The Irrational Persistence of a Cycling Fan

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Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.

It’s the final mountain stage of the 2012 Vuelta a Espana and the riders are grinding their way up to the summit of the Bola del Mundo near Madrid. The overall leader of the Vuelta has previously been stripped of two Grand Tour titles and is returning to his first major race since serving a two year ban for doping. Less than a minute up the road is his likeliest challenger for the leader’s jersey, a rider who has been part of two of the most reprehensible teams the sport has ever known.

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UCI – Get the point, not the points

The lack of racing in the winter months inevitably means that the news and discussion emerging from the cycling world comes from other corners of the sport that don’t involve turning pedals. Doping is the usual off-season topic to revert to, but as we are currently in a lull between the USADA report and the outcomes of the various other investigations that are taking place (UCI, Mantova, Padua), the current hot topic seems to be that of the UCI points system.

There are three stories which have emerged in recent weeks which highlight the various unwanted side affects caused by the current UCI points system which rewards riders rather than teams (a thorough breakdown of the system has been provided by The Inner Ring who highlights the fact that it may in fact be misunderstood by many riders). There are a number of facets to the application process in getting a team into the World Tour, of which the points scored via racing is just one, but it is the one which receives the most focus.

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Roche, the UCI and the media scrum

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It’s been almost three weeks since USADA released their reasoned decision in their case against Lance Armstrong which included an avalanche of evidence into the doping practices on the Texan’s various teams. With the lack of top level racing in the days since then, it’s unsurprising that much of the cycling news emerging has included the reactions of people within the sport, not least the cyclists themselves.

It is a quirk of the entire Armstrong case that many of the main characters are Irish. Consequently, the mainstream Irish media can seek comment from several of their own when a big story breaks – the unrelenting journalists David Walsh and Paul Kimmage, the president of the UCI Pat McQuaid, the whistleblower Emma O’Reilly, the prominent cycling journalist Shane Stokes. All of whom have appeared on Irish TV or radio over the past number of weeks.

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