The masterpiece that is cycling

I don’t know why this has stuck with me all these years. In a classroom a long long time ago, I was given the definition of a masterpiece. If you added just one brushstroke or removed just one brushstroke the painting would be lessened. In a word, the painting was perfect.

To continue the painting metaphor, there are also paintings that when you are too close, you see the imperfections. In fact, that’s all you see. When you take a few steps back, you see only the beauty. The imperfections somehow make the painting more wonderful, beautiful, a masterpiece.

In the second interview with Pedro Delgado, VeloNews continues to let Pedro paint his masterpiece of cycling. Time has allowed us to take a few steps back and let the imperfections fade into the beauty that is his generation. When Pedro looks at today’s sport, he sees the addition of strokes (radios, specialization, etc.) and sees less of a painting. Part one was outlined here. Here are some out takes from Part two.

It is like a rule that has been established – you make your time in the time trials or in climbing the mountains, and the rest of the race is simply of no interest to the greats, to those who are in contention.”

Pedro used this analysis to give Oscar Pereiro some advice:

“I told Oscar that he had to attack going downhill and win going downhill, not just going uphill!”

On Armstrong vs. Ullrich

Most people who know cycling well think that in recent times that it was Ullrich who was the strongest, that he was a better racer than Lance Armstrong. But why did Armstrong always win over Ullrich? Because of the head – he had a better head.

“You might beat me here or there,” he would say, but he always had the better head. Ullrich is very linear. He thought that Armstrong was better in the time trials and in the mountains. That’s why Ullrich always thought of himself as the runner up. If he attacked it was going uphill, but why not going down? Why not 80 kilometers from the finish? A rider as strong as Ullrich can do that. Why didn’t he do it?

Then VeloNews takes the opportunity to bring up doping. While I knew it was coming, I was really enjoying the discussion on the beauty of the sport. That said, I did find his words thought provoking. Such as Delgado’s insight into the need for ethics in cycling.

“More responsibility. The problem is that nobody is prepared to take responsibility for the situation. I could say many things, wild things and the truth, but it is not going to fix anything because there is no middle ground that gives anyone a way out in relation to the issue of doping.

I don’t see anyone out there in the world of cycling who wants to resolve the “problem.” There is nobody who has a position that is capable of coming together with the any other position. I don’t see any coordinated or common position being developed to confront the problem. The cyclists – and their teams – continue to be the biggest losers.”

I think he put the problem in perspective with a few words. People like Pound and McQuaid have staked out positions with such fierceness that they have left themselves no room for a solution. Any movement from their position now constitutes defeat. As I had said before, this is dangerous since no solutions can come when parties have no honorable way to move towards a solution.

Back to the painting. I think are faces are too close to the painting that is 2006 to render any judgement. We see the mistakes, bristles left behind by the brush, and Operation Puerto seems to overpower the whole canvas.

When we step back with a few years of perspective, what will 2006 look like?

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2 Responses to The masterpiece that is cycling

  1. Theresa says:

    What a beautifully written and thoughtful post. Yes, we are too close to the painting. I’m seeing the single stroke made by one hair of the brush, and that is too close. I really enjoyed Pedro Delgado’s interview. A wonderful perspective, and food for thought.

  2. pelotonjim says:

    Thank you. Sometimes I string a few words together.

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