See you in September

August 31, 2007

Have a good time but remember
There is danger in the summer moon above
Will I see you in September – The Happenings

Looks like the smoke will be black for a while longer. ESPN is reporting that the Landis arbitrators are targeting the end of September for a ruling. The last item on the list is a discussion with the head of the WADA lab in Rome, Dr. Francesco Botre.

This is akin to listening to questions from the jury as they deliberate. You try to get insight into their thinking from the questions asked of the judge. It seems that the good news is that Floyd’s arguments may have got these three men to thinking that there may be something afoul at the LNDD. The bad news is that WADA labs aren’t exactly into criticizing or even disagreeing with each other.

I’ll leave you to your own interpretation.

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Hard (sic) evidence on Valverde.

August 30, 2007

The UCI bolstered by a new hero of Spain sought to remove the old Spanish hero from the Worlds.  The UCI spelled out all the evidence it has against the “Green Bullet”

“During the meticulous studying of the 6,000-page Puerto dossier, the International Cycling Union (UCI) has concluded that several documents may show the involvement of Alejandro Valverde in the affair,”

Several documents out of 6000 may show?  That’ll stand up.  I guess the new phrase is a slight variation of the “Innocent until proven guilty” phrase we like to use here in the US.  I guess the mantra is:

“Innocent until we think that there is a chance that you may have done something at some point that we would not agree with today.”


I just saw a guy who looked like Richard McLaren

August 30, 2007

He looked a little different, had a different name.  Could it be true? It explains everything.

I think the three arbitrators, Richard McLaren and Patrice Brunet, Chris Campbell must have entered the Witness Relocation Program.  The US Marshalls have taken them to undisclosed locations and given them new identities. 

If you see someone who may look familiar behind the counter at the local pet store, look again, it may be someone you know.

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Never pick a bar fight with an Irishman

August 30, 2007

That’s just what Greg LeMond seems to have done.  The UCI was OK with Greg’s rhetoric when it was aimed at American riders but when he turned and bit the UCI, that’s when the attitude changed.

McQuaid first asked the question that has been on my lips ever since Greg became the Altar Boy of cycling.  The UCI president said:

“If Greg LeMond was so sure, if he knew so much about the activities that were going on at the time he was racing, why did he not come forward to the UCI then with that information instead of talking about it now?”

Then the statesman took a back seat with the following Godfather like comment:

“Greg LeMond would need to be very careful”

Is there an offer coming LeMond’s way?  One he can’t refuse?


We need our smile back

August 26, 2007

comic relief
–noun
1) an amusing scene, incident, or speech introduced into serious or tragic elements, as in a play, in order to provide temporary relief from tension, or to intensify the dramatic action. 

2)relief from tension caused by the introduction or occurrence of a comic element, as by an amusing human foible.

I reflected a lot on my ride this morning. Here’s the back story. Typical Sunday morning of coffee, newspaper, drifting conversation. That was until my wife looked at an ad opposite an article that prompted this question. “Have you ever heard of an espresso machine, Saeco?”

After breakfast, I went upstairs to change for my ride. I paused before the sea of jerseys and started digging. Past regular jerseys, under the team jerseys of Discovery and CSC, I found it. My Saeco jersey. Actually, I found two. The traditional red jersey and the white “Julius Caesar” version.

As I rode, I thought that after the 1998 Festina scandal , cycling was in critical condition. It needed someone to come and resuscitate the the sport. Lance Armstrong was the perfect man to lift cycling off its deathbed.

It seems that in order to save the sport back then, we needed to perform a humorectomy. Teams found the formula to winning involved supreme focus. A smile was wasted energy. So what do we need this time around? I think with the tension surrounding the sport between the infighting of the leadership and the doping, we need to break the ice before getting back to the serious work of saving cycling. We need a little comic relief to remind us what it is we are saving. Therefore, before we look for another Boss, we need a King. As in the Lion King.

Mario Cipollini was the sport’s perfect showman. The key differentiating point was he took his work seriously but not himself. That differs from your run of the mill court jester. Let’s take a look at the ingredients.

First the team. No team since the red train of Saeco could control the last 20km of a race. Look at the mayhem in the finale today. Controlling the peloton is a mixture of power and grace. Saeco had that. Even with strong teams like T-Mobile and Fasso Bortolo/Milram, the last few kilometers are akin to the Wild West. I believe that many crashes are due to a lack of order in the peloton.

For further proof, look at the Mario’s trains after he left Saeco. Even the king could not recapture lightning in a bottle.

Now, let’s look at the man. Behind the camera lights was work ethic that the public rarely saw. Many riders in the peloton would mention that Super Mario would regularly put in 300km training sessions. On the road, a palamares as long and as fruitful as his is not done by chance. In his profession, sprinters do not last very long. Mario Cipollini won his first Giro stage in 1989 and his last (42nd) in 2003. Not bad. Add to that wins in classics and his World Championship in 2002 and you have one of the greatest riders in cycling.

Finally with all the showmanship, you never saw anything except total concentration in the final 20km of a flat stage. If you were not in front of Mario when he hit top speed, you were not going to see the line before him.

Of course, we all know Mario the showman. He could go over the top without it looking that way. There are still vestiges of him in the peloton. Whenever a leader wears color coded kits, they owe that to Mario. His comments, his clothes, and of course his kits showed us all that we can be serious and have a little fun at the same time. I think we need a little of that right now.


Slipping into the ProTour

August 25, 2007

With the possibility of three ProTour slots open, Team Slipstream seems to be making a strong case for inclusion as early as next year. We really don’t know how many teams will get licenses and how many licenses will be recognized by the Grand Tours in 2008. This lineup however should attract the attention of all interested parties.

David Zabriskie, Christian Vande Velde, Tom Danielson, Magnus Backstedt, David Millar, Daniel Martin, Julian Dean, Chrisophe Laurent, Huub Duyn and Martin Maaska.

Officially, the team has targeted 2009 for application. But sometimes timing chooses you. With Discovery Channel gone, there is the all important spot of American ProTour team that is up for grabs. While the UCI and Grand Tours disagree on almost everything, their love of money should unite them in support of US TV dollar.

After all, if you are going to fight over money, you want that pot as big as possible.


Running low on straw

August 24, 2007

When the conclave first started back in early July, we ordered just enough straw to last or the duration of the Tour. We now need to bring in yet another truckload of the stuff since we’ve been locked up here in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

The question is, How much should I order? Throwing damp straw onto the fire is starting to sting my eyes.

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