The classic age of cycling

The average age of the monument classic winners for the past thirty years.

With the lack of road racing in full swing, to satisfy my craving I’ve spent the last few weeks watching repeats of last year’s races. I’ve just finished watching all five of cycling’s monument classics, which are Milan San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liége-Bastogne-Liége and the Tour of Lombardy. Having watched all five of the winners cross the line in the past few days it struck me how young they all were. Mark Cavendish, Stijn Devolder, Tom Boonen, Andy Schleck and Philippe Gilbert are all still in their twenties. None of the five monument winners this year have reached thirty years old, this is not something that has happened very often in recent years. It happened in 1988 but didn’t happen again until last year, and it happened again this year. So it got me thinking, have the monument winners been getting younger, and if so, why might this be? To illustrate, here’s a table of the winners of the five monuments for the past thirty years and the ages each of them were when they won:

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Wiggins takes a step backwards

Possible 2010 Tour de France lineups for Bradley Wiggins' new team and former team.

This week Bradley Wiggins has finally completed his move from Garmin-Slipstream to the new British outfit Team Sky. Ever since he finished 4th in the Tour de France last July, this transfer has been rumored, and with a Tour contender shaped hole on the Team Sky roster it seemed like a probable move. I honestly thought that Team Sky had missed the boat and the rider transfer wouldn’t happen until next year. Most teams have already started their winter training camps and all team roster changes are usually finalised before November. Wiggins’ signing has come very late in the day and Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford has finally landed the Tour contender he so dearly wanted. I had suggested in a previous post that Team Sky could not take a Tour place for granted and they could be up against it to secure a wild card invitation to the French Grand Tour next year. With the signing of Wiggins they still can’t take a Tour place as a given, but they now have a much better chance of being extended an invite at the expense of one of the weaker teams.

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Do Team Sky really deserve a Tour place?

Details of the number of Tour starts made by riders, the number of separate riders who have previously taken part in the Tour, and the number of stage wins amassed by riders for each of the teams hoping to gain a wild card entry to the 2010 Tour de France. Next years rider rosters were used to create the table.

In this year’s Tour de France twenty teams took part. Seventeen of those teams were part of the Pro Tour. There were in fact eighteen Pro Tour teams this year, but the Tour organisers decided not to include the Fuji-Servetto team, this in no small part due to the doping scandal created by Ricardo Ricco and Leonardo Piepoli at the 2008 Tour under the team’s former guise of Saunier Duval. This left three spots open for the powers that be to invite to the world’s biggest race. Of these three wildcard places, one went to the Cervelo Test Team, the team of returning Tour champion Carlos Sastre, this seemed an obvious choice. The second wild card was awarded to the Dutch team Skil-Shimano seemingly because of their aggressive showing in the Spring races. The third berth, as is the ASO’s wont, was given to a French team, namely Agritubel who were invited for the fourth year in a row.

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Was Contador up to Verbier so unbelievable?

The 15th stage of the 2009 Tour de France will be remembered as the day where Alberto Contador finally took the yellow jersey and with it, control of the race. He danced away from his rivals on the summit finish up to Verbier and having previously been within a couple of seconds of Armstrong on G.C., he finished over a minute and a half up on the returning Texan. However, instead of a celebration of aggressive racing, this stage has now become known for the ongoing debate over whether Contador’s speed up the climb was a plausible feat without the aid of performance enhancing drugs.

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