Future of cycling racing is looking rosier …

British Cycling president Brian Cookson will lead the UCI for the next four years following a UCI Congress at Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio replete with plot and intrigue the likes of which the historic building has not witnessed since the power struggles of the republican faction and the Medici family at the turn of the 16th Century. He defeated incumbent president by 24 votes to 18, a resounding margin in the light of earlier expectations that the vote would be too close to call.

The events that formed the background to that historical period underpinned Machiavell’s Prince, written 500 years ago this year, and today Cookson acted on advice from the Flornetine statesman, who once had an office in this very building, in that work – “It is better to be impetuous than cautious” – as he cut short arguments between delegates regarding the validity or otherwise of McQuaid’s nomination and suggested they go straight to a vote on the presidency.

Speaking after his victory, Cookson said: “It is a huge honour to have been elected President of the UCI by my peers and I would like to thank them for the trust they have placed in me today.

“I have said throughout my campaign that we must embrace a new style of governance and a collegiate way of working so that a new era of growth and commercial success for the UCI and our sport can begin.

“My first priorities as President will be to make anti-doping procedures in cycling fully independent, sit together with key stakeholders in the sport and work with WADA to ensure a swift investigation into cycling’s doping culture.

“It is by doing these things that we will build a firm platform to restore the reputation of our International Federation with sponsors, broadcasters, funding partners, host cities and the International Olympic Committee.

“Ultimately this is how we grow our sport worldwide and get more riders and fans drawn into cycling.”

By acceding to the top spot at the UCI, Cookson will have to step down as president of British Cycling, the organisation he help rescue from the brink of bankruptcy in 1997.

“My election as President of the world cycling federation – the UCI – means that I can no longer continue as President of British Cycling,” he went on.

“I am sorry to leave an organisation which I have seen make extraordinary progress over the last 16 years, but I am absolutely thrilled to be given the opportunity to bring about the changes that cycling needs worldwide.

“I know that I am moving on from British Cycling with the organisation in fantastic shape, and I am already looking forward to the challenges ahead as President of the UCI.”

Earlier, delegates had voted 21-21 on whether or not to adopt the controversial proposed change to the UCI Constitution that would have allowed a presidential candidate to be nominated by any two national federations.

That amendment, proposed in July by the Malaysian national federation and intended to be backdated to apply to today’s election, would have meant that McQuaid would automatically have been eligible to stand for today’s vote; having had nominations from Cycling Ireland and Swiss Cycling withdrawn, he has since been nominated by the Thai and Moroccan federations.

McQuaid insisted that he is a member of both those federations and that his nominations by each were made before the 29 June deadline and comply with the UCI’s Constitution – or at least, his interpretation of it, backed up by a legal opinion obtained by the UCI from international law firm Baker & McKenzie.

After hearing a lawyer explain why McQuaid’s nomination was believed to be valid, delegates rose to speak for or against it and the issue was due to go to a vote on whether the incumbent president could stand until Cookson made his dramatic intervention and suggested they should go straight to the issue of determining who should be president for the next four years.

It was a gamble, one that paid opff handsomely, and one that Machiavelli, who had in his mind when writing the prince an ideal ruler who could unite an Italy torn apart by factional in-fighting and threats from outside, would have approved of.

World’s lightest 29’er

finger lifting good
finger lifting good

Open co-founder Gerard Vroomen has no problem one-finger lifting a bike he claims is the lightest 29er hardtail in the world.

There is no UCI minimum when it comes to mountain bikes, but if there was it’s safe to say two new concept bikes from Open would be flagged illegal. As it is the pair of hardtail 29ers on display at Eurobike (one fully rigid, one with a 60mm leaf spring fork) are both under the UCI’s 6.8kg minimum for road bikes.

This fully rigid steed weighs just 14.1 pounds.

The fully rigid Open weighs in at 6.4kg (14.1 pounds), while the suspended version tips the scale at 6.7kg (14.8 pounds). Both bikes are spec’d with a litany of lightweight parts and wheels from German-weight-weenie parts maker AX Lightness, plus SRAM XX1 drivetrains. The suspension fork is the yet-to-be-released 990-gram Lauf TR29, which uses glass fiber leaf springs instead of more traditional suspension mechanisms. Tires are Schwalbe Furious Fred. The cranks are THM Clavicula.

“We did it because we could,” explained Open co-founder (and former Cervélo) boss Gerard Vroomen. “They are exceptionally lightweight but they are still bikes that are fully functional and can be raced. These are not spec’d with crazy drilled out stuff that breaks when you look at it.”

Frame weight of the O-1.0 is under 900 grams for a size large, added Vroomen, who figures these are the “lightest 29er hardtails in the world.”

Vroomen also gave a thumbs up to the yet unprovenLauf fork. “I think one really big advantage is that it solves the problem of stiction,” he said. “Normally there’s a slight delay in the initial action of a fork, but not here. So over small bumps this fork reacts much quicker. But we still need to do some fatigue testing before we commit to spec’ing it on our bikes.”

However, Vroomen said that sort of testing has already been done with these two super light bikes. “We brought them to the testing agency here in Germany,” he explained. “And they said there were the lightest mountain bikes that have ever passed even though when we first brought them in they were sure that they wouldn’t pass.”

Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 09.15.23

This proof-of-concept steed weighs less than the UCI minimum for road bikes.

The rigid Open is available as a fuselage only, meaning drivetrain and wheels are not included, and retails for $6,700. The suspended bike is simply a proof of concept and is not yet available for sale.

What is needed to save the name of cycling: no 1 get rid of the current UCI nincompoop Mc*Quaid

Pat McQuaid Simon MacMichael_0


British Cycling president Brian Cookson has attacked incumbent UCI president Pat McQuaid over an attempt to change the rules governing the nomination of candidates for the top job at the UCI, world cycling’s governing body.

Cookson, who is standing against McQuaid in the UCI presidential election scheduled for September 27, said: “The efforts to change the nomination and electoral process announced last night on behalf of the UCI director general are a clear sign of desperation from the incumbent President, Pat McQuaid.

“This latest twist appears to be nothing more than a fraught attempt to undemocratically and unconstitutionally impact on the process while it is underway.

McQuaid seeks nomination

McQuaid secured a nomination from the Swiss cycling federation after his own home federation, Ireland, voted not to nominate him. That nomination is being challenged in the Swiss courts. The UCI insists this is permitted, but three Swiss Cycling members, Swiss national coach Kurt Buergi, former Swiss Cycling board member Mattia Galli and ex-pro Patrick Calcagni have filed a complaint which will be heard on August 22.

If their complaint is upheld, then McQuaid’s only hope of nomination is the proposed rule change, which will allow any two federations to nominate a presidential candidate and which will be applied retrospectively if it is accepted at the UCI Congress on September 27.

The rule change

The change was explained to UCI Congress members in a letter yesterday from Christophe Hubschmid, director general of the UCI management committee. In that letter, Hubschmid said: “The Malaysian Federation and Asian Continental Confederation state that their aim is to reinforce the independence of future UCI presidents by ensuring they are able to carry out the role based on serving the global interests of cycling, independently from those of any single nominating national federation.”

A press release from the UCI explained:

“As national federations are being informed about this proposal after the original deadline to nominate presidential candidates has passed, as a transitional provision, for the 2013 Presidential elections only, the new amendment also proposes to allow any two national federations to put forward candidates from now until a deadline of Friday 30 August 2013 at 12:00 CEST. These nominations will then become valid if the motion is subsequently approved at Congress.”

Cookson astonished

Brian Cookson expressed astonishment at this development, saying: “It is surely completely out of order to allow a proposal to change an electoral procedure once that procedure is underway. These proposals should never have been permitted onto the agenda.

“In addition to this, which I can only describe as an attempt to change the rules during the game, I note with astonishment that Pat McQuaid is now shown on the election papers as being nominated by three federations.

“The Constitution is quite clear that candidates should be nominated by their own federation. Pat is shown with the designation (IRL) next to his name but, as is well known, Cycling Ireland withdrew his nomination.”

“I have asked the Director General how and why has Pat been given this opportunity?

“It now also appears that any two national federations are to be allowed to make further nominations for the presidency before a new deadline of 30th August, even though under the provisions of the UCI constitution nominations actually closed on 30th June. What sort of organisation attempts to rewrite the rules once an election has actually begun – it smacks of attempted dictatorship.”

Abuse of power

The Swiss case against McQuaid’s nomination is being sponsored by the compression clothing company Skins, whose chairman Jaimie Fuller founded reform group Change Cycling Now and has been one of the most vocal critics of McQuaid and the previous actions of the UCI.

Fuller is not impressed by the attempt to change the UCI rules.

“The latest actions from UCI president Pat McQuaid are those of a desperate man trying to hold onto his dwindling power base,” he said. “This abuse of process and power are unheard of in sports administration circles and his tactics most resemble those of Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe.”

UCI management committee member Mike Plant said he believes that with the intense scrutiny the UCI is currently under, this rule change would further undermine the organisation’s standing.

UCI credibility further destroyed

In a letter to Christophe Hubschmid, Plant wrote: “The timing of this significant change to the Presidential nomination process, less than 60 days from a very contested, globally visible and important election is unconscionable, unethical, dishonest, unprofessional, manipulative and destructive.”

Plant pointed out the level of interest in this election and went on: “Now we are going to change the rules at the 11th hour before this historic election? Does anyone really think the vast majority of our stakeholders, constituencies, fans, media, etc. are going to accept this as a small administrative governance change?

“One month ago, we received the results of the stakeholder study.  Over 7,000 respondents overwhelmingly told us that we must restore the credibility in the UCI and its leadership. For the life of me, I cannot see how making this significant change to the nomination process, on the morning of the election will do anything less than further destroy the current reputation and credibility of how this organisation is currently being governed and managed.”


how light is your bike?

from road.cc




Most top-end bikes easily make a mockery of the UCI’s imposed minimum weight limit of 6.8kg and this week Ridley revealed their lightest ever Helium SL at an incredible 5.52kg (12.16lbs). Don’t all go rushing to your nearest Ridley dealer with a charged credit card though; this is strictly a one-off.

Last year, the company launched a limited edition Helium SL 58 that you can buy weighing just 5.8kg. That’s a size medium with pedals, a SRAM Red groupset, Zipp 202 wheels and 4ZA Cirrus Pro finishing kit. The claimed weight for the frame is just 750g, putting it in the company of some extremely light frames like Cannondale’s SuperSix Evo and Cervelo’s R5. It’s right up there.

Ridley though reckoned they could skim a bit more weight from the build and so set themselves a challenge. All good challenges need a few rules, so they decided it had to rely on WorldTour approved components, the wheels had to be the same 202s and they didn’t want to compromise stiffness and strength.

With these goalposts in place, they set about putting commercial director Anthony Kumpen’s bike on a very strict diet. His bike is a size small, so they’re cheating a little bit there. They did, however, manage to strip the weight down from 5.74kg to 5.52kg, a 220g saving. Yes it’s only a couple of hundred grams, but on a bike that was already so light, that’s impressive.

And they managed it without resorting to any crazy one-off machined parts that you or I can’t buy. Okay so the parts they used are eye-wateringly expensive, but light bikes come with heavy price tags, as we all know.

So where did they save the weight? They replaced the bog standard bottom bracket and hub bearings with full ceramic bearings, they fitted lighter jockey wheels and they swapped the saddle for a San Marco Aspide Carbon FX. Ridley readily admit they could have saved more weight with the saddle, but they didn’t want to sacrifice comfort. A good call, we’d say.

A full carbon seatpost is used. Titanium bolts are used in the stem and they fitted a 10.5g seatpost clamp.

On went a set of Look Keo Blade Carbon Titanium pedals (94.7g each).

And the final touch was a set of Nokon cables.

There you go, a bunch of marginal changes that contribute to a reasonable weight saving, all while using off-the-shelf parts.

Who hasn’t looked at their bike and eyed up a few changes here and there that could shed some weight. Are you planning any weight saving upgrades? Let’s hear about them. I’m eyeing up some lighter wheels for race season myself, and perhaps a lighter seatpost while I’m at it.

technology vs drugs forcycling

great article at humans invent site – from the voice of a man that has embraced both worlds …

We all know the story: an ageing cop in an inner city Police department who is long past his best; his wife has left him, he drinks too much, he has a problem with authority, he can’t quite accept that the Police force is changing and that his old methods don’t cut it anymore. The big case comes and he does it his way; he intimidates a few witnesses, uses his informants, and breaks whatever law necessary to get the job done. Sure enough, he gets the job done and in doing so proves that his old fashioned ways are best.


He’s the anti-hero and we all love him, because we as a collective audience seem to admire a bad-boy hero. It’s a story and one that works almost every time on TV shows, in books and in movies. But, it is only a story. In reality it is much more likely that blindly sticking to old methods in anything will do little more than stifle progress.

Professional cycling is one such sport that has long since been full of self-appointed anti-heroes, breaking rules to get things done by the only way they know how. But, in light of an exhaustive list of doping revelations, the sport is starting to recognise finally that it has to make progress in the right ways.

Despite occasional disapproval from cycling’s ‘purist’ audience (that includes many of the people in charge of the sport) who believe that cycling should be a purely human and not technological battle, a new generation of riders and teams are getting the job done and finding the advantages they need, not through doping but through scientific and technological advances in every aspect of the sport.

One such rider who has become a strong exponent for anti-doping and of the development of the technological side of the sport is David Millar.

Cycling is a bonkers sport, it got a bit too mad the last twenty years, but we’re back to it being the right sort of mad

Millar has seen cycling come almost full circle, from the willful ignorance of the final ‘Pre-Festina’ season of 1997 (Millar’s first), when the scale of the doping problem was yet unknown, to the slightly surreal conclusion to the era that was Lance Armstrong’s confession on Oprah Winfrey.

In that time cycling played a game of hide and seek with the realities and responsibilities of becoming a major global sport. Despite the fact the world was changing cycling stubbornly refused to.

As part of a generation that at the time couldn’t have believed that things would ever change, Millar himself was involved in his own scandal. In 2007 having served a two-year suspension, he came back with a new mission: to put himself and the sport back together again. The big question then was; how were the riders involved going to find a new way forward and adapt, without themselves going backward and without alienating its audience.

Millar believes that cycling was once a technological leader, but lost its way.

I spoke to Millar about the changes that are occurring in the sport and how cycling is evolving through them, as well as why technology has not only just become the key to success, but has, in fact, always been the key to success.

Do you think that the influx of technology and innovation in the sport, that we’ve seen over the past four or five years, marks a different attitude towards performance; that doping is no longer the answer and there are other (legal) ways to gain an advantage?

It’s all unified. The Anglos have brought in the biggest leap forward, we have a different culture when it comes to cycling, we see it as a technological sport; Europeans have seen it as a purely physical sport. Where there are machines, and bicycles are machines, there are opportunities to increase performance through research and development. The sport as whole has realised this now, what was just an Anglo attitude has become a necessary attitude for everybody if they want to stand a chance of winning.

Do you feel that cycling neglected, or at least put the importance of technology and innovation, on the back shelf over the past twenty years because the sport had become so focused on doping, that all training and improvements were related to those practices?

Cycling is an old technological sport: unfortunately doping became the technology for a while there. I’ve had lunches with André Darrigade when I lived in Biarritz and he’d tell me about things they were doing with their bikes and tyres in the 50s that blew us out the water in the 90s.

The sport just lost its way, it was cutting edge back in the day, it became complacent and confused, now once again it’s becoming cutting edge (the right cutting edge!), although anyone would think the UCI is totally against this considering the many ridiculous limitations they put on manufacturers and riders.

From your point of view how has the importance and influence of technology in racing and training changed throughout your career?

The importance has always been the same for me (personally). It was having this view that helped me gain so many early successes in time trials against guys who had the physical advantage from doping. The majority of other pros (and even my team management) didn’t care about their position/wheels/gearing/skinsuits/helmets/shoe-covers: I did. At times I would buy my own equipment and risk the wrath of the team management and sponsors.

Millar says that cycling has returned to being the “right sort of mad.”

A lot of fans of the sport, and even the governing body can seem to be anti-technology, because the human aspect is what makes the sport interesting.

You are a rider who seems to have managed both very well. When you race do you still feel that the influence of technology ends somewhere and instinct takes over?

I’m a racer, always have been and always will be. I don’t have a very good, to use the Steve Peters ergo Sky terminology, ‘Chimp Management System’. This means that most of the things I do in a race are instinctive, very little is planned…  I’ll be first to admit this isn’t ideal, and there’s a part of me that is quite happy not changing it. I’m the same I was when I first raced as a teenager…only a little more windswept and interesting.

Doping vs. Technology: How do you compete?

When team Garmin Sharp first entered cycling with the clear mission of being a clean team, they knew they couldn’t compete with anyone doping either on General Classification or in stages with significant climbing, as EPO gives up to a 20% advantage on mountain stages.

Instead, they they targeted Time Trials, and specifically Team Time Trials, where the benefits of doping were best combatted, and the benefits of technology, aerodynamics, team coordination and careful planning were greatest.

Jonathan Vaughters, Manager of team Garmin Sharp says, “Any high speed event allows aerodynamics to benefit the rider more than doping. In low speed disciplines, like climbing, that’s more difficult. But in the team time trial, overcoming doping, by use of faster materials and better positioning, is possible. You just have to put in the time in the wind tunnel.”

Significantly, the team’s first major victory came in the Team Time Trial at the 2008 Giro d’Italia.

Do you think that cycling will always retain its essence no matter the technology that is introduced, or do you think that it could be significantly changed over the next generation of innovations?

If we have twenty Team Sky’s then yes, it will have lost its essence. But there is only one Team Sky and we need them in the sport to push everybody forward. Similarly there is only one Team Garmin-Sharp, and if there were twenty of us then the peloton would be trying to find a way to race on the moon, just for a bit of fun. Cycling is a bonkers sport, it got a bit too mad the last twenty years, but we’re back to it being the right sort of mad.

Team Garmin Sharp are widely viewed as innovators, bringing new technologies and ideas in to the sport. How hard has it been to make progress happen in a very traditional world?

It’s not been easy that’s for sure! We were renegades when we arrived in 2008, we also didn’t mind being different and being laughed at. We said we were going to be 100% clean, we were vocal against doping; no team had ever done this. It was our mission statement to change cycling and give people hope again. We knew other riders were still doping, and we knew if we wanted to beat them we couldn’t rely on our bodies alone. We experimented with training and equipment and pre and post-race protocols.

We wore ice-vests before the Giro d’Italia TTT that we won (in 2008). We may have been laughed at when we rolled up to the start line in our vests, but nobody laughed when we won. We earned respect, and we have led the way, to this day we have no fear to try new things, it’s part of the culture of our team. We are respected for it now, and more importantly, we’re copied.

With teams like Garmin Sharp, and Team Sky proving that by actually taking your head out of the sand and trying something else you can make a difference, do you think that the attitude will change and all teams will start looking to innovate, or do you think that it will be a case of a small number of teams innovating and others following?

A small number of teams are innovating, many are following, and a few are unchanging. The bottom line is that if you don’t have the right people and sponsors onboard then your development is limited. We’ve always been very careful to have sponsors who understand our philosophy, it doesn’t matter how much will there is, if the sponsor does not help in finding the way then nothing happens.

We’re very lucky with Garmin, Sharp, Castelli and Cervelo; they’re all sponsors who give us the will and the way to move forward. This isn’t by chance either; Jonathan Vaughters has never deviated from his original vision. And we have probably the smartest guy in cycling in charge of our science, Robby Ketchell. It’s a bit of dream team when it comes to pushing the envelope.

What do you think about the direction the sport is going in now, compared to say ten years ago?

I think it’s fucking awesome.

Team Garmin Sharp has led the way in innovation.

Clearly Millar is relieved that a change has come, and is excited for the future of the sport. It is exactly this kind of change in attitude amongst riders, sponsors, and fans alike, that suggests the sport is finally ready to accept that it is time to change its ways and, more importantly perhaps, that the methods required to do so are already here.

South Park has a dig at Pharmstrong

from BikeRadar

The popular TV cartoon series South Park will feature the Lance Armstrong doping affair in episode 1613 to be screened this Wednesday, 31 October on Comedy Central.

Entitled A Scause for Applause, the episode blurb reads: “Rocked by the recent news of drug use by a beloved icon, the world is left feeling lost and betrayed. The boys, join with the rest of the nation, and remove their yellow wristbands. Everyone is on board, except for Stan, who just can’t seem to cut off his bracelet.”

Here’s a preview clip that focuses on the moment of crushing disappointment when everyone realises they’ve been duped. It features Mr Mackey, famous for his “drugs are bad, m’kay” parable.

Pharmstrong saga and fallout: An open letter from Greg LeMond to UCI president Pat McQuaid


Greg LeMond has called for the resignations of Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen. Gabriel Bouys | AFP

Three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond posted a note to his Facebook account Wednesday evening, calling for UCI president Pat McQuaid, as well as honorary president Hein Verbruggen, to step down from their positions. LeMond’s note was first reposted by cycling blog NYVelocity, which, along with Cyclismas.com, launched a fund for journalist Paul Kimmage to aid in his defense against a defamation lawsuit by McQuaid and Verbruggen; that fund on Wednesday surpassed $70,000. VeloNews.com is posting LeMond’s open letter to McQuaid, lightly copyedited but in its entirety, here.

Can anyone help me out? I know this sounds kind of lame but I am not well-versed in social marketing. I would like to send a message to everyone that really loves cycling. I do not use Twitter and do not have an organized way of getting some of my own “rage” out. I want to tell the world of cycling to please join me in telling Pat McQuaid to f##k off and resign. I have never seen such an abuse of power in cycling’s history; resign Pat, if you love cycling. Resign even if you hate the sport.

Pat McQuaid, you know damn well what has been going on in cycling, and if you want to deny it, then even more reasons why those who love cycling need to demand that you resign.

I have a file with what I believe is well-documented proof that will exonerate Paul.

Pat, in my opinion you and Hein are the corrupt part of the sport. I do not want to include everyone at the UCI because I believe that there are many, maybe most, that work at the UCI that are dedicated to cycling; they do it out of the love of the sport, but you and your buddy Hein have destroyed the sport.

Pat, I thought you loved cycling? At one time you did, and if you did love cycling please dig deep inside and remember that part of your life — allow cycling to grow and flourish, please! It is time to walk away. Walk away if you love cycling.

As a reminder I just want to point out that recently you accused me of being the cause of USADA’s investigation against Lance Armstrong. Why would you be inclined to go straight to me as the “cause”? Why shoot the messenger every time?

Every time you do this I get more and more entrenched. I was in your country over the last two weeks and I asked someone that knows you if you were someone that could be rehabilitated. His answer was very quick and it was not good for you. No was the answer — no, no, no!

The problem for sport is not drugs but corruption. You are the epitome of the word corruption.

You can read all about Webster’s definition of corruption. If you want, I can re-post my attorney’s response to your letter where you threaten to sue me for calling the UCI corrupt. FYI I want to officially reiterate to you and Hein that in my opinion the two of you represent the essence of corruption.

I would encourage anyone that loves cycling to donate and support Paul in his fight against the Pat and Hein and the UCI. Skip lunch and donate the amount that you would have spent towards that Sunday buffet towards changing the sport of cycling.

I donated money for Paul’s defense, and I am willing to donate a lot more, but I would like to use it to lobby for dramatic change in cycling. The sport does not need Pat McQuaid or Hein Verbruggen; if this sport is going to change, it is now. Not next year, not down the road, now! Now or never!

People that really care about cycling have the power to change cycling — change it now by voicing your thought and donating money towards Paul Kimmage’s defense. (Paul, I want to encourage you to not spend the money that has been donated to your defense fund on defending yourself in Switzerland. In my case, a USA citizen, I could care less if I lost the UCI’s bogus lawsuit. Use the money to lobby for real change.)

If people really want to clean the sport of cycling up all you have to do is put your money where your mouth is.

Don’t buy a USA Cycling license. Give up racing for a year, just long enough to put the UCI and USA Cycling out of business. We can then start from scratch and let the real lovers in cycling direct where and how the sport of cycling will go.

Please make a difference.

more Lance Pharmstrong analysis

this chap doesn’t mince his words and boy is he putting any lance fanboys through the ringer ….

There’s a lot of misinformation out there following Lance Armstrong’s decision to accept a life ban rather than contest charges of doping. Let’s correct some of it, and show you the man behind all of the myths. As we go along, you’ll see that allegations against Armstrong have been there not just since he began winning the Tour de France, but that he’s been associated with people around doping almost since he began competing in organised sport. Be warned: This is a very long read. I intended it to be as concise as possible, and for that reason I’ve been unable to shorten it.

Lance Armstrong was 18 when he first met Chris Carmichael, in 1990. Carmichael was the new head of the US cycling team, and was an ex-professional with experience on the American 7-11 team, competing in one Tour de France which he failed to finish. Carmichael was named and sued by two other cyclists also training with him at this time, Greg Strock and Erich Keiter, for doping them with cortisone, steroids, and other various products during the 1990 season. Carmichael settled this case out of court, in 2001, but the evidence was damning – there was systemic doping and corruption in the US coaching system during Carmichael’s time there.

The doping undertaken by Carmichael and others on these junior riders posed significant health risks to both of the men, a core concern about the risks of doping in sport. Of course, Lance Armstrong was a team-mate back then. Armstrong would go on to work with Carmichael for the rest of his sporting career.

Yet this week, Carmichael’s response to Lance Armstrong’s acceptance of is ban is simple: He believes that Lance was the best athlete, but at no point does he say that Armstrong never doped – he only made a statement that he’d never seen him do so. The lack of a specific denial there is key and follows a very clear theme – Armstrong would never say that he’d never doped. Instead, he would say one of two themes, that he’d either never tested positive (note here: this isn’t correct, and we’ll go over that later), or that he’d never been caught.

Armstrong went on to race in Europe after that period with Carmichael and the US team. In 1992 he raced with Motorola, and in 1993 he won both the US national title and the World Championship in a race in horrible weather, including roads covered in a torrential downpour, rendering the road surface slippery like ice due to the diesel and oil on them. The inclement conditions resulted in one of the smallest finishing fields in history, and the withdrawal of the majority of race favourites citing the danger the weather presented.

Allegations about Armstrong’s involvement with drugs come from at least this far back. Steve Swart, team-mate of Armstrong’s on Motorola, said that Armstrong was the central figure in encouraging riders to dope. His claims were published in two books, and Armstrong sued after their publication: He dropped one lawsuit in France, and had another dismissed, being slightly more successful when obtaining a judgement in England after a newspaper there printed an excerpt about it. But where the books were published, in France, Armstrong never had a case – it was not proven the books were lying.

Armstrong enjoyed mixed success from that point onward – winning the occasional one day race or stage and podium places on a few others. There was nothing in his ability level which suggested he had the ability to win a Grand Tour – in fact it was the very opposite. In 1995 he managed to finish the Tour at the third time of asking, in 36th place.

Armstrong’s career continued along these lines, with sporadic wins, until he met (and began working with) Italian doctor, Michele Ferrari in 1996. Michele Ferrari is a doctor who has been implicated in evidence from a number of athletes, and banned for life by the Italian Olympic Committee. No Italian athlete is permitted to work with him, and breaches are punishable with bans. More on him a little later.

Armstrong famously got very ill in 1996, contracting cancer. The signs of this showed up very early in the year, but weren’t recognised. This is important: Armstrong, despite having cancer, put in some of his best ever performances. A debilitating disease (at least, Armstrong’s own foundation lists it as such) was having a chronic effect on his body and yet he was performing better than ever before, despite Armstrong’s own admission that he’d noticed abnormalities related to the cancer three years before his diagnosis.

But there’s a subscript to his cancer that hasn’t really been explored: Armstrong by his own claim is the most tested athlete on the planet, and given he enjoyed considerable success in 1996 and beforehand, would certainly have been subject to numerous doping controls. Some cancers – including the type Lance Armstrong had – cause enormously elevated levels of human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (hCG), a naturally occuring hormone in the body, but at low levels in males. Now, there are rules for the amount of hCG permitted in an athlete, because it offers a competitive advantage – not enough to overcome the deficiencies cancers cause, but a good advantage in a healthy human being, because it produces testosterone. An athlete is often considered to have failed a drug test if the urinary T/E (Testosterone:Epitestosterone) ratio is greater than 6. So the UCI would have been testing for it, and Armstrong’s cancer would have resulted in an enormously elevated T/E ratio.

But Armstrong never produced a positive sample. Compare that with Jake Gibb whose life, it could be argued, was saved by USADA’s testing, when it detected those hugely elevated levels in an anti-doping test, and advised him to see a doctor. That ultimately led to the discovery of testicular cancer, and Gibb recovered. Lance Armstrong wasn’t so lucky – so we can assume one of two things. Either the UCI’s anti-doping measures were woefully below standard, and didn’t detect Armstrong’s elevated levels of hCG, allowing his cancer to worsen while competing, or the UCI’s anti-doping discovered Armstrong’s elevated levels and didn’t report them. Either way, it’s a massive condemnation in the UCI’s ability to validate itself as a serious entity in drug testing. At best it’s woefully ineffective, at worst it’s simply corrupt.

Ultimately nobody can fight off cancer without medicine, and Armstrong’s condition worsened, until he finally went to a doctor where the diagnosis was confirmed, and Armstrong began urgent treatment.

As part of that treatment, Armstrong, scared and with nobody with knowledge to consult about his condition, was asked in hospital whether he’d ever used any performance-enhancing drugs(PEDs). His response, as detailed by npr, and in evidence given by Betsy Andreu, was to list off a reel of drugs which he’d taken.

Betsy Andreu’s deposition was given and submitted as evidence years later, when SCA promotions was taken to court by Armstrong for non-payment of a bonus. SCA’s defence was that Armstrong had used PEDs, and they obtained Andreu’s evidence to defend that claim. Armstrong, by now estranged from the Andreus , had not spoken to them for years. But when he learned that the Andreus were to be subpoenaed, he made the extraordinary step of contacting Frankie Andreu in an attempt to influence his testimony, and that of his wife, Betsy, who declined to give a statement along Armstrong’s version of events. Frankie was rattled – he said in his evidence that he hadn’t wanted to testify but had been forced to by the subpoena – but he corroborated his wife’s version of events; that Armstrong had confessed to PED use. Armstrong, in a further attempt to intimidate Betsy Andreu when giving evidence, flew to witness her doing exactly that, sitting in the back of the room during her deposition, saying nothing, and then immediately flying back home. In the process that followed he attempted to characterise Betsy as fat, ugly, obsessed and jealous. Hard to characterise any of those as true if you saw her or listened to watch she had to say.

Ultimately, modern medicine saved Armstrong. That fact has been distorted as years have gone by with Armstrong’s claim to be riding to ‘fight’ the disease – when the only time it’s been beaten is with the help of medicine and drugs. The ironic thing here is that steroid usage has been proven to cause cancer, and wassuggested by a former WADA spokesman to have possible been complicit in Armstrong contracting the disease.

Ultimately, Armstrong found it difficult to find a team after recovering, and ended up on the US Postal team, which from 1999 onward would have it’s management  under the direction of former ONCE rider, Johan Bruyneel. ONCE were a Spanish cycling team heavily implicated in EPO usage in investigations following the1998 Tour de France.

In 1997, Armstrong’s agent, Bill Stapleton, became an official of the US Olympic Committee. Sports Illustrated would report years down the track that Armstrong, in three tests the 90s, produced samples that indicated doping with testosterone. The anti-doping scientist who allegedly tested these samples was Don Catlin. He was unable to confirm two of the tests – a highly irregular occurrence – and refused to comment on the third. Don Catlin would later be called to oversee Armstrong’s “transparent” testing during his comeback – a process which covered only a single test before it was aborted. Having an atmosphere where two men so closely tied in business relationships with Armstrong wouldn’t be conducive to finding a positive test against him.

With Armstrong’s return to the bike in 1998 came the return to working with Michele Ferrari. Armstrong would later state to Floyd Landis, a team-mate on the USPS team, that Michele Ferrari was paranoid that he’d helped cause the cancer through his providing the drugs Armstrong was using in 1996. Ferrari, the team doctor on Gewiss-Ballan, had been famous for his statement that ‘EPO was no more dangerous than drinking orange juice’, when suspicions began to arise about drug use due to Gewiss’ sudden exceptional performances. Ferrari immediately got Armstrong back into an intensive program of drug use. The net result was Armstrong, cancer-free and drug-boosted, beginning to suddenly make the cycling world sit up and take notice with increased endurance, producing performances in stage races. Make no bones about it: Cancer does not cause this. It doesn’t transform an athlete into a super-athlete. This has never happened before, or since. That’s because it doesn’t happen. Armstrong’s 4th placed finish at the Tour of Spain confirmed the work Ferrari had been doing. The next thing to do was to take it to the next level.

1998’s Festina scandal did produce a diamond from the rough: Riders implicated in Festina’s team-wide doping scandal all said that Christophe Bassons had been the only rider on his team to refuse to take drugs. Bassons, cleared of any wrongdoing, was invited to write newspaper articles the following year when he was to ride, for a new team (FDJ), in the Tour de France. Bassons wrote largely innocuous columns, but one in particular came to the attention of Armstrong. Bassons had written that Armstrong’s return, suddenly to the head of the pack, had ‘shocked’ the peloton.

Armstrong’s response was to question the rider during a subsequent stage, inform Bassons that “it was a mistake to speak out” about doping, asking why he’d done it. Bassons responded by telling Armstrong that he was ‘thinking of the next generation of riders’. Armstrong’s response to Bassons was to tell him “Why don’t you leave then?”. Armstrong confirmed this version of events, and stated to the press that evening “His accusations aren’t good for cycling, for his team, for me, for anybody. If he thinks cycling works like that, he’s wrong and he would be better off going home.”

The problem was, of course, that Bassons had seen his entire team found guilty of it – cycling did work like that, and he was the lone voice at that point to speak up about it. Armstrong’s suggestion that he leave the sport was, therefore, an admission that Bassons was, at least in Armstrong’s eyes, unwelcome. Bassons was ostracised, and forced to leave the race. Armstrong had effectively bullied him out of the sport Bassons was trying to clean up. Bassons attempted to ride on for two more years, but it wasn’t a hospitable place. He now works in anti-doping.

This wasn’t the last time Armstrong would, mid-race, seek to influence another cyclist’s view on doping. But nor was it the only relevant point in that race.

In 1999, Lance Armstrong tested positive for a prohibited substance in a urine test: corticosteroids. Armstrong produced a prescription for a cream, claiming it was being used to treat saddle sores, a common ailment amongst cyclists. The problem with this was that riders are required to produce these prescriptions prior to use, and prior to testing. Armstrong had not done so, and consequently had indeed tested positive. Not only that, but Armstrong, as corroborated by a staff member at the time, obtained and then back-dated that prescription after the positive test had taken place.

That staff member was Emma O’Reilly, a soigneur (basically a jack-of-all-trades within a team, but commonly a masseuse). She also stated that Armstrong had made her dispose of syringes, traffic drugs for him and use make-up to cover up needle marks on his arms. Armstrong, in an attempt to discredit O’Reilly, would stoop as low as he could go: He alleged she was having multiple sexual relationships with riders on the team, called her a liar, and her employment was disposed of, for telling the truth.

Perhaps out of complicity, or perhaps out of guilt for not detecting Lance Armstrong’s cancer, the UCI then decided to take no more action. Armstrong’s positive was seemingly buried into history with his repeated claims that he ‘never tested positive’.

Armstrong, fresh from that success in the 1999 tour, went on to win in 2000 and 2001, where the most serious and damning issue in his whole career took place.
The Tour of Switzerland is one of two races normally ridden as preparation for the Tour de France, the other being the Dauphine Libere, and Armstrong headed to Switzerland as part of his preparation for the defence of his Tour de France.

Armstrong, fresh with a warning from Michele Ferrari not to use EPO, as a test had been formulated and ratified, tested positive for exactly that in Switzerland in 2001. This has been corroborated by multiple people, including ex-Armstrong team-mates, and the lab director (Martial Saugy) who, although initially stating through the media that this hadn’t occurred, later corrected his stance, and told the only anti-doping agency to ask him, that it was a positive. Saugy has also stated that he was told by a prominent person at the UCI that it wasn’t going any further. The directive to make it disappear was delivered by none other than the head of the UCI at the time, Hein Verbrugghen.

This is worth emphasising: A number of people testified that Lance Armstrong testified positive for EPO, and that Armstrong’s influence with the governing body of the sport made that positive test simply disappear. That’s another nail in the coffin of Lance’s “never tested positive” diatribe. Two positive tests, two years apart. But that wasn’t to be the end.

What came out of that was the most damning evidence of corruption possible. Armstrong made two payments to the UCI, totalling $125,000. The UCI has said these were to purchase anti-doping equipment. They have never produced the receipts to corroborate this. Regardless of where that money went, it is unprecedented that an active athlete would voluntarily pay a sum of money to a governing body. If it’s happened before, or since, I’d be amazed.

In 2002, Armstrong was exposed as working with Michele Ferrari. This caused considerable consternation due to Ferrari’s history and comments about drugs in sport. Floyd Landis, a team-mate of Lance Armstrong’s, would later disclose that Michele Ferrari would withdraw blood from him, to be transfused back into his blood stream at the Tour de France – as serious a doping breach as has ever taken place.

Fast-forward to 2003, and an Italian cyclist named Fillipo Simeoni becomes enemy number one for Lance Armstrong. Simeoni had admitted in evidence that he’d (Simeoni) begun doping in 1993 and Armstrong’s doctor, Michele Ferrari, had prescribed and showed him how to use products like EPO and HGH in 1996 and 1997. Simeoni subsequently served a suspension in 2001/2002. Armstrong’s response in 2003 was to call Simeoni a liar in a newspaper interview – as though Simeoni would, for no reason, gain himself a suspension and make it up. Simeoni’s response was to then sue Armstrong for defamation, announcing any winnings would be donated to charity. Things reached a head in the 2004 Tour de France.

On the 18th stage, Simeoni put in an attack, and joined a breakaway of 6 other riders. That breakaway posed no threat to the leaders of the tour, and normally would have been let go, to be chased down later in the stage, or to win it. But Armstrong had other ideas. Vengeance was the plan, and it was exacted. Armstrong himself attacked, and immediately closed the gap to the breakaway. The riders, in the knowledge the peloton would not let Armstrong get away, knew they would be caught. The other six in the break implored Armstrong to return to the group, but Armstrong would not leave unless Simeoni did also. Simeoni sacrificed his own race, rejoined the group and Armstrong did the same. When Simeoni dropped back, he was abused, and Armstrong made a famous gesture of zipping his lips. The implication was clear: shut your mouth, or you will never get any success. Armstrong subsequently was indicted by Italian authorities and was lucky to escape charges of witness intimidation. Simeoni, due to Lance’s actions, was ostracised, spat at, abused, and finished his career as a journeyman of sorts, mostly untouched by cycling teams at the highest level. He was persona non grata, for speaking out against the man who’d helped him dope, and who just happened to be Armstrong’s doctor.

2005 brought more things to light. Armstrong’s former personal assistant, Mike Anderson saw a box of androstenone – a steroid – when cleaning Armstrong’s apartment. Anderson’s deposition in a lawsuit against Armstrong detailed systemic bullying and harassment against both Anderson and his wife, both in the period of Anderson’s employment and afterward. Armstrong settled the case out of court.

The most explosive issue though, was the discovery of Armstrong’s 1999 Tour de France samples. A test for EPO wasn’t available back in 1999, and so samples couldn’t be tested for it at the time. As was practice though, samples were stored in the event they could be retested later. After an EPO test became available, Armstrong’s samples were amongst a batch to be retested. Six of Armstrong’s samples tested positive for EPO, a result one of the world’s leading anti-doping scientists verified as being almost impossible to have occurred any other way than through drug usage. Chalk that up as another nail in the “never tested positive” coffin. Unfortunately, Armstrong wasn’t prosecuted (again!) on these EPO positives – the retests were for research purposes, not anti-doping ones, and so the UCI declined to pursue the matter further.

Armstrong retired, confident in the knowledge his cheating hadn’t been punished.

Except that, in 2008, he announced a comeback. This is important today for two reasons:
1) Without this comeback, he wouldn’t have finally been caught and banned.
2) It provided the evidence that finally caught Lance Armstrong.

As mentioned earlier, Lance announced, to much fanfare, that he was going to be tested by Don Catlin, once and for all, to prove his innocence, and publish the results on his website.
Armstrong stopped the arrangement after a single test, presumably fearful of it actually turning up a positive result. He did continue to post his bio-passport figures though, including changing some of themafter their publication in an attempt to make them less suspicious.

Armstrong was permitted to ride despite not having fulfilled a mandatory period of testing for the new bio-passport prior to competing – yes, that’s the UCI being complicit in shifting the goalposts again.

Regardless, science and the sport had moved on somewhat, and Lance’s blood values ultimately assisted in bringing him down – his values in the Tour of Italy in May were largely what should be expected of an athlete competing in endurance sport. But in the Tour de France, they were the opposite, and displayed evidence that he had been receiving blood transfusions during the race. This was to form part of USADA’s case against Armstrong – and he knew it.

In 2010, more bad news: Armstrong’s former team-mates began to admit their own doping histories, and when asked, admitted that Armstrong had both used doping products and facilitated the supply of them to his team, along with doctors and management. Armstrong’s response was to smear the character of the individuals – a tactic which I’ve shown was a standard response for every allegation dating back to the mid 90s.

Finally, in 2012, an anti-doping agency would finally collate all the evidence to bring charges against Lance Armstrong. Armstrong would identify the extent of his guilt, and accept the charges without contest. But he’d intentionally obfuscate, lie, and make false allegations about the entire proceeding to prevent the evidence from becoming public, and to smear those presenting them. He’d enlist the help of organisations who helped cover up positive test results, who he sent money to, and who fought themselves to try and keep it quiet.

Yellow wristbands are too important you see. Lance was never doing it for cancer. His actions prove – Lance was always doing it for himself, and by extension, he became worth a lot to other people.

If you’ve read this far, congratulations. You’re probably in one of three mindsets:

  1. Stunned at the extent of what has gone on and amazed. This isn’t uncommon amongst people who discover the truth. My only request to you is that you don’t allow lies and misinformation to distort the wonderful work of the people in anti-doping. They aren’t conducting witch-hunts. They’re after clean sport, and to protect the lives of athletes. They’re trying to stop cyclists dying in their sleep from EPO thickening their bloodstream.
  2. Completely disagreeing with everything I’ve shown you here, and labelling me a hater. If so, you’re looking for something you’ll never find. Enjoy your yellow wristbands, post on Lance’s facebook about how he’s an idol and role model. People who saw his behaviour will disagree, and they’ve a little more experience than you.
  3. Thinking ‘I knew this already’. Yes, but for every one of you, there’s a thousand people who don’t know it. Send them here. Show them the truth, so that we can stop this behaviour happening again.

Me? Even while writing this I was still stunned by how much there was, and I’ve known about much of it for years. I never thought I’d fill almost 4,000 words detailing bullying, harassment, and efforts to keep drug-taking in sport quiet. I pray nobody has to again. Even now, I know I missed a lot of it. I may have to do some edits to give even more detail and context.

Am I a hater? You bet. I’m a hater of drug-taking athletes the world over. Most of all, I detest behaviour that ostracises, punishes, and abuses people simply because they dared to tell the truth, to rid themselves of guilt, and seeks to ruin their lives. I hate corrupt organisations that run sports, and I hate the people who foster that corruption.

Is 650b one winning step closer to being adopted …

The recent UCI XC world Cup stage win has really opened the debate about 650b wheels again …. So why would you care about 650B mountain bikes? Well, there has been a lot of debate about wheel size in the mountain bike industry. The basic premise of the wheel size debate is that we came to our current standard of the 26″ wheel somewhat arbitrarily. The standard of the 26″ wheel size was established long before mountain bikes came around. So nobody can say that 26″ wheels are and always will be the perfect size for mountain bikes.

If this all sounds familiar, it should. This is the same argument the 29″ wheel crowd has been using for years.

So you might wonder why we don’t actually know what wheel size we should be using. Well, in most cases it comes down to cost. It is very expensive to make new tooling for different size tires and wheels, so you can’t just try anything out whenever you want.

Then there is the establishment issue. Nearly all of the advancements in mountain bike geometry and technology have been based on 26″ wheels. If you just change the wheel size, nothing says that all of the old established standards with 26″ wheels will still work. As with most engineering problems, there are both positives and negatives to almost every option. So, new design optimization may need to take place for each wheel size.

So why 650B? The people behind the 650B movement claim that with 650B tires you get all of the same advantages of the 29″ movement (lower rolling resistance, better traction, smoother ride, etc.) with less of the disadvantages (geometry limitations, toe clearance issues, higher center of gravity, suspension travel limitations).

Much of this may be true, but as I always say, you should get out on a bike and see for yourself if it works for you.

One cool thing about these 650B wheels is that some fork manufacturers are now giving them the OK to run in their standard 26″ forks. This will take the 650B movement a long ways down the road to longer travel without other sacrifices.

I find the idea of looking into different wheel sizes appealing, but I think it may be a long time, if ever, before we as an industry can say what wheel size is best for any type of riding and any type of rider.

If we take the arguments of both the 650B and 29″ movements to extremes, we will end up with custom sized wheels, tires, and frames for each and every rider.

I think in the end here, the bike industry will learn some lessons from all of this and we may end up with some better options for different sized riders and different types of riding, but don’t expect wheels to go through a rapid evolution. There is way too much invested in the 26″ wheel for it to go away anytime soon.

wheels vs rock

From his interview – this answer sums up my belief in this topic …

Are there courses that the 29er is good for still?

It depends on your riding style and how tall you are. I would say the most XC riders they are between 170-180 cm, and at that height the 29er is not the best size.  You are more between the wheels and not on the wheels. For all those riders 650B is the best choice. Also for acceleration you feel it is lighter you don’t have a heavy fork, everything is lighter so in my eyes for XC it is the perfect size 650B. 29er makes sense for tall racers, or if they are not riding that aggressive. I talked to a lot of other riders that are not riding Scott and they said that they want to have from their bike makers the 650B. Im sure in 2 years in the world cup, there will be more 650B bikes than 26″ and 29er.

via BikeMagic

Lat month at the start of the UCI World Cup, held in South Africa, with Swiss rider Nino Schurter opening up his account with a stunning victory. While Nino was sipping champagne after the race, the internet was alive with the news that he had ridden to victory on a mountain bike with 650b wheels.

2012 is threatening to mark the biggest upheaval in the development of the mountain bike since, and the debate is all about wheel size. From the beginning, despite a few brief flirtations, the mountain biking industry settled on 26in wheels, and in the couple of decades since we’ve been blissfully enjoying 26in mountain bikes. In recent years the subject of the best wheel size for mountain biking has risen to the top of the agenda.

Why are we even on 26in wheels in the first place? The reason the Repack riders used 26in wheels back in the 70s and not the more common 700c road wheels around was down to one simple thing: tyre choice. There simply weren’t suitable tyres for off-roading in the larger size. Cruiser bicycle manufacturer Schwinn however produced bikes using 26in wheels, which came shod with fatter tyres, much more suitable for blasting down the tracks those long haired guys were racing. In those early years mountain biking moved swiftly, and there was very little discussion about wheel size. 26in was simply adopted as it proved to work reasonably well. 30 years later and that debate is now raging.

In the years since the first mass produced mountain bikes, there’s been some who have held firm that 26in isn’t the best for mountain biking. 650B is claimed in some quarters to be the best size for mountain biking. It has long since been the solve resolve of French cycle tourists, but if we go back to 1951 we discover that a young group of cyclists, the Velo Cross Club Parisien (VCCP) could claim to have invented mountain biking. Only they never realised it.

They adapted their 650b touring bikes for off-road use  – there’s even YouTube footage of those early cyclists in action. Suspension forks were borrowed from mopeds and improved brakes and gearing were the main changes that allowed these pioneering cyclists to embrace the essence of mountain biking that we take for granted today. If this movement had gathered a little more momentum who knows how the sport might have developed. It could have been very different. Maybe we would all be riding around on 650b mountain bikes already?

Instead the industry continued with26in. Then, along came the rise of the 29in wheel size, in recent years we’ve seen an explosion of 29er bikes. 2012 really does seem to be the year of the 29er.  Gary Fisher pushed the concept of 29in wheels, larger at 622mm diameter than the 559mm of 26in wheels and 584mm of 650b.

The first manufacturer to attempt to bring a 29er to market was Bianchi in 1989, when it brought out a bike with 700c wheels and components like flat bars, thumb shifters and a triple chainset that we would recognise today as standard equipment. It didn’t catch on. By 1995 it was quietly dropped from the Italian company’s range. Gary Fisher, an early adopter and pivotal to the rise of 29ers, brought out his first big wheels bike in 2002.

Now, with the support of most US brands, 29ers are going global. European brands have been forced to follow suit, with 29ers featuring in the catalogues of most medium to large size companies. They’re creeping into more bike shops and more bike sheds and garages across the country, and more people are considering a possible purchase.

So 29ers are the future? Perhaps not, as a 650b mountain bike (a Scott Scale) has just gone and won the first round of the UCI World Cup. This sent shock waves through social media networks like Twitter over the weekend as thousands visibly recoiled in disbelief. Is the future now 650b?

Does 650b offer the best of both world?  That’s the question on many people’s lips. The handling could feasibly feel more akin to a 26in (as it’s only marginally better) but with some of the highlighted benefits of 29ers; increased rolling speed, momentum, smoother and more stable ride over rough terrain, more traction. Another advantage of the 650b wheel is the more vertically challenged people will be better able to get a good fit – we’ve seen some drastic solutions taken by sponsored riders forced to ride 29ers to get the handlebars low enough to replicate a fit they happily achieved on their previous 26in bikes. And we know how racers like to slam their handlebars and get as low as possible.

That’s largely a reason  Nino is said to have chosen a 650b from a choice of three wheel sizes. And of course there’s the weight advantage, there’s no getting away from the fact smaller wheels are lighter.

What does it mean for mountain biking though? Is there space for three wheel sizes, is the industry really wanting to offer the huge range of bikes that the three sizes would clearly need?

And do the public have the appetite for three wheel sizes? Is the industry gambling with people’s patience and money? Or is this leading us to have a debate about the size of our wheels that we’ve never properly had in our young sport.

What do you think?


If you liked the video at the top here is the longer version – he seems to make absolon pay every time in the technical rock garden … greater skills …. bigger wheels …. who knows

Andy Schleck wins the TdF (Tour De France) by never being first …

image from fraudbytes


  • 1stAlberto CONTADOR  (ASTANA)
  • 3rdDenis MENCHOV  (RABOBANK)

That was the result of the TdF in 2010 until today when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled Alberto Contador should serve a two-year ban following his positive test for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France.

CAS has upheld the UCI [Union Cycliste Internationale] and WADA’s [World Anti-Doping Agency] appeal against the Spanish Cycling Federation’s decision not to suspend Contador after he claimed the substance had come from contaminated Spanish beef.

It appears the ban will be backdated to the original positive test, meaning Contador will be stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title and the 2011 Giro d’Italia. The exact dates of the ban have yet to be confirmed, but there is speculation he will be eligible to ride again in August 2012.

Contador was riding for Astana alongside Lance Armstrong when he won the 2010 race. Andy Schleck, then riding for Saxo-Bank, finished second after a controversial event, and should now be handed the official title.

News of Contador’s positive test first emerged in September 2010. In January 2011, the Spanish Cycling Federation announced their decision not to suspend him, which prompted the joint UCI/WADA appeal to CAS. CAS heard the case in November 2011 and their decision was made public today: Monday 6th February 2012.

A UCI statement released on Monday read: “The UCI acknowledges the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to impose a suspension of 2 years on the rider Alberto Contador following the UCI’s appeal, brought in conjunction with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), in the case concerning the Spanish cyclist.

“In rejecting the defence argument, in particular that the presence of clenbuterol in Alberto Contador’s urine sample came from the consumption of contaminated meat, today’s ruling confirms the UCI’s position.

“However, the UCI has not derived a sense of satisfaction from the CAS ruling, but rather welcomes the news as the end of a long-running affair that has been extremely painful for cycling.”

There is still no confirmation of the ruling from CAS. Reports of the ruling first appeared in the Spanish newspaper and website Marca.

UCI president Pat McQuaid added in the statement: “This is a sad day for our sport … some may think of it as a victory but that is not at all the case. There are no winners when it comes to the issue of doping: and every case irrespective of its characteristics is a case too many.”

Cargo Bike Racing in Copenhagen

two great shots from HVID photographyat the Cargo Bike Championships follow him on twitter as well  @andershviid

Brooks Blog: Alright then, hands up. Who knows what a “Svajerløbet” is?

Of course, no one does.  Alright then, on with today’s post.

Beady bicycling eyes were trained on Copenhagen last week for more than just the latest offering from the man who has given innumerable cities the gift of Cycle Chic. The World Cycling Championships were underway there since Monday (well done Mr. Cavendish!) and if this wasn’t already enough, the third annual Danish Cargo Bike Championships or “Svajerløb” took place over the preceding weekend, curtain raiser to the fun and games on offer from the UCI.

A number of companies and volunteers are behind arranging the Svajerløb. It is a not for profit event and for all involved it is really a “con amore” affair, fueled by their passion for Copenhagen’s bicycle culture and cargo bikes. The idea to revive the historical Svajerløb started in 2009 when Erik Heinze (Firmacyklen.dk) and Hans Bullitt Fogh (LARRY VS HARRY) held the first modern version of the classic race. Together with Mikael Colville-Andersen and Søren Houen Schmidt, they form the nucleus of the team behind the Svajerløb.

This year’s course was located in the historic surrounds of venerable Danish brewing family Carlsberg’s Copenhagen facility where some of the junior category UCI events also took place on Sunday.

If the increasing number of cargo bikes seen on city streets are any indication, the builders of such machines seem to be enjoying a huge spike in sales. New developments in this corner of the trade have allowed builders to produce frames, which, while remaining a touch heavier than regular bikes, are not necessarily a chore to ride.

This is important, because the success of the cargo bike project lies in their ongoing and increasing visibility on city streets. Therefore, riding your weekly grocery shop home with one is great, but if you aren’t prepared to use it to pop back down the road for the pint of milk you forgot, then maybe all you really have is another specialty bike.

It seems though, that based on anecdotal evidence among new converts, the lightweight cargo bike does indeed quickly become the default machine in an owner’s stable and is here to stay.

Of course, if you’re transporting two kegs of beer, it’s probably not terribly important whether your bike weighs twenty kilos or twenty five.

So while for a short course, high-speed race there might well be an advantage to be gained from using a lightweight saddle, in the real world we are gratified to see that most disciples of the ladcykelhave a Brooks on top.

Meget god, as they doubtless say in Copenhagen.