Cycling Central's Al Hinds reads a lot, but rarely reviews. On a whim, and despite an ever-mounting backlog of transcribing to do before Christmas, he decided to break the drought and and pen his thoughts on the latest book to grace his reading table, The Cycling Anthology.
In truth, I’ve been meaning to get my hands on an edition of The Cycling Anthology since the project was first announced late last year. I didn’t, but it was a limited release and I figured I’d see one sooner rather than later. Nearly a year on and finally the third edition found its way to chez Hinds. There’s been books in between, Charly Wegelius’s Domestique stands out, newspapers, magazines, life. Even with the best of intentions books that I genuinely want to read will gather dust in piles beside my bed, not for their quality, but for my lack of time.
Which is why The Cycling Anthology is a breath of fresh air. The third edition, which I’m told is much like the first two, brings together cycling writers from all over the world in one paperback publication, a rare platform for authors to sink their teeth into a subject, short of actually writing a book themselves. The stories range from three to 10 thousand words, which may sound long, but are more than digestible on your average commute, on a lazy weekend afternoon, or in the 30 minutes before drifting into Z-land.
It’s the one time of year where a team can restructure, rebuild and refocus for a new season. For riders it opens the way for a blank slate and a clean start, cash-in on a good season, or scramble for a ride after a bad one. It is the transfer season.
With budgets and roster spots tighter than ever it’s not at all surprising that there’s been very little team hopping from the world’s top riders this year, but with plenty of value on the market it’s still been a very busy window. So who’s done the best? Al Hinds takes a look at some of the key movements of the 2013-2014 transfer period.
Biggest transfers: Rigoberto Uran (Team Sky to OPQS), Rui Costa (Movistar to Lampre-Merida)
The demand for transparency from the professional peloton has never been greater, writes Al Hinds.
Firstly, let me say there is no honour among thieves.
Differentiating, your Ryder Hesjedal's from your Lance Armstrong's, your Riccardo Ricco's from your Matt White's is like splitting hairs. Where there was intention to cheat, rationalising one person's justifications versus another is a fool's errand.
Here’s a question for you Cycling Central readers. When was the last time Cadel Evans took part in the Australian Road National Championships? Scratching your head? Fair enough, because it’s been quite a while.
For those that didn’t want to waste time with an internet trawl and instead flicked their eyes a centimetre down the page - the year was 2005. It was Robbie McEwen’s second national title and it came thanks to an selfless performance from Evans, who acted super-domestique to McEwen, propelling him to the green and gold jersey.
“Cadel Evans was just doing as much work as he could to get us to the finish,” said McEwen of the role Evans had in the win… We rode a superb race together and worked just perfectly.. That enabled me to win the race.”
With his Giro di Lombardia win, and top-four finishes at the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana, Joaquim Rodriguez captured his third WorldTour title last week, a feat unequalled since the series was reformed back in 2005. The series is designed to reward the year's best overall performer, but what does that even mean, and is the WorldTour an effective way to calculate that?
Rodriguez finished season 2013 with 607 points, leapfrogging Chris Froome (second) in the final fortnight of competition, while Alejandro Valverde completed the top-three. A worthy podium in anyone's book, with a Tour de France winner, and two relatively versatile riders right at the pointy end of the standings. Since 2005 however it's worth nothing that the rankings have only once been taken by a non-Grand Tour rider and that was 2011 when Philippe Gilbert won pretty much everything.
So are Grand Tour riders simply more consistent throughout the year, or are the scales of the current system balanced unfairly in their favour?