Bike Lights - 2010
An alternative look at the cycling world** -
With the 2010 cycling season nearly upon us, Bike Lights looks forward to the
stories that won't be happening this year....
**According to Giles Belbin
There's chaos at the Tour Down Under as the professional peloton suffer a
testing start to the 2010 season. Several riders who switched sponsors in the
closed-season struggle to get to grips with their new teams and equipment. World
Champion and Aussie Housewife favourite, Cadel Evans, bemoans the curse of the
Rainbow Jersey as he fails to make any impression on home soil. The smiling
Aussie refuses to blame his equipment but admits to an element of surprise when
he saw for the first time his 2010 steed , a red BMX Bike with stunt pegs.
"I must admit I could've sworn the contract I signed was for BMC, not
BMX Racing," said Evans, "but like George pointed out, obviously not." Evans is
forced to set new goals for the 2010 season, dropping the Tour de France from
his schedule and adding instead Round Seven of the BMX Nottingham Outlaws Open
Cadel Evans' new bike prior to stunt pegs being fitted?
Photo C 2006 Wikimedia Commons user Black Wulfric - Public
Evans is not the only rider troubled by their sponsor switch as Brit and Tour
de France hopeful, Bradley Wiggins finishes the race a disappointing 3 hours
behind the winner. Unlike Evans, Wiggins has no hesitation in pointing to a
change in equipment as being the principle reason for the poor performance.
"It's natural that the sponsor will want you to showcase their products,"
said Wiggins, "but Sky have gotta realise it's bleeding hard riding with a
satellite dish and set-top box attached to your bike. Not only does it play
havoc with your balance but it's hard to concentrate when there are re-runs of
The Wire on."
Despite the setback Wiggins confirms he is pleased he made the move telling
increasingly confused journalists at a press conference, "like I said, to win
the Tour you need to be at Manchester United not Wigan Athletic."
When a bemused Italian journalist points out both Manchester United and Wigan
Athletic are football teams and so can't actually ever win the Tour de France,
or even take part for that matter.
Wiggins raised his eyebrows, "I know that," he sighed, "but if Sky were a
football team, which they aren't, but if they were, you know, hypothetically
speaking, they would be Manchester United. Probably. Because Man Utd are the
best you know, even though they just lost to Leeds who actually aren't very
good, not even as good as Wigan. I'm just trying to make a point."
The peloton visit oil-rich Qatar for the little anticipated ninth edition of the
legendary Tour of Qatar. The race attracts a world-class field which has
absolutely nothing what so ever to do with the fact that it is run by Tour de
France owners ASO. Defending champion Tom Boonen takes his third straight
victory securing a prize of free oil supplies for him and his family for the
next ten years.
"I'm delighted," says an obviously delighted Boonen, "with the harsh winters
we get in Belgium, I'm glad we can now whack the old heating up a degree or two
without worrying about the bill."
Back in Belgium, Boonen is later disappointed to learn his free oil supply is
actually linseed oil, only good for protecting cricket bats in England and
actually quite smelly. "What the hell is Cricket anyway?" asks an incandescent
and cold Boonen.
Tom Boonen's prize
Photo 2009 Wikimedia Commons user Rasbak - GNU Free License
After a disappointing February, Bradley Wiggins confirms he is not worried
about his team's lack of form saying: "Look, it's early days you know. It's a
marathon not a sprint." When a bemused Spanish journalist points out it is
actually not a marathon nor a sprint but bike racing, Wiggins raises his
eyebrows and shrugs his shoulders before replying "I know it's bleeding bike
racing, it's just a saying you know, a bleeding saying, give me strength. I'm
just trying to make a point."
The riders return to Europe as the season gets into full swing. Unfortunately
Paris-Nice, or the "Race to the Sun", doesn't live up to it's name. Starting in
glorious, sun drenched, spring conditions, the weather worsens over the week and
ends in gloom and hailstones on the Premenade des Anglais in Nice, prompting
mass rider withdrawals and threats of legal action. "It's just not what it said
it would be," sniffs a soaking wet Alberto Contador, "it's a breach of contract
pure and simple and I for one intend to take action. The Race to the Sun they
said, I brought my swimming cossie and everything and was really looking forward
to it. Nice bit of riding, nice bit of sun, maybe get a bit of a tan, perhaps a
few meals al-fresco, have a barbecue even, but then we get this! Ridiculous. The
race organisers have to be held to account, they must realize they just can't
treat us like this, we are human beings not animals."
At a press conference Bradley Wiggins states that he is the one and only
leader at Team Sky. "After all, too many cooks spoil the broth," grins Wiggins.
When a bemused French journalist seeks confirmation that Wiggins has now assumed
all catering responsibilities at the British team and, sensing a scandal, asks
just what this secret broth is anyway, Wiggins lets out a short groan before
replying, "No, no, I'm not the cook. It's just a saying...just a saying. I'm
just trying to make a point."
The new date for the Ghent-Wevelgem semi-classic proves to be an unmitigated
disaster when no-one bothers to turn up. After a brief investigation it
transpires that none of the teams actually knew the date of the race had been
brought forward because no-one told them.
"You're joking," says a surprised Mark Cavendish the day after the race was
due to be held, "I was targeting that race as well, I had the early part of the
season all mapped out for it and had prepared perfectly for it"
Cavendish storms out of the press conference in a huff when it is pointed out
that his preparation couldn't have been that perfect if he didn't actually know
the race had moved. Ghent-Wevelgem's press officer is later sacked when he
admits he just emailed details of the change to one or two magazines and
websites because he thought "word would probably get around."
Commenting on rumours linking a number of fellow riders to a new doping
scandal emerging in Portugal, Bradley Wiggins is down-beat, "I really don't know
if these rumours are true or not, I truly hope not because I would hope the
sport has learned its lesson by now, but unfortunately generally there's no
smoke without fire." When a bemused German journalist asks for clarification
that the smoke detectors in the building are operating correctly and asks for
the fire exits to be pointed out, Wiggins begins to slowly bang his head
repeatedly on the table.
Learning a quick lesson from Ghent-Wevelgem, the Tour of California puts out a
hastily drafted notice reminding everyone that they moved their race as well -
to May. There is a sharp intake of breath from the peloton as they realise this
clashes with the second most prestigious stage race of the year - the Giro
d'Italia. When this is pointed out to the Tour of California organisers they are
taken aback, "Really!", they exclaim, "that can't be right. Gosh. No, we checked
the calendar, I'm sure we did, the Giro d'Italia you say, oh that's quite a big
race isn't it, oh they will be annoyed, oh well too late to change now. Oh, did
I mention we are offering to all riders free doughnuts and all the coffee
refills you can take as well as a signed photo of Governor Schwarzeneger. Oh and
prize money is triple what the Giro offers?"
A signed photo of Governor Schwarzenegger is on offer to all TOCA
Photo copyright 2005 Stefanie Broughton - Public Domain
Rumours continue to come out from Portugal with police confirming that a pet
shop owner from Lisbon is helping them with their enquiries.
Team Sky reject claims that relations are souring between the team management
and star rider Bradley Wiggins because the management want him to ride the Giro
whilst Bradley wants to go to California like every one else. "It's simply not
true," says Wiggins. "We are like a family here, sure we have a few little
tiffs, what family doesn't, but at the end of the day blood is thicker than
water." Wiggins almost falls off his chair when a bemused Dutch journalist asks
what the comparative viscosity of hemaglobin and H2O has got to do with
The traditional countdown to the Tour de France starts in earnest. Riders are
busy training, mislaying whereabouts forms or competing in traditional warm up
events like the Tour de Suisse and Criterium du Dauphine Libere when the
traditional pre-tour doping scandal is finally confirmed. Police in Portugal
announce they are investigating claims of a doping ring centred on a pet shop
with a clinic on the first floor. Operacion Criceto uncovers bags of frozen
blood with names like Mr Whiskers, Hammy and Fuzzy Cool on them.
After weeks of intense detective work the investigators announce they suspect
the name tags may in fact be a devilishly cunning code linking the bags of blood
to the riders by using the names of their pet hamsters. "We have been concerned
for sometime at the number of hamsters and hamster paraphernalia coming into the
country," says the local Chief of Police. "The amount of clear plastic tubing,
runaround balls and bags of sawdust crossing our borders is simply
unprecedented. I think we now probably know why." The investigation threatens to
overshadow the upcoming Tour de France, the most eagerly awaited edition of the
race since the last one.
At a press conference in Manchester, Bradley Wiggins announces he is ready
for the biggest race of the year and is happy with his form and cautiously
optimistic but that much hard work lies ahead. Grinning, Wiggins says, "Gardens
are not made by sitting in the shade. Everything in the garden is rosy but every
path has its puddle so you mustn't count your chickens before they're hatched."
He is met with bemused silence.
The Tour kicks off in Rotterdam amid lingering controversy over Operacion
Criceto. A leading contender is caught by investigators late at night going into
his back garden, with tears in his eyes carrying a shovel and a shoe box. The
Chief of Police confirms that this is the "smoking gun" they've been waiting
Christian Prudhomme announces the Tour will "once again rise above the stench
of doping and dead hamsters," before asking "why can't they do these
investigations in December when every one is indoors and no-one cares?"
The race itself proceeds predictably enough. Fabian Cancellara wins every
time-trial despite the new handicap system put in place by the organisers where
he is forced to give a "backie" to a small French man and a poodle and Mark
Cavendish upsets the rest of the peloton as he takes his fifth sprint stage win
by pulling a wheelie whilst simultaneously throwing his arms up in celebration
and shouting "look, no hands!"
Fabian Cancellara wins in Mendrisio; a picture of Swiss time precision in TT
Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter
The only drama is on the race's queen stage over the Pyrenees. Team Sky's
Bradley Wiggins breaks away from the leaders on the penultimate climb and at the
foot of the Tourmalet has a healthy lead and is the Yellow Jersey on the road.
Disaster strikes though just one kilometre from the finish when his satellite
dish gets tangled up in the flame rouge causing him to fall. By the time he gets
to his feet and frees his dish from the tangled kite his rivals have passed by,
Lance Armstrong muttering under his breath that the whole scene is strangely
familiar. Alberto Contador stays in Yellow and goes on to win his third Tour
title, his second with no team to talk of.
Post Tour Wiggins refuses to get upset, asserting he is happy with how things
went for him, "If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will avoid 100
days of sorrow," he says, before adding, "it's no use crying over spilt milk,"
and that he doesn't wish to "kill the goose that lays the golden egg."
Radio Shack send a strong line-up to the Tour of Poland as punishment for their
poor showing in the Tour de France. "To place just the five riders in the top
ten of the biggest race of the year, when you have roster as strong as ours, is
just not acceptable," says a disappointed Johann Bruyneel, "we want more than
that and until these riders take that on board I will send them to races like
the Tour of Poland."
Tom Boonen, who has been strangely quiet since his victory earlier in the
year in Qatar announces his retirement from the sport. Boonen claims his form
has dropped off because a new-found love of cricket. He reveals plans to move to
the county of Sussex in England in order to pursue a new career as a batsman,
"I'll have the best protected cricket bats in the country," laughs a happy
Training for the upcoming Vuelta a Espana goes well for Team Sky and Bradley
Wiggins in particular who starts as race favourite, "As you sow, so you shall
reap," says Wiggins to eager journalists who all nod in agreement before
scribbling down such wise words.
Team Sky celebrate their first Grand Tour victory as Bradley Wiggins crushes all
opposition in the Vuelta a Espana to win by over ten minutes. "I'm over the
moon," says an over the moon Wiggins, "to claim victory in the most important
three week race to be held in August/September is simply fantastic. I trained
really quite hard for this. A tree is known by its fruit."
At the Road Racing World Championships in Melbourne, Australia celebrates as
Cadel Evans successfully defends his title. "This is a fantastic achievement for
me," says Evans, "I've spent all year working with the team here at BMC, I mean
BMX, Racing to get a bike fit to defend my title."
Rumours of a conspiracy are fiercely denied by the Melbourne Organising
committee who insist the last minute change of course from a flat street circuit
to a short track of grit featuring rollers, doubles, step-ups, table tops and
berms was made in good faith.
Bradley Wiggins announces his season is over saying "all work and no play
makes Jack a dull boy."
With the season over rumours abound over rider transfers. Jan Ulrich refuses to
deny reports he is considering a return to racing and only fuels the rumours
when he confirms he has gone back to following his pre-retirement winter regime
of eating as many fried breakfasts and doughnuts as possible in preparation for
a summer of relative abstinence.
The most surprising moves however come from Radio Shack and Sky. Alberto
Contador confirms he is moving to the Shack for an undisclosed but monstrous
salary to "meet up with his old buddy Lance, who I also got on well with,
At Team Sky, Bradley Wiggins announces he is off for a new challenge to take
up the leadership at Astana. "I felt I had achieved all I was going to at Sky,"
says Wiggins, "really to contest a race like the Tour you need to be at
Barcelona not Manchester United, who lets face it, aren't the team they were
when they had Ronaldo. Also I'm quite keen to learn some of the Kazakhstan
language besides, a rolling stone gathers no moss."
Operacion Criceto is halted by the Portugese authorities who claim that they
"made a mistake and there was actually no doping ring at all - sorry about all
that fuss." Claims of a cover-up by the authorities are denied.
The Portugese cycling federation announce a new four-week long Grand Tour,
which is given immediate historic status by the UCI. The UCI say they are truly
excited by the new race which is to take place in the month of July. The Tour de
France is forced to move to April to accomodate the world's new number one race,
the Giro d'Italia then moves to September, but the Tour of California changes to
June so the Giro d'Italia moves back to May and apologises for the
inconvenience. The Vuelta a Espana moves to November because that's the only
time when there is nothing else on meaning someone outside of Spain might
Approaching midnight on new year's eve, a slightly worse for wear Bradley
Wiggins proudly shows off his new language skills telling the assembled
paparazzi, "Myen syeni sooyom."
Until next time...Ciao,
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