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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

TOUR DE FRANCE - GREEN JERSEY

Every year there are discussions around the points classification, the green jersey.
Some argue it's the sprinters' jersey, but then sprinters win stages, a lot of them, but no jersey (Cavendish/Kittel).
Others call it the most consistent rider's gratification. But then that same rider might not win a single stage, so most consistent at what, losing (Sagan)? Also, the combativity prize already rewards panache.
One solution, and it seems pretty simple to me is to combine stage wins with points.
So stage wins come first and in case of same amount of wins, the points then sort out the classification.
That way, success is rewarded, backed up by a consistent performance.
A bit like it happens at the Olympics, where regardless of how many medals won, the GC is usually worked out ranking Gold medals first, then silver and so on.

Example from Tour 2014:

                            WINS      POINTS
1. Kittel                4             177
2. Nibali               4             149
3. Kristoff             2             217
4. T.Martin            2             76
5. Majka               2             62
6. Greipel             1             143
7. Gallopin            1             105
8. Kadri                 1             83      
9. Navardauskas     1             82
10. Rogers             1             54
11. Boom              1              50
12. Trentin           1              31
13. Sagan              0             408
14. Coquard          0             233
15. Renshaw          0             153
16. VanAvermaet   0             147
............

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

A TALE OF TWO WORLDS

It seems to be the case with many World Championship races that there are two sides to the event, a positive and a negative. Positive side is an opportunity to see different teams with different dynamics from the trade teams, a race with tactical depth, a worthy winner... The negative was the venue and some riders' behaviour.

Ponferrada was not exciting in terms of the course and for the lack of support anywhere along the route. Wide nondescript drags and unattractive backdrop especially around the finish line (TT and Road races alike) and a very small presence of fans to cheer the riders. Even in the busiest section around the castle there were big gaps, which is shocking considering how many people turned up in Yorkshire for Tour de France or Belfast for the Giro. Spain is a cycling nation and their riders were amongst the favourites to win, which makes the lack of support even more difficult to understand... the bad weather? Come on, it was only a bit of rain.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

MEN'S 2014 WORLD RR CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTIONS

These are the riders I see as having a stab at crossing the line first in Ponferrada. 
I take in consideration that there's no long run in to the circuit, it should be a selective race from the off. Also some riders have not shown great form in the last few weeks, while others like Sagan can perform all of a sudden. Saying that, the Slovak still has to win a big race. 
I don't see anyone from team GB to have a proper chance and I hope I'm wrong as cycling in UK needs morale boosting. Kennaugh and Thomas are good and at least Kennaugh is on good form but I can't see them beating the favourites at their own game.

Friday, 19 September 2014

50 YEARS TOGETHER FOR MUM AND DAD - MAMMA E PAPÀ 50 ANNI INSIEME

Fifty years of marriage is no small feat. In these times especially, it's almost a rarity and not just because of age. Few people can claim 50 years as a couple, and still less can count 50 years as happy couple.
Notwithstanding all the adversities of life, you two have always remained positive and happy within the union started in a ballroom in the countryside.
The secret is having accepted each other's weaknesses, but also recognised the strengths each of you have. You two have taken this marriage forward with wisdom and integrity and that has always been a great inspiration to us.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

LAST RIDER STANDING

Cycling was supposed to enter a new era. Cavendish was shouting that years ago, then most people started agreeing with that thought. Why not. Armstrong's era had been dealt with and a new philosophy of marginal gains and new training finesse was introduced.
Then a few have been caught doping, thanks to better testing; more riders, big and small fish, have swam right into the net of shame.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

MY 20TH ANNIVERSARY AT CHANNEL 4 NEWS

To be precise is 20 years at ITN. The first 2 and a half years spent between a variety of news on the ITV channel, World News, Powerhouse, Big Breakfast, Newschannel, you name it, I was there. Then came the much desired transfer to Channel 4 News.
When my father celebrated his 30 years at the Opera House in Genoa, I was in awe that anyone could stay in a company that long and still enjoy the job. I'm still a long way from that goal but I've never faltered in my love for my job. I still like it as much if not more than in 1994 when I was assigned the first sting on the OJ Simpson trial. Working in the news we get to stay in touch with the outside world on a daily basis, with its horrors, its disasters, but also incredible human stories, which at Channel 4 we strive and succeed to portray in their fullness, without compromise.
I've had the pleasure and the honour to work with some incredibly talended people. A newsroom is a madding crowd, a motley crew and at times a dysfunctional family but it oozes passion, tension, laughter, banter, the odd scrap and... perhaps too much lycra.
Looking forward twenty years might seem an eternity, looking back twenty years seems like yesterday.
I couldn't wish for a better group of colleagues and friends.

Friday, 11 July 2014

SOUTH SUDAN AND A VERY AFRICAN CHALLENGE

The White Nile leaves Uganda with a dramatic left turn and enters South Sudan and it proceeds to cut through the land, passing Sudan and eventually finishing its journey in Egypt. Its waters carry life and waste without discrimination. It knows no political boundaries, it is unstoppable like the history surrounding it.

Friday, 17 January 2014

WHY THE BALLAN SUSPENSION MAKES ME SO ANGRY

First, I welcome the suspension, that should be clear from the off.
The doping offence relates to 2009, for blood transfusions while riding for Lampre.
Lampre have been investigated since then, in the Mantova inquiry, and more will come out for sure as they go through case by case.
This has taken so long, and is still ongoing, because of lack of resources thrown at it. Add to it that Italian justice crawls to conclusion at best of times.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

PETER KENNAUGH & AN UNDERSTANDABLE FRUSTRATION



Peter Kennaugh's tweet on the injustices of how teams deal with dopers and clean riders, shows the type of frustration that permeates the world of cycling. He wrote:
@Peterkennaugh Seeldraeyers can't get a contract yet Astana more than happy to sign mpcc banned rider pellizotti

Pellizotti was suspended for two years on a doping charge. Teams adhering to the MPCC (Mouvement pour un cyclisme crédible) agree not to hire riders for a further 2 years after the suspension. Astana, a recent signatory to this Movement, have hired Pellizotti for the 2014 season but he won't race until May, when the two years after the suspension are up.
All this is within the MPCC rules, however he will be training with the team and with their kit, presumably he will be paid a salary as well.
And here comes the frustration. Many good riders, due to teams folding or rosters already fulfilled, have yet to find a contract for next season.
From the same team, Astana, an extremely good rider, Kevin Seeldraeyers, has come to the end of his contract and he's still looking for a job for 2014.
So, former doper in, clean rider out.
Kennaugh points him out, but the list is quite alarmingly big.
Now, when a horde of former dopers have a contract, feed their families, have a bright future ahead, while many clean riders have not, there lies a big moral dilemma: although rules are not broken, these guys (and I'm not particularly referring to Pellizotti, there are plenty of convicted dopers in the peloton) have a future in the sport built on their cheating; teams don't seem to see that and keep on hiring them. They get a second chance while clean riders don't even get one proper chance.

It's all good to have a group like the MPCC, but when the loopholes make a mockery of the clean riders, something needs to change.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

BOOKED! JOIN THE (FREE) BOOKCLUB

In the words of @kittyfondue, BOOKED! is a bookclub "for people who are passionately involved with books and are willing to talk about it."
The appeal of a bookclub is the challenge for people to read beyond their natural choices and discover new horizons and ideas while in this literary journey.

It's free, there are no commitments but discussion is encouraged. It is amongst friends so anything goes, no literary award will be given on the prose of the review!
One book per month.
Each member will have the chance to choose a book.
Starting on the 1st day of each month, the discussion will then be set up as a new book is decided. First book is "Instructions for a Heatwave" by Maggie O'Farrell.
If you are not able to finish a book, no problem, you can always skip the next.

The link to the club is:
https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/117123-booked

So join goodreads.com and once a member, join the club.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

ENGLAND & WALES PRISONS - MYTHS AND FACTS

Figures from the International Centre for Prison Studies show England & Wales have a combined prison population of 84,430 inmates. That is the highest in Europe, just beating Poland to the top post. When taken in consideration the rate per 100,000 citizens, England/Wales still have the highest figures in Western Europe, 148, only 4 countries from the East fare worse, Poland (217), Hungary (186), Romania (155), and Czech Republic (154).

UCI, SUBSTANTIAL CHANGES

According to cicloweb.it (http://goo.gl/dWE1Dx), the UCI has finally been at work to change the formats of rankings and various levels of professional cycling. The changes will be discussed next January 2014 so the new format should be in place for 2015 to 2020.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

ANTHILL WORLD

Scenario 1: The whole population of North, Central and South America moves to Asia.
Scenario 2: The whole of China moves to Africa
Scenario 3: The United States' population moves to Nigeria

These are the nightmare scenarios equivalent to what will happen to the World  if growing population trends continue at the current state.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

TELEGRAPH, BAD WRITING AND THE IGNORANCE AROUND CYCLING

When I read the Telegraph's article http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/active/recreational-cycling/10323653/War-declared-on-the-Lycra-louts-on-wheels.html , I let it go. I simply regarded it as yet another example of pretentious journalism, with a cheap sensationalist headline.
But this morning something happened on my commute to work and I hold journalism like that responsible for it.

Friday, 20 September 2013

MEN'S CYCLING WORLD ROAD RACE PREDICTIONS

Soon it will be another round of World Championships racing. It's the most unpredictable race of the calendar. It comes at the end of a long season and unless a rider specifically targets it and prepares for it, no chance. Team work is only partially important, mainly for the first phase, after that, legs do the talking. Although, if the team is particularly strong, it can wreak havoc and be crucial in the result (see Italy's win in 2008 and to some extent GB's win in Copenhagen in 2011).

Monday, 27 May 2013

NIBALI'S KNOCK OUT GIRO

It was always going to be a fight between Nibali and Wiggins. It didn't happen. Others tried but were too late to do something about it (Uran Uran), too unwell (Hesjedal) or simply not strong enough (Evans).

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

MY FAVOURITE ONE-DAY RACES

Top of my list it has to be Strade Bianche. It has drama, early season unpredictability, a spectacular finish set in medieval town of Siena. Pave', dust, gravel, stinging little climbs followed by dangerous descents. The winner is usually the type of rider I admire the most: Gilbert, Cancellara, Moser.



Giro di Lombardia is another race I love watching. Its hilly course and stunning views contribute to the mystique of this end-of-season monument. The Ghisallo climb is iconic in this course often mired by foul weather which adds to the epic efforts of past winners.



Brabantse Pijl is the opener for the Ardenne Classics. I believe its course is actually better than Amstel or Liege, offering a bit of all types of terrain. Even in the wet it's an exciting race to watch. Winding, cobbles, sharp climbs.



Thursday, 18 April 2013

ITALIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

This picture of Alfano (Pdl) and Bersani (PD) speaks volume.
Right and Left, hand in hand, sharing the spoils of a deal in the Presidential elections in Italy.
But whatever the outcome, the losers are PD (Democratic Party). They have demonstrated a lack of much sought-after transparency by keeping their candidate secret, they have been playing a game of musical chairs with Berlusconi's Pdl, Bersani has shown to be a very weak and ineffective leader and the party is split even before a government is formed.
By the way, that has been almost forgotten. No government as yet, not even remotely in the distance.
Grillo's M5S has shown at least a clarity of choice and will gather more votes in an early election.
Berlusconi has still managed to be in charge of ceremonies in the Italian Parliament.

More in-depth analysis here by +Cr Lloyd :
http://thesecondshot.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/italy-choses-president-today.html

Friday, 1 February 2013

LEONARDO'S GENIUS

Leonardo's paintings, frescos, architecture and even warfare inventions were all incredible feats of engineering, skill and flare. His meticulous observations and thirst for knowledge based on first hand study, allowed him to find techniques never seen before and hardly seen after.
Studying anatomy by dissecting corpses, he was able to translate his knowledge into his paintings and frescos, in the way limbs folded and muscles had to be shaded.
His studies in nature gave him inspirations for many inventions and architectural designs.
However, all the masterpieces of art and architecture and also all the inventions he put to practice are not for me what defined him as a genius. Outstanding and unique as all those things were, they were made and were delivered by an artist/architect/engineer of special talent. But because they were made they simply were beautiful, innovative yes, probably only possible by Leonardo alone.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

TEAMS REVIEW 2013 - MOVERS AND SHAKERS

 AG2R LA MONDIALE 
Last year's poor showing has called for some injection of talent in the shape of Apollonio, Betancur, Hutarovich and most of all Pozzovivo who will boost their chances at stage wins. Still lacking strength in the Classics department, they will certainly concentrate in performances at the Grand Tours. Belletti, Gadret, Mondory, Nocentini are confirmed. They lose Roche, Hinault and Casper (the latter has retired). Always present in the breaks but rarely on the podium, it's a team that makes you feel a change in tactics or coaching is needed.

 ASTANA PRO TEAM 
One of the most active teams in the riders' market, their strength and depth is impressive. The post-Vino era will hopefully shrug off the many suspicions about their ethics. New riders are former teammates Agnoli and Vanotti in support for new super-signing Nibali in the quest for Grand Tour glory, Fuglsang who was incredibly sidelined at Radioshack and has great potential of GC, sprinter Guardini who had a great season at FarneseVini. These riders will join an established roster: Brajkovic, Gasparotto, Gavazzi, Guarnieri, Iglinskiy, Kashechkin, Kessiakoff, Muravyev, Ponzi, Tiralongo...all capable to grab classics or stages. Kreuziger is revamping is career at SaxoTinkoff, while Kiserlovski at Radioshack.

Monday, 21 January 2013

ARMSTRONG: CONFESSION A LA CARTE

Since his first win of a Tour de France I had the suspicion that something was amiss. It seemed impossible at the time as we just had come through the Festina scandals and Pantani's downfall, surely nobody would be able to fool controls.
Then, like many, I read Armstrong's book It's not about the bike and the first bells started to ring. He was one of the first cancer patients to try EPO to recover from therapies. Cinically I thought that if he had tested first hand the benefits of this drug, it would only be logical to assume his climbing prowess came from further use of it. He hadn't simply improved his climbing, he was one of the best.
That's when I started to be suspicious.
His confession was therefore long overdue as far as I was concerned.
I was still surprised when it came though, I never thought he would ever admit to doping.
The first minute or so of Oprah's interview was all I needed. I simply wanted to hear him say Yes I doped. Everything else that followed was just mumbo jumbo of no relevance. A mixture of PR and legal censoring. He was clearly taking people for a ride when admitting to doping up until 2005 and no further, when clearly his biological passport is showing otherwise. This in turns implicates the UCI even further as cover-ups were needed to carry on racing.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

CADEL EVANS GOES MOURINHO

“Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m European champion and I think I’m a special one.” (Jose Mourinho)
"There will be one leader, and that will be me because I have the experience and the results to back up that I can win the Tour." (Cadel Evans)


Cadel Evans' latest interview at BMC's presentation in Belgium was interesting mainly for two factors: his underlined cry for leadership at the Tour and the veiled accusation of wrongdoing by TeamSky, in particular Wiggins. 
The overall impression is that of a worried rider but one eager to show his best. 
Last year's lacklustre performance has been blamed on a virus contracted while visiting his adopted son in Ethiopia. His age also must be a worrying factor for him too as not many 36-year-olds have managed to win a Tour. 

Thursday, 10 January 2013

ITALY, THE UNFINISHED DEMOCRACY

When Italy was unified about 150 years ago, it was a political not a cultural decision. It's not just a division between North and South that conflicts with the identity of this country, it's a deeper division.
Deeply catholic, over the centuries, people identified themselves with those in the proximity of the local church, with the bell tower well in view as a reference point, like an umbrella lifted by a tourist guide to keep the flock united. Campanile is bell tower in Italian, campanilismo is therefore the term coined to describe the allegiances people have to their local areas.
Although religion has played a big part in shaping cultural identities, the main catalyst for these divisions is the territory. The geography of the land has shaped the Italian way of life more than any invading power, political and religious force. It's a divisive land. To go from the west coast near Rome to the east coast of the Abruzzi region you have to cross mountains; the same happens if you need to transfer goods from the port in Genoa to the factories in Milan. There are alpine communities as well as maritime cultures, fertile plains, cold areas, hot areas... each with their own identity.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

ECONOMY... A TAXING SUBJECT

In the last few years economy stories have moved from the financial pages in the middle of our newspaper to the front pages. We're constantly spoon-fed information we don't understand but pretend to. We are worried because the money we earn seems to devalue every week.
If we're struggling financially is because bad decisions (or no decisions) have been made for us. That's why we can blame the banks and governments (left and right) for mismanaging our resources. Financial crisis, it turns out, don't often happen for natural causes.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

GUN CONTROL

The call for a ban on guns is clearly a justified and a gallant attempt to stop this haemorrhage of death in the United States.
Mass shootings are not a prerogative of the States, we've had enough of those in Europe as well as around the world but it's not comparative to scale. There have been scores of dead in a lot of countries, what worries the most in the US is the frequency. Nearly 60 schools have had some type of shooting since 1996 and nearly 200 people dead because of that. The spread is nationwide.
But most worrying is the number of people killed in gun related incidents: over 30,000 per year, and by 2015 it is set to overtake deaths by driving.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

RESPONSE TO EXPRESS "JOURNALIST"

"Perhaps it is because my late mother had an affair with a cyclist that I have never had much time for them."
This is the start of a ludicrous article against everything that is cycling by Express "journalist" Camilla Tominey. Because of a bad personal experience, she decides that anyone on two wheels is worth degrading and humiliating. It shows a journalist who is bitter, badly informed and mostly ignorant and who takes her personal issues into her business affairs...professionally this is very poor., but let's have a look at why:

Thursday, 29 November 2012

LONDON TO PARIS FOR CHILDREN WITH MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY













On May 31 2013, I will be riding London to Paris with Channel 4 News presenters Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Jon Snow and a host of friends and colleagues.
Here's my donation page: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/fabrizioviani1
The start will be at the Channel 4 HQ in London and we'll be heading to Newhaven, then by ferry to Dieppe, then another leg to Paris.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7G-zzBfGBts
The reason for this ride is to raise money and awareness for the Duchenne Children's Trust: http://www.dc-trust.org/about/about-us/

Sunday, 4 November 2012

RECIPE: BRITISH BEEF CASSEROLE

I absolutely love traditional British cuisine. It is underestimated here in the UK and virtually unknown abroad. With the right ingredients it is full of flavours and colour. This particular recipe is perfect for the cold weather, it's a comfy blanket dished out from the kitchen.

Ingredients:
1 tbs olive oil
500gr Aberdeen Angus diced beef
1 tbs plain flour
200g shallots or roughly chopped onions
500g chanteney carrots (mini bunched carrots) topped
400g swede cut into chunks
400g chopped tomatoes
500ml beef stock
1 sprig of thyme
250g chestnut mushrooms roughly chopped

Saturday, 3 November 2012

NUTRITION AND TRAINING FOR CYCLING

I've attended a seminar run by Daniel Lloyd (formerly of Garmin, now IG Sigma Sport) and Dr Robert Child (worked with Cervelo, Geox and Brajkovic).
There was a lot to take in and a lot of it. The part about power meters' parameters was a bit lost on me as were some of the nutritionist terms. These are just some points I've picked up that I wanted to remind myself. Any mistakes are solely mine.


- Change in the way I eat: huge breakfast, medium lunch, small dinner.
- Because I commute on the bike I have to split breakfast in two, starting with kipper or eggs and coffee, riding, then porridge and some fruit, possibly some toast with jam too.
- Lunch: Meat/fish, veg, rice
- Dinner: Meat/fish, salad
- Good for protein: Milk and eggs (antioxidants); Fish and meat (creatine, carnosine, carnitine)
- Not good: Most dairy, white bread, soy
- Omega: Fish and Olive oil (omega 3 can be taken with 3x1000mg tablets, it reduces HR, improves mood and ventilation)

Thursday, 1 November 2012

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT

A small event that eventually becomes a hurricane. Surely not.
But it does. Actually, several smaller events (Andreu, Landis, Hamilton) eventually conflagrated in Hurricane Lance. Myths crumbled, feats were re-dimensioned, dopers fell and still falling.

The use/abuse of charity in the form of Livestrong, the lies, the deceits, the threats. The systemic use of dope. The ugliness of a sport supported for its grit and  heroic exploits.

Some riders claim it was all in the past and cycling has changed.
No it hasn't. What it has though is subsided.
There are dopers even now. It's not behind us.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

REVISED TOUR DE FRANCE WINNERS 1996-2012













1996 - Laurent Dufaux (4th) SUI
1997 - Abraham Olano (4th) ESP
1998 - Christophe Rinero (4th) FRA
1999 - Fernando Escartin (3rd) ESP
2000 - Fernando Escartin (8th) ESP
2001 - Andrey Kivilev (4th) KAZ
2002 - Jose' Azevedo (6th) POR
2003 - Haimar Zubeldia (5th) ESP
2004 - Andreas Kloden (4th) GER
2005 - Cadel Evans (8th) AUS
2006 - Oscar Pereiro (2nd) AUS
2007 - Cadel Evans (2nd) AUS
2008 - Carlos Sastre (1st) ESP
2009 - Andy Schleck (2nd) LUX
2010 - Andy Schleck (2nd) LUX
2011 - Cadel Evans (1st) AUS
2012 - Bradley Wiggins (1st) GBR

Saturday, 22 September 2012

ELITE WOMEN WORLD ROAD RACE 2012

This felt like one of those iconic races which will be remembered for a long time.
It was an incredible display of grit and strength.

It all started to unfold with a break from a small group. Commentators doubted they would be able to stay away, and that might have been the case but as they reached around 37" gap from the main peloton and only a few laps left, Dutch super rider Marianne Vos attacked, closely followed by Longo Borghini of Italy. 
Once they bridged the gap the Dutch and the Italians had two riders in the break. At that point it felt like game over for the riders chasing the group.

Vos was possessed, she had the look you only see in true champions. There was no doubt and no faltering at any time.

OF CAV AND THINGS SKY...

What made it difficult at first for Cav to say yes to Sky last year was the fact that he wouldn't be riding Specialized (he likes them and they sponsored him). Then he suddenly agreed to join them.
The agreement reached in my opinion was for Specialized to let Cav go to Sky for one year so that he could prepare for the Olympics with his TeamGB teammates, then join OmegaPharmaQuickStep (Specialized bikes), then provide bikes to Sky as payback for letting him go play with Pinarello bikes in 2014. I think it was all sorted out last year.
I don't think Sky would have been happy to lose millions of pounds in compensation just to be nice.
Cav he's going to take wins from them next year (therefore more money loss for Sky), could still be wearing a rainbow jersey, and is British hero to many.
I don't see how Cav's situation could be any better at OPQS than at Sky. Won't have a big train dedicated to him as that's not how that team is set up, most riders in that team work on their own or with one or two other riders.
So, other than going back to his main sponsor I don't see the logic in the change.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

AN OLYMPIC EFFORT

When the Olympic cycling road race and TT race routes were announced I was extremely excited. I live bang in the middle of both. One of the most important races in cycling was going to be ridden near my house. Television screens would be filled with images of roads I'm familiar with, the pros will be riding my commute to work AND some of my cycling club runs' routes (Kingston Wheelers).

Friday, 15 June 2012

WIGGLE DRAGON RIDE 2012

In the graphics department at Channel4News we're all into cycling, sometimes train together at lunchtime, so five of us plus a friend who joined us there, decided to enter the Wiggle Dragon Ride in South Wales. This is a sportive, a timed road cycling event with over 4,000 participants from all over the country and beyond.
I did this event a few years back, but it was a lot shorter and not so much climbing.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

CHILTERN 100: HOW TO RIDE A SPORTIVE WITHOUT TRAINING

The short anwer is....yes, so you don't need to read any further.
Cycling has been a major feature in our graphics department at work, it so happens that all four of us (and a few more around the newsroom) enjoy cycling and we always have eurosport in the monitors next to our working stations, to the annoyance of our fellow colleagues who have to order some graphics for the evening news.
Three of us started commuting 7 or 8 years ago, another colleague 2 years ago (but road bike only a year or so) and the latest 'recruit' is the news director with only a few months of experience.
Some of us belong to cycling clubs, done sportives (including Marmotte, Maratona dles Dolomites), trips to Paris and so on, but generally we stick to simply commuting to and from work.
Cycling fever being very contagious, we decided why not entering a sportive all together, so we planned for the Dragon Ride.

To prepare for it, so to speak, I didn't do any long rides, simply the 22km each way commute to work. I guess it can be considered a good interval training session, with the stop and start at the traffic lights, couple of hills, well ok, ramps, around or in Richmond Park, and longish stretches where, traffic permitting, is possible to go at sustained speed.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

CYCLING HALL OF FAME: THE NATIONS

Which nations are more successfull in cycling history? According to results from big races and taking in consideration the 10 best placed riders of each nations from my hall of fame http://goo.gl/VPzCY the results are mixed. The top countries are unsurprisingly Italy, Belgium and France. Although France seems to live on the glory of the past, as do The Netherlands. Spain's top riders are more from recent times and is firmly in 4th place. Switzerland was a bit of a surprise for me in 5th place. Luxembourg is an amazing little enclave considering the size of their population as they manage to sit proudly in 10th place. Australia and Great Britain have the best outlook for the future, although GB doesn't quite have 10 riders in the hall of fame as yet. Ireland only have 3 riders but when they did well, they did incredibly well with 6th and 49th top positions. Countries from the East and Latin America don't seem to have had a great impact as yet.

Monday, 20 February 2012

CYCLING HALL OF FAME: THE RIDERS

This hall of fame is compiled taking in consideration only wins, this is for two reasons. One is time, the other is that this is more about the long term legacy of single riders. I have updated this with Armstrong's downfall.
It doesn't give some riders justice, namely those incredible domestiques whose effort is crucial for their captains' wins.
This is simply for fun and to give some sense of worth in the broader view of the history of cycling. I have included most big races, some, like Tour of Poland and Turkey only from 2005 and 2007, when they acquired higher UCI status. For the same reason I've included the Tour of Beijing because despite being an awfully boring race, it hosts world tour teams, therefore will grow in status.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

TOUR DE SAN LUIS 2012

The Tour de San Luis is not well known. Nevertheless is growing in status, with many pro and continental teams choosing to make the long trip to a different down under, almost at the same latitude as the Australian race. SaxoBank, Liquigas-Cannondale, OmegaPharma-QuickStep, AG2R-LaMondiale, Movistar, Andalucia, AndroniVenezuela, Caja Rural, Colnago-CSF Inox, Farnese-SelleItalia, Team NetApp, UnitedHealthCare, Christina Watches, and few other south American national teams. It's a good showcase of talent for riders who find it difficult to enter the European sphere for distance, money and infrastructure. The crowds at the presentations were enormous, one to rival any tour.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

TOUR DOWN UNDER 2012

Down Under Classic
Putting the problems I have about the name aside, the opening Criterium was a lively 50km race (shouldn't call a race a classic...that term is earned!). Greipel and the Lotto team showed to be on form. Greipel's speed towards the finishing line was breathtaking.

Stage 1
Another Greipel's victory, this time slightly more laboured as he had to start the final sprint from 20/25 positions down, thanks to a mighty crash about 900mt from the end. But it showed that with this form, Greipel can pick and choose his moments. After the race he had a go at Petacchi (rightly so) for veering dangerously from left to right, but he should know that those are the dangers if you're trying to nip from behind as noone is hardly going to leave a wide corridor.

Friday, 13 January 2012

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE PUNCTURES

Went to the shed yesterday morning to pick up my bike, ready for my commute to work. And there it was in all its glory...the unexpected, sneaky and cynical morning puncture.
I am a cyclist therefore I am a puncture repair expert. I have to be.
I have been riding now for nearly seven years in the streets of London, the Surrey hills, Italian and French Alps. When I started I knew nothing about bike repairs, puncture fixing. I was given a 70s Bianchi by my uncle and it had tubs. The first time I puctured luckily it was near home, so I pushed it along the pavement all the way to my local shop. I was charged £20 and it had to be done overnight as the glue needed to set. At the second puncture I decided not to risk it anymore so I changed the wheels with clinchers I had in the shed and off I went. Inevitably I did puncture and like for anything else, took it to the shop but they asked for £10 to repair, and could I go the next day as they were busy!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

BEST RIDER 2011

Picking the best overall rider for 2011 for me is extremely hard as it has been another year of amazing performances. Mark Cavendish with the Green Jersey and World Championship, Cadel Evans with a stunning a perfectly timed Tour de France victory, Alberto Contador total control of the Giro d'Italia, Cobo's gutsy ride at the Vuelta (with Froome a deserving runner up), Voeckler with hard man of the year award (and yes Hoogerland too), Hushovd at the Tour....and so on.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

MY FAVOURITE DOMESTIQUES 2011

Geraint Thomas Team Sky
All rounder domestique who, I hope, will soon be a team captain as his skills demonstrated in the spring classics bode well for the future. Strong and fast and with an increasingly good tactical sense.



Pierre Rolland Europcar
An impressive Tour de France campaign has launched this rider to new heights, very strong in the inclines and vital to Voeckler's titanic performance.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

CAV'S SPRINT


Watching Cavendish at the Revolutions' meeting at the weekend was confirmation of my theory on his sprinting. He doesn't need a train to win a sprint. He shouldn't use a train to win a sprint.
Cavendish took the win on the last race by going from the front and even though he wasn't in his best form he managed to keep the other riders behind him...and on track. Sure enough he would have loved a few gears to shift up but he still rotated those legs at just the right cadence to cross the line first. 

At the Worlds he took the win despite, yes despite, Team GB's tactics. Yes I'm the only person in the world to think that but not ashamed to admit it and if Cav hadn't had that last kick, most would have to admit Team GB's tactics had been foolish.

Friday, 18 November 2011

(SOME) PEOPLE IN POWER

There seems to be a type of person who'll always make it in high positions, be it in politics, business, religion, who have the tendency of not knowing much, being prone to gaffes and being generally clueless and obnoxious.

To name a few: Silvio Berlusconi; George W Bush; David Cameron; Pat McQuaid; Max Mosley; Nicolas Sarkozy; Sepp Blatter; Vladimir Putin; Sarah Palin

They get elected and climb up the ladder of power, and more to the point they stay there for years. They behave like buffoons, constantly make gaffes and continuously display a lack of general knowledge.

And they're still coming, look at the American election campaign, where the Republican candidates where having a debate and one of them (allegedly the top candidate) was unable to answer the most basic questions. Has he withdrawn? No. Why? Because people don't take notice of gaffes as a negative but find it amusing as they circle the various social networks and media circus.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

OLYMPICS, DOPERS AND LIFE BANS

A lifetime Olympic ban for dopers is a duty.
Unlike in various sports' federations, the Olympics has a specific message to deliver and allowing dopers back into the fold goes against those values.
The Olympics was created with the ethos of peace and inclusion.
In Ancient Greece, wars stopped for the duration of the games, enemies faced each other in healthy competitions instead of throwing weapons at each other. The purpose, to get a glimpse of equality in the eyes of the Gods, recharging and motivating patriotism by the inclusion of all. The Games have values, of freedom, peace and above all respect.
It was not meant to be for professionals to take part, but money talks and professionals are invited to take part. Money has ruined the Olympics as it has created a commercial monster, aimed at companies' wealth and trade. That has brought fierce competition which has pushed doping to stellar heights to gain results.
The only way to try retain the original spirit is to stop the win-at-all-cost attitude. That means dopers should be banned and stay banned.

MY TOP BOOKS

Arthur C. Clarke  
2001 A Space Odyssey
Science fiction's best novel. Complex, edgy and visionary. He wrote it before man landed on the Moon and he was so spot on on many of the dynamics of space travel. Spawned from a short novel, The Sentinel, it describes the finding of a beacon of sorts on the Moon. From there it's man against Machine against understanding... an endless quest.
Ronan Bennett   
The Catastrophist
Love, adventure, politics, philosophy. An Irishman goes to the Congo to be with his Italian lover. He has no interest though in the deepening independence crisis of that country led by Patrice Lumumba. His business is love.

CYCLING, THE BIG MOVERS FOR 2012

Only the big names.....

AG2R LA MONDIALE: Casper; Belletti
ASTANA: Kashechkin, Gavazzi, Guarnieri, Murayev, Brajkovic, Bozic
BMC: Gilbert, Blythe, Hushovd, Pinotti, Van Garderen, Cummings
COFIDIS: Di Gregorio
GARMIN-CERVELO: Rosseler, Rasmussen, Hunter, Wegmann, Bauer
GREENEDGE: Meyer, Bobridge, O'Grady, Weening, Gerrans, Clarke, Cooke, Vaitkus, Tuft, McEwen, Beppu, Albasini, Goss, Sulzberger, Davis, Lancaster, Dean, Durbridge, Hepburn

BOOK, ANOTHER SKY

A collection of stories, thoughts, poems, from persecuted writers from all over the world. It's published by Profile Books in association with PEN, an organisation aimed at promoting literature and freedom of expression.
The stories are most poignant and harrowing.
One example is the "little mistake" that led a writer to be close to be executed in an Iranian prison. Writer Reza Baraheni wan blindfolded and led to a hall to get food, walking with the arms on the shoulders of the prisoner in front. There he accidentally lost contact but after a struggle and panic found the shoulders again, only this time they belonged to the wrong line of prisoners. He was then led in the open and while enquiring about the different route he found out they were the prisoners about to be executed.

CYCLE SUPERHIGHWAYS & (UN)ETHICAL SPONSOR

Cycle Superhighway. Let's dwell on the name. Highway is a public road... Super implies bigger, wider, with extra powers. You almost hope when you ride on them that a special force will propel you to your destination in no time and in safety, like in a scene from Tron, zooming around these Super lanes barely seen by the slow traffic around you.

It gives more room than conventional cycle lanes, but apart from being able to overtake slower cyclists it has no great impact on safety.
Vehicles still drive over it, turn left through them without first checking, they are slippery in the wet as most of the lanes are simply painted.

THE FULL MONTI

So the Monti's government goes live.
The Full Monti.
The gargantuan task ahead calls for behavioural austerity as much as an economic one.
So far (day one) it seems the collective of ministers is sedate and boring enough to let Italy produce a massive sigh of relief.

The Vatican has commented favourably on the "team", that worries me, especially for the Health Secretary, Renato Balduzzi. He has a strong catholic background, which can interfere when Health reforms and modernisation require to deal with abortion, fertilisation and research, choice and rights.