The Hero and the Villain

Pantani: Undisputable folk hero.
Pantani: Undisputable folk hero.

I’m not saying I’m Batman; if I was Batman it would be a foolish thing to admit to and if I wasn’t Batman it would be a foolish thing to claim to be. What is true, however, is that Batman is pretty cool and it would probably be pretty cool to be a cool dude like Batman. It bears mentioning, however, that I have never been seen in the same room as him so you can’t prove that I’m not Batman so long as you can’t prove he isn’t real. While I’m on the subject, if I was Batman I’d definitely be the Christian Bale Batman – not Lewis Wilson and those absurd granny panties of his, or Robert Lowrey or Adam West (both were too Spandex-ey, I restrict my Lycra-wearing to Cycling, not running about town like a lunatic vigilante), or Keaton (too mouth-puckery), or Val Kilmer (too contemplative), or George Clooney (I can’t get on board with the sort of vanity that forces a grown billionaire to include fake nipples in their suit of ballistic armor).

Is Batman a hero or a villain? Vigilantes are frowned upon in real life; they are threats to society because they live outside its rules and people who live outside the rules are not to be trusted, like cats. In real life, Batman would probably be hated by about half the public and loved by the other half, with very few individuals faffing about with moderate feelings on the subject. On which side you fall would probably have less to do with logic or reason that it does with how you feel about who the vigilante targeted. It might also have something to do with how comfortable you are with not knowing what morals are guiding an individual’s actions. In the case of Batman, we know he’s a damaged but well-intentioned man motivated by a home brew of revenge and the desire to protect society at large from the agony of his own experiences. In the Real Life Batman*, we’d have no clue about what motivated him and all we’d know is some costumed dude with fun toys was beating people up and the people he was beating up were generally associated with crime; the rest is up to the individual to fill in with their imagination, bias, and predisposition. The question of whether the vigilante is a hero or a villain has less to do with their actions but with the context in which we view those actions.**

I love Marco Pantani. Even today I regard him as a hero. I admire the rider he was at his peak, and I sympathise with the wounded animal he became after his fall. Finally, I regard his passing on Valentines Day to be a Shakespearean tragedy played out in real life: a scapegoat who died of a broken heart on a day founded on the notion of martyrdom.

I despise Lance Armstrong. Even before his downfall I regarded him as a villain not unlike the sort Batman might target. I view his reign as the sort of plot for world domination that any number of DC Comic supervillains may have undertaken, provided they were keen Cyclists. I regard his fall as the triumph of Good over Evil in the fateful sense as plays out in Beowulf more so than the moral sense.

In essence, both perpetrated the same offense, yet I hold them in two entirely different and discrete views, separated by a chasm of irrational logic and untraceable emotion. How is it possible that a rational mind can hold these two opposing views? I have asked this question of myself many times. I suppose it has much to do with the part of my brain which we usually pretend lives in our chest. I throw a rope-bridge across the chasm by stating that the doping isn’t what I hold against Armstrong, it’s his being a bully and all-round ginormous poopy-butt. But in reality, I can’t separate the doping from his behavior any more than I can separate the doping from Patanti’s epic crushing of fools.

Pantani and Armstrong aren’t the only ones, there are many many more. Coppi, hero; Bartali, villain. Merckx, hero; Maertens, villain. Ullrich, hero; Riis, villain. Bugno, hero; Berzin, villain. Even Tyler Hamilton claiming he ate his own twin in the womb rather than admit doping didn’t make him a villain but Ricardo Rico almost killing himself by trying a DIY blood transfusion definitely did despite the tragic desperation inherent in that particular incident. We interpret which are the heros and which are the villains by how we interpret the context around their actions. Context is a malleable thing; by adjusting the aperture to compensate for the shutter, we can alter the nature of the photograph.

I’m not a subtle man. I don’t generally deal in the currency of moderation; I like to love riders and I like to hate riders. I prefer riders who polarize because they give you something real to chew on even when its something you don’t like. It seems the modern era has less of these sorts of riders than past eras. In the wee hours of the night, when the ghosts of all my mistakes and tasks left undone come knocking, I distract myself by entertaining the question of whether I liked the racing better when riders were treating EPO like any other vitamin. I don’t, of course, but the heroes and villains seemed easier to tell apart; these days they’ve gotten all mixed up. Wiggins and Froome are both typical modern Tour winners: ultra-specialized one-dimensional characters with a complete and total focus on their objective. Their ability to control the event during their prospective years was impressive, yet the lack of depth of their public personalities and style of riding made it hard to love them and even harder to hate them; the most you can do with that sort of rider is admire them idly or hope someone more interesting falls out of the sky to beat them. Nibali has much more depth and would be easier to love (or hate) but his too-close association with Count Dracula makes it impossible to view his victory with the innocence I had during the 80’s, 90’s, and even early 2000’s; I can no longer watch with unquestioning eyes.

I don’t think heroes and villains can be manufactured, they have to be a product of their environment. In fairness, I can’t blame the riders when I know the UCI has been manipulating them for the last twenty years in the pursuit of their own villainy, which hasn’t left much room for anything else; like grasping a lump of slurry, the more they tightened their grip on the sport, the more it squeezed out through their fingers. (Princess Leia also had something to say on this matter.*)

The UCI is on the right track; Brian Cookson is showing positive signs. I think opening up the Hour to UCI-approved track ITT bikes is a sensible first step. The next step is to take away the basic obstacles to innovation such as the double-triangle frame and wild handlebar positions. I’m a traditionalist more than anyone else, but innovation is polarizing and polarizing gives everyone on both sides something to sink our talons into. And talons bring out the heroes and villains.

* I don’t want to confuse too many characters from too many fictional stories that I fell asleep during and might have mixed up. That being said, a good parallel for Batman in the sense that when we know the motives of the character is Billy’s Jack o’ Diamonds in Seven Psychopaths with whom we can sympathise; in real life, we’d just see some bloke shooting other blokes, which is frowned upon in most societies. The Empire in Star Wars is possibly the most perfect parallel of power gone wrong to that of the UCI that I can think of, apart from the many examples from actual history that haven’t been packaged up in tidy six-film epics.

** I have clumsily tried to crystallize in one paragraph a question that Chuck Klosterman spent the better part of an entire book examining. For a much more interesting (and funny) examination of the hero and the villain, read I Wear the Black Hat.

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91 Replies to “The Hero and the Villain”

  1. Pantani, hero. Pantani did the work on the road he built. Lance chased and pushed others up the road ahead of him.

  2. @frank Spotting Cinelli Eubios bars in this article image. Just removed 44s center-to-center.

  3. @unversio

    Pantani, hero. Pantani did the work on the road he built. Lance chased and pushed others up the road ahead of him.

    ooh, I like that!

  4. This is a really good piece – I wanted to write something snarky like ‘too much Batman, not enough cycling, but good point about cats’, but the points raised about polarizing riders are dead on: I find it difficult to get excited (one way or the other) about someone like Greg Van Avermaet or Niki Terpstra. I’m definitely happy to see that riders are clean(er) than they used to be, but definitely miss the clear white hat vs. black hat on the road and in the pub battles that could be had.  About the only rider I really DON’T like is Chris Froome (and maybe Chris Horner), but that’s more a function of how awful he looks on the bike than anything meaningful about his performances or his character (Horner for the same reason).

  5. Thank you for putting in words so eloquently what I have always thought. They all doped, but only LA was a total control freak / bully / liar. I’m glad they took the TdF away from him. I wish I’d never heard of him.

  6. I rather like Wiggins – like most sports, cycling is big business, so riders give ‘standard’ answers to questions as they are concious of sponsors and their obligations to them (i.e; don’t say anything controversial), yet Wiggins doesn’t seem to give a shit about being controversial and whether he’s liked or not.

    I do find it odd that riders like Pantani are revered, yet LA has become the scapegoat for a generation of riders, but perhaps that’s just me (yeah, I know big bad Lance he was a bully etc).

  7. Love all the grasping for analogies in this piece Frank.  My first instinct was to say something like…

    “Too much pre-amble, not enough amble”

    But then, you pulled that shit together and won me over and made me thankful for the journey that we took together.

    There are no villains in today’s peleton and the sport is poorer for it.

  8. Big piece Frank, glad I took the time to read it. I’ve had the same thoughts as you and have sometimes struggled to justify them. I can only feel sorrow for Marco and only contempt for Armstrong. I need to see some evidence of frailty in those that I admire, in sport and in life, that they are both human and humane. Armstrong was, is, what Bricktop would call an ‘orrible cunt, devoid of integrity, humility, humanity. He also had the panache gene deficiency, the one that Marco carried a donor card for. Armstrong’s treatment of Chris Bassons finished our relationship and although I am a generally benevolent type of fella, I felt only contempt for him on Oprah when his train derailed. While I’m keen to not over romanticise things, Marco just raced the right way, from the heart, with instinct and a need to attack that rivalled his need to breathe. I justify this dichotomy by the firmly held belief that if all things were equal,  on a  juice free playing field, Marco would have killed him in the mountains. And that is good enough for me.

  9. @Gianni

    @buck rogers is never going to read this.

    I will offer Buck my Cliffs Notes:

    Bat Man may or may not exist but if he does its in a suit without tits. Since we can never know the real Bat Man we can’t know if he’s a hero or vigilante. Frank loves Marco, hates Lance even though they both were shits, he also hates many others… As well as boring people. The UCI was bad and now is good, innovation will polarize our claws and clawing is what villains do to heroes.

  10. @kixsand Really?  I can’t stand Valverde, possibly more than any other rider, ever, and there’s been quite a long list…

    Didn’t much like anyone on Carrera post ’87, hated Theunisse because of his hair,  Rooks because he looked too much like Theunisse.  Bugno because he looked like an airline pilot and I didn’t like Indurain when he was winning because it was all so boringly predictable – Ullrich because his turning up overweight was even more so. Loved and hated Robbie McEwan in equal measure because being an Australian sprinter’s a double whammy of good and bad – sort of a personality amplifier.  Vino and Hincapie have gone, but I’m still remembering to hate both of them at least once a week.

    Of the current crop apart from Valverde, I can’t be doing with Voeckler’s nose, or that much of the rest of him.  Not a lot of time for anyone who rides for Sky who isn’t in the hunt for a GT because I can’t imagine sweating my bollocks off to get to the top and then chucking it away for the cash just to become part of a big, ugly machine.

    None of this makes sense, especially seeing as how I’ll grudgingly admit that the my two principal current detestations probably race with more panache than just about everyone else, but still – one’s an unrepentant doping hypocrite and the other just comes across as a complete wanker.  Shortage of riders to hate?  Never.

  11. @VeloVita

    This is a really good piece – I wanted to write something snarky like ‘too much Batman, not enough cycling, but good point about cats’, but the points raised about polarizing riders are dead on: I find it difficult to get excited (one way or the other) about someone like Greg Van Avermaet or Niki Terpstra. I’m definitely happy to see that riders are clean(er) than they used to be, but definitely miss the clear white hat vs. black hat on the road and in the pub battles that could be had. About the only rider I really DON’T like is Chris Froome (and maybe Chris Horner), but that’s more a function of how awful he looks on the bike than anything meaningful about his performances or his character (Horner for the same reason).

    I dunno, Horner was always good for doing something like this

  12. It’s an interesting question. It’s obviously an emotional question, regardless of the facts of the case.

    How do we feel about a rider who doped in the past, but returned to racing and probably raced clean afterwards?

    How do I feel about Millar, Contador, Valverde…? Love Millar. Hate Valverde. Indifferent about Contador. Why?

    Maybe it’s a British thing as personally I really like Wiggins, and Cavendish.

  13. Marco is a great projection of the collective martyr myth, doesn’t hurt he is an Italian to amplify that.

    Armstrong seems to be a mix of myths that are conflicting and confusing. Definitely more Darth Vader than Luke Skywalker.

  14. Can’t prove I’m not Batman, but if Frank had his way with the UCI regulations, I’d rock a Batman outfit and a Dimond. I’ve got Carbone for this thing ever since TJ started tinkering with the old Zipp 2001 molds.

  15. Great article and so much to comment on!  Seven Psycopaths = awesome film.  Froome not a hero, I can of have to say he is riding his was in to my heart each time I see him, granted he rides ugly and does not dance on the pedals like Bertie but he has put in some awesome efforts in the last couple of years and I have seen some great rides from him, not least, desperately hanging on and coming back on “that climb” in this years Vuelta.

    Lance – No argument here, he was and is a cunt, no explanation necessary.  Il Pirata – You hit the nail on the head, tragic, flawed but still loved and a joy to watch.

    Batman – afraid not, after all have you ever seen him with me?

  16. On a second note, you have to be careful with all batman worship, it can go to far!

  17. @Ccos

    I’m actually torn with Horner – I don’t believe for a second that he won the Vuelta clean and the fact that he’s essentially the only well known American rider of his generation to not have any role in the Armstrong/Reasoned Decision case leaves me with more of a bad taste.  That said, I like how affable and candid he is during interviews and how he finished that stage in the 2011 Tour after crashing and not really knowing how he even got to the finish line was gutsy (and stupid) as hell.  There are times I really like the guy and times I can’t stand him.

  18. I grew up watching the Batman & Robin t.v. show and still dig it. So bad and weird that it was good.

    Since I didn’t really start road cycling until 2003 and didn’t start following the peloton with any passion until around 2008, the 1990s seem like a period I can’t honestly evaluate. Always happy to read how others feel, but it was before my time.

    I can say that if it was a low point in the doping history, it was also a low point in aesthetics. Late 80s/early 90s, the steel bikes still looked great. 90s Al, Spinacis, do-rags. Eck. Then again…it gave us the Carerra Jersey Tuxedo kit…

    Velovita – the affability and honesty are exactly why I like Greg VA. He was interview by LeMan and Stefano after a TdF stage last year and he was just a good, honest dude. Maybe I just tend to love any athlete who can actually speak and talk in a conversational manner and not just regurgitate cliches. He also has a family history of sporting and grew up playing soccer. Love that too. And, I think he’s a great all-arounder who deserves a big win.

  19. On the topic of dope, when did the Spinacis stop being dope? Why are we not riding them around anymore? I had a set, and rolled dirrty with them quite a bit. Pro tip: they suck for cornering. What do we have to do to make them have a comeback?

  20. @VeloVita  I’m with you on that. My opinions have vacillated with other riders too. I used to be completely annoyed by Jensie before developing an appreciation of his habit of attacking out of a break away with. 50 km to go.

  21. Hi Frank, its been a long time.  Lets just say 2014 has been a killer for me

    Great article!

    this is absolute word which is said so much better than anyone else would:

    I love Marco Pantani. Even today I regard him as a hero. I admire the rider he was at his peak, and I sympathise with the wounded animal he became after his fall. Finally, I regard his passing on Valentines Day to be a Shakespearean tragedy played out in real life: a scapegoat who died of a broken heart on a day founded on the notion of martyrdom.

    That is exactly the way I see il Pirata.  He was the aggressor, yet fragile.  He was passionate, yet vunerable.  He was a personna of dualities and perhaps the least understood of all our fallen heroes, and if your of the persuasion that he was a cheat, then a misunderstood fallen villian.

    And another reason, which i have long been on the record for, that I absolutely admire il Pirata is that he was unapologetic for WHO he was.  He acknowledged he ‘was a cyclist’…seemingly shrugging the shoulders, with Italian flare blowing off the media and the accusations that the empty syringes of insulin and HGH were meaningful.  The implication was a fact, that everyone else generally was doing the same.

    But Frank, you know I must take exception with one thing you mentioned.  Coppi, hero; Bartali, villain.   Does there really have to be a hero/villian relationship or can there be a mutually beneficial relationship in competition, as I see this being just that.  Bartali for example, loved Coppi and the feeling was quite mutual as was their fierce spirited rivalry, but don’t foget Bartali’s heart bled at the passing of his good friend.  Not to say, I personally cannot put Bartali in the light of a villian given he freed so many of the Jews that were in Italy and whose lives were literally saved by him and his efforts to hide them from the nazi/facists oppression.  Bartali (the pious) in my mind quite literally rose above the human frey of the day, had a vision that foresaw the need to help, and on his cycling exploits did what he could to oppose Mussolini.  Thats just my humblest opinion.

    great work, glad to be back finally

  22. @Souleur

    Hi Frank, its been a long time. Lets just say 2014 has been a killer for me

    Great article!

    this is absolute word which is said so much better than anyone else would:

    I love Marco Pantani. Even today I regard him as a hero. I admire the rider he was at his peak, and I sympathise with the wounded animal he became after his fall. Finally, I regard his passing on Valentines Day to be a Shakespearean tragedy played out in real life: a scapegoat who died of a broken heart on a day founded on the notion of martyrdom.

    That is exactly the way I see il Pirata. He was the aggressor, yet fragile. He was passionate, yet vunerable. He was a personna of dualities and perhaps the least understood of all our fallen heroes, and if your of the persuasion that he was a cheat, then a misunderstood fallen villian.

    And another reason, which i have long been on the record for, that I absolutely admire il Pirata is that he was unapologetic for WHO he was. He acknowledged he ‘was a cyclist’…seemingly shrugging the shoulders, with Italian flare blowing off the media and the accusations that the empty syringes of insulin and HGH were meaningful. The implication was a fact, that everyone else generally was doing the same.

    But Frank, you know I must take exception with one thing you mentioned. Coppi, hero; Bartali, villain. Does there really have to be a hero/villian relationship or can there be a mutually beneficial relationship in competition, as I see this being just that. Bartali for example, loved Coppi and the feeling was quite mutual as was their fierce spirited rivalry, but don’t foget Bartali’s heart bled at the passing of his good friend. Not to say, I personally cannot put Bartali in the light of a villian given he freed so many of the Jews that were in Italy and whose lives were literally saved by him and his efforts to hide them from the nazi/facists oppression. Bartali (the pious) in my mind quite literally rose above the human frey of the day, had a vision that foresaw the need to help, and on his cycling exploits did what he could to oppose Mussolini. Thats just my humblest opinion.

    great work, glad to be back finally

    Welcome back and 1 on the Bartali sentiments. The word “hero” is greatly overused, but Bartali is/was a hero.

    As for the good/bad dynamic, what about Saronni and Moser? Kelly and Vanderaerden? Boonen and Faboo? Not every rivalry can be distilled down to a good/bad characteristic. That being said, Freddy Maertens and Roger De Vlaeminck? Freddy is definitely the good one there.

  23. @roomservicetaco

    Actually, Gino Bartali, hero:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27333310

    Oh, don’t go confusing real life with sport! He was one of the few Cyclists who would actually fit the real definition of being a hero. I consider him a villain purely in the sense of his rivalry with Coppi and on whose side I fall within the context of sport and sport only.

    Good point though, everyone should be aware of what Bartali did. (Coppi also served, btw.)

  24. @wiscot

    As for the good/bad dynamic, what about Saronni and Moser? Kelly and Vanderaerden? Boonen and Faboo? Not every rivalry can be distilled down to a good/bad characteristic. That being said, Freddy Maertens and Roger De Vlaeminck? Freddy is definitely the good one there.

    Oh goodie! Saronni and Moser? It’s hard to argue with Moser if you’ve seen Sunday in Hell – someone who rides that beautifully on the stones has to be a hero. That’s the problem with Boonen and Faboo as well; theirs is the only rivalry I can think of where I can find something to love about both of them, although if Fabs keeps complaining all the time I’m going to grow real tired of him real quick.

    Freddie is obviously a massive legend but the whole world champs thing has me putting him in the dog house always.

  25. @RobSandy

    It’s an interesting question. It’s obviously an emotional question, regardless of the facts of the case.

    How do we feel about a rider who doped in the past, but returned to racing and probably raced clean afterwards?

    How do I feel about Millar, Contador, Valverde…? Love Millar. Hate Valverde. Indifferent about Contador. Why?

    Maybe it’s a British thing as personally I really like Wiggins, and Cavendish.

    Wiggins has great fashion sense (apart from most of his hairstyles and that mopey The Who look on his face all the time) but I can’t get on board with his riding style, unless he wins Roubaix next year in which case I’ll likely do an about-face without any hesitation whatsoever.

    Cav is an excellent example of a very polarizing rider. Love him, hate him. Hardly anyone is neutral on him, which is his most redeeming quality. Also, as he’s matured, I’ve gotten to like him.

    @Roel

    Excellent piece. Love LCK’s analogy, it’s spot on.

    I’m glad somebody clicked on that! That’s got to be one of my all-time favorite jokes.

  26. @frank Lance was always going to be the villain when Pantani was your hero, he was Pantani’s opposition and took him on in your hero’s domain, the mountains. You couldn’t help but wish his fork folded and he ground his face to a pulp on a descent.

    I don’t know guys and girls.  I never was a fan of Gunderson, so thinking hypothetically here ok?

    I’m thinking if all these other dudes can be forgiven and transgressions forgotten, then Lance can too, and people can still see him as a hero, else you lot (and I) are a bunch of two faced hypocrites. He hasn’t done anything that others haven’t done, it’s just that he did it so.. massively. He carried the non-cycling western worlds perceptions of cycling on his shoulders, then brought it crashing down. I still contend though, that it is just because he got caught. If he got off, he would still be idolised by many, as so many past riders continue to be.

    His dominance stretches further than others, it was all orchestrated, cheating, evil and cunty. But there have been so many other riders that have been orchestrated (Sky runs like a machine), cheating (take your pick of dopers), evil (take your pick, chaingate a nice example) and cunty (take your pick of any aresehole riders, plenty of them).

    Even Merckx utilised his troops ruthlessly on the peleton, was known to go through domestiques with regular abandon, and got caught. You could say he was mechanical, aloof, dour, and a ruthless cunt. But he was good, fucking good. His dominance to me is awe inspring

    But then others such as Indurain, are said to be boring, even given his scientifically proven physiological freakishness. I have a love hate relationship also with anyone that sees too much success, whilst holding a conflicting respect for their achievements – Kelly Slater, Michael Schumachers Ferrari years. I guess I have a desire for the underdog to pull one out of the bag, JVS win at PR a prime example.

    Gunderson cheated better than anybody when everybody was cheating. In theory, that makes him the ultimate rider of that generation in terms of outright performance on and off the bike, right? Yeah, doesn’t really make it right does it.

    Now, with my morals firmly reattached, alcohol and prescriptions are as far as my experience with drugs goes. To me, knowing any rider cheated just takes away from me holding them up on a pedestal as a person. I can’t idolise these guys, then tell my kids drugs are bayud, m’kay?

    I can respect them for their abilities as riders in their era, they are the ultimate riders compared to their competitors who no doubt had the same hotel strategies and vampire tactics, but as people, I can’t forgive them the frailty of reaching for the sauce. I can only pity them in this regard.

    For the record some of my riding heroes are De Vlaemink, Boonen, Indurain, Pantani, Bartali, Cipo, Wiggo. Many with a doubtful phase in their career. But life heroes, they just can’t be.

    A real, real cycling hero for me, will be the guy who cheated, who writes a tell all book or goes to court, and tells the whole story, puts all the names out there and clears out the rot, sacrifices his own reputation and those of the omerta. That will be the only way to redemption as a person in my eyes. Could be a domestique, could be Gunderson in future, who knows.

    Not that you lot give a fuck. Goodbye. Now, where’s my rum gone…

  27. @frank

    @wiscot

    That being said, Freddy Maertens and Roger De Vlaeminck? Freddy is definitely the good one there.

    Freddie is obviously a massive legend but the whole world champs thing has me putting him in the dog house always.

    Apart from the Worlds incident I’d always had Freddy down as the good guy but De Vlaeminck could have been the biggest cunt around and it wouldn’t matter. He had too much style on and off the bike to be anything other than the hero.

    Just being in his presence has caused Mr Check Jacket to have a “moment”

  28. @Chris

    Just being in his presence has caused Mr Check Jacket to have a “moment”

    Mr Black jacket is also having a sex wee over his presence of awesome

  29. Dammit. I hate to agree with you about RdV. Other than Coppi, no one rocks the trenchcoat like Roger. Everything in a manual of style would scream “Don’t do it!” when proffered the choice of leather trenchcoat over cycling gear, yet RdV wins the day.

    The guy next to him is playing pool with both hands.

    Also, Roger rode a blue Gios. Without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most iconic steel bikes EVER.

    I’d still rather have a beer with Freddy though. And he rode a red Flandria.

  30. @Beers Mr Black Jacket is doing a whole load more than having a sex wee, he’s got his hands full and his game face on.

    @wiscot I doubt you’d go for just one beer with Freddy.

  31. @frank

    @wiscot

    As for the good/bad dynamic, what about Saronni and Moser? Kelly and Vanderaerden? Boonen and Faboo? Not every rivalry can be distilled down to a good/bad characteristic. That being said, Freddy Maertens and Roger De Vlaeminck? Freddy is definitely the good one there.

    Oh goodie! Saronni and Moser? It’s hard to argue with Moser if you’ve seen Sunday in Hell – someone who rides that beautifully on the stones has to be a hero. That’s the problem with Boonen and Faboo as well; theirs is the only rivalry I can think of where I can find something to love about both of them, although if Fabs keeps complaining all the time I’m going to grow real tired of him real quick.

    Freddie is obviously a massive legend but the whole world champs thing has me putting him in the dog house always.

    Agreed. Fabs needs to Rule #5 a wee bit in the twilight of his career. I like Tommeke as there’s more of a happy-go-lucky attitude there that I like.

    Saronni? Goodwood 82. Nuff said. Moser? The stones, that flat back. Nuff said. I think what needs to be remembered in the Italian rivalries is the geographic/regional considerations. Remember, Italy wasn’t unified until the risorgimento of 1871 and the regional characteristics are still strong. Bartali from from the city of Florence, Coppi from the village of Castellania in the Piedmont; Moser was from the town of Giovo in N. Italy, Saronni from Novara in the Piedmont. Regional rivals and cycling rivals. Kind of a Flemish/Walloon thing.

  32. @frank

    @brett

    @frank

    Dude, you’re definitely Adam West Batman…

    I don’t know what that means, is that a granny panties joke?

    Along these lines, no Brett?

  33. @wiscot

    Other than Coppi, no one rocks the trenchcoat like Roger. Everything in a manual of style would scream “Don’t do it!” when proffered the choice of leather trenchcoat over cycling gear, yet RdV wins the day.

    “Ohh reallly?”

  34. See I love Bertie. He may have doped, probably did but I don’t care. He stood up to Gunderson and Co in 2009, won the Vuelta on his return with a stage long attack, wasn’t really in the hunt at the Tour in 2011 but attacked from the gun on the Galibier/Huez stage etc. Every race he is in is more interesting for his presence, never lies down.

  35. @Rob

    @Gianni

    @buck rogers is never going to read this.

    I will offer Buck my Cliffs Notes:

    Bat Man may or may not exist but if he does its in a suit without tits. Since we can never know the real Bat Man we can’t know if he’s a hero or vigilante. Frank loves Marco, hates Lance even though they both were shits, he also hates many others… As well as boring people. The UCI was bad and now is good, innovation will polarize our claws and clawing is what villains do to heroes.

    Fuck I’ve missed your editing of Frank’s ramblings, this needs to happen more often.

  36. @frank

    Wiggins has great fashion sense (apart from most of his hairstyles and that mopey The Who look on his face all the time) but I can’t get on board with his riding style, unless he wins Roubaix next year in which case I’ll likely do an about-face without any hesitation whatsoever.

    Cav is an excellent example of a very polarizing rider. Love him, hate him. Hardly anyone is neutral on him, which is his most redeeming quality. Also, as he’s matured, I’ve gotten to like him.

    Do you have a problem with Wiggin’s riding style, or the style of the team he rides in? Because in a time trial I think he looks brilliant on the bike. The fact that he’s said he’s going to give winning Roubaix a go next year makes me like him more.

    What I like about Wiggo, and Cav, is when they get a microphone stuck under their nose they say what they think/feel, rather than the dull soundbite that is expected. That’s also why I am a huge fan of Geraint Thomas. Apart from him being a local boy, he says some brilliant things.

  37. @RobSandy

    Do you have a problem with Wiggin’s riding style, or the style of the team he rides in? Because in a time trial I think he looks brilliant on the bike. The fact that he’s said he’s going to give winning Roubaix a go next year makes me like him more.

    Oh, on a time-trial bike he’s glorious. I think my problem is he rides the same way on his road-bike: Careful, planned precision. Or at least he used to – maybe Roubaix was a sign of things to come? You can’t finish top-10 at Roubaix if you’re careful and planned. Also at the ToC he looked much more aggressive, much less reliant on the Skybots than before.

  38. @Mikael Liddy

    @Rob

    @Gianni

    @buck rogers is never going to read this.

    I will offer Buck my Cliffs Notes:

    Bat Man may or may not exist but if he does its in a suit without tits. Since we can never know the real Bat Man we can’t know if he’s a hero or vigilante. Frank loves Marco, hates Lance even though they both were shits, he also hates many others… As well as boring people. The UCI was bad and now is good, innovation will polarize our claws and clawing is what villains do to heroes.

    Fuck I’ve missed your editing of Frank’s ramblings, this needs to happen more often.

    Fuck, I so did not read this that I even missed Gianni’s and Rob’s comments!

  39. God is with me!  I have a new resident rotator in my clinic for the next week.  Usually they are not too interesting, just marking their time and waiting to be done with eyes but this guy is 33 years old and born and raised in France.  Moved to the US 14 years ago and get this:  His Grandfather raced Paris Roubaix in the 20’s.  I am trying to verify this but cannot find him.  His Grandfather’s name was Arsene Gotard if anyone can find him.  My student’s Dad still has his granddad’s old bike and trophies in France.  And, even better, this guy is a rider!  He loves cycling. Going for a ride together tomorrow afternoon and he wants to join us for the 200(NOT)-on-100 in June!  Oh yeah, he is also a 1st degree blackbelt in TKD getting ready to test for his 2nd degree and just signed up at the same Korean run dojang that I train at and is about to go to his first class.  Fuck’in perfect!  Now to just convince him to become an ophtho!!!

  40. @Simon

    @kixsand Really? I can’t stand Valverde, possibly more than any other rider, ever, and there’s been quite a long list…

    Didn’t much like anyone on Carrera post ’87, hated Theunisse because of his hair, Rooks because he looked too much like Theunisse. Bugno because he looked like an airline pilot and I didn’t like Indurain when he was winning because it was all so boringly predictable – Ullrich because his turning up overweight was even more so. Loved and hated Robbie McEwan in equal measure because being an Australian sprinter’s a double whammy of good and bad – sort of a personality amplifier. Vino and Hincapie have gone, but I’m still remembering to hate both of them at least once a week.

    Of the current crop apart from Valverde, I can’t be doing with Voeckler’s nose, or that much of the rest of him. Not a lot of time for anyone who rides for Sky who isn’t in the hunt for a GT because I can’t imagine sweating my bollocks off to get to the top and then chucking it away for the cash just to become part of a big, ugly machine.

    None of this makes sense, especially seeing as how I’ll grudgingly admit that the my two principal current detestations probably race with more panache than just about everyone else, but still – one’s an unrepentant doping hypocrite and the other just comes across as a complete wanker. Shortage of riders to hate? Never.

    So Valverde and Voeckler, that’s it?

    I almost gave Voeckler mention in my post – he is a bit of an irritating little twit on a bike.

  41. @Buck Rogers

    God is with me! I have a new resident rotator in my clinic for the next week. Usually they are not too interesting, just marking their time and waiting to be done with eyes but this guy is 33 years old and born and raised in France. Moved to the US 14 years ago and get this: His Grandfather raced Paris Roubaix in the 20’s. I am trying to verify this but cannot find him. His Grandfather’s name was Arsene Gotard if anyone can find him. My student’s Dad still has his granddad’s old bike and trophies in France. And, even better, this guy is a rider! He loves cycling. Going for a ride together tomorrow afternoon and he wants to join us for the 200(NOT)-on-100 in June! Oh yeah, he is also a 1st degree blackbelt in TKD getting ready to test for his 2nd degree and just signed up at the same Korean run dojang that I train at and is about to go to his first class. Fuck’in perfect! Now to just convince him to become an ophtho!!!

    Buck, that’s fabulous. Hope it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

    But, “Gotard“? Are you quite sure he’s not having you on?

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