Buoyed by the great reception our piece on Shane Sutton received – Darryl Webster branded it; “utter garbage” – we thought we’d fire off a few more opinions on what’s been happening recently in our ‘King of Sports.’
Sky finally got their Monument, not from a ‘Brit’ though; Lowlands hard man Wout Poels was first into that most unglamorous of Monument finishes – the retail park in Ans.
Just like when Juan Antonio Flecha won Het Nieuwsblad for Sky back in 2010, Sir David Brailsford was right down there beside Poels like a ferret as soon as the Dutchman crossed the finish line.
I don’t ever remember Patrick Lefevre or Marc Sergeant diving for the limelight like that but – ‘it’s ‘marginal gains’ chaps.’
VeloVeritas sage and guru, Viktor reckoned the win had cost in the region of £175 million; that’s seven years sponsorship at a conservative estimate of £25 mil./year.
That’s around £67,000/kilometre…
But in fairness there’s three Tours de France in there too.
Poels deserved the win on a day when many – including hot pre-race favourite, Alejandro Valverde – just couldn’t handle the cold and wet.
As well as having the ‘grinta,’ and legs, Poels had the head, letting the bull-like Albasini forge the break then keep it out of danger as the hounds bayed at their heels.
The bad weather made for a better race, opening that savagely hard finale up to more potential winners on this cruel day.
On the subject of cruel days, the Tour of Yorkshire was no cake walk and Thomas Voeckler‘s win was straight out of the top drawer.
The man may be nearer the end than the start of his career and pull those crazy faces but he still has what it takes to win big.
His tactical sense in realising he had to get across to Roche & Co. and then his timing in the sprint against the Irishman were brilliant.
The Eurosport commentary on the race is another matter…
Old Carlton reckons that Voeckler had to join Direct Energie because Europcar folded – it’s the same squad, Mr. Kirby just the sponsor is new.
And to go with ‘deramp’ we have another Carlton patented word; ‘becks’ not as in ‘Posh and B###s’ but short for ‘beckons’ as in, ‘a côte becks‘.
Is there no end to that man’s genius?
He also told us that Simon Yates’ positive test result was ‘erroneous’ – Yates and GreenEDGE will be delighted.
Whilst the ‘Forum Sitters’ and ‘Facebook Experts’ seemed to revel in Simon Yates‘ misfortune, once again I had a sharp intake of breath then a sigh.
One part of my brain, the enthusiastic, naive part says; ‘the laddie would never be involved in anything like that, would he?’
But the older, more cynical brain tissue is whispering; ‘Festina, Telecom, Lance, Postal, Tyler, Millar…
I hope that it gets cleared up but would feel much better about it all if we had a statement from the unnamed ‘doctor’ himself rather than releases from the team which focus more on the fact that Yates’ name should not have been leaked in the fashion it was.
That’s a familiar tune.
But like those dudes in the X Factor; ‘I want to believe.’
Back to the Tour of Yorkshire and ‘Our Brad’, Bradley Wiggins – the self proclaimed ‘man of the people‘ didn’t bother to turn up for the press conference, the lure of a birthday cake not enough to get him to face those Nikons.
He then ‘chucked it’ at sight of the first hill – that’s ‘hill‘, let’s please stop calling them ‘côtes‘ – on the grounds that he didn’t want to compromise his Olympic chances.
Kruijswijk’s a Giro contender, Dennis is a serious Olympic TT challenger and they both ‘went round.’
Fact is, Brad’s now a law unto himself; DNS in Coppi & Bartali and now DNF at the Tour de Yorkshire.
On to another man who seems to pretty much do what he feels like, Mark Cavendish.
It’s looking more and more like Vik’s prediction that Cav will go to Rio irrespective of results will come to pass.
And whilst there are no easy wins in Professional Cycling when we saw Cycling Weekly trumpet Cav’s stage win in Croatia, we couldn’t help but remember that oft quoted remark the Manxman used regarding Greipel and those ‘s**t small wins’.
Continuing on the subject of sprinters, it was early in the year when we mentioned Jakub Mareczko (Southeast & Italy) as a ‘coming man’ in that mad world of pro finales.
He added Greipel and Modolo to his scalps in Turkey – we await with interest his Giro debut.
On the subject of finishes, we couldn’t help but shake our heads when Zakarin (Katusha & Russia) was declassed in Romandie for ‘irregularity’ in the sprint against Quintana (Movistar & Colombia).
We have to wonder if it had been a rider a little further down the pecking order than Grand Tour winner Quintana, would the protest have stuck ?
We think not.
Another one that UCI officialdom has got badly wrong is disc brakes.
Whilst it’s being queried in some quarters if Fran Ventoso’s horrific injury was caused by a disc, they arguments about rotor size and difficulty of wheel changes has become redundant as the UCI have banned them from competition.
As have the Étape organisers.
My instinct would be on that ban being lifted – too much money has been sunk into too much research and development by too many major bike companies for discs to binned.
On the subject of bikes and kit, we received a press release from Sidi the other day; Katusha team shoes – very cool.
It’s the touches like this which remind you why only pros look like pros.
And to close, we have to mention young Hugh Carthy‘s (Caja Rural & GB) win in the Vuelta Ciclista Asturias.
He won the first stage then fended off the Movistar onslaught for the final two stages – top drawer riders like Betancur and Moreno.
It’s always nice when the ‘good guy’ wins.