Posts Tagged ‘TdF’

An easy job and blowing someone else’s trumpet

July 22, 2016

A couple of fun gigs came my way recently. The first was a trip to Ibiza to write a feature for The Sun about easyJet’s new cycling holiday packages. Two of my ride companions were former England rugby player Austin Healey and his chum Andrew Ridgeley from Wham! (that’s them with me in the above picture taken by David Oxberry) who were completing a 1,000-mile fundraising trek for the Lawrence Dallaglio Foundation. You never know who you’re going to meet when you turn up for a group ride, but it will take me a while to top that particular combination. My piece appeared in Sunday’s paper and you can read it here.

lmnhbugle

My second surprise came when Look Mum No Hands! proprietor and erstwhile Dynamo Sam Humpheson asked me to do a few rewrites and headlines for a mini-newspaper he was putting together, the bulk of which I managed to complete while in Ibiza. The freesheet is chiefly an introduction to the Old Street and Brixton cafes for new customers at Look Mum’s pop-up on the Southbank, so grab a copy if you’re heading there or to the two main sites to watch the final stages of the Tour this weekend.

 
The paper is called The LMNH Bugle, which I think trumpets its knockabout tone perfectly. Jen came up with the name when I told her I couldn’t think of one. She doesn’t like to blow her own bugle, so I’m doing it for her.

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Bontrager’s Bullshitter

July 14, 2016
Embed from Getty Images

Jasper Stuyven, above, and other members of Trek-Segafredo’s Tour de France team are wearing a helmet called the Ballista.

Bontrager says the name comes from an ancient Greek missile launcher. Unfortunately, it appears that “ballista” is also the Italian word for… bullshitter.

We all know some firms use exotic-sounding names to imbue their products with a bogus authenticity. But could this be the first instance of a company, unwittingly or not, acknowledging that practice?

If the crash hat fits…

Why Chris Froome might not win the Tour de France

June 14, 2013

Chris Froome is likely to win the Tour de France because he has won this year’s edition of the Dauphiné. If you crunched the numbers and analyzed the manner of his victory, that might turn out to be an accurate prediction. Purely from a historical perspective, though, the opposite is true: Froome is unlikely to win in July, chiefly because he won in June and has never won the Tour before.

Only Luis Ocaña (1973), Bernard Thévenet (1975) and Bradley Wiggins (2012) have won the Dauphiné and claimed their first or solitary TdF victory in the same year. That’s three riders in the 66-year history of the Dauphiné, with a 37-year gap between the second and third. And the notion of the Dauphiné as a harbinger of a debut Tour win becomes even flimsier when you consider that Ocaña, a winner of the Dauphiné on two previous occasions, had the advantage of Eddy Merckx’s absence from the ’73 Tour.

I want Froome to win this year. I would also like him to take at least two more Tour wins. Because if he does, he will have bested Thevénet’s achievement of being the only member of this select Dauphiné-Tour club to take a second Tour de France victory.

A Level-Headed Analysis Of The Great Publishing Mystery Of 2006

July 8, 2011

It’s Tour time, and that can mean only one thing: everyone is making light-hearted observations about cyclists, regardless of whether they like cycling or not. Not me, though. I’m all out of funny this week, thanks to a chronic lack of sleep, an influx of extra-curricular work and probably the biggest IT disaster I’ve ever experienced in an office environment (you don’t want to know – trust me). So I won’t be joining in with the TdF ROFL-fest, thankyouverymuch. Instead, like Romain Feillu frantically running backwards while trying to flag down a team car, I am going to draw attention to myself by going in the opposite direction. That’s right: in the grand tradition of the internets, I shall now take a serious, analytical look at a phenomenon and then blame it all on a convenient scapegoat.

My Big, Serious Analysis relates to the circulations of three cycling magazines over a decade-long period. I spotted the figures sellotaped to the wall of a certain well-known cycling brand’s office more than a year ago, so I immediately took a photo and promptly forgot about it until I found the picture languishing on our hard drive last week. I’m not going to tell you which office it was, but anyone can probably get these figures quite easily. I should mention, however, that I don’t have an association, paid or otherwise, with any of these magazines.

That's it – squint. Or click to make it bigger. It's up to you.

I’ll ignore the mountain bike mags on the right as I don’t know a ruddy thing about them. What interests me are the three road titles: Cycling Plus (Men’s Health on wheels), Cycle Sport (professional cycling news) and Cycling Weekly (a mishmash of the two, with a dash of domestic racing coverage). At first glance, their fortunes seem as divergent as their subject matter. By 2009, Future Publishing’s Cycling Plus had more than doubled its circulation of 2000. The industry’s technical term for this is: HOLY CHRIST. By contrast, IPC’s Cycle Sport lost almost a quarter of its readership in the same period. The industry’s technical term for this is also: HOLY CHRIST. Yet perhaps more surprising is Cycle Sport’s sister mag Cycling Weekly, whose figures have held remarkably steady. So much for its supposed terminal decline – but you can’t believe everything you read on internet forums, can you?

But now look at what happens in 2006. C+ experiences an annual year-on-year increase of only 0.61% while CS loses a whopping 10.53% – but CW goes up 7.16%. All of these are record numbers for the period. So what the flipping hell happened in ’06 to cause these weird jolts?

Well, it was the first full year of Lance Armstrong’s retirement 1.0, which probably explains why CS’s decline only begins in ’06 (sales were steady up until then, with a healthy rise in ’04). But it was also the year Floyd Landis, er, finished the Tour in the fastest time. Post-Tour editions proclaimed him the winner, but he had already tested positive by the time the copies left the printers. (If I remember correctly, even C+ put Landis on the front – an unusual move, given that its cover stars are usually anonymous amateurs.) The internet had made bike mags seem out-of-date before, but never quite so conspicuously, and I think some readers, particularly those of CS, may have been turned away for good. But perhaps some of them also picked up CW more frequently to find out the latest on the twists and turns of his case, which would at least explain the magazine’s biggest annual circulation rise during the decade.

So there you have it. Everything is Floyd’s fault. And Lance’s. Or maybe not. Perhaps it’s fairer to say that big cycling stars can have wildly varying and unpredictable effects on each magazine’s circulation – and there’s nothing mags can do about it unless they choose to ignore them. Which is what, by and large, C+ seems to have done.

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.