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Bike Lights - 2010 Season Preview
 
By Giles Belbin
Date: 1/17/2010
Bike Lights - 2010 Season Preview
 

Bike Lights  - 2010 Season Preview
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

January
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 Series.


Cadel Evans' new bike prior to stunt pegs being fitted?
Photo C 2006 Wikimedia Commons user Black Wulfric - Public Domain

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."

February
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."

March
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."

April
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.

May
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 participants
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 anything.

June
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.

July
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 for.

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 mode
Photo 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti  

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."

August
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 Boonen.

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.

September
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."

October
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."

November
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, honest."

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."

December
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 actually care.

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,
        Giles

 
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