The Hardest Monument Classic

Which classic is the hardest?

It’s an impossible question to answer definitively as the topic will always be somewhat subjective. How do you define ‘hard’? Hills? Cobbles? Wind? Rain? Speed?

Perhaps a good place to start is to rule out all of the classics that are not considered to be one of the five monuments – Milan San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Tour of Lombardy. After all, they’re considered to be above all the others for a reason. ~ Continue reading ~

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Roche, the UCI and the media scrum

It’s been almost three weeks since USADA released their reasoned decision in their case against Lance Armstrong which included an avalanche of evidence into the doping practices on the Texan’s various teams. With the lack of top level racing in the days since then, it’s unsurprising that much of the cycling news emerging has included the reactions of people within the sport, not least the cyclists themselves.

It is a quirk of the entire Armstrong case that many of the main characters are Irish. Consequently, the mainstream Irish media can seek comment from several of their own when a big story breaks – the unrelenting journalists David Walsh and Paul Kimmage, the president of the UCI Pat McQuaid, the whistleblower Emma O’Reilly, the prominent cycling journalist Shane Stokes. All of whom have appeared on Irish TV or radio over the past number of weeks. ~ Continue reading ~

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Nicolas Roche’s learning curve

A leader of a cycling team must have a strong personality, a will to win and the ability to get results. Some leaders are the quiet type that like to lead by example, think Carlos Sastre, while others are more vocal but still have no problem getting the job done, Mark Cavendish springs to mind. The leader who is vocal and yet can’t back up his words with performances will inevitably lose the trust of his team-mates and will shortly thereafter no longer deserve the status of leader at all.

‘Leadership and learning are indispensable to one another’ said a great U.S. leader of Irish descent. A current leader of more established Irish descent could have done with listening to these words of John F. Kennedy for he has now come to the end of the road as leader of his cycling team. ~ Continue reading ~

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A home Tour de France stage win – but not in France

A stage win in the Tour de France can make a rider’s career. It will boost their salary, increase their marketability and make them a more wanted man. A stage win in the Tour de France achieved by a Frenchman is on another level again. When Thomas Voeckler or Pierre Rolland win a stage of the Tour, almost the entire edition of L’Équipe the following day is written in homage to their victory. A win in France, in the Tour de France, by a man from France is something very special indeed. ~ Continue reading ~

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Beware the wounded Schleck

Which rider won the Tour de France in a year in which he did not even take part in the race?

The answer, unsurprisingly, involves a disqualification and a subsequent default winner. The answer is also going through the worst year in his career thus far as a cyclist. The answer is Andy Schleck.

Earlier this year, Alberto Contador was banned and stripped of several victories including the 2010 Tour de France in which Schleck finished second. As such, in May of this year, Schleck was officially awarded the yellow jersey as winner of the 2010 Tour. So far this has been his only victory this year. ~ Continue reading ~

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Irish cyclists at the Olympics

In London tomorrow, the cycling road race takes place over 250km and provides each of the competitors the opportunity to secure the first medals on offer at the 2012 Olympic games. Representing Ireland are David McCann, Nicolas Roche and Daniel Martin. Although Ireland have never won a medal of any sort in this discipline, the green jerseys are not without their history in this prestigious event. With Roche and McCann both having competed in previous games, Martin is set to be the 30th cyclist to represent Ireland in the Olympic games men’s road race. ~ Continue reading ~

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