Friday, February 11, 2011

Arabian Spring

There is huge news from the middle East today. I am of course referring to Australian Mark headbutt Renshaw winning the Tour of Qatar. Before this historic event, the Qatar race was virtually owned by Tom Boonen, but an unfortunate malfunction ended Boonen's domination earlier in the week. Unlike some other dominant figures in these regions, Boonen released his iron grip on the arab nation without much ado. He was quoted as saying, "I am adult enough to deal with it."

Renshaw showing how it is done

Speaking of once-dominant figures, Peter Van Petegem admitted he was going to help Garmin-Cervelo, a team he called, "perhaps the best in the world today," in the Spring classics. His short stint will start just after Het Nieuwsblad -where he is race director and would have a conflict- and end after the Flemish Spring, when Eric Van Lancker, another former classics heavyweight will take over to guide the Garmins through the Ardennes. It is instructive to see how the market leaders in advanced GPS technology are relying on old-fashioned boots on the ground to guide them to decisive wins. Perhaps they too learned that relying too much on air power has its limitations.

But coming back to former stars. It appears things can be more difficult than one would think. Asked why Van Petegem will sell his services to the Americans, instead of to a local team, the former rider announced that "this was the first serious offer I have gotten since I left cycling four seasons ago." Van Petegem apparently has to rely on his otherwise well received bed and breakfast, Le Pavé in Horebeke, and a career as insurance salesman to make ends meet.

Le Pave by Van Petegem
Last year that was a whole lot easier because none other than Alberto Contador choose to stay at Le Pave and engage Peter as a tour guide to explore the Paris-Roubaix cobbles with him. But this year both the cobbles and Alberto are out- for unrelated reasons I might add.

Contador and Van Petegem on the cobbles

Van Lancker on the other hand works at the Vlaamse Wielerschool where he guides young teens through the intricacies of bike handling and racing. He did a stint as team manager for Lotto (until 2006) and later for Navigators, but that team folded. Van Lancker says he believes, he can add something to Garmin.

Eric Van Lancker at the Wielerschool

Meanwhile Sven Nys announced he was going to help teach young people who want to do cyclocross. Cyclocross is also where we find Johan Museeuw, who traveled to the Far East to sponsor a team of aspiring crossers. Museeuw also adds his name to the world's most advanced composite bikes featuring MF-XX total integration. (I have no idea what that stands for, but I do know Johan added Flax to Carbon fiber for easier digestion).

The latest in doping

The Ricco matter is still unresolved but I learned that a team doctor was dispatched to Italy to check things out. There he found that Ricco is in dire straits in the hospital. We also heard that Vacansoleil had its doubts about the Italian and was submitting the former doper to a twice-a-month testing regimen -the other riders go once a month. The team doctor reaffirmed what everyone now knows, i.e. that riders are using smaller doses to avoid detection-this is the new theme in doping apparently, the introduction of micro-doses. None other than Alberto Contador with his picogram levels of Clenbuterol is quickly becoming UCI's poster child of the new rage in doping, a trend I call homeopathic doping.

Vacansoleil also announced they suspended Ricco forthwith for "violating internal rules and other indications." Vacansoleil is probably quite unhappy that the Italian's troubles are now overshadowing Romain Felliu's win in the Tour of the Mediterranean.

I wish everyone a good weekend.

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