Digital Peloton <$BlogRSDUrl$>

Monday, January 30, 2006

Moving Up!

This is the 275th and last post at this site... we are moving to a fancy new location, with room for everyone to come along! In fact, think of Digital Peloton as merely the beginning. Don't ask me why, but hopefully in a month or two the answer will suggest itself. Anyway, with the name changed as well, we are now at:

The Podium Cafe []

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Torpedo Tom for Liege?

Boonen tells today that he wants to win Milan-San Remo, Flanders, and Liege this season. There's no doubt he could win la Primavera, if Cipo can get up the Poggio, so can Boonen. Flanders -- the real question is whether there's a realistic chance of him losing. But... Liege? This is probably my favorite of all the Classics, for its constant grinding climbs. I'm sure he can get over them, but if he does, he will be surrounded by some smaller riders, including a few who can sprint. The question is not whether he can manage the climbs; it's whether he can surmount them and have fresh enough legs for a sprint. I wouldn't put it past him, but he will be far from a favorite that day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Stage of the Year

We started a chat a while back about the best single day of 2005, and there was murmured assent to my choice of the penultimate stage of the Giro, over the Finestere to Sestriere. Well, much as I would love to take credit for this choice, apparently it wasn't hard to pick. Cycle Sport Mag, further distancing itself from Velo News like Richard Virenque jumping away from an indifferent pack in search of KOM points, has a several-part profile of the day's intrigue. It starts with a profile of the Falcon, finishing with his thoughts about the stage and lauding him for his patience and smarts. Then the mag gets into the more cloak-and-dagger stuff, pinning down Sean Yates and Allan Peiper on their friendship and what it might have meant toward having a pair of Davitamon riders towing the race leader across the final flats and ascent. In the process Yates calls DiLuca a "dickhead," while Peiper queries as to what Il Killer's role was in towing Simoni into the Maglia Rosa virtuale. Why exactly was his DS screaming at him to stop riding, and did he really have a cramp?

Anyway, I had previously singled out this stage as a testament to Savoldelli's brilliant, steely strategy. Apparently this was also the most entertaining day of the year as well.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Good News!

The Caisse d'Epargne/ Iles Ballears uniform is even uglier than my squad's!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Kelly & Roche

Nice little take on the two giants of Irish Cycling in the Kimmage book. Kelly and Roche always seemed like good guys, in completely opposite ways. And Kimmage, a guy who doesn't generally get along with others, and a mucker on the front lines in the mid-80s, has plenty of compliments for both. Apparently there was a lot of expected tension when Roche won the Tour... after all Kelly had done and won, Roche was leapfrogging right over him in Irish lore with one Tour victory. But Roche was having none of it; he was careful to point out that, between the two of them, they had won every meaningful race in Europe... in other words, it's a two-man show. Roche was always outgoing and friendly -- with reporters and other riders, and even sought out Kimmage the night he won the Tour to console his countryman who had dropped out a few days earlier to encourage him. Kelly was less openly friendly, a more private, seemingly aloof guy, but one of those people whom riders loved once they got to know him.

Interestingly, Kimmage is grateful for the fact that neither helped him make his way to Europe. He was pissed at the time that he had to scratch and claw to get established, but later, once he understood the solitary and painful nature of making it as an outsider, he felt glad that nobody made things easy for him. Kelly or Roche, with one phone call, could have done him this privilege, but you didn't make it in cycling those days on privilege. Kimmage's take is that Kelly and Roche knew how hard you have to be to make it, and figured that Kimmage would be better off breaking down the door on his own.

Ancient history, I suppose, but these are two of the great characters of modern cycling.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Man of All Seasons

Robbie McEwen's win in the Jacob's Creek Adelaide classic is not entirely unpredictable, but does at least raise some questions for your consideration. It's freakin January... and the guy is in winning form. Or is he?

Somebody has to win these races, and the other top European pros are just as much under pressure to win in July, so maybe, just maybe, it's all relative. If everyone is in mid-training, then Robbie's top gear is likely to be as good as anyone else's, save for the domestic pros who would understandably peak for their race with the big boys. Assuming there are any domestic pros left in Australia that FDJeux hasn't signed yet. Anyway, those on hand still can't be expected to keep up with a Pro Tour lead-out train.

Still, do the pure speed guys peak differently than the Classics and Grand Tour riders? Can you lay down your top end speed without building the base for the season? Or does McEwen do a double peak like everyone else and just time them differently.

If anyone out there is Austrialian, please help us out. Thanks!

A Rough Ride

Yes, I could easily be referring to all of my attempts at training this month, but am instead talking about Paul Kimmage's homage to Cycling, which I've been devouring the last few days. If you're as old as me, you'll recall Kimmage as a scrappy rider who held his own in the peloton and made a name for himself. Irish riders were still something of a novelty when he hit the amateur scene... unless you count Kelly and Roche. The latter helped Kimmage out a bit, getting him signed in France, but for the most part this is a story of one prickly Irishman making his lonely way across professional cycling in the 80s. Lots of bleak struggles, probably a lot more enlightening than reading Lance talk about his grooming -- however much he deserved it, Lance and his obvious talent attracted a lot more support along the way than a middlin' guy like Kimmage.

And if nothing else, it's good to be reading about guys struggling across the cobbles in rain and snow, riding for their meals. I thought of it every time I took my turn in the paceline Saturday and got a mouthful of mud from the one guy without a fender. Cycling is hard.

Friday, January 13, 2006

King Kelly

Am reading Sam Abt's "Up the Road," and have just now learned that in 1984, Sean Kelly turned in a performance that is unimaginable even now, two decades later, and is only a tint of yellow removed from Cannibal level:

2nd in San Remo
2nd in Flanders
Won Paris-Roubaix
Won Liege-Bastogne-Liege
4th in Tour de Suiss
5th in Tour de France

He also won Paris-Nice, Crit International, and a total of 33 races. Nowadays guys don't even contest this diverse of a slate, let alone win or place in them. Of course, he got nicked in a doping control later, but it wasn't considered serious. Times were very, very different back then.

Vuelta a California

Not a substantive post... we'll save that for February. Just a note: why should this race be called the Tour of California? Vuelta a California has ten times more style. Not to mention using two fewer languages.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Aussie Champs

Seems a bit odd to be talking about a race of real consequence, but here comes the Aussie road championships. I don't see O'Grady on the start list, but then I don't have time to peruse right now. Anyway, McEwen is wearing #1 for a reason.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Sam Abt

Type that name in to a search on Amazon and see how many cool cycling books come up. His stuff isn't riveting, he can't write quite like >LA's War author Daniel Coyle, but Abt has been on the inside of pro cycling for a quarter century or so. I just scooped up several titles being remaindered by bookstores on the Amazon network, for less than a dollar (plus shipping). Now if only I could quit my day job to read them...

Monday, January 09, 2006

Mr. Van P

Was reading about Boonen last night -- and am now aware for the first time that Van Petegem gave himself to Tornado Tom in the Worlds by pulling his teammate and the rest of the Peloton back to the break in the last lap. Not that that's totally extraordinary; everyone involved tabbed Boonen as Belgium's best bet, including VanP. Just a really cool example of the interesting alliances that form here and there.

Is there any race that excites you in 2006 as much as the Ronde van Vlaanderen? Race of the year, I expect. Sort of a wild guess, but I can't think of anything I'm anticipating more. Mr. Van P. is a hell of a rider, but his window is closing. Boonen has suddenly emerged as his late-career white whale. And those are just the guys we know will be there.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Riders Vote for the Riders

Man, I wish I could get the chance to tell LeBlanc and his ASO to piss off, which is essentially what the UCI told the grand tours sometime in the last few days. IMHO, the UCI is playing it perfectly -- no overheated rhetoric, no threats of a boycott, just a resounding rejection of the grand tours' efforts to destroy the Pro Tour. Last I checked, they were a union, so I am guessing that the UCI knows something about solidarity. That's why this is check (if not quite check-mate) in the ongoing battle. The grand tours have lots of money, so maybe they can bribe enough people to crack the UCI, but they've already offered two million euros and got told to pound sand.

Anyway, that's all the intrigue I can glean from the news. I still say smart money is on the Pro Tour continuing, which is a great thing.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Upside Down Under

I'm probably not the first person to notice that things in Australia are a bit, um, askew. But I have to wonder, what is the effect on the top Aussie riders, who every year increase their impact on Europe, of having their national championship next week and national tour right after that? I guess if the Nats is a flat course, it won't affect the plans of the Evanses and GC types. Just Robbie and Stewie and Cookie, and a few other sprinters. And maybe, for a sprinter, there's nothing wrong with having a peak this far out of season.

As for the TDU, one look at last year's start list confirms that it's a respectable race, but a b-list priority for the big names. If the pace isn't too high, it's probably a great way to start the building process as well as get in some race days, at least for the younger riders.

Actually, I really have nothing to talk about, I just thought the thread on the last message was getting too long.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


I love, or more simply I love good cycling forums. So in looking for info as to whether carbon cranks were worth the considerably greater cost (for supposedly better stiffness and marginally less weight), I came across this review:

All of this stiffness **** I'm calling BS on, though I'm not in any PERSONAL position to do so. All I'm saying is if Tom Boonen can't flex the sh!7 out of an alloy Record crank, neither can you.

Good point. Alloy cranks, here I come.

Daily Mileage

OK, I haven't committed to doing a daily rundown, but am contemplating some sort of thing. Input welcomed. Anyway, a few tidbits gleaned from the latest Velo News:

* John Wilcockson writes about the pissing match btw the UCI and Grand Tours, barely masking his contempt for the latter. I still can't quite understand where there is some legitimate disagreement, besides the obvious and rather tiresome power struggle. Anyway, smart money is firmly on the riders. Yes, it would suck for people to boycott even one year of Tours, but let's face it: the riders have pretty much ALL the power. 95% of the spectator appeal that generates the income is a direct result of interest in the riders; take them away, and how many people would want to watch the beautiful traditions of the grand tours being raced by a bunch of amateurs? Whom you can see for free at a slew of local races already?

* List of retirements contains a few I wasn't aware of, including recent protagonist Igor Gonzales de Galdeano. Also, Ludo Dierckxsens' retirement means we will have a new holder of the most consecutive consonants title in 2006. My money is on a Belgian, though there could be a Slavic dark horse lurking. And no, that's not a World War I catch-phrase.

* I still can't seem to decide whether to keep getting Velo News delivered. Their pro coverage is almost completely duplicated by Cycle Sport, which kicks the crap out of VN with features like the latest Boonen mega-interview and a closeup photo of Michael Rasmussen's extremely cheesy mustache. But VN has a big feature on training methods... sometimes I think VN is written for riders who don't watch the pros enough, and CS is written for tifosi who don't ride enough. I wish I were the former, but I admit I'm the latter. At least until my training kicks in!


BTW, I brought the Viner in for the frame swap yesterday. By tomorrow it will be restored to its original setup -- the record 9 -- except for a cannondale fork which matches pretty well. Still trying to decide how to dress up the Litespeed for primary racing... So, on what components is it worth spending the extra on Record, versus Chorus? It looks like our shop catalogue places orders one component at a time, not in a kit.

Biting Off the Nose

Got an email from my team reminding people that the iMax film of the 2003 Tour is playing at Seattle Center, featuring Jimmy Casper and Baden Cooke.

Maybe it's just me, but I'd rather watch Tyler Hamilton with a needle hanging out of his arm than Jimmy Casper. Cookie's a good guy and all, but... Jimmy Casper??? Is Hamilton so tainted that the film couldn't contain any footage of him, as a team leader and significant challenger to Lance, in a race where he was being tested and turning up negative? Is that taint so extreme that we would ignore all this valuable footage and prefer watching Jimmy Casper in the autobus?

I'm all for eradicating doping and all, but this seems silly on its face.

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