Archive | July, 2013

How The Race Was Won – Clasica San Sebastian 2013

29 Jul

Does anyone call this the Climber’s Classic? Well, they shouldn’t. Sure, the length of the race and climbs take a toll, but they’re pretty tame as far as slope goes, and a clever all-rounder can get away if the favorites can’t seem to sort things out—and if the motos don’t provide too much support to the guys in orange, of course.

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How The Race Was Won – Tour de France 2013, Stages 16-21

22 Jul

A complete HTRWW’d grand Tour, all released next-day in spite of a weird centennial schedule, non-standard Euro codecs, and all sorts of crazy fans—though judging by the last week rider-on-fan violence, I think it might be important for spectators to scale it back a touch. Need to catch up? Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

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Might take a break for a bit after this. I’d desperately like to get back in shape. And if you know anyone at cycling production organization—preferably a rights-holder—do inform them of diversity of my skillset. Details are here.

How The Race Was Won – Tour de France 2013, Stages 10-15

15 Jul

Crosswinds! Crash drama! Sylvain Chavanel demonstrating additional facets of his seemingly limitless skillset! One week remaining, with each day’s profile revealing legitimate, game changing potential. Catch up here (Stages 1-4, Stages 5-9) and watch the fireworks tomorrow.

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How The Race Was Won – Tour de France 2013, Stages 5-9

8 Jul

The 2013 Tour de France GC race is in full swing, and the world is full of opinions! Me, I like to make sure we don’t forget to appreciate the flat stages—if, for no other reason than they tend to age better. Also, you should probably catch up on stages 1 through 4—it’ll make this video more comprehensible, on a variety of levels.

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How The Race Was Won -Tour de France 2013, Stages 1-4

3 Jul

I think I’m OK with starting the Tour with sans prologue. Still not changing my mind on bonus seconds. That said, it’s been an exciting enough start to the race—especially for Orica-GreenEdge. Not too bad for RadioShack, kinda meh for Omega-Pharma and terribly unlucky for one Edward King. Oh, hey—and if you just stumbled across this video, there are a whole lot more of them. You can browse through here.

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Can We Please Stop Ruining Bike Races With Electronic Shifting?

2 Jul

I’m not going to claim impartiality here—if nothing else, I think electronic shifting is massively over-priced. I’ve never ridden it—I hear it shifts well and smoothly and precisely and is super-cool, and I have no reason to dispute that. But similarly, I think there’s no counter-argument to the fact that when it doesn’t shift, you are completely boned.

Goss and Greipel and bikes that don't work

The body posture conveys as much information as the drivetrains.

The photos above are cropped from the highest-def screencap I could find—a 1080i .ts files, no compression beyond what occurs prior to transmission. I can’t see exactly what’s wrong with Greipel’s and Goss’ bikes, but what I can see is a droopy chain—as in probably off the chainrings—and rear mechs that seem more or less intact—that is, not on the ground or above the chainstay.

As far as I can tell, this is the classic mode of failure for electronic shifting. The front derailleur has two programmed shift actions—one to go up, one to go down. Unlike conventional shifters, where a cable always pulls against the tension of derailleur spring, there isn’t an option to half-shift in an attempt to jimmy the chain back into place. When you’re off, you’re off. This is a fact not in dispute.

That said, one report claims Greipel’s mechanical on Sunday was a rear derailleur “smashed to bits…in the big crash that took Greipel out of the running”. This is at least partially inaccurate—he survived that big tumble, and pedaled on for several k before appearing mysteriously at the back, bike rendered non-functional in a very familiar way.

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I’ve posted a chopper shot of what I believe to be Goss’ bike failure above. Obviously, you can’t see the chain, and honestly, I can’t even prove it’s him. But inside the final 500m an Orica-GreenEdge rider is jockeying for position, with a teammate (probably Impey) behind him him, then just stops pedaling and stands to coast, leaving the teammate with a huge gap to close. Robbie McEwen claims Goss crashed, and I guess maybe it’s possible, but only if he went down after his bike stopped working.

It’s beginning to feel a little creepy. Consensus is that electronic shifting is still a work in progress—nearly a year after noting its problems last summer, Inner Ring reported on a rash of misfires from this spring. But rather than improve (or better yet—remove) the parts, earlier this week, we got two not-quite-right stories about incidents of likely electronic shifting failures that had a definite impact on how the final results played out. I’m sure it’s all just innocent misunderstanding—on their part or on mine—but I wouldn’t want anyone get any ideas.

So before this devolves to petty subterfuge, let’s all of us—media, marketers, brand managers, riders, directors—just sit down and agree like grown-ups that pros should absolutely have the no-pressure-option of using mechanical shifting. With Greipel on Campy and Goss on Shimano, no one company will take a PR hit.

Everyone’s heard the buzz about the awesome, super-precise shifting produced by electronic levers—and the fondo set is already totally into it. But by taking away the option of historically reliable front shifting, all anyone is doing is making the high-profile failures more obvious—and alienating serious amateur racers in the process.

Let’s be honest—if watching your rider taking a win on legacy gear is a bigger marketing bummer than watching him pout at the side of the road when the latest and greatest fails, your brand’s got bigger problems a front derailleur.