Posts Tagged ‘George Hincapie

01
Feb
10

BMC – the Most Likeable Team in the Peleton? 2010 Preview

I can already see the cheesy promo montage in my head – Mark Knopfler subtly wails out “I want my Bee Em Ceeeeee….”, the guitar kicks in and images of Hincapie, Evans and Ballan stream by in rapid succession, intermixed with subliminal messages of Swiss precision bicycle manufacturing, displaying images of power, determination and victory.  Yes, it’s in my head, but it would make for a sweet intro video on the BMC team website.  I’m not sure how to rewrite the “money for nothin’” line to correlate it to the Hell Pro cyclists put themselves through, but dammit Jim, I’m a writer, not a songwriter/poet/bard.

In a silly season marred by Sky’s relentless approach to poaching the riders they wanted for their new team, BMC quietly (although not completely without controversy) pulled off the unexpected and possibly became the most likeable Pro team in the peleton.   With the media focusing most of their attention on the birth of the “superteams” Sky and Radio Shack, BMC accumulated arguably the best classics team this side of Quick-Step with riders like Kroon, Burghardt, Ballan and Hincapie; a GC Contender and current World Champion in Evans and did so with a combined total of 15 riders coming from Switzerland and the U.S. of A.  The subtle irony of the combination of riders from the neutral nation and the world’s heavy-handed police aside, it’s a team that with some improved marketing pieces could out-Cervelo Cervelo when it comes to presenting a team that creates a remarkably positive team/brand image along with creating immediate hype about the bike.

Adding Hincapie instantly provided class, along with the marketing visibility of his US Championship on this side of the pond.  Between earning the Rainbow Stripes and joining BMC, I even slightly warmed to Cuddles.  I’ll admit, I’ve rarely had much nice to say about Cadel – the whole “don’t step on my dog” episode and general festivus-style airing of grievances to the media he seemed to engage in set most who wrote about him in a less-than-supportive role.  However, he seems to wear the Rainbow well (perhaps credit to the Hincapie Sports kit) and his attitude seems positive coupled with a bit of bravado to match his attacking style that emerged last year.  Ballan suffered through health problems and the Curse of the Rainbow Jersey last year, but nobody should be quick to forget he is only two years removed from his Vattenfall and Flanders victories.

Early season rumors had tied Levi Leipheimer to BMC along with his buddy Scott Nydam.  I recall reading the rumors and thinking it would have been a bad choice, but little did I know the dramatic steps this team was taking.  Obviously, addition of another key player such as Leipheimer would have reduced the likelihood of the latter additions, but nevertheless, add Leipheimer to a team like this and the other proverbial superteams could have found themselves wondering what happened.

The other effect this immediately had was raising the status of the bike brand.  While many I know in the sport, including myself, found the brand intriguing but believed some of the design features to be ornamental, the perception now seems to be different.  Even more intriguing is the fact that Hincapie has chosen the Racemaster as his stars-and-stripes laden steed, a frame that is made of (gasp) quite a bit of aluminum, albeit a good choice for Big George, who has the need to emphasize durability and reliability.  Cadel Evans Rainbow Striped machine initially wasn’t the brand’s new top end machine, but the Pro Machine.  Then Competitive Cyclist’s own stylemaster Andy Clark comes out and says he’s so impressed with the new Team Machine that he might (the horror) retire his Cervelo?  Me thinks BMC might have just climbed to the top of the podium as the most likeable bunch in the peleton this year and I’m guessing you might start to see a few more BMCs riding atop a few Touaregs and X5s.

30
Dec
09

ciclirati’s biggest and best of 2009

Ciclirati’s Biggest and Best 2009 Awards of all things two-wheeled have a couple typical categories, but tend toward memorable moments.  With very little pomp and circumstance, the awards go to:

Best Way to Fly – Jens Voigt’s Specialized Shiv TT setup.  Big fan of Jens, his panache, and the ‘little known facts’ lists.  I know that wind tunnel tests show that the height of the rider is less important than the width, but damn.

Biggest Surprise – Cuddles win at the Worlds.  I know I take too much pleasure in kicking this man when he’s down, but he seemed destined to never win a Big One.  Happy to see his “Don’t Step on My Dog” shirts to know he’s got some humor in there…somewhere.

Best Team – Cervelo Test Team. They brought a manufacturer’s team back to the pro peleton.  They chose their riders and personalities very smartly.  Along the way, a Green Jersey, stage wins in all the Grand Tours (including Haussler’s purest victory celebration of the year) and a unique connection to the fans.  Also responsible for the biggest bonehead move in stopping Serge Pauwels stage win, but you can’t win them all.

Best Examples of Cycling Superhuman Toughness – Pedro Horillo and Jens Voight.  Horrific crashes that can only be qualified as ‘near death experiences.’  I live in a less-than-cyclecentric area and get tired of defending how challenging the sport is.  “This NFL player broke his arm and came back with a cast next week.” Really? Jens hit the pavement in less than Under Armour at over 50 mph and bounced face first. He was all but ready to race in a week. Pedro fell off a cliff and broke and punctured everything.  He’s deciding whether or not to come back, but he’s a philosopher.  Educated, even.

Best Person in the Sport You Should Know More About  – Rebecca Rusch.  2009 (and 3x) MTB 24-hour solo world champion, 2009 Leadville champion, USAC Ultra Endurance Series Champion and a Super D victory at Crankworks just for fun.  The “Queen of Pain” has a palmares in cycling endurance and adventure racing that makes mere mortals cringe.  Incredibly nice person to boot.

Biggest Petty Grudge for the next decade – My already seething dislike of Team Sky and Brad Wiggins.  Their methods of getting riders, their handling of the dealings with Garmin, their declaration of being a super team based solely on budget.   Unfortunately, I liked a lot of the rest of their roster.  Boasson Hagen is ready to break through big and now gets to get throttled back.  Hopefully, Wiggo’s fashion sense doesn’t rub off on anybody.

Biggest Disappointment – Big George not getting his day in Yellow.  The classiest man in the sport denied because Garmin was jealous of Columbia’s success. Yes, there were tactical anomalies, green jersey battle, etc.. But Garmin’s own riders knew they were following orders they didn’t want to.  George still handled it as gracefully as anybody could.  Paris-Roubaix 2010 or Bust.

Biggest “What just happened?” – Denis Menchov’s inability to consistently keep the rubber side down.  For an automaton, you would think they’d improve his internal gyroscope.
Biggest “What just happened?” part deux – Bob Stapleton’s declaration that Armstrong is “passing the mantle” to Cavendish.  Sure, they’re buds and did a couple Lance-Channel videos.  Maybe Bob got nervous since this originated from a CNN interview – mainstream media can be scary. Maybe he ran out of different ways to work Cav’s name into a sentence without trying to redefine it as a new word.  Cav’s a star, he gives credit to his team, but there are a few other names sitting on equal footing.  Not to mention the Columbia Express is missing a key engineer and the last engine will be getting a late start.

Best French Hope – Julien Absalon.  Nope, much to the Badger’s chagrin, there is go Great French Hope that will capture the maillot jaune in Paris anytime soon.   However, Absalon reigns supreme on XC dirt, winning five of the last ten World Cup XC titles, including a dominant 2009 where he put together a 4-win streak.  He has also won four World Championship titles along the way, although two years removed from his last.

Biggest Unheralded Victory – Armstrong’s Leadville victory.  He had some ‘teammates.’  But, it was a mountain bike race, he had to keep pace and he rode the last half solo.  He crushed it.  Mix in a spring and fall Mellow Johnny’s Classic and he might just revive mountain biking.  The sport deserves it.

For those that won, congratulations.  Unfortunately, there doesn’t come a lot (or any) of notoriety, but I can send a t-shirt and coffee cup if you want…I mean, people need rags to clean bikes with and everybody could use another coffee cup.  For those wanting to win next year, start campaigning now!

22
Dec
09

Cycling Wish List for 2010

As a fan of all things cycling, I’m looking ahead to 2010 with anticipation.  New teams, new dreams and excitement of all two-wheeled forms to look forward to.  Without further ado, my cycling hopes, both serious and humorous, for 2010 are :

1)      The obvious – Big George to win Paris-Roubaix.  For one of cycling’s great men and one who stands out as an example of team over self, Big George deserves this long-chased victory.  Paris-Roubaix tends to require the perfect mix of preparation and luck, and a little luck is all George needs.

2)      The overdue – For the CAS, UCI and all involved to finally get their hands on the Operation Puerto blood bags and show that Valverde doped.  Given all the circumstances, I think it’s an absolute shame that he was able to ride in and win the Vuelta given the dark cloud of doom hanging over his head.  The Spanish authorities attempts to shove all this underneath the rug is still the black eye of cycling.

3)      The slightly more absurd – former gangsta vanguard and future star of the Welcome Back Kotter movie, Ice Cube randomly stumbles across a reference of Katie “Fn” Compton’s US Cyclocross championship.  Cube recognizes a potential cross-marketing boom, develops a process to micro-chrome plate carbon without adding weight and sponsors a team.  Katie gets entourage of armed bodyguards, signature line of suede Sidis, and new track to be played in background for all podium finishes.  Zipp spinners, anyone?

4)      The wishful thinking – Tom Boonen talks of wanting another Paris-Roubaix win.  Sorry, have to wait until next year due to wish #1.  However, I’d like to see Tom focus on chasing a green jersey and pulling out a sprint or two against Cavendish.  Cavendish already thinks Tom’s too old to compete.  Given Tornado Tom’s string of bad luck during the Tour, much less the mess leading up to it, it could only get better.

5)      The old guy wish – everybody in their late 30’s (myself included) got inspired by Lance calling himself the “old guy” during comeback 2.0.  “The Lung” was 31 and winning his first NORBA titles when Lance was just getting his driver’s license.  Ned Overend has the ride of his life and pulls out another UCI World Championship, 20 years after his first in 1990.  54 years old and he still beats ¾ of the average pro field.

6)      The wishful thinking pt. 2 – 2010 TdF podium (in no particular order) Sastre, Schleck, Armstrong.  Regardless of his limitless talent, Contador needs to realize what it takes to be a leader. Wiggins just needs to realize he hasn’t earned the level of ego he’s displaying and Sky’s disregard for doing business the right way sets me off.  As much as I think Jonathan Vaughters is a little too shameless in his self-promotion, I think he was dead-on right in how he handled himself in discussing the loss of Wiggo and for being professionally forthright in putting out the real story.

7)      The American dream – Levi wins the Vuelta.  It’s somewhat disappointing to me that Levi doesn’t get more fan attention.  Yes, he’s not the semi-Hollywood look of Hincapie and doesn’t possess the alpha-male bravado of Armstrong, but he’s a champion.  Maybe because I’m a short guy with no hair, I’m a bigger fan. Regardless, with the ToC’s later date providing a later start to his season, I’d like to see Lance and Horner pull him to a Grand Tour victory.

8)      The working man’s wish – Horner wins a TdF stage.  Horner was riding at an entirely new level last year when he was upright and not sporting a broken bone or two.  He’s got the ability to get in the right breakaway and make it stick.

9)      The Letterman reference – despite my desire to see Americans win, I’m looking for a 3rd World Championship for Irina Kalentieva in XC MTB.  Just picture Letterman drawing out the sound of her last name Ka-len-tee-ay-va then doing the trademark hair-fix/tie-adjust in the camera.   She just sounds like a Bond girl.

10)   The could-it-be? – The UCI biological passport notices strange blood values on recently crowned world champion Cadel Evans.  After further research, it is determined that Cadel is only 84% human.  The remaining 16% are split evenly between Elf and Hobbit.




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