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Posts Tagged ‘Wiggo’

As I sit in the brothel that is Terminal 3, Heathrow, I can’t believe that my direct involvement with the London Olympics is done. When did that happen?? It felt like forever when I was first nominated to be physio, and still forever when I was confirmed. All of a sudden I was in London which was in the midst of cycling hysteria as Wiggo and Froomey had confirmed that they would be atop the podium at the Tour, and the Olympics were about to start.

The buzz in town was amazing: about the Olympics in general and British cycling in particular, and it was impossible to not be super excited about the whole shebang. Obviously the punish of security checks, red tape and heavy traffic was there to be dealt with, but the Games are just so big, you have to expect that sort of deal and it’s a very small price to pay for the general awesomeness of it all. Yes, awesomeness is not my finest descriptor from a “style” point of view, but it is from an “accuracy” angle.

20120803-194041.jpg The crowds were awesome for both races

As for the racing, despite the Cav-inspired and media-fanned beat-up about “negative” tactics, our boys were spot on in the Road Race. Is it now considered negative if you try and defeat the opposition in sport? I was unaware of this new concept of a team being negative by being in the break and attacking the peloton. Ridiculous.

That Stuey could muster a high finish despite being up the road for over 200km is a testament to the ability of the man. It was very cool seeing him go through his preparations on the morning of the race: he was clearly “on”. Little bit of fire in the eyes as the legend rolled out for what must have surely been his last Olympics (although you wouldn’t rule him out of the next ones!)

In the Time Trial Mick Rogers did brilliantly – that he cramped literally on the finish line and then couldn’t stand up after he got off his bike for more hamstring cramps shows that he went very deep on the day. Sixth place in both races was a great result for Australia and an impressive performance from our road cycling men. They rode to the limit of their abilities, and delivered very good (although not great) results. I feel proud to have been a part of the team.

20120803-194228.jpg Warm-up mode (in full aero kit)

As for Wiggo taking the win? It was brilliant being there. Not as huge a sound as Cathy Freeman’s 400m gold in Sydney, but it was fantastic to experience, and good to see an athlete perform to their absolute best when the Big Show rolled around. Well done to Wiggo, and to his team for getting his prep so perfectly right.

20120803-193812.jpg Wiggo rolling to the start.

And now? Back to Brisbane to see the Lions roll out the season: hopefully with a couple more wins!!

20120803-193528.jpg The time trial started at the beautiful Hampton Court Palace, and had ludicrous “hot seats” designed by Ali G. Someone was paid to come up with that idea people.

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Frodo And Sam - 800x534, 85kB

Froomey leading Wiggo uphill 1

Brad Wiggins and Chris Froome have shown that they are by far the best two riders in the Tour de France, being untouchable on both the mountains as well as on the time trials.  Liquigas and Vincenzo Nibali set the race up, giving it everything they could to make the race tough in the hope that the Sky boys would crack, but in the end, that just meant they had less work to do and could do more damage in the finale.

Alejandro Valverde streaked off the front with a well timed & orchestrated break early in the stage, but he wasn’t secure until the final km as Froomey and Wiggo were absolutely on the charge.

It was telling that at the 5km to go banner, Wiggo and Froomey were still comfortable enough to have a little chat and plan their final assault.  Basically, Wiggo completely head-wrecked every bloke still in the group.  He is the master of that sort of psychological warfare.

Who knows if Froomey could have bridged across to (and then outsprinted) Valverde, but he is now guaranteed to have achieved folkloric status in not making the attempt.  If there is one thing that both bike fans, and the British public love, it is the heroically selfless working man.  Froome is Sam Gamgee to Wiggo’s Frodo, which is mildly amusing, considering Wiggo was begged by the Garmin media person in 2009 to not call the tiny humans who are traditionally the best climbers hobbits.

Froome leading Wiggo uphill 2

Got to love it!  The two hobbits from Team Sky now have a couple of sprinter stages and a TT to survive, and they will stand on the top two steps of the podium on the Champs Elysees.  Brilliant stuff, and well done gents.

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Mountain passes & hills 2

5% average WITH a descent halfway up?? Eeeek!

Tonight is the stage that I have been looking forward to the most since I had a proper look at the various stage profiles back in early June.  It is a genuine belter!    The back end of the race includes an Hors Categorie climb immediately followed by a First Categorie climb.  The profile from today is reminiscent of the stage where Wiggo lost his place on the podium to Lance back in 2009, without the descent to the finish (so it’s even harder).

To be honest, Wiggo and Froomey have looked in control at all times, and I can’t see how they could fail to control everything again today.  Sky have been dominant, and all kudos to them.  However, this is sport, and there’s always a chance!

If there were a universal karmic balance-type of being out there, then it would be fair for Vincenzo Nibali to finally crack the two Sky lads at least once and at least gain a little bit of time on them.  He won’t get the overall win out of anything he does tonight, but he has been a great addition to the headlines of the race.  Tonight is his final shot at pulling this off, and I can’t imagine him doing anything other than going down all guns blazing.

For the win tonight, I’m on Scarponi – he finished with the grupetto yesterday, meaning he’s either sick as a dog, or was saving himself for tonight.  My money’s on the latter.  For second, I’m thinking Nibali, and third Froomey.

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We have had the next big mountain stage, and for Wiggo, there is only one left.  Only one more day where he will be threatened, and only one more man who is a threat.

Sadly, Cadel Evans’ shot at back to back Tour victories is done and dusted, if it wasn’t already.  On a truly massive day, where an enormous break got away early in the stage, the defending champ was in trouble on the earliest climbs, and only worsened through the day.  He had great help from his team, and did everything he could to stay in touch, but there is no hiding on the big hills.  If you’re a little bit off, you’re all the way done.

Thomas Voeckler again danced up the mountains with the grace of Peter Garret, eventually shimmying and shaking his way up the hills and dropping all of his rivals one by one through the stage.   He now holds the mountain jersey, and will likely hold it through to Paris.  Couple that with his two stage victories, and he has had almost as good a Tour this year as last.

Wiggo showed why he is the team leader of Sky today, taking the job over from Froomey when Nibali unleashed his assaults to shut everything down, and Wiggo is now borderline untouchable for the podium.  Tomorow will show if today hurt the Sky boys enough, but on form, it looks like Wiggo is home

Chapeau.

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Ok.  We’ve had our rest day, complete with (seemingly) obligatory drug bust, and we’re ready to dive into the final, defining week.  More on Frank’s positive later.

Now we see if the hard racing that has been inflicted upon the peloton has had any effect on Team Sky.  It certainly showed with the break staying away and Fedrigo winning the stage over Christian “VDV” Vandevelde (DAMN I wanted to see him win one!) before the rest.  If there was a stage that had “sprinter” written all over it, that was it, but Sky were in energy conservation mode, Lotto had drilled themselves into a deep hole two stages earlier for Greipel’s third win and have to look aftter VDB tonight; leaving GreenEdge with a lot of work a long way out.  Unsurprisingly, they chose to not chase.

The last time Wiggo was in this situation (although racing for 3rd, not 1st) was in 2009 when he eventually lost a lot of time to the Schlecks and Contador, and a little time to Lance on a tough mountain stage.  He had VDV doing amazing work then, and Froomey to do the job now, and we shall see if he’s been softened up by Nibali, Cadel, et  al, or if he’s still got more in the tank.   Seeing how meticulous Sky have been, you can only assume that he will come through this stage with flying colours.

The hope from Nibali and Cadel is that it is too hard to maintain amazing form for three weeeks of racing, and so Wiggo will be on the wane while they are both on the improve.  They thus will hope to make today intensely hard, with the expectation that even if he defends well today, he will be that much deeper in the hole tomorrow on an even tougher stage, and they will get the time they need then.

The big question will be if they crack Wiggo early, does Froomey go with the leaders, or stick with Wiggo.  I think it’ll be a moot point as Wiggo is on song, but if it were to happen, I reckon Froomey would have to leave Wiggo behind.

That’s for tomorrow – today, I’m on Nibali from VDB from Evans.

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Upholstery tacks?  Seriously?  Clearly my “Ugly Fans” rant was two days too soon.  The Tour is such a great spectacle partly because of the amazing numbers of fans lining the road.  Sadly it is a statistical certainty that with enough people in a group, you will have a number of imbeciles shouting hatred for their own stupid reasons, and another group of vandals risking other peoples’ lives and livelihoods for whatever reason: ideology, dumb self gratification, whatever.

It was shaping up to be a cool stage too: the break was doing what breaks do (I can’t believe Sagan dragged himself over the wall in touch with them all trying to drop him) and LL Sanchez eventually won himself the day with a very smart move a long way out from the finish line.

The cool bit was waiting to see what would be happening with the big shots having a go at each other on such a treacherous hill.  Sadly the end result was a stage very sportingly neutralised by Wiggo and Team Sky.

Sigh…

Tonight’s stage will be a sprint, and I reckon it’ll be Cav from Gossy from Greipel, and hopefully there will be no idiots taking it upon themselves  to become part of the race.

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Mountain passes & hills 2

It’s not called a wall for nothing!

Cadel Evans’ aggressive riding late in Stage 13, and the subsequent carnage and one day style “balls to the wall” racing has assured us of one thing this Tour: we don’t know what’s next!  Today is a day with two large climbs a long way out from the finish, the second including ramps up to 18%, and peaking some 40km from the finish.  The descent ends about 20km from the line, and the whole stage is right by the southern coastline again, bringing wind into the equation.  Interestingly, about 30 of the final 40km will likely have a good tailwind, then the final loop around the finish town of Foix is likely to have 6km of cross-tailwind followed by 6km of cross-headwind.  Weather like that puts 36km of less disadvantage to those in the break (if that makes sense) followed by a very tough final 6km, with advantage to the peloton.  That alone means tonight will see unpredictable racing, and undoubtedly Cadel will look to – at the very least – put the pressure on Wiggo, and at best pinch a bit of time.

This is a stage made for a successful break, but the way that BMC are racing at the moment, who knows what will happen.  Undoubtedly a couple of blokes will get up the road, but the chances of them staying there are less than would normally be the case thanks to the aggression of the Evans-led team.  But who knows??  The beauty of sport is encapsulated in those three words I reckon!

Gerrans from Pineau (not Pinot) from Scarponi

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