A Waste of a Rainbow Jersey

Wiggins

Bradley Wiggins’s achievements have been immense. He has the most diverse palmarés of any active cyclist and he appears to be able to accomplish any goal he puts his mind to. But strictly speaking, the rainbow jersey he won in Ponferrada last year by finishing fastest in the elite time trial championships, was the most wasted rainbow jersey in road cycling history.

By that I mean the number of days that Wiggins spent racing in it. The former Tour de France winner certainly did not get his money’s worth. He called a halt to his season directly after he won it and only remained on Team Sky’s books until Paris-Roubaix earlier this year. Thereafter he only rode on home soil – two stage races, the Tours of Yorkshire and Britain along with the one-day RideLondon Classic, none of which involved a time trial. The only time he spent in the jersey was in the preparation races in the build up to the Spring classics.

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Top Five in the Tour de France

D'Huez

Much was made before this year’s Tour de France of the salivating showdown we had in prospect between the ‘Fab Four’ of Vincenzo Nibali, Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana. The four are all Grand Tour winners and had never all competed in a race together until this past July. We weren’t really treated to a four-way showdown due to Contador and Nibali struggling in the opening couple of weeks and it looked like Froome had the race sewn up after the first summit finish until Quintana finally made a race of it in the final Alpine stages.

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Milan San Remo Tune-up

Cycling : BOONEN Tom / Milan - Sanremo

Which is the best race to ride yourself into form for Milan San Remo? Is it Paris-Nice? Or is it Tirreno-Adriatico?

While the respective race organisers ASO and RCS try to tempt the major G.C. riders to their races, the classics stars are also faced with a choice of how best to prepare for the first monument classic of the season.

Take a look at the results of Milan San Remo for the last few years and it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that Paris-Nice provides the better preparation. Last year’s winner Alexander Kristoff was present at the French race as were the winners of the 2012 and 2011 editions, Simon Gerrans and Matt Goss.

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The Hardest Monument Classic

blog-muur1

Which classic is the hardest?

It’s an impossible question to answer definitively as the topic will always be somewhat subjective. How do you define ‘hard’? Hills? Cobbles? Wind? Rain? Speed?

Perhaps a good place to start is to rule out all of the classics that are not considered to be one of the five monuments – Milan San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Tour of Lombardy. After all, they’re considered to be above all the others for a reason.

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Black is the new Shite

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In June 2013, current UCI President Brian Cookson released his manifesto which ultimately succeeded in helping him get elected at the UCI congress later that year.

In that manifesto in the section entitled ‘Overhaul the structure of elite road cycling’ Cookson wrote the following:

The structure of elite cycling needs to provide a clear and compelling narrative that is easy for spectators, sponsors and broadcasters to follow. “

In its context, Cookson was writing specifically about the organisation of events throughout the year into a cohesive and coherent calendar. But if we cherry-pick a phrase from that campaign pledge, that cycling needs to be easy for spectators to follow, this is in rather stark conflict with the news which has been emerging from various UCI teams over the last few weeks.

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A Monumental Loss of Tradition

(via https://www.flickr.com/photos/brendan2010/)

Norwegian, Swiss, Dutch, Australian and Irish -the nationalities of the five winners of the 2014 monument classics were unusually diverse. It was only the fifth time that all five races were won by riders from different countries. Notably the winners didn’t include any Belgians, French, Italians or Spaniards. This is not quite a first in cycling history, but it almost is.

Labelled ‘La Doyenne’ for good reason, the first ever monument classic that took place was Liége-Bastogne-Liége in 1892. Only one year has passed since then where none of the five took place, 1895. The following year after that barren Spring, Paris-Roubaix arrived, soon followed thereafter by the Tour of Lombardy and then Milan San Remo. In 1913, the Tour of Flanders completed what we now hold dear as the set of five biggest one day races and not a year has passed since then, despite the two World Wars, where at least one of them hasn’t taken place.

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