Week in Review: 5 must-read stories from the week of Nov. 4

Look back on the week that was in cycling with these must-read stories from VeloNews contributors

We know you’re busy during the week. Saturday is here. It’s time for coffee and catching up on your reading before you saddle up for the day. In Week in Review, we look back at five stories that highlighted the week in cycling at Enjoy your weekend and some of our favorite words of the week.

The Ryder dilemma: When to come in from the dark

By Andrew Hood in Leon, Spain
There’s been a lot of hand wringing over the past week in the wake of Ryder Hesjedal’s admission that he doped early in his career.

Inflammatory stuff, without a doubt, but the questions for many didn’t focus so much on the admission, but on why it took so long for him to come clean.

For better or worse, anyone racing during the EPO era is now under suspicion. And that included riders like Hesjedal, who came into the sport in the early 2000s. The peloton was a dirty place back then. In those days, it was either play the game and juice up, or be content with Tuesday afternoon group rides.

It’s been more than a year since the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released its reasoned decision that once and for all debunked the Lance Armstrong myth, and erased any doubt about how the Tour de France was raced and won.

But anyone hoping that the USADA case would pave the way toward a more transparent and reconciliatory future has been bitterly disappointed.

Over the past year, a number of factors have compounded on the wrong side of transparency.

The sport’s world governing body, the UCI, dropped the ball, and the sport was not keen to dwell on the past. No one wanted to talk about what happened inside camper vans or hotel rooms more than a decade ago.

Over the past year, it’s almost as if a new Omerta has settled over the peloton.

There are plenty of encouraging indications that cycling has truly turned the corner on doping, and that today’s peloton is as clean as the sport’s ever been. It’s not that today’s pros have some secret pact to not mention the “D” word, but fewer and fewer see the upside of talking about the sport’s messy past.
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The Torqued Wrench: 13 road disc brake questions, answered

By Caley Fretz in Boulder, Colorado
Let’s work under the assumption that you are interested in disc brakes. Perhaps it’s the poor weather performance that’s intriguing, or the controlled power. Perhaps you’re a mountain biker, you’re familiar with discs, and a good road version simply can’t hit shelves soon enough. Regardless, I’ll save the “do discs belong on the road” debate for another time.

Today, let’s look at the nuts and bolts of disc use. Here are 13 of the most common questions I’ve been fielding recently on the introduction of drop-bar discs.

1. Should I buy the current options (Shimano R7845 or SRAM HRD) or wait for refinements?
SRAM’s recent recall will certainly turn a few people off, but that seems to be a short-term manufacturing issue rather than an inherent engineering problem.

Shimano’s system hasn’t really been out long enough to find out if that it has any similar issues. Despite the company’s legendary attention to detail, it did have a few snafus with the release of Dura-Ace 9000 (shifters breaking cables, for example, and creaking cassettes), and as a result it made some running changes.

Shimano will likely have more options within the next year. A lighter Dura-Ace option would be our first guess.

SRAM already has two versions, Red and S700. A Force-level 11-speed option would make sense.

As with every new technology, waiting until Disc 2.0 is certainly the safe bet. You’ll have many more frame options, more wheel options, and more brake options within the next 18 months. That said, after extensive time on both the Shimano and SRAM systems, both seem to be ready for the big show.

2. Will they overheat?
Assuming proper maintenance and setup, no. Both SRAM and Shimano claim to have done their homework, including work in their R&D labs and real world testing.

For example, both strapped weight to already large riders and sent them down some of the toughest descents in the world. They slammed on the brakes from high speed, repeatedly, and dragged the brakes all the way down, as many amateurs are likely to do. In both circumstances, heat buildup in the caliper plateaued well below the boiling point of the brake fluids. It gets a bit hotter on the rotor, but there’s quite a bit of material between the rotor and the hydraulic fluid, which acts as a heat sink.

Would we run hydros on a tandem? No. SRAM has a 250-pound weight limit that we would certainly respect as well. Shimano has no weight limit as long as the brakes are used with its IceTech pads and new Freeza rotors.
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Commentary: Truth commission could spare cycling from death by a thousand cuts

By Matthew Beaudin in Telluride, Colorado
Last week, to exactly no one’s surprise, Ryder Hesjedal admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs. Forgive me for being jaded.

Cut. Cut. Cut.

The traditional gantlet followed his admission, which of course itself followed an accusation. The news stories, the statements, the condemnations, the very brief social-media outrage.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

And then things quieted down again. Until the next time someone admits to taking EPO while racing during an era in which EPO was pretty much jam on toast. Until then, it was but one more paper cut to the flesh of professional cycling, one more painful wound that bleeds into the world around it.

Since June 2012, when the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency sent its initial letter to Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel and Co., announcing that the jig was up, the sport has been gashed time and time again, with each wound thoroughly and publicly salted by journalists, athletes and fans.

We cut the sport time and time again. It sells magazines, it actually is the news, it drives readership, and it’s irresponsible to ignore, because we’ve been covering it for years and should not stop now. It’s the very ugly business of the sport, and we’re all part of that business now, either as riders making the initial choices, journalists writing stories, or end users reading the content.
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Costa and Lampre already planning for Tour’s podium

By Gregor Brown in Milan
World champion Rui Costa met with his new Lampre-Merida team last week to put pieces in place for the 2014 Tour de France. Their common goal involves the Portuguese world champion standing on the podium in Paris at the end of July and the team’s new manager is already at work building the roster he thinks will get Costa there.

“It’s possible,” new team manager Brent Copeland told VeloNews. “If you look at the course the Tour organizer put together next year … he’s not a cobbled rider but out of the GC riders he goes better than others do. Then if you look at what he did in the Tour de Suisse and at the Tour de France this year … If you build a team around him, he’s capable of doing it.”

Costa has won the overall twice in Switzerland, this year ahead of Bauke Mollema (Belkin) and Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff). He placed 18th last year in the Tour. This year, he won two stages and finished 27th overall while helping Nairo Quintana to second. Afterwards, he signed with Lampre and of course, won the world road title in Florence, Italy.

Costa moved from Movistar to Lampre with a total focus on his top-three Tour goal. His Spanish former team already has Quintana, who is aiming for his own win in France next year. Lampre’s management was keen because Costa raises awareness both at home in Portugal, where Lampre does a lot of business, and at an international level. And that was before the rainbow jersey hung from his shoulders — a boost that will draw even more eyes.
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Confirmation is key for Marcel Kittel in 2014

By Andrew Hood in Leon, Spain
Marcel Kittel was an unstoppable force in the bunch sprints in 2013, powering to 16 wins on the season, including a breakout four stage victories in the Tour de France.

So what’s next for the German sprint ace? To do it all again, of course.

“It’s already a very good performance to win stages at the Tour. The next step is to confirm, to win again against the benchmark sprinters in the bunch,” Argos team manager Iwan Spekenbrink told VeloNews. “To confirm again those victories is a nice goal.”

The 6-foot-2 German surprised many with his stellar Tour performance in July.

Not only did Kittel (Argos-Shimano) take it to top sprinters Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), but he also made it over the Alps to win the season’s most prestigious sprint on the Champs-Élysées.

That final victory put an exclamation point on a tremendous Tour performance that included a spell in yellow and catapulted Kittel into the elite of the sprinter’s ranks.

There was mounting pressure on Kittel to deliver in this year’s Tour, especially following his early abandon in his 2012 debut. Already one of the best young sprinters in the bunch, with a confidence-boosting stage win in the 2011 Vuelta a España, Kittel pulled out in the first week a year ago with a bad stomach. He still needed to win at the Tour to demonstrate his worth.

With four stage victories in July, Kittel proved to everyone he deserves to be ranked alongside Cavendish and Greipel as the top finishers in the peloton right now.

For 2014, Argos will return with a singular focus of riding for Kittel in all the major sprints, be it in stage races or in one-day races on favorable terrain.

“It’s not easy to beat Cavendish and Greipel. He’s done it before, but to do it this year at the Tour, when everyone was in their best condition, that was a big step,” Spekenbrink continued. “Right now, focusing on the sprints is the best task. Those two guys are still the favorites. It’s a nice challenge for Marcel.”
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