Thursday, 28 April 2011

Hushovd's not happy at Garmin?

What is next?

This morning I tweeted a newspaper's interview with Hushovd. The newspaper is the local newspaper in the area where Hushovd origins from.

He says he had great exspectations participating in the spring classics in his rainbow jersey, and express some disappointment in being placed as a lead out man for Haussler and Farrar. He also says he is a part of a very strong team an add he's happy to do so (being lead-out man) some times but wish more freedom to go for own victories.

He says the team only managed to get some real control and leadership during Paris-Roubaix. Clear guidance, rules and not "we're riding for the one who has the best legs today" is the key to success, Hushovd says.

It seems that Hushovd's expectations in Garmin has not been meet. These are dangerous words, I know, and I hate add more fuel to the debate of what happened in the Garmin-Cervelo team during Paris-Roubaix, but it is quite obvious he's disappointed. Hushovd is very happy he managed to get the best legs he had during Paris-Roubaix, he adds he's happy for Johan Van Summeren, but feels he has few results despite his form this spring.

Hushovd now aims for Tour of California, The tour and the worlds in Copenhagen.

You can find the interview here.

Seen this picture of me?

Perhaps is this another example about the fact that too many strong riders on a team can be bad? How could this be solved?

Bottom photo by  Isabelle Duchesne, downloaded here.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Gilbert's pedal stroke - new era?

Gilbert style

Photo downloaded here.
Gilbert possess abilities in sprinting in addition to being what analysts characterise as a "punchy climber". During the Liège-Bastogne-Liège, I found myself noticing his pedal strokes. He has a certain way of pedaling which I find quite extreme. I can´t come up with another rider who perform one like Gilbert. Let's walk through the basics.

Pedaling a bike is all about getting as much power relative to weight as possible. Easy, right? But there is more. Some say you get the most power generated between 2 o'clock and 5 o'clock, and there got to be a reason they made pedals cleats at all, no? Personally I find it strange that Gilbert is able to put such extreme watts from his pedaling. The reason for this is that his position with his ankles seem to contract his calves, normally this would make the muscle less flexible and as a result less powerful. But then again, I was only watching the last 25 km so I can't say if Gilbert was focusing solely on attacks and sprints or just pedaled that way the whole race.

The old days vs the new
Well, pedaling, at least how I learned it back in the day was something like this:
When pushing down - heel down. When pulling leg upwards - heel up.
Now, I know I'm not alone on this one.

The trouble is, this is not the way Gilbert is doing it. Not the Schlecks either, although they are not as extreme as Gilbert.

I'm not all found of the method where you do all the stuff the PROs are doing, just not so much, but technique-wise learning is always important.

The way they rode was with the toe-down, bring all the leverage down, after all, that is where your power is going in the first place. Gilbert's position on the pedals is like a ballet-dancer, he is very pointy with his toes down. If you have really strong calves and ankles, that is something you could do, but most in the peloton seem to point the toe only slightly down.
Don't pull your foot up as hard as you can, that will bring fatigue to the hamstring very fast. This is what you could do on a sprint battling your mate for pints or climbing a short hill. Try focusing on assisting your foot who is pushing, pull just as hard as the "working" foot don't have to compensate.

Pedaling power and pedaling efficiency
Two aspects of pedaling that you can work on. The first one could be trained by adding a heavier gear and perform intervals up a hill, at lower cadence and PROs use both one-legged intervals as well as both legs. Pedaling efficiency is equally important, especially if you don't want to feel knackered after every ride. A good way to train this is putting on a very light gear and pedaling at very high cadence, trying not to bounce off the seat. If you can be comfortable at 120 RPMs, you're in the zone.

Next goal?

Photo by, here.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Easter break

Not many posts lately, I know. I could have prepared my posts weeks in advance and auto-posted but I didn't, so for those of you who really looked forward to read a new post every day I'm sorry to disappoint you.

To my defence, I have been on my bike during the holidays. A good excuse from where I'm sitting... Felt very good to ride road after road, my wife accompanied me too. Nice to log some base kilometers early in the Spring.

Even managed to meet Edvald Boasson Hagen one day, he comes from a village close to my hometown and he looked good on the bike, of course dressed the part in his Team Sky kit. His speed was quite good to, remember he broke three ribs during E3 a mere week ago. Hard as nails these PROs. We said "hello" and continued on our respective rides since we rode in opposite directions. Not a good time to ask a PRO questions either.

So, I will start posting again now, lots of things to look into; of course Old Pat has been busy this week, Gilbert's stunning wins, rumours have already starting to spread about him. Also the Giro is coming fast. Many good things to write about.

See you.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Cancellara vs Gilbert - comparable?

Everybody has been talking about Gilbert's dominance in the classics this spring. Understandable since he is a fenomenal rider, who really is one of cycling's hope in these troubled times. Some has said Gilbert's dominance is like Cancellara edition 2010. I can perfectly well understand why someone said that, however they are two very different riders.

Cancellara - brute force

Fabian is all brute force. He showed that winning the E3 this year, litterally riding people off his wheel. Mighty impressive. Same way he demolished the peloton last year in Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. TT'ing the last 50 km to the velodrome in Roubaix with three-four of the strongest cyclists in the world not catching you? That's panache. That is also his Achilles heel, that's all he got to play with, that and a superstrong desire to win. Now, before you get mad at me, allow me to add that I'm a great fan of Cancellara and his style.
This year has so far proved Fabian a bit wrong. If it is allowed to say that about his season so far. A podium in one the major classics is an amazing achievement, and Cancellara has done this twice. 
It seems that his advantage finally has been unveiled. A strong team working against him can make him win second place instead of number one, Paris-Roubaix 2011 is an example of just that tactic.

Gilbert - the punchy climber

A totally different rider, but still manages to get the results. And some results he's got so far. What I find interesting is that Gilbert controls a race way different than Cancellara. For one he has a wider spectre to rely on, beside having a stronger classics team he climbs well, he sprints and he clearly is in shape. What is equally important, in my eyes, is his flair for tactics. The way he reads a race really make the difference between him and others. Combined with a panache the same, if not more, of Fabian's; there is your rider of the month.

I don't know about you but I will be glued in front of my TV or computer during Liège-Bastonne-Liège, this is a race I don't want to miss, and who knows, will Gilbert make the triple?

My first guestpost entry

I know most of you don't speak or understand Norwegian, but I'll paste the URL further down for you to have a look. This is 2011 so there are possibilities to make use of Google Translate or even simpler if you use Google Chrome.

The guys writing this blog are good, they have some interesting articles too.

Check it out!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Shoemaker stay at your last?

In the peloton again

Photo by Roberto Bettini, downloaded here.

Stefan Schumacher is back in the peloton. After his ban of two years for CERA in 2008 he was allowed back in cycling by the team Miche in 2010. Traces of CERA was also found in his samples from the Olympics in Beijing as well. Now Schumacher came back in 2010, so this is no big news really, despite the fact that it has been a long time since I've heard much from him. Some will say this is a good thing.

Some of you might recognize the team Miche. Yes, it is the same team who let Michael Rasmussen into the warmth of cycling hospitality again. Or put in another way, there is probably a reason why an Italian small team like Miche took him in, I doubt any other team would, at least not a team in the World Tour.

Team Miche is now called Miche-Guerciotti. The latter is a company producing all kinds of bikes while Miche is producing wheels, cranks, groups and chains.

Now, Schumacher is back and apparently he does it quite well. Today he finished 8th place on stage 1 of Giro del Trentino, just ahead of Ballan, Kreutziger, Scarponi, Ignatyev and Popovych. The results are here. Let's hope he's not nervous about entering the anti-doping control after the stage.

What's on your schedule?

Everybody, even those who are remotely connected to cycling knows when and where the big races are. If you have a twitter account, and if you enjoy following cycling, of course you do, you will have a hard time not to know.

The guys at Pavé have put together a calender so good that you'll probably find a race near you which you even didn't know existed. The Pavé guys have also made it easy for you to put the calendar into your PC, phone, gmail account, apple OS and the works. Head over now to find out or just click here. The calendar consists UCI races, both World Tour and European ones.

Pavé is one of my favorite websites, news, tech, information about riders and teams, they have it all.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Mavic Neutral Assistance Team during Paris-Roubaix

Mavic line up before Paris-Roubaix 2010

Photo downloaded at Velonews, here.

Everybody has seen the yellow cars and motorcycles during races. The assistance team was established in 1973. The motorbikes are seen with many spare wheels while the cars have both bikes and wheels. Many has asked what the kind of bikes Mavic has, and many have been speculating what brand it is. Some says Cannondale CAAD bikes, others claim to have seen Litespeed bikes and some have seen Scott bikes. Anyway, they are a major help for the riders, not exclusively for the pro circus, they have been present in amateur races as well. Of course it is the small element of advertising involved, but I can live with that.

In stage races you seldom see riders use the neutral car or bike, because the team cars normally follow quite close. In the spring classics, the distances between the riders and team car can be long, remember Tommeke in the Arenberg forest? A flat or mechanical in the classics can indicate game over, while at the tour and giro, you might have some chance left. The Mavic teams are often seen follow breakaways and they can make a real effort if a rider get a flat.

Velonews wrote an article about the Assistance team in 2010, many pictures here.

Jens Voigt rides a neutral bike not his size...
Notice the pedal clips. Since there are many types of pedals on the market - Mavic made it easy.

Richard Mitchelson tweeted this wonderful film on twitter today. It gives a glimpse of how hectic it can be working from a neutral motorbike or car. Have a look!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Money talks - cycling and corporations

Some have just too much...
How is it possible to write about this subject without sounding like a character from the movie "Team America" or being perceived like a socialist? Not that there anything wrong with that of course.

The corporations are apparently a big concern among cycling fans. This morning I saw a debate on twitter by some journos and commentators and I felt the need to throw myself in that discussion too. I think the debate is needed and it is indeed appropriate due to last Sunday's Paris-Roubaix. I have never seen so many discussing whether Vaughters and Hushovd did their job or not by not giving Cancellara a helping hand up to the lead break. I have said mine about that episode, and I am still divided about what I mean about it.
A battle of emotions vs rationality if you like. And there are rules too, the powerful unwritten ones, I have to add.

Hushovd had one chance, when the lead break still was one break and Hushovd/Cancellara/Ballan was only 25 seconds down. But then again, I wasn't there, I don't know what Hushovd thought and now all that's left is speculations and history.
I guess I hadn't said mine after all... well, enough with that.

There are perspectives of course, and that is important to have in mind. Very little point in discussing if the parties discuss views from different perspectives. You are certain not to reach an agreement, a discussion can be entertaining based on different perspectives, by all means.

Cycling - is not a team sport   
That got your attention, no? I have written before that cycling is a team sport, no doubt about that. But is it possible that we have different perspectives here as well? On one hand we all have the notion that cycling is a romantic sport where the riders battle man versus man, where the strongest survives by attacking the other up the Gavia - the fans' perspective. Another perspective is the sponsor's: "Hey, here I paid millions of dollars and I want a return on that investment! Don't mess this one up!" In addition to this you have the riders' perspective, their dreams and goals. What about media's perspective, they who has the power to decide the agenda afterward? Which perspective shall be given the proper attention by whom? What perspective did Vaughters choose on Sunday?

A team manager has to win. It is not necessarily so that the team manager have special feelings for who shall stand on the very top of that podium. A win is a win. And from a team's as well as a sponsor's perspective, it is much better to have a winner in a race than a 3rd place. My point is that success mean different things to different people. And when sports are taken to a high enough level, the money rules.

Where is the cash return?
How is it possible most cycling teams are not able to earn cash? Not many team managers have a business background and that could be a disadvantage when the negotiations begin. Is it just me or have the number of wealthy businessmen investing in cycling increased the recent years? Is this because they don't have much to do or do they see a potential others don't? Flavio Becca, James Murdoch, Zdenek Bakala et al, are investors who want some return of their investment. What could that be? TV-time from a breakaway or a podium at Scheldeprijs? No, I don't think so. It could be that by controlling the team's legal aspect, one could control more than others, for instance like where and what sponsors to include where on jerseys, cars etc.
But cycling will likely end up like football (soccer for you American readers..), some rich investor want something to own and to make sure he gets something back, he will exploit every opportunity, turn every rock, to get some return on his/her investment. Part of that is to control risks.

Can I take it with me after the show? 

Photo downloaded here.

The downfall is that in the world of business, sometimes you don't get what you've paid for. Risk is you loose it all. Who will abandon ship first? That knows the businessman and the team manager. And besides, we saw what happened in December with Oz project Pegasus.

I think it is about time team managers and owners meet corporate rules with the exactly the same - corporate rules. Make demands, read carefully long-time business plans, take control as much as possible. With the brain as well as the heart. Many managers are ex-riders, nothing wrong with that, as long as they stick to being managers, all the way.

Cycling is indeed a team sport. As long as you refer to the executive part of it, from a team perspective. Those romantic days of individualistic heroics are not gone, but it's likely that they will occur more rare. Because corporate ideas are here now, and they have another dictionary of what "team" mean. At least to what purpose it is for. And as you all know, there is no "I" in team, is it?

Friday, 8 April 2011

Man vs machine - on the cobbles

The Queen of the Classics is soon over us and every team who have a desire to make a difference have already been out on the cobbles to reconnoitre the pavé. They have been doing all they possibly can prior to the race to test different tires, shifters, frames and forks. The tech-factor is unmistakable high this year, and both Cyclingnews and Velonews have many good articles out with pictures, found respectively here and here.

I'm not all that interested in tech myself. I'm on the level where I want my equipment to function properly, without ruining my experience on the road. My perspective is that I'm supposed to use it, not necessarily know all about it. What interest me though, is the difference in technological equipment teams utilise on the cobbles compared to other races.
Cycling has really become a technological arena where everybody is trying to get the better of their opponents. Chapeau to those engineers from SRAM, Campa and Shimano, dodging all teams who want the best and be alone with it. How do they sort that out? Money talks and personal relations are key.

Some time ago I interviewed Igor Turk, a Team Sky mechanic. I focused on the tech-aspect as well and how they prepared the bikes for the cobbles. You can read the post here.

Here are a couple pictures that indicates some of the tech-features teams and riders utilise before this year's Paris-Roubaix, for more pics check out the websites:

Notice the longer blades on Hincapie's fork, making it difficult for mud and dust to gather.

Photo by James Huang -downloaded on Cyclingnews- here 

Dura-Ace Di2 shifters are placed on the drops, some have "thumb-shifters" on the top of the handlebars.

Photo by James Huang - downloaded on Cyclingnews - here

Those were the days...? Eddy at the Lombardia

Picture downloaded at Pez cycling - here.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Cycling teams and social media - why BMC stands out

For those returning readers, will probably recognize Dale Carnegie's book how to win friends and influence people of 1937.  It is considered a bible for communicators and marketing advisors and I mentioned this book in an earlier post. Why do I bring that one up now? Classic literature is special to me. Not that I don't like the writers of today, but imagine a book that has survived 500 years, still being read by hundreds of thousands of people, tells me that book has to have something very special to say. Machiavelli, Hobbs, Popper are still read today, by students, leaders and all sorts of people really.

The good old days
Now, marketing has evolved the latest years. This is a natural thing and it's why consultants and people in the PR-business charge as much as they do, they are supposed to give their clients the upper edge.
Much water has run under the old bridge since the internet came. Back then, companies hired some geeky teenager, still living in his/her parents' basement, to build a website. And that was basically it. Now, with the social media hype, things are different. I will not bore with the obvious technical details, like that people are online 24/7, and everybody has a facebook account, but it's all about expectations.

Picture downloaded on

The code
Expectations can take many forms. They can be given, presented to you if you like, also known as advertising, and they can be expressed to others, like a dialog. There are others as well, but I'll leave them for now.

Social media is about dialog, it's branding, it is meeting other people's expectations, on his/her terms. Brands use this to meet a strategy within communication and/or marketing, but it's not that this is all controlled, dark and with a purpose. It is to all's best. Imagine the distance that existed between teams and fans earlier. The only chance to get info from a team was to go to a race and hang around the team bus, to be a journo, or buying cycling magazines. Nowadays, it's merely a tweet away.

Transparency, openness, availability, interaction, fans oriented. These are all the buzz words of today and you will probably recognize most of them on the communication strategy every team have. Or do they? Do teams prioritize social media today? Based on a quick check on different websites, no. Team Sky have a nice website, it's clean and tidy, some nice technical extras like pictures turning color from B/W.

The good, the bad and the best
Teams are of course on twitter, and based on their followers, popularity varies. On the other hand, I'm more concerned with quality rather than quantity, so I'm not judging based on followers.

As I mentioned, meeting fans and journos on what they experience as their home turf, on their terms, is key. Teams who use their twitter feed only to send out results, only to retweet their riders' tweets and don't follow anyone else, is not doing the trick. Personally, I think Lampre's feed is like that, to some extent Katusha as well. If I want results, I go to No, I want to know other things, as a fan and as a consumer, I want to be met and being seen by teams. How else can I bond with them?
One team who really have shifted their social media strategy is BMC. I tweeted about this yesterday, and instantly, I got feedback from other fans thinking the same. Shauna Staveley tweeted me and said that she believed this is the work of Sean Weide, who tweets under this account.

BMC interacts, they have a strategy behind their work, no doubt. They are available, they interact with fans when the feedback is positive or negative, and very important; they have interesting stuff they tweet about. Small videos, behind the stage info, all the small things I like to know. They also have a strategy towards journos, mentioning journos by twittername and involving themselves with them. It's all natural and open so I don't have a problem with that. Human nature is human nature whatever the person do for a living, so that is fine. Combining info with tech, good pictures from pro photographers gives an impression of professionalism.

So other teams, look and learn. BMC is the new leader of the pack and other teams: It's okay to peek and learn.

Team BMC lead the way - for now
What team do you think is the best utilizing social media today?

Friday, 1 April 2011

Embrocation - the key to winter and spring survival?

Winter is over, well, at least in other parts of the world. Outside my window, the snow is still 25 cm high. But the roads are now free from snow, revealing the tarmac I have been waiting for. In a previous post, I described why winter cycling is so important, not only to log those important base-miles, but also because we celebrates the psychological aspects of the sport. We are students of will, determination and suffering.

Winter and spring are special in many aspects, many people have discovered (or studied through trying and failing..) what can be done to make sure we stay on our pedals through bad weather. Different creams, oils and salves have really increased in popularity the last years. Some are just to help restitution, some for massage and feel, others for warmth. Ingredients like lavendel, eucalyptus and chamomile gives a nice smell too. Some manufactures use fauna from Ventoux as well, sounds a bit close to, or other the edge to me, but since I haven't tried it, I won't stand firm.
Stimulating the blood circulation prepares the muscles and gives you a warming sensation. That sensation will help to keep you warmer while the sun is still low on the horizon. Just remember to have an eye on the clock while you warm-up, the feeling of heat in your muscles can fool you and make you believe you're ready to pedal all out way before you actually are...

So there are no excuse to celebrate yourself and those hard men and women before you now. Get outside and enjoy the ride.

You can also make it yourself, the people at La Gazzetta Della Bici, in addition to make and sell good embrocation, have also a recipe for people to make chamois creme at home, perhaps can you do some R&D on your own? Along with the sale increase, the prices for embrocation are quite high, money can be saved.

Here are some of the embrocation out there:

La Gazzetta Della Bici - Verde.

Rapha's winter embrocation 

Northwestern knee warmers - great blog with tips and how-to here