Thanks to Bingen and Nikane for being here!!
Question: Bingen: What is the difference between Kelme and Cofidis as
Bingen: Kelme focuses mostly on Spanish races and its riders are
mostly Spanish. Cofidis has a more international team with riders from many
countries. Cofidis concentrates on most of the classics and big races.
And yes, we unfortunately have less Belgians now. I am sad to see Jo, Nico
and Chris go. I am quite disappointed to lose those three. They were such a
great crew and a lot of fun to be around.
Question: For both: You run cycling tours - I am not a good cyclist -
could you accomodate me?
Bingen & Nikane: No. Just kidding (Laughter all around) It depends on
each group. We work with each tour to tailor ride lengths and difficulty.
Sometimes we end up riding 4-5 hours and other times an easy 1-2 hours with coke
and donut breaks.
Question: So then you find out the guests' capabilities and work with
Bingen & Nikane: Before our tours we work with our guests and plan our
Question: Where exactly do you go on the tours? How does it work? What
tours do you plan for next year?
Bingen & Nikane: We run two type of tours mostly - we cover the big
races like the Tour and the Vuelta and then we do custom camps. This coming year
we will be doing the Tour, Vuelta and then custom camps for groups of clients.
Question: Can you say a few words about the custom camps?
Bingen & Nikane: Custom camps are great. Usually a group of friends
contacts us and tells us that they would like to plan a cycling camp in the
Alps, Southern Spain, etc., and we organize everything for them. The service is
similiar to our other tours, with massage, a mechanic, etc.
Question: Can you tell us a bit about this year’s TdF tour? How did it
Bingen & Nikane: How couldn't this year's Tour be a blast? It is hard
to imagine what it is going to be like next year with Lance going for #6 with
Question: Your guests watch some of the stages?
Bingen & Nikane: This year we covered the Pyrenean stages and watched
the stages from various points. Sometimes from the tops of mountains, sometimes
from the start, sometimes at several places...the Tour is better to watch than
ride - believe me!
Question: Bingen: In your Vuelta “Shameless” journal, you talked about
two instances in which riders did not assist their team leaders. Who were they
and what happened? Were there consequences after that?
Bingen: I was hesitant about sending that journal entry. Obviously, as
many of you probably guessed, it happened within my team which made things a bit
stressful for a few days. As much as you want me to spill the beans and tell you
who it was - I won't. I think that might be a bit shameless. I would love to
Of course the rider knows who he is. After that stage he spent four days with
his head down. Ok, so this is the biggest clue I will give: He was staying in
the same room as Luis Perez, which made matters worse and even tenser. It
happened with Banesto as well, on a different stage.
Question: What are some of the unwritten “rules of the road?” What
happens when a rider neglects them?
Bingen & Nikane: Riders who don't follow the unwritten rules of the
peloton end up being an outsider. And in the end riders gang up against them,
unfortunately - the main reason that you just follow the rules.
Here is another rule...on our bathroom breaks....usually when you need to
take a bathroom break, you ride up ahead of the pack and take your foot out of
the pedal and pull off the side. When one is peeing the peloton usually slows
down and other riders who need a pee break take it also. Sometimes a rider goes
up to the front and acts like he is going to take a pee break, but instead his
main intent is to slow the peloton down a bit. But this is frowned upon.
Question: A pee-tease!
Bingen & Nikane: Yes, a pee-tease! If you have to pee, you should pee
and not do it for other reasons. If more riders keep taking advantage of these
things we will never be able to slow down for bathroom breaks. We do pee on the
bike as well. You have to.
Question: Nikane - do the women have the same rule?
Nikane: It is not that easy for us. Especially for us that have bib
uniforms. I always envy T-Mobile with their seperates. Maybe they switched -
bibs have their benefits as well as disadvantages. (Laughter)
Question: In some race this year, while driving the Schreoder feed
vehicle, I saw the girls all hunkered down in the bushes on the roadside!
Nikane: That happens too. Usually if there is a crash--there is a pee
Question: By the way, congratulations to Spain and Somarriba! AUPA
Bingen & Nikane: Zorionak Joane!
Bingen: I was riding with Joane's husband [Ramón Gonzalez Arrieta]
yesterday and he told me that she was in good form.
Question: Both of you: In a grand tour (Bingen, i.e., the Vuelta,
Nikane i.e., the Grand Boucle) does the day to day stress strain the team? How
does everyone manage? What is the biggest challenge of a long stage race?
Bingen & Nikane: The big tours are tough. Mostly because they become
mentally exhausting. The hardest thing is that you do a lot more suffering. On
the smaller tours you can suffer for a day or two to finish, but that is
different on the long races. The whole team is much happier on smaller tours.
Big races bring big time stress to every rider, and all team staff and
Question: And then if there are mistakes, there's no place to hide...
Bingen & Nikane: Exactly.
Question: Will Ramón Gonzalez Arrieta come back in the pro peleton or
has he retired for good?
Bingen & Nikane: Ramontxu has definitely retired but he still puts in
a ton of kilometers each week just riding with Joane.
Question: Who is your best friend at Cofidis and in the peloton - I
know you talked a lot about Laiseka in your journal and his 'peloton' challenge.
Bingen: At Cofidis Iñigo is my 'socio' or partner. We end up calling
each other all the time when we are not racing together as well.....I think I
would still say Iñigo. Before I came to Cofidis Igor Flores with Euskaltel was.
Laiseka... well I train with the guy almost every day. We have known each other
and ridden together for over 13 years... UFFA!!
Question: Is Igor Flores a cycling agent now? I was told he set Pablo
Urtasun up with CSC as a Stagiaire at a meeting in Girona.
Bingen: Last year, Igor Flores finished the TDF in last place and
Euskaltel kicked him off the team even though his contract even though his
contract was not over. Igor is now living well off the bike - and he is happy.
Question: Last place is AWESOME! Right Andy? [Andy was Lanterne Rouge
in the Daily PelotonVuelta Fantasy Game] Finishing last shows true grit.
Bingen & Nikane: There is a status that comes with last place. There
was actually a fight last year with a CSC rider as to who was going to take last
Question: What's the hardest day you've ever had on a bike in your pro
career, Bingen (mentally/physically)?
Bingen: My hardest day....which one? My first year as a professional
Question: But both Marek Rutkiewicz and Angelo Lopeboselli are leaving
- two great talents!!
Bingen: About Marek and Lope.... I agree. Lope and I are good
friends..... They are still young and are impressive for their age. I think that
Cofidis is making a mistake in letting them go. But Cofidis looks to have a good
line-up for next year. I think we will be very strong.
Question: As a young professional, do the experienced riders take you
under their wing, or is it really more of a dog eat dog world? Who helped you,
Bingen: There are a few good folks who help you out and teach you
things but there are just a few. My first year as a professional was with
Euskadi (the precursor to Euskaltel-Euskadi). There was an entire team of us
that entered the professional ranking together - it was like a big family with
lots of support.
Question: I wanted to ask Nikane her thoughts about women's cycling in
Europe - what's the outlook from the riders' side.
Nikane: Things are tough in Spain. If ONCE and Banesto are having hard
times finding Spanish sponsors imagine what it must be like for women. Other
countries like the Netherlands are much more supportive.
Question: Yes, exactly - is there anything that looks hopeful?
Nikane: This year with Joane [Somarriba] we were able to attract more
sponsors which is great for women here. The sponsor will continue on through
next year which is a good for us. There are two teams here - Sabeco and then the
Sabeco-Bizkaia-Spuik-Panda Software. Women rotate between the two teams.
Obviously the 'A' team is the latter.
Question: So you will ride with them next year? Next year will be the
same sponsors in Somarriba's team?
Nikane: That is the plan. I ended my season before it began this year,
it seems. I am hoping to start early for next year and hope to have a good year.
Yes,I think that the same sponsors will be around. I think that there is a
possibility of pulling in a few other top riders.
Question: Do you know - even vaguely - your race programme for 2004,
Bingen: Not yet. Usually it stays about the same. We have training
camp in January and that is usually when we are given our schedule.
Question: Bingen, what about Euskaltel's manager? What's your opinion
if you can say something about it?
Bingen & Nikane: Miguel?
Bingen: Miguel is a great guy. I have known him since I was nine, I
Question: I had a dream you won on Acebo in 2004, Bingen, so make sure
to vote for Asturias!!!!
Bingen: Well, one year I was fourth on Acebo and 5th in the general
Question: Bingen, how did you get into cycling? Was it a family thing?
Bingen: My cousin raced, and I started to watch his races and got into
Question: By the way, I also dreamed Lance won this year's Tour De
France, so be aware...
Question: Anything about Millar in your crystal ball?
Bingen & Nikane: Anything about Nikane??? (Laughter) Anything about
Bingen in the Pais Vasco??? (Laughter)
Question: Bingen, I wanted to ask about positions in the team - is the
domestique position "honored" in general?
Bingen: Sometimes it is honored. But it is only honored by those who
know everything that a domestique must do. I get many thanks with Cofidis.
Millar and the Belgians are always overflowing with their gratitude. It was
tough at Euskaltel because no riders, no directors, would thank you for your
Question: So even in the team, that might not be the case?
Bingen: Some riders are more appreciative than others. I think that it
is mostly the directors, rather than the riders at Euskaltel. They are
interested in wins only.
Question: How about you, Nikane, how did you start cycling?
Nikane: I started cycling competitively here in the Basque Country. I
was a competitive commuter before that in Portland [Oregon] but never raced.
Question: Did you grow up in Portland?
Nikane: I grew up everywhere. I lived in the Midwest when I was young
and then came west. I lived most of my years in Nevada and Oregon.
Question: When did you go to Spain, Nikane, and how did you and Bingen
Nikane: I came to Spain in 1999. I met Bingen on the bike, of course,
while out training.
Question: Bingen, what about Astarloa, do you have good relations with
him, did he call you to ask about Cofidis?
Bingen: Igor and I get along well. He did ask me ahead of time about
what I felt about the team and if I was happy. I told him I was.
Question: Are the Cofidis riders satisfied with their season this
year? I know the managers might look at things one way and the riders another...
Bingen: It started out rough and we had a lot of bad luck the first
half of the year. The sponsor and the director always want the team to be in the
top 10. This year we fell below which caused a lot of stress between management
Question: Do they just apply more pressure, or do they do things that
are actually helpful? I just have no idea what it's like...
Bingen: Cofidis is actually a fairly relaxed team.
Question: No Saiz-type vengavengavenga then?
Bingen: Usually the more stress that is put on the team, the opposite
happens and we don't ride well. It is not easy to ride with so much stress.
Well, they usually say allez, allez, allez......
Question: And the management is aware of that? That would be good....
Bingen: Sometimes. But it is a tough thing.
Question: Is Moncoutié a health freak, with plants and alternative
Bingen: Yes, he is definitely into the natural stuff.
Question: What's the most apalling weather you've ridden a race in
Bingen & Nikane: I think that for both of us the Col de Madeline was
the worst. I (Bingen) had to stop at least 15 times on the way down just to warm
up my hands and keep going. Nikane got hypothermia last year on the Col de
Madeline during the Tour. It is horrible. When you are so cold that you can't
move, you can't steer your bike...nothing.
Question: I always found it interesting when the spectators would hand
the riders newspapers for the descents.
Question: I always wondered if newspaper helped that much...
Bingen & Nikane: And luckily they do. Newspaper helps a lot to break
the wind and keep in the heat. Team staff will also have warm drinks to hand you
at the top before the descent.
Question: I read that if you're really cold (and desperate), it helps
to.... pee on your hands...
Question: Only if you're a man...
Question: LOL, if it's a boring day in the peloton, you can just read
Bingen & Nikane: I know of riders who actually pee themselves to stay
warm!!! LOL. I have yet to read a newspaper while on the bike.
Question: Bingen, you were in Tour l'Avenir, when Beloki lost the race
- you're talking about this Madeleine day?
Bingen: No. I think it was 2 years earlier.
Question: Worst crash you've been in?
Bingen & Nikane: Worst crash?
Question: Yes, either biggest or...the one that had the worst effects
Bingen: Crash....in 1995 in the Tour l'Avenir, another rider's front
chain ring basically sliced my knee in two. I never finished that race but
surprisingly, I finished that stage. My second worst crash was in this Vuelta.
Question: Ok ok, how about happier things after this question:
Favourite place to ride?
Bingen & Nikane: My favorite place to ride is around here in my
training territory or any other place, as long as it is not a race.
Question: And what's your favourite bike? I won't tell Cofidis...
Bingen: All the bikes seem to be the same after so many years. Orbea
makes good bikes, though.
Question: I was wondering if there are any up and coming new riders,
male or female, that you could tell us about...ones to watch...
Bingen & Nikane: New upcoming riders - Valverde is one. We are
fortunate here in the Basque Country to have lots of cyclists, both amateur and
Question: Which riders are in your grupetto for trainning, Bingen?
Bingen: I train with the orange crew mostly - Laiseka, Mayo,
Question: This is a question from my close associate, Crazy Jane....
Is Oscar Sevilla as charming as he seems?
Bingen: Sevilla? Yes, he is a good guy.
Nikane: My opinion: from a girl's perspective. He is cute but has
Question: Where did you learn to speak (and write) English so well?
Bingen: It is easy to pick up languages in this job. I started to
learn English and French from just hearing it. Nikane has helped a bit and I
always asking end up asking her for translations.
Question: Wasn't there a photoshoot of some Spanish riders nearly
naked a few weeks ago?
Bingen & Nikane: Naked shoot. Yes. With Oscar!
Question: Whoa, is cycling in Spain really that bad?
Bingen & Nikane: Cycling is having a rough time here in Spain.
Question: Were you one of the riders approached for that photo,
Bingen: No, I never got asked to do the shoot, but Iñigo was asked.
Question: Do you guys have secret codes for communicating with
teammates in the peloton?
Bingen & Nikane: Secret communication....with Euskaltel we spoke just
spoke Basque. With (rider name omitted), he (secret code omitted) to let you
know when to move to the head of the peloton - this is so the director does not
Question: You mean, your director or other teams' directors?
Bingen & Nikane: It is a Mafia with teams and radio signals. Everyone
does what ever they can do to hear other teams' broadcasts. (Rider name omitted)
does it so the director won't know that other riders may not be in the front.
Also so other riders nearby don't hear.
Question: Um - I'm not going to be able to print this part of the
chat, am I....
Question: Is there a lot of problem with wireless computers and heart
Question: Wow.....cycling espionage! Can you use secure radios?
Bingen & Nikane: The technology is better than the secure radios.
Teams worry about having equipment to catch other signals more than having
secure equipment themselves.
Question: What about interfering signals with so many riders in the
peloton? Is that a problem? I do research related to wireless systems, sorry
about the questions.
Bingen & Nikane: Sometimes we get feedback because of all the
different signals, but it isn't that bad.
Question: Bingen, do you have the time to follow Spanish amateur
Bingen: I do keep up with amateur cycling. I have the opportunity to
ride with many of the ones here and see them as they mature as cyclists and go
Question: Bingen do you know the new amateur Basque star Julen
Goikoetxea; can you tell me something about him, did you train with him?
Bingen & Nikane: Who does Julen ride with?
Question: He is still a junior; I think he is in Hamilton.
Bingen & Nikane: I don't think I know him by name.
Question: He rode in your hometown race with amateurs and made a great
Bingen: Hmm. Yes, I was riding in the Vuelta then. I will ask around.
Question: What about a guy like Jokin Ormaetxea (he´s very good)?
Bingen: I think so, too. Ormaetxea has had a tough time finding a team
for the coming year, a pro team, that is. Places are so tight right now in the
Question: What do you think the quality of the up and coming Spaniards
Question: So what will the amateur guys do? Stay on in their clubs
hoping for next year?
Bingen & Nikane: I think that there are many very good riders but not
enough opportunities out there for them. Eventually some of them end up leaving
the sport because they can not advance to pro. Usually those guys say they will
do one more year in their amateur teams, then one more, and eventually reality
causes them to move on.
Question: There has been a lot of talk regarding low fan attendance at
the Vuelta. What is your opinion?
Bingen & Nikane: The problem with the Vuelta is that it is during the
peak of the futbol/soccer season here and soccer takes first seat here in Spain.
The Vuelta used to be in April but they changed it several years ago.
Question: Did you ride the Vuelta Murcia in Marzo [March]? I was
there, but I felt virtually alone. There were VERY few people watching except at
the finish, but even then it was easy to find a good spot.
Bingen: This year I did not ride the Vuelta of Murcia. Things are
different here in the Basque Country. The support here is incredible. Let me
know if you plan to watch any other race - any of you - it would be great to
meet you all.
Question: Are you going to go to any race in the US any time soon?
What's funny is that one of the shop-sponsored teams in my area has a uniform
that's almost exactly like Cofidis. The first time I ran into them I almost
flipped over my handlebar!
Bingen: I don't think Cofidis has any plans to race in the US.
And then it was time to go, after Bingen and Nikane spent three hours
with us. The goodbyes:
Daily Peloton: Maybe we can do an interview soon - I'd like to hear
more about your tours next year. And thanks also from our crew - who say bye to
the best cycling writer on the net!
Bingen & Nikane: We will have to come visit the chat room more often.
Thanks for having us! See you on the road or at the race. But if you see a
cyclist in a Cofidis uniform eating donuts at a gas station - remember, it is
not me. Until next time, Ciao!