L’Equipe reports on champion with high synthetic testosterone

March 31, 2007

Did I just wake up from hibernation and just read about Floyd? Nope. The world of swimming is beginning to get a little of the attention usually reserved for cycling. Call it dipping their toe in the water.

L’Equipe is reporting that retired Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe failed a drug test in 2006. This test showed “abnormally high” testosterone readings. Also shown were high readings of Luteinizing Hormone (LH) which stimulates godatropin production which in males is testosterone. Also found are traces of synthetic testosterone. L’Equipe is calling into doubt Thorpe’s five Olympic gold medals, eleven World Championship titles, and setting of twenty-three world records.

What the paper brushes off is that the Australian Anti-Doping Authority looked at the evidence and threw out the case saying the tests were not conclusive. The international authorities are petitioning the CAS to re-open the case.

Doing our part, we have prepared some quotes for Dick Pound.

“Wow, five Olympic medals and twenty three world records, he must have been riding a goddamn jet-ski!”

“With all that testosterone and LH in his body, he must have been violating every virgin within 100 laps.”

Ian, you should give Floyd a call. I’m sure he will welcome you to hell. Bad enough that this past week saw most of your records broken, now you need to endure this. For all of you, forgive me if I don’t readily jump on a story broken by L’Equipe.

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Cycling.tv to launch new site

March 28, 2007

For those of you who tried to tune into to Milan-San Remo may have been able to see the new look Cycling.tv.  Some technical difficulties forced Cycling.tv to delay their upgrade.  So what’s coming?

Well, I’ve been fortunate enough to bee one of the beta testers of the new site and I’ll tell you that I’m pretty excited about the new look and some new features coming to a PC near you.

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First thing you will notice (click image to take a real good look) is a completely new look and feel.  The old window has been replaced by a nice matte black background.  This gives the nice HDTV feel.  Gone are the graphics along the bottom where you would need to scroll across and double click.  This actually has always been a pet peeve of mine.  Initially, I did not realize these were buttons.  There were no drop shadows and you were required to double-click to change channels.   Now, you will see clearly identifiable buttons down the left side of the screen showing you all that Cycling.tv has to offer. 

Cycling.tv did not stop with a nice new look.  Thery have added a host of new features.  Avone the video screen shown you some new features.  First is the Innertube which takes you to a new forum for viewers to chat/blog while watching a race. You can uploag videos here as well.  Nice touch to include some interactive capabilities the computer offers.  You also see Audio and Diaries sections along the top bar.

The real improvement is the Download Video feature. I’ve been screaming for this feature for sometime.  When I ride on a trainer, sometimes my wireless network gets cranky and watching a laptop is difficult.  Also, when I travel, I wouldn’t mind choosing Paris-Roubaix over the in-flight movie. Downloading is done through Veoh a online video service.

Other user friendly improvements include the search, schedule, and settings all in easy to find and access locations.

This is the part of a review where you say what you would like to see improved.  I’ll confine my comments to two areas.  One significant and one pretty minor.  The significant item is every click on the channels or tabs up top, opens a new window.  Therefore, sometimes you have several channels running simultaneously.  You need to manually go back and close open windows when you get to the show you want to watch.  Hopefully this will be fixed in the production release.  The minor item is the download service.  Veoh requires you to download their proprietary player and plug-in.  Id’ ultimately like to see everything self containedd within the Cycling.tv player.   If not, I’d like to see a standard player used for the video.  I already have Quicktime, Windows Media Player, Intervideo DVD player, and Real.  I really don’t want another.  Also, the Veoh player is a bit intrusive by installing plug ins in my browser and wanting to join my start up programs and launch every day.  You may want to visit it’s settings after downloading to fine tune this player.

As for formats.  I know Mac users had problems with the first edition of Cycling.tv.  I don’t own a Mac so I can’t tell you if you are in luck here.  I can tell Windows users that Cycling.tv beta performs wonderfully in both Internet Explorer and Firefox.

All in all it shows that Simon Brydon and his team have really developed a great product. You no longer have a reason not to subscribe to Cycling.tv.


Milan-San Remo had the good the bad and the ugly

March 27, 2007

Well, the Classics season really got off with a great start. Milan-San Remo showed anyone why cycling is a truly an exciting sport. Let’s review:

The Good– First up, Paolo Bettini. What a show of determination and pure guts. His ride up the Cipressa was the stuff legends are made of. I am so used the riders of Classics taking the shortcut home when dropped near the end. Paolo and his never give up attitude serves as great motivation.

Unibet.com at the start line was good to see. I think the fact they have a license to have operations in Italy made the blackballing difficult since teams such as Fdjeux.com have no such license. Way to go boys!

Cycling in Italy. Italians love racing in their backyard. The pace and attacks were awesome. No riding piano here!

The Bad- My predictions. I expected a feast for the pure sprinters. All looked to be on track until the final kilometer. The strong teams closed the gap and started the leadout trains for their teams. Then Oscar Freire took it. It was good to see him win one outright. His 2004 win was more of a loss by Eric Zabel than a win by Freier.

Cycling.tv had some technical difficulties in launching its new site at absolutly the worst time. I had the opportunity to be a beta tester and it seemed pretty solid. Take your time boys and get it right. It will be worth the wait.

The Ugly – The weather and crashes. Just enough rain to make the roads treacherous. With riders pushing the limit to stay at the front, yielded some really horrendous spills.

The course. Parked cars on the road? At a ProTour event? If the weather was not bad enough, putting obstacles in the way of an angry peloton is just criminal.


Bring on the Monuments!

March 22, 2007

With two early season stage races under our belts, our collective appetite is thoroughly whetted as we await the next couple of weeks. In fact, these next few weeks rival a certain three week period in July.

For me, the season starts in Milan. No offense to the folks in California and Paris but Milan-San Remo starts the Classics. This is when the hard men of cycling’s spring season come out and play. Milan-San Remo has become a sprinter’s paradise in recent years as the Poggio and Cipressa do not force as much of a selection as in the past. The real challenge in La Classicissima is it’s length. At almost 300 kilometers, you never know what condition your legs will be in at the finish on the Via Roma.

I am especially excited for this year’s edition. It seems that Alessandro Petacchi is at the end of his career. Sprinters generally do not fade away, they go out as quickly as they raced. Expect him to realize this and be motivated to take his second title. Tom Boonen is missing this notch on his belt. I expect him to underplay the importance of this race when compared to his hometown race in Flanders. I don’t believe it. I do expect a little internal conflict as reigning World Champion Paolo Bettini has his own designs on victory.

Then there is the new kid. Luca Paolini. What Italian thoroughbred does not want to take this race. To take it from the aging Petacchi would put the icing on the cake. In fact, in two years, things would come full circle as Petacchi took the crown from an aging Lion King.

Then there is J.J. Haedo. This man has shown a scary turn of speed. Now it is time to go up against the big boys. Will J.J. be up to the challange? Is he as good as he looked in California?

So expect the teams of CSC, Liquigas, Milram, and Quick Step to guarantee a grupo compatto towards the end. Then it will be a battle of the leadout trains. From there, it will be mano a mano a mano a mano.

I have renewed  my Cycling.tv subscription, cleared off my couch, charged my lapotp.  I can’t wait.


Spain all ga ga over Alberto Contador

March 19, 2007

One of the great things about being a young rider is the impression of bursting on the cycling scene. The cycling press is always looking for a new fresh story to tell. A new fresh face is just the way to do it.

Well, Paris-Nice champion Alberto Contador has officially burst on the scene. After a strong showing in the semi-official (it was official until the ProTour spat) opening of the cycling season, Alberto has the world at his cleats.

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The downside of being young is you will inevitably become the next (insert name of great rider here). In Spain, of course, Alberto is being called the next Miguel Induarain.

Some riders such as Abraham Olano have cracked under the “next” banner. In basketball, I remember Michael Jordan being called the next Dr. J. His response is that he wanted to be the first Michael Jordan.  Lance Armstrong endured being the next Greg LeMond. Now we are all looking for the next Lance Armstrong.

I know it is natural to look for new eras to dawn after the last era has set. In ten years will Spain continue to look for the next Induarain or will they be looking for the next Contador?

Editor’s note. My apologies for the few days of silence. I lost my uncle Friday night and left the laptop unused over the weekend. Uncle Joe was one of the strongest men I ever met. Not only physically as he owned a piano moving business but psychologically and in character. He was the classic Irishman. First to arrive and last to leave. It was impossible to have a bad time with him in the room. In the end, he left on his own terms making his own final arrangements to remove the burden on his wife and children. He could not make one last St. Patrick’s day nor his 79th birthday on Sunday but with everything completed, he allowed cancer to take him with his family by his side. He was a champion in every sense of the word.


Bring back the basic black shorts. Please.

March 15, 2007

Men should not be allowed anywhere near fashion. OK. I said it. Whenever men try to enter the fashion world, bad things happen. Civilization as we know it teeters on the brink of destruction. I don’t want to call into evidence the Nehru jacket or the…….leisure suit. In fact, the whole Miami Vice era is one I’d like to forget.

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In cycling we are nearing a similar cataclysmic event. Maybe this is what’s behind all the problems in cycling today. For shorts, basic black was good. In fact, it was very good. Then Mario Cipollini made us all believe we could carry off something other than black shorts. The races stopped fining riders for wearing non-black shorts and right out of the gate, we had team Carerra wearing ‘jeans’ shorts. We should have stopped right then. But once the genie is out of the bottle, you can’t put it back.

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Now Sauiner-Duval cycling team has done something that makes it difficult to even watch a race. I’m going to put my cards on the table now so if you are easily offended, leave now. If you have kids, tell them to go to bed. I’ll wait.

OK, here is one really disturbing side effect of the move from black. It tends to accentuate an area I don’t particularly want accentuated. There I said it. Now, the yellow on black pattern of Sauiner-Duval seems to create an arrow pointing at…. well you know, there.

When David Millar rode to prologue victory, I could not enjoy it. When he stood atop the podium, I was uncomfortable. When the whole team rode tempo on stage one, it was really, really bad.

When will we learn.

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Unibet.com not out of the Vuelta…yet

March 14, 2007
Dead Collector: Bring out yer dead.
Large Man: Here’s one.
Dead Collector: Ninepence.
Dead Body: I’m not dead!
Dead Collector: What?
Large Man: Nothing. Here’s your ninepence.
Dead Body: I’m not dead!
Dead Collector: ‘Ere, he says he’s not dead.
Large Man: Yes he is.
Dead Body: I’m not!
Dead Collector: He isn’t.
Large Man: Well, he will be soon, he’s very ill.
Dead Body: I’m getting better!
Large Man: No you’re not, you’ll be stone dead in a moment.
Dead Collector: Well, I can’t take him like that. It’s against regulations.
Dead Body: I don’t want to go on the cart!
Large Man: Oh, don’t be such a baby.
Dead Collector: I can’t take him.
Dead Body: I feel fine!
Large Man: Oh, do me a favor.
Dead Collector: I can’t.
Large Man: Well, can you hang around for a couple of minutes? He won’t be long.
Dead Collector: I promised I’d be at the Robinsons’. They’ve lost nine today.
Large Man: Well, when’s your next round?
Dead Collector: Thursday.
Dead Body: I think I’ll go for a walk.
Large Man: You’re not fooling anyone, you know. Isn’t there anything you could do?
Dead Body: I feel happy. I feel happy.
[The Dead Collector glances up and down the street furtively, then silences the Old Man with a whack of his club]
Large Man: Ah, thanks very much.
Dead Collector: Not at all. See you on Thursday.
Large Man: Right.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail 1975

Unipublic, Grand Tour organizer number three, has made it’s decision on Unibet.com. They are almost out. The organizer of the Vuelta a Espana delivered his rebuke of the embattled ProTour team albeit with a velvet hammer.

Victor Cordero laid out the high hurdle required to be invited to the final Grand Tour of the season by saying:

“Unibet is not in our plans, but fortunately, as we are not forced by the rules to give the wildcards on March 1 like last year, we can wait up to three months, until the end of May, beginning of June before we decide. The last word it is not yet said. If Unibet has all its legal problems solved, if it improves the performances and conditions of the other six candidates…it is not Unibet alone, we have six candidatures for riding the Vuelta a España. We will make the decision mainly based on sporting criteria. Up to today, I don’t see Unibet in the Vuelta.”

Let’s take another look. Unibet has to get it’s legal affairs in order. Is he talking about the legal affairs as a result of the Grand Tour snub? Mr. Cordero also said they need to improve their performance. Where? Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo, Giro dItalia? The ASO and RCS Sport have blocked them out of the most prestegious races of the year so where will they get results?

It looks like Unipublic is trying to make it look like Unibet.com will get a fair shake when the decision has already been made. See you on Thursday I have to go to the Robinson’s.