The Great Escape

Quintanaroo and his family have a path to a new life. Whether to take it is their choice.
A new path lies ahead. Whether to follow it is their choice. Photo: Cycling Inquisition

There is a sense of weightlessness that accompanies speed; a strange feeling for any Earthbound creature who temporarily breaks Gravity’s relentless grip – an intoxicating blend of liberty and a sense impeding doom. The day I learned to ride a bike, I felt this sensation spread through me like a virus; immediately my eyes cast to the dirt trail behind the house as the most obvious opportunity to discover just how fast I could go and how far I could get. The excitement filled first my hands and my feet, then it billowed up through body to my shoulders and dazzled me with splendidly blurred vision as I sped down that very trail which previously I had only ever walked along.

The freedom that accompanied these feeling lingers with me today, and their intoxicating qualities express themselves every time my eyes cast upon a bicycle.

The bicycle has represented freedom to Cyclists since well before the turn of the last century. From the start, the question of how far and how fast the bicycle can be ridden has captivated not only those riding, but anyone who cares to spectate. A kilometer, then 5, then 500; race organizers quickly discovered what any modern Cyclist knows; make a ride sound crazy enough, and you’ll attract more than enough idiots to make a spectacle. So was born the sport of Bicycle Racing.

The classical tale we tell is that throughout the pre-War and post-War eras; when Cycling represented a reprieve from the labor of a hard daily life underground or in the fields. Many of the competitors in the Tour were workers who took time from their usual work to race across the great expanse of France. Even the great champions of Cycling’s Golden Era in the 1950’s would have chanced a life with hands gripping a set of handlebars against sickle, hammer, or shovel. Bobet, Anquetil, our Prophet Merckx, Hinault, and Fignon faced life in a field or market versus life as one of the greatest shaping forces our sport has known. It wasn’t until recently when Cycling became a financially attractive occupation; Merckx, in his most winning years, earned as much as his son Axel did as a domestique in the 2000’s.

But the notion of Cycling as an escape from a hard life in the fields may not be dead yet; as many of us now know, Nairo Quintana grew up in rural Colombia, riding 18 kilometers uphill to school (both directions, and naked in four seasons of Winter, supposing our collective grandfathers shared his fate). The bicycle didn’t just free him from the confines of his childhood; the bicycle elevated Nairo Quintana and his family into another stratosphere altogether.

I don’t know very much about life in Colombia and whether his newfound fame will lead to a better or more rewarding life for him. That remains for him to discover, and like anyone who pushes into the unknown, he will need to square his new demons against his old in order to find those answers. But what I do know is that, like it did for us, the bicycle has freed him from his perceived boundaries and set him free explore new territories.

It would seem, then – at least for this moment – that the Golden Era of Cycling is not yet beyond our grasp.

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123 Replies to “The Great Escape”

  1. @Marcus

    @Deakus

    All of Indurain’s Tours had TTs. Dunno where you got that idea from but it aint right. The stage you might be thinking of was in 95 when he rode the bunch off his wheel – bar Bruyneel – who sat on the whole way and then won the stage.

    Yeah I need to double check this, I heard a reference to TTs being removed in the 90’s because Indurain was so dominant but I am struggling to authenticate this, so happy to be corrected if misinformed…

  2. @Marcus

    @Deakus

    All of Indurain’s Tours had TTs. Dunno where you got that idea from but it aint right. The stage you might be thinking of was in 95 when he rode the bunch off his wheel – bar Bruyneel – who sat on the whole way and then won the stage.

    Can’t find it…scratch the shit about removal of individual time trials…I have obviously spent too much time over the last 3 weeks listening to P1 and P2 talking crap again!

    Will I never learn!

  3. @PeakInTwoYears

      Old training advice I read somewhere, in the context of running I’m afraid: if your face and hands are relaxed, the rest of you is probably relaxed, too. That helped me run better, and I try to remember it, now, while riding.

    I do the same, but end up drooling on my top tube when in 5-and-dime situations.

    And as for the Vuelta, if Uran is piloting the Death Star, there may be a couple of Colombinos on the podium.

  4. @lucky

    @Bianchi Denti You know Nibali is riding the Vuelta right?

    Also Nairo Quintana didn’t ride the Giro whoever said that.

    Yes, but I think victory might take a back seat to quality training for the Worlds. If Nibbles can win the rainbow stripes on an Italian course as the reigning Giro champ, he is MADE.

  5. @Marcus

    For all of you singing the praises of Valverde, please look back a bit beyond this last month.

    Yes, he is a fine racer, but he has had more of his share of luck re: mechanicals, doping shenanigans and dodgy assistance from his Spanish buddies.

    The 09 Vuelta was only his because “neutral” assistance left Evans for 5+ minutes on the side of the road with a flat, and his 09 Dauphine win was achieved with more than a little help from Contador (on a different team) working over poor Cuddles.

    If his doping ban had started when it should have (in 09) – he would not have even started in those races!

    Mmmm. Good points. You should keep this stuff to yourself until after the relevant VSP has closed.

    Movistar had a strong TDF team for the mountains,and still finished 7th in the TTT. If they recycle Castroviejo and bring in Alex Dowsett to lay it all down, Malmerde could have 45s on his rivals at the end of the first stage TTT. Obvioulsy there are a fuckload of other variables, but this is my starting point.

  6. @Deakus

    @ChrisO

    I find the differences between how Quintana has been received – generally with much praise and very little scepticism – and the shit that has been thrown at Froome quite illuminating.

    Nice backstory, poor family, looks good, Latino/south American V privileged colonial upbringing, ungainly, British, bitchy girlfriend.

    How much of the debate is about that, not doping ?

    Ofc not even touching on Colombias relationship with drugs….good point!

    Interesting point that was explained in the link in the very first comment here. Quintana (and Henao I think) came up through the only Colombian squad that imposed the bio passport & testing on their riders, the idea being that when the European teams came calling, the riders would already be in a position to back up their results with data.

    Interesting theory on the Colombians & drugs in cycling, the dissapearance of the Colombian climbers being successful in Europe ties in perfectly with the onset of EPO & blood doping techniques being taken up in the peleton. Basically their natural advantage in the mountains from being brought up at altitude was blown out of the water by the synthetic replacements.

  7. @ChrisO

    I find the differences between how Quintana has been received – generally with much praise and very little scepticism – and the shit that has been thrown at Froome quite illuminating.

    Nice backstory, poor family, looks good, Latino/south American V privileged colonial upbringing, ungainly, British, bitchy girlfriend.

    How much of the debate is about that, not doping ?

    Very true. The thing about the tour is the amount of focus on doping compared to the other GT’s. I’m far far more suspicious of Nibali’s Giro win than Froome’s TDF win and he didn’t catch half the amount grief than Froome did everdyday.

  8. @frank

    I love the stories of escape from a life of hard labour in cycling. I’ve read a few times of Sean Kelly talking about how he did different sports at school but realised that his older brother got out of chores on the family farm on weekends because he cycled. This made him also take up the sport and the more he rode, the less farmwork he had to do.

    This shows that even from an early age he was working on the principles of Rule #11 for us all to follow.

  9. @Mikael Liddy

    @Deakus

    @ChrisO

    I find the differences between how Quintana has been received – generally with much praise and very little scepticism – and the shit that has been thrown at Froome quite illuminating.

    Nice backstory, poor family, looks good, Latino/south American V privileged colonial upbringing, ungainly, British, bitchy girlfriend.

    How much of the debate is about that, not doping ?

    Ofc not even touching on Colombias relationship with drugs….good point!

    Interesting point that was explained in the link in the very first comment here. Quintana (and Henao I think) came up through the only Colombian squad that imposed the bio passport & testing on their riders, the idea being that when the European teams came calling, the riders would already be in a position to back up their results with data.

    Interesting theory on the Colombians & drugs in cycling, the dissapearance of the Colombian climbers being successful in Europe ties in perfectly with the onset of EPO & blood doping techniques being taken up in the peleton. Basically their natural advantage in the mountains from being brought up at altitude was blown out of the water by the synthetic replacements.

    We had this discussion during the Giro, and basically something like a study said living t altitude didn’t help. Surprised me.

  10. @DerHoggz I believe it was that living at altitude would help but no more than going to altitude for training.

    There were no inherent or lasting benefits – after a  time living at sea level the blood oxygen of a Colombian from the highest mountain will be the same as a Dutchman who gets dizzy up a windmill, and vice versa.

    Having said that, there must be a muscular training payoff from climbing mountains day in day out as you are growing up.

  11. @ChrisO

    @DerHoggz I believe it was that living at altitude would help but no more than going to altitude for training.

    There were no inherent or lasting benefits – after a time living at sea level the blood oxygen of a Colombian from the highest mountain will be the same as a Dutchman who gets dizzy up a windmill, and vice versa.

    Having said that, there must be a muscular training payoff from climbing mountains day in day out as you are growing up.

    There are probably two points here and only one as far as I know has been investigated:

    1.  The point that someone (Columbian or not) will benefit from training at altitude, and that the benefit will diminish over time once returned to sea level.  This is very well documented medically in all sorts of areas, most commonly mountaineering.  You take time to acclimatise and you either climb alpine style…Climb high, sleep low, or you adopt old fashioned Siege method of climbing and living high in stages to acclimatise.  It takes a long time and is resource heavy hence the reason it is not really used these days.  Anyway once you return to lower levels, you will notice some very visible signs of the changes back i.e. your shit goes black as your body sheds red bloodcells that were generated to cope with the lesser oxygen levels.  All cyclists can temporarily benefit from this.

    2.  Inherent/Genetic benefit.  This is not about growing up at high altitude.  This is about a race of people who over generations have lived at altitude and over time, as a people, they have adapted to lower oxygen levels.  The most obvious example are the Sherpas of Nepal who, it has been proved, have a material advantage over other races (Pakistani porters) as a result of generations living and working at altitude.

    I just wonder whether Columbians in the highlands have developed over time a marginal benefit from their historic racial location and development over time.

    Posing the question….why don’t we see a shit load of Ghurkas in the Grand Tours?….Maybe a recruitment drive is in order….I vote for a campaign in Katmandu to recruit Ghurkas in to the Velominati!

  12. @motor city

    @frank

    I love the stories of escape from a life of hard labour in cycling. I’ve read a few times of Sean Kelly talking about how he did different sports at school but realised that his older brother got out of chores on the family farm on weekends because he cycled. This made him also take up the sport and the more he rode, the less farmwork he had to do.

    This shows that even from an early age he was working on the principles of Rule #11 for us all to follow.

    Jaques Anquetil is a prime example…it followed through not just in his success but also the way he approached his cycling.  It was to him a source of income and he never forgot it, or where he came from.

    By the way Paul Howards – Sex, Lies and Handlebar Tape is a great book on Metre Jacques and well worth a read..

  13. @Deakus

    Posing the question….why don’t we see a shit load of Ghurkas in the Grand Tours?….Maybe a recruitment drive is in order….I vote for a campaign in Katmandu to recruit Ghurkas in to the Velominati!

    When you get to Katmandu you’ll probably notice that the average Gurkha doesn’t really have the physic of a GT climber.They might well have the lungs for it but their physique tends to be short and squat, the W/kg wouldn’t be good at all. Shitloads of V though.

  14. @Chris

    @Deakus

    Posing the question….why don’t we see a shit load of Ghurkas in the Grand Tours?….Maybe a recruitment drive is in order….I vote for a campaign in Katmandu to recruit Ghurkas in to the Velominati!

    When you get to Katmandu you’ll probably notice that the average Gurkha doesn’t really have the physic of a GT climber.They might well have the lungs for it but their physique tends to be short and squat, the W/kg wouldn’t be good at all. Shitloads of V though.

    Damn!  I was hoping Sky might sponsor me to go check it out….

  15. @Deakus

    @ChrisO

    2. Inherent/Genetic benefit. This is not about growing up at high altitude. This is about a race of people who over generations have lived at altitude and over time, as a people, they have adapted to lower oxygen levels. The most obvious example are the Sherpas of Nepal who, it has been proved, have a material advantage over other races (Pakistani porters) as a result of generations living and working at altitude.

    I just wonder whether Columbians in the highlands have developed over time a marginal benefit from their historic racial location and development over time.

    Posing the question….why don’t we see a shit load of Ghurkas in the Grand Tours?….Maybe a recruitment drive is in order….I vote for a campaign in Katmandu to recruit Ghurkas in to the Velominati!

    Yes I’m sure genetics come into it as well but then it isn’t just a matter of living at altitude, it is all aspects of physique.  I don’t know the differences between Sherpas and Pakistanis but if the Sherpas are short and squat with lower centres of gravity they may have an advantage as carriers of large loads, compared to more wiry, slightly taller people.

    Similarly anyone genetically disposed to be small and light is going to have an advantage in climbs, but there are other aspects such as length of femur which improve general cycling ability.

    Genetics is I think often overlooked or regarded as unmentionable for political correctness. It’s why people believe utter codswallop like Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours.

  16. @ten B

    @PeakInTwoYears

    Old training advice I read somewhere, in the context of running I’m afraid: if your face and hands are relaxed, the rest of you is probably relaxed, too. That helped me run better, and I try to remember it, now, while riding.

    I do the same, but end up drooling on my top tube when in 5-and-dime situations.

    And I wind up throttling the bars and pulling faces like Tommy.  Which is why it’s so amazing to watch Quintana race Froome on a mountain finish. It doesn’t get much more five and dime than that, and yet the little hero stays cool as a cucumber. If we assume a refrigerated cucumber.

    Porte has a good race face, I think. His mild grimace looks like an evil grin. I wonder if he trained his grimace up from a young grimace, for psy-ops in the peloton.

  17. @ChrisO I think there is some truth in the 10,000 hours. I mean, it’s a combination of genetics and self discipline that has held me back – not just one of them.

    And you can’t polish a turd.

  18. @ChrisO

    @Deakus

    @ChrisO

    2. Inherent/Genetic benefit. This is not about growing up at high altitude. This is about a race of people who over generations have lived at altitude and over time, as a people, they have adapted to lower oxygen levels. The most obvious example are the Sherpas of Nepal who, it has been proved, have a material advantage over other races (Pakistani porters) as a result of generations living and working at altitude.

    I just wonder whether Columbians in the highlands have developed over time a marginal benefit from their historic racial location and development over time.

    Posing the question….why don’t we see a shit load of Ghurkas in the Grand Tours?….Maybe a recruitment drive is in order….I vote for a campaign in Katmandu to recruit Ghurkas in to the Velominati!

    Yes I’m sure genetics come into it as well but then it isn’t just a matter of living at altitude, it is all aspects of physique. I don’t know the differences between Sherpas and Pakistanis but if the Sherpas are short and squat with lower centres of gravity they may have an advantage as carriers of large loads, compared to more wiry, slightly taller people.

    Similarly anyone genetically disposed to be small and light is going to have an advantage in climbs, but there are other aspects such as length of femur which improve general cycling ability.

    Genetics is I think often overlooked or regarded as unmentionable for political correctness. It’s why people believe utter codswallop like Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours.

    Aha well, one of my pet projects for a while was the people of St Kilda.  There (contrary to popular opinion which thinks they were forceably re-partriated) moved from the islands in the North Atlantic in the 1930 as a result of starvation and illness.  The sadness is, that a  people who had lived a life dependant upon the outdoors and sea birds were re-housed in a council estate in Glasgow.

    Anyway I digress.  In actual fact it was proven that the St Kildans were a race in their own right.  They had some specifically adapted features for their lifestyle, much of which was climbing cliffs for seabirds and their eggs.  They actually had a curvature in their feet and longer than normal toes which is deemed to  have been an evolutionary adaptation linked to their lifestyle over thousands of years.  There was never more than 180 of them!  That’s a pretty small race!!

    I have visited Hirta, it is a truly fascinating place.  Not sure how good they would have been on a bike though….

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Kilda,_Scotland

  19. @PeakInTwoYears

    @ChrisO

    if the Sherpas are short and squat with lower centres of gravity they may have an advantage as carriers of large loads, compared to more wiry, slightly taller people.

    Speaking for all short and squat people everywhere, I can attest that we are better at carrying large loads than we are at riding bikes up steep mountains.

    I think your sample size is too limited. I’m short and squat and carry heavy things with as much efficiency and aplomb as I cycle up steep mountains.

  20. @Chris

    @PeakInTwoYears

    @ChrisO

    if the Sherpas are short and squat with lower centres of gravity they may have an advantage as carriers of large loads, compared to more wiry, slightly taller people.

    Speaking for all short and squat people everywhere, I can attest that we are better at carrying large loads than we are at riding bikes up steep mountains.

    I think your sample size is too limited. I’m short and squat and carry heavy things with as much efficiency and aplomb as I cycle up steep mountains.

    This then begs the question, is there any point to being big and fat.  I can deploy the guns and V on the flat and rouleur myself to oblivion, but the moment the road goes uphill, I am off the back and crying for my mummy between sobs.

    I do however descend like a dropped stone.

  21. “Bobet, Anquetil, our Prophet Merckx, Hinault, and Fignon faced life in a field or market versus life as one of the greatest shaping forces our sport has known”

     

    I don’t agree; do you know why Fignon was known as “l’intello” in the peloton?

    I like the site, I like the book; but I don’t like when people spread half-thruths, especially about riders.

  22. @Deakus I think you’ve answered your own question.

    (@Chris I never said anything about a plum. Different question entirely.)

  23. @Deakus Sounds like you’re doing a good job of imitating my riding style.

    I can’t really see any point in being fat, other than it seems to be an awful lot easier than being skinny. Until you get to a hill or try to go fast.

    I spent a month in the Andes working. The accommodation was at about 3000m to keep it comfortable but alotof the site was at about 4000m. I was smoking a bit at the time (takes ages to smoke at altitude) and unfit – 3000m was quite tough but it was amazing how much harder it was at at 4000m. We got up to 5000m a couple of times, that was an absolute killer.

  24. @Marcus

    @ChrisO I think there is some truth in the 10,000 hours. I mean, it’s a combination of genetics and self discipline that has held me back – not just one of them.

    And you can’t polish a turd.

    Surely it is the genetics that makes you lack self discipine…..or at least I sincerely hope so otherwise I have no excuse.

    As to your last statement….never a truer word spoken in jest….but reminding me did not get you on to my Christmas card list!

  25. @PeakInTwoYears

    (@Chris I never said anything about a plum. Different question entirely.)

    Aplomb. Posh way of saying Casually Negligent or whatever it is that @frank is always banging on about.

  26. @Chris

    @Deakus Sounds like you’re doing a good job of imitating my riding style.

    I can’t really see any point in being fat, other than it seems to be an awful lot easier than being skinny. Until you get to a hill or try to go fast.

    I spent a month in the Andes working. The accommodation was at about 3000m to keep it comfortable but alotof the site was at about 4000m. I was smoking a bit at the time (takes ages to smoke at altitude) and unfit – 3000m was quite tough but it was amazing how much harder it was at at 4000m. We got up to 5000m a couple of times, that was an absolute killer.

    I climbed Gran Paradiso a few years ago 4061m…or rather I did not because between 3000m and 4000m I discovered how difficult that transition is (only one night acclimatisation which was stupid).  I made it within 200m (vertical) of the summit and the tank was empty, I mean I was hardly even able to descend.  Wisest decision I ever made, the weather was on the turn and the day was getting late.  Wisdom is the better part of valour.

    Altitude sucks…period…

  27. @Marcus

    @ChrisO I think there is some truth in the 10,000 hours. I mean, it’s a combination of genetics and self discipline that has held me back – not just one of them.

    And you can’t polish a turd.

    Yeas that’s what I mean – it is a combination of genetics and practice. The the idea that anyone can reach the top if they do the 10,000 hours is effectively saying that you CAN polish a turd.

    The hours concept of training is really just a way of fulfilling the genetic potential – if you don’t have it in the first place then you can do 20,000 hours and it won’t help.

    There’ve been some interesting studies on chess players, where people have reached significantly different levels with widely varying amounts of practice. It comes down to ability first, then developing the ability.

  28. August 23rd until the next Grand Tour? No hockey? Crap, nothing but baseball, golf, and god forsaken CFL highlights to watch on the tele over breakfast. Maybe some female tennis grunting. Ugh.

  29. @tinu

    “Bobet, Anquetil, our Prophet Merckx, Hinault, and Fignon faced life in a field or market versus life as one of the greatest shaping forces our sport has known”

    I don’t agree; do you know why Fignon was known as “l’intello” in the peloton?

    I like the site, I like the book; but I don’t like when people spread half-thruths, especially about riders.

    OK Merckx was born to a middle-class bourgeois family and would probably have faced a life behind a counter or a desk. Although to be fair Fignon’s nickname was probably more to do with his glasses than his philosophical treatises. Jean Bobet was probably the best educated rider for many years.

    But I doubt any of them would have been so well-rewarded and well-regarded in even more upmarket professions, which I think was the point Frank was making.

    The examples may have been better chosen but the concept of sport as an escape into a more privileged life is one that is replicated many hundreds of times over in cycling, football, boxing and so on. It’s hardly a controversial suggestion.

  30. Given that ITTs are functionally time bonuses for the strongest time trialists, I submit that time bonuses for categorized climbs of 2, 1, and HC would even the playing field sufficiently to make the last week of le TDF pretty interesting.

  31. dudes, sorry for my mistake, Quintana didn’t ride the Giro

    so much for memory, my bad

    so Quintana does like spain, and has done alot of racing in that area, and the Vuelta may be on!

  32. genetics and all aside, I do think Quintana did benefit from the greatest single thing any rider gets, and it only comes once

    free pass, the unmarked rider, the unknown commodity

    who knew?  I mean hell, crashednfeld even cracked 4th…once

    look at Ryder now? Kloden, who was 3rd once?  Spartacus can’t do anything without the peloton pissing their bibs, because all these are now marked

    So, now Quintana is a known value, and will see how that pans out.  I personally think he is special and will be phenomenal.

  33. @ChrisO

    @Marcus

    @ChrisO I think there is some truth in the 10,000 hours. I mean, it’s a combination of genetics and self discipline that has held me back – not just one of them.

    And you can’t polish a turd.

    Yeas that’s what I mean – it is a combination of genetics and practice. The the idea that anyone can reach the top if they do the 10,000 hours is effectively saying that you CAN polish a turd.

    The hours concept of training is really just a way of fulfilling the genetic potential – if you don’t have it in the first place then you can do 20,000 hours and it won’t help.

    There’ve been some interesting studies on chess players, where people have reached significantly different levels with widely varying amounts of practice. It comes down to ability first, then developing the ability.

    a big part of what that book was saying Is that hard work and the 10,000 hours to expertise is a necessary component, but  with timing and opportunity(and luck) are the recipe for stardom. The point was that no superstar was one just because they were a “natural”.  Unique opportunity and timing allowed the cultivation of “Being a natural”.

  34. @Souleur

    genetics and all aside, I do think Quintana did benefit from the greatest single thing any rider gets, and it only comes once

    free pass, the unmarked rider, the unknown commodity

    who knew? I mean hell, crashednfeld even cracked 4th…once

    look at Ryder now? Kloden, who was 3rd once? Spartacus can’t do anything without the peloton pissing their bibs, because all these are now marked

    So, now Quintana is a known value, and will see how that pans out. I personally think he is special and will be phenomenal.

    He could well be another Uran or Henao…he may even lose some of the motivation, he certainly didn’t look fresh as a daisy at the top of those climbs.  I hope he does live up to the hype but only time will tell…

  35. @ten B

    @PeakInTwoYears

    Old training advice I read somewhere, in the context of running I’m afraid: if your face and hands are relaxed, the rest of you is probably relaxed, too. That helped me run better, and I try to remember it, now, while riding.

    I do the same, but end up drooling on my top tube when in 5-and-dime situations.

    And as for the Vuelta, if Uran is piloting the Death Star, there may be a couple of Colombinos on the podium.

    Tensioning your face is just energy wasted; I’m certain they train to stay relaxed in the face; makes perfect sense..

    Its hard though. I find myself grimacing wven just walking ip the stairs!

  36. @frank

    @ten B

    @PeakInTwoYears

    Old training advice I read somewhere, in the context of running I’m afraid: if your face and hands are relaxed, the rest of you is probably relaxed, too. That helped me run better, and I try to remember it, now, while riding.

    I do the same, but end up drooling on my top tube when in 5-and-dime situations.

    And as for the Vuelta, if Uran is piloting the Death Star, there may be a couple of Colombinos on the podium.

    Tensioning your face is just energy wasted; I’m certain they train to stay relaxed in the face; makes perfect sense..

    Its hard though. I find myself grimacing wven just walking ip the stairs!

    Absolutely. I failed to mention that part of my post-ride ritual is wiping the saliva off of my bike. In fact I always feel a bit of added kinship with Laurens ten D, as he ascends with a foot of slime trailing from his face. And if it helps to keep people off of my wheel, bonus.

  37. Awesome quote from Dave Brailsford

    You all laughed when I told you we were going to win the tour in five years, If I’d told you we would win it twice with two different riders you’d have p***ed your pants.

  38. @Chris

    Awesome quote from Dave Brailsford

    You all laughed when I told you we were going to win the tour in five years, If I’d told you we would win it twice with two different riders you’d have p***ed your pants.

    Isn’t that what Bruyneel said?

  39. @brett

    @Chris

    Awesome quote from Dave Brailsford

    You all laughed when I told you we were going to win the tour in five years, If I’d told you we would win it twice with two different riders you’d have p***ed your pants.

    Isn’t that what Bruyneel said?

    Jeez. I was thinking that, but I didn’t want to be a buzz kill.

  40. @tinu

    “Bobet, Anquetil, our Prophet Merckx, Hinault, and Fignon faced life in a field or market versus life as one of the greatest shaping forces our sport has known”

    I don’t agree; do you know why Fignon was known as “l’intello” in the peloton?

    I like the site, I like the book; but I don’t like when people spread half-thruths, especially about riders.

    Fignon was no professor. It was absolutely because he wore glasses, and it was no compliment. If you know otherwise please enlighten. We are not close minded here. Pains in the ass, sure, but we will listen.

  41. Professional cycling as “social upwards mobility” can also show a darker face: A close friend was a gifted junior MTB racer back in the early 90’s in Spain. After a couple of years of good results he was offered a place in a road racing team that groomed kids like him for pro cycling and soon found how uglier the scene was: He went from getting emergency spares from his main rival in top national level MTB to finding that an attack in the “wrong” place of the “wrong” road race would get him shouldered into the gutter when he was caught.

    He was still getting good results while he thought about starting college or delaying it for a few years to see if the cycling thing worked out, but many of the other kids had stopped their educations early and were completely desperate, with their parents and hangers on putting enormous pressure on them to succeed at any price.

    One particular evil effect of this situation was that the kids were basically railroaded into doping: ‘inject this and swallow that or pack and go home” was standard behaviour among the junior team principals, which explains a lot about the next decade worth of Spanish pros.

    A couple of stages into his first week-long race he was shown the needle and decided to pack it.

  42. @brett

    @Chris

    Awesome quote from Dave Brailsford

    You all laughed when I told you we were going to win the tour in five years, If I’d told you we would win it twice with two different riders you’d have p***ed your pants.

    Isn’t that what Bruyneel said?

    Fuck, Brett, can’t we send you away to the mountains for the whole of the Tour season next year? Some sort of retirement home/isolation facility for grumpy keepers.

    Bruyneel may well have said that but the difference is that he’s a weasely, beady eyed little shite. 

    It may all be dodgy as fuck, time will tell, but I quite like Dave’s style and I’m willing to take him at face value.

    As Frank said the other day “I would rather be burned by a liar than to accuse an honest man of cheating.” (although I’d rather see a pregnant lady stand on the bus than see a fat girl cry)

    I’m reading David Walsh’s book at the moment and it seems that whilst there might be similarities between now and then, the mistrust in COTHO and allegations of doping actually had some sound basis but didn’t gain momentum for a long time because many journalists didn’t want to go against the dream story of the sick kid overcoming adversity. Is there anything that points the finger at sky other than the fact that they’re better than other teams at the moment (which is only marginal at the moment anyway).

  43. @TheFatMan

    Professional cycling as “social upwards mobility” can also show a darker face: A close friend was a gifted junior MTB racer back in the early 90″²s in Spain. After a couple of years of good results he was offered a place in a road racing team that groomed kids like him for pro cycling and soon found how uglier the scene was: He went from getting emergency spares from his main rival in top national level MTB to finding that an attack in the “wrong” place of the “wrong” road race would get him shouldered into the gutter when he was caught.

    He was still getting good results while he thought about starting college or delaying it for a few years to see if the cycling thing worked out, but many of the other kids had stopped their educations early and were completely desperate, with their parents and hangers on putting enormous pressure on them to succeed at any price.

    One particular evil effect of this situation was that the kids were basically railroaded into doping: ‘inject this and swallow that or pack and go home” was standard behaviour among the junior team principals, which explains a lot about the next decade worth of Spanish pros.

    A couple of stages into his first week-long race he was shown the needle and decided to pack it.

    I didn’t know about any of this at the kids level but the sad thing is I am not in the least bit surprised.  It not that I expect it in cycling….actually it occurs everwhere these days….Modelling….Banking….Racing (Horses and Cars)….Tennis….in fact anywhere you find the work “Academy” expect this sort of behaviour and pressure.

    We will probably need to wait for a few more people to die before public opinion and views within the sport change.  At the other end of the scale if you have worked in a sport all your career, you retire at 35 and have no other skills, then you are pretty much bound to apply the same tactics as were forced on you and the pressures remain the same because the team sponsors demand results.

    Think Premiership Soccer….manager gets half a season to perform or is sacked….etc..etc…it is only going to get worse not better…

  44. @Souleur

    genetics and all aside, I do think Quintana did benefit from the greatest single thing any rider gets, and it only comes once

    free pass, the unmarked rider, the unknown commodity

    who knew? I mean hell, crashednfeld even cracked 4th…once

    look at Ryder now? Kloden, who was 3rd once? Spartacus can’t do anything without the peloton pissing their bibs, because all these are now marked

    So, now Quintana is a known value, and will see how that pans out. I personally think he is special and will be phenomenal.

     

    @Souleur I’m not so sure about Quintana being the unknown quantity. Team Sky admitted in pre-Tour interviews that if there was a man that they were keeping their eye on for surprises, it was Quintana. He already had a GT under his belt, the 2012 Vuelta, in which he was consistently shepherding Valverde in the mountains in the third week. Plus he already had successes against Sky in the past year (Dauphinee, País Vasco, Catalunya). And if that wasn’t enough, Quintana is roommates with Henao and Urán, with Urán also being his landlord. So I’m sure he wasn’t an unknown quantity to Sky

    Other teams may not have been fully aware of what Quintana is capable of, but I think at least Sky, Saxo and Katusha had a pretty good idea of whom they were dealing with

    If there has been an unknown Colombian quantity this year, it’s probably Betancur. Witness how much rope they gave him at Fleche Wallone on the Muur, and he almost pulled it off. But because of that, LBL, and the Giro, he will be a marked man at the Vuelta

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