After literally crashing across the finish line in the final sprint finish of the Tour of Hainan yesterday, Tom Palmer felt like answering a question that he is often asked. What is bunch sprinting like?
With three kilometres to go your boys approach the front, drawing even with a freight train of nine Russians. It seems pretty calm because at this point everything is straight lines and almost matching jerseys and with a tailwind you’re well over 60km/h. Into the last corner at one kilometre to go the two trains blend. No brakes, it’s just a sweeper but there’s limited room.
A new team is in your grille now, they’re all green and tanned and fat. You have no idea where they came from. The first few into the corner brake too hard. Bad line. What? Someone is standing in the road, one metre out from the apex of the corner and pointing a flag: like a child on a freeway. Guys go everywhere, tyres scrape, brakes squeal and one guy makes it through on the inside of the freeway kid (a Czech guy, he wins).
I think a lot these days about the potentially impending zombie apocalypse.
But the dope-scourge and zombie-menace are not the same. Zombies are way easier to catch, and the gluttonous peoples they tend to befall invariably ‘had it coming’. That is not us Tour fans.
Today’s my birthday, which is usually around the eve of the tour. I’ve often celebrated it amid headlines revealing my heroes are drug cheats.
Do Peter Sagan’s podium antics at the Ronde van Vlaanderen highlight a problem with professional cycling's role models? Tom Palmer reflects on the race and whether we should expect more from our cycling stars and their attitude to women.
In my first year racing against professionals, an experienced teammate gave me some advice that upset me then, and sticks with me now. A teenager at the time, a professional rider took a sling off my jersey in a sprint finish to win the race. My teammate consoled me by sarcastically saying “it’s okay, the good guys always win”.
What he helped me come to terms with, was that in our sport there is no rule to this effect. Finish lines don’t know how just or noble you are, they don’t care how sexist or repugnant you are. Finish lines know distance, time and nothing more.
After an unforgettable day on the bike in Taiwan, Tom Palmer waxes lyrical on how sweet the feeling of victory is within a well-oiled team, even if it's not your own personal success that you're celebrating.
There's something rewarding about being a domestique. Cycling is obviously a team sport but I guess it is hard to comprehend what that really means until you've experienced racing for a team.
It has always seemed to me that teamwork is supercharged with an element of sacrifice and injustice in a sport where only one team member crosses the line, salutes and stands on the podium. In reality, the dispersal of that success is really dependent on the dynamics and relationships in the team.
Does the Subaru National Road Series, and the domestic calendar represent an enticing alternative to slugging away in the amateur ranks in Europe? Tom Palmer thinks so, and hopes for a day when it won't even be something aspiring professionals think of in their pursuit of making a career out of the sport.
It’s that time of year again when the other cycling hemisphere wakes from its winter hibernation, beckoning our best and brightest away with the promise of opportunity and adventure. But for me, one of a few now choosing to stay home, it has me questioning why this 'leg-drain' occurs in the first place?
Australians have a decades-old tradition of cycling pilgrimage. We sling a bike over our shoulders and set off for Europe’s mountains and cobbles to turn our passion into a profession.