Giro d’Italia’s Marco Pantani Tribute.

Marco Pantani - Giro d'Italia

Photo from Brian Townsley on Flickr.

This years Giro d’Italia starts in Northern Ireland on Friday. After 3 days on the Emerald Isle the race will return to Italy where RCS have organised a series of  tributes to the nations most popular winner of recent times, Marco Pantani.

Some form of memorial is well in order as 2014 marks the 10 year anniversary of  his death.The fact that Pantani’s style of riding is sorely missed in today’s peleton, with its obsession of power meters  and marginal gains, and the tragic circumstances of his passing, make the inclusion of Monte Carpegna on stage 8 seem fitting. This was Pantani’s favorite training climb and while he went through much of life with a tortured mind he was able to forget his troubles on these roads and it was one of the few places where he felt free.

However what about the summit finishes on stages 14 and 15? Oropa and Montecampione were added to the route to celebrate two of Pantani’s famous wins in the Giro. Fantastic to witness at the time, these victories are now seen through more suspicious eyes. Particularly his victory up Oropa in the 1999 Giro. After his chain came off at the foot of the climb he managed an epic fightback to the leaders before denying Laurent Jalabert the stage victory.  Days later he was kicked off the race for returning a high hematocrit value after a blood test the morning after another mountain victory at Madonna di Campiglio.

While ‘Il Pirata’ was ultimately failed by the people people inside an outside his sport which he should have been able to rely on cycling wont be able to move on until the different organisations who run the sport are more honest when addressing the past and fans wont be able to pay proper respect to their heroes.

The good, the bad and the ugly. Cycling and social media

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May 12th 2013.

 

Something came to a head this week in the word of cycling. A story which showed all that was good, bad and ugly about following and participating in the sport through social media. It all revolves around a central figure, the Twitter character @UCI_Overlord aka Not Pat McQuaid aka Aaron Brown.

Brown who was much respected and has a depth of knowledge about what goes on in the pro peloton and understands the inner workings of the UCI is one of the founders of the Cyclismas website which takes a satirical look at the world of cycling. The website often focuses on highlighting the way the UCI is run, exposing the weak way it tackles some of the major problems in the sport while rigorously enforcing some silly rules to do with sock length and bike stickers.

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Does Britain need a new Pro Tour team?

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April 23rd 2013.

 

Another Spring Classics season is over and while Fabian Cancellara reigned again in Roubaix and Flanders there were more left-field winners in terms of both teams and riders in San Remo and Liege. For Team Sky however it was business as usual which meant another big fail. While this has been the first year they have targeted these one day races seriously following from their great success in stage races last year it seems that they may never find the formula to get anything out of these unpredictable races. This may not prove to be a problem to them and their sponsors if they do well in any of the grand tours but there could be a terrible effect on the development of British cyclists.

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I Love Paris-Roubaix. My Evolution As A Cycling Fan

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Photo from tetedelacourse on Flickr.

April 6th 2013.

As with many people who follow cycling my love of the sport began with watching the Tour De France. I remember after watching the Tour for the first time I was hooked. The shear length of the race and the pain that the riders went through was the major thing that attracted me. Back then I couldn’t imagine following a flat one day race.

Being from Britain with it’s limited coverage of cycling in the regular press back then I only followed the sport once a year and usually via highlights. Eventually I got into the habit of buying an occasional copy of cycling weekly. Once I got it home, instead of reading the articles I would head to the results section to see how my favourite riders were performing. Because of the reasons I first got into cycling, and still being ignorant of the sport, I placed a higher importance on the longer races for forming some kind of ranking in my head of riders, believing that they would surely have more Kudos with any other cycling fan. So naturally the Giro and the Vuelta started interesting me.

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I Am Spartacus.

25.09.2009 - Swiss Cycling: Fabian Cancellara

Photo from Ticino Turismo on Flickr.

March 16th 2013.

This Sunday sees the start of this years classics season at Milan-San-Remo. All eyes will be on classics king Fabian Cancellara as he returns from last years injury blighted campaign. It should be a great spring as Cancellara resumes his rivalry with last years hero and 7 times monument winner, Tom Boonen. With the peloton showing great strength in depth this year and Cancellara’s perceived lack of tactics Fabian may not get things all his own way. So who are the established stars that will be looking for classics success and who are the rising stars who are looking to take over Fabian Cancellara’s mantle.

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Lance And Marco. What’s The Difference?

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Photo from Andrea on Flickr.

22nd February 2013.

Gerard Vroomen asked an interesting question on Twitter on Monday. He was wondering why Marco Pantani gets so much kudos when he was as much a doper as Lance Armstrong. This has been something I have been thinking about recently as I wrestled with my own views on Marco Pantani while reading Matt Rendell’s book “The death of Marco Pantani”. Even though I have always known he was a doper and cheat I have held him in high regard as a magical rider and along with many cycling fans, I’m sure, spared him a thought on Valentines day. But why was I so delighted when Lance Armstrong was convicted of doping last month, while my adoration for Pantani is only starting to waver now almost 14 years since being kicked out of the Giro at Madonna di Campiglio for having a high hematocrit level. This was one of many times he recorded a high level and probably wasn’t too surprising given his links to Francesco Conconi and Eufemiano Fuentes. However Marco was a god to me and many others while Lance was the devil.

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If the UCI ran football.

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3rd February 2013.

 

Being a fan of cycling can have it’s ups and downs. Having an understanding of the sport helps to increase your enjoyment of it but it also means others are always asking you to explain it to them, especially in a country dominated by football. You often have to trot out the same lines explaining how cycling is a team sport with individual winners and why winners of stages don’t win races overall. Thankfully less time is spent trying to describe the roll that the UCI plays and some of the crazy rules they enforce, because this beyond explanation.

So imagine if the UCI were forced to reform. What would the people running it do? Wouldn’t it be great if they were allowed to run football? Then football fans would begin to understand what we have to go through.

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Doprah – before, during and after. Lance remains an enigma.

Lance Armstrong

Photo from Jeffery Gerhardt on Flickr.

January 26th 2013.

The lance Armstrong doping story, the tale that never ends. It Is one which cycling fans had become to grow tired of toward the end of last year and the person who held the answers to the questions the story posed, would never talk. Then suddenly at the start of 2013 things started to happen at pace. Around the 8th of January reports began to surface that Lance Armstrong was ready to confess. Soon it was confirmed that Lance would be interviewed the coming Monday by Oprah Winfrey and their chat would be televised on the 17th and 18th. Would Lance would be putting this thing to bed? Mmmm.

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