Latest News in Cycling
- My web photo albums from the Dutchtown Classic on Sunday, May 13, 2013:
Women Pro, 1, 2;
Men Pro, 1, 2;
Westra chasing another stage win
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (VN) — This was a hard blog to write. On the one hand, I really don’t want to talk about it, because I absolutely hate sympathy. On the other hand, if I write about the good, I should go ahead and mention the bad. This year has been plenty of both and nothing in between. Part of what makes cycling so great is how damn tough it is. You’ve got to love it to get through, and I do love it, even now.
I’m not sure what illness I have, exactly. There was a cold going around the team at Gila, and I felt a coughing, sore throat, and all that going on, but my SRM said that my legs were fine, I didn’t have a fever or anything, and symptoms were pretty minimal. That usually just means allergies, and there was a ton of pollen around, so I popped some antihistamines, and crossed my fingers heading into Cali.
I’m sure you’re all shocked to hear that finger-crossing doesn’t work. Every day here, the headache got a little bit worse, the coughing got louder, and the legs lost of a few watts. On Monday, I still had enough to finish 15th on the climb into hell, but I know I’m capable of better. Of course, 200-kilometer races and blistering heat (literally, I do have blisters) aren’t great for the health.
On Tuesday, when the road went uphill, I went backwards, which is usually the opposite of how things work for me. I chased for 80km, with Glen Mitchell driving the Bissell car next to me, keeping me fueled, and calculating the pace I’d need to maintain to make time cut. With 5km to go, race officials told to me to get in the car. Given how I’m feeling right now, it’s hard to think I would have felt much better tomorrow.
Obviously, the Amgen Tour of California was a huge target for me and the team, but the rest of the guys are doing quite well without me. I think Carter Jones is going to seal the deal on the polka-dot jersey, and Chris Baldwin’s not too shabby of a GC rider. Personally, I’m disappointed, but I learned a long time ago that you can’t tie your happiness to the last race. I’ll go home, rest up, and look ahead to nationals and Philly in the coming weeks.
This has been a real roller coaster year, for more reasons than I can get into just yet. My last comeback was from near-death in San Dimas to near-victory at the Tour of the Gila, so beating a few sniffles and coughing some phlegm (and now sand) out of my lungs will be a piece of cake.
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (VN) — He’s making it look easy again.
Peter Sagan (Cannondale) won his ninth career stage at the Amgen Tour of California on Tuesday, to no one’s surprise. Only the steepest of finishes or the most brutal, surreal attacks can soften his legs enough to take him out of contention in the world’s biggest races and, simply, the sprinters here in the Golden State are just not on his level. Hardly anyone is right now, aside from Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard).
It’s actually expected that Sagan wins races now — by fans, by riders, by the media. What makes the Slovak champion so unique is that he’s as consistent as he is young, as dependable to see the top step of the podium as he is to pop one-handed wheelies. At team camp in Los Angeles over the winter, Moreno Moser said it best: “With Peter, you are sure. You’re sure that you can win 15 races, no? It’s quite sure… With Peter, I’m sure that we will win a stage [at the Tour de France].”
Sagan, 23, acknowledged that the expectations to win are heavy. In an interview before this race began, he said that repeating his five-win romp across California was too tall an order.
“Last year I won five stages. But it was, I always say, a bit of luck. I don’t know. Maybe there wasn’t too many sprinters, like this year. … I don’t know. Last year I was very good, but it’s very hard doing the same things — the same victories. Maybe five victories is a little bit too much,” Sagan said. “And now I am here doing well, but also honing my condition before the Tour of France. I want to do well, and we will see in the race when I come on the front. But it’s too many climbs this year.”
Stages 1 and 2 eluded him, foiled by a breakaway on Sunday and the finishing climb Monday, but on Tuesday, Sagan took a sprint with clinical ability, a clear cut above his challengers.
His palmares at this point in his career are downright gaudy: the points classification at the Tour de France in 2012 in addition to three stage wins, three stages at the Vuelta a España, first at Ghent-Wevelgem, four top fives between Milano-Sanremo and Tour of Flanders, nine stage wins at the Amgen Tour of California, six at the Tour de Suisse.
“My results say I am here for the win,” he said. “I need to win, also for me, also for the people. The people want it when I win. Too many expectations? Yeah, it’s true, but I don’t think [about it when] they’re talking about me, other people,” he said. “If I’m thinking everyone is talking about me, [laughs] maybe I have too many confusions in my head. I want to look forward. And only doing well, just keeping the riding on the bike and have fun.”
Winning, of course, is fun. But can such a brilliant rider sustain the weight of being expected to win nearly every time he’s near a finish?
“He’s at a certain level where the expectations are for him to win. I mean he comes here and he wants to win, but … he knows there’s bigger goals coming up, and he’s already won a bunch before,” said Frankie Andreu, director of the 5-Hour Energy-Kenda squad and a former pro.
Winning in California is one thing — and it’s a difficult thing, traditionally, given the courses and conditions — but winning in France and Belgium, all year long?
“You have to match it, you know? Once you win the Tour, how do you match that? ‘Oh, Cadel Evans, failure the next year, he didn’t win again.’ Sagan, for sure. If he doesn’t win two stages or something, it’s going to be a failure,” Andreu said. “And it’s going to be hard to match. But a lot of times, those expectations, they come from the press … But he knows how cycling is. You lose 90 percent of the time. Maybe in Sagan’s case 20 percent of the time. But when you show up to the race, you want to win one.”
Garmin-Sharp boss Jonathan Vaughters said constant winning is untenable, expectation or not.
“I think cycling, especially sort of modern cycling, where it’s just gotten more and more and more competitive and the differences in riders are very small — it’s a sport where you’re never going to see absolute consistency. It’s so competitive,” he said. “And when you do — you see a guy like Sagan knock off 10 races early in the year — but to expect that year after year after year? That does put pressure on the rider, on the sponsors, and that can be counterproductive, as we’ve seen. Sometimes, you run along it. I don’t know — how many races did Sean Kelly win in his career? He’s a similar-type guy.”
Sean Kelly won 33 races alone in a tremendous 1984 season, and more than 185 total. While Sagan’s a long way from that, he gets closer, one by one. He’ll likely have another chance on Wednesday, as the Amgen Tour rolls from here to Santa Barbara.
- Up for sale is a decent starter single speed 29er. It began as a Nashbar singlespeed 29er, and it has the following modifications:
Fork: Rock Shox Reba Race 2005 (100mm travel, crown lockout)
Wheels: Alex DH19 rims, Redline hubs (standard qr front, ss bolt on rear), WTB Weirwolf 29x2.55 tires (with tubes)
Front Brake: Magura Marta SL (160mm rotor, newish pads, freshly bled)
It is very solid this way, and the geometry is close to an AM hardtail, making it stable on downhills, cornering, jumping, and mashing uphill. If the price seems high, I might take off $100 for each modification that you want undone. I would suggest a good insurance plan if you go for the fully stock option. Other details:
Weight: 28.5 lbs
Pedals: Platforms (new in packaging) or Time Atac Alium (used for $20 more)
Also, here is some barely-used higher end stuff for half price:
Specialized Phenom Saddle (143 mm hollow Cro-mo rails) - $65
SRAM PG-990 9-speed cassette - $40
Happy trails, friends.