We make no apology for more ranting – there’s much to get upset about in the sports firmament at the minute, but there’s also Jacub Marezcko.
The IAAF Scandal
It’s hard to believe that the public would be so naive as to believe that Athletics would be squeaky clean given the sums of money washing around and the vested interests of the massive sportswear companies who depend on big results from their sponsored athletes to shift their sweat shop trainers, track suits, sweats and Tee’s.
But have no fear, Sir Seb will sort it all out – even though he’s been part of it all and has more than a two or toe in the sponsors camp.
But he’s a former Olympic champion, a Lord, wears nice suits and is a thoroughly decent egg.
Wait a minute, wasn’t Tyler an Olympic champion, the ‘all American boy next door,’ straight out of a GAP ad. with his button down shirt, devoted wife and, not forgetting the late Tug Boat?
If you lived through Lance, like we had to, you can’t but shake your head at it all.
And just as in our two wheeled world, the Russians have come to the rescue – it’s all THEIR fault, Dirty Reds!
BALCO, Flo Jo, Barry Bonds, Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake, Justin Gatlin, Steve Mullings – and not an Ivan or Boris in sight.
We’re not defending the Russians or anyone else who ‘kits up’ but please take the racism out of it; it’s naive and downright ridiculous to believe that it’s only ‘dodgy Easterners and Latinos’ who’re on the ‘juice’ – we’re all humans with the same strengths and weaknesses.
And lest you’ve forgotten we’ve had three ‘positives’ in UK amateur cycle sport in recent weeks; a junior, a vet and – it beggars belief – a 12 hour rider.
But I guess the authorities know best and will sort it all out – and I say, ‘thank goodness for tennis,’ the one sport you can be sure is pure…
Giro d’Italia announce surprise wildcard entry
And having just said what we have about The Russians, we’re disappointed to see Gazprom-RusVelo riding the Giro at the expense of Androni Giocattoli.
To us it looks like the Ruble ruling the roost; we always admired the fact that Giro looked after it’s own.
Androni’s main man Gianni Savio may have a bit of the Arthur Daley about him but he was never boring and his team always ‘honoured the Pink Race’ – we’ll miss his chat and his boys in those doomed breakaways that just sometimes made it all the way.
“G”‘s autobiography offends no one
Those Lance books we were ranting about at New Year time have got us back in the mood for reading – Geraint Thomas’s book, ‘The World of Cycling According to G’ was one we looked forward to; yes, there’s a ‘but’ coming.
But whilst it’s an easy, entertaining read there’s no mention of any of the sport’s big issues – and not just the ‘D-word,’ the perpetual ASO v. UCI feud, the demise of the British road racing programme or anything else that might be remotely considered contentious.
Cycling Weekly’s Wiggins Tribute
And we bought Cycling Weekly’s souvenir tribute to Sir Bradley; we’d bought and enjoyed the Eddy Merckx and Greg Lemond editions but can’t say the same of this one.
It’s fawning, patronising and refuses to acknowledge that the great man might have the odd flaw – those that are briefly touched upon are classified as part of his ‘coolness.’
And fourth in a Tour prologue isn’t “a great ride” if you’re a specialist, it’s a total failure.
You won’t see the best riders in the world in Rio
Whilst we’re on the subject of the great Olympian we could only sigh when we saw the Olympic road race team allocations for Rio.
Belgium, Colombia, GB, Italy and Spain get five riders; Australia, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Switzerland get four.
The selection criteria are somewhat Byzantine but it’s strange to see a nation with riders of the calibre of Simon Gerrans and Michael Matthews not getting the maximum allocation – similarly, Germany with Tony Martin and John Degenkolb must be disappointed.
But certainly not as disappointed as the USA with just two places awarded; that’s one less than Islamic Republic of Iran and Morocco – and the same number as Algeria and Korea.
Much of this is down to the points score workings of the five UCI ‘circuits’ – Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.
Whilst the Olympics is about the ‘little guys’ getting their day in the sun it’s also about watching the best of the best battle it out.
What we say, is have some fancy selection criteria AFTER you’ve given an automatic ride to the 100 best ranked riders in the world.
If riders any ‘pass’ then give the place to one of the lesser lights; but let’s see the best riders in the race – and if 17 are Belgian and 15 Spanish then so be it.
Don’t worry about collusion – have you ever seen a united Belgian team?
Nor have we.
Ale Jet Signs Off
This season we’ll be without one of the ‘greats’ of the modern sprinting era; Alessandro Petacchi – his palmares take up a full page in the 2016 ‘Velo,’ the results bible for saddos such as myself.
Tall, handsome, laid back with a face that expressed his emotions better than any words, he was Cool.
We’ll miss you, Ale.
Sky’s Elia Viviani is the man ‘most likely to’ become Italy’s new speed king – or is he?
One to watch: Jacub Marezcko
As we prepared this piece, the name we were going to bring to your attention was that of South East’s Jacub Marezcko whom Ale had a hand in grooming; just 21 years-old he won 13 UCI races in 2016.
Then, in came the result from San Luis; second: Elia Viviani – first: Jacub Marezcko.
Keep your eye on that boy.
Robert Sassone, R.I.P.
Finally it’s sad to hear of the death at just 37 years-of-age of Robert Sassone, World Madison Champion with super cool Jerome Neuville in 2001.
Sassone was a Cofidis rider for four years; among his team mates were Philippe Gaumont and Frank Vandenbroucke – if I’d been on that team and on the same kit I think I’d be taking myself along to a clinic for full check over, tres vite.
Rest in Peace Monsieur Sassone.