Posts Tagged ‘Team Sky’

Will we ever see the back of US Postal?

April 19, 2013

US Postal jersey on Box Hill

The answer to the above question, judging by what I saw during my Surrey Hills ride this week, is possibly not.

I don’t usually ride on Sundays, but I made an exception this week so I could greet the belated arrival of Spring by displaying my bare legs and arms in Lycra. I’m sure Spring appreciated the gesture. Many bicyclepeople had a similar idea, judging by the herds lolling around at the top of Box Hill where I witnessed the full panoply of questionable jerseys on display, from Sky replica kit to those who chose to dress ironically – and, I’m sure you’ll agree, totally hilariously – as a tub of Marmite.

Box Hill in the sunshine

What intrigued me most, however, was spotting the famous blue tops of the US Postal cycling team. They say two is a coincidence, three is a trend; in that sense, the riders I saw wearing USPS jerseys – one in Richmond Park, the other (pictured above) on Box Hill – hardly constitute a resurgence of the once-ubiquitous blue-and-white kit. For some, though, it’s two too many: who would still want to associate themselves with the most duplicitous team in Tour de France history, whose star rider is now commonly prefaced with the word ‘disgraced’?

The answer is, maybe, they don’t. Believe it or not, you can wear a jersey solely for the purpose of riding, rather than using it as a tool to fit in with a group of strangers, expressing your brand loyalty or attempting to look completely amazing (which, naturally, I always do when I’m wearing my black-on-white Rock Racing kit). It was the first warm weekend of the year. They wanted to enjoy it. So they reached into their wardrobe and pulled out the first, or only, cycling-specific clothing they laid their hands on. And off they went. Sometimes a jersey is just a jersey.

The DYNAMITE! Five: the month in cycling, remixed. January 2013

January 31, 2013

5 DOWN Assos winter kit assos winter kit at bike show
From the Swiss outfitters who gave you The Homoerotic Mandroid comes another unique way of celebrating the male body: a pair of winter leggings that will turn your balls blue. Isn’t that what they’re supposed to prevent, guys? Cycling Weekly, which photographed The Assos Circle Of Cyan on a dummy’s gentleman’s area at the Cycle Show, has failed to provide a photograph of the garment’s rear view. Which is probably just as well.

4 UP The Urban Cyclist
In the ever-competitive world of cycling magazines, plucky newcomer The Urban Cyclist makes a strong bid for Most Fanciful Upgrade Suggestion: a £649 five-spoke carbon front wheel for the sort of bike you would normally use to get to work or go down the shops. Apparently the BLB Notorious 05 is “a serious bit of kit”, so no pointing and laughing if you see one, OK?
Urban Cyclist mag carbon wheel test

3 UP Rapha rapha shower made for two story
The fashionable literary genre of S&M appears to have infiltrated one of the mini-stories that Rapha famously sews into its garments. New Sky signing Ian Boswell spotted the intriguing tale of a soigneur climbing into a shower to get his hands on bruised and battered Richie Porte – but how does the steamy story end? James Fairbank, Rapha’s head of marketing, suggests you will need to buy all 11 variations of the new Sky jerseys to find out. Just in case he isn’t joking, here’s a suggestion for a title: 50 Shades Of Gains (Marginal).

2. UP Pinarello
To sneers and groans of disappointment, Halfords has announced it will stock Pinarellos. Who would have thought that a proud, Italian, Tour-winning marque could be sold alongside car stereos and bottles of anti-freeze? Well, for a start, anyone who has been to Pinarello’s hometown of Treviso, where the brand’s name adorns anything from kids’ bikes to sturdy shoppers – the sort of bicycles you would expect to find in, er, Halfords.

1. DOWN Lance and Oprah
Amid the fallout from Doprah, spare a thought for the hitherto unexamined effect on the caffeineistas of Old Street. Popular cyclists’ cafe Look Mum No Hands! announced it would screen Armstrong’s confession and give away coffee every time he shed “crocodile tears” – only for the shameless cheat to avoid delivering a Kleenex moment during the first night of the two-part interview. So no free brews. It’s always the fans who suffer, isn’t it?

Tea de France: week two

July 11, 2012

Like an ambitious third cat switching from a heart rate monitor to a power meter, Team Tea has upped its game this week by investing in a valuable piece of hardware: the Home-Tek Aqua Sensor Kettle and Water Filter.

With this handy device, we are now able to prepare each brew to the manufacturer’s recommended temperature and keep the water warm for a second pot should we so desire. And we did very much desire another swig of a certain brew last weekend – so come with us now as we describe the highs and relative lows of our tour of teas. Strainers at the ready – let’s par-tea!

Stage 7, Saturday 7 June

Tomblaine – La Planche des Belles Filles, 199km
Winner: Chris Froome (Sky)
Brew: Thé Des Alizes
They say: “A green tea enlivened by flower petals and delicately scented with pieces of white peach, kiwi and watermelon. The green tea and the juicy freshness of the fruit are wonderfully balanced. Can be drunk hot or iced.”
We say: On screen, the sensational double act of Froome and Bradley Wiggins taking the stage win and the yellow jersey respectively; in our mouths, a much less impressive double-act of fruits and green tea. Peach dominates, but who really wants peaches in their cuppa? Well-blended, so not the unpalatable taste you might expect, but for us it’s not worth a revisit. A curiosi-tea.

Stage 8, Sunday 8 June
Belfort – Porrentruy ,157.5km
Winner: Thibaut Pinot (FDJ–BigMat)
Brew: Margaret’s Hope
They say: “Fruity with a great character. Special feature: it is invigorating and dark because of the greater proportion of Assam tea plants (20%) than Chinese plants on the plantation, something that is not very common in Darjeeling. It is a much sought after tea, which Darjeeling enthusiasts find ideal in the morning.”
We say: If yesterday’s tea was an oddi-tea, today’s was back to normali-tea. You could, if you wished, happily throw a splash of cow juice in this one. But as cycling history fan Thibaut Pinot proved with a thrilling solo stage win which got his directeur sportif Marc Madiot banging his car door with joy, a love of tradition doesn’t mean you have to be dull. This brew has a lovely malty Assam base and a rich, woody aftertaste. The overall flavour is deep and enriching. Unquestionably our top tea thus far.

So there we are. Margaret’s Hope leads our tour of teas – and, appropriately for British cycling’s domination of the Tour, it’s the only brew in our selection that has an English name. Who will be its competition for the top of the tea GC? We’re giving no tea-sers. Come back soon to find out…

The DYNAMITE! Five: The week in cycling, remixed. Issue #16

September 9, 2011

5 UP Todd Gogulski and Steve Schlanger
First things first: if you didn’t catch Sky’s Chris Froome winning stage 17 of the Vuelta on Wednesday, then head over to Universal Sports to see the Kenyan-born Brit’s all-out, gutsy double attack on the Peña Cabarga, and to marvel at the all-out, gutsy double attack of US commentators Todd Gogulski and Steve Schlanger as they attempt to out-yell each other. The OMG-gasm at 3min 20sec – “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” – is a sound to marvel at. You don’t get this from Phil and Paul…

4 DOWN Dahon
What’s the worse that can go wrong in the world of collapsible bikes? A stiff Sturmey-Archer lever? Misplaced bicycle clip? Scuffed Birkenstocks? Well, if you think that’s the case, you’ve obviously not heard about the internecine battle of the Hons. Dr David Hon, founder of Dahon, began pursuing Josh Hon through the courts after his son and estranged wife Florence started a new company called Tern. In August Dahon senior failed to stop Tern trading, and last Thursday a court in Munich made a preliminary injunction forbidding Dahon from selling two of its 2012 range in Germany ahead of Eurobike. So it’s Dahon vs Dahon. And you know what that means, don’t you? Yes, it’s a DYNAMITE! Files pun explosion! Because things have taken a Tern for the worse. It’s a case that could go Dahon and on. Hopefully, one side will do Dahonourable thing. Or it’s Dahmagedd-on. One company could even fold. (FOLD, you see. Because they’re folding bikes, yes? Oh please yourselves…)

3 UP The bike tree
“Boy went to war in 1914 – left his bike chained to a tree.” That, at least, was the story of a seemingly poignant photo doing the rounds on Twitter – until someone pointed out that tree trunks grow thicker, not taller, so the bike was probably placed up there by some prankster on a ladder. But does that make it any less awesome? No, chums, it does not. In a strange way, the bicycle looks like it naturally belongs there, the colour of the rust melding into the hue of the tree’s bark. And it’s a practical joke which has taken up to 70 years to reach its conclusion – a dedication to tomfoolery which this light-hearted blog wholeheartedly admires. So bravo, mystery bike planter, whomsoever you may be…

2 DOWN Damon Rinard
What would you say to a porky rider looking to justify the purchase of an aero road bike? If you’re Damon Rinard, race engineer at Cervélo, your answer to BikeBiz magazine consists of just two words: “Thor Hushovd.” So Cervélo reckons the muscular, powerful Norwegian is “porky”, eh? Dear oh dear – no wonder he’s off to BMC!

1 DOWN Leopard
The name is extinct – so farewell, then, to that strange, contradictory beast called Leopard. The matching scarves, “epic” black-and-white landscapes, a brief attempt to push a fashion line – it all seemed to be a considered, sophisticated marketing strategy, but the whole project from conception to launch was actually a seat-of-the-pants rush job. Leopard’s detractors saw the team as the epitome of corporate dullness crushing the spirit of professional cycling – and yet it aroused huge passions from many (including a defiant and ultimately wide-of-the-mark piece from Velocast) when reports suggested a merger was imminent. And then, late on Monday night, came the final nail in the coffin of Brian Nygaard’s branding: the team that was originally meant to be about “smart, young riders” announced that it is merging with RadioShack, the semi-retirement home of the Armstrong era’s elder statesmen. An interview with Nygaard in the latest edition of SportsPro magazine, published prior to the merger, serves as an unwitting epitaph to the Leopard story (see page 90) – and the Dane admits he “couldn’t care less” if we all pronounced the name “leppard” rather than the prescribed “lay-o-pard”. But The DYNAMITE! Files only wants one question answered: what will be the fate of the light blue strip across the front of Leopard’s jerseys, which, when worn by the team’s portlier fans, appeared to be a middle-aged moob tube? That design feature must stay, if only for the sake of our amusement.

The DYNAMITE! Five: The week in cycling, remixed. Issue #14

August 26, 2011

5 DOWN GreenEDGE
Imagine what you could do with 20 years of planning and a projected budget of 14 million quid a year: put a jaunty hat on the moon, perhaps, or stage Siegfried and Roy, live from the lost city of Atlantis, with giant, laser-eyed sabre-toothed robot tigers. Or, if you’re Australia’s nascent cycling project, cobble together a website that resembles a Powerpoint presentation for middle managers being delivered in an out-of-town Ramada Inn, and fill it with meaningless business-speak gobflappery. “The edge never stands still because we don’t allow it.” “Be first. Be best. Inspire. Give back.” “The edge in cycling is green.” GreenEDGE: the cutting edge of spirit-sapping dullness. GroanEDGE. Fingers crossed that all-round good fella Stuart O’Grady, a man not averse to partying shirtless with a bottle of vodka in each hand if David Millar’s fascinating autobiography is anything to go by, can liven up proceedings when the team is officially launched…

4 UP “RadioSharck”
On the subject of uninspiring teams, the knacker’s yard of American cycling’s elder statesmen briefly enjoyed the vaguely predatory moniker “RadioSharck” on Saturday thanks to the Spanish channel responsible for writing the TV captions for the Vuelta. Sadly, it was back to RadioShack for the next day’s results, with all the teams’ names replaced with their logos to prevent another butterfingered typing error. Spoilsports!

3 DOWN Garmin Vector
Standing by a Flemish road last year waiting for a race to pass, The DYNAMITE! Files made a reasonably amusing quip about Plastic Bertrand. It is not necessary to relay the comment here; suffice to say, it was greeted by a confused silence from our British chums, followed by a swift admission that they had never heard of Belgium’s most famous musical export. So having learned the hard way that Planet Cycling is sometimes unaware of wider popular culture, this blog would like to offer a small piece of advice to Garmin: please don’t hail the benefits of your new power-measuring gizmo as “similar to going from 2D to 3D”. Because 3D is a rubbish technological wheeze which is turning punters away from cinemas, while the Vector – regardless of what one thinks about the expense of power meters – looks like it will be totally amazeballs in its compactness and ease of fitting. Hope we’ve been of some help, fellas.

2 NO CHANGE The London School of Economics
The world of numbers is a confusing one for this humble, word-loving blog. On the one hand, it’s probably a good thing that bike-related sales experienced a 28 per cent increase last year, and that cycling now generally seems to be a “sustainable trend” in Britain. On the other, the report by the LSE which identified this “step-change in the UK’s cycling scene” was commissioned by British Cycling and Team Sky’s paymasters, and it was written by a cyclist from the seemingly unconnected field of “innovation and productivity”. So if someone cleverer than The DYNAMITE! Files could take a look at Dr Alexander Grous’s report and tell us if its findings stand up or if it’s a load of PR flimflammery, we’d be much appreciative. Cheers.

1 UP The Valparaiso Cerro Abajo
This item was going to be take issue with renowned cycling-basher Matthew Parris, who had another pop at cyclists yesterday (here’s a screengrab of his column if you’re not inclined to shell out for the privilege of going behind the Times paywall). But, frankly, Spain’s annual Tour de Motorways has set the tone for a dull old week, and it would be nice to end it with something exciting instead. So we’ll simply point out to Matthew that scoffing at “lurid spandex garments and absurd minimalist crash helmets” is a bit silly when you’re riding past them on an electric bike (translation: a mobility scooter for the able-bodied) while wearing a frigging pith helmet or a Bertie Wooster-style tweed hat. And now, having dispensed with that minor irritant, let us savour the thrills contained in a clip of an obscure downhill race in Chile called the Valparaiso Cerro Abajo, which was tweeted by that notorious adrenalin junkie, er, George Monbiot on Wednesday. This must be the only race in the world where stray dogs are a routine part of the course. Totally barking. Enjoy!

The DYNAMITE! Five: The week in cycling, remixed. Issue #13

August 19, 2011

5 UP Kurt Asle Arvesen
You’d never guess who we saw down the road the other day. Kurt Asle Arvesen. Yes, THE Kurt Asle Arvesen – how many Asle Arvesens are there, fer chrissakes? Kurt Asle Arvesen, Norwegian multiple Grand Tour stage winner, was briefly outside Tasty’s kebab and burger bar by the roundabout at the junction of Fulham Road and Fulham Palace Road on Sunday. Yes, alright, he was participating in the London-Surrey Cycle Classic at the time, and the chasing pack was about to thwart his brief, last-gasp attack six miles from the finish. But still, one of the most accomplished cyclists in the world, with dozens of other pros in his wake, transforming an unremarkable corner of south-west London into a glorious rush of speed and colour – it’s like seeing Green Lantern and Superman having a pint down Wetherspoon’s, or walking through King’s Cross station and stumbling across the Hogwarts Express. Transforming the quotidian into the quite extraordinary: this is cycling’s peculiar magic, lost on the quibblers and whingers who took issue with having a test-run for next year’s Olympic road race in their backyard. But let’s not let their presence cloud our opening item – we’ll come back to them later, paying particular attention to one portly Irish TV presenter and a curious twist provided by one of his telly chums…

4 DOWN Ted Baillieu
On the subject of extraordinary images, The DYNAMITE! Files can well imagine an old, creaking wooden ship conveying Cadel Evans across the seas like an exotic spice to deliver him to his homeland. In truth, however, the gap of almost two weeks between the Cuddlator winning the Tour de France and his triumphant return to Melbourne on Friday could probably be explained by the round of criteriums and sponsor-related obligations that are usually part of a champion’s lot. That 12-day period appears to have been long enough for local politician Ted Baillieu to dispense with the notion that yellow is a hard colour to wear, especially if you’re standing next to a man who earned the right to adorn himself with that same hue by winning the hardest race in the world. But Ted Baillieu’s yellow shirt and yellow tie combo has now set a fantastic precedent: if, in 12 months’ time, Nick Clegg isn’t standing outside number 10 in a gold lamé suit shaking the hand of new Olympic champion Mark Cavendish, then it will be a major breach of protocol. Mark our words.

3 UP The Assos gatecrasher
Returning to the festival of fun that was the London-Surrey Cycle Classic, it is fitting that the Olympic route encompasses Richmond Park, the unofficial home of London cycling. It is a democratic arena which welcomes the young and the old, the whippets and the whupped alike – so well done to the anonymous, Assos-clad fella who somehow smuggled himself into the peloton to proudly represent the body shape of the less sporty park user. Not even the stares of the nonplussed pros could diminish his jollity. Bravo, sir!

2 UP Cav and Millar’s little secret
What was the “INCREDIBLE news” Mark Cavendish received from David Millar shortly after the Manxman won on the Mall? Has Millar’s autobiography reached the top spot in the Waterstone’s chart? Have the two raconteurs agreed to do a series of head-to-head banterthons, in the style of Alas Smith And Jones? Or is the Scotsman really having Cav’s baby? Here’s our theory: the Manxman is off to Garmin-Cervelo because Sky was unable to match Jonathan Vaughters’ offer of an unlimited supply of his favourite sausages. You heard it here first, chums.

1 DOWN Zora Suleman

Never heard of former breakfast TV gawp magnet Zora Suleman? You’re not alone, because The DYNAMITE! Files was also unaware of her existence until she interposed herself between the considerable bulk of her chum Eamonn Holmes and the righteous ire of tweeting cyclepeople. The row began when sofa-dwelling Eamonn blamed “flamin Olympic bikes”, rather than his inability to plan ahead and make alternative travel plans, for preventing him from driving to a village fete. “Keep sport in a stadium,” he grumbled from a traffic jam on the A3 – presumably with his engine turned off, otherwise that tweet, made from his BlackBerry, is technically an offence. Given that he recently succeeded in banning mentions of his weight from a BBC comedy show, his petulance on this occasion was perhaps not entirely out of character, and he was soon rewarded with robust responses from bike racing fans all over the country (most of them retweeted by Surrey League organiser Ken Prince.) It was pointed out to the Sky presenter that he might not be singing from the same hymn sheet as his employers, who are sponsors of the British cycling team, and many people would expect a public figure to support one of the few events Britain has a chance to win gold in next year, even if the trial run does interrupt his Sunday afternoon drive. And, of course, stadium sports are a regular cause of traffic anyway, as anyone who lives near a London football ground can attest. But it was glamourous newsgatherer Ms Suleman who provided a bizarre denouement to proceedings by claiming she had been “inundated with calls” from irate members of the public who had not heard about the road closures and diversions. Well, no one claimed there wouldn’t be a few people who had escaped the reach of the TfL publicity machine, which had warned of delays for weeks. But “inundated”? Even the Daily Mail, hardly the most bike-friendly news outlet, could only attest to “some” drivers being put out. So which news outlets were “inundated” with calls? None, it seems: after being pressed, Zora admitted she is currently unemployed, and then deleted the offending tweets – although you can still see them here and here. Let’s just hope Eamonn appreciated all the hard work she put in sticking up for him!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 25 other followers