Robert Millar blogs about Contador the Giro and ahead …

Great read as always from this man


Let’s start with something there’s a bit of an argument over. How many Giro d’Italia has Alberto Contador won? He clearly thinks it’s three but the UCI records says it’s only two as he was disqualified from the 2011 results.

The way I look at it, Contador rode that race, was tested if and when the controllers thought fit and he had the pink jersey at the end of it. So he won the 2011 edition and if he shouldn’t have been there because of the previous Tour de France clenbuterol affair then that ought to have been decided quickly. Not a year and a half later.

As in 2008, this year saw him with no individual stage success, which is kind of annoying but hardly devastating in the grand scheme of things. I’m sure Astana would gladly swap all their stage wins for the final top step of the podium if they were given the choice.

It’s too late, though, because Contador’s individual strengths proved greater than the Kazakh team’s numerical superiority despite the shoulder injury, his lack of teammates in the finale of the uphill finishes and rivals willing to exploit mechanical mishaps. After all the Giro wouldn’t be properly Italian without a bit of treachery and drama.

So when things got dirty for the race leader on the Colle delle Finestre it was entirely fitting that Astana took advantage and put Contador in trouble. Or was he?

Contador certainly didn’t like the road surface on the way up to the Cima Coppi, the highest point of the whole race. He appeared to be struggling as he couldn’t climb out of the saddle as much as he likes to because of the poor traction on the loose gravel and he didn’t help himself by choosing some really bad lines on the inside of the bends where the cars had cut up the surface even more.

He was suffering, of that there’s no doubt, but I don’t think he cracked in any significant way. I think he recognised he was about to go too deep into the red to keep following all the accelerations and he decided to let the others go and then manage the situation.

He lost 50 seconds by the summit but then held that gap for all of the descent and most of the valley towards Sestriere. You can’t do that if you’ve cracked, not with a slight headwind, slightly uphill and the other GC guys still riding strongly.

It would have been fatal for Contador if he was in a bad way. I think he bluffed a bit, let Astana and Nibali think he’s more vulnerable than he really is. Tour de France mind games start way before the prologue and that, with a temporary moment of difficulty, is what we might have seen on stage 20.

It would have been more worrying for Tinkoff if Astana had told Mikel Landa to wait for Fabio Aru sooner, or Aru had ridden with Hesjedal and Kruisjwijk straight away, but neither did what they had to do soon enough and the chance was lost. They missed a slim opening to really pressure Contador and win the race so that was another error they, the Astana collective, have to learn from.

It’s often said it’s not how good you are on your good days which matters but how good you are on your bad ones, and that was never more true for this Giro’s GC hopefuls.

Aru had his bad spell after around the second rest day, Landa’s time trial let him down and Hesjedal and Kruisjwijk came out of the first week way behind/Kudos to them although they all recovered remarkably.

Fabio Aru is progressing very well, third last year , second this and still only 24. He has a very bright future as does Mikel Landa, who surely won’t be on the market for long if he doesn’t stay at Astana . Is he the successor to Contador? Well that’s hard to tell, but he looks a solid athlete who, with some work on his time trial, will be a real threat.

With the Tour de France on the horizon, it’ll be interesting to see if the French Tour can be as exciting and dramatic as the Giro has been. Of course every team will field their A team for the most important race on the calendar, but if there are lessons to be taken from what we’ve just seen from the boys in blue at Astana, the other GC teams like Tinkoff, Movistar and Sky will have to be at the top of their game.

With so little individual time trialling, the climbing aspects of each team leader will take on a decisive role so getting those guys to the mountains safely and still in decent shape will be vital.

Anybody else wondering what will happen to Oleg Tinkov’s pink hair if Alberto Contador also wins the Tour? My Photoshop skills aren’t good enough but I’m sure there’s someone out there who can put together a little montage of our favourite Russian team boss sporting a suitable design on his head. #battenberg


You are still a winner to me: Premature Ejac… oops celebrations

Spare a thought for Spanish rider Eloy Teruel, who thought he’d won Stage 7 of the Tour of California. Unfortunately he was one lap early. Video contains cringe factor

Drug cheats in cycling is bad – Strava cheats are the lowest …

Digital EPO


Digital EPO is a website that allows you to ‘enhance’ your ride data before you share it with your friends, teammates and so on. It lets you cheat, basically.

Countless riders have gone to great lengths over the years to convince people that they’re better than they actually are. Often that involves drugs, but drugs cost money, they’re potentially dangerous, and you run the risk of a ban. If you’re going to cheat, Digital EPO is an altogether less hazardous way of doing it.

Why go to all the trouble and pain of training and actually working up a sweat? You simply need to go for a ride at whatever intensity you like, upload your ride to GarminConnect or a similar performance-tracking website, then export it out as a TCX file.

Then you upload it to the Digital EPO website, entering the amount of ‘juice’ you want to add to your ride. So, you can increase your speed, lower your heart rate, or increase the amount of climbing you’ve done. Then you can upload the file to Strava or something similar and bask in your undeserved glory.

As an exercise in Mickey taking, we reckon it’s quite funny. They say that you know you’ve made it when people start lampooning you, so we guess that means Strava has definitely hit the big time.

We can’t see it going down too well with people who take their KOMs seriously, though. In fact, we’d urge you not to get involved. Cheats never prosper – ask multi-millionaire Lance Armstrong. Oh no, hang on, that doesn’t work.

Anyway, check it out here:

[Apologies if you saw this months ago, by the way, but it’s a new one on us and well worth sharing].


CYCLING HERO – Do you think you cycled far? – Tommy Godwin’s ‘unbreakable’ cycling record

Tommy Godwin

Tommy Godwin cycled the equivalent of three times around the world in a year. It has been described as an “unbreakable” record. I only just heard about him after some news about him came out saying he was carrying the torch prior to the olympics and at the cyclist reference I had no clue …. luckily wikipedia and some googling came to light. According to Singletrack the chap Dave Bartlett is writing a book which will be good to read … he was also badly quoted in this shoddy BBC article … but you get an idea of the legend that was/is Tommy Godwin.

In 1939, Tommy Godwin rode 75,065 miles in a single year to set an endurance riding record that some believe will never be beaten.

In fact, he kept on going until 14 May 1940, setting the record for the time taken to ride 100,000 miles.

Born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1912, Godwin would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year. But unfortunately, Godwin’s record is now largely forgotten.

The Year Record has fallen out of fashion and is no longer the coveted cycling achievement it used to be.

Imagine spending every day in the saddle for 18 hours, covering over 200 miles, repairing any mechanical failures, picking yourself up after crashes and then riding even further the next day to make up lost time.

When I tell other cyclists about the record, they simply don’t believe it’s possible”

Dave Barter – Year Record historian

The distance is the equivalent of three times around the world in a single year, or riding from John O’Groats to Land’s End and back every week. 1443 miles per week – for transatlantic readers or those more worldly – that is Boston to Miami EVERY WEEK for a year.

It was all achieved on a heavy steel bike with only four gears. Yet more than 70 years later, the record still stands.

‘Beyond the limit’

“It’s those statistics that make the record virtually unbreakable,” said Dave Barter, a keen cyclist who is writing a book about the Year Record.

“I’ve gone through his mileage diaries and painstakingly recreated each day’s mileage into a spreadsheet.

“Sometimes he survived on four hours’ sleep and there were probably days when he didn’t even bother and just carried on and kipped in a field for an hour.

Godwin had to learn how to walk normally again when he finished the challenge

“He pushed it [the record] beyond the limit of any mere mortal.

“I worked with a guy who tried it again this year – he lasted about a month and a half.

“The essence of it is that for a year you have to completely give up your whole life.

“When I tell other cyclists about the record, they simply don’t believe it’s possible.”

‘Butcher’s bike’

Godwin’s daughter, Barbara Ford, described her father as “hard as nails” but also said that he was really “a big softie”.

“There was nothing he wouldn’t tackle or do, and nothing he wouldn’t do to help anyone.”

“At 14, he used to ride a bike in a pair of shoes he’d borrowed from the lady next door.

“He’d get on an iron-framed butcher’s bike and cycle a road race of 25 miles and win it.

“He never bragged or told anyone. He was so unassuming and didn’t want any fuss.

“He once saved a woman from a fire, and after checking she was ok, he simply got on his bike and carried on riding.

“All his cups and trophies, he gave away. It wasn’t that he was ungrateful – he just didn’t need any recognition.

“When they unveiled a plaque in his honour someone asked me what my dad would have said. I told them he wouldn’t have turned up.

“Everyone should have had the privilege of meeting Tommy Godwin, because he was just so lovely.

“I remember asking him why he attempted the record.

“He just said: ‘Why not? Why did Mallory Hillary climb Everest? Because it’s there.’

“He did it just because he loved cycling so much.

“Guinness did say that my dad’s record would always be safe. They won’t accept a challenge because they think it’s too dangerous.”

‘Unimaginable constitution’

Tommy Godwin

Godwin often slept in a field to get some well-earned rest

There are also issues over verification: it would be all too easy for a rider these days to swap a tracking unit with other riders.

Tracking devices did not exist in 1939, so Godwin’s mileage was verified by respected figures such as police officers, and posted daily to Cycling – the magazine that originally set up the challenge.

Stoke-on-Trent cycling legend Brian Rourke said: “In theory, the record should be breakable because new road surfaces and modern bikes offer a huge advantage.

“They can do 500 miles in a day now. But to do over 200 miles, every day for a year, on a three-speed bike made of steel, is basically impossible.

“Nobody could ever match his record. Even if it was broken, the conditions just aren’t comparable.” After the feat, Godwin had to learn to walk normally again and uncurl his hands. Yet within weeks, he was serving his country in the RAF.

“I honestly don’t know how he did it. His constitution is just unimaginable,” said Mr Rourke.

“He is totally unique – someone the world will never see the likes of again.”

Here is a clip of him speaking ( a different tommy see more below) – what a geezer and no mention of his amazing year feat JUST the olympic medals …… (which is why no mention – I am an idiot)