Posts Tagged ‘Cadel Evans’

The oddness of Peter Sagan

April 5, 2013

Does your life revolve around bicycle-related activities, such as blaming yourself for not riding as fast as you would like, or squinting for hours at shonky feeds of obscure European races? Then congratulations – the essence of your character and the sense of perspective you once had on your life have been forever warped by the ever-spinning world of Planet Bicycle.

You’re not alone, though, because there is another group of people who are completely immersed in cycling. They’re called professional cyclists. And I think their greatest skill is disguising how weird cycling has made them – until, that is, their weirdness finds a means of expressing itself at an inopportune moment, such as the podium of the Ronde van Vlaanderen on Sunday.

peter sagan bottom pinching

Peter Sagan is a 23-year-old man who believes crossing the finishing line first is the most important thing he can do with his life. It isn’t – not for him, nor for any human being – but that’s what every podium contender conditions themselves to think, otherwise the job becomes impossible to do. A consequence of single-mindedness is leaving more important areas of your personality under-developed; in Sagan’s case, it’s the part that tells you goosing a stranger’s arse, especially doing it so publically, shows about as much respect as urinating against the leg of the host town’s dignitary.

Hived off in the cycle of training and competition, sports stars are paid an awful lot of money to not be normal, yet we criticise them when they don’t behave like regular, well-adjusted human beings. I’m fairly certain I would never deliver an unsolicited grope to a stranger’s arse, and I think you would say much the same thing. But we’re cycling fans – in each of our own ways we’re all a bit odd, so we can surely empathise with oddness. We did it with Cadel, and once all the hoo-ha dies down, I think we’ll do it with Sagan.

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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!

The DYNAMITE! Five: The Tour de France, remixed. Issue #10

July 29, 2011

5 DOWN “Ablerto” Contador
It was the Tour where he revealed himself to be a mere mortal – but before Cadel and the Schlecks humbled him at high altitude, Alberto Contador’s godlike status seemed unimpeachable, particularly to the subeditors over at the Daily Telegraph. The penultimate paragraph of Brendan Gallagher’s pre-Pyrenees assessment refers to Bertie as “He” rather than “he”, and in keeping with each of the Gospels giving slightly differing accounts of the same events, the quotes from the man himself appear to be somewhat repetitive (“The stage went well, and that’s good news for my knee […] The stage went well, and that’s good news for my knee.”) And God only knows why he’s referred to as “Ablerto” in the picture caption. Heavens above!

4 UP (too far up) Shorts
The drama of stage nine, which saw plucky Thomas Voeckler take yellow after a car walloped Johnny Hoogerland into a barbed wire fence, overshadowed a far more serious development: shorts are becoming far too short. The two breakaway men have been sporting the high-up-the-thigh look for a while now, with Hoogerland eliciting an “ooh-look-at-you” stare from Riccardo Riccò back in January, and Voeckler’s appearance causing a teammate to bite his lip at the Tour’s opening ceremony. But now they’re bloody heroes, so expect to see your more impressionable mates wearing the sort of shorts that would make a speed skater blush. Oh, the indignity…

Courtesy of the lip-smacking cyclinginquisition.com


3 UP Nicknames
Some say “Bo-AH-son Hagen”, others “BWA-son Hagen”, whereas Mrs Dynamite, referencing the sort of films young Edvald’s home region is perhaps most famous for, prefers to pronounce it “Boobs-and-hard-on”. That always gets a laugh in our famous soundproof bunker, although it’s obviously far too rude to become common currency among less rakish cycling fans. Similarly, her name for a certain high-shorted Dutchman – “Johnny Sexylegs” – is unlikely to catch on now that the horrific image of his lacerated pins is indelibly etched on everyone’s mind. But The DYNAMITE! Files thinks it has stumbled on a nickname for Thomas Voeckler that can sit next to modern classics such as “Cuddles” and “SMASH”. The little Frenchman licked his lips en route to taking yellow, got a bit mouthy with Hoogerland’s Dutch fans booing him on Alpe d’Huez, and he has a quintessentially Gallic gob shape, so The DYNAMITE! Files shall henceforth refer to him as… Le Mighty Bouche.

2 UP Viewing figures
Terrible news for anyone still hoping that the Tour de France would remain a weird, esoteric sporting event: watching grown men suffer for three weeks has apparently become a ratings hit, with UK figures for the final stage almost equalling its 1980s Channel Four heyday. Snobs looking to defect to another pain-filled sport may want to try The Spartan Race, which apparently involves running through flames and tugging a boulder on a rope. Like, epic!

1 DOWN The points competition
As you might expect, this blog is overjoyed that Mark Cavendish, our favourite tweeting cycleperson, has finally claimed the emerald prize that should have been his two years ago. But as for the concept of the green jersey itself… well, it’s great that the competition is now weighted in favour of winning stages, but you can’t make intermediate sprints any less uninteresting by renaming them super intermediate sprints and throwing a few more points at them. And let’s be honest: how many fans actually know the number of points up for grabs in a stage anyway? It seems perverse that the competition featuring the fastest, most thrilling finishes should rely on a dull, arcane number-crunching system to decide the winner. So here’s a radical idea: ditch the intermediate sprints altogether, give the maillot vert to the rider who wins the most sprint stages, and call it the Stage Winners’ Jersey. If there’s a tie, the rider who has consistently finished the highest wins. Otherwise, the points competition is, well, a bit pointless.