Putting together an issue in the days following the Tour de France, the question put before the VeloNews editorial staff wasn’t which rider or event would grace the cover of our October issue, but rather which Tour image it might be.
The story of this year’s Tour wasn’t so much about winner Alberto Contador, or the return of Lance Armstrong, but instead of the tense and unusual dynamic between them. And for this reason we chose a telling and powerful photo, taken in Paris by Getty Images, that illustrates the relationship between the former and current Tour champions. The look on Armstrong’s face itself is certainly worth 1000 words.
That cover image perfectly complements the main feature inside, written by European correspondent Andrew Hood, titled “Strength From Strife: Inside Astana’s intra-squad battle for supremacy.”
Because while the story of Armstrong’s comeback Tour was well documented daily, Contador’s personal journey to the top podium in Paris went highly unreported in English. The reasons were many: language barriers, a laser-like focus and Contador’s decision to hold his cards close to his chest. But in the days following the Tour Contador opened up, and Hood was there, in his adopted homeland of Spain, to monitor the post-race fallout.
“Strength From Strife” is a must-read for any pro cycling fan, if for no reason than to get the background on this concluding passage:
“For seven unrivaled years, Armstrong was the master at playing all the angles. One of his strengths was his ability to play a multi-level chess match at all levels of the sport, both on and off the road, turning allegiances, jealousies and self-interests from rival teams, governing bodies, race organizers and the media all toward his benefit. That sophisticated juggling act was short-circuited by a Spanish momma’s boy who ended the myth of Armstrong’s invincibility.”
In addition to Hood’s feature, the October issue has 14 pages dedicated to the racing itself, written by editor at large John Wilcockson and managing editor Neal Rogers. Wilcockson divvied the race into four critical sections: Monaco to Barcelona, Barcelona to Tarbes, Limoges to Verbier and Martigny to Paris. Meanwhile Rogers takes deeper looks inside Armstrong’s goodwill Tour, Columbia’s unbeatable lead-out train, and what really happened on stage 14 that kept George Hincapie from wearing the maillot jaune.
A look at the Vuelta a Colombia
In addition to the Tour de France, the October issue features an inside look at the toughest stage race you’ve never heard of, the 2009 Tour of Colombia. Written and photographed by contributor Gregg Bleakney, “El Pasión” recounts stories or robberies, landslides, rider protests, angry crowds and, ultimately, one country’s attempt to re-introduce itself to the outside world by sponsoring a bicycle race through its interior.
North American women take charge
Here at home, two North American women, Meredith Miller and Catharine Pendrel, have had standout seasons on and off road, and former VeloNews senior writer Fred Dreier takes a look at each. A profile on Miller is anchored around July’s elite national road championships, where Miller took a stars-and-stripes jersey, while the story on Pendrel examines how and why she has emerged as one of the top cross-country racers in the world.
Time trial tech
As always, the VeloNews tech department of Zack Vestal, Matt Pacocha and Lennard Zinn has had its hands on the best new equipment in the industry, and the October issue offers a hands-on view.
All three tech editors contributed to a look at the latest generation of time trial bikes used at the Tour in July, and what iteration, if any, consumers can get their hands on now. Titled “Aero 2.0”, four prototype TT bikes — Trek, Specialized, Giant and Scott — with a corresponding comparison to their respective consumer counterparts. Accompanying the piece is a look at top new TT gear on the market, including Zipp’s 1080 and Sub 9 aero wheels, Fi’zi:k’s Ares TT saddle and Uvex’s Aero helmet.
Zinn also recently spent time at the Gaerne factory in Maser, Italy, where founder Ernesto Gazzola continues making shoes as he has for 47 years — with an eye on quality and detail.
Tour of Missouri Guide
Finally, every October issue comes with a 24-page guide to the Tour of Missouri, with stage-by-stage details and a profile on last year’s winner, Garmin-Slipstream rider Christian Vande Velde.
As always, Velonews.com readers shouldn’t be surprised to learn that our print edition offers up all-original content from the same VeloNews writers you’ve come to know and appreciate online. We see the print and online editions as separate but complementary. Pick up the October issue, and we’re sure you’ll feel the same way.
For more on the October issue, see the issue page.