15 July, 2009

Cav is so good, his lead out man is now a star

As every bike race fan knows, it's the team that makes the difference. Mark Cavendish has an amazing sprint, but he has the best lead out train in cycling. The Team Columbia roleurs go to the front and bring back the break, then George Hincapie takes over a little more than a kilometer to go. When he's through, Mark Renshaw takes over. Renshaw burns out just as Cav needs to get his sprint on.

Renshaw's skill is nearly as important as Cav's. And, with the press tiring of Cavendish stories, there's now a rash of Mark Renshaw stories. The one linked to is from Agence France Presse

USA Today Knows Cycling

Every year, I try to give a shout-out to the best coverage of cycling found in daily newspapers. When Sal Ruibal is on the job at USA Today, his paper takes the title easily.

Here he is writing about the radio-free stage 10. He's the rare journo to point out that the upcoming, currently scheduled to be radio-free stage 13, is the stage that nearly derailed Lance's bid for a seventh victory in 2005.

His blog is a decent read, too, though filing daily stories and blogging should result in overtime pay. How's he going to ride and enjoy the eats with that kind of workload? (you can read the fatigue in his writing "velodrome track sprints"?)

18 Pedal Strokes

Team Columbia gives an incredible leadout. They ride fast enough to keep the other sprinter teams on the ropes in the final few kilometers and then drop Mark Cavendish off at the perfect spot every time. on the flat stages that moment was at 200 meters to go. on stage 11's uphill finish, it was at 150 to go.

Cavendish still hasn't taken more than 20 pedal strokes in a sprint. Today, it was only 18 before he stopped pedaling short of the line, victory assured.

No one is going early to disrupt the Columbia train. Some one ought to try it because no one has the jump Cav has. If they wait for Cav to jump before jumping, they're going to lose every time.

Brute Force!

It's a great noir. Skip the next CGI-infused thriller and check out this old flick instead.

Despite what writers at Sports Illustrated think, Bernard Hinault, not Lance Armstrong, is the multi-time Tour de France champ who is not afraid to speak his mind. He may be from "old europe," but the 55-year old, who won the last of his five Tours in 1985, is still The Badger.

in an interview with Velo News' Andrew Hood, said, "There is nothing but brute force that can win a race. The only thing the head is good for is to help endure the elements, because there are some riders who are not so strong in the head and not so good at that."

While Hinault had a rep for grinding his opponents into submission, he also was a pretty savvy racer. Still, he supports Cadel Evans for trying to make the race hard on the Astana juggernaut and suggests that making the race hard is the only way anyone will have a chance to beat Contador, Armstrong, and company.