New Kazak Sponsor for Vino

The new kit is out and it may seem like a rushed job, but a Kazakistan company or conglomorate has stepped up to make sure that Alexandre Vinokourov rides the Tour de France this year. With the fallout of Operation Puerto resulting in the departure of main sponsor Liberty Seguros, things looked grimm for the Kazak Tour hopeful. Although it remains to be seen if ASO will allow Astana-Wurth to ride the Tour de France, at least Vino has some sponsorship support to take over from Liberty.

The new sponsor has interestingly decided to use Kazak spokesman Borat to put on the new kit. They even switched to Kazak made Borat bikes instead of the BH bikes that were previously used.

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Elisa Basso

One of the most popular search terms on this site is Ivan Basso’s sister, or Elisa Basso. I don’t remember writing about Basso’s lovely sister much, so I did some research :) and found a good (safe for work) video to post on my site. Now, those searching for Elisa Basso will get a result that won’t leave them sour.

Hmmm, if this is popular then maybe I will join Bicirace and Pez in setting up some sort of cycling babe section. Or not.

UPDATE:

YouTube has removed the video. Darn, next time I will have to save it locally. This is one of the most popular pages on the site. In the meantime, here are some choice pics of Elisa Basso. Including one that is NSFW.

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The following pic is NSFW

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Weekend Warrior: Syracuse Race Weekend

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Another Syracuse Race Weekend has come and gone. It was very busy for everyone in the Onondaga Cycling Club since this is a three event race. This year it was called a stage race, but the GC was determined by points. It was a stage race mostly to force folks to ride all three events. The three events consist of a Road Race on Saturday that loops around an area near Otisco Lake, Saturday night Street Sprint in Downtown Syracuse and a Criterium on Syracuse’s Onondaga Park.

The Road Race starts at Song Mountain and follows Otisco Valley Road until the grinding climb up Oak Hill Rd. Oak Hill is not particularly steep, but it is long and grinding making it a challenging race overall. The finish is up a small climb back to Song Mountain. I did not ride the Road Race since hills aren’t my friend, and instead chose to help out. My job was to be a sweep driver. Basically I was free until the end when I would drive the course and instruct Course Marshalls and Fire Dept volunteers to pack up since the race is over. I ended up following behind the small pack of Pro 1,2s that were doing the ~30 mile loop three times. With the cold and drizzly conditions they weren’t going all out. Some of them seemed to be waiting for the final sprint up to the finish. I followed up to the start finish area where the Pros sprinted it out.

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The Colavtia-Spokepost.com team did well with Andy Melencheko scoring a win in the Masters class and Jeremy Wickham getting a third. Many of the Colavita guys finished very well.

The Street Sprints in Downtown Syracuse had better weather as the sun started to peak through the clouds and the weather warmed up. Hanover Sqaure was full of cyclist and folks sitting at the bars watching cyclist go by. This was my first attempt at the Street Sprints which I always thought would be a perfect event for my ability. The event involves four or five cyclist at a time starting from a full stop and sprinting for two blocks. The first one or two moves to the next round. The key is starting from a dead stop, so you need a holder so you can stay clipped in. Unfortunately for me I could not stay upright. I don’t know if it was my holder or me, or my weight causing both, but I had trouble staying upright at the start. As soon as I clipped in, I would lean to one side and then have to clip out. This was getting embarasing as no one else had this problem before me. As more time goes by I got more nervous and almost contemplated starting the sprint with my toe down. This was even more troubling since I usually practice track stands at stop lights, and have been getting better lately. Maybe it was pressure, or being nervous or something. All this jostling took me right out of the sprint. As soon as the whistle blew signalling “go” I was delayed and totally sucked in the sprint. I just wish I could try it again.

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Next day was the Criterium on the West Side. This is a race were I expected to do well as I placed third here two years ago. Last year I did not race since the birth of my baby girl made staying home seem more fun than riding. So, I was expecting to at least do as well as before. The course is a one mile loop with a small hill on the opposite side of the start/finish area. The hill is not a problem for me, and I usually use it to gain places during a race.

One concern I did have was that our field was unsually large and probably contained some squirrely riders. My tatic was to hope for a fast start and stay in the top ten in the pack. Then I would wait until the end where I would sprint it out. Things did not work out so well. The first few laps were extremely fast, and I hung on. But slowly, I kept drifting back. The problem for me was the downhill which had enough of a turn where I would touch the brakes to slow down. The others in my group did not, so by the bottom I would get a gap, which made it very hard to stick with the front group. A few laps later one rider went off road near the start/finish. He was flying at full speed somewhere around 30mph when he decided to try and jump back on the road. Not good and I was coming up with a bunch of folks behind me. As he came back on the road he almost swerved right into me causing me to slow down and lose momentum. This caused enough of a gap where I had to chase with a few TVC guys who did not like me working with them. They kinda worked me over as I led the chase down the back stretch to the hill at which point they all attacked to get by me. Thanks for working with me TVC!

After that I was in no man’s land losing places and got pulled. The judges were being a bit aggressive with the pulls as I was nowhere near getting lapped and could have eventually gotten back with the previous group. Oh well, at least I got finishing points.

So, the racing did not go very well, this is probably my worst ever performance at the Syracuse Crit. I never got pulled from the race before. I will work on speed in the next few weeks as the next major goal will be the Rochester Twilight Crit on June 24th. Watch for videos, and pictures very soon.

After the race I helped with corner marshalling, fitted some kids with free helmetsand chaperoned some kids during the the Kids Race. Colavita-Spokepost.com organized the Kids Race and it turned out to be a huge success. Lots of kids came out, we organized it so the races went smoothly and quickly. The kids got free helmets and got to see what bike racing is all about. There were some very strong young kids who should try cycling out as a sport.

Watch for more pics and video.

Sourpuss Simoni

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Italians love a good polemica between riders. A duel between riders is not quite enough, there has to be some sort of hatred or antagonism to add to the rivalry. If it was the battle between Coppi and Bartali in the 50s or Moser vs Saronni in the 80s, Chiaucci vs Bugno vs Pantani in the 90 and others. Now comes the latest in the line of polemics with the new battle between Gilberto Simoni and Ivan Basso.

Accusations from Simoni have come out after Saturday’s Giro stage to Aprica where Ivan Basso cemented a dominating Giro win with his third stage win. The win was particularly sweet since Basso was celebrating the birth of a new son whose picture he proudly showed the world as he crossed the finish line. Life couldn’t be better for Basso. Now Sourpuss Simoni is accusing Basso of not playing fair. First, Simoni was bitter that Basso asked him to take it easy on the descent of the Mortirolo so not to take risks. Surely Simoni thought that as a reward for chilling out, Basso would give him the stage win. Sadly for SS, it was not to be since Basso has been so much stronger than anyone else this Giro. The Smiling Assasin was not in a giving mood especially since Jens Voight gave a gift to Juan Manuel Garate the day before. Team manager Bjarne Riis must have been proud of the gesture on the outside, but cycling is as much a business as it is a sport, so a Giro stage win is quite a gift. So, CSC weren’t that much in a giving mood especially as Basso was so much stronger than Simoni at this point.

Today, Simoni has upped the ante by accusing Basso of asking for cash in exhange for allowing Simoni to take the stage win. Simoni let these accusations fly in the press, while Basso and CSC chose to ignore these statements. Lets make this clear, deals are brokered in the peloton all the time. Riders discuss deals when helping a team or negotiating a stage win. This is not new. It could be an unsavory aspect to the sport, but if a deal is offered or not there is no discussion thereafter, especially in the press. Seems like Simoni is either making up the story or doing a very unsportsman like gesture and blabbing to the press about a potential deal. Either eay,this is a no class move by a rider who is no stranger to shooting off his mouth whenever things do not go his way. The 2004 Giro is a perfect example as Simoni would be throwing all types of accusations at Cunego. Even at the Tour of California, Simoni was complaining about the tougher than expected pace of the race. Simoni was also at odds with Marco Pantani throughout his career, and helps deny the Pirate a stage win in his final Giro in 2003. So, Simoni is definatley no stranger to polemics with other riders, this is simply the latest round of “who can PO Gibo”

No More Venga Venga Venga

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Good riddance to Manolo Saiz from the world of cycling. That of course is if the stories are true and he is guilty. But this is cycling and Europe, so he is pretty much guilty until he is found innocent.

Is it just too much to ask that if you sign a contract with a major sponsor that is taking a chance on cycling that you would at least try and run a clean program? This is tought to swallow for a sponsor especially after Liberty restructured the contract to put a zero tolerance rule on doping. This comes as strike three after two strikes in 2005. Roberto Heras’ DQ as Vuelta champ is enough to take, so why would Saiz simply continue with the doping program when there is so much to lose?

The protests from Roberto Heras saying that he was being setup or unfairly implicated must ring hollow now that Saiz was basically caught red handed in this latest doping affair.

What about Vino?
Podium Cafe has some speculation about whose maglia Alexandre Vinokourov will be wearing when the Tour rolls around. Neil Stephans who was a member of Festina during the 1998 scandal and a team manager at Liberty (Hmm, maybe this guys knows more about doping that anyone suspects?) is proclaiming that the team will still ride even if they have no sponsor. I’d like to know how they will pay Vino to ride the Tour? Maybe he will ride for free since free is better than sitting at home and losing out at a prime chance at win the biggest bike race in the world.

Either way, we will not be enduring the shouts of “Venga Venga Venga” from Manolo Saiz’s bullhorn as he encourages riders to go faster during a time trials. Saiz will be working with lawyer preparing his defense or a guilty plea by July.

If Vino does not stay with x-Liberty, I would guess he would be picked up by a team like Saunier Duval. Vino would make a great combo with David Millar. Two guys on opposite ends of doping scandals. Vino just got burned and Millar is just coming back. The ying/yang aspect is too good to pass up. Either way, if Vino still wins the Kazak National Championships again he can simply slap on a new sponsor name over his light blue and yellow kit. That is of course if he is not in jail or implicated as part of the Saiz scandal.

Basso Copies Lance

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Each day the talk on “Processo alla Tappa” is if the Giro is truly over or not. Each day everyone including Ivan Basso himself procliams that the Giro isn’t over especially with some brutal stages coming up in the next day. Each day however Ivan Basso crushes the competition so thouroghly that everyone is left wondering just where their trainint went wrong. Gilberto Simoni seems to be climbing back up the GC, but he simply cannot match the speed at which Ivan Basso climbs. Paolo Savoldelli is holding his own, but each climbing stage finds him more minutes behind the incredible Basso.

So what is the difference this year where Ivan Basso looks super strong? Last year Basso was a great climber and time trialer, but this year he seems to have upped the skills to another level. Mot of this has to do with taking Lance Armstrong’s playbook for Tour de France domination and running with it.
Here are the facts. Basso has increased his cadence this year. Davide Cassani of RAI points this out incessantly. Last year Basso would have been pedalling at 65 rpms up a mount climb such as Bondone. This year he is pedalling at around 85 to 95 rpms. His style on the bike is super smooth, he only gets up to accelarate and when he does he shifts up a gear. His climbing speed was further enhanced by motor pacing up climbs. Usually motor pacing is done on flat land, but this method definatley shows the results as Basso is climbing up the climbs as if he is on a motorcycle.

Next, he has a beefed up team and launches him up the climbs. Guys like Sastre, Voight, Julich etc are strong on their own, and they prove to be a fearsome force to guide Basso in the mountains. Today Jens Voight was rolling the CSC train for much of the early part of the Bondone climb. He was later releived by Carlos Sastre who set an equally bristering pace. For most of the climb until the Simoni/Piepoli attack, CSC had at least four riders at the front while the peloton was losing riders.

Finally, after years of close placings and mistakes, CSC seems to finally have their act together. Basso suffered stomach problems just when he looked to run away with the Giro last year. This year, CSC is taking no chances as the brought down their own chef.

The Girocertainy isn’t over as the Plan de Corones climb could throw a curveball to Basso and company, but each day Ivan Basso is crushing the competition at every opportunity.

Belli’s Back, Rujano is a jerk

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Wladmir “Sugar Ray” Belli is in fourth place 7:35 behind Ivan Basso. Thanks to a breakaway that let the Italian veteran gain back some time on GC and a very good performance on La Thuile, Selle Italia has a new team leader. This is good news for a team that had to deal with the Terrell Owens like problems with Jose Rujano.

The Rujano saga took one more (probably final) odd step in Saturday’s stage to La Thuile. Jose Rujano abruptly retired from the race with only 3km left in the stage to La Thuile. This was after showing some improving form when he attacked the maglia rosa group. Although he was quickly reeled in and dropped by Basso, the Venezualian looked to be getting set for the brutal final week in the Giro. After the long cold descent, Rujano was complaining of not being able to brake and decided to pack it in for the entire race. Selle Italia team boss seemed miffed at the explaination and simply called the whole deal a mystery during the Giro followup show “Processo all Tappa”. Seems as though Savio does not know much more about why Rujano called it a day only 3km before the finish. Whatever problems existed, he could simply coast his way to the finish from 3km away if there was any sort of real problem.

The Selle Italia polemics with Rujano are probably in the past now as the Venezualian climber is looking forward to joining his new team Quick-Step on June 1st. Rujano was not in the same form as last year. However, the tiny climber who “looks like a little kid on a bike” (according to Aurio Bulbarelli of RAI) will be moving on to Belgian team Quick Step where he will see what it means to be a professional bike racer from guy slike Tom Boonen and Paolo Bettini. Unfortuanelty for Rujano he lost some prime chances at winning stages in the Giro as the final week was serving up opportunities that were almost tailor made for the 48kg climber. He can now watch Basso or Piepoli or others soak up the glory that could have been his.

Wladmir Belli is back in the Giro. From the looks of the standings with Simoni and Belli separated by only one place, you would think it was five years ago when Simoni’s fans were all over the Giro course and the two were fighting out for the Giro top spot. Simoni’s tifosi were so annoying that Belli had to slug one that got a little too close. Turns out that man was Simoni’s brother-in-law and the punch was a little too much for the Giro orgs tastes. So Belli was Dq’d.

Now five years later, Belli is back in the Giro riding for Selle Italia. His original job was to use his years of experience in the Giro to help guide Jose Rujano to and overall win. Selle Italia loaded up with veterans to help Rujano get through the Giro in a winning position. Now that Rujano fizzled Belli is in a top spot on GC and in great form. Belli who has stated that he will retire after the Giro was asked by David Cassani on “Processo della Tappa” if he is still going to retire after the race. He replied that it is hard when you are in great form, but now that he is 36 years old he knows that it is time to stop.