Friday, September 13, 2013

Easy on the eyes.

Amazingly accessible cycling art from Eliza Southwood. Devoid of all the cliche trappings that much (most?) cycling related art is usually saddled with. Check out all of her cycling and other great works and maybe even purchase one here.

Viva la Vuelta!

Horner puts the hurt on Nibbles and Purito as the road turns skyward. Photo credit: Graham Watson
3 seconds. That is all that separates Vincenzo Nibali and Chris Horner who currently occupy first and second place in this years Vuelta á España. After 18 stages this years race is a virtual dead heat, and with 2 brutal mountain top finishes to go some might say that Horner with his fresher legs is actually the one whose race it is to lose. On today's stage Nibali continued his recent streak of dropping watts and faltering on the tough uphill finishes, and the wily veteran Horner continued his streak of doing the exact opposite. The American pulled away on the last 1km and it looked very likely that he would end the day in red. Nibali was able to muster up just enough to keep the lead by that trio of seconds and now we get to watch the fireworks unfold on the next two stages. 

Fridays stage 19 starts in the picturesque municipality of San Vicente de la Barquera and works it's way over three cat 3 and one cat 2 climbs before ending up on the outskirts of Oviedo and up the often used (at least up until the mid 90's) Alto del Naranco, where the famous statue of Christ waits for the winner with arms outstretched. The locals will no doubt be rooting for hometown boy Samuel Sanchez to make a show of the climbs first return to the Vuelta since 1997. While he has shown some decent legs in the high mountain stages I don't reckon he can pull it off. It would be a nice story and I can't help but root for him, but the real story is going to be the battle between the current Giro champ and the the good 'ol boy from Bend for the top step of the podium. 

It's should be a burner, and I hope it lives up to all of it's potential. Racing starts early, don't sleep on these next two stages, you can find a link to watch at

Saturday, September 7, 2013

How'd he do that?

Lopes makin' it look easy - Screen grab from Vital MTB "Rapid Fire" Brian Lopes edit.
Starting at 00:20 seconds in to this video, there are two angles of Brian Lopes riding up a steep section on the connector trail from Alta Laguna Park in Laguna Beach over to Meadows trail which takes you down into the trails of Aliso & Wood Canyon in Laguna Niguel. I rode that section for the first time in years the other night and was shocked to remember how steep and tall it is. Everyone in our group had to dismount and walk the 15 or 20 steps to get up it and we were talking about how easy Lopes makes it look. The video does not do it justice, and I have no idea how he does it, other than that he is Brian Lopes. 

Check it out at this link: Rapid Fire: Brian Lopes | Vital MTB

Ahhh youth.

The boy becomes a man - Warren Baguil celebrates his first big victory - Photo credit: AFP Jaime Reina
Warren Baguil celebrated the biggest win of his life today. Considering he's a mere 21 years old one could be forgiven for thinking that's not such a huge deal, but it was, both literally and figuratively. Baguil took advantage of some late stage lollygagging from a 9 man break which included such well known names as Scarponi, Mollema, Nocentini and Coppel and launched a perfectly timed attack to move clear of the rest with just under 2 km to go. He also may have benefitted from a lack of respect from his older and (not so?) wiser companions as they looked back and forth at each other before rallying themselves to try and catch the kid from Hennebont France. It was to no avail however, as his youthful legs matched his youthful exuberance and he battled hard up the 9% final ramp to claim one of the most unexpected victories of this years Vuelta. A great win for the young Frenchman who will no doubt have tongues wagging regarding the possibility of his becoming the next big thing in French cycling. 

Take a look at his winning move here.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Sigh of relief.

Philbert Phinally Phinds his Phorm. Photo credit: incas you can't read it on the photo itself.
It's over. The long drought suffered by current World World Champion Phillipe Gilbert has finally come to an end on todays Stage 12 of the Vuelta à España. He's been close before on a number of occasions but hasn't had the chops to get it done ...until today. On the fast and technical lead in to the line in Tarragona things got dicey and it looked like it could go a number of ways, but with under 1km to go Eddie Boassen Hagen dug deep and took a flyer that neutralized the sprinters plans and nearly held the lead to the line. I say nearly because the Champ put in a heroic pull to overtake the Norwegian to the line and claimed a victory that was arguably as important as the WC win itself. 

There is a belief by many who follow the pro peloton that the beautiful rainbow stripes worn by reigning world champions harbor a curse that leads to nothing but bad things the following year. History is riddled with stories of riders whose seasons, careers and even lives have been turned upside down in the year following their wins. Stephen Roche developed chronic knee problems and team issues that started immediately afterward and his career was never the same. Legends Luc Leblanc and Freddy Maertens also had precipitous falls in career success that began within months of their wins. Paolo Bettini sadly lost his beloved brother Sauri in a traffic accident only 10 days after donning the stripes, but the worst stories belong to Stan Ockers, Jean Pierre Monseré and the great Tom Simpson who all tragically died in the year following their career crowning victories. The list goes on and on. 

I don't know if I believe in the curse, or if Gilbert's one nice win in the third most important grand tour of the season means his version of it has been broken, but I'm happy that the Belgian has finally wrestled the monkey from the home that it had made on his back. Hopefully it leads to a return to form and performances closer to his magical season of 2011 than to the mostly forgettable editions in 2012 and  2013... prior to today at least. 

Take a look at the fantastic finish of today's stage here.

Tomii treat.

Nao Tomii is making some beautiful bikes in Woburn, Massachusetts. Cycle Exif has a nice little FB post about a beautiful new road rider that he put together for a client. Take a look at it here and then head over to Tomii's page to check out more hand built goodness.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A leg breaker on the Vuelta Stage 9

An amazing finish for Dani Moreno in today's stage 9 of the Vuelta á España. The uphill sprint on the famous 20% plus grades of the Valdepeñas de Jaén was exactly what the Katusha rider needed to move away from Alejandro Valverde and his own teammate Jaoqim Rodriguez to claim not only the days stage but the leaders red jersey as well. Watch the last 2km here to see Moreno's move and the carnage at the finish with riders barely able to pedal once they cross the line. Brutal.