Watching the Will Clarke show in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, The Broom Wagon found itself struggling to fully enjoy the Tour Down Under.
It was not because it was into its second bottle of Wagon O'Broomshine and therefore several sheets to the wind, and not because this year's race is yet to feature a cameo by the Minsk missile, FDJ sprinter Yauheni Hutarovich. It was not even out of mourning for the new yellow Wiggle.
It was Shane Warne's fault. Recently Warne used his Twitter account to call for cyclists to be forced to ride single file, and for riders over 18 to be registered. It's the sort of thing often spouted by people with a beef against cyclists, and can usually be safely ignored (the case for registering cyclists is demolished here). However, Warne has 636,000 followers and is therefore more influential than your average Szubanski. Then on Tuesday, the champion leg-spinner tweeted a long (for twitter) account of a run-in with a cyclist while he was driving back from a training session at the MCG.
Warne's story is here. The cyclist's is here. On Friday an anonymous witness contacted The Age with a story matching the cyclist's. Much debate ensued, plenty of it perpetuating an 'us versus them' dynamic that, if you ride on the roads, is enough to put you off leaving the house.
What makes these confrontations between drivers and cyclists especially volatile is the unequal nature of the interaction. If we take Warne's version of Tuesday's incident to be true, the impact on Warne amounted to inconvenience: a thump on his car's bonnet and a few seconds' delay. In the cyclist's version he was knocked off his bike, which was damaged to the point where he could not ride it home.
We can all agree that road users – whether drivers, cyclists or whatever they call people who ride mopeds – share a responsibility to stick to the rules. However, when cyclists behave badly the consequences are for the most part minor.
When car drivers behave aggressively, or become distracted, or swerve into a bike lane, the consequences are frequently worse. Emma Johansson, Sweden's current national champion and Olympic silver medallist, broke both her collarbones while training in the Canary Islands last weekend. The accident was caused by an oncoming car which attempted to illegally overtake another car on a bend with poor visibility. Had Johansson and the driver not managed to swerve at the last second, the accident could have been fatal.
No one should need reminding why the Amy Gillett foundation exists. Least of all, you would think, a professional athlete.
Dispatches from the Twitterverse
This 43 degrees spoiled defenitly all the work I did on my tan in these last 8 days #italian #TDU - @manuelquinziato
My conclusion of todays stage is that hot sports drink tastes like ... you know what! - @mickrogers
The week in ...
Here's something that distinguishes the internet from real life. On eBay, Michael Creed has 100 per cent positive feedback.
Creed, a former rider with Lance Armstrong's Discovery Channel team, twattled a link (subsequently deleted) to an eBay auction for a 'pre-owned' pair of Ted King's Liquigas team shorts apparently swiped when King left them behind after a training session with Creed. The auction featured a picture of the crumpled bib set laid out on somebody's mattress. The product description confirmed the shorts had "no holes or poo stains, which means he didn't use them when training with me" and painted King as a skinflint who wouldn't stop talking about riding in Italy.
"100 per cent of the profit from these shorts goes to replacing the gas he stole by using my car and not replacing it," the description continued, before veering into a universe of Creed's making.
"I've talked to ted about this and he personally promised that if you buy these shorts for over 50 bucks you can have his tour of California race bike. HE PROMISED THAT TO YOU, i didn't. See him and not me about that offer. If he doesn't pay up he's a scumbag liar and you can call him that in person with his shorts on."
"What the F is wrong with you @Michael_Creed?" King replied.
The shorts sold after 20 bids for $124.49.
... slight delays
Clenbuterol latest -- The Court of Arbitration for Sport noted with great disappointment that some media have been reporting "certain rumours" in relation to Alberto Contador's case. Tapping its gavel for emphasis, CAS took the opportunity to ask all parties involved in the case whether they wanted to challenge the make-up of its ruling panel of three attorneys. Nobody did.
"Unfortunately, this regrettable incident has slightly delayed the work of the panel," the court said in a statement. Publication of the court's final decision is now scheduled for the week of January 31. CAS even confirmed this refers to this year's January 31. Set your watches!
Ivan Basso gets a massage. Assuming the US Congress has not yet shut down the internet, this should be set to a soundtrack of wah-wah guitars by Monday.