SBS Blogs - Cycling Central
Accepting the inevitable wrath that comes with critiquing the hometown team, as Orica-GreenEDGE frantically search for an Australian who can one day challenge for a Grand Tour podium, Anthony Tan wonders whether too much pressure is being placed on the young shoulders of Cameron Meyer, and suggests a solution that may require a degree of humility.
Cameron Meyer is easy to like and hard to hate.
In fact, he’s hard to dislike even just a little. Courteous to all; exceptionally diligent with an incredible work ethic; clearly talented but never big-notes himself or his team; and yes, rides for Orica-GreenEDGE but seems to go out of his way to make sure he’s not perceived to be ‘one of the boys’.
And now, with his team missing out on signing Richie Porte, who has chosen to stay at Sky Procycling – “We would have liked Richie to come onboard,” team owner Gerry Ryan told the Sydney Morning Herald last month – it seems the 25-year-old has the weight of the country’s expectations on his skinny shoulders.
Another week, another set of great Australian results from the latest MTB World Cup round in Val di Sole Italy.
In previous years a blasé statement like this would be purely reserved for the gravity disciplines of 4-Cross or Downhill (DH) in which Australia has been very successful.
And while Dean Lucas pulled off a nail biting win in the Junior Men's DH at Val di Sole, the headlines have instead been focussed on two names, Rebecca Henderson and Dan McConnell.
They're lycra bandits, whippets, they ride XCO (Olympic format cross country) a discipline that largely fell off the radar for the average cycling fan ever since Cadel slipped on one of those hideous Mapei jerseys and rode off to make history over a decade ago.
Get used to it – cycling is in the Era of the Power Meter. The sport is now, more than ever, a numbers game. And, according to one performance expert, numbers don’t lie, writes Anthony Tan.
The way things work nowadays, I’m spending less and less time out in the field covering sporting events and an increasing amount doing what many of you do in your spare time, which is watch said events live and couch-side, with preferred communication device at arm’s length.
Not that I’m complaining, mind you. Living out of a suitcase for more than two hundred days a year wears thin after a certain while, though it took me five masochistic years to realise it.
It’s far from glamorous; sometimes lonely (unless you like that kind of thing), other times stressful because you are more or less on your own; and with athletes mollycoddled and media-managed beyond recognition, that promised one-hour interview has now being reduced to ten minutes max – that’s if you’re lucky enough to get a one-on-one interview – and with few exceptions, is comprised of stock-standard responses in plethora, generally because there’s only enough time to ask stock-standard questions. Besides the basics, I don’t really feel I know many of the athletes these days. Or rather, I know them as athletes but not as people, which is generally what piques my interest most. For mine, results are secondary; I want to know what makes them tick – and what gets them ticked off.
He may deny it but Team Sky's Chris Froome is the almost unbackable favourite heading into the Tour de France.
Barring injury or illness we now have a better idea of what the 100th Tour de France will look like come 29 June, and the race is Team Sky's to lose.
Froome's 2013 season has followed the same arc as Bradley Wiggins's in 2012, successfully completing all of his objectives before a likely metronomic victory in Paris.
Using its depth of talent, Sky suffocated the race and snuffed out any hope the pretenders had of winning. It did so with Froome, who finished second by Wiggins's side.
There couldn't be a better time to kick off a blog about mountain biking than right now and thus I enter the trail head of the well worn single track that is a cycling blog.
Unlike that guy you ride with who's always telling you you're either doing it wrong or absolutely need that new wheel size, carbon doodad or less chainrings, I'd prefer to highlight all the awesome stuff that's happening in mountain biking.
My brilliant yet sometimes blinkered colleague Mike Tomalaris said on Cycling Central last week that he felt that MTB was in decline.
And while it's true that rider numbers in the "as traditional as it gets in MTB" discipline of Olympic format Cross Country (XCO) are pretty low these days, his guest Sid Taberlay made the point that there's still plenty of people racing mountain bikes, it's just that the scope and diversity of events has massively increased over the past decade since the 'glory days' of MTB.
If the peloton of the 65th Critérium du Dauphiné kept their wits about them last Sunday, they would’ve never let a guy like David Veilleux get away with so much. They won’t again – Anthony Tan is sure of it.
I have what it takes. The opportunity will arise one day.Is David Veilleux is the product of more than a decade’s over-reliance on race radios? Or do we attribute it to conservatism by the bigger teams, who have bigger fish to fry in July? Or did he simply get lucky?
In case you missed him – just like most of the Critérium du Dauphiné peloton did last Sunday – the 25-year-old Europcar rider, along with three others whose names you’d probably never heard before, broke away three kilometres into the opening stage of the week-long race that, along with the Tour de Suisse, serves as the final litmus test before The Big Daddy, a.k.a. Le Tour de France.
It wasn’t till the 40-kilometre mark, when the quartet had established a maximum and rather sizeable double-digit advantage of 10 minutes and 10 seconds, that the peloton thought it wise to form a chase.
So here we are again, another Giro d'Italia positive, another Italian, and another from the same Pro Continental team, Vini Fantini-Selle Italia.
A couple of weeks ago it was Danilo Di Luca who fell foul to the drug testers, this week it's the turn of team mate Mauro Santambrogio, who won the 14th stage of the first Grand Tour of the season.
There was the usual opprobrium from all quarters, as there was with Di Luca. It's a rising chorus when you add the immediate responses published to social media.
"Of course I am not happy, but I am not even surprised," said Giro d'Italia race organiser Michele Acquarone to TuttobiciWeb.it. "The nice thing is that the group is rebelling. The peloton is no longer accepting these things."
We didn’t need further proof but recent events involving Danilo Di Luca and Lance Armstrong attest that old habits die hard. Anthony Tan urges us to remove the rose-tinted spectacles in favour of some hard-core realism.
The situational ethics of cycling fans, participants and the media alike is at best naive and at worst disingenuous.After Cadel Evans became the first from this land Down Under to podium in all three Grand Tours, a genuinely historic moment in Australian cycling history, my colleague Mike Tomalaris lamented about the lack of coverage within mainstream media circles.
Perhaps Eric, a Cycling Central reader, had the answer, delivering a blunt assessment of how things stand under a news story published Wednesday, ‘Nike pares back Livestrong involvement’.
“Cycling is now and always has been a ‘dirty’ sport. The situational ethics of cycling fans, participants and the media alike is at best naive and at worst disingenuous... Nike and Armstrong did way more good than harm and yet everyone chooses to demonize these activities as though they never happened before and will never happen again... It is really a shame to take focus away from the fight of the cancer community as a whole...”
Passion for something is a strange beast, with it's origins often derived from the unconventional, as Stuart Randall explains.
A few things came together to inspire this piece of writing. Watching the sumptuous doco "Ryokou" on SBS on Sunday. The final Giro stage. The slight shift in my work focus in the months and years ahead. A desire to express my own journey within the sport. From someone with barely a flicker of interest in the pushbike, to a person who spends much of the year living and breathing the 'sport of professional cycling'. My own "Ryokou". A few things like I say.
The first bike I ever owned was a blue Smurfs bike complete with plastic white stabilisers, which never actually came off. My Mum didn't much like me going out by myself in our neighbourhood in the 80s. And I've only owned one other bike since. A 62cm framed road bike from an era probably close to my Smurfs machine, purchased on eBay three years ago, and collected from a McDonalds car park somewhere the other side of Liverpool in Sydney's South-West.
My new machine (stabiliser free) now sits in my shed, in need of TLC, after the initial rush of enthusiasm wore off and the reality of two young children and a job with very odd hours hit home.
There is no question the Giro d'Italia has gone from strength to strength under the directon of Michele Aquarone, making it a hot global sporting property.
Though often mentioned in the same breath as the Tour de France the Giro has always been considered the lesser of the two events, but substantive changes by organisers over the past two years has led to increased interest.
During the 21 days and 3341.8km of racing, the Giro crossed 17 regions and more than 500 municipalities, making it the perfect showcase for a country that is already the top tourism destination in Europe.
Along with a huge improvement in the technical quaity of the TV viewing experience, the Giro has also extended its reach on the web, and with improved engagement across social media.
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