Following in the footsteps of an echo-chamber championship in Minsk, Belarus, Colombia can hold its head high for what was a well-supported and highly entertaining UCI Track World Championships in Cali. Midway through the Olympic cycle it was also a key battleground for potential Rio candidates, and for those heading to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, a dry-run for July.
So who were the winners and losers, and what have we learned from 2014 UCI Track World Championships?
Kristina Vogel is the fastest woman in the world
It’s official. The 23 year old, just 5’3”, packs a punch, and she’s been ravenous at these championships. Helped by a rapid Miriam Welte, Vogel took team sprint gold number three to break the ice before cruising through to the finals of the individual sprint, Saturday. There she was equal parts speed and sprint craft. The ride for gold against China’s Tianshi Zhong a masterclass. Even as Zhong forced Vogel to the front in the final heat with a lengthy track stand, the German shrugged off any perceived disadvantage by holding her speed better in the final 250 metres to win by a bike-length.
It’s inescapable. The doping scars of the peloton run deep, and despite our best efforts to move on, we can’t block our ears to the past and live in blissful ignorance. In the last two weeks, the 10th anniversary of Marco Pantani’s death, and the impending release of Stuart O’Grady’s autobiography have forced the cycling community to again think about the legacy of fallen stars, and the history of the sport in the context of doping.
There is division. There is ambivalence. There is passion. More than anything it’s difficult not to, in some way, be conflicted. Here are five reasons why I believe at least some conflict to be unavoidable.
If you’re new to cycling or you’ve recently caught the riding bug over summer you’d be forgiven for thinking that the lycra-laden are speaking another language. It’s the one thing that I first noticed when I joined my local club back in 2005, familiar words being used in odd contexts.
And while most of the lingua bicicleta is fairly self-explanatory, I thought I’d put together a few of the more common occurring tidbits of two-wheeled vernacular from the average weekend bunchie as reference point for you novice roadies looking for some conversational bike-nese.
Stage 3 of the Santos Tour Down Under had all the hallmarks of Cadel Evans at his scintillating best. He was gritty, he was gutsy, he was, again a rider without peer, writes Al Hinds.
Evans has been cagey all this week in Adelaide with the press and the fans. He’s been happy to stand for a handful of photos, and give away tidbits of information on his plans for the week, but on the whole he’s been reticent to linger too long. He’s been distant, not out of malice, but of a desire to remain totally committed to the cause. A reflection of the mentality of the finely-tuned athlete we all know he is.
Just shy of a fortnight ago at the nationals in Buninyong, Evans was enigmatic when asked about his silver medal ride. Neither disappointed, nor overly pleased, the 36 year old seemed less concerned with the result and more interested in getting a read on how he was travelling into Adelaide.
There appears to be a little bit of indignation swirling around about the presence of a handful of Avanti riders in the UniSA-Australia team for the Santos Tour Down Under.
In Belinda Hoare’s article published on Cycling Central yesterday, issues were raised over the make-up of the team, the lack of South Australians, and whether Avanti was unfairly represented. She was not alone in raising several questions in relation to the make-up of the team. But there is always an opposing view and contrary to Hoare and others, I believe this year’s team is the right one.
Uni-SA is a team designed, in the words of Kevin Tabotta, to give ambitious young Australian riders the chance to move up and progress in the sport. It’s a team that has saved careers, and helped launch others. It’s a development tool used in concert with the existing high performance structures, the WorldTour Academy, the National Road Series, and the National Program. But the critical point is that every rider in the team needs to be on an upward trajectory. Riding with UniSA-Australia is a privilege, an enviable opportunity that selectors are understandably unwilling to squander on riders that won’t cut the mustard, or that are not fully committed to pursuing a professional career in the sport.