Friday, May 6, 2016

On the Rivet: Giro Edition

Giro d'Italia 2016
Il Corso

The second best grand tour is back and so is my second best grand tour preview.  We all love one day races with their now or never urgency.  And we all love one week races with their diverse stages and multiple opportunities.  But nothing compares to to the excitement, the anticipation, the pure drama that is a grand tour.  If Paris-Roubaix is like Super Bowl Sunday, then a grand tour is like cramming a whole season plus the playoffs into three weeks of non stop action.  Watching a grand tour is like following a really good soap opera.  Some days are more exciting than others but you never know when the decisive action will happen.  Will the dashing Alejandro succeed or will he be thwarted by the devious Vincenzo?  You'll just have to tune in every day to find out.  Its even on in the morning so if you can fold laundry while you watch your stories.
This post isn't about who will win the Giro, though I'll throw a little bit of that in there.  This post is a guide on how to watch the Giro.  So stock up on pasta, prime those corkscrews and get ready for some pure enjoyment.

Alright, I think we're ready to start

May 6-8:  The Grand Depart
Buona giorno welcome to beautiful Italy...oh wait,what?  Well, I guess that prosciutto will have a few more days to age cause this year's Giro starts in the Netherlands.  But hey, I think we can figure out a ways to enjoy it up here as well.

Why to watch
It all starts here, so might as well tune in and get accustomed to the peloton.  These Dutch stages shouldn't effect the overall race but if you like sprints these stages are for you.  But first the whole thing kicks off with a short time trial. 
Who to watch
All eyes will be on Cancellera as he tries to take his first Pink Jersey in his last season.  The GC contenders will look for early advantages and Dumolin would probably be the favorite here.  Saturday and Sunday will see the sprint trains take to the front.  This year it's a battle of the big Germans, old school Greips vs new school Skittles with maybe someone like Ewan getting in the mix. 
How to watch
Alright, its the  start of the Tour of Italy but we are in the Netherlands.  If you are really itching to get your "la dolce vita" on then I can't blame you, have some pasta or something, but if you want to stay true to the locale than we'll have to get creative.  This region of the Netherlands is known for its fruit jams and juices so if you catch the stage live you could make a tidy little breakfast.  If you are looking for something a little more hearty try a traditional smoked sausage (rookworst)  or even a sausage stew.  This ain't Amsterdam, but if you are into visiting the "coffee shops"  now would be the time.  For the rest of us there are plenty of good beer choices such as Heineken, Amstel and my fav of the bunch Grolsch.  Get it with the sweet swing top.  

Bellisima

Stage 4, Tuesday May 10th: Italia at Last
We have made it to the boot, specifically the ball of the foot.  We will spend our first day in Italy crossing from the Ionian to the Tyrhenian sea, or if you prefer from one part of the Mediterranean to another.  We'll hug the western coast and end up in a seaside village around the lower shin.

Why to watch
This stage is in no way a make or break stage and the GC probably won't be affected.  But here's the thing, we are finally in Itlay.  And I'm talking sun drenched scenery,  picturesque villages and ancient monuments, all framed by the azure seas of your italian fantasies.  The stage looks kind of lumpy and should make for some fun breakaway action.     
Who to watch
With a few flat days and a rest day before today's stage the peloton will be looking for some action.  Two cat 3 climbs means somebody could stake an early claim to the Maglia Azzurra.  Look for some scrubs from the wild card invite teams to fight it out in the breakaway.  I expect a sprint finish, but just maybe the sprinters can't stay in the lead group when they hit the steep climb with 10 k to go.  

How to watch
Early in the morning the peloton will be rolling through the fragrant bergamot fields of  southern Italy, the oil of which gives Earl Grey tea it's distinctive flavor.  Boil some water have a cuppa and tune into the race.  It's all about the Mediterranean today.  Oily Sardines are a local favorite but if you prefer something a bit more tame maybe make a pasta salad with Fusilli noodles, this region is known for a handmade version.  I would pair that with some prosseco but if you want to stay local grab a Verbicaro (red) wine.  The finishing town is home to a famous grotto shrine (not the last time we'll see some Mary stuff in this race).  If you know of a grotto now's the time to go, or maybe just vsist one of those half bathtub Mary statue things.   This should be a scenic race but if you can only catch the last 30K you should still get the important lumpy action.  



Stage 6, Thursday May 12th: 
Why to watch
This is the first summit finish of the Giro.  There is always a lot of emphasis on that first uphill battle of a grand tour.  Will the Giro be won today? No.  Will some GC contendor turn into a stage hunter after today? Yes.  
Who to watch
Not a true alpine climb, but more punchy with steep and flat sections.  Look for a fast finisher on the line such as Valverde, but other punchy riders could hang around and spoil the GC party.  Also, the mountains jersey contndors should come out to play early in the stage.  
How to watch
Save this one for after work and try to watch the whole final climb.  The finishing town of Roccaraso is famous for its skiing.  "Where the snow meets the sun" is the motto of this ski town so perhaps you may be inspired to where some old school ski gear when cycling.   Montepulciano d'Abruzza is a very common wine and you could pick up a bottle just about anywhere.  But if you are looking for a unique experience try some local dishes, which rely less on tomatoes and more on a local chili, an ingrediant not typically found in other italian food.  As for me I will transport myself to the chilled mountain village with a savory and slightly spicy pollo caccitore l'aquilla style.  

Stage 8, Saturday May 14th:
Why to watch

Who to watch

How to watch

Stage 9, Sunday May 15th: 
Why to watch

Who to watch

How to watch

Stage 10, Tuesday May 17th:
Why to watch

Who to watch

How to watch

Stage 13, Friday May 20th:

Stage 14, Saturday May 21st:

Stage 15, Sunday May 22nd:

Stage 16, Tuesday May 24th:

Stage 19, Friday May 27th:

Stage 20, Saturday May 27th:

Stage 21, Sunday May 28th:  Finale!









  

Friday, April 29, 2016

From the Commish

Transfer Period #1
Now Closed
Giro d'Italia


Sorry, this guy isn't available

It's time for the first transfer period of the season.  The classics are done and it's time for the grand tours.  The transfer window will be opening Monday May, 2nd at 8 am.  Get your squad set for the Giro, we'll have another transfer period again before Le Tour.  So, drop the dead weight and add some riders who are actually racing.  Not sure who's racing?  Check the startlists at cycling fever, you can use the link under "Upcoming Races".   If you want to make a transfer just state who you are dropping and who you are picking up in the comments section of this post.  Go for it, get involved!  Wiskota!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Paris-Roubaix

Brunch and Cobbles

The Queen of the classics will be live at Luke's house this Sunday.  4636 33rd ave S.  Come one, come all, all are welcome Lori and Maddie will be in attendance.  Come early, stay late, Race coverage starts at the butt crack of dawn and the party should last into the afternoon.  Come hungry, come thirsty. a french inspired brunch awaits, complete with bubbly for mimosas.  Hopefully the weather is nice and we can hang outside in the afternoon, or maybe we head to the local pub.  Either way I am excited to have the Wiskota crew over this weekend.
I'll try to add a preview of the race this week, in the mean time this should hold you over...




Wiskota! 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Chapeau

...Gregario Forza's weekly "tip of the hat"

Image result for milan san remo 2016 demare
"I can't believe I got away with it!"

Hidy Ho Neighborinos! Not a lot of racing this weekend. Well, except for the grand daddy of them all, the longest race of the year, a classic, a monument, La Classicissima di Primavera, Milan-San Remo. I turned the race on with 100km to go… yawn, at 60 km to go I ran to Starbucks for a Grande Americano to match my Milano butter braided cherry pastry; and finally the racing started at 30 km to go with the ascent of the suppressor (Cipressa), where, as it turns out, the winning move was made (more on that later). It wasn't as I predicted- I’ll leave the prognosticating to the 5 time champ- but it was still an exciting finish. The KwiatOne led the charge at the top of the Poggio but no one was able to go with him. Nibali and Sagan chased hard down the descent, however, they were being chased by a strong bunch as well, and the longest classic of the year finished rather classically, with a bunch sprint. Some dumb neo-pro (Gaviria- he’s been great this year) crashed and messed up the sprint for Sagan and others, Bouhanni was KO’d by a dropped chain, and my boy, Arnaud Demare, took the biggest victory in his young career.


Chapeau to Arnaud Demare for taking the biggest victory of his career. He has been rumored to be something for the nation of France and has finally attached a result to the rumors. The big sprinter has been keen to the classics and should be a contender at Gent-Wevelgem as well as Paris-Roubaix. Chapeau as well for winning the Strava KOM for his ascent of the Cipressa. It turns out that the big guy can climb as well! He finished the Cipressa 17 seconds faster than the field!!!

This week features some of the best racing of the year with many Grand Tour hopefuls attending the Volta a Catalunya and the classics stars lining up for Dwars door Vlaanderen, E3 Prijs Vlaanderen, and Gent Wevelgem. The French will also be racing Criterium International- No one cares!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Chapeau

...Gregario Forza's weekly "tip of the hat"



"Well done, old boy"



It’s nearing Holy Week, the Maibock is flowing, we’ve raced to the sun- where has the time gone! Time to get my mind blocked and get ready for the first monument of the year, Milan-San Remo, La Classicissima di primavera, the longest race of the year. There is so much that can happen in 290-some kilometers. Milan-San Remo doesn't have the fireworks of a Paris-Roubaix with 60 km to go, however, the Italian Riviera is amazing and you can hardly beat the final 15km of this race. Before we prognosticate on which WFL rider seizes the line- let's take a look back and tip-the-hat to those who have already put points in the UCI bank.

CHAPEAU

Chapeau to Fabulous Fabian Cancellara, for being Fabulous in Tuscany and winning his 3rd Strade Bianche. Dude is so classy. He had the mark of his rivals despite being outmanned. Strade seems to be the perfect race for Fabian. Tanto Amore Spartacus. A 2nd Chapeau to Spartacus, for winning the final time trial in T.A. Look out field, Fabian looks like he is ready for the spring monuments.

Chapeau to Michael Matthews for winning the Prologue south of Paris and for winning, sort of, a stage in the “Race to the Sun”. Bling!

Chapeau to Nacer Bouhanni for bringing a little physicality to Paris-Nice. He also took a stage, out sprinting the likes of Greipel and Kristoff. K-Train? More like the K-Line

Chapeau to Ilnur Zakarin, the Sugarman got Team McNutt p/b BMC some big points by winning on Madone. Not bad for a couple of neo-pros!

Chapeau to Geraint Thomas for being a model of consistency and proving that he is no flash in the pan in stage races, by winning Paris-Nice. Look out Richie Porte! - There is a new one-weeker in the mix. I am really excited to see if Gee can still be a threat in the classics and in the Grand Tours, a feat that has not been done since the likes of Kelly and Merckx.

Chapeau to the Paris-Nice peloton, for racing hard and making an exciting edition of the “race to the sun”. Thomas, Contador, Sugar, Porte, Wellens- Thank you!

Chapeau to BMC for winning the TTT in Tirreno Adriatico. Nice to see a couple of Americans dragging a European team across Italy.

Chapeau to Zdenek Stybar for going solo and winning stage 2 of Tirreno Adriatico. A great show of strength against a very strong field.

Chapeau to GVA for winning Tirreno Adriatico. There is no one in better form than the Belgian. I am excited to see if his form can continue into the monuments. He is entering Milan-San Remo in the best form of his life, his best placing there was 9th in 2013. He’ll have to hang on  when the punchier guys go on the Poggio, but if he is there in the finish, you can put it on the board… Yes.

Chapeu to Vincenzo Nibali for being direct and honest and not full of cliches. I like that Nibbs speaks his mind about teammates, races, and the people in charge, and he races with panache, attacking and taking the greatest “lift” in the history of the sport. Chapeau Nibbs. #LetNibblesRace

MSR
I usually leave the prognosticating to the 5 time champion of WFL but he’s been a bit off this year so I thought I would make some predictions for the racing this weekend. Here is how I think it will go down…

The MSR peloton seems to be heavier on climbers and punchier riders than in past editions. I don’t believe that this year’s edition will come down to a group sprint, even from a smaller bunch. I think that guys like Nibali and Valverde will soften up the legs of the heavy guys on the Cipressa. From there it will be a hard charge to the Poggio likely picking up any guys from the early break that are left out on the coastal road. The Poggio will produce a number of attacks where a very select group will get away and will extend their lead on the descent into San Remo. The winner will come from this small group after they attack each other into a tactical standstill and someone gets away at just the right moment- Forza Nibbles! Forza!

$$$$ Cancellara
Sagan

$$$ Valverde
GVA
Mathews

$$    BoHag
Nibali
Stybar
Kwiatkowski

$ Kristoff
Lobato
Bouhanni
Swift
Gaviria


Forza!

The Broom Wagon

...cleaning up after the week in racing

Paris-Nice

Image result for Paris Nice podium 2016
The Race to the Sun

Team Wiskota was out in full force to watch Bob the Neo-Pro's favorite Russian, Ilnur "Sugarman" Zackarin, win the queen stage of Paris-Nice.  Contador didn't give up without a fight and the last stage into Nice may have been the best racing of the season so far.  Say what you want about Contador, but he is fun to watch.  In the end it wasn't quite enough to take back all of the bonus seconds G had earned and Geraint Thomas won the biggest race of his career.  

Tirreno-Adriatico

The Race of the Two Seas
Still the coolest trophy in all of sports

Canceled stages did more than piss of Nibs they gave a few unlikely candidates the chance to win one of the most prestigious one week races on the calendar.  In the end it was GVA who just hung on to win beating Sagan by one second.  Here's Sagan bitching about it like a little bitch.  Not the first time GVA's beat Sagan this year and it won't be the last.  

Friday, March 11, 2016

On the Rivet

...a look at who's riding hard


Wiskota Event 
Let's do this
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Racing on tv, in prime time.  It doesn't happen often, so let's make the most of it.  Sure the race will have been long over and really we are watching a replay but this is about as good as it gets.  Looks like we get an hour of coverage starting at 6 pm. We're planning to meet at the Nomad and try to talk them into showing the race with sound.  Still looking for an official Wiskota pub so if you have any good suggestions throw 'em out there.  

What to Watch



Profile of stage 6 of the 2016 Paris-Nice
It's all about La Madone


L'etape Reina, Il Tappone, The Queen Stage. With the earlier "decisive" stage having been cancelled this is the only uphill finish of Paris - Nice.  The winner on Saturday probably is the overall winner.  The final climb is steep and after 6 categorized climbs this mountain will be a leg breaker. 

How to Watch

West Bank is full of greasy bike messengers

Wiskota events in full effect.  They've turned the race on for us before so hopefully we get some good coverage again.  Sure I would rather be watching from the balcony of this french hotel, but a pub with friends will do just fine.  Provence and Nice in particular are known for their Rose wines.  Still a bit chilly here for this refreshing drink but a nice cognac with my beers might suffice.  Sure Nice is known for seafood and of course nicoise salad, but this flat bread street food called socca looks pretty tasty.  Being on the Mediterranean perhaps our best chances are to order some North African food from a nearby West Bank eatery.  

Who to Watch

Argy Bargy

With only a short prologue to break up the leader board its still really anyone's game.  The favorites going in still remain: Contador, Porte, Costa, Majka,Wilco and company, with a slight advantage to Iziaguirre and Geraint thanks to strong TTs.  Will someone go early or will it be a dash to the line?  With such close times and it being so early in the season we could easily have a surprise winner.  
  
Predictions

That's where we're going

How it could happen:  The race has reached the sun and the riders peel out of Nice faster than Grace Kelly in a Hitchcock film.  The race is close and every scrub and his brother thinks this is his chance for glory.  The breakaway is a who's who of second tier riders.  The break holds out till the foot of La Madone when a few climby riders give it their all.  Can the peloton catch up?  Not this time and Luis Angel Mate soars to his biggest victory ever.  

How it might happen: The race has reached the sun and the riders peel out of Nice faster than Grace Kelly in a Hitchcock film.  The race is close and every climber feels like they have a chance.  The breakaway is kept on a short leash.  What's left of the peloton reaches the foot of La Madone together when riders with teammates begin to attack.  Can an attack stick?  Not this time.  Most of the favorites come in close together and Ion Izaguirre saves enough time to take the overall victory.  

How it will happen:  The race has reached the sun and the riders peel out of Nice faster than Grace Kelly in a Hitchcock film.  The race is close and the favorites know it's their race to lose.  The breakaway is doomed from the start as the climbers set a blistering pace.  A select group of climbers reaches the foot of La Madone together when Contador unleashes his attack.  Can Porte and company pull him back?  Not this time.  Contador takes a minute out of his rivals embarrassing Porte and securing overall victory.    

Wiskota!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Take the GreenLine

...Reichow offers up his irreverent take on the state of cycling





Michael Mathews continues to impress in Paris - Nice. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

On the Rivet

...who's riding hard 


Strade Bianche
Eroica

The ripe rolling hills intertwined with milky white roads wantonly called to the the eager riders.  Fabian mounted his carbon steed as his sinewy loins glistened in the dewy Tuscan morning.  "Today I will ride you until you are mine once again" Fabian moaned.  They rode for what seemed like hours.  As the Italian heat reflected off of the pearly marble he forged his ample lead into the awaiting climax.  "Sienna, now I will climb you"...   Oh, you like? Bellisima.

Former winner Cancellera takes his prize


What to watch

Despite the misleading introduction Strade Bianche is not an Italian soft porn, but oh if it were.  Rather it is one of the most watchable races of the year.  Spring has sprung in Tuscany and the cycling season is fully underway.  The route is know for its white gravel roads known as sterrati.  Originally a grand fondo style ride this race has turned into one of the most popular races of the season.  The loose gravel makes for exciting watching as many are placed upon steep hills where the descents become even more treacherous than the climbs.  Add to this some early season weather and the peloton is usually stretched to its limits far before the finish.  And what a finish it is.  As riders exit the country roads they enter the hill town of Sienna.  A wicked climbing finish into the heart of town makes Strade the second most famous race to finish in the Piazza del Campo.

As town squares go, not too shabby, if you're into that kind of thing


Who to watch


As this race grows so does the inclusion of big name riders.  The Wiskota League is sending a some of our best classics riders including:  GVA, Sagan, Phinney, T. Martin and former winners Cancellera and Stybar.  In addition many punchy climbers will be involved as well including: Valverde, Ullisi and Nibali.  A few other notables, Wiskota and others include: Chaves, Gesink, Rosa, DeClerq, Landa and Battaglin.

These guys like to party



How to watch


In Tuscany it's all about the green gold that is extra virgin olive oil.  Saute with it, drizzle it on bread, top your pasta, straight guzzle it.  Those eye-talians put that shit on everything.  If you are watching in the morning perhaps try frying your eggs in olive oil with a little bruschetta toasted bread on the side.  A cappachino will help you start things off like a true tuscan. Perhaps a little Tuaca if you are feeling frisky.  It's looking like I won't get to watch until the evening, which will give me plenty of time to let my bottle of Chianti breath.  Lots of olive oil on my Bruschetta and Parpadelle and I'll be ready to watch.

Olio d'Olivia



Predictions

Will the roads look like this?
Or like this?

How it could happen:  The forecast calls for rain and the Tuscan sun struggles to peak through the clouds.  It's a day for the Clydesdales and this race has two of the most powerful.  In an epic battle of former TT champions Cancellera and Tony Martin break away from the pack.  With every Cancellera attack Martin TTs his way back.  The break reaches the foot of the Sienna climb, who will struggle to hang on and who will power away for victory?  Cancellera finds an extra gear going into the final turn and crosses the line just in front of his former TT rival.  

How it might happen:  The forecast calls for rain and the Tuscan sun struggles to peak through the clouds.  It's a day for the opportunist and many an attacker has taken the start line.  As the gravel roads tilt upward a group of punchy climbers makes its move.  Nibali tries again and again to drop the group but led by Valverde the "puncheurs"  won't let him go.  The break reaches the foot of the Sienna climb, who will struggle to hang on and who will power away for victory? Nibali attacks early again, Valverde follows, but who is this on his coat tails, Diego Ullissi strikes out at just the right moment to take the victory.

How it will happen: The forecast calls for rain and the Tuscan sun struggles to peak through the clouds.  It's a day for the mudders and some of the top classics men are here.  The skinny men pack it in early complaining of the cold.  The tough mudders head out early and the pack whittles down as BMC pushes the pace.  The break reaches the foot of the Sienna climb, who will struggle to hang on and who will power away for victory?  Stybar did a lot of work in the break and it looks like its going to be an Omloop rematch between Sagan and GVA.  They continue to attack each other, but coming from behind Stybar makes it a three man sprint.  Its close at the line but GVA continues his early season run with a signature victory.

WISKOTA!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Chapeau

...Gregario Forza's weekly "tip of the hat" 



Cobbles, Ik heb je gemist!! Oh, how I’ve missed you. Saturday felt like Spring, with a balmy 55 degrees in the Twin Cities and classics races playing on my laptop while I fry bacon and sip on coffee. It doesn't get much better. The racing was also fabulous with the Omloop featuring a selection of hard men battling it out for the win while all eyes were on Quickstep in the peloton, wondering “will they ever get organized?”, and KBK featuring a heroic a show of strength as one man staved off a chasing group and a peloton buzzing with fast men.

If the first weekend is a preview of things to come then we will be in for an exciting season with new faces and first time winners. It does seem as though there is a changing of the guard in the spring classics. Greg Van Avermaet, Tiesj Benoot, and Peter Sagan will feature the list of newcomers. However, the classics season is a long one, and how good can GVA be in April (Check his Palmares)? But that's for another post, another day.

Chapeau to Greg Van Avermaet for winning! The bridesmaid was wearing white at Omloop and out sprinted the World Champion, Peter Sagan, once again for victor. “Avi” showed tons of strength by going early and maintaining all the way to the line, taking away the sprint from Sagan. I was really happy for GVA to win a classic and will be cheering for him to take a monument this year.

Chapeau to Jasper Stuyven for his huge effort to win Kurne-Brussels-Kurne. I didn't think he had a chance at 10 km but he kept his lead out and even seemed to put time into the peloton in the final 3km. It was as though he was doing his best Fabian Cancellara impression. Once again a glimpse at the future of the classics and for Belgium, chapeau!

Chapeau to Peter Sagan for featuring in both races and just oozing panache, all while demonstrating the bad tactics that continue to haunt him in all places outside California. Chapeau to Alexander Kristoff, the Ice Harvester, was frozen in the peloton in both races but won the group sprint for second place at KBK.

This weekend the racing moves to white roads under the Tuscan Sun. Also, we start the race to the sun in France, Paris-Nice, in the first real, historic, World Tour stage race of the year. La Course au Soleil!