Thirteen years is a long time between drinks for fans of Australian
cross country (XCO) mountain biking but on Monday the community awoke to
a pair of victories and blossoming hope for the future, writes Phil Gomes.
On Saturday night (AEST) Rebecca Henderson was the first to break the long running Australian drought by winning the opening race of the under 23 category at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Albstadt, Germany.
Her victory was the first recorded at that level by any Australian rider since Cadel Evans and Mary Grigson at the turn of the millennium in 2000.
Grigson, a multiple national champion and Olympian won her event in Napa, California while Evans, who needs absolutely no introduction, won in Canmore, Alberta and Mont Sainte-Anne, Quebec.
It’s never easy when apprentice usurps master, particularly when it happens earlier than expected. But as Anthony Tan writes, for those on the sidelines, it makes for fascinating viewing.
When the winner of the 14th stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia, Mauro Santambrogio of Vini Fantini-Selle Italia, was asked what it felt like to drop his former leader Cadel Evans on the climb to Bardonecchia-Jafferau, he responded thus:
“It gives me great confidence, although I have to thank Cadel because I learned a lot when I rode alongside him. With Cadel I learned how to prepare for a three-week tour. Now, as a captain on a team, I can really make the most of what I have learned.”
It’s never a nice feeling, when the apprentice becomes the master, at least for the latter, that is. Even more so when the unspoken changing of the guard happens prematurely.
Women’s race organisers in France have turned their tainted reputation a little muddier, after the debacle of the second consecutive cancellation of the Tour Languedoc Rousillion, originally scheduled as UCI 2.2 stage race from 17-22 May.
In 2012, the race was cancelled because of possible ‘financial problems’ leaving many riders in a tight spot. It had been the final opportunity for women to fight for UCI points to qualify places for the London 2012 Olympic Games before the May 31 deadline.
Last year, teams had three weeks notice. This year, many teams were already in Carcassonne, or en-route to the region in the south of France known for its good wine and great cycling terrain.
Some had flown straight in from China, having raced at the Tour of Chongming Island and the World Cup only two days earlier. Unfortunately, it had been the scene of another farcical race event, leaving the world’s best sprinters incredulous and team directors getting nothing but an apology.
For the second year running, he’s the oldest licensed rider in the WorldTour peloton. But as Anthony Tan writes, nothing’s going to slow Jens Voigt down. Not yet, anyway.
I’m mother f**king Jens Voigt so they’re not going to catch me.If only one could clone ‘The Jensie’. Or bottle it up and make Andy Schleck skol copious quantities of it till he’s inebriated beyond belief, drunk on The Jensie.
In January last year, at the Santos Tour Down Under, I interviewed Jens Voigt at length for US cycling publication VeloNews. Then aged 40, he told me that, “Nobody likes to get old, but I can still keep up, so it’s all good”.
“Cycling is too hard a sport to do it for the money. You’ve got to have the passion. The willingness to do it… the desire to go. And I still have that. It’s not a tiny little spark in the dark, but a full-on burning flame, the passion that I have (for cycling).”
The bears tore through the Australian dollar over the past two weeks, falling from US$1.03 to nearly US$0.97.
That's good news for exporters, but bad news for Australian travellers.
The sudden decline follows speculation the US Federal Reserve may be winding down its bond buying program.
That essentially means, America's central bank will be pumping less cash into the economy.
Who would've thought that the Linzer torte is the oldest recorded recipe in the world? It doesn’t have the appearance, or ingredients, of a particularly aged dish, yet the first written recipe for it was found to have been written in 1653. However, history aside, I didn’t have great hopes for this dish – it just seemed too simple to be really delicious. The short pastry is enhanced with spices and lemon zest and also contains toasted ground almonds (which I did in a frying pan on the stovetop in a few minutes). A food processor made it easy to rub the butter through, although I probably took it a little too far beyond the “breadcrumb” stage, and then worked the egg yolk in with my hands.
I used a round, loose-bottomed tart tin and had more than enough pastry to line it with. I found the pastry a little difficult to work with – whether I roll it between two sheets of cling film or baking paper, it always seems to slide all over the bench. Any suggestions for how I can improve this would be happily accepted. Refrigeration is key for this recipe, so there was a bit of other kitchen action happening as it was in and out of the fridge. My lattice work definitely left something to be desired, but I managed to get a decent approximation – however, I won’t be setting up a patisserie anytime soon.
The big surprise with this torte was how good it tasted. Like I said, I wasn’t expecting much from jam with pastry, but the combination of nuts, spices and lemon zest worked brilliantly with the strawberry jam to create a dessert that is simple and very more-ish. And, yes, of course it works with ice-cream.
Unless you count a few high school detentions, I have never been locked up, so I wasn't sure what to expect from the marathon six hour media lock-in for the federal budget in Canberra.
Luckily for me, the team of SBSstaffers based at our Parliament House bureau are nothing less than consummate professionals who were able to walk me through the process. Here's how it went down:
10am: The flight from Sydney to Canberra is barely more than a short bounce across the highlands. As the plane descends, I scan the skies for a glimpse of Skywhale. Haven't heard of Skywhale? It's Canberra's teat-baring gift to herself on her 100th birthday. It's a clear day, but sadly I don't see a thing.
Choices, choices. Team Sky's always had them, BMC's suddenly been gifted them, and some teams are bereft of them. They do, however, make for interesting dynamics in every team as the Giro d'Italia heats up, and the Tour de France looms, writes Al Hinds.
I've been surprised, to say the least, at what the Giro has thrown up so far. Not the displays of animated racing, nor the wet and wild descents, the crash-marred sprints, or the tifosi packing the roadsides. No, the Giro was always going to be an excellent race, an excellent spectacle. It always is.
But what appeared an almost predestined podium, when the Giro arrived at Brescia, has become far from it with still more than a week to race. I'll put my hand up and say I had Wiggins pencilled in for a place near the top of the dais, and, if things went well, his name engraved on that eye-catching trophy.
This just hasn't been Brad's year, though. Far from his imperious best, he's lacked the authority-stamping time trial displays, the unflinching ability on the climbs or, for that matter his 2012 honour guard.
From Toowoomba to Tuscany via California, Anthony Tan gives his lowdown in the only way he knows how. Straight up.
No need for TTTs in the NRS
As some Cycling Central readers have already noted, the inclusion of team time trials in the National Road Series only skews results further in favour of the better, bigger budget, teams.
Doing so precludes a rider not on Huon-Genesys, Drapac or Budget Forklifts from winning the overall classification. I’d rather see another mountain stage thrown in and/or a mountain time trial so the GC does not hinge on one stage; this has the potential to place those aforementioned teams on the back foot, and may make the racing less controlled.
Walking a straight line
The 2013 Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden, will be held at a time when many parts of the eurozone struggle with recession and austerity measures that have prompted protests in some countries across the continent.
The high costs associated with participating in the event - and potentially hosting it should they win – have seen countries like Portugal, Poland, Slovakia and Bosnia-Herzegovina pull out of this year's contest.
Sweden, which is hosting thanks to Loreen's winning entry “Euphoria” last year, is downsizing the event, spending around $20 million. It's about half the estimated production cost of the 2012 show in Baku, Azerbaijan. And that's not including the $100 million it forked out to fast-track construction of its new arena, dubbed the Crystal Palace, where last year’s Eurovision was held.
But if you were to measure success by the number of eyeballs focussing on the production, then a success it is. More than 125 million people watched Eurovision in 2012, making it one of the world’s biggest televised events.
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