Thursday, May 31, 2007
It's no secret that my daughter leads me around by the nose. It's also no secret that I've already started saving up my money to post bail for when I kill a boy... so let that be a warning to my 6 year old male readers.
I left work a little early so I could get to her birthday party on time... at Chuck E. Cheese (one of my least favorite places to be). Even her brother seems thrilled to be there... no wait... maybe not.
Several of the kids from her Kindergarten class showed up too.
She loves Chuck E. Cheese... it's like nails on a chalkboard to Daddy... but...
So now my little girl is one step closer to becoming a full-grown woman. I shudder at the thought because Daddys love their little girls and always want them to stay that way. I know that's silly, but "it is what it is".
Happy birthday baby girl!
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Stage 16- Stefano Garzelli gets win number two of this Giro and does it without any hint of motorbike controversy. Garzelli launched an impressive attack, solo, with about 50km remaining. He managed to hold off the chasers and win solo. The win marked his eighth ever Giro stage win and he was the overall winner in 2000. As I've said before, Garzelli has always struck me as a classy rider who simply does his job and doesn't say too much. Suffice it to say, I'm happy for his win. The other GC contenders spent the day preparing for the brutal climbs of stage 17...
Stage 17- Monte Zoncolan is one of the most feared climbs in Giro history and in all of the Grand Tours. It's one of the steepest and most brutal climbs around. In other words- it sucks to have to climb it at race pace. Gilberto Simoni rode to a sweet win on the climb today, thanks to the selfless support of team support rider and mega climbing domestique Leonardo Piepoli. Piepoli could have taken the win for himself, but as the loyal lieutenant, he soldiered on for the Captain and brought him to the line for their 1-2 finish on the steepest climb of the race. The stage is like the l'Alpe D'Huez of the Giro and is among the most prized for climbers. Simoni is nearing the end of his career, as he openly admits these days, and really wanted to get the win (he won on the same climb in 2003). He'd hoped to also take more time out of DiLuca and take the leader's jersey, but DiLuca proved strong enough to battle ahead and retain his lead and salvaged his time loss, keeping it to just 31 seconds in 4th place. Thanks to his very gutty performance, Danilo retains the race lead and is all but assured of the win now. Saturday's time trial is the last major test for him, as Andy Schleck is a formidable time trialist... though it is unlikely he'll be able to retake the 2:24 he trails DiLuca. It ain't over... but it's close.
Tomorrow is a nearly board flat stage. Petacchi is almost the only real sprinter left in the race, so if he is not overly cooked from today's hard climbing, he should be able to outsprint any remaining riders brave enough to get in his way. That said, Bettini could surprise with a well-timed attack. He's yet to get a win this Giro and he clearly wants one, so look for him to try.
Ok, back to spreadsheets...
Monday, May 28, 2007
Here we are getting ready to head down the street.
You can see she has enough headroom, but not by too much. This might be her last year in the trailer.
Here, she's making sure Daddy remembered to put her snacks and water bottle in the side pocket where she can get to them easily while Daddy suffers to drag her around.
It's like a Daily Drive... only you can't actually see her.
She's in there, beneath the vinyl windscreen- she got cold because Daddy was going "too fast"... her words, not mine.
First with the eyes closed...
... then with the her eyes open. Notice Rainbow Bear clutched under her arm. He/ she/ it goes everywhere with her... even on bike rides with Daddy. Ever since she was just a year old, Rainbow has been on every ride in the trailer she's ever been on.
I know the bike isn't quite her size, but she does like Daddy's bikes. Notice the aircraft carrier in the background. It is one of the many stationed here in San Diego. The men and women on these ships have helped to keep it possible for me to ride my bike freely with my daughter. I never lose sight of that reality. Thank you, to all who have served- especially those who have paid the ultimate price. To them and their families, I say thank you.
Katie took this one- not bad for her first ever picture. Note- I have one of those cameras that adds 20... no, 50 pounds.
In spite of towing 45 lbs of daughter and another 40+ lbs of trailer and goodies, Daddy had a damned good time (as well as one of helluva workout).
Stage 14- Stefano Garzelli got a wonderful win on a difficult stage, arriving at the line with Simoni (who claimed that Garzelli only caught him because the TV motorbike pulled him to the line). Simoni took a little time out of DiLuca and looked to have a great thing building up with the help of his teammates, who worked diligently to isolate Danilo. Danilo managed to stay in the maglia rosa, but it look like the mountains could begin his unraveling.
Stage 15- Roccardo Ricco, Simoni's most valuable (possibly) assistant got a great win on one of the toughest stages this Giro will see. Ricco was given the stage win, for all his hard work, by his elder teammate and winner of stage 10 Leonardo Piepoli. What should have seen DiLuca lose more time to Simoni turned into a stage that allowed DiLuca to put more time back into Simoni and further cement his now-commanding lead. Danilo is looking more and more like the heir to the Giro throne. His rivals are now looking at the widening gap and wondering if there are now enough mountains left to unseat him from the lead.
Wednesday's ascent of the feared Monte Zoncolan and Saturday's time trial are the two main tests left in the race and if any of the remaining contenders have the legs to try and win this Giro, it will happen on either of those two stages. That's the meat of what is left of this Giro. Mark your calendars... those two days will likely decide the final outcome.
And there you have rest day wrap up number 2.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Oh... and here...
It sucks. Sucks big time.
I don't want to spend any more time talking about this issue. I know I will, but I don't want to. Hell, you can even hear me talk about it in nearly every one of the Spokesmen podcasts I've been part of. It's such a dominant topic in cycling these days. Between the confessions and the three ring circus that has become the Floyd Landis hearings... it's simply everywhere.
So I just want to say my piece and move on... and yes, you can quote me on this;
I hate doping. I hate what it is doing to my beloved sport. I hate what it is doing to my industry, the industry that feeds my children. Doping pisses me off. A lot. I've known dopers. I know dopers. I have raced with and against dopers. Doping is everywhere.
Thing is, doping always has been. Merckx was embroiled in doping allegations. Riders before him were too. It's been around for ages and not just in cycling. For as much as cycling is losing the PR battle with the public, it is no worse than any other sport- not at all. Baseball? Yep. Football? Yep. Basketball, track and field, hockey, soccer, volleyball, judo, boxing? Yep... and then some. A baseball player could get caught with a bottle of dope, syringe sticking out of his arm and the offending doctor standing by his side and the MLB is going to either turn around and walk the other way, or slap the offender with a fine (maybe) and make him sit out a couple games. How is it that cycling gets portrayed worse? THAT is what really pisses me off. Pick on cycling, if you wish, but point that same stupid finger of accusation at all the other sports too. The US sports press pisses me off the most. They celebrate each doped baseball player as a freakin' hero for knocking a ball over a fence, but cycling is somehow controlled by Satan and all the riders are evil virgin-raping demons. Hey, Sports Illustrated- "F" you! Let one of your writers tell me, yet again, how cyclists are not "real" athletes and how dope has ruled the peloton for far too long, and I think I just might have to send a letter bomb of flaming dog shit to your offices. Better yet, let me get him/ them on a bike and take them for a ride. A long ride off a short pier... or into a dark alley. Seriously, it infuriates me to read the endless filth spewed out by these stick and ball writers with no idea what a bicycle is, since they haven't been on one since they were a child. The exercycle at the cardiologist's office, during your yearly physical, when he tells you to lay off the Krispy Kremes, does not count as a bike ride. Sorry, tubby.
I've said this before and I'll say it again (I know)- there have always been cheaters in sport and there always will be. There is no risk too great and no reward too small. Humans want to win. Win at any cost. So don't point at me on my bike and yell, "cyclists are dopers" when I ride past you. Don't ask me why I love the beautiful, graceful, elegant, gritty, powerful sport of cycling. Don't proclaim that my industry is ruining the lives of children. Don't expect athletes to be perfect human beings, free of flaws and somehow better than the rest of us. They are human and humans make really stupid damned choices.
Cycling is one of the greatest sports around. Every time I see a kid on a BMX track, my heart skips a beat. Each time I go to the velodrome and see the juniors learning how to race, my heart skips a beat. Each time I see a 50+ year old fat guy on a titanium bike that costs more than my car, my heart skips a beat.
I love my sport and I love what I do for a living. Dopers really do suck, but just remember that all of them do- not just the skinny ones in lycra.
Marzio Bruseghin, the current Italian TT champ, upset the other favorites and managed to pull off a "surprise" win. In second, Leonardo Piepoli showed that he is the most important part of Simoni's hopes to win the Giro. Third place was the Killer himself, Captain Pink, DiLuca. Though he didn't win today, he did manage to put more time into his rivals as the race enters its final week. Ain't over yet, but DiLuca is looking more and more confident each day and he still looks to have a strong team ready to support him all the way to Milan. Looks good...
Dave Zabriskie did not disappoint, even though he finished off the podium in 4th. He's had a rollercoaster ride in the Giro, so it was nice to see the lanky Utah native ride well enough to occupy the top spot on the leader board for awhile. He's a likable guy, so it was good to see him ride with good form and speed. Hopefully this means he'll be ready for the Tour in time to try and win the opening prologue again (that'd be really cool).
Dave's young teammate Schleck rode well enough for 10th and sits in third now. He's still a threat for the overall, and DiLuca knows this, as the race enters more tough mountains. One good surprise in the race today was the great ride by Stefano Garzelli. Stefano rode into 6th and now sits in 12th, a little more than 6 minutes down. It's very unlikely he'll challenge for the podium, but he's a classy rider and it is good to see him rediscover some good form.
Tomorrow is another day of hills. The middle of the stage tomorrow is punctuated by the monster climb up the Passo di San Marco. This thing is mean looking and should blow some legs off. However, since the rest of the race is not nearly as difficult, some of the dropped riders may find their way back into the field to contest the finish. Me, I think a break of non-contenders will get a nice time gap and the leaders will let them get away. There's no real point to slaughter themselves with more tough racing to come. Today was painful for the contenders, so tomorrow would be a good day to take a deep breath. That said, don't be surprised if either Cunego or Simoni opens the throttle on the big climb and try to expose DiLuca. It could be quite interesting.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Part of the real story on the day was Andy Schleck of CSC, the young rider from Luxembourg- brother of Franck Schleck and current best young rider of the Giro. This kid is only 21 years old and is showing that he has the potential to one day be a true threat to the overall in the grand tours. The kid has a lot of promise. He is a real threat to make the final podium, as he is also a very talented time trial rider and can certainly look to upstage a few of the true climbers. Keep an eye on this one...
The other major contenders all rode well enough to not lose massive chunks of time, but nobody really looks very poised to rob DiLuca of his new pink leader's jersey just yet. There is still plenty of hard racing ahead and every rider has a "bad day" in a three week race, but DiLuca does look pretty good at the moment.
Tomorrow is the first individual time trial of the Giro. And, sadly, it's all uphill. It's short enough, 12.6km, that huge gaps shouldn't form (luckily for some riders), but it will further thin the herd as the race heads towards it's final week. DiLuca is not a great TT rider, so don't expect him to pull off the win. Zabriskie lost a bit more time today, but rode well enough to show he still has some legs left and might just be able to pull of the win. He's such a great TT rider and is climbing well enough for a non-climber, that he can't be ruled out. I have to say, I'm curious to see who pulls off the win tomorrow... it should be fairly exciting.
(PS- Dopers suck. The Zabel news today was just too depressing. Erik is one of the classiest guys ever in racing and now he's also a confessed doper. I was saddened. It sucks. I'm not one for getting wrapped up in "heroes" in sport, but this one stings a little. Damn.)
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Anyway, outside of that bit of entertainment, the race was largely marked by not much of anything until the sprinter's teams all decided to put an end to the day's break. The race got pretty wound up on the wet roads leading to the finish line. All the sprint trains were getting set up and Milram had a bullseye on the line with Petacchi's name written on it. Things were sketchy on the wet roads leading to the line, but the sprint with without a hitch for Petacchi, who scored his third win of this Giro. Sadly, it was the guys in about 10th who had problems as a massive pile-up took place just before the line. Tinkoff rider Nikolai Trusov slid out on the wet paint stripes and took out Paolo Bettini. This lead to a nice big pile-up that took down many riders just before the line. Race leader Andrea Noe actually finished the race sliding across the line on his ass. Not pretty, but still a finish, I guess. Most riders looked mostly unhurt, but Aitor Hernandez of Euskaltel fractured his collar bone. Disco's Popovych didn't look too hot either and may not be on the line tomorrow...
... and speaking of tomorrow. Looks like lots of riders won't be bothering to show up to the start line, unless in street clothes. Tomorrow the real mountains begin with two huge passes that go from Italy into France... including the dreaded Col d'Izoard. Looking at the course profile though, it looks like the climb in Italy, Colle dell'Agnello, is even worse. Still, the Izoard is a legendary climb and the summit is only about 21km from the line. Even though that last 21km is all down hill, it's gonna be a strong man who wins tomorrow as the Giro rolls into France. The stage, especially after the relative ease of today, should blow things apart pretty good and really separate the contenders from the pretenders. It'll hurt some folks. Bad. I'm not making predictions on this one because it is too hard to call. Some contenders may want to wait a little while still and may be willing to let lower placed riders get away on the mountains. Or, somebody like Simoni or Cunego may launch an assault on the GC and try to blow apart their rivals (DiLuca). It's too hard to call... so I won't.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
As predicted by many, including me, things did get pretty shook up today and the real contenders showed up. DiLuca got second behind the old battle horse Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier-Duval). DiLuca showed he's got great legs and a great team to support him. As one commentator at CyclingNews stated; "Once again, Liquigas showed they had the strongest rider at the 2007 Giro in Danilo Di Luca and the strongest team. The real Giro began today." Saunier-Duval is looking pretty good too- Simoni rode well, his lieutenant Ricco looked good as well and Piepoli showed that age is sometimes irrelevant. Speaking of age... Andrea Noe of Liquigas is now the leader of the race, meaning that the 38 year old is now in pink and the third rider from Liquigas to be in the lead of this Giro. That's pretty darned cool.
George Hincapie spent much of the day in the lead breakaway, oddly with no Tinkoff riders, and looked surprisingly good. Sadly, Dave Zabriskie didn't have the kind of day that most of us hoped he would. Dave slid down the standings to more than 12 minutes down (44th place), after finishing 8 minutes down today. Dave will have his work cut out for him if he is really making a run at the GC now. Dave is one of the very best TT riders in the world and he will make up some ground there... but 12:33 is a big bunch of time to try and get back.
The race is on now... big time. It is going to start getting really good now. Tomorrow looks like an easier stage than today, but with tired legs, "easy" is relative to say the least. Thursday is when the real mountains start and the real race is on, without question. Tomorrow is something of a transition, so maybe a sprinter will get the win before pulling out of the race in the mountains. If so, my money is on McEwen. He finished the day with the last group of riders (Napolitano finished alone another minute + behind), so I am guessing he saved a little in the legs for tomorrow... knowing it's his last chance for awhile.
Anyway, long story short, Danilo Napolitano spoiled Petacchi's homecoming yesterday by winning the mass gallop to the line, in fine form. Napolitano, from Sicily, pulled off the impressive win in a McEwen fashion- winning without a real leadout from his own team. McEwen has made his living by this kind of sprint and managed 2nd in front of Petacchi in third. Were it not for his two stage wins already, Ale Jet might've resorted to punching a team bus (again), but he's pretty content at the moment. McEwen is obviously feeling better now and has got his legs under him again. Look for him and Hushovd in Milan for the final stage- both should be very hungry.
Today's stage, under way now, looks to be the first real test for most riders. The final climb of the day is a killer, especially as it comes at the end of a long day of rolling terrain. Don't be surprised if a few folks don't make the time cut at the end of the day... it's gonna be that hard. Expect the real contenders to step up, but most likely the final winner will be one of the lowly placed climbing experts looking to grab a win now before the real race begins between the GC contenders. DiLuca or Cunego could go for an emotional win to spook the other GC hopefuls though. Simoni, if he's got the legs, might even give it a go. Keep an eye on Dave Zabriskie too. He was profiled in VeloNews yesterday explaining how this is the first time he's ever given the GC a true push in a grand tour. Should be interesting to see what his legs do.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Ivan Basso- You have got to be kidding me! No... really! "I know it's hard to believe, but trust me- all my previous wins were done clean... I was going to cheat with all that blood... but I got caught before I actually cheated. I know it was wrong, but..." (Not an actual quote, so please don't come suing my broke bike nerd ass.) Seriously? Really? On top of it, Bruyneel says that he's really disappointed that Basso lied to him. Umm... really? No sh@t Sherlock! I am trying to believe that he/ Discovery didn't know what the outcome would be if the investigation in the Puerto case continued... but I'm having a really hard time. No... really, I am.
Floyd Landis- Floyd's arbitration hearing has gone from pretty good, to ok, to not so good, to downright freakin bizarre. Now-former manager Will Geoghegan makes incredibly stupid phone call to Greg LeMond to try and intimidate him the night before he is to take the stand as a witness for the other side. Ok... that alone is one of the stupidest things I think I have ever heard. Really, this puts him in a league of nearly his own on the jackass/ idiot lists. What a dumbass! But... poor Floyd... I love you brother and want to believe the very best about you... but how do you not fire the asshole the second you know he did something so stupid? You find out what he did, just minutes/ few hours after the fact and then you don't do anything about it and try to hope it just goes away? Really? Man, that was a bad, bad move. Prior to this bombshell, I was totally in the "I am waiting for the evidence" camp. Now, I am terribly frightened for Floyd. Even if he is innocent of the doping charges, it is safe to say that his days of racing are likely over. With this ugly circus, which many believed would highlight a shitty anti- doping system, what team would want to sign him? This really does screw Floyd's chances pretty badly. Unless the anti-doping folks do something even dumber (dumberest), there's pretty much nothing to do but wish Floyd a great post-cycling career. Like I said, I love ya' buddy... but, man, that was a pretty stupid thing. That said, I'll still happily buy you a beer if I ever get the chance.
Thursday was the bike industry bike to work Industry Cup Challenge- sponsored by Specialized. Haro had it's best turn out yet, with 17-18 of 26 employees riding in to the office. Me, I rode in and back myself. First time since I've been with the company too... since I live 40 miles from work. So my commute was a whopping 80 miles. Heck, I used to ride 80 miles a day nearly every day when I was seriously racing, but those days are long since gone. I was riding super strong, for me, on the way in to work- making it in less than 2 hours (and that's with all the lights and stops). However, the ride home was a totally different story... taking me more like 2 hours and just shy of 45 minutes. I bonked, blew up, cramped, fell apart at the seams and generally stunk to high hell. It was almost laughable, except that I could find the energy to make any noise. There is one good climb on the way home (Torrey Pines, for you locals) and I was nearly swerving up the hill in the bike lane. I love the climb too- it's one of my favorites- but my legs were simply ca-flooey. I saw the Care Bears, Smokey the Bear and that duck from the Aflac commercials. One of them, I'm not sure which because I was totally hallucinating at the time, encouraged me to keep pushing on the pedals so I wouldn't fall over and have the little old lady on the old touring bike run over me. Thanks for the words of inspiration, who ever you were/ are. All that whining aside, I'd love to find a way to do that more often than every 2+ years. It's actually a really great ride and I have always had a soft spot for early morning rides. All those years of hard training early in the morning made a mark on me.
As much as it freaks me out to admit, it is time to create the next Masi catalog. I've already begun putting some ideas down. I'm sketching out what and how I want to say all the things that will hopefully entice all of you who have not already purchased a Masi to realize that you simply must have one. (You know you want one... or a new one.) If you've got great ideas, suggestions, requests, or whatnot... lemme know. Let me just say that you are going to like what you see... I promise. Really.
A&F Pro Development team- I love my team! These guys just keep rocking! Not only did Mark Hekman win Athens Twilight, but he held on to win the overall for the Southeast Crits race series. Sweet! I mean... super sweet! These guys then went on to roll strong at the Joe Martin stage race. Mark finished a very respectable 18th overall- not bad for a guy who is a crit specialist. The team rode strong in support of Mark, since he is clearly on a roll. It isn't a win, but it is another strong performance from a team that keeps on fighting it out with the biggest domestic teams in the US. Way to go guys!
Saturday afternoon I got out for a little ride. Just an hour to spin the legs loose after a hard Thursday. I didn't ride on Friday because I had a very super top secret meeting with Shimano. I could tell you, but... you know the drill. Special warm and fuzzy thanks to our man Daniel and his Shimano credit card... sushi is so yummy. I guess this makes me something of a whore, since our very good friend from SRAM, Brian Billington, visited just the week before and went for a ride with us and then went to lunch with us. Jeesh... I guess I am a slut. Anyway, to my point... on my ride, I stopped by Adams Avenue Bicycles to visit with my good friend Andrew Lee. Andrew and all the guys at Adams are just amazing guys. I love'em... in a totally normal, bike nerd way.
Andrew and his crew are some of the finest mechanics around this town, which is part of why I stopped by to see them. I had a technical issue to ask them about my drivetrain- for some reason, no matter what I do, the chain skips on the 11t cog. It never skips anywhere else. The shifting is totally perfect on every other gear. No skips, no nothing. The lockring for the cassette is the proper one for an 11t cassette, so the chain isn't hitting that. If you shift up the cogset slightly, you can see grease marks on the integrated spacer for the cog, indicating that the chain side plates are hitting the spacer. It is a general theory that this is why the chain is skipping- if I apply hard pedaling force, the chain slips over the 11t cog, as if the chain isn't grabbing the teeth. It's weird... excluding Daniel and Brian, anybody got any ideas? The cogset, though a few years old, has only seen a few rides and the 11t is nearly virgin since I haven't been able to ride in it. You guys at Campy got any ideas?
Ok... I think I'm done for now. Maybe...
The day's winner from the break, which did contain a pair of Tinkoff riders, was Kurt-Asle Arvesen of CSC, just narrowly beating a hard-charging Paolo Bettini. Poor Paolo has been nipping on the heels of a win the whole Giro it seems, so it is likely he'll finally get one as he keeps improving his form over the race. Arvesen is yet another former stage winner (exactly 4 years ago in 2003) to win a stage this year. It's like deja-vu all over again. So far, this Giro has been great to watch, but hasn't yet produced any surprise winners.
Tomorrow, on paper anyway, should be another chance for the sprinters to grab a win. I thought today would be too, but the big break put a stop to that. The stage finishes near the home of Petacchi, and he won there in 2004 as well, so expect him to be mighty motivated to get win number three in this year's race. As I suspected yesterday, it is reported that McEwen is not feeling at all well. The Pocket Rocket is feeling the effects of a stomach problem. It is very common in races like this, where you are racing for days on end and eating in strange hotels each night, or suffering from dehydration, ingesting gobs of vitamin supplements, etc for the stomach to go on strike. Many a rider has had their race end early from stomach problems. It's sometimes something that riders recover from- especially when a rest day is near- but others just don't. Hopefully Robbie will "flush" out his system and get back into the race at the front. He does make it more interesting... that's for sure. So, once again, my money is on Petachi for tomorrow... however, so is everybody else's money. That means that a surprise is very possible. Maybe Bettini will get that win. Maybe Hushovd will. Should be interesting, just the same.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
I'm done gloating now.
As predicted, a break tried to get away... and yes, a Tinkoff rider (Elio Eggiano) was in the mix, meaning that there has been at least one Tinkoff rider in each serious break of the Giro so far. I love those guys. You just have to give it to them for their sheer aggression. That's what I call racing! Alas, as is usually the case, the break was doomed to be caught by the big teams with powerful sprinters hungry for a win. It almost wasn't to be though, as first Salvatore Commesso (former stage winner) and then Fabian Cancellara (former stage winner and current World Champ in the time trial) launched separate attacks as the line got very close. Since the course was so wide open along the motor raceway, it was much easier for attacks and much harder for the sprinter's teams to control things. Cancellara was caught with just 200m left to the line, but Petacchi's team was able to launch the tall Italian into his blistering sprint and the mad dash was officially on. Thor Hushovd managed to grab second, though it was a very tough battle with the amazingly good sprinting Bettini, who snagged third in a sprint filled with full-time sprinters. Bettini is that rare breed of non-sprinter who can sprint with many of the best sprinters in the world. Here is a guy who can win a Classic with an uphill sprint, or win on a climb, or win in a mass gallop... and all the while being one of the smallest guys in the race. Ounce for ounce (gram for gram) Bettini has some of the best power to weight output in the world.
So the race was decided by a sprint, as predicted, and Pinotti stays in pink for at least one more day. Tomorrow looks to be another chance for the sprinters and surely Petacchi will want to give it another try before the real mountains arrive. The course is littered with rolling hills and smaller mountains, but the last 80+km are largely flat. Expect breaks to go (Tinkoff?) and sprinter teams to be reeling them in as the finish draws near. McEwen was absent from the day's sprint today, so unless he is truly down and out already, expect him to try and put his mark on the race again. He's a tough bloke who hates losing. Either him or Hushovd should be extra determined tomorrow... the real climbs are coming very soon.
Friday, May 18, 2007
The day was marked by a break that got away early and rode away to a large advantage over the field. Surprisingly, a Tinkoff rider was in the break... oh no, wait, it was no surprise. It was one Tinkoff rider who initiated the early break, less than 50km into the race. Once that break was caught, another Tinkoff rider attacked and launched the break that ultimately won the race. Daniele Contrini of Tinkoff set off on his break and towed along 4 other riders- including the two riders who would end up 1st and 2nd as the stage winner and new race leader. Luis Laverde (Ceramic Panaria-Navigare) is another previous stage winner from last year's Giro and he managed to work well enough with Marco Pinotti (T-Mobile) to secure the win. Since Pinottii would take over the lead of the race if the break worked, it was in his best interest to work with Laverde. Laverde was, in essence "gifted" the win in exchange for Pinotti taking the leader's jersey... but they still had to stay away to make it all happen. Which they did...
Coming in a little over a minute and a half after the two, were Christophe Kern (Credit Agricole) and Hubert Schwab (Quickstep-Innergetic). And about 2 minutes later was Daniele Contrini of Tinkoff, the rider who began the winning move. Sooner or later, one of these Tinkoff riders will get the win. I just hope it happens sooner than later- they've certainly earned it.
The day's major climb up the Monte Terminillo was not as big a deal as I thought it might be. Liquigas kept the break in check, so as to not let the race slip away for good, but the pace was easily comforting to the main field. Heck, even Alessandro Petacchi finished 7th on the stage taking the field sprint. The field had a chance to let the race happen up the road, while allowing themselves a chance to relax a little before the real racing begins in a few more days.
Tomorrow looks to be even easier- by relative terms- than today. It is the longest of the race, but rolls along relatively flat roads. I'm sure a Tinkoff rider or two will try an attack- you can practically bet on it. The cool thing about the stage is that it finishes on an F1 race car track. Expect to see the rubber burning when they hit the race track and look to a sprinter with a long sprint (Petacchi) to pull off the win. With a nice open road surface and not too many turns, it should prove to be a very fast finish indeed.
So anyway, Robert Forster of Gerolsteiner (still one of my favorite team kits in the peloton every year) wins the chaotic sprint finish ahead of Thor Husovd and a quick moving Petacchi. Looks like Thor isn't too sore anymore and is ready to roar... sorry. Seriously though, Hushovd is one of the best sprinters in the world at the end of a 3 week race, so he is looking good to start getting some wins. Danilo Napolitano was 4th and McEwen was 5th. Forster capitalized on a twisty and technical finish to pop out of the front and reach the line first to claim his 2nd ever Giro stage win (winning in Milan last year). The other top sprinters pissed and moaned about the finish being too technical and twisty, but you know what... suck it up sunshine! A) You're getting paid to ride a bike and be adored by millions of fans along the roads of Italy and 2) you should know how to ride a bike at that level. Yes it's dangerous and it is nerve-wracking... but shut up and race your damn bike. Not all roads are straight!
(I'm done now.)
Danilo DiLuca retained his pink jersey, but now says he's ready to let it sit on somebody else's shoulders for a while so his team can relax a little and wait for the critical days ahead. Personally , I think one of the Tinkoff riders should get the jersey for a few days! I know I can't be alone in loving these guys. Every single day, a Tinkoff rider is off the front and trying to get as much time as possible in front of the cameras. Yes, I know they haven't won yet and they haven't really been that close, but they are out there trying each day... and really trying too. They don't stop until they are caught. Oleg Tinkov has assembled a team with true heart and grit. As a wild card team, they have more than proven their worth in this Giro. So I hope one of their riders gets that stage win soon and maybe even grabs the Maglia Rosa for a day or more. Courage like that deserves reward.
Anyway, today's stage- which I have not been following this morning so I can remain unbiased- looks painful. The Monte Terminillo is a killer. Owie, owie, owie... and then two more shorter but hurty climbs appear before the finish. Today could present a shake-up in the GC. Expect guys who were high placed due to the opening time trial to slide way back down. Sprinters? Sleeping at the back of the bus trying to rest their legs until things get a bit flatter. I would expect DiLuca to either blow this thing apart today or simply ride on the ankles of his main rivals like Cunego and Simoni. Stefano Garzelli might even be one to watch- he's down far enough (17th) that he might be allowed to get a little time off the front and he's certainly a great climber. Another "maybe" is Spanish once-great phenom Iban Mayo. He's on Saunier-Duval with Simoni and is one of the greatest climbers in the race (when he's on form), so he might sneak away too, since he's down in 26th.
The stage should be over in a few hours, so we'll see how good a guesser I actually am.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Yes, DiLuca won the stage today and took over the Maglia Rosa (yes, pink jersey) again. His poor teammate Gasparotto was involved in a large crash (one of several on the day) and lost enough time to make it possible for DiLuca to be pretty in pink.
The stage finished on a climb that was much tougher, Category 1, than a lot of people thought it would be (including me). DiLuca won the very same stage back in 2001, so it was even more special to win today and retake the leader's jersey. In second place was new Italian hero Ricardo Ricco of Saunier-Duval and third was Damiano Cunego of Lampre-Fondital (who also won on this stage the last time it was used). Surpisingly strong finishes were had by Garzelli in 5th and Dave Zabriskie in 10th. I'm impressed with Garzelli for hanging on to finish so well, but Zabriskie showed a set of climbing legs that must be scaring a few folks. Known as a TT specialist, Dave Z isn't known as well for his climbing. That said, if he's turning into a better climber, that must scare a few folks- kind of puts him in the category of "contender" suddenly.
The race was animated early, and for hours, by Pavel Brutt of Tinkoff again. Brutt had a few companions along for the ride, but it was once again Brutt who made the race exciting. You just gotta love these gutsy Russian riders who just lay it all on the line. I know I do anyway.
When the race hit the tough climb, it was Saunier-Duval that lit things on fire, setting a brutal pace, along with Liquigas. With about 9km remaining, Julio Perez of Mexico and Ceramica-Panaria tried to slip away on the closing section of the climb... only to pop with about 800m to go to the line. Perez is a three time stage winner of the Giro, so it is not surprising he took a shot today... expect him to try again when the road gets really steep.
Alas, it was DiLuca who sprinted to the win from a select lead group. Thanks to the hard work of his strong team, he was able to propel himself over the line first and with enough time to retake the lead in the race. Not bad.
The crashes on the day did change the face of the race a bit. This year, in the absence of a clear favorite in the race, the field seems to be a bit more "squirrelly" than in years past. See, without a clear "patron" in the race, many riders and teams feel that they can win the race. Suddenly, everybody is a contender and everybody is fighting for their place on the road... which menas a lot more crashes. It is more common for the Tour de France to be marred with multiple crashes this early in the race- people fighting for every inch of road and every little second. The Giro is usually a bit saner in the opening stages- remember the old days of people complaining that the Giro was practically "boring" in the first week or two? Not anymore. The Giro is now as competitive as the Tour. I've always loved the Giro- even before Hampsten won in 1988- so it is great to see its stature rising. The bummer is that it brings the same level of nervousness and chaos that has been such a plague of the Tour. Let's hope that things mellow out a little so that the crashes drop off a bit.
Tomorrow looks like an easier stage, perfect for the sprinter's teams or lucky escapees (Pavel Brutt?). It doesn't look like the course is terribly difficult or particularly technical, so maybe the crashes will be at a minimum... maybe. Expect riders who can break from a small group or a long shot break to look for the win. If it is even remotely close though, look for the sprinters to be whipping the backs of their leadout teams to bring back the break/s and set things up for a elbow-banging good time! Me? My money is on Petacchi (if it comes to a sprint). Otherwise, I'd look for a small group to get away and then a solo rider to jump from that small group as the sprinters chase it down... but that's just me.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Monday, May 14, 2007
Go give it a listen!
A little more raditude; one for the ladies.
This is Wayne- he's my product manager. He's the guy who takes my zany BS ideas and tries to turn them into actual product... or says, "um, Tim, you can't do that without charging about $100,000.00 for each of the three bikes you're going to sell." Ying to my Yang... Stimpy to my Ren... Butthead to my Beavis... Ethel to my Lucy... you get the idea.
Pat Crosby... the other half of the Adult Product Management group. He's into knobby tires, suspension and walks on the beach at sunset, pina coladas, holding hands and walks in the rain.
This is Jill Hamilton- the other half of the Adult Brand Manager team. She's the Queen Bee of Haro MTB and is also the Bike Biz Babe (go check her out). Did I also mention she was once the top ranked female amateur downhhill racer in the US and then also raced professional downhill? Yeah, I never did that.
MEAT! Flame plus meat equals yum! (Unless you don't like meat and you're a vegetarian...)
The guy in brown is Rick Ortiz. Rick is the fella who does the graphics for Masi- which as we all know are the greatest graphics ever. (Notice how I'm getting the Double Bird from Rick and Jim... wise asses.)
I like hats. I even worked in a hat shop for about 3 years, many, many, many years ago. I coulda been a haberdasher.
The presentations were many faceted and deeply enthralling. No... really.
The head in the upper left is Tony D- our BMX brand manager. Notice that he, too, is giving me the one finger salute. Can you feel the love in the room? Also notice the vegetable platter. We are a healthy group (also, also notice the Corona next to the platter).
... and then we bowled... well, sorta.
And there you have Brand Camp 2007... or at least all that I can tell you about. It was a great time and also very productive. Good things came from the meetings and good things will be happening with the products. Trust me on that one...
Ale Jet Petacchi found those legs he needed and on top of it, he was able to win without his customary magic carpet ride to the finish line from his leadout train. Petacchi actually launched himself out of the pack at about 300m out and held off the other sprinters. McEwen had to settle for fourth behind Maximiliano Richeze (3rd) and Robert Forster (2nd). Robbie ain't out of this fight yet, but Petacchi did an outstanding job of capitalizing in a way he isn't known for. That shows not only a bit of confidence, but also a willingness to fight for the win. If I were in this race, I'd be pegging my sprints on Petacchi right about now. Ale Jet has also taken over the sprinter's jersey from McEwen, but the fight has really only just begun. Speaking of taking over jerseys, Gasparotto is now back in the manly pink of the leader's jersey, keeping it in the Liquigas family. DiLuca got a day in the tunic and is now just going to relax until it is time to really make it count.
Thor Hushovd took a spill on the day, so he wasn't even in the mix for the sprint. The big guy from Norway got bruised up, but he's still in the race. Sprinters beware... he'll be back to fight again.
Tomorrow is an odd rest day, to accommodate travel back to the mainland, after 3 days of racing on the island of Sardinia. All the poor guys who have already taken a tumble this year will likely be happy to get a day to rest and heal a little. The next stage should be fairly mild and not too terrible on the legs... though it is always hard to come back from a rest day.
That's it for today. Congrats to Petacchi. Welcome back to the podium!
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Anywho... on with the show, even if a little late. And, yes, I might be forced to miss a day/ stage or two during the race due to schedule stuff, so please feel free to get in-depth coverage each day at either VeloNews or CyclingNews (especially since I am just rehashing their coverage in the first place, adding my own zany BS commentary).
So as I was saying, the Giro started Saturday with a cool team time trial (TTT) for the first time I am aware of. Heck, this is the 90th edition of the race, so I have missed a few... but this is the first time I can think of a TTT starting the race. And man, what a race. The field was treated to a very difficult course that many riders said was far more suited to an individual test against the clock, versus a TTT. Due to the very technical nature of the course and the seaside roads causing lots of difficulty from the winds, it was not an easy course at all. The winner wasn't quite a surprise, but not exactly the odds-on favorite either: Liquigas. Team leader Danilo DiLuca has made no secret of his desire to truly contest the race for the win, so it is not too shocking that the team pulled off the win, even without being specialists at the event like CSC and T-Mobile. The "surprise" was in the minor controversy over the stage winner from within the team- Enrico Gasparotto. Enrico, in a bit of a slip in the heat of competition, rode across the line first for the team... taking the Maglia Rosa (pink leader's jersey... ain't it ironic) instead of team leader DiLuca. A bit of a story was made of the incident, with Gasparotto taking a lot of heat from the Italian press. It was pretty funny actually; (from CyclingNews) Despite Di Luca later conceding that it was "a great team win" and saying "I was not upset, it is important that we as a team win," the media continued to try to make a drama out of the issue, much to the chagrin of the 25 year-old former Italian champion. "So, you have put me on a cross, right?" Gasparotto asked.
Outside of that and a few crashes that bruised a few riders, including Discovery team leader Yaroslav Popovych, there were not too many surprises. Astana took second, CSC took third, Lampre-Fondital took fourth and Discovery fifth. T-Mobile was the possible lone exception in the "surprise" category, finishing sixteenth out of the 22 teams. The Magenta Machine rode the race on standard spoked wheels, rather than traditional TT wheels- gambling on the technical course and winds... and they apparently lost.
Now on to the second stage of racing on the island of Sardinia... a regular road stage with a finish that promised to be less than totally sprinter friendly. On paper, the course map read fairly flat, but seeing as to how the race was on the island of Sardinia, "flat" is a relative term. The stage consisted of many undulations, many of the worst ones being near the finish... meaning the sprinters would have their work cut out for them. Team Tinkoff, riding without the controversy-plagued Tyler Hamilton, was anxious to get in the mix for the day and sent young Russian rider Pavel Brutt on the hunt for TV time. As team director Dimitri Konyshev stated, "Because it's Sunday today. Haven't you noticed how many more viewers there are on Sunday in the TV ratings?" Don't you just love that logic? Dimitri is a very accomplished former racer himself, having won a few Giro stages and Paris-Roubaix during his very lengthy career, so he has a keen understanding of the game. (Editor's correction- Andrei Tchmil won Paris-Roubaix, not Konyshev... sorry.)Pavel's long day lasted about 187km, mostly accompanied by a group of four other riders. However, sensing the end of the break was near, Brutt went alone for a while before being caught just a few kilometers before the finish.
Now that things were back together, grouppo compatto, it was time for the sprinter's teams to organize... except most of the sprinters had already been blown out the back of the pack over the many rolling hills of the day. In the end, it was really down to just Alessandro Petacchi of Milram and Robbie McEwen of Predictor-Lotto. Robbie, ever the exploiter of other sprinter team leadouts, managed to pull off his 12th career Giro win. The semi-surprise on the finish was that second place fell to none other than Paolo- the Cricket- Bettini. The current World and Olympic champion is no slouch in the sprints, especially ones preceded by tough climbs, but he's not always one for the mass gallups to the line with the pure sprinters. Since the herd had been thinned considerably, Paolo was in it to win it in the final meters of the race. Though Robbie proclaimed afterwards that he had no difficulties with the sprint, you have to know he was trying his hardest to keep the Cricket from taking the stage. Poor Petachi managed third on the stage after his team gave him an ideal leadout. However, as has happened to him far too often, he was overrun by the incredibly clever and opportunistic McEwen. The Ale Jet was downed by Robbie the Rocket... again... and now the stage has been set for another thrilling battle of the sprinters.
Based on his performance for the day, DiLuca took over the pink jersey from teammate Gasparotto, keeping the ever-so-manly jersey safely in the hands of Liquigas. Certainly the team will not defend the jersey all the way to the finish, but at least, early in the race, Liquigas has been able to have ownership of the pretty tunic. We'll see how their strategy unfolds over the coming days and weeks.
Tomorrow promises to be a bit easier on the legs, so expect a bit more of a full field at the finish line. My money is on McEwen again, since he certainly looks to have the legs. However, Petacchi is on a mission to prove that he can once again be the King of the Sprints. It wasn't all that long ago that Petacchi shocked the world by taking multiple stage wins at all three of the Grand Tours in the same year. He clearly hasn't been the same rider since, suffering from injuries and symptoms similar to depression. The big Italian powerhouse is still a rider to watch when he unleashes his sprint from 300-400 meters from the line for a very long and terribly fast finish (similar to former Italian super hero Mario Cippolini). If the Ale Jet gets his head in the game, gets his team to deliver him to his favorite spot and he gets his legs going... he will be the man of the day again. Scarier to guys like McEwen is the fact that once Petacchi gets that first win and regains his confidence, he can be damned near impossible to beat. Needless to say, tomorrow should be an interesting stage to watch (or read about).
Oh yeah, I guess I'm supposed to predict a winner... well... I really would like to see DiLuca win this thing. He came very close two years ago and then sort of crushed under the strain last year. He would be a worthy winner. I don't think Popo has the legs yet and he is already dealing with bruises to his legs, body and ego. Simoni is getting a touch long in the tooth and is out of his best shape, and is already thinking of his next career as a pro MTB rider, with eyes on the Olympics. Savoldelli is now with Astana and looks strong... quietly strong. He could be a dark horse, even though he's already won the race twice, so he wouldn't be a surprise at all. His team is somewhat unproven in the longer races, so that is really the big question. Former winner Damiano Cunego has to be considered, but the young phenom of a few years ago- when he beat then-teammate Simoni to win the Giro- is a different rider now. And you can't forget that Stefano Garzelli won back in 2000. However, he's never been the same rider as then, when he was guided to victory by teammate and mentor Marco Pantani. On top of it, his small Aqua & Sapone team is not exactly on the same level as the other, bigger teams. All of that said, I can't put my finger on a clear contender. Without Ivan Basso, embroiled in the Puerto controversy, this year's event is a bit more wide open than previous editions. All that means to John Q Public (or Gianni Q Pubblico) is that this race should be a hell of a lot of fun to watch... so long as nobody gets popped for doping.
There you go, two stages covered in one very long post. Enjoy this one because the others won't likely be this lengthy.
Meet James Ayres- James comes to us via a BMX industry publication (the name of which has completely skipped my sleep-deprived mind at the moment). He joins us as a new member of our sales team and will llikely be involved in many other facets of things as well. This was my first time getting to actually talk to him, but I'm happy to have him on board. He's a smart guy (even though he brought his going-away-soon Specialized road bike) and should be a great addition to the family. Welcome aboard James!
On the outer left is Jim Maher, our Purchasing Manager (among other things), in the center is John Webber (our International Sales Manager) and on the right is Chris Raceles (our BMX Product Manager and Pocket Rocket/ Chihuahua). Just hanging out before dinner and the opening discussion of the meetings.
Doug Cerri, our Director of Sales...
Doug Cerri, our Director of Sales... dodging the pine cones being hurled at him from the front porch (it's all about the love at Haro). Notice how he's floating in air, both feet off the ground... it must be the new diet.
This is The Boss... Joe Hawk. It's a very serious moment... so "shhhhh"... listen. Notice the logo placement? That's a savvy man who knows how to deal with sponsors. Well done!
Ok, time to check on the little sicko... back later with more...
Saturday, May 12, 2007
It was kinda warm on the way out... that is, if you consider 102 to be warm (versus really freakin' hot).A little Daily Drive action... a black shirt on a really hot day- true sign of genius.
These "ICY" signs are all over the mountain and just crack me up- considering it was over 100 in the valley and in the upper 70's on the mountain. Looks icy, doesn't it?
I did my usual ride around the lake when I got there...
Dig the new team kit- Team Becher+. Representin', yo!
I've been working on my raditutde too. It shows. I have a lot of raditude. Almost too much, really.
Ok, that's all for now... installment number two later... it just keeps getting better, too.
Tim (Master of Raditude)
Monday, May 07, 2007
So, here it is;
This really sucks. I wanted to believe him. I did. I really did want to. Sadly, my cynicism has been stoked by the lies over the past several years. I love this sport, probably too much and certainly more than the average person, but I hate this sh@%! I know people dope. I know people will always dope. I even know why and understand why many of them do- it's human nature after all, and we're all frail enough to make bad choices. I want to believe Ivan made a bad choice. He never meant to mislead or deceive us- he just wanted win (like we all do). That is what I want to believe.
I have known dopers. I even like some of them. But, damn... this sucks. This really, really sucks.
That's the last I want to say on the topic of Ivan. Damn.
Tomorrow I leave for another short trip to Big Bear, California for our Brand Camp budget/ marketing summit. Yes, I will ride my bike while there. I'm even gonna try to sneak in a little fishing while I'm there too. But, if like last year, blogging will be pretty difficult so this space may go silent for a few days. I hope you'll forgive me and come back to make sure I've returned.
If I don't see you sooner- I'll be back Friday. Don't forget to vote for Masiguy at the Blogger's Choice Awards... you know you wanna.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Here's the thing; I have to share these awards directly and indirectly. The Best Blog Design award really belongs to my good friend Chris Cashbaugh who did all of the design work. I told him what I wanted, in a very vague manner, and he turned it into what you have all seen for about a year now. The Best Blog About Stuff and Best Marketing Blog both are shared with all of you readers. Without you, I'd just be talking to myself (which I do too much already). You all give me the inspiration for posts and the community that has evolved here makes it so much more entertaining to me. Sure, I'd ramble my fool head off without you... but it is a lot more fun with you.
Thanks again to iamsemjaza for the multiple nominations. If you agree with these nominations, go here and vote! (So far I have three nominations, but no actual votes...)
Saturday, May 05, 2007
In all of my blogging setbacks, I have been forgetting to express my pride, joy and sincere amazement regarding my involvement in the e-book Conversation Age. This e-book is a project conceived by two astounding bloggers, both of whom I have immense respect for- seriously: Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaton. Anyway, here's the gist of the project: you get 100 bloggers to write 100 chapters on the topic of conversation in the new digital/ modern word. Each blogger writes a one page (400 word) chapter and then the book is offered for sale online. Judging by the long list of writers (some of the very brightest minds in marketing/ blogging), it is going to be a stellar book... even with my contribution. Here's the kicker- the book is dedicated to the memory of Sandra Kerley, mother of our dear friend Christina Kerley (better known by all as CK) and the proceeds go to Variety The Children's Charity. This is such an amazing project- it combines the gracious act of remembering a wonderful woman and supporting our friend with a beautiful charity... and you get a great book written by some of the best experts on marketing/ blogging (and also me). It's a project that I am more than just a little proud to be a part of and more than just a little flattered to have been asked to take part in.
Anyway, keep your eyes open for more information about the book and where you can go to purchase it- I will post updates as soon as the project is completed. But for now, just check out the author list:
Roger von Oech
Tony D. Clark
Kimberly Dawn Wells
John La Grou
Dr. Graham Hill
Also, while I am here and talking about giving and sharing; please, if you can, help us continue to honor Sandra Kerley by donating to Habitat for Humanity in her name. Please follow this link to a donation site (I'm not smart enough to figure out how to have the great icon and link that all the other smart bloggers involved with this have created). This is a great way to continue the great legacy of a wonderful woman, as well as show support to our dear friend CK.
I am really looking forward to seeing this book and I hope you are too.
Friday, May 04, 2007
I mean it!
Thursday, May 03, 2007
I've said many times in the past that Taliah Lempert is one of my favorite artists and I truly love her bicycle paintings. If you are anywhere near one of her shows, I highly recommend you check it out.
Here's the info;
May is Bike Month in NYC and there’s a lot going on.
I’ll be painting at the Bike NY festival,
If you’re riding, look for me at the end,
I’ll be in the Commerce Bank Tent.
I’m super excited to be having a show at my favorite community museum,
The City Relilquary. http://www.cityreliquary.org/
The City Reliquary Presents Paintings of Taliah Lempert
Runs from May 5-June 10th, open Saturday and Sunday, 12noon to 6pm
There’s an opening reception on Thursday, May 10, 7-10pm.
It’s going to be fun, so come if you can!I also have work in two group shows.
The first one, Why I Ride http://www.whyiridenyc.org/
Opens tonight, May 3 from 5:00 - 8:00 pm at several
My work is at NYC Velo at
The second group show is called Joy Ride
It opens Thursday, May 17th from 6-12 and runs through the 21st,
open daily from 12-7 At Fountain Head Films, 33 W 17
Joy Ride is part of the Bicycle Film Festival, which is going to be great! http://www.bicyclefilmfestival.com/
The City Reliquary and the Bicycle Film Festival are having cycling related street fairs. I’ll have a booth at both fairs with prints, drawings and a bunch of stuff
The City Reliquary’s Bicycle Fetish Day is on May 26th from 12noon – 6pm
On Havemeyer Street between Hope and Grand Streets.
The Bicycle Film Festival’s Street Party is Saturday afternoon, May 19th on
and finally, my annual class, Drawing the bicycle, is on May 29th, 6:30-9:30pm.
It’s free, but space is limited, so if you want to come, sign up soon!
(Sorry for the weird formatting... copy/ paste from email always works weird with Blogger.)