Go Rafal go

Go Rafal go

Non-Grimpeur’s Revenge

by / / 40 posts

It’s a little late to be writing about the road races in Rio…but gawd damn, they were both so good that I can’t help it. Chapeau to the designer of the course, especially the finale. A very tough climb followed by an equally tough descent followed by an utterly flat but long run-in to the finish. Who knew it would produce two dramatic finishes? A one day race without big strong trade teams to control the action; there were some favorites but no sure winners. A friend who knows nothing about cycling watched both races and he could not stop talking about them. They were that good. I don’t ever need to see Annemiek Van Vleuten’s crash in slow-motion again. Thank the baby jesus she may have escaped without serious damage as that was one horrific way to stop a bike- with your face. I’ve seen no post-race interviews with Nibali but him sitting on the curb as the tv moto came by spoke volumes.

Was I happy as Rafal Majka scooted along the waterfront, safely down off the descent, heading for a solo gold medal? No, I was not. Nothing personal Rafal, I just didn’t want a climber to win this. It’s the same with Mara Abbott, I’m sure she would have been a worthy winner but damn it, a reedy climber off the front, on the flat, kilometers between her and the finish. Someone has to chase that climber down. It’s the non-grimpeur’s revenge. Once a climber isn’t climbing, they need to be hunted down. If climbers start winning too many races on the flats, well, it’s all over, isn’t it?

If Van Avermaet or Anna VDB were off the front with the same gap, they would have lasted to the finish, and I would have been cheering them on.

// Racing // Rantings from the V-Bunker

  1. As a brazilian rider I thank you for the velominatious way of writing about those races. Cool, elegant, sharply precise. The parcour is really tough. I bid fellow cyclists all over the world can make it once in their lifetimes. I made a bike movie there once, if you feel like watching it, I’d be honoured:

    https://vimeo.com/alexandrecruz/rio

  2. @Alexandre Cruz

    beauty video, thanks for sharing

  3. The men’s race was exciting almost from the start. Gotta love how the mechanics didn’t prep the bikes as they would have for P-R and bottles were getting ejected, saddles slipping, riders tumbling. Craziness from the gun.

    Those climbing circuits were amazing as well. I don’t like to see people crashing, but damn…holding your breath around the corners, can’t see ahead, moto comes around and BOOM, another rider down, then another. And if Nibali goes down, you know that shit is real. Real tough.

    I’ve been thinking about it. I can’t recall seeing Nibali ever crash. (Wiscot or Oli…care to remind my memory banks?) And not to curse him, but I think that leaves Sagan as the only rider way up there at the top that I’ve never seen hit the deck. The moto hitting him doesn’t count, nor will crashing, if he does, in the mtn. race tomorrow.

    Yup, the VMHs friend, who is of Dutch ancestry, wrote me a long email, saying how awesome the races were and how crazy that crash was. Both races were GREAT. I really like Greg VA, happy to see him win.

    And talk about prestige and being a good teammate. Marianne went crazy at the line and was thrilled for her teammate and then there was the young Belgian guy who couldn’t stop crying. So damn cool to see that passion.

    And gotta give a shout out to Michael Kwiatkowski for that fucking ride. Strong showing outta that guy.

  4. @Ron

    TdF a distant memory?

  5. @Alexandre Cruz

    Nice video. Is that a dedicated cycling route with the road markings?

  6. @Alexandre Cruz

    As a brazilian rider I thank you for the velominatious way of writing about those races. Cool, elegant, sharply precise. The parcour is really tough. I bid fellow cyclists all over the world can make it once in their lifetimes. I made a bike movie there once, if you feel like watching it, I’d be honoured:

    https://vimeo.com/alexandrecruz/rio

    Wow! I was expecting a Go Pro video but that is exceptional work. Thank you for sharing. If I am not mistaken the riders in your film approached the summit from the other side than the Olympians?

  7. @Alexandre Cruz

    Very cool video and use of drones. Love the kits too. And I know I’d seen that logo somewhere…

  8. @Alexandre Cruz

    Very cool.

  9. @Alexandre Cruz

    Fantastico!

    Races were amazing too, my heart sunk when I saw Nibali drying the road with his back but it was oh-so-great to see GVA cross the finish line first.

    I almost didn’t miss seeing Sagan in there, and that’s says a something.

  10. @Alexandre Cruz

    As a brazilian rider I thank you for the velominatious way of writing about those races. Cool, elegant, sharply precise. The parcour is really tough. I bid fellow cyclists all over the world can make it once in their lifetimes. I made a bike movie there once, if you feel like watching it, I’d be honoured:

    https://vimeo.com/alexandrecruz/rio

    Wow, that is a beautiful looking movie. Rio looks like an awesome city set into the coastal mountains, yes, I’d go there, hopefully with a bike. Nice work AC.

  11. @Teocalli

    TdF a distant memory?

    I’m not sure that counts. Those white lines must have been mixed with teflon fairy dust and I think Froome got in da shark’s way.

  12. @Teocalli

    Not really, it’s a public road. Open for cars and small trucks/buses. Look for “Estrada da Tijuca” and “Estrada das Paineiras”.

  13. @pedro

    @Alexandre Cruz

    Fantastico!

    Races were amazing too, my heart sunk when I saw Nibali drying the road with his back but it was oh-so-great to see GVA cross the finish line first.

    I almost didn’t miss seeing Sagan in there, and that’s says a something.

    Yeah, I was stoked to see that Belgian blue jersey on the top step. Not many were expecting that.

  14. @Rick

    You’re absolutely right Rick. The Vista Chinesa climb, from the other side.

    Tks.

  15. @Gianni

    @Teocalli

    TdF a distant memory?

    I’m not sure that counts. Those white lines must have been mixed with teflon fairy dust and I think Froome got in da shark’s way.

    Isn’t that a bit like saying “I’m on a diet but cream cake does not count”?

  16. Nice video. As far as I’m concerned, this a hi-res copy of this still should be blown up and turned into a poster. Awesome shot.

  17. @Gianni

    @pedro

    @Alexandre Cruz

    Fantastico!

    Races were amazing too, my heart sunk when I saw Nibali drying the road with his back but it was oh-so-great to see GVA cross the finish line first.

    I almost didn’t miss seeing Sagan in there, and that’s says a something.

    Yeah, I was stoked to see that Belgian blue jersey on the top step. Not many were expecting that.

    No, not many. I did and assume that my gold medal is in the post?

  18. Gianni,

    I was rooting against Majka in the men’s race but was unsure why. I have nothing against the fine Polish rider but somehow the specter of his winning gold did not seem right. Perhaps your fine prose explains those feelings.However, Mara Abbott being a compatriot I was rooting like hell for her to hang on.

    Bike racing can be incredibly cruel and somehow it seems fitting that all arounders won both races. Although perhaps a bit dangerous, the course was well designed. I hope to see more Olympic courses integrate climbs in the future. Although I believe that I read the road race in Tokyo will be pancake flat…..sigh.

  19. Truth. I wanted Mara to win because she is American and Rafal to win because he’s Polish (as are a quarter of my family), but the rush one gets tracking down a climber once the gravity advantage ends, makes my 91kg frame erupt with the truest joy.

  20. @Rick

    However, Mara Abbott being a compatriot I was rooting like hell for her to hang on.

    Being Dutch and hence compatriot to Annemiek van Vleuten, you can imagine I was rooting for Anna vdB, especially after Annemieke’s “sacrifice”. If it’s of any consolation for you, I was in NY when the match was on.

    More or less similar situation: when Dumoulin did not win gold on the ITT, I was still happy that Spartacus won since I live in Switzerland. Guess I try to see glasses half full? Still trying to find good footage of the ITT but also the men’s road race, both of which I missed.

  21. Gianni, Rick; Make me plus one for rooting against Majka. In my case it’s because I’d heard and read a few recent comments alluding to him being a bit egotistical, but in a denigrating way. That appears to have been enough for me to take against him. I can live with “I’m great” (if it’s founded in truth), but really dislike “I’m great and you’re shit by comparison”.

  22. Oh man, I had forgotten that slide out from Nibali.

    I guess my comment did curse Sagan in the mtn. race with his flat. As I don’t watch mtn. races…why isn’t there more than one spot to get a wheel? Seems kinda crazy that you flat and your race is completely over! Can happen in road if it’s really close to the line, but rarely ruins a whole race/stage.

    Also, why not a pit bike? They changed Sagan’s wheel. Seems like Specialized would have given him as many bikes as he wanted.

  23. @KogaLover

    For decent coverage after the fact, go to http://olympics.cbc.ca hopefully it isn’t region blocked, and you can enjoy the awesome coverage we had up in the Great White North.

  24. @Steve Trice

    Gianni, Rick; Make me plus one for rooting against Majka. In my case it’s because I’d heard and read a few recent comments alluding to him being a bit egotistical, but in a denigrating way. That appears to have been enough for me to take against him. I can live with “I’m great” (if it’s founded in truth), but really dislike “I’m great and you’re shit by comparison”.

    A few years ago Majka was winking at the camera as he was dropping everyone else on some TdF climb, enroute to gaining the dotty jumpa. It made me wary of him, like Ricardo Ricco wary but there is no evidence of that. Still, enough with the winking while dropping everyone.

  25. @Gianni

    @Steve Trice

    Gianni, Rick; Make me plus one for rooting against Majka. In my case it’s because I’d heard and read a few recent comments alluding to him being a bit egotistical, but in a denigrating way. That appears to have been enough for me to take against him. I can live with “I’m great” (if it’s founded in truth), but really dislike “I’m great and you’re shit by comparison”.

    A few years ago Majka was winking at the camera as he was dropping everyone else on some TdF climb, enroute to gaining the dotty jumpa. It made me wary of him, like Ricardo Ricco wary but there is no evidence of that. Still, enough with the winking while dropping everyone.

    While racing on a team managed by Riis & backed by Tinkov? I believe that’s known as grounds for suspicion…

  26. @Ron

    UCI Rules for XCO:

    4.2.046 Authorised technical assistance during a race consists of repairs to or the replacement of any part of the bicycle other than the frame. Bike changes are not permitted and the rider must cross the finish line with the same handlebar number plate that he had at the start.

    A buddy of mine, David Rosa, was competing, ended up with his rear wheel shaped like an 8 in the second lap while running 14th and moving up the ranks. The dude ran through the hardest part of the course carrying his ailing bicycle all the way to the technical area just to get a new wheel and stay in the race. It’s not like the course was a nicely paved road, these aren’t exactly featherweight road bikes and aside from his guns, the man is one tiny motherfucker.

    This cannot possibly qualify as a Rule #42 violation. If anything it is a heartbreaking application of Rulke 4. Froomey abandoned his bike and ran away from his replacement ride, my friend desperately ran towards help carrying his fatally wounded bike.

    It is my biggest gripe with XCO, that so many races are decided by technical issues and not due to strict enforcement and of Rules #5 and #10.

  27. @pedro

    D Rosa – were his parents cyclists?

  28. @Teocalli

    Not that I know of. At least not at any relevant level. I’m talking about David Rosa, Portuguese mountain biker, perhaps you are thinking of Diego Rosa, the Italian currently riding for Astana?

  29. @pedro

    @Teocalli

    Not that I know of. At least not at any relevant level. I’m talking about David Rosa, Portuguese mountain biker, perhaps you are thinking of Diego Rosa, the Italian currently riding for Astana?

    *watches as the joke zooms over Pedro’s head…*

    D Rosa. As in De Rosa.

  30. @RobSandy

    Thanks – I was working out how to reply.

  31. @Teocalli

    @RobSandy

    Thanks – I was working out how to reply.

    dammit.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-k3a8CxQ8E

  32. Damn, that was a nicely done video. Tell us more about the teenager riding with them!

    Also, any concern about hearing from Run DMC’s lawyers? Our local running club also has appropriated that logo, but they ain’t nearly as big as BMC..

    Thanks, Pedro. Yes, pretty crazy that a flat can cost you a race entirely. But, I did read some discussion and apparently picking your lines, picking your tires, and pressure are all key skills for mtn. racing. With Sagan not being full-time, some said maybe he’s lacking in these areas.

  33. @Ron

    Tks, Ron. The teen is Gabriel, amateur cyclist. That peloton was formed by amateurs supported (at that time) by BMC Brazil. Actually, the “Ride BMC” logo is part of the corporate design and it was used by BMC Switzerland itself on stickers, tees and so on. So I just used it. If someone lawsuits me … well. I just don’t know what to say. :S

  34. @SamV

    Hey, it’s a really good Idea, Sam. Max rez it would be video HD (1920×1080 pixels @72dpi), wich is not that good for printing a big poster.

    Maybe a cool pic?

    Thanks!

  35. @Marko

    Thank you, Marko. The city really helps a lot making it beautiful.

    :D

  36. @Gianni

    @Alexandre Cruz

    As a brazilian rider I thank you for the velominatious way of writing about those races. Cool, elegant, sharply precise. The parcour is really tough. I bid fellow cyclists all over the world can make it once in their lifetimes. I made a bike movie there once, if you feel like watching it, I’d be honoured:

    https://vimeo.com/alexandrecruz/rio

    Wow, that is a beautiful looking movie. Rio looks like an awesome city set into the coastal mountains, yes, I’d go there, hopefully with a bike. Nice work AC.

    Thanks, Gianni. As I said, an honor you guys taking time to watch it. If you get to come over, let me know and I will travel there, set up a peloton with local buddies and we shall roll!

  37. @Oli

    @Alexandre Cruz

    Very cool.

    Thanks, Oli.

  38. @Ron

    The men’s race was exciting almost from the start. Gotta love how the mechanics didn’t prep the bikes as they would have for P-R and bottles were getting ejected, saddles slipping, riders tumbling. Craziness from the gun.

    Those climbing circuits were amazing as well. I don’t like to see people crashing, but damn…holding your breath around the corners, can’t see ahead, moto comes around and BOOM, another rider down, then another. And if Nibali goes down, you know that shit is real. Real tough.

    I’ve been thinking about it. I can’t recall seeing Nibali ever crash. (Wiscot or Oli…care to remind my memory banks?) And not to curse him, but I think that leaves Sagan as the only rider way up there at the top that I’ve never seen hit the deck. The moto hitting him doesn’t count, nor will crashing, if he does, in the mtn. race tomorrow.

    Yup, the VMHs friend, who is of Dutch ancestry, wrote me a long email, saying how awesome the races were and how crazy that crash was. Both races were GREAT. I really like Greg VA, happy to see him win.

    And talk about prestige and being a good teammate. Marianne went crazy at the line and was thrilled for her teammate and then there was the young Belgian guy who couldn’t stop crying. So damn cool to see that passion.

    And gotta give a shout out to Michael Kwiatkowski for that fucking ride. Strong showing outta that guy.

    Ron,

    Bottomline is: you’re right.

    Almost all riders took their chance of reconnaissance. Many friends of mine from Rio helped or tried to suck their wheels in the days before The Day. I mean, the athletes knew what they were doing, but the competition is a completely different animal. And there are things particularly different over here:

    -climate: really hot even on winter and REALLY humid (check accuweather). this makes the roads in those climbs slippery 24/7 as leaves keep falling from the trees, and moss forms naturally.

    – tarmac quality: not poor but way worst than that. Plenty of irregularities, all kinds of holes, small and not so small bumps. Ad all that to a world class competition braking situation…

    – road furniture: I hear some journalists complained about the big (how should I say, I’m not sure about the translation) “border’ were the dutch female athlete fell. That thing is there because it rains a lot, specially during our summer. If that thing didn’t exist, the road would be full of mud and debris. Anyway it’s freaking dangerous place to hit.

    – the Vista Chinesa is very steep, very technical descend. Please take time to analize it on Strava: https://www.strava.com/segments/explore#location/Vista%20Chinesa,%20Rio%20de%20Janeiro,%20RJ,%20Brasil/type/cycling/min/0/max/5/surface/undefined/center/-22.970061,-43.259082/zoom/14/map_type/terrain

    All that maybe had to do with the abundant crashes.

    Cheers

  39. @Randy C

    @Alexandre Cruz

    Very cool video and use of drones. Love the kits too. And I know I’d seen that logo somewhere…

    Ah, yes, Randy. The BMC version of the logo It’s not my creation, it is something BMC Switzerland uses. I just work here, hehehe :P

    Once I was in US using the shirt with this logo. I was in a McDonald’s line and this dude came asking me questions. It turned out he was a fan of the band. I almost had to apologize…

  40. @Alexandre Cruz

    Ah damn. I would have paid for that, too.

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