This week’s garbage takes: Froome off his game? Quintana a decoy?
Any given week, there are oodles of cycling stories flying around in the news. So here’s a quick-hit summary of this week’s happenings, plus my own garbage opinions on each. Much like my gambling advice, these takes are for entertainment purposes only!
The Tour de France is 141 days away — do you know where your defending champ is? Chris Froome did not repeat at the Herald Sun Tour, which Gregor Brown notes is a departure from his winning track record in debut races the last four seasons. I know, the rush to judgement questions abound. Is Froome off his game? Is he still a five-star Tour contender? Should we trust Jim Ochowicz’s Super Bowl analogy on this one? Of course not. Don’t worry, Froomsters: Sky’s leader isn’t off his form; he just was confused about where the finish line was:
Nairo Quintana came out swinging in Spain, winning the queen stage of Volta a la Valenciana, and his Giro-Tour double plans have Andrew Hood salivating. I know, I know, we’ve been talking about Quintana and his Giro/Tour attempt non-stop for the last few weeks. We can’t help ourselves. Maybe that’s the play for Movistar boss Eusebio Unzué: Get us all distracted by Nairo and then Imanol Erviti surprises everyone at Flanders and Roubaix. We all know how Spaniards love cobblestones.
The Tour of Qatar would have been well underway by this point, but instead it was cancelled. Did you miss it? Did you even know it was gone? If it’s good for the goose, is it actually good for the gander? Sure, the peloton liked racing in Qatar, but not all of us fans enjoyed watching it. I always chuckled when I saw images of the peloton racing along empty roads, without a single spectator in sight. If pro cycling wants to continue being a spectator sport, it needs to find ways to put on a show.
This motor cheating thing will not die, will it? Now we have Johan Bruyneel going on Belgian television to repudiate inventor Stefano Varjas’s supposition that USPS might have used hidden motors. But then, speaking about the batteries, Bruyneel said, “I have people who know something about this.” Wait, you have “people” who are experts on putting small motors in frames? Is this what “Motoman” did during the off-season? I don’t know what to make of Johan’s messaging here. I mean, he’s told us so many times that “We Might As Well Win.”
I had a fun little chat with Travis McCabe, who was third at 2016 U.S. nationals and just won a stage at the Herald Sun Tour. McCabe’s not afraid to try some unusual training techniques — doing a sportive on an Elliptigo elliptical bike one year, racing it on a tandem the next. Is he uncovering the next level of marginal gains for pro cycling? I would LOVE to see Chris Froome put in some base miles on an Elliptigo, or maybe on one of those ridiculous Bird of Prey bikes.
Tom Boonen is doing well, really well. He says he’s on track for the classics and believes he can win Roubaix one last time. The whole thing has me singing “The Tom Boonen Song” over and over and over again. But did you read all the way to the end of this story? Speaking of his imminent retirement, he says, “I still love cycling, and though I won’t be training five hours a day, I will still ride my bike with my friends, my brother, and my family.” Sounds to me like ol’ Tommeke might be mixing it up with us amateurs next summer. If you see a dude arrive for the group ride in a yellow Lamborghini with bike racks on the top, prepare to enter the pain cave.
Marcus Stockl did it! He broke his own record, riding 104mph on a stock mountain bike down a mountain in Chile. We will happily give Stockl some press for his high-speed stunt, but it doesn’t look like the ride has cracked the mainstream media just yet. I hope the PR folks at Red Bull don’t punish Stockl for his lack of impressions. Look at it this way: The only way to get mainstream attention for wacky stuff like this is if there’s an outrageous crash video. So hey, Stockl’s personal brand didn’t reach the stratosphere, but he gets to keep his skin. I say he won this round. After all, he didn’t suffer this fate: