Thursday, May 19, 2011

Not in our genes

If anyone ever wonders why bike racing will never get big in the US, look no further than the Amgen Tour of California. Granted we got a hill-top finish but it was a hill-top in the middle of nowhere. Not only that, I tried to get there by going up the road in the other direction (Sierra Road, Felter and Calaveras form a loop) but no cigar.  Here was a diligent highway patrol officer blocking the road 6.5 MILES from the finish! Wouldn't want to have any problems with congestion now would we? Only a handful of local residents, who couldn't care less about riding, were let through. None of them were friendly enough to give me a ride.

Felter to Sierra, 6.5 miles of emptiness

Sierra, Felter and Calaveras are insignificant roads. Not much traffic there, only a few locals who go in and out. But the road at the Calaveras-Felter end is wide and it would have been easy to park on the shoulder in many locations without blocking the non-existing traffic. Yet someone thought it would be better to close the entire road for several hours? This was no doubt an effort to make sure not too many spectators would show up???

Lots of empty space. The finish is over the hill somewhere

When we went to see Fl├Ęche Wallonne in Huy in April, we were able to drive to within a km from the finish. And that just half an hour before the race was due to arrive in the middle of the city.

And the headlines? "An oldster of 39 grips the power in California" is what Sporza calls it. You could think it is unfair to Chris Horner, who put in a valiant effort and then boasted only Contador could beat him, but it is what it is: Geriatric cycling.

Andy Schleck, who only lamented the fact that he would have loved to win it for Wouter, said he "was surprised his form was so good already." Clearly Andy must think he was on a training ride among the geriatric public.

But that did not deter the folks from TrainingPeaks from discovering another first-in-class, superhuman performance. Here is what Hunter Allen sent the coaches group this morning: "STAGE 4  -RORY'S FILE!!!    6.3w/kg !!!!  HOLY MOLEY!!!!!!" Read it and weep people.  This is what it takes to be one of the world's best.

One of the world's best, in a performance that by the numbers at least outdid the infamous Schleck-Contador 2010 Tourmalet day (their power was rated at 5.9W/kg) is none other than Rory Sutherland. Rory, a compatriot of the soon-to-be-the oldest Tour winner, may be a great rider -I don't know him- but he has a rather modest prize list so far. He did win the Australian U23 National Road Championships and a few races stateside, but so far all the major events have eluded him. He is now however, the official king of the gadgets.

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