand," it added."

How is this relevant to cycling?

The BHR is the implant that was used to treat Floyd Landis' condition (inset, flying the Smith & Nephew colors at Leadville; Photo: Jeff Cricco/Rodale). I doubt that his was one of the affected implants as the pounding of the Leadville 100 surely would have revealed any discrepencies [plus, Dr. Kay seems happy with the results].

But, for the former Tour de France champion, who seems rather in and out these days awaiting his cycling fate, let's hope that the above doesn't pertain to his case.

[And yes, that's Floyd, far left, on the TC banner. Taken during the 2003 TDF.]

What the Benelux?

The 3rd Eneco Tour of Benelux (formerly the Benelux Tour) begins today as well. The 8 stage tour across Belgium and the Netherlands is on the Pro Tour calendar and therefore features most of the prominent teams.

Only in its third year, the race already has a fairly decent following. The fact that this race crosses two cycling mad countries has certainly contributed to its immediate success, but it is also due to the fact that this fledgling race has already been marred by a bit of controversy.

The 2006 edition featured a crash during the final stage that saw leader George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) taken out by Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) in the finale (Photo: AFP). The latter eventually won the overall as a result of Hincapie being on the pavement. Officials determined that the crash was coincidental, which left Discovery and Hincapie shaking their collective heads. Neither, however, is scheduled to participate in this year's race.

Stages
Prologue August 22 Hasselt (Bel) ITT (5.1km)
Stage 1 August 23 Waremme (Bel) - Eupen (Bel) (189.5km)
Stage 2 August 24 Anvers (Bel) - Knokke-Heist (Bel) (199.1km)
Stage 3 August 25 Knokke-Heist (Bel) - Putte (Bel) (170.8km)
Stage 4 August 26 Maldegem (Bel) - Terneuzen (Ned) (182.7km)
Stage 5 August 27 Terneuzen (Ned) - Nieuwegein (Ned) (179.9km)
Stage 6 August 28 Beek (Ned) - Landgraaf (Ned) (177.4km)
Stage 7 August 29 Sittard (Ned) - Geleen (Ned) ITT (29.6km)

Rolling on the Emerald Isle

After a 15 year hiatus, the 5 stage Tour of Ireland that we previewed back in May, kicks off today. The start list features 3 American teams, Navigators Insurance, Colvita - Sutter Homes presented by Cooking Light, and Slipstream/Chipotle [the first two each having an Irish lad], and three Pro Tour teams, CSC, Unibet.com, and T-Mobile.

Irish Legend Sean Kelly & Irish model Jenny Lee Masterson
(Photo: Gerry McManus/www.gerrymcmanus.co.uk)

The team to beat [on paper] looks to be Team CSC, which boast a strong contingent and is headlined by the Brothers Schleck, Frank and Andy. Unibet.com and T-Mobile will most likely be led by their respective sprinters, Baden Cooke and Bernhard Eisel. Another notable on the start list is Belgian Cyclocross superstar, Sven Nys who will be riding for Rabobank Continental.


Stage 1 - August 22: Kilkenny - Cork (St. Patrick's Hill), 160 km
Stage 2 - August 23: Clonakilty - Killarney, 167 km
Stage 3 - August 24: Tralee - Ennis, 190 km
Stage 4 - August 25: Galway - Galway, 212 km
Stage 5 - August 26: Athlone - Dublin, 135 km

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Residue

The folks over at UrbanVelo got me reading some of Roger Lootine's Residue Comics, which he describes as being "like a coffee enema."

The poster [click to enlarge] below perhaps exemplifies the true nature of the car versus bike debate, one which our own 53rd Tooth was pulled (or rather, slammed) into. His actual Jersey Girl court hearing was last week, and full details are forthcoming.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Alpe D'Huez 2001



Feeling nostalgic and missing the "innocent" days.

If you're not in Zone 3 just watching and listening to this, you're not a cyclist.

Ground Control to Major Tom...

I'm kind of a techie guy, then again aren't most men (boys and their toys, and all). But in regard to the smoldering debate of using race radios, the pendulum has definitely swung the other way for me. I once thought this simple technological implementation was great. Ongoing race communication allowed teammates to better function as a whole, and it seemed to level the playing field for most riders as the strongest could easily thwart any attacks.

But now I've come to realize that some riders [and teams] have become overly dependent on using race radios and most have lost their racing instincts that perhaps helped them get to their current level. It's also made most breakaways nearly impossible to succeed.

MORE: 2002 Cyclingnews article on the debate

Enter wireless technology into the game. My only questions are: Will the riders be able to pick up phone calls or satellite radio with those things? When will the iHelmet be coming out?

Brad Huff (Slipstream/Chipotle)
(Photo: Kurt Jambretz/www.actionimages.cc)


And, the time trialing version on Paolo Bettini (Photo: Bjorn Haake)


Down[pour]-ers Grove

One of the unfortunate circumstances of sports is that the women's events are not viewed in the same regard as the men's. We've heard it all before, women aren't as athletic, aren't as strong, or aren't as fast. As such, most of the women's events are viewed with less interest and are often held as a precursor to the main attraction, the men.

But looking at what the riders, especially the women, had to endure this weekend at the USPRO National Criterium Championships in Downers Grove, IL, you can definitely take "aren't as tough" off the list [if you haven't done so already].

On Saturday, the 18th, a deluge of rain made for some precarious conditions during the Women's Pro 1/2/3 International Challenge. Coming through it all was Tibco's Brooke Miller (Photo: Kurt Jambretz).

By the time the men came out to race, the rain had subsided but it was still a soggy affair. The conditions turned many of the big names into spectators, as they chose to save themselves for Sunday's National Championship races.

The Men's Pro 1/2 International Challenge was won by BMC's Kelly Hanson who beat Dominque Rollin (Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada) and Darren Lill (Navigators) to the line.

The rains continued on Sunday for the National Championship races. Navigating the wet roads during the Women's race was the venerable Tina Pic (Colavita/Sutter Homes), who had to feel a bit of vindication after last year's finale which saw her pull the endo of all endos (at least ones that I've seen captured on film) when Laura Van Gilder's foot got caught up in Pic's front wheel (see inset, click to enlarge).

The 50km Men's race was won by Daniel Holloway (VMG Racing),

All Holloway
(Photo: Kurt Jambretz/www.actionimages.cc)


while the 100km race was won by Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast's Martin Gilbert. The Canadian (center) barely pipped Ada, MI's own Kirk O'Bee (Health-Net presented by Maxxis) at the line.

Photo: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us

The Stars & Stripes jersey, however, went to O'Bee (Photo: Casey B. Gibson). In an interview with Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski, O'Bee admitted to being a bit disappointed coming by the jersey for the second time under similar circumstances.

"I was upset I lost the race overall and it overshadowed winning the jersey. I wanted to improve upon the last time. It was Harm Jansen last time - he attacked with a couple to go and there were a lot of Americans in the break and we all looked at each other. It almost worked out this time."

For the former USPRO National Criterium Champion and Forest Hills Central High School product, it's been a long way back. In 2002, O'Bee was suspended for 1 year after he tested positive for a high testosterone-epitestosterone level (haven't we heard that somewhere before). Winning the Stars and Stripes is certainly the culmination of a great season; one which saw O'Bee return to the podium in several races and once again living up to the promising status he once held while racing for Navigators Insurance.

Friday, August 17, 2007

On Tap...

Unbelievably, its mid-August. The road and track seasons are coming to an end and cross events will soon be filling up the racing calendar. But not just yet. If you've been thinking about trying your hand in racing there is still some time to whet your appetite and plant the racing bug into your system for cross season or for next year. Below is a list of races in specific areas of the country.

If you've come by the site to look for results or photos of any of the races listed, click through to Truesport.com.


The featured race on the calendar this weekend is the USPRO National Criterium Championship in the western Chicago suburb of Downers Grove, IL. The race features a figure eight course with an infamous finale that is ingrained into American cycling tradition. The race usually comes down to who can first reach [and survive] the final turn, as it sits only 150m from the line.

Ivan Domniguez (Toyota-United) has to be considered one of the favorites coming off easy victories at Hanes Park and Elk Grove. But this race hasn't been particularly kind to Domniguez in the past. As such, the race shapes up to be wide open.

For the women, look for the usual suspects in Tina Pic (Colavita-Sutter Homes) and Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine).

If you're in the Millersburg, PA area for the Tour de Millersburg, make sure to look for the special Master of Ceremonies, Bob "Bobke" Roll.

08/17/2007
Air Products Finals
Trexlertown, PA

08/18/2007
USCF Criterium Championships
Downers Grove, IL
Wine Country Classic
North East, PA
Tour de Millersburg
Millersurg, PA
Encino Velodrome Championships
Encino, CA
Dunnigan Hills Road Race
Yolo, CA
Carlisle Grand Prix
Newville, PA
Tour de Gap
Brian Head, UT
Carolina State Track Champ & 2007 Velo Champ
Ashville, NC

08/19/2007
Mt Lemmon Time Trial
Tucson, AZ
Suisun Harbor Bicycle Races
Suisun City, CA

08/20/2007
IL. State Velodrome Pursuit & TT Championship
Northbrook, IL

Tubing
As mentioned previously, the Versus [check your local cable listings] channel will be airing highlights of the Nature Valley Grand Prix stage race this Sunday the 19th with a replay on the 21st. The race took place in June with the overall titles going to Ivan Stevic (Toyota-United) and Kristin Armstrong (TEAm Lipton). However, depending on the highlights that are aired, we may all be in for a treat as this may be the first opportunity for many to see the precocious talents of Mara Abbott (Webcor Builders).

Ready or Not...

Here It Comes [and Goes]
Whether the good folks in Missouri are ready or not, the full glare of American cycling will be focused on the inaugural Tour of Missouri.

What looked a couple of weeks ago to simply be a stage race joining the elite ranks of the Tour of California and Tour de Georgia will now serve as an American send-off for Discovery Channel Professional Cycling [and the American riders on its roster who will certainly be employed elsewhere after the season].

Discovery will feature an all-star cast headlined by Tour de France champion, Alberto Contador, and third place finisher Levi Leipheimer. Also of note will be George Hincapie, Yaroslav Popovych, and Antonio Cruz. It will also be one of Director Sportif, Johan Bruyneel's final races, as he has previously announced his retirement.

The race begins on September 11th and runs until the 16th.


EVENT SCHEDULE
Tuesday, September 11 – Kansas City to Kansas City
road race (85 mi / 137 km); START: 1 PM EST FINISH: 4:30 PM
Wednesday, September 12 – Clinton to Springfield
road race (125.6 mi / 202 km); START: 11 AM EST FINISH: 3:30 PM
Thursday, September 13 – Branson
ITT (18 mi / 29 km); START: 11 AM EST FINISH: 1:55 PM
Friday, September 14 – Lebanon to Columbia
road race (133 mi / 214 km); START: 10:30 AM EST FINISH: 3:25 PM
Saturday, September 15 – Jefferson City to St. Charles
road race (126.6 mi / 204km); START: 11:30 AM EST FINISH: 3:40 PM
Sunday, September 16 – St. Louis
circuit race (74 mi / 119 km); START: 1 PM EST FINISH: 3:40 PM

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Better Late Than Never?

If you’re a “fanboy” or “fangirl” of all things cycling then you’ve probably come across one or all of the items below. In the eventuality that you haven’t, then permit me to take you on a wild ride.

Elkish Cash-terium
I didn’t coin the term, but it certainly suffices for the seemingly disproportionate amounts of prize money being given away for some criteriums these days. It’s not an entirely new concept in sports, as appearance fees or prize money has been used to draw the prominent names to less than prominent events. Mind you, it doesn’t mean that any of these none too easily recognizable events aren’t great races, they just might fall outside a riders schedule or racing program.

In any event, one of our featured races this past weekend was the Alexian Brothers International Tour of Elk Grove, in of all places Elk Grove, Illinois. The two day event featured a stage race for the male participants, which consisted of an opening 4.5 mile prologue and then two criteriums. On the women’s side, there was a lone criterium held on Sunday the 12th.

The men’s races were to feature the debut of Ivan Stevic’s (Toyota-United) “B” World Championship Blue and Rainbow colored jersey, but he was a DNS due to some knee issues. The Toyota-United banner, however, was held up during the weekend by another Ivan, Dominguez in this case, as he made easy work of the field on Sunday.

Easy Rider Ivan Dominguez
(Photos: Kurt Jambretz/www.actionimages.cc)


The overall was taken by Australian Nathan O’Neill (Health-Net presented by Maxxis), who rode to victory in the Prologue and finished respectably in the subsequent crits. For his efforts, O’Neill garnered a whopping $31,000 [that is not a misprint]! Evidently, the victory made the 32 year old O’Neill a hot commodity, as he inked a contract earlier this week to ride for the second year American Continental Professional team, BMC. He joins Antonio Cruz (Discovery Channel) who also signed with BMC for the 2008 season.

The first and longer Saturday crit was won by Predictor-Lotto’s “Fast” Freddie Rodriguez who was led out perfectly by his teammate Chris Horner. As expected, neither seemed to be feeling any ill affects in their legs from their Tour participation.

Fast Freddy Center Stage
(Photo: Kurt Jambretz/www.actionimages.cc)

As for the women, it ended up being a very cheery afternoon as Cheerwine swept the podium. Catherine Cheatly cruised to victory, while Laura Van Gilder and Kelly Benjamin were the best of the bunch to take 2nd and 3rd place respectively.

Cheerwine's Podium: Van Gilder, Cheatly, Benjamin
(Photo: Kurt Jambretz/www.actionimages.cc)

Lance-less in Leadville
The on again, off again, on again, scheduled match up between Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis (Photo: UltraRob) in the Leadville 100 never materialized as Lance withdrew. Although race co-founder, Ken Chlouber held out every semblance of hope saying, "The deadline for us mortals was February, but for Lance it will be 30 seconds before the starting gun goes off. Actually, let's make that 10 seconds." If Lance shows up, he'll be in the front row right alongside Floyd Landis."

Of course, as news came out of Discovery’s folding before last weekend; Lance probably had more urgent matters to which to attend.

The race was won by 5 time winner, Dave Wiens who broke the 7 hour mark for the first time in Leadville history. A few minutes behind was Floyd [who probably could have pushed Wiens in the finale, if not for an early crash], who for all intents and purposes [thanks for the catch tbv] showcased his form for any team that might need his services. That is if he isn’t suspended in the foreseeable future.

Wrong Rectified
The following definitely falls under the main header of better late than never, but it really speaks to something that should have never been done at all.

If you haven’t been following the mini saga of British mountain biker, Jenny Copnall (Photo: Jenny Copnall), she was earlier excluded from the British roster of riders to compete in the World Championships being held on September 3rd through the 9th, in Scotland [on home soil no less].

Did British Cycling suddenly forget that the 4-time British national cross country champion was the country’s best placed rider in World Cup events for the past 5 years?

The indiscretions didn’t end with Copnall’s exclusion, however, as they chose not to include any of their elite women in the cross country events.

None to surprisingly, after a uproar from the UK mountain bike community, British Cycling has now updated their roster to include Copnall and several other cross country racers.

Seriously, what was British Cycling thinking to begin with? Had they all of a sudden reverted back to some type of “good ole boys” network mentality? Women, bikes, dirt…how will they ever make it through without getting their knickers in a bunch?

Cup of Sand
One of the more memorable dialogues from the Michael Douglas presidential movie, the aptly titled, The American President, was this exchange with Michael J. Fox’s character, Lewis, regarding leadership.

Lewis: …People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand.

President Andrew Shepherd: Lewis, we've had presidents who were beloved, who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty. They drink the sand because they don't know the difference.

Two months after its completion, the Versus channel has decided to air footage of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. The stage race held in Minneapolis from June 20th - 24th was won by Kristin Armstrong (TEAm Lipton) and Ivan Stevic (Toyota-United), respectively. For me, an ardent fan of cycling, this scheduled showing amounts to nothing more than the proverbially cup of sand. Was the racing great and entertaining? Sure. But, it happened so long ago, you could probably find the video out on DVD.

So as it goes, are you thirsty enough to view something Versus could have shown us in June or will you drink the Versus kool-aid because you don’t know the difference?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Crumbling Infrastructure

Having read all the accounts of Tailwind Sports' decision to fold up Discovery Channel and walk away from the European cycling table, I was frankly disappointed that the decision seemed to be so business-like, so cut and dry. Although Lance Armstrong and his partners made it a point to relay the difficulty with which they made their decision, it seemed as vacuous as one of Armstrong's looks while climbing in the Pyrenees.

The tradition, the sentimentality, the undevoted fan loyalty, and the responsibility to the riders Armstrong once battled with, wasn't enough to sway the decision in favor of staying in the game, despite the fact that "...it wasn't about sponsorship."

Rather, the decision hinged on the profitability of investing in a machine that is in need of fixing. "We couldn't in good conscience ask someone to spend the sort of money that it would require to sponsor the team in the current situation. It's not an environment conducive in our opinion to make an investment," said Bill Stapleton, general manager of Tailwind Sports.

But juxtaposed against the Unibet.com season long saga [which ended with Unibet folding today after being effectively sanctioned against racing any of the big races despite having paid for a Pro Tour license], the inability of governing bodies, race organizers, and an organization of team managers to agree on superflous matters, and the persistent battle to clean up the sport, it is difficult to argue against Tailwind's less than popular decision.

In the United States, civil engineers have long recognized the need to address the crumbling infrastructure of our cities. Perhaps Discovery Channel's departure can be likened to the Minneapolis Bridge collapse; the ultimate signal to cycling's governing bodies like the UCI, AIGCP, ASO, IPCT, etc., that the infrastructure is in dire need of fixing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

And So It Begins...

Although highly speculated, but not formally confirmed or announced, George Hincapie will not go down in the books as the first Discovery Channel rider to find a new employer [T-Mobile]. That distinction belongs to Antonio Cruz, who inked a new contract with American Continental Professional team BMC. Right on the heels of his signing was that of the precocious talent, Slovenian Jani Brajkovic who will ride with T-Mobile next year.

The movement of riders from the soon to be defunct Discovery Channel Professional Cycling team isn't quite on par or as dramatic as the fire sale that engulfed the Florida Marlins after their 1997 World Series victory [afterall, its not like the team won and then disappeared the next year], but for fans of American cycling its close.

The nationalistic pride that once accompanied following an American team in the European peloton is quickly being reduced to keeping tabs on individuals. Twenty years later American cycling is back to where it began.

The Asphalt Conundrum

From the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation:
"A 27-year-old bike messenger was reportedly killed instantly when he was hit by a truck in the South Loop neighborhood on Monday afternoon. The bike messenger, who was identified by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office as Ryan Boudreau, of the 4000 block of North Oakley Avenue, was working when a truck struck him and killed him, according to a Central District police captain...

The Chicago messenger community will hold a vigil and memorial ride for Ryan this Friday. Meet at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Skylark at Cermak Road and Halsted Street. Friends will speak briefly on Ryan and then lead a silent ride to the site of Ryan’s death at Clark and 18th streets."

Unfortunately, Ryan isn't the first and probably won't be the last cyclists killed in the big city. Its perhaps the biggest conundrum there is, car, trucks, and bikes need to share the road, but at times neither group has a healthy respect for each other, and each feels entitled to the road.

But I'll say this, and it doesn't come from having darted through Chicago traffic for 13 years, unless the cyclist is riding as if he has no respect for his/her own life, then cars and traffic have to have a greater awareness of those on two wheels (whether motorized or not). Does it sound like I'm preaching to the choir, or like I'm an ardent bicycle activist? Maybe. But it really comes down to common sense and physics.

If a bicycles runs into a car or truck on accident, the most damage that those vehicles will incur is a dent or scratch. If the situation is reversed, its potentially someone's life!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Front Runner

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the Gift." -- Steve Prefontaine

Although he passed away over 30 years ago, Steve "Pre" Prefontaine remains one of the most beloved, and greatest, long distance runners America has ever known. The diminutive runner from Coos Bay, Oregon at one point held every American track & field record from the 2,000 to the 10,000 meters. Pre was a notorious "front runner" who thought races more like art work "...that people can look at and be affected in as many ways as they're capable of understanding." Though he didn't win every race he ever entered, he made sure that the others had earned their medal.

"A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more. Nobody is going to win a 5,000 meter race after running an easy 2 miles. Not with me. If I lose forcing the pace all the way, well, at least I can live with myself."

Channeling the Mentality?

Every single time I have had the opportunity to correspond with our friend, Liz Hatch (Vanderkitten) or see a race photo of her at the head of the race, I always have a grin on my face thinking that Liz is somehow channeling Pre's personality. Take for instance her last race at Patterson Pass, Liz's response to blowing up on the final time going up the pass, "I just HATE sitting in the pack. and you never know... sometimes it works out. I'd rather die trying than sit in."


This may seem blasphemous to the running community but with Liz's mentality accompanied with her unbridled potential, her accomplishments may just one day rival Pre's; Liz "Pre" Hatch?

Go PRE!!!

"We're talking 'bout practice..."

Unfortunately, Allen Iverson (formerly of the Philadelphia 76ers) never fully comprehended the true message of his former coach, Larry Brown. As cyclists, we all know too well how valuable practice and training can be not only to our own ambitions, but also to our welfare and the welfare of those around us in the pack.

If you ever wondered what it's like on the track during practice, one of the coaches, Ed Gostin (Wolverine Sports Club), out at the Mike Walden Velodrome (Rochester Hills, MI) shot this great video with a handlebar mounted camera.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Not Another Hockey Item...

...On a Cycling Blog?
I should have left this one for T-o-03, as he could probably throw his vast knowledge of the subject around from his many years of covering the frozen chunk of rubber.

I have followed the Beanpot, a collegiate hockey tournament of the four major hockey schools (Boston University, Boston College, Harvard, and Northeastern) in Boston, MA, in the past but without much rooting interest.

Well that all changed with my recent acceptance into Boston University [definitely known more for their hockey team than their cycling team, which competes in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference or ECCC].

So now I can say "Go Terriers," with some pride rather than for sheer amusement.

Drama Kings

Cycling is a beautiful sport on the road, but recently the real drama has been held in the laboratories, the press rooms, and sometimes the court rooms.

With reports that 2007 Tour de France champion, Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel; photo: Agence France Presse), will be releasing a statement in response to doping accusations from German anti-doping activists Werner Franke [without answering any questions afterwards mind you], there has been more suspense, intrigue, and hand wringing than during the final Tour ITT.

The manner in which Contador approached the accusations was Lance-like, in control and cut-and-dry. And that's exactly what we got from his statement, nothing more:
"I won the Tour with clean means. I do not understand the attacks against me from people that don't even know me. I never doped and never participated in any doping scandal."
Contador has never tested positive for any performance enhancements, but neither did a hand full of riders, Ivan Basso and Michael Rasmussen included. Is this just another case of deny, deny, deny? Or is he truly believable? Is there still room for giving riders the benefit of the doubt?

Whether you believe in Contador's accomplishments at this moment or not, the way people are digging around for proof of guilt it won't be long before he's confirmed or implicated.

But the real drama was with the man sitting next to him, Johan Bruyneel. Although he was at Contador's side for support and translation, he could have easily swept away all of our thoughts about doping.

According to the LA Times and confirmed by Tailwind Sports, American cycling will indeed take a step backwards [hopefully to take two steps forward in the future], as Discovery Channel Professional Cycling has failed to produce a sponsor for next year and beyond.

The European peloton will be without an American team for the first time in two decades; when Team 7-Eleven first touched down on the Charles de Gaulle tarmac. Yes, the news of Team Slipstream does take away a bit of the sting from the announcement, but as a Professional Continental team, they are not secured a spot in any of the top European races. If organizers choose, Slipstream could meet a similar fate [albeit by different circumstance] as Unibet.com, who despite being a Pro Tour team was excluded from all the major races. Will that happen? Most likely not, but with what's transpired over the past year in cycling, its anyone's bet.

The Discovery disbandment also means that a Pro Tour license will be available. If they choose to, Slipstream has the opportunity to buy into the Pro Tour this year rather than wait till 2009 as planned. But according to Jonathan Vaughters, who had been advised several times to build a team up slowly, engaging in the Pro Tour may be too daunting a task at present.
"The ProTour requires that teams race the Giro, the Tour and the Vuelta -and that's a huge undertaking."
For Discovery Channel, the team once partly owned by Lance Armstrong, it marks the end of an amazing run. The Big Blue Train was arguably, the greatest cycling team of all time [where's a young Muhammed Ali when you need him?]. In fact, who could reasonably argue with their overall palmares?


So what happens next?
George Hincapie
seems poised to tackle the cobbles in pink with a T-Mobile signing imminent. As for the rest, look at the prominent names suddenly available for the pickings:

Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer, Stijn Devolder, Yaroslav Popovych, Vladimir Gusev, Benjamin Noval, Volodymyr Bileka, Tom Danielson, Jani Brajkovic, Chechu Rubiera, Pavel Padrnos, Egoi Martinez, and Tomas Vaitkus.

Also suddenly on the waiver wire:
Special Photography Contributors - Graham Watson & Liz Kreutz
Director Sportifs - Johan Bruyneel, Dirk Demol, Sean Yates

Armstrong's reaction to the end of the era:

"I do not think you have seen the last of this organization in the sport,but clearly things need to improve on many levels, with a more unified front, before you would see us venture back into cycling."

On Tap...

In this week's edition, the track is featured heavily as both the Ed Rudolph and T-Town will be boiling over holding several State Championships in various track disciplines.

For those in the Chicagoland area, the NRC makes its way into the Midwest with the Alexian Brothers International Cycling Classic Tour of Elk Grove. How's that for a mouthful? Many of the top continental professionals will be in the area for the two day event. Spectators and riders alike will be treated to the debut of the blue rainbow colored jersey of the current "B" World Champion, Toyota-United's Ivan Stevic.

Elk Grove was the first crit that I participated in so it holds a special place in my heart, and in my legs. I can still feel the pain from the fast pace and technical course. It was also my first DNF as I was blown out the back instantly. Needless to say, I learned many lessons about proper positioning in the field and even at the line.

As always, check into Truesport.com for results and/or photos for any of the races listed below.


08/10/2007
Festival of Speed
Trexlertown, PA

08/11/2007
The Chesapeake Criterium
Chesapeake, VA
Arizona State Track Championships
San Diego, CA
Tour of Elk Grove
Elk Grove Village, IL
BTR Bicycle Race
Kalamazoo, MI
Patterson Pass Road Race
Tracy, CA
Tour de Christiana
Lancaster, PA

08/12/2007
The Smith Dairy Milk Race
Orrville, OH
Esparto Time Trial
Esparto, CA
San Luis Obispo Criterium
San Luis Obispo, CA
Hines Park Time Trial
Westland, MI
Southbay Wheelmen DR Time Trial
Palos Verdes, CA
Atlantic Regional Masters Track Time Trial Championship

Trexlertown, PA

08/13/2007
IL State Velodrome Kilo Championships
Northbrook, IL

08/14/2007
thevelvdrome.com ISGP #2
Trexlertown, PA

08/16/2007
IL. State Velodrome Points Race Championships
Northbrook, IL

Alternatives?
I would like to provide you, the reader, with some alternatives to these competitive events or in case the weather is less than desirable, but I am actually going to refrain. The calendar has flipped over to August, and this month is for riding. So go out and ride!