Posts Tagged ‘Daily Mail’

Let’s all have a look at how much coverage Cav’s move to Sky got in this morning’s papers.

October 12, 2011

Yesterday on Twitter, The Inner Ring mused thusly:

“Whilst we’re all going, ‘Yeah, so what’, millions of ordinary TV viewers and newspaper readers will get the Cav to Sky story today/tomorrow. It’s these people whom most team sponsors count on in order to justify their investment in a team, reaching households across Europe and beyond.”

This got me thinking. Yes, the papers will all run the story, but would the British newspaper readers of tomorrow (i.e. literally tomorrow, not some undefined point in the future – d’ya get me, yeh?) even notice it? Because it’s not as if he won a race or anything, and the move was widely reported in various sports pages months before yesterday’s official announcement. They might not give it any prominence, which would be a shame for the team’s sponsors, because as Mr Ring points out, they require the exposure. Then tomorrow (i.e. today) came along and I was able to find out for myself, via my eyes and – let’s not forget – my hands, which helped turn the correct pages. I really couldn’t have done it without these guys, and they did an incredible job.

Anyhoo, the good news is that (clockwise from top left) The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Times and The Independent all gave the story half a page. Perhaps not coincidentally, all of them also had a half-page ad for Team Sky and British Cycling underneath.

Which raises two questions: would all four broadsheets have given as much prominence to the story if Sky hadn’t paid for a large-ish ad which complements the editorial? And, less importantly, don’t you think the layout of the pages – Cav on top, Wiggins below – unwittingly suggests what may be the billing of the two Sky men next year?

The redtops all buried the story to varying extents at the back of their sports pages. The Sun, owned by Cavendish’s new paymasters, had the largest of the smaller stories, giving it seven paragraphs plus a pic at the top of page 67. The Mirror has four pars and a headshot of Cav at the bottom of page 56, while the Daily Star, masters of economy, managed to convey the news in a mere 65 words on page 49.

You could say that the prominence each paper gave to the story reflects its readership’s interest in cycling. But look at the Daily Mail – next to the paper’s brief, 80-word story on page 76 is a ragout of its June exclusive, “GB DREAM TEAM, Cavendish in shock move to join Wiggins.”

It was a page lead – perhaps the strongest indication that Cav’s move would’ve got bigger coverage this time round had the story not dragged on for four months.

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The DYNAMITE! Five: The week in cycling, remixed. Issue #15

September 2, 2011

5 UP Scarborough
Readers of the Scarborough Evening News are revolting. Through the medium of the paper’s website, a handful of scathing Scarborians have made it perfectly clear that they do not want to see Cannon and Ball or any other light entertainment act of yesteryear playing at a local venue called, apparently without irony, the Futurist. But, you may be thinking, the stars of “video best seller” Boys In Blue are surely the best entertainment that a northern seaside town can attract these days. Or maybe not – for if you look into the distance, you will see a colourful, 396-legged beast approaching the seafront. Yes, chums, the Tour de France, the actual Grahnd Boo-cull itself, is coming to sunny Scarborough! In 2016! Well, that’s the idea anyway, and apparently Mark Cavendish has backed the plan. The Manxman will no doubt be touched by one reader’s concern for the riders’ well-being: apparently “the thought of how much damage the cobbles on the Marine Drive could do the cyclists’ delicate bottoms is best not dwelt on”. Ouch.

4 UP (not literally, of course) Peta Todd’s bum
Dwelling for a moment longer on the delightful topic of rear ends, Cav was quick to point out on Tuesday that his pin-up girlfriend Peta Todd was unhappy that he tweeted a picture of her bending over in a pair of shorts. In these sorts of situations, the fella involved usually realises his error and swiftly deletes the offending photo – but it’s been up for three days now, so maybe she wasn’t that angry after all. The DYNAMITE! Files recommends having a butcher’s at the pic – purely, of course, to judge for yourself whether it’s a bit pervy or not. And if you decide it’s the former, we hope you are thoroughly ashamed of yourself.

3 DOWN Ghulam Murtza
Ugly scenes below the line of the Telegraph and Daily Mail websites, where the “haven’t-the-police-got-anything-better-to-do” brigade slugged it out with the “law-is-the-law” mob following the unusual case of 26-year-old Ghulam Murtza. The taxi driver was fined £100 for transporting his two-year-old son Armaan on his mountain bike, which seemed unfair as the two-year-old was in a safety-approved child seat, albeit secured with additional duct tape which may have made the contraption look a bit Heath Robinson. In the words of the East Staffordshire police, was he simply “well-meaning but misguided”? Maybe. But one thing’s for sure: if you’re going to pose for a photo to show that your son is perfectly safe, it’s not a great idea to have his helmet on back-to-front, loosely secured and at a slightly wonky angle…

2 UP Bikes with guns
What did the prognosti-
cators of 1910 think our modes of conveyance would be in the year 2000? According to an intriguing set of drawings which The DYNAMITE! Files stumbled upon this week, the answer is electric skates, aerial boats lifted by twin balloons, and trains that look a bit like houses. Sadly, to judge by its omission, the humble bicycle will have died out, although there would have been motorbikes with machine guns, which would’ve made the daily commute more interesting. Particularly if you were cut up by a heavily-armed car.

1 DOWN Bangers
Be honest: you love a good sausage now and again. Not even the image of Christine Hamilton sticking one in her gob can put you off. But apparently the traditional banger would be one of the gastronomic pleasures denied to you if you practise the trade of a professional cyclist in Italy, because strict Italian team bosses really do take the biscuit, as well as the jam tart, the chocolate chip cookies and the cake supplies, and then lock them all in a big cupboard marked “NO FUN”. In a remarkably candid entry in his Velonation blog, Ben Greenwood revealed on Monday that the Italian team he rode for in 2007 made him disturbingly weight-obsessed, and the regime of constant dieting, like all authoritarian regimes, ultimately became a farcical game of cat-and-mouse. “One time,” recalls the Rapha Condor Sharp rider, “the woman who cooked for us did us sausages as a treat. During dinner the [team] president arrived, so our cook shouted at us to hide the sausages quick before he saw them.” Which must surely count as the most literal and least enjoyable game of “hide the sausage” ever played.

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 week in cycling, remixed. Issue #9

July 1, 2011

5 UP “Jen, London”
Stories in the Daily Mail that are reasonably sympathetic to cyclists are rarer than a tweet in the Fablish tongue that doesn’t take less than half-a-dozen reads to fully understand – so there was some surprise in The DYNAMITE! Files’ famous soundproof bunker on Thursday when we came across the tale of the dad-of-two allegedly cut up by a police car. But was Paul Brown of Hull as blameless as he makes out? He appears to have gone straight to the Mail instead of complaining to the police, and the inconclusive screengrabs taken from his helmet-cam footage have triggered a blizzard of amateur sleuthing in the comments section. The most Monk-like theory comes from “Jen, London”, who asks: “Does he look like an amateur cyclist? NO. Obviously you cannot judge by image alone, but being a cyclist myself you don’t wear expesive [sic] lycras [sic], cleats and ride a road racer if you’re going to sit in the middle of the road.” So there you have it: a Daily Mail reader who can use the word “lycra” without following it with “lout”. Although if she sees one of those non-amateurs next week, she’ll probably wonder why they’re not doing that big race in France.

4 UP Pigeons
As the excellent Inner Ring noted on Tuesday, television coverage of the Tour de France killed off the inventive, hyperbolic and often fictional manner of newspaper reporting associated with cycling’s golden age. If that grand tradition of making things up in flowery language is to make a comeback, there would have to be a sporting event that TV cameras cannot practicably access, such as a race across France where all the competitors are, say, pigeons – and as luck would have it, that’s exactly what is happening this week. See how they soar above mountains! Watch them reach speeds of up to 110mph! Except you can’t. So it’s down to students of Antoine Blondin and Henri Desgrange to unleash their powers of invention. Gentlemen, only you can transform the descendents of Speckled Jim into heroes of legend!

3 UP Bob Kemp
Interesting if somewhat far-fetched “facts” department: by next summer, every man, woman and child in Britain will have appeared in a newspaper or TV report moaning about not being able to get tickets to the Olympics, even if they didn’t apply in the first place – so hats off to the Daily Telegraph for breaking the mood of perpetual disgruntlement with Monday’s lighthearted story about Chris Hoy’s father-in-law Bob Kemp. Thrilled Bob noticed that an amount equal to the cost of four tickets for the velodrome had been taken from his account – and it was only after excitedly planning the trip down to London that he realised “Olympian Seats”, the name that appeared on his statement, was actually a store he had been to. “He got four seats alright,” said Hoy. “Four garden seats.”

2 DOWN The Cervélo S5
The unveiling of the S5 aero road bike on Wednesday prompted this expert appraisal from Cycling Weekly’s Mike Hawkins: “Regular Cervélo admirers will already understand the design language the Canadian frame manufacturer has used, as it borrows much from the P4 time trial machine.” Hmm… design language, you say? Well, as the predominantly text-based appearance of this blog shows, The DYNAMITE! Files is far from fluent in the language of design, so we are in no way fit to pass comment on the opinion that the bike is, aesthetically, a bit rubbish. But wouldn’t it be obvious even if you hadn’t ever seen a P4 that the S5 is essentially a time trial frame with drop bars? Coming next week in CW: how you must be fluent in the language of the French people to know that a restaurant is a place where you eat food and a bidon is something you shove in your gob when thirsty.

1 DOWN David Millar
He’s reinvented himself as an anti-doping advocate – and now reformed EPO user David Millar has inadvertently demonstrated the dangers of another easily available substance after he revealed exactly what he thinks of former teammate Bradley Wiggins. With the demon drug alcohol still in his system following the boozy launch of his autobiography, the hungover Garmin-Cervélo man told The Guardian’s Donald McRae that Wiggins’ lack of leadership skills has left Sky “pretty f***ed” and he would be “very surprised if [Wiggins] made the top 10 of the Tour again”. Ouch! Compare Millar’s admirably frank appraisal with his more circumspect verdict on Wiggo published the day before in the Independent (“I think the top 10 is realistic”) and the lesson becomes clear: don’t swig anything stronger than PSP22 the night before a big interview.

Dynamightgiveitamiss No.5: La Gazzetta Della Bolshie

March 14, 2011

UPDATE 19/05/11: It’s taken almost two months, but the Lambsters have finally found this post, and The Berk himself has responded on his blog and Twitter. Apparently I’ve accused him of exploiting his illness for financial gains, I’m a stalker, I want him to shut up and, er, I’m fat (ooh, you BITCH). Of course, none of these statements is even remotely true. Especially the stalker bit – I couldn’t think of anything worse than having to meet The Berk. But this is what angry, slightly dim people do: they make stuff up because they want a fight. And I don’t. Which is why, as I said in my original post, I’ve left the whole pointless world of Dynamoaning behind…

Simon Lamb is a berk. It’s an insult to anyone who is bipolar to dismiss them as simply mad or argue that they are never capable of behaving rationally, or that they have lost the ability to reflect on their actions and own up to their mistakes, so Simon Lamb’s berkishness has absolutely nothing to do with his well-documented condition. (Having said that, the charity Mind might want to consider the wisdom of promoting him in the press as an ambassador for the tolerance and understanding of mental health issues when he demonstrates so little of those two qualities towards those whose unhappiness differs from his own.) But he is unquestionably a berk, and he is a berk for many, many reasons. So if you don’t know or care who Lamb is, now is the moment to bail out of what is going to be a very long post…

For a start, Lamb is a berk because he earned himself a legal warning for branding a blameless journalist a racist without offering any evidence whatsoever to back up his claim. The British writer, he alleged, didn’t give Lamb’s banned hero Alexander Vinokourov a chance to explain himself – a bizarre claim in light of the Kazakh’s unwillingness to offer any sort of credible explanation for his positive doping test. And while I wouldn’t call Lamb a racist, I think he’s a massive berk for not considering that in comparison with the argument about Vino, most people are more likely to raise an eyebrow when a bloke casually uses the phrase “fucking Jews” while tweeting one of his mates.

There’s more, of course. Lots more. Lamb is a berk because he made an unfunny remark about how he would like to see Pat McQuaid die and didn’t apologise when the UCI president’s son politely complained. He’s a berk because his appropriation of a cancer foundation’s logo for his own glorification and, as it appeared to at least one casual observer, seemingly for his own financial gain, was spun into a sentimental story of little-guy-hits-back-at-humourless-legal-bad-guys with, preposterously, none other than Lance Armstrong lurking in the background. He’s a berk for casually mentioning that sales of his massage oils, while perfectly in line with the benefits system he relies on, have funded his sports massage course after originally claiming his website is “purely for my interest in cycling”. He’s a berk when you consider his lofty motto of “calm is the virtue of the strong” is hilariously at odds with the size of his hate list, which includes David Millar, a number of specialist sports magazines, a certain member of Kingston Wheelers cycling club, the Daily Mail and the BBC (surely a unique double-whammy), and, of course, his bete noir Armstrong. And he’s a berk for attacking Shutt Velo Rapide when the fledgling clothing manufacturer allegedly suffered quality control problems with his jerseys and he didn’t get his way on pricing and copyright issues. (Incidentally, Lamb’s beloved Rapha also had quality control issues in its early days which it resolved, and the company now occasionally sends him free gear to review. And the now-defunct website Lamb used to attack Shutt was Velocast, who seemed to be quite happy with their jerseys, which were made by none other than… Shutt Velo Rapide!)

Simon Lamb is a hopeless, floundering, fulminating berk for all of these reasons, and that is enough in itself for La Gazzetta Della Bici, a landfill site for his petty vendettas, cycling-based trivia and uncaptioned photos of dead sportsmen to make my list of things that are the absolute antithesis of this blog. (Incidentally, what kind of egotistical berk appropriates the name of a famous newspaper just to get a few more hits?) But for me, his biggest act of berkishness was when he found out where a complete stranger worked, sent him an abusive message, and accused him of saying something he didn’t. But I would say that, wouldn’t I? Because I was that stranger who stumbled unwittingly into the weird world of Simon Lamb, an angry man perpetually on the lookout for a fight, and in doing so falling far short of the high standards he sets for others.

In May last year, Lamb discovered I was a member of a cycling club he irrationally despises and used this as the flimsy basis to wrongly claim on Twitter that I wanted him to “shout” (sic) his mouth. (A lovely, prophetic irony: I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to shut his mouth – if I had a worst enemy – but I would love him to shout, and shout his mouth off for as long and as loudly as he could, just so he can prove to as many people as possible what a gigantic idiot he actually is.) The previous night, Lamb had blogged in characteristically intemperate and exaggerated terms about a friend of his who he claimed was bullied by a group of London Dynamo riders on the Parkride, the club’s regular Saturday morning outing in Richmond Park. At the time, Lamb had more than a thousand followers, and the link was retweeted at least a dozen times; understandably, then, there was much anger about the incident, particularly as Lamb’s friend and her mate were female and novices, while the Dynamo riders who were said to be shouting at them to move as they went past (which is what the alleged bullying amounted to) were apparently experienced riders and male.

There were just two problems: the specifics of the incident, in the terms Lamb described them, in all likelihood didn’t take place, and he wasn’t there at the time (to this day, no one seems to know who those Dynamos were). The woman, perhaps realising what had actually happened during those fraught moments at that particular road’s busiest time, or maybe concerned at Lamb’s disproportionate anger, apparently got him to call off the dogs after a few days of his unedifying swear-packed tweets, which he had used to propose a ludicrous theory that the majority of Dynamos let the minority get away with pushing around other riders – in other words, fostering a culture of bullying. Behind the scenes, a number of reasonably well-known London-based cycling bloggers were distancing themselves from Lamb’s remarks, and a respected journalist from a bike magazine (not the one he would later brand a racist) expressed his concerns, prompting Lamb to award him the sobriquet of… well, it begins with a “c” and he uses it a lot, so you can probably guess. But it was some subtle diplomacy from the guys who run the club that really did the trick – and so, without his friend to publicly back up his dramatic claims, Lamb turned down an offer to meet the Dynamo committee and removed all the relevant posts from his blog before tweeting a lame warning to the “cowards” in Richmond Park. Ironically, given his readiness to brand other people cowards, that tweet was also later deleted – a common occurrence in the world of Lamb, and the reason I began screengrabbing so many of them. Unfortunately, his deleted blog posts weren’t quite as perishable: they were picked up by another blog, which you can still find with a bit of googling.

London needs Dynamo, despite all its imperfections. Before it began, club cycling in the capital was a closed-off world to anyone who wanted to join the sport (I know because I was one of them), and its club rides still attract scores of cyclists of all abilities throughout the year. But to internet-dwelling wingnuts such as simple Simon, it matters little that Dynamo has welcomed hundreds of people into the sport he supposedly loves, helped them become decent cyclists, and become an actual, real-life community of friends. It also doesn’t matter to them that its committee acts as a means for ordinary cyclists to express their concerns to the authorities dealing with Richmond Park (you have LD partly to thank for partially resolving the horrid resurfacing) or that a committee member recently persuaded the owners of the much-loved MoD track in Chertsey to reopen it for a one-day trial run. Neither do they care that the club takes a very dim view when its members genuinely fail to ride with consideration and care for others. Lamb and others like him see the oft-quoted figure of 400 members and simply equate big with bad. Their attacks follow a tried-and-tested formula: make a false or exaggerated claim on the internet, maintain a level of anonymity by declining the offer of a face-to-face chat and a coffee (easy to set up, given that most of the friendly committee and the faceless complainants are both usually in Richmond Park on Saturday mornings) and fantasise about physically attacking a Dynamo or, in a particularly nasty case on the wretched Veloriders forum which has since been deleted, seeing one of them die. In the face of ever-increasing membership numbers, they also ignore a simple question: why haven’t members left the club in droves if they’re supposedly surrounded by a bunch of arrogant bastards? Wouldn’t you leave if that was the case? Maybe Dynamo has become big in a relatively short space of time because it’s friendly and well-run – or is that statement just too straightforward and logical to comprehend?

And whatever half-baked theory the haters propose, there are numerous sensible counter-arguments. Yes, I’m sure some Dynamos have shouted at other cyclists and switched wheels, but then I’ve witnessed riders from other teams and clubs do the same for years. Yes, poor bike handling has been a feature of LD rides, mainly because a greater proportion is inexperienced in comparison to other large clubs, yet Dynamo’s safety record in relation to the number of miles covered is nevertheless excellent. Yes, it can be intimidating when an experienced group of ‘Mos passes you at speed, even though they endeavour to do it safely – although for every rider who complains we’re going too fast, another will say we’re going too slow. And yes, Dynamos have, regrettably, sometimes been witnessed behaving aggressively when commuting, but then the blue, black and orange tops are a commoner sight than other clubs’ jerseys on London’s streets. (A pertinent, if somewhat vain fact: the look of Dynamo’s kit is one of the most popular reasons members give for joining, which could mean that in comparison with other similar-sized clubs, Dynamos are more likely to wear club colours when not riding with their clubmates.) In truth, Dynamos aren’t ruder than anyone else, nor is there a greater likelihood of them breaking the rules; there are just more of us, and we’re more conspicuous.

Lamb, however, differs in two respects from your typical Dynamo-hater. Firstly, he may not have only fantasised about violence, if his claim that he was a member of a group of football hooligans called the 6.57 crew is anything to go by. And secondly, he is now attempting to show us all how things should be done by starting his very own cycling club – and in the words of one of his internet chums which he was only to happy to use as promotion for his new venture, it’s the “polar opposite” of the outfit which has had such a Lambasting.

Men and women’s racing teams, strong representation at sportives, a website functioning as a virtual clubhouse, weekly club rides and members of all abilities (some of whom are based overseas), not to mention supporting good causes… Gruppo Sportivo Gazzetta’s list of aims is notably ambitious and, perhaps not co-incidentally, somewhat similar to what London Dynamo has already achieved along the way. Indeed, GS Gazzetta, to use its slightly less cumbersome appellation, also seems to share a core Dynamo value in the sense that Lamb realises the importance of having well-designed kit, although the pre-release photos reveal he’s played it a little too safe with an uninspired, Rapha-lite, white-on-black design. Nevertheless, the Gazzas do, as Lambster Tom claims in the above link, represent a real difference to the club I’ve been a member of since its inception, so much so that they may as well be called Not London Dynamo, which would at least be less of a mouthful. And the difference with Not London Dynamo is this: its two leaders, for all their enthusiasm, appear to be remarkably inexperienced riders. Having ridden myself with Lamb’s chum Teresa Houghton and spoken with a friend who rode the London to Paris with her, I would suggest that her focus on spin classes has had a detrimental effect on her ability to develop group riding skills. Lamb, meanwhile, had been riding for barely more than a year when he fractured his left arm and collarbone and wrote off his bike on Not London Dynamo’s first-ever ride last November. In terms of serious accidents per total miles travelled, the Gazzas immediately became a more crash-prone club than London Dynamo before it had even officially accepted its first membership application. Quite an achievement.

Contrast Not London Dynamo – essentially a group of strangers who met on the internet – with the pedigree of London Dynamo’s founders: an accomplished time trialist (Guy Andrews), a talented former BMXer (Russell Short) and a pretty handy road racer (Paul Callinan). That’s a huge range of skills to pass on, especially to the fat, clueless novice I used to be, and of much more practical use than, say, the ability to crow about owning Michael Barry’s hat collection. As far as I’m concerned, Not London Dynamo doesn’t deserve to call itself a cycling club unless it can develop skills and encourage safe riding, because that, essentially, is the true value of the club system. But I wouldn’t hold your breath: contradicting the official rules on the Gazzas’ site, Lamb himself apparently wants his “club” to ignore the two abreast formation fundamental to safe riding because they are supposed to be a “rabble”. He expressed this view a week after coming off, so his accident may have been caused by more than just an error on his part. If that’s the case, the haters will now have another bunch of riders to moan about, perhaps with good reason this time. If they don’t, well, there’s plenty of other reasons to take issue with Lamb, and that could be why he shut down his personal Twitter account a few weeks ago: get off the stage before the audience turns and the rotten tomatoes come flying your way…

I wrote all this for two reasons. Firstly, terms such as “bloody Dynamos” have become the equivalent of “bloody cyclists” for people who ride a bike but are now just as intransigent as the type of motorists all riders dislike, and while I no longer enjoy poking fun at these idiots for using the club I love as their personal punchbag, I couldn’t walk away from these pointless arguments for good without setting the record straight. Secondly, there is virtually no criticism of Lamb online, which is a marked contrast to many of the face-to-face conversations I’ve had during the past ten months, so I wanted to redress that balance in a small way on this little blog – and for the record, I honestly harbour no desire to rival Lamb’s online presence. Given his previous form, Lamb will probably resort to name-calling and dredge up aspects of my life that have little or nothing to do with cycling; maybe he’ll even trawl through my tweets and falsely reason that some of the opinions I express chiefly to my friends are the same as his targeted, vitriolic hate campaigns. But hey, that’s his call, and a measure of his class or lack of it. Either way, I’m not going to mention his name in these pages ever again, and this entry won’t be open for comments – I’ll leave the half-truths, backbiting and exaggerations for his blog.

If you want to support Mind, you can avoid the Gazzas by donating money to the organisation directly. As for supporting young riders, I would recommend you have a look at the John Ibbotson Fund, or maybe even consider entering its auction for Rouleur issue #1. And here’s a final thought to any Lamb fans – and there appears to be many of them – who believe he should remain beyond criticism because of what he’s been through: some defenders of Armstrong say much the same thing about their hero. Do you think, maybe, that Lamb is using mental health issues in a similar way but on a smaller scale to that which many think his hate-target uses cancer? Because if he is, then Lamb isn’t such a berk after all…