Archive | April, 2012

The Vanishing GC Sprinter

27 Apr

Brad Wiggins’ performance earlier this week in the first stage of the Tour of Romandie was a rare treat for the modern cycling fan: a real Grand Tour contender duking it and taking the win in a bunch sprint.

It wasn’t in a Grand Tour, of course, and it took a couple pretty serious climbs to thin out the field, but still—watching Wiggins reach back to his trackie days to hold Liquigas’ leadout, jump from the cheap seats, and even gamely extend his twiggy little elbows in the final meters was pretty damn cool:

The last time I saw something like this, it was 2004 and the biggest race in the US was a mid-April appointment in Georgia. Taking advantage of a field thinned by some late climbs, and leaning on his unique ability to lay down power at a high cadence, Lance Armstrong made a late surge in a fast, downhill sprint. Hate the Texan all you want, but respect the skills and instinct—rest day refills almost certainly didn’t help him here:


Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2012 – How The Race Was Won

23 Apr

A little later than I like to be on these sorts of things, but what can I say–with a new corporate sponsor on board, there’s bound to be a little meddling in editorial. Also, some of you might also have noticed that I was moving around a little bit during the event itself.

[right-click for iTunes-compatible download]

And with that, the spring is officially over. Trends that struck me across my many bleary-eyed hours of watching, re-watching, writing and editing were (aside from the obvious) the emergence of Europecar as race-makers and champions, and the sound and fury that BMC put into controlling large sections of Amstel and Liege to come away grasping and feathers in the finale.

Will HTRWW continue into the Grand Tours? I can only speculate. Physically, I’m really beginning to wonder whether I’m up to the task, and it certainly isn’t helping me out career-wise. Then again, if I had a different sort of career…

Amstel Gold 2012 – How The Race Was Won

16 Apr

Another new course this spring, though certainly nothing on par with Flanders’ change-up. Despite the re-worked parcours, this one unfolded sleepily, feeling at points like a Tour de France sprint stage. But comic relief at the back, some lively riding as the break wore down and an attack from a very surprising source set the stage for a fantastic finale.

[right-click for iTunes-compatible download]

Fancy that, naming something awesome (a bike race) after your product. To think that there are still a) unbranded products and b) products advertised with banner ads—boggles the mind, does it not?

2012 Paris-Roubaix – How The Race Was Won

9 Apr

Tom Boonen powers away to win number four in an historic display of strength and commitment. The only thing to feel bad about was that we didn’t get to see Fabian Cancellara shoot it out with him. Of course, had Cance been at the start line, Omega Pharma would have doubtlessly played their cards a little differently—but no matter. Enjoy the latest How The Race Was Won video, tentatively titled “Our Cobbles, Ourselves”; it’s a bit of a creative turn, but hopefully enjoyable none the less.

[right-click for iTunes-compatible download]

Just for the record, this was completed about 16 hours after the race concluded and was live before any competing, similarly-named titles at other sites (though I did not beat the Specialized unfiltered cut). I suppose it’s possible that after I’ve published this, these sites could have release better-produced, more creative, cleverer, more sharply analytical videos, but somehow, I doubt it.

Tour of Flanders 2012 — How The Race Was Won

5 Apr

An ambiguously-branded video recap and commentary for the 2012 Tour of Flanders. Some backstory might be helpful.

[right-click for iTunes-compatible download]

You might get another one of these this year. You also might not. The way I made this was by not sleeping last night and that’s not really sustainable. Or pleasant. Consider it a reminder of how well I can do this sort of thing now that others seem to think it’s a worthwhile idea.

If you’d be interested in bankrolling the production of similar videos in exchange for promotional consideration, I am all ears.

How to Succeed in Bike Racing Without Really Trying

4 Apr

Tom Boonen signs in

Boonen didn't perform well in the national colors / Cindy Trossaert, cc-by-nc

In 2005, Tom Boonen’s ascendancy was nothing short of meteoric, and his failure to maintain that level of success since has prompted no shortage of discussion. While I was one of the first to suggest that the Belgian might just be the first of a new generation rather than the next Merckx, I’ve also been pretty stalwart in Tommeke’s defense. Few riders with his palmares have ever had to endure quite as much criticism, and fewer still have been able to bounce back with such aplomb.

There have been plenty pieces chronicling Boonen’s return this year, but few have really focused what I see as the key difference in his performances—the dude seems utterly relaxed. When Boonen broke loose with Vanmarcke and Flecha at this year’s Het Nieuwsblad, it echoed a tactic that’s been hauntingly unsuccessful for him over the past half-decade—a powerful move over a berg that slices off a select group, followed by a painful loss in a three-up final kilometer battle.