Velominati Super Prestige: Flèche Wallonne Femmes 2012

Velominati Super Prestige: Flèche Wallonne Femmes 2012

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During the Ronde von Vlaanderen, we of the 2012 Keeper’s Spring Classic Tour were right on the Oude Kwaremont climb as the women big-ringed it up the cobbles. Kristin Armstrong (US Women’s Team) was burying herself to get on Judith Arndt’s (Greenedge) wheel. It looked like the winning break was going right in front of our eyes. Seeing professional cyclists in action is always a humbling experience and seeing these women was no exception. Damn, these women looked great: fit, strong, awesome and crushing the Oude Kwaremont in the Ronde. They must have been jazzed too, anyone who gets to race these fabled climbs must get a buzz storming up, urged on by the massive throng of beer infused Belgian fans.

They will be doing it again on the Mur de Huy on Wednesday. Will they be as psyched to crush that climb? Perhaps the winner will but everyone else might find it a bit too steep the second time around. This year’s course is 123km, 13.5km longer than last year’s with two ascents of the Mur de Huy. Marianne Vos (Rabobank) was sick for the Ronde but she is the heavy favorite having won Flèche Wallonne Femmes only the last four times. Stay on her wheel until the final 30 meters and pop by for the win. How hard can that be? Bloody impossible judging from her previous record yet betting against Armstrong, Arndt or Pooley seems foolhardy.

It’s cheating to look at Cyclop’s picks. He obviously sold his soul to the devil, that might be cheating, I’m not sure. The betting office window closes early Wednesday morning so do your worst. Here is the start list.

// Velominati Super Prestige

  1. @Fausto

    Bah. Didn’t notice my iPhone had autocorrected Vos to Via. Had her down for the win though, so it only cost me a point.

    Dispute your pick and we’ll correct it.

    @Buck Rogers

    @Fausto

    Bah. Didn’t notice my iPhone had autocorrected Vos to Via. Had her down for the win though, so it only cost me a point.

    Damn, Man, you’re pulling down the Launterne Rouge on this race, that’s cooler than one point, right? (and bloody i-Product’s “autocorrect” function has screwed me up sooo many times. Is there anyway to turn that crap off?)

    Yes, go into your settings and turn it off!

  2. @eightzero

    Respectfully disagree. The athlete freed from all the mundane everyday distractions will find it easier to get on the bike and find more determination. Exceptions?

    Every Pro is no more distracted by these things than you or I are by them in doing our own jobs. It is their job to train and race, just as it is your job to do whatever you do from 9-5.

    There are very few who are free from worry about bills and mortgages, and in all likelihood, many of the male stars you admire make way more money than she does and have much less to worry about financially. Better scrap the top 15% of the elite field, including people like Merckx who made a very healthy living from Cycling!

  3. @frank
    Ahhh, thanks Frank, my complete stone age computer knowledge is showing. Now how much do I owe you for the tech support? You guys make around $100 bucks an hour, right?

  4. @frank

    @eightzero

    Respectfully disagree. The athlete freed from all the mundane everyday distractions will find it easier to get on the bike and find more determination. Exceptions?

    Every Pro is no more distracted by these things than you or I are by them in doing our own jobs. It is their job to train and race, just as it is your job to do whatever you do from 9-5.

    There are very few who are free from worry about bills and mortgages, and in all likelihood, many of the male stars you admire make way more money than she does and have much less to worry about financially. Better scrap the top 15% of the elite field, including people like Merckx who made a very healthy living from Cycling!

    Not my point at all. The other stars, male or female, in any sport rightfully wear the laurels of the success they have achieved as competitors. My only point is that how they got to be pros is important to me. That they win prize money, or pro contracts is all fine and good. I am glad for them, as more reward is good for us all. It means more opportunity to see more races, more incentive for hardworking but disadvantaged athletes to dream and compete, and fairly, for companies (like the Prophet’s) to see opportunity to bring us great products for our own use. But I want to see competition, and fairness is important to me. Money corrupts everything. That the money comes in as a reward for succeeding in a fair competition is a different issue. To me. My. Opinion. Only.

    To paraphrase another, “I like sport. I’m friends with some guys that own some expensive teams.”

  5. @Buck Rogers
    It took me about 1000 hours to figure it out for you…

    @eightzero
    Fundamentally continue to not understand what you’re after. She didn’t buy her way into a contract, she started as a Cat 5, then became a Cat 4, then 3, 2, 1 and earned a Pro contract and is now fighting it out with the likes of Vos who started as a Cat 5, then became a Cat 4, then 3, 2, 1 and earned a Pro contract.

    But it doesn’t matter, I’ve been known to have the odd flawed opinion on why to dis/like a rider, and thats the beauty of Sport, we get to like who we want for whatever reasons. And I’m also with you on being after the underdog. Its just in this case I’ve got no idea what you’re on about.

  6. @frank
    He means that someone who has money to start with has more time to train.

  7. @frank

    @Buck Rogers
    It took me about 1000 hours to figure it out for you…

    @eightzero
    Fundamentally continue to not understand what you’re after. She didn’t buy her way into a contract, she started as a Cat 5, then became a Cat 4, then 3, 2, 1 and earned a Pro contract and is now fighting it out with the likes of Vos who started as a Cat 5, then became a Cat 4, then 3, 2, 1 and earned a Pro contract.

    But it doesn’t matter, I’ve been known to have the odd flawed opinion on why to dis/like a rider, and thats the beauty of Sport, we get to like who we want for whatever reasons. And I’m also with you on being after the underdog. Its just in this case I’ve got no idea what you’re on about.

    That’s how they all work. Back in the day, I toed up next to Chris Horner, who was making his way thru the USCF system (now USA Cycling). Same with neo-pro Jacob Rathe (Garmin). Raced with him a lot last season.
    My uncle was roommates at Stanford with Eric Heiden. Don’t think I didn’t try to use that connection to go to Motorola training camp. Of course it doesn’t work like that.

  8. @frank
    Best thing about this site: the respect we all have for others, and our varied opinions on our shared passion. Chapeau to all; I defer to The Keepers to have the last word.

    And in @Cyclops’ words: “be on the lookout for a package, Frank.” Isn’t anywhere near as cool as what he sent, but it should be coming your way next week. I’d deliver it in person, but I have to work. My day job you know.

  9. I think it takes balls to quit a well paying job, give up the health plan, stop contributing further to retirement funds, or buy a house, etc, etc, just to race bikes. Much less for a woman as women’s racing, pro or not, doesn’t get near the prize, sponsorship or contract money that the men’s side does. Even most of the pro men aren’t financially secure after their racing careers. Making a left turn after college and quitting a career to race bikes, holds just as much romanticism as the kid racing his/her way out of factory job life to me.

  10. I think it’s largely about distance covered & odds overcome on the way to success. Someone from a very humble background has a great deal to overcome & that makes it easy to cheer for them when they succeed. They’re an underdog! The person from a privileged background doesn’t have the deck stacked against them; if they lose, they have a great deal to fall back on. Against all odds, or against some odds?

    Yes, the distance covered on the bike might be the same in terms of catting up, but the distance covered in life is not the same. Quitting your day job is always risky, but the level of risk is surely related to your (of your family’s) bank account.

    This happens in other sports too. A lot of folks don’t like or think that Kaka, the footballer, isn’t more liked because he came from a privileged background. Many other Brasilian footballers came from dire poverty and had to overcome many more obstacles along the way to success.

    I think some folks just find it easier to rejoice in the success of underdogs.

  11. @eightzero
    Haha! What a funny point of view! It’s a kind of reverse snobbery…

    You have little to no idea of how most of today’s cyclists come up through the ranks, and the myth of the hard working man of the soil/escaping the pit is, on the whole, just that; a myth.

    In modern times (i.e. since the 50s probably) it takes a certain level of financial wherewithall to even contemplate an international cycling career, as riders travel with their expensive bikes to races to even get noticed enough to pull down their first sponsorship, etc., etc.

    I’m sure there are lazy and less motivated privileged riders, as there are hard-working and motivated poor riders, but I’d suggest the reverse was also true if you take off your massive generalisation goggles and see you don’t live in some Dickensian fantasy land.

  12. Jeez – someone with more money doesn’t deserve the results that they achieved with their time in the Pain Cave. HTFU and pull a Brian on them. Get sponsorship. Take their job.

  13. @Oli

    @eightzero
    Haha! What a funny point of view! It’s a kind of reverse snobbery…

    You have little to no idea of how most of today’s cyclists come up through the ranks, and the myth of the hard working man of the soil/escaping the pit is, on the whole, just that; a myth.

    In modern times (i.e. since the 50s probably) it takes a certain level of financial wherewithall to even contemplate an international cycling career, as riders travel with their expensive bikes to races to even get noticed enough to pull down their first sponsorship, etc., etc.

    I’m sure there are lazy and less motivated privileged riders, as there are hard-working and motivated poor riders, but I’d suggest the reverse was also true if you take off your massive generalisation goggles and see you don’t live in some Dickensian fantasy land.

    A+1.

  14. Woohoo points!! have been flying through the night so had to make sure I got my picks in early and that has really paid off. Maybe I’ll get back into this VSP after all!

  15. @Oli

    @eightzero
    …the myth of the hard working man of the soil/escaping the pit is, on the whole, just that; a myth.

    And those that did probably had a bit of a helping hand along the way, near subsistence farmers don’t just go out and buy bikes on the off chance that they might make it. From memory, both Anquetil and Coppi both had bikes brought for them by richer relatives.

  16. There is a good interview with Evelyn Stevens on Velo News here. Before I open myself up to potential scorn and public floggings I want to lay a few things down. I think woman cyclists and woman racers, in particular, are awesome. I mean come on, is there anything cooler that to see a woman lay down the V and put the hurt on some Fred full of testosterone out on the road? I was on a ride last year on a long climb and a woman that recently started riding with us couldn’t get her chain to drop down in the little ring so she just rode away from me in the big ring. Awesome! The CAT 3 that I train with was at a time trial in Boise, ID recently and he was telling me how he was turning himself inside out when Kristen Armstrong goes blowing by him like he was standing still. Awesome!

    Here is where I want to look into something that has been vexing me recently. When it comes to cycling, and racing in particular, I’m a hard core idolater. There is a stack of about 20 magazines – everything from Rouleur to Peloton to Pro Cycling to Cycle Sport, etc. on my nightstand and I have noticed a recent trend in women lamenting the lack of support they receive from sponsors, the UCI, etc. Liz Hatch stated in an interview that she is retiring because there is no support for women’s racing and she can’t make a living at it. In another magazine a reader wrote in congratulating the editors for recognizing that the best cyclist in the world is a woman – Marianne Vos. This is where the vexation comes in for me. There are millions of men across the face of the globe that will never see the light of a CAT 3 peloton let alone a pro peloton. They train long, hard hours. They are committed to the sport. They pour their hard earned paychecks for their 40 hour a week jobs into going to race but the level of those at the highest level is so high that all they can hope for is free set of tires here and there. Yet a cursory glance at the bulk of interviews and rider’s bios from the women of the sport usually have a statement that goes along the lines of something like this – “I started riding six months ago and decided to turn pro…” Really? It’s that easy for a woman to hit the “highest level” in our sport? Evelyn Stevens was sitting at a desk on Wall Street a couple of years ago and now she’s beating Marianne Vos and probably going to the Olympics.

    Women deserve recognition for their achievements. But what level they deserve is commensurate with the interest they generate in their sport and the return on investment to their sponsors. Our society’s entitlement mentality seems to be pushing women to expect more than they deserve. If I demanded a 10k pay out and all kinds of perks from a sponsor for my CAT 5 State Championship win last year I would be told “Dude, the only person at the race interested in your success was your wife.” But I don’t race for the money. I race because I love it. I’m sure that the women that race love it too but love should be unconditional.

    I think that Mario Cipollini’s recent remarks about the state of cycling, i.e. his disgust at how the first loser – this means you Andy – is all obsequious to the guy that just handed him his ass is very telling. If I’m going to pony up a bunch of money to go to the bike races I want to see speed, BIG SPEED. I want to see big hurt put on people. I want to see a spectacle worthy of the money behind it. I don’t want to see a bunch of guys acting like women.

    End of rant.

    Please send all hate mail to Cyclops@blowme.com

  17. @Oli
    Hey, can I get a pair of “Massive Generalization Goggles” in ‘scratch proof’ Irridium?

  18. @Cyclops
    Wow, I am drunk as hell off of Grand Marnier and i have no idea what you th fuck yu just said but i like it. Are you in fAvor of women’s cycling or juzt ranting in general? Sorry, a bit confusd and I am not sure wheter to chock it up to the lovely alcohol your rant?

  19. @Chris

    @Oli

    @eightzero
    …the myth of the hard working man of the soil/escaping the pit is, on the whole, just that; a myth.

    And those that did probably had a bit of a helping hand along the way, near subsistence farmers don’t just go out and buy bikes on the off chance that they might make it. From memory, both Anquetil and Coppi both had bikes brought for them by richer relatives.

    Lets not forget Roche. Mechanic on a farm. Win or go home. And I’m going to go ahead and completely disagree with @Oli. I don’t think that there is proof either way about the social status of where pro cyclists come from. What we see on TV and in the magazines is fully sponsored, super fit über athletes that are now getting paid by by (sometimes) lucrative sponsors.
    Would it help, and does it happen, that some of the pros have the means to do that? Sure. But just in the small community of racers that I hang out with, many of which have tried their hand at going to the ‘big show’, none of them had any more help than living in near squalor, working shit jobs at shit hours, saving every dime to take the chance.
    All pros have ‘means’? Bullshit.

  20. Let’s look at a couple examples shall we: Big Mig; got a second hand bike at 11 that was stolen. Had to work in the fields with his father to earn a replacement.
    Lance; His mom worked two, sometimes three jobs. He got there with his mom’s emotional support, certainly not finical.
    Joop Zoetemelk; father was a farmer, and Joop worked as a carpenter.
    Jan Janssen: Dug foundations.
    Gimondi: Single mother was a postal carrier.
    Do I need to go on?

  21. @scaler911
    While correctly disagreeing with me, you’ve also kind of proved my point; the level of poverty and struggle vary so much, and it’s all so relative, that to have a prejudice against a rider who comes from a more privileged background seems odd to me. I wasn’t trying to say that no riders come from poor backgrounds, just that cycling hasn’t on the whole been a working class sport for decades.

    And just out of curiosity, how long did Jan Janssen spend as an actual foundations digger? How long did Joop work as a carpenter? Who owned the farms that he and Indurain worked on? Sometimes the myth of a poor upbringing is just an exaggeration of circumstances – I struggle financially from time to time and would have difficulty just buying my son a racing bike if he needed one, but I still wouldn’t describe myself as “poor” when I have seen people who are.

    It’s all relative…

  22. @Cyclops
    Hey Cyclops just thought I’d point out, that email address doesn’t seem to be working right now, server might be down or something, just a heads up.
    @Buck Rogers

    @Cyclops
    Wow, I am drunk as hell off of Grand Marnier and i have no idea what you th fuck yu just said but i like it. Are you in fAvor of women’s cycling or juzt ranting in general? Sorry, a bit confusd and I am not sure wheter to chock it up to the lovely alcohol your rant?

    Also awesome and deserves repeating…

    But lets not put women’s cycling in the same basket as a lot of other areas of areas where we automatically dismiss it just because of it’s category. Lets treat the riders and their races on their merits rather than comparing them to the performances of their male counterparts.

  23. @Oli

    @scaler911
    While correctly disagreeing with me, you’ve also kind of proved my point; the level of poverty and struggle vary so much, and it’s all so relative, that to have a prejudice against a rider who comes from a more privileged background seems odd to me. I wasn’t trying to say that no riders come from poor backgrounds, just that cycling hasn’t on the whole been a working class sport for decades.

    And just out of curiosity, how long did Jan Janssen spend as an actual foundations digger? How long did Joop work as a carpenter? Who owned the farms that he and Indurain worked on? Sometimes the myth of a poor upbringing is just an exaggeration of circumstances – I struggle financially from time to time and would have difficulty just buying my son a racing bike if he needed one, but I still wouldn’t describe myself as “poor” when I have seen people who are.

    It’s all relative…

    We were just discussing this in parallel. No one ever does this truly “alone.” and if you put in the work and deliver, it has its own merit. Having overcome obstacles certainly adds to the story, but not having that element of the story does not make one a lesser or non- champion.

  24. So much for stolen bikes! A Canadian podium, with my former club mate Tara Whitten on the top! (And the future Mrs. Dan_R in third…)

  25. @Dan_R

    So much for stolen bikes! A Canadian podium, with my former club mate Tara Whitten on the top! (And the future Mrs. Dan_R in third…)

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