The Back of Hell – video

Roubaix-ParisThe dust hasn’t quite settled yet from this past Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix—and the riders have at least one more day before it has cleared their lungs—so we’re still talking about the race. And though no worn-out string of clichés and superflous adjectives can do adequate justice to Fabian Cancellara’s victory, we’re happy to know that people are also interested in the more human side of the sport—in the dreamers and also-rans.

In Last But Not Least, his piece for Rouleur, writer Andy McGrath tells the story of Chris Juul Jensen, the rider who finished dead last in Roubaix this year. Professional bike racers typically don’t ride all the way to the finish just for the satisfaction of doing so—but Paris-Roubaix is something special.

And then there’s this poignant video from NOS, which shows the race from a perspective you didn’t see on Sunday’s television broadcast—the view from from the back, from the broom wagon. Climbing into the broom wagon always leaves a little scar on your soul, as the pain of riding on alone is traded for the shame of admitting total defeat. For me, the worst part of the broom-wagon ordeal was watching, and feeling utterly helpless, as my bike was loaded onto a trailer or into the back of a large van.

see the video HERE at their site

Peter Sagan wins Gent – Wevelgem in style and doing a wheelie

Love this guy – what a battle going 6km from end.

March 24th: After taking second place in E3 Harelbeke, Peter Sagan and the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team line up for the 75th edition of Gent-Wevelgem, often known as the “sprinters’ classic” for its flat finish – despite a double ascent of the Baneberg, Kemmelberg and Monteberg. Leading the UCI World Tour rankings, yet still in search of his first classics win, Sagan leads a team in the freezing Flanders conditions including Italians Elia Viviani, Mauro Da Dalto, Alan Marangoni and Fabio Sabatini with extra support from Ted King (USA) Kristijan Koren (Slovenia) and Maciej Bodnar (Poland).

Peter Sagan wheelie-ing to victory.

Fabian Cancellara is absent from the five images submitted. The Swiss, no fan of Sagan’s antics, abandoned the race at the final feed zone, perhaps fearing the worst, or more likely, feeling he had suffered enough en route to his own solo victory at E3 Harelbeke two days earlier.

The two men will line-up alongside each other  at the Ronde Van Vlaanderen on Sunday (March 31) for their third Belgian showdown of the season. The score is 1-1, but Tornado Tom Boonen could yet blow them both away.




Olympic road race

A bit of a disaster today – starting favourite and over hyped was always going to prove a curse. All the teams left the Brits to chase down the pack of 22 escapees and sadly 4 men can’t tow a pelaton and catch up with a group of 22 elite riders. Germany decided to help at the last but by then it was too late …. The group of escapees worked together well and as they were about to sit up and play for position Vinokourov shot off the front on the left and the Colombian diced through on the right – no one chased and pretty soon gold and silver were sorted.

Vinokourov and Rigoberto Uran (Colombia) had escaped from a larger breakaway in the final kilometres of the 250-kilometre race around London and Surrey. Vinokourov opened up his sprint in the final 500 metres as Uran appeared to look the other way and miss the move.

The young Colombian had to settle for silver, with Alexander Kristoff sprinting at the head of the large 30-rider chase group to claim bronze for Norway.

Cavendish came home in the main bunch 40 seconds behind the leaders after Great Britain failed to bring back the escapees on the journey back from Box Hill to The Mall.

A pre-race favourites and with such strong home support, it was Great Britain’s race to lose. Cavendish, Ian Stannard, Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and David Millar had controlled the day’s events admirably on the nine ascents of Box Hill, pegging back the time advantage of an earlier 12-rider escape group, an attack by a group containing Vincenoz Nibali (Italy) and a lengthy solo move by Philippe Gibert (Belgium). But the effort took its toll.

A large group, led by Spain and Switzerland, launched at attack on the final Box Hill circuit. With no other teams willing to assist in the chase, Great Britain looked tired and isolated on the road back to London as the lead group forged ahead.

Cavendish’s hopes of an Olympic medal once again evaporated, and he crossed the line in London shaking his head in disappointment.

“The Germans came a bit too late and the other teams seemed to be more content that they wouldn’t win as long as we didn’t win. That’s kind of how it goes,” Cavendish told BBC Radio Five Live after the race.

“I can be proud of how the lads rode today. I’m proud of my country because there was incredible support. The guys are sat there, they are spent. They have got nothing left in the tank. It’s incredible to see what they gave for the cause.”

There were several notable casualties during the race, not least Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) who crashed out after misjudging a corner whilst in the lead group. He appeared to have injured his shoulder, throwing some doubt on his participation in the time trial on Wednesday.

Tom Boonen (Belgium) also had his chances dashed with a badly-timed puncture in the final 20 kilometres. A wheel change meant he lost contact with the peloton.

Controversial winner
Vinokourov will be seen by many as a controversial Olympic champion, after he failed an anti-doping control for homologous blood transfusion at the 2007 Tour de France and was ejected from the race.

The 38-year-old has always strenuously denied any wrong-doing and returned to cycling in 2009 after a two-year suspension.

Earlier this year, Vinokourov announced that this would be his last season as a professional rider.

Grand Day Out
The result may not have been what many British fans were hoping for, but the support for British riders along the route was unprecedented.

UCI president Pat McQuaid’s estimate that one million spectators would turn out to watch the race cannot have been far off, as crowds lined every street and road on the entire route.

It was once again proof that cycling is riding on a high in Britain after this year’s Tour de France success.


A study in the Art of Descending

Here is a youtube clip of Cancellara descending – he was a yellow jersey holder at the time but had suffered a rear flat and because his team thought he was going to lose his yellow jersey anyway in the mountainous stage they left no teammate to help him chase back to the peloton. He wouldnt give up though ….

It is the most amazing sequence. Not just the extraordinary skill of perhaps the finest descender we have ever seen. But give credit to the motorcycle team who had to do this with a pillion rider on the bike and to the producer who at some moment decided just to let the sequence run – for almost the whole seven minutes.

If you regard yourself as disinterested in cycle racing – perhaps a pure cycle commuter – I suggest you watch this and imagine. At some time this chap is going to retire from racing. Can you see him riding to work in a traffic jam near you?

Tour of Flanders Race 2012

Yesterday i tuned in in to watch as much of the tour of Flanders as I could – Mr Cancellara bit the dust at a feeding station which is hugely unlucky …

immediately it seemed half the Radioshack team stopped in case he needed pacing back to the front … as it happens 3 or 4 fractures in his collarbone meant he was out and then the escape was away …

also injured after going over the bars very hard was Langeveld who also broke his collarbone … watching the spectator trying to get out of the way puts the speed into perspective

this from the Telegraph article

The 31-year-old – previously a winner in 2005 and 2006 – beat home Italian duo Filippo Pozzato and Alessandro Ballan in a sprint finish to the 255km race.

Boonen admitted that he hadn’t been very confident of winning when he was left with just the two Italians for company.

“However, the wind was my ally. It was very tough to cycle alone in the last 8 kilometres (with the two Italians).

“The victories record is the cherry on the cake, it only adds to my happiness. To have my name alongside names who have entered the history books in this race…

“This season, I knew that I could equal or beat quite a few records. But to win my favourite race three times is special.”

His task had been made easier when Switzerland’s Olympic time-trial champion Fabian Cancellara, the winner in 2010, fell 62km from the finish and was later diagnosed to have broken his right collarbone in three places.

Cancellara, who was one of the pre-race favourites for the second one day classic of the season, will be transferred to a hospital in Baszel, Switzerland, where he will undergo an operation.

It brings a premature end to his classics season which had seen him highly favoured for both this race and the Paris-Roubaix next Sunday.

“I saw him fall, he was right beside me, and I all but went with him,” said French champion Sylvain Chavanel.

“There were water bottles all over the road. He flew through the air. He was very unlucky.”

Boonen too was sorry what had befallen his rival.

“It’s a shame. The race would have been different with him in the mix.”

Boonen – who was aided by Chavanel in regulating the pace after the peloton regrouped with 39km to go – was left with just a group of 10 other riders after a crash after 221km had split the peloton.

Ballan made a break for it on the third climb and was joined by Pozzato and Boonen with 17km to go, with the trio gradually extending their lead.

Boonen – who was world road race champion in 2005 and has won the Paris-Roubaix three times – was recording his eighth win of the season and third in 10 days.

Boonen said that a fourth Paris-Roubaix next weekend was not out of the question.

“I have won a fair few races this season and my confidence has returned,” he said.

“Paris-Roubaix? It would be fantastic to win it after having won the GP E3, Ghent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders.

“I am going to try. It is a race that suits me better than the Tour of Flanders.”

UCI Cyclilng Men World Tour, Tour Des Flandres, Oudenaarde, Belgium

Leading final positions after Elite Men (Brugge – Oudenaarde 256.9km): 1. Tom Boonen (Bel) (Team: OPQ) 6hrs 04mins 33secs, 2. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) (FAR) at same time, 3. Alessandro Ballan (Ita) (BMC) at 0.01, 4. Greg van Avermaet (Bel) (BMC) at 0.38, 5. Peter Sagan (Svk) (LIQ) at same time, 6. Niki Terpstra (Ned) (OPQ) at same time, 7. Luca Paolini (Ita) (KAT) at same time, 8. Thomas Voeckler(Fra) (EUC) at same time, 9. Matti Breschel (Den) (RAB) at same time,10. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) (OPQ) at same time

Selected others57. Ian Stannard (Gbr) (SKY) at 3mins 26secs DNF:Jeremy Hunt (Gbr) (SKY)

Maybe Fabian can make it again: TREK Isofix

Well a heavy option would be to use a mountain bike system like the cannondale scalpel to flex away the pave but treks new Domane looks sweet as a honey bees glory ….

Back when we were speculating on the sneak peek shots ofTrek’s new Domane underneath Fabian Cancellara at the Strade Bianche, we conjectured (is that a word?) that the seatpost and the main frame were separate. And they are. Spartacus himself has been heavily involved with the design process, and the bike “specifically addresses the challenges of rough road conditions found throughout the spring classics courses with a collection of key innovations unlike any available before today”, according to Trek.

The Domane (That’s Do-MAH-nee, apparently, which is latin for “King’s crown” as well as being an anagram of Madone) features a technology which Trek have christened IsoSpeed. It’s a “functional decoupler that separates the ride-tuned seat mast from the top tube”. So effectively the the seat tube isn’t attached to the top tube and seatstays like you’d normally expect, but instead is held in place by a pivot and some kind of elastomer coupling that acts as a buffer between the seat mast and the top tube. Being an elastomer it will act as a damper which also perhaps opens the possibility of further tuning the ride… not that we’d fancy trying to take it out.

IsoSpeed means lots more compliance, say Trek. Twice the vertical compliance of the nearest competition is their claim. Not only that but they claim that it’s even stiffer laterally than the Madone. A bike that’s got a bit more give should be a boon over long rides and difficult surfaces, with the IsoSpeed coupling allowing more fore-aft movement as well as in the vertical plane.

Cancellara’s certainly happy. “When you work with Trek and the engineers it’s a combination that lets you examine every detail and the details that it takes to win the races that this bike is made for are bigger than any other,” he gushed. “The end result of all that work is the Domane and after competing on this bike, winning on this bike, it’s going to be hard to get me on anything else,” he said, although that didn’t stop him swapping back to the Madone for the smooth tarmac of Milan-San Remo.

In the end it’s a comfort bike. A performance-led one. Trek have always maintained that they didn’t need a comfort bike because the Madone was comfy enough and available in different geometries, but they’ve inevitably lost out in sales against the likes of the Specialized Roubaix, Cannondale Synapse and Giant Defy Advanced, and more and more manufacturers are producing performance-comfort bikes now;BMC’s launch of the cobble-friendly GF01 is next week.

Like the Madone 6 Series the Domane boasts an OCLV carbon frame with a super-wide BB90 bottom bracket and internal cable routing. There’s a new Bontrager RXL fork to go with the frame, too. Trek call the cable routing ‘race-optimised’ and interestingly the cables on the Domane all enter the headtube on the same side (something we noticed when we spotted the bike at the Strade Bianche). We’ll be looking to see if that is an innovation that makes it’s way on to the next generation of the Madone – surely due for launch any time now.

The Domane’s geometry is different from that of the Madone. The head tube is just a little taller than you’ll get on an H2 fit Madone – Trek do three different fits, the H1 being the most aggressive, the H3 being the most relaxed. The Domane’s head tube is 17.5cm compared to 17cm on an H2 fit Madone. The top tube is slightly shorter too. You get a slacker head tube angle, an increased fork offset, longer chainstays, a longer wheelbase and more of a bottom bracket drop on the Domane too, which should translate into a more planted, stable ride which is especially useful on rough roads where hitting something hard and jagged on a standard road bike can knock you completely off-line.

Cancellara doesn’t ride with electronic gears; if he did you’d have seen the battery mounted at the bottom of the down tube, basically in the middle of the bottom bracket. For a bike that’s designed to be ridden over the rough stuff that seems like an odd placing to us, being a bit more vulnerable to debris kicking up from the front wheel than the current favourite position of underneath the chainstay.

Other pave-beating touches include super skinny seatstays and an integrated chain catcher; some of the RadioShack Nissan Trek boys would undoubtedly find that useful on the Madone too. Hopefully then the new integrated chain catcher on SRAM Red is detachable – how many chain catchers does a boy really need? Actually, we’re guessing that the one on the Damone is detatchable for those who can change gear without dropping the chain.

The new Domane is available right now in two versions (there’s three on the UCI list), and in another break from the usual the Custom version is cheaper than the Team Edition. quite a bit cheaper as it turns out. You can have a Custom Domane 6 for a mere £3,700 (although you can pay more if you want) while the Domane 6 Series Team Edition can be yours for £8,290. There must be some Unobtanium knocking about in that one. Well, do you want to beat the cobbles or not?

That’s it for now. But if that isn’t enough, we’ve got a man in the area: VecchioJo is currently hot-footing his way across the low countries to ride the Flanders sportive, and he’s even now diverting to Kortijk (picture one of those Union Jack arrows from the start of Dad’s Army) where Trek are currently showcasing the new machine. He should be able to swing a leg over it too, so stay tuned for a first ride soon… if he doesn’t get lost.