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Wednesday

Not looking Good For Contador for 2012;


Its not looking good for Contador for next season. His hope hope that WADA might impose a threshold limit for Clenbuterol was dashed Tuesday, with the World Anti Doping Agency confirming that the substance will remain banned in any quantities. Contador was hoping that a minimum permissible level would be allowed. He tested positive for tiny traces of the substance on the second rest day of the 2010 Tour de France, and claimed that the source of the substance was in contaminated meat bought in the Basque Country. Bjarne better pull some strings come November as his team captain's status is crumbling beneath him. Wow are things heating up !

Testosterone Patches Anyone ?



This photo from the 2011 women's elite road race clearly shows what happens to women's facial features after many cycles of testosterone and epo. I don't know what form they take, (ie injections, testosterone patches) but its quite clear to me from this picture, some sort of performance enhancement substance was taken. I don't believe these women were born with faces like this ?

Monday

New Trends of the Pro Peloton.





Cycling has always been on the cutting edge of aerodynamics. I remember when Scott USA invested huge amounts of aero time into Greg LeMond's setup during his racing tenure. Greg always tended to raise eyebrows with his radical handlebar setup. Its this constant pursuit of optimizing efficiency mentality , which continues to evolve equipment in our great sport of cycling.

This past weekend I watched the world championship men's elite race. I could not help but notice some "efficiency equipment" trends that may become quite prevalent for 2012. I just hope it doesn't mushroom like the splurge of the white shoe craze.

I noticed that Mark Cavendish wore a plastic cover on his helmet ? I also noticed that the British team all wore skinsuits ? I also noticed that certain guys, were wearing booties? I'm sure at this level of aerodynamic wind tunnel testing, there is surely justification. And we know how the pros are, every little aero advantage they can get, is tried.

Helmets can usually make, as much difference as a front aero wheel. Skinsuits and booties although less gain, will no doubt offer some sort of aero advantage on windy days. Again, at this level, these minor subtleties can mean winning vs losing. More interestingly, helmet aero tests have indicated that covering the front vents gains a great deal compared to a front-vented helmet.I'm sure the technicians who run the numbers can justify the changes. It becomes clear that little things like a speedsuit and aero helmet on windy courses, or windy stages, can actually make a large enough difference over the course of the race.

There you have it, some new trends of the 2012 peloton.

Sunday

Cavendish is World Champion 2011

A great day for British cycling. I was really impressed with the work by the British team, but more specifically Bradley Wiggins. He reminded me of super domestique Michael Barry in his long pulls, at the front of the peloton. Wow! Good race. Now hopefully all three will become teammates for 2012 ?

Clara Hughes: An Insipring Ride




This past weekend's, world championship of cycling, elite women's road race proved to the world that women's cycling can be just as exciting as the men's. I was on the edge my seat watching a "gutsy" and daring late stage solo breakaway by Clara Hughes. I really thought and hoped, she was going to pull it off. I was heart broken when she was caught right before the finish, so I can't imagine how gutted she must have felt. Regardless, I'm proud of Clara and her late break move, as it certainly put Canadian Cycling on the map. With her gritted teeth, and determined style in her solo break, reminded me of the days of Hinault or Bauer. I loved it. Clara, Thank you for an inspiring ride.

Johan Bruyneel: Please teach Andy to TT




I hope Johan Bruyneel can save Andy and help him win the tour. I found this quote from Andy quite embarassing from last year's tour. There is no way he can think finishing 2nd yet again is okay ?

"I'll start last tomorrow, and my motivation is great, my legs are super so I'm confident I can actually keep this jersey until Paris. 57 seconds is a lot, and when you have the yellow jersey it gives you wings..."

Johan, show him the way, so he can avoid this kind of embarrassing statement a day or two before the 2012 tour.

Wednesday

RadioShack-Nissan-Trek Professional Cycling Team is born !


I've been going on and on about this, but I am really excited about witnessing another "super team" in our great sport of cycling. It takes me back to the days of mid 80's with "La Vie Claire" and Greg LeMond, a team that was just stacked with talent. It feels good to read something about pro cycling without the word "doping" involved. Its refreshing and adds to the excitement of the 2012 season. Johan Bruyneel will be the Director Sportif. Amidst what all the haters say, Bruyneel's record stands alone. Name me a more successful director sportif who has 9 Tour victories with 7 tours won in a row ???? Let's face facts, the man knows how to win. I think he's the most brilliant director sportif of the modern era of cycling. I think Andy Schleck will finally learn "how to win" the tour. I remember the last mastermind of the peloton who garnered similar respect, which was Cyrille Guimard. These guys just have what it takes to spot the talent, and turn them into winners. So overall, I like the merger and it will no doubt help Andy win his first tour. I think Johan will free Andy from his brother and make him his "own man." Andy has become a "tour bridesmaid" and I'm sure that is going to change under Johan's tutiledge. I remember back in 1985/1986 the media said similar things about a young american who doesn't know how to win the tour, and we all know what that resulted in. But we do live in different times, and the sport has changed so much. To see a Tour contender riding Paris Roubaix like LeMond used to, would certainly raise some eyebrows. I'm sure Andy will not be around come 2012 Spring Classics, and will be doing "Tour recon" rides until he gets sick of them :-) I would love to see a film crew go and make a new "Road to Paris" series ? Any takers ? I'm available Johan.

Sorry to Brian, Kim, Lars et al, but your winning record just doesn't measure up, like Bruyneel's management. I can't wait to see Johan take this new team by the horns and teach them how to win. Andy if you are reading, you are certainly in for a completely revamped program for 2012. But a "proper program" you will finally be given. But with such a merger, brings added pressure. I hope they can produce the goods quicker than Garmin-Cervelo did. I can't wait for 2012!!

I'm sure there are other riders who would want in and will be envious of the Schlecks working with Bruyneel. I think 2012 will be the gateway to yet another new era in pro cycling.

But lets not forget Dirk de Mol bringing up the charges in the classics. I think with we may very well see a "double" in the classics next year in that wonderful week of April. I have no doubt that Fabian Cancellera will be among the favourites heading in and will be guided with better team tactics than last year, so he won't have any "wheel suckers" to toe to any finish line :-)

I hope Johan can settle the bit of unrest from the announcement and be allowed to get on with the job. I think he and the team will be under immense pressure moreso than entering a 5 consecutive tour victory. I know i will be watching with his every move with anticipation as the season unfolds. Only time will tell if Andy is truly is "Driven by Yellow" because he finally has the guidance now to ensure he wears it in Paris.

Friday

My Rapha bib shorts are simply the best!


All my winter cycling clothing is Rapha, (classic softshell, winter jerseys, tights, base layers) but my summer clothing has been a mismatch of vendors. Well that is now going to change due to my recent purchase. I know its late in the season to be thinking about Rapha jerseys and Rapha shorts but after I pick up a Rapha jersey, I'll be in soley Rapha gear all season long. :-)

Last year I purchased a pair of Sugoi bib shorts which turned out to be not only the "ugliest" shorts on the planet, but the fit and comfort were not even close to Rapha's bib shorts. The salesman at the time, said that Sugoi's were pretty much same, maybe better due to their channeling synthetic chamois, blah, blah, blah. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Bottom line, the Sugoi's are "horrible" compared to my new Rapha Team Issue Bib Shorts.

Rapha's bib shorts are by far the best cycling shorts I've ever worn. Throughout the years, I wore many shorts, and thought "bib shorts are pretty much all the same" and thought they only differed in the chamois area. Wrong !!!

Rapha have once again raised the bar high. I have worn the usual team kits and you get used to that typical "lycra feel" and weight. But the Rapha shorts were much thinner, and had this softer smoother material that hugged my legs much better and felt literally like a second skin.

As for the padding in the crotch area, there is soOOOOO much more comfort. I had no discomfort on a recent 2 hour ride. There is almost a feeling of "too much" padding down there ? The bib straps hold everything in place and there was really no reason to shift "one's package" or make adjustments if you know what i mean :-) Regardless of my position on the saddle, further forward or further back, the chamois padding was prevalent.

Overall, Rapha have once again, raised the bar very high. I honestly did not think they would be that much more comfortable, but they are. There a dramatically better than any of those typical lycra kits. I just wish I could have bought them a season earlier.

La Bicicletta Gran Fondo 2011 - Photos






This was one of my greatest days in my cycling history. I got to ride with some local legends, part of the Jet Fuel Cycling team and got to chit chat with the legendary Michael Barry from Team Sky. Heath Cockburn and his staff of organizers along with the entire Endras BWM team, put on a very successful event. I had my team of photographers acting like "paparazzi" trying to capture the day. Enjoy their photos.

Click for Photos

Thursday

Michael Barry and Me !




We all go through life changing moments and last weekend I had mine. I had the chance to chit chat with professional cyclist . To have a guy standing in front me who's ridden on the sacred cobbles of Roubaix and Flanders, to the mountains of Italy and France made me feel like an "awestruck" kid once again. I mean wow? An actual professional cyclist giving me the "time of day ?" That's unheard in this day of age of, sponsor committments, and hectic schedules. It took me back to the 80's at the Queen's park Grand Prix race, when I had gotten close to Stephen Roche and Sean Kelly, but they never stuck around for that skinny Indian teenager who asked them for a picture or a quick autograph of his "Winning" Magazine. It is one weekend I will never forget. But wait ??? What am I doing idolizing professionals at age 40 ? Yes, I must admit to it. We cyclists at any age, are fanatical for our stars of the road. You can see this quite evident watching any L'Alpe D'Huez or any mountain stage of any Grand Tour.

I have to say, Michael Barry is pure class and is the professional. He is a Toronto boy, "living the dream." He spends his greater part of the year living and training in Spain. He has ridden on quite a few teams (Saturn, US Postal, T-Mobile, and most recently Team Sky) and brings a wealth of experience to the sport. He is also an accomplished author as well. In 2005 he wrote the book: Inside the Postal Bus, about his experiences at US Postal and the 2004 season whilst riding in support of Lance Armstrong. He and his wife also wrote a training book. He also writes diary entries during his cycling season on his website. His third book, Le Metier, detailing the life of a cycling domestique, was published in 2010 by Rouleur will hopefully be my reading material when i go on vacation in two more weeks. I am currently reading "Inside the US Postal Bus" and his writing really put you the reader into the world of a professional cyclist.

Being a professional means a highly disciplined lifestyle of diet and training. Standing next to him, I could not believe his BMI. Wow ? If he is that thin with his power to weight ratio, I can't imagine how skinny his teammate Bradley Wiggins must be ?? Anyways, it
gives me hope of the dieting I need to get done over this off season.

He is a "domestique" or a "worker bee" for the star of a team. He works for the benefit of his team and leader. He is the one who shields them from the wind, paces them up mountains, goes back to get water and anything else the star may need. The odd time they are allowed to win as we watched Johan Vansummeren in this year's . But mostly it is a thank-less, tireless, selfless role which often goes unrecognized yet they have no problem sacrificing day in and day out for others. I remember CBS's coverage of the Tour de france when they did a segment on Theo de Rooij and his role as a "domestique." It summed it up quite well.

In this day and age of professional cycling, contracts are few and far between. Michael is coming up on his last year of a two year contract with Team Sky. He is on the latter stages of a career. I certainly hope he continues for a few more years and I certainly hope he can squeeze a win or two in during this time. It has been a joy following his career and this most recent season through the Giro, the Tour and of course the cobblestoned classics.

I thank you Michael for your professionalism and kindness last weekend. I wish you all the best and hope our paths do cross again.