From Toowoomba to Tuscany via California, Anthony Tan gives his lowdown in the only way he knows how. Straight up.
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM

No need for TTTs in the NRS

As some Cycling Central readers have already noted, the inclusion of team time trials in the National Road Series only skews results further in favour of the better, bigger budget, teams.

Doing so precludes a rider not on Huon-Genesys, Drapac or Budget Forklifts from winning the overall classification. I'd rather see another mountain stage thrown in and/or a mountain time trial so the GC does not hinge on one stage; this has the potential to place those aforementioned teams on the back foot, and may make the racing less controlled.

Walking a straight line

When posited with the issue of Matt White returning to professional cycling as a sport director, I thought Drapac's Will Walker said it best in my interview with him at the Tour of Toowoomba:

"I think six months is a very short time – and even two years for anyone that has done doping is too short," he said.

"We're getting cleaner but not by enough. We need to get rid of all ex-dopers in the sport. They say, 'We can help because we've been through the bad things' – but the best people that can help (make cycling clean) are the ones that made the hard decision to walk away from the sport, when there could have been a potential career for them.

"They're the ones who set the best example for 18-, 19-year-olds, who have parents out there who are still worried about their decisions. These young guns, they're so young and immature, they don't know what's going on. And there's so many good people out there that could be ready for jobs like that… I mean, six months, what is it? It's just a holiday."

That's exactly how I feel, too.

I don't have an issue with Matt White per se. I have an issue with a multitude of ex-dopers returning or working in the sport and justifying their existence on grounds of, 'We won't let happen to you what happened to me'. Because as Walker later said, the reason they're doing what they're doing is largely based on what they've previously accomplished with the aid of something other than bread and water.

Besides, if there is indeed a cultural shift happening, as I'm led to believe there is, why do we need ex-dopers telling Gen Clean not to dope?

"We never even had to make that choice," reigning US national road champ Tim Duggan said of taking drugs. "For all of my colleagues, that's a pretty telling statement about the current state of the sport."

Lance's legacy lives on – perhaps a little too strong

The feeling I'm getting from those on the ground at the Amgen Tour of California is that American cycling fans are still in shock over the US Anti-Doping Agency's Reasoned Decision dossier and the fallout that went with it.

How can you blame them? It's only been a little over half a year since USADA dropped the biggest bombshell to hit the cycling world since Operation Puerto in 2006 or 'L'Affaire Festina' in 1998. Armstrong carried cycling like no other individual, and many of those who followed him were following not so much the race itself, but the story of a guy who came back from the dead and won seven Tours on the trot. Or so we thought.

But like all from Gen EPO who chose to cross the line, he was just one example of what should not be done. "It didn't take Lance to build what we had built today," Kristin Bachochin, senior vice president of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and Tour of California executive director, told the San Jose Mercury News. "We never viewed this race as focusing on one person."

I'd argue against that. The race began in 2006, and even though Armstrong first retired after his since-rescinded Tour #7 in 2005, the ToC was surfing the Texan's wave, as so many others were.

If only Lance had given his ol' buddy Floyd Landis a ride on his team, none of this would've happened.

Despite the enduring pain, I, for one, am glad it did.

TdF leadership weighing on Wiggo's mind?

Has Bradley Wiggins only now been exposed as a poor bike handler, or is it something more than that?

Three days into the Giro, Team Sky put out (though for some reason, you had to go to the website to find it; normally they're emailed to the media) a press release entitled 'Brailsford sets out aims'.

Curiously, it wasn't till the fourth-last paragraph before those aims were clarified: "As always the team selection is a management decision and it will be evidence-based. However it is crucial there is clarity of purpose and for that reason we will go to the Tour with one leader.

"Taking that into consideration and given Chris' step up in performances this year, our plan, as it has been since January, is to have him lead the Tour de France team.

"With over seven weeks until the Tour and the Giro to focus on, our final selection of nine won't be confirmed until after the Dauphiné."

I think the press release would have been better headlined, 'How do you like dem apples, Wiggo? Booyah from the Froome-dog!'

For someone who thought he was in with a shot of doing a Grand Tour double; for someone who thought Tour de France leadership would be decided by Sir Dave Brailford three days out from the Corsica Grand Départ on June 29, or that there would be a "natural hierarchy"; for someone who thought his position on Team Sky's Tour Nine was assured, it must've been a tough pill to swallow.

And now, exposed as a scaredy-cat on the descents, or "like a bit of girl", to use Wiggo's words, particularly in the wet.

For mine, he already lost the Giro last Saturday.

The 55-kilometre-long Stage 8 time trial was where Sir Wiggo hoped to be at least one-and-a-half, if not two, minutes ahead of his main rivals. Instead, he was just 11, 29, and 43 seconds ahead of Vincenzo Nibali, Cadel Evans and Michele Scarponi, respectively, and 1'12 in front of Robert Gesink. The only guy he (and the aforementioned others) made good time on was defending champ Ryder Hesjedal, but not even midway through and after the first mountain stage, the Canadian is a massive 23'45 down, and can no longer be considered a contender.

There is just one 20.6km time trial left. Cold comfort for Bradley, unfortunately, for it is a mountain TT – thus offering him no insurance against more mountain losses – and by Stage 18, his energy levels are likely to be seriously depleted; he is a tempo-guy on the hills and all and sundry will do their utmost to break that metronomic Sky rhythm used to devastating effect last July.

How does one make up time on two rivals – namely, Nibali and Evans – in an area where, all things being equal, he is less strong?

Cycling Central reader Ross Cayley was harsh but fair in his assessment:

"Wiggo – a big motor for sure, but can't ride a bike. Slow in the wet, still pretty crap in the dry. The contrast between Wiggo and Cadel in the first half of the time trial couldn't be clearer: Bradley braking early, tip-toeing around every corner, relying on that motor to get back up to speed, compared to Cadel (and Nibali) attacking every apex full tilt, carving through the corners using every last cm of available road, maintaining speed. Cadel should attack on every wet descent from now on."

Sure, and as Brailsford said prior to the race start, "the Giro is a race which lends itself a lot more to opportunist racing" – but Wiggins is not an opportunist. He is a calculist.

Unlike the Vuelta a España in 2011 where they changed leadership too late for fear of offending Wiggins, thus costing Chris Froome the title, Sky must switch gears now and place their faith in Rigoberto Uran.

If properly supported, the Colombian, not Cadel, is the greatest threat to Nibali's quest to the throne.