What's Cool In Road Cycling

EuroTrash Tuesday!

The wait is over, the season is real. The opening weekend in Belgium provided terribly difficult racing, some surprises, big Belgian disappointment, and a lot of stories. The lovers of hills got their due in Switzerland and teh Giro di Sardegna wrapped. So take a few minutes and catch up on all that’s worth catching up on.

First Off…
Yesterday was one of those rare days where we had way too much content for one day, so, to spice things up a bit, we shifted EuroTrash back a day. Besides, who wants to read EuroTrash when you can go along for the adventure at Het Nieuwsblad with Ed Hood? My thoughts exactly. Anyhow, without further ado…the news.

The PEZ Gets… ‘HelpABikeShopped’
In a rare turning of the tables, it was a case of the microphone (/ voice recorder/ telephone) being pointed in our direction and asking the questions, instead of the other way around. Arnold Galit – the man behind HelpABikeShop.com talked to the PEZ himself about what it’s like starting up a website from scratch, and growing it into a daily read for fans around the world. Of course Arnold makes it sound much more glamorous – and you can read it all here. There’s a podcast too – if you’re really desperate for more ‘Pez’.

HelpABikeShop.com is a free service to which bike shops post their available overstocks and promotions as long as the price is at least 20% below MSRP. These are sent to the thousands of cyclists who have signed up to receive the HelpABikeShop.com alerts. If they see an item the want, cyclists contact the bike shops directly. Everyone wins; cyclists get access to normally unnoticed deals while bike shops move their inventory faster. Bike shops are checked against the National Bike Dealers Association database or local listings to ensure they are actual stores.

Arnold told us: “Carbon parts, bikeable cities, race reports. These are the usual fodder for cycling news. However, a critical but overlooked area is finally getting some innovation: the local bike shop. Bike Shops typically have small marketing budgets, preventing them from connecting with potential customers and limiting their growth. And there are plenty of cyclists who are looking for a bike shop for their specific needs. HelpABikeShop.com connects cyclists directly to local bike shops, overcoming the main barrier to bike shop marketing: money.

Asked to describe HelpABikeShop.com, he replied, ‘It’s a little bit craigslist and a little bit woot.com. Cyclists get great deals, but they never know what’s going to be available. And because quantities are usually small, bike shops get a really fast consumer response.’ ”

The Classics Season Is Upon Us!
The opening weekend in Belgium left the Belgians with little to cheer about. The two races, which have a long, long list of Belgian winners, resulted in the highest placing for a Belgian in 7th on Saturday for Nico Eeckhout. 7th! Het Nieuwsblad has never, ever, not once in its storied history, not had a Belgian on the podium – until Saturday.

Don’t read too much into that though. There would have certainly been a Belgian on the podium had it not been for some foul luck in the crucial conclusion of Het Nieuwsblad. Both Boonen and Nuyens flatted at terrible moments, and both were looking great. Boonen was looking fantastic. I’m not saying Flecha wouldn’t have won had Boonen not flatted, but that race would have looked a sight different.

Enough of the woulda, shoulda, coulda’s. On with the recaps.

Het Nieuwsblad In The Books
It wasn’t quite what everyone was expecting, but to say that Juan Antonio Flecha’s win wasn’t a long time coming would be a sin. There’s not much to add that Gord didn’t already make due note of in the race report, and whatever Gord didn’t say, Cosmo Catalano from Cyclocosm.com certainly took care of the rest.

How The Race Was Won – Het Nieuwsblad 2010 from Cosmo Catalano on Vimeo

Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne To Traksel
In one of the most agonizing finales that I’ve ever seen, Bobbie Traksel managed to get out of his saddle for something like ten pedal strokes in the sprint, which was more than either Flens or Stannard could muster, ergo, it was way more than enough to take the win on one of the nastiest days we’ve seen in a long while.

There’s a lot of talk about a wily and cagey Traksel. I cry foul. The man had half a percent more than his two breakmates on the line, got out of his saddle for a couple seconds, sat back down, and it was more than enough to sit up many meters ahead of the line. Flens was done, Stannard half dead.

Don’t believe me? Watch the video. It’s agony in motion.


Let’s Journey Down To Switzerland
The lovers of hills not racing down in Sardegna made their way to Lugano this weekend for two 1.1 classified races, the GP dell’Insubria on Saturday and the GP Lugano on Sunday.

Saturday’s GP Insubria presented another opportunity for a big win from one of the more impressive riders so far this season, Cofidis’s Samuel Dumoulin. Dumoulin, as he is want to do, sprinted to victory from a small group. Dumoulin has the speed to win out of a big group, so the chances of him losing decrease mightily the smaller the group gets. In this case, the group was 11. Game over.

1 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 4:20:24
2 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
3 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R – La Mondiale
4 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Androni Giocattoli . Serramenti Pvc Diquigiovanni
5 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team

Sunday’s race provided a second opportunity for those that missed out the day before, and the top end of the results sheet looks like it:

1 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) De Rosa – Stac Plastic 3:40:19
2 Jure Kocjan (Slo) Carmiooro NGC
3 Giampaolo Cheula (Ita) Footon-Servetto
4 Maxime Bouet (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale
5 Ermanno Capelli (Ita) Footon-Servetto

Another selective course, another small group finish, but the real story of the day was the rider protest and subsequent abandon by some after a car got on the course and drove in the direction of the race. This isn’t so uncommon. It does happen from time to time, but in this case, the car hit a rider, Lampre’s Simon Spilak. Only 50 riders continued the race following the protest over the unsecured course, which led to Spilak’s ramming.

It was a bad incident. I hope Spilak is ok. The craziness also had some other unfortunate side effects:

“What a cluster. Bad day 2 have a “good” day both myself and the team. 100km in break until race was stopped by rider protest, cars on course.”

That’s a tweet from Brent Bookwalter. A rider trying to breakthrough, riding on a good day. He had it all tossed asunder by a stupid motorist. That has to be frustrating, but then again, he’s probably pretty happy not have ended up like Spilak.

Did I Read This Correctly?
Theo Bos beat Mark Cavendish head to head at the Clasica Almeria over the weekend. The track star with the terrible reputation from last year’s debacle in Turkey finally put it all together and showed us all what it looks like when one of the fastest men on the planet in terms of raw power and speed gets it just right – he’s faster than the guy we all assume is the fastest guy on the planet, Mark Cavendish.

True, this could be a one off, and probably won’t mark his ascent into the stratosphere of sprinting, let’s wait for a few Grand Tour stages or a win at Milano-Sanremo before hailing the greatness of Theo Bos.

BUT! Cavendish is a pretty delectable scalp to pick up.

Speaking of Cavendish, no alarm bells should be ringing just yet. He has a month yet to go before his first big appointment at Milano-Sanremo. I think he’ll be going just fine by then.

1 Theo Bos (Ned) Cervelo Test Team 4:22:53
2 Mark Cavendish (Gbr) Team Htc-Columbia
3 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank
4 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse D”Epargne
5 Davide Apollonio (Ita) Cervelo Test Team

It’s Really Going To Happen
Milan February 26th 2010 – RCS Sport delegation has been back in Milan today from Usa after two days working meeting with possible sponsorship of the possible 2012 Giro d’Italia start from Washington D.C.

RCS Sport general director, Michele Acquarone, has declared: “It’s the first time that an European long tradition bicycle race, as Giro d’Italia, has the possibility to have the start from a different continent. To overcome all difficulties it won’t be easy. In fact RCS Sport priority is to protect athletes who are our special legacy. As a consequence of this fact, the 2012 Giro start from Washington will be dealt with Cycling Federation, teams and cyclists. Nevertheless, it is a unique occasion to export passion and professional management that is a specific issue of Made in Italy. This project is a great occasion for Italy and for RCS Sport and we are working hard to realize it…”

Washington D.C. Major, Adrian M. Fenty, was at yesterday evening meeting too and he declared that “Through Giro d’Italia, I want to consolidate relationship between American and Italian people, relationship that are already excellent…”

Italian Ambassador in Washington D.C. Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, who yesterday was representing the Italian Government too, has played host in front of the Italian-American community and all the local possible sponsorship, he has underlined the fact that Giro d’Italia has got the power to join sport and culture.

Gregory A. O’Dell, president of the Sport Authority in Washington, has declared he want to make available all possible resources for “Progetto Giro”: that is to have in his city the start of Giro d’Italia.

Even Danilo Gallinari, Italian star of New York Knicks, was at yesterday evening meeting to honour the invite came by the Italian Ambassador, Terzi.

Finally, at the end of the evening, Angelo Zomegnan, RCS Sport cycling managing director has declared: “I’m confident but even realist: it is a very ambitious project and still every single aspect won’t be carefully valued, no one thing is chosen. Actually I can say that before three months from today it won’t be possible to have anything official…”

Poetry And Bike Racing: Perfection
Vanessa Plain tells us about the wonderful concept that is Viral Verse:

Viral Verse is a UK-based team of new poets and film makers passionate about creating video poetry that rocks. We believe poetry is perfect for the web – short, sharp, memorable. Great truths in few words and few frames.

The formation of Team Sky, the first British pro-cycling team in many years, has sparked our imagination – we are keen cyclists. Team Sky have the players, the expertise and the backing to make a real mark in competition. We’re inspired and hope, in our own small way, to inspire the fans.

We did a poetic video tribute to Boasson Hagen’s exceptional ride in the Tour of Oman 2010. Poetry and pro cycling are not a usual mix, but we’re keen cycling fans and after viewing the race the muse took hold.

Follow The Giro Del Friuli Live on Wednesday!
From CicloNews.it:

CicloNews.it have the pleasure to invite you on the 3rd March 2010 to their website, to follow the next UCI 1.1 race, the Giro del Friuli.

Protagonists will include Franco Pellizotti, Andy Schleck, Filippo Pozzato, Marzio Bruseghin, Giovanni Visconti and the winner of last edition Mirko Lorenzetto.

You can find it on the section RADIO CORSA and is available in both Italian and English.

Tour De Pologne And Chopin Together
March 1st, 2010 – The music of Fryederyk Chopin will be part of the 67th edition of the Tour de Pologne (01-07 August 2010). It’s been 200 years since that March the 1st, 1810 that brought the world the shooting star called Chopin (Żelazowa Wola, March 1st, 1810 – Paris, October 17th, 1849), considered the greatest Polish composer ever and one of the best pianists of all time.

Today, Monday 1st of March, it’s the anniversary of 200 years since the birth of Chopin. The Tour de Pologne is one of Poland’s major national sports events and a significant part of the international cycling scene. It’s a perfect match to join it to the figure of Chopin, one of the best examples of the contributions of Polish culture to the world. Sport, history, art and culture once again come together as strong and established elements that represent the tradition of a country and its people.

Cycling is a popular sport that speaks to the people, just like Chopin’s music does, according to critics that are deeply influenced by the Polish “musical dialect”: his is a music as popular as cycling has always been. As one of his closest friends, the painter Eugиne Delacroix wrote, Chopin “was happy just to see his thoughts produced in all their entirety on the ivory keys. Like Petrarch, he chose the sonnet and the song, thus did Chopin transform the polka, the mazurka, the waltz, the nocturne and the prelude into perfect models, moulded on the nature of his own poetic genius.”

He was a shy, reserved and retiring man, reed thin, with pale eyes. Less than one metre sixty in height, he weighed only forty-five kilos but was blessed with a talent of extraordinary genius which was perhaps unique. This is the description we have of Fryederyk Chopin, who if we wish to profile his physical description from a cycling standpoint, would have been an awesome, compact and strong climber. Just as a cyclist chooses his bike as his instrument to express his art and the street as his “score”, thus did Chopin choose the piano to bequeath Poland with the notes that would become a significant Polish heritage around the world.

There are many initiatives on the 2010 calendar dedicated to the memory of Chopin and his music, not just in Poland but in France and Austria as well, since the “European citizen” was forced to escape first to Vienna and then to Paris when the Russians occupied Poland. The organisers of the 67th Tour de Pologne have arranged many initiatives commemorating Fryederyk Chopin, the man and his legacy. Starting with the passage of the inaugural stage of the 2010 edition, for the small village of Zelazowa Wola (where you can still see the house where the Polish pianist was born, that today it’s a museum open to visitors) in the rural town of Sochaczew, from where start the race, in the Mazowieckie region. The programs will be unveiled to the press and public during the official presentation of the race that will take place on Saturday, March 13th, in Warsaw.

Team Ion Sports Nutrition/United Healthcare Goes Biking
You’re not going to find this on any other site, I promise you, but this is my EuroTrash Monday, and I can include a little bit about my team in it.

Team Ion/United Healthcare, based out of Athens, Georgia, has assembled a powerful squad ready to race throughout the Southeast along with a few trips into the greater US as well as into the Caribbean. The team met for the first time this week in Greenville, South Carolina for a little four-day training camp in the not so little mountains just north of one of the Southeast’s finest cities. Just ask George Hincapie.

Two solid days of training led perfectly into a weekend of road races, the Greenville Spring Training Series. In the team’s first two races of the year, Team Ion/United Healthcare managed a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th, and 11th. Though the win eluded us, it was a very positive first weekend for the team.

If you’d like to read more, check out my website for some recaps of each day.

This is also a good time to thank the sponsors and people that made it all happen: Ion Sports Nutrition, Blue Bikes, Northwave Shoes, United HealthCare, Eric Murphy, Geoff Mina, and last but not least, this weekend’s star, Cleve Blackwell. Thanks for everything. Really.

Questions? Comments? Happy? Sad? Send me an email.

A few new pictures from training camp for this week’s installment of new pictures on Flickr: check em out! If that’s not enough, you can follow my training travails on JeredGruber.com.

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