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Week in Review for November 18, 2013

Fabian Cancellara considers Ardennes classics, hour record

By Andrew Hood in Madrid
Fabian Cancellara’s done it all. He’s donned rainbow stripes, mined Olympic gold, brandished yellow jerseys, and hoisted cobblestone trophies.

So what do you do for a guy who’s overachieved throughout his career?

The answer: Raise the bar and push the envelope.

Going into 2014, Cancellara will aim to do it all again, with a season targeting the northern classics, the Tour de France, and the world championships.

For next season, however, there could be a few new twists, just to keep things interesting. There have already been exploratory conversations: Think hour record and the Ardennes classics.

“For big riders, you must do things to keep the motivation high. That’s not so necessary with Fabian, because he’s so professional and he loves to race,” said Trek Factory Team manager Luca Guercilena. “We’ve talked about a few possibilities.”

There are a few intriguing “possibilities” for Spartacus. Taking aim at both the hour record and the hilly Ardennes classics are goals that will surely give Cancellara the added challenge and stimulus he wants.

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Porte, Martin among five foreigners aiming for Giro pink in 2014

By Gregor Brown in Milan
With winter moving in on northern Italy and an investigation into missing funds drawing on, Giro d’Italia organizers are still proudly looking ahead. With less than six months until the 2014 edition starts in Belfast, several foreign riders have already locked the race into their schedules.

“My dream is to bring the Giro up to the same level as the Tour de France,” race director Michele Acquarone told VeloNews earlier this year. “I want riders to dream of the pink jersey and program their seasons around it in the same way that they do for the yellow jersey.”

Acquarone is waiting for an audit into a reported €13 million in missing funds to finish so that he can continue working on his dream. In the meantime, the rest of RCS Sport’s organization team is going ahead.

The Italians, of course, are committing to the 2014 Giro. Astana’s Fabio Aru and Michele Scarponi, Cannondale’s Ivan Basso and Moreno Moser, and Domenico Pozzovivo of Ag2r-La Mondiale have all marked it on their calendars. Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar), second at the Tour de France in 2013, may start the Giro in May, but is yet to confirm that move officially. Quintana notwithstanding, we look at five foreigners aiming for the Italian grand tour, which runs May 9 to June 1, with Trieste hosting the finale.

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A paradigm shift in power faces Armstrong in court

By Matthew Beaudin in Colorado
For so long, Lance Armstrong was Goliath and his adversaries David. Resources were in his favor. An adoring public stayed on message. He won, at everything.

But now, and for the first time in a while, he finds himself in an unfamiliar position, that of the underdog.

The wayfaring court of public opinion may have already convicted Armstrong. But there’s still much left to decide in the other courts, as the fallen star faces a myriad of lawsuits, one that includes the federal government — very much a Goliath to Armstrong’s David.

Earlier this week, Judge Robert L. Wilkins indicated it was likely the whistleblower case filed by Floyd Landis, and subsequently joined by the Justice Department, would move forward against some of the plaintiffs, including Armstrong and several longtime associates.

What happens next is essentially what amounts to a miserable ’cross course: there are lines marked through which one is supposed to travel, but the path through is contorted and messy. Civil cases — what Armstrong faces since his criminal case was dropped by the federal government — differ greatly in process compared to their criminal counterparts.

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Technical FAQ: Bifurcation and high-speed shimmy

By Lennard Zinn in Colorado
Dear Readers,
I received a letter from a math professor pointing out that bicycle high-speed shimmy is not a resonance phenomenon like I said it was in a recent column; it’s a nonlinear bifurcation phenomenon called “Hopf Bifurcation.” So, I asked him to expound on this, and I’m putting it in here, because there may be some of you who find this as fascinating as I do.

Dear Lennard,
A linear analysis leading to resonance is appropriate for any system where there is an oscillator that is being forced at a special frequency — the resonance frequency — and when this happens, the amplitude can simply build to infinity. This is not what happens in bicycle instability for two reasons: first, there is no periodic forcing that causes the high-speed wobble (in fact, it can happen on a smooth road); and second, there is not a phenomenon that shows a characteristic building of amplitude.

Instead, the high-speed wobble is a critical phenomena, which is typical of bifurcations and bifurcation theory in general. Below the critical parameter value, you see one thing, in this case a stable equilibrium characteristic of a smooth ride, and slightly above the critical parameter, the smooth ride is no longer stable (but it still exists as an equilibrium, but an unstable equilibrium, just as standing a stick upright is an equilibrium but unstable because if it tips even slightly away from the exact equilibrium, it quickly drifts away), but the now unstable equilibrium gives way to a stable periodic orbit, which is the wobble. And as the parameter increases, the amplitude of the wobble can increase to some larger but fixed amplitude.

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The Dirt Dispatch: 5 tips for ’cross racing mountain bikers

By Spencer Powlison in Colorado
As someone who cut his teeth on singletrack, I’m a little biased when I say that mountain bikers have an edge when they hop into a cyclocross race. That being said, pinning a number on a skinsuit is a little different than zip-tying a plate to your bars. Here is my advice for ’cross-curious mountain bikers, earned from years of often ill-fated experience.

1. Prep for the start like it’s Black Friday
Never underestimate the importance of the race start. Sure, in some locales, like my New England homeland, mountain bike races shoot you right into gnarly singletrack, but often, in places like the west, courses are a tad more leisurely as they climb fire roads from the gun. Do not think you’ll be able to sort things out after the pandemonium of a cyclocross start. You need to be riding in the top 10 to stay out of trouble. It’s like a Black Friday Target stampede, except a bit less NASCAR apparel and fewer lunch lady arms. If you want to get little Jimmy that PlayStation he wants, you’ll need to be quick and have sharp elbows.

2. Mind the corners
Thank goodness you aren’t a pure roadie. Those guys have a lot more to learn when it comes to the wildly variable surfaces encountered on a ’cross course. Mountain bikers know how it feels to get loose on kitty litter over hardpack, or how to let a bike follow its own line on a muddy day. The problem is, you know how this feels on a bike with a couple inches of travel, meaty tires, and functional brakes. Cornering on a mountain bike is like trying to pick up a date at a raucous frat party, while the same maneuver on a ’cross bike is like wooing a snobby debutante at a fancy wine tasting. Cyclocross is all about finesse.

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