Friday, May 22, 2015

The Spokes Man

The Giro!!!
Part 2
Cheating
Just over half way through this year's Giro and there has been non stop action.  So, how's it shaking out for our Wiskota riders and what's left to come.

The Favorites:  Billed as the battle of the four tenors, Contador, Aru, Porte and Uran, with a supporting cast of several outside contendors, the predictors have not been far off.   The outsiders are way outside and the best of the rest, Pozzovivo, has gone home early.  Making Damiono "The little Prince" Cunego Greg's highest placed rider in 12th place.  However, with every stage something unexpected seems to shake up the GC standings.  Uran was the first to be written off, now he's back in the mix.  Porte looked super strong and maybe even the favorite with the long TT looming, now he's 5 minutes back.  And it seemed like Aru could never gain anything on Contador, but now he's in pink.

The Sprints:  Every sprint stage has been different.  No single sprinter has put his stamp on this race.  That's probably why Nicoala Boem(?) leads the points classification.  This competition is wide open.  The puncheurs have had there days (Mathews, Ullisi and JillBear) as well as a few breakaways.

The Mountains: Inxtausti has the early lead and is a very capable climber.  However, the Giro is always backloaded with climbs and this is far from over.  Betancur vows to put up a fight, but seriously that would be a lot of work and I mean, come on.

It should be a good weekend to watch, well, Sunday should be good.  And don't forget the US championships are on Memorial Day.  Last year they had a free live stream.  So here it is in brief, your weekend Giro guide.   


Stage 14, Saturday 5/23:
** 

Why to watch: I am loath to include a time trial stage but this one could decide the Giro.
Who to watch: With the big name TT'ers skipping the Giro we have to look to the GC guys for a good result.  I expect Porte and Uran to do the best, but Contador shouldn't be too far off.  The real question is how much time does Aru lose.  Sneaky pick, Kyrienka.
How to watch: This is Prosecco country and sparkling bevvie goes well with race day.  This region is known for their wild asparagus dishes, but for my money its all about the italian meats: soppressa, salami, ossocollo and pancetta.    



Stage 15, Sunday 5/24:
****
Why to watch: The mountains start coming fast and furious now.  This may not be the toughest climb of the Giro but after a TT you never know how a rider's body will react.
Who to watch: Look for the KOM contenders to ride an easy TT as they look to snatch points today on the first 2 mountains.  Will Porte take TT time and then attack Sunday?  Epic massive?  At 5 minutes behind probably not.  Uran on the other hand...  But as with all mountain top finishes, Contador is the favorite.   
How to watch:  Keep the Cappuccino hot cause today its about the sweets.  Cherries and apple strudel maybe a little carrot cake.  If you are feeling more adventurous you could try your hand at torta di fregoletti a walnut and almond pie of sorts.  



Friday, May 8, 2015

The Spokes Man

GIRO!!!
Grandissimo!
The first grand tour is finally upon us.  We all know the Tour de France is the king of races, but the Giro is not far behind.  When it comes to history, food, drink and sheer beauty Italy is hard to top.  This year's race will be in HD on BeIn Sports (ask Greg for his login) and we should be able to get together for a stage or two along the way.   Here's my guide for when and how to watch this year's Giro.

The Pope has made it official so let's get this thing rolling

Stage 1, Saturday 5/9:
* 
Why to watch: I am not a fan of watching time trials even team time trials, but I had to put this on the list as it's always fun to get it started.  Also, somebody's team always fucks up pretty bad ruining their team leader's chances on the first day (see Garmin last year and Cunego's team this year).
Who to watch: Today is more about who loses time than who gains time.  Orica thinks winning the TTT makes a good grand tour so look for a fast time there.  Otherwise the big budget teams like Saxo and Sky should place well.
How to watch: It's the start of the Giro don't over think it, pop some wine, make some pasta and kick things off.

Stage 2, Sunday 5/10:
*  
Why to watch: Yeah I know it's Mother's day, but it's Mother's day everyday at my house.  I'm watching the Giro.  Today's stage should end in a sprint but the reason to watch is the finishing town.  After a ride down the Mediterannean coast the race will do laps through the port city of Genoa.
Who to watch: So many second tier sprinters.  This should be a chance to find out who's the real deal this year.  My money's on Greips, maybe one of these youngsters like Mezgec.
  How to watch: It's Mothers's day so some Bellinis seem in order.  Genoa is known for it's foccacia and basil pesto, maybe pair that with the rich sea food salad Cappon Magro.  If that seems like too much how about just slapping some "genoa" salami onto some foccacia, sitting back and enjoying the coastal scenery.  

Stage 4, Tuesday 5/12:
**  
Why to watch: Two words: Cinque Terra.  This stage actually has an interesting ending as the cat 2 climb should shell most sprinters before the long drag into town.
Who to watch: What fast man can make it over the final climb?  Mathews? Gilbert? I'm picking Juanjo Lobato.
How to watch: Wait til after work, find the race on YouTube, call that chick from college that's always talking about her transformative trip to Italy, uncork a bottle of Cinque Terra Red and tuck into some meat ravioli.  

 Stage 5, Wednesday 5/13:
** 
Why to watch: The Giro rolls into the Emilia region and the riders are greeted by the first summit finish of the race.  Shouldn't be a huge GC battle but worth watching as someone will lose time and PhilGil and Mathews might get a chance to go head to head again.
Who to watch: How fast do the climbers go up the final climb.  Look for BMC and Orica to try to control for JillBear and Bling, then they can watch as Diego (puff the magic dragon) Ullisi takes the win.
How to watch: Put down the wine drunky, no grapes growing in Emilia.  Don't worry they use what they got and fermented berry liqueurs is the drink of choice.  Also, this would be the time to dust off your grandma's mushroom lasagna recipe as this is the birthplace of the layered delicacy.  

Stage 8, Saturday 5/16:
*** 
Why to watch: Billed as the first big showdown of the Giro, this summit finish should be selective.
Who to watch: Probably not the winning climb of the Giro but somebody will fall off the back.  Look for the top 4 to stay close together, but it's hard not to pick Contador for any of the mountain stages. 
How to watch: A large contingent of Team Wiskota will be busy in southern Minnesota that morning with the Almanzo, Root River Triathalon and such so the stage will have to wait until the afternoon.  But then we will have a ton of cycling to watch.  This is also the queen stage of the Tour of California, one of the few races we get live on our tvs.  Today is a day to replace those carbs.  Taglliatelle, muffalda and polenta are all popular in the this region.  Serve it up with a thick meat sauce like the locals do and pair with a Cabernet style red.    


Stage 9, Sunday 5/17:
**  
Why to watch: This lumpy stage makes the list mostly because it's on a Sunday and may be the best chance for Team Wiskota to get together.
Who to watch: Lumpy stages can be hard to predict.  Look for a rider from a team whose leader bonked the day before to try to win from a break away.  Garmin perhaps.  When I look at our Wiskota riders I think this could be a Paolini day.  If it goes to sprint look for Greips  or maybe Hofland, both have teams that can control the lead out.    
How to watch:  Giro in the morning, bike to the pub for the final stage of Cali around noon?  If anyone knows where to get Strega, now's the time otherwise Peronis on the patio. End the day with a nice family supper of cavatelli with broccoli.  You can celebrate Team Volpe's win at the Almanzo with a crisp white wine such as a Coda di Volpe.

That will get you through the first two weekends.  As always the Giro really starts to heat up in that last week.  Stay tuned for the second half of the Wiskota Giro viewing guide.  











Friday, May 1, 2015

From the Commish


Trade Window opens
at 8 am Monday
Sell, Sell, Sell!
Buy, Buy, Buy!
Cunego, Cunego, Cunego!
The first transfer window opens up this Monday at 8 am and closes at midnight Friday.  That's right the Giro starts Saturday!  Time to get your team set.  To make a transfer just leave a comment saying who you are dropping and who you are adding.  Get there early if you want to beat Greg.  For some hints on who to pick up here's the tentative Giro Startlist.  Wiskota!

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Broom Wagon

...cleaning up after the week of racing


Roubaix
Deger goes hard for his second monument of the season.
The Last German Guy to win Roubaix



Pais Vasco
Those separatists love their cycling

Image result for vuelta pais vasco 2015
It's called a txapela
JRod was impressive all week, with 2 stage wins.  But it was his second place finish in the final TT that secured his overall victory and made GoGo eat crow.

Image result for todd gogulski
"Massive"

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Forza's Fury



Flanders
Chapeau to Alexander Kristoff, insert nickname here, for winning the 2015 edition of the Ronde. He was clearly the best and strongest rider in Flanders. Terpstra could not drop the big Norwegian on the Kwaremont and even followed the wheels of Kristoff on the Paterberg. The two entered Oudenarde together and the Terpinator knew he had no chance in the sprint. The victors and spoils going to the man from Stavanger.


The Ronde was spoiled for me as I had Easter activities in the morning. This is the problem when 2 holy weeks collide. Religion/Family vs. Cycling. Oh well. I tried to watch the race via youtube in the afternoon, but in my search a spoiler ruined the day, thanks Bein sports. I ended up watching the finale, highlights, and now the final 60km which included the decisive move of the day. I certainly respect the strength of the Norwegian and commend him on his brilliant win. Maybe it was the spoiler, maybe its my disdain for Wiskota Dynamic, but I thought this years edition was good, not great, and not epic. Chapeau to Kristoff and the Commish. Good for you. To quote INRNG “a good race with a worthy winner”.


Basque
Pais Vasco or the Tour of the Basque Country started Monday. This race is generally a good one. The Basque country is super hilly and the leader gets to wear a really cool hat. This years edition should be a battle between Kwiatkowski and Quintana( update: and Purito of course). This should be an excellent duel as the parcours don't seem to benefit Quintana with a super long and steep climb rather a series of sharp, short climbs. Michael Mathews should win anything that ends in a sprint. Also look for Gorka Izagirre, a Wiskota favorite, also known as the Lammergeier, to win a stage in his home region.


Paris Roubaix
The Hell of the North is the greatest one day race in the world. Flanders seems to get the nod these days but the 27 sectors totalling almost 53 km of cobblestones make Roubaix the baddest race of the season. Once known as the Queen of the Classics, or la Pascale for the Easter race, this years edition should be wide open due to the absence of Fabian Cancellara and Tommeke Boonen. So who are the favorites to raise the cobble at the end of the day.


Favorites
Stybar- My pick to win
Terpstra- Tactixx-Misstep, former winner
Kristoff- Epic classics campaign
Wiggins- His best chance to take victory on the cobbles before becoming a track legend
Geraint Thomas- Doobie Doobie Doo, beware of the Penguin


Vanmarcke- MIA
Degenkolb- tiniest moustache
Sagan- last time he’s on this list without results
Van Avermaet- Get it right Greg, we’re all cheering for you.
Boom- here comes the.. ready or not
Johan Van Summeren- the camel is a former winner
Arnaud Demare- can the Frenchman save team Forza’s season? No


I predict a wide open race will produce lots of attacks from the start. 6 men will enter Roubaix together and the strongest rider (Stybar) will ride away into the velodrome.


Potpourri
Group ride on Saturday. I am looking forward to taking a flyer early in the ride only to be caught 10 km from the end, finishing in the Taco Gruppetto, 30 minutes down on the Volpe/Pac de loupes group. I feel like I have a chance if I just wheel suck and don't drink too much pre ride. But lets be honest, I look much better in spandex when I have been drinking.


Also looking forward to french pressed coffee, ham and cheese croissants and frites on Sunday morning. I’ll bring the enthusiasm.


Forza 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Broom Wagon

...cleaning up after the week of racing. 



RONDE!
Crushing the Paterberg
Kristoff wins big in Flanders with an impressive performance.  After winning the Dwars stage race earlier in the week, the "sprinter" showed that he is the strongest rider in the world by dominating the Ronde.
As Kristoff is my rider, I'll defer to Forza or the comments section when it comes to breaking down the race.

Up Next: Scheldeprijs
                Paris-Roubaix

Reminder: Team ride on Saturday afternoon
                  Paris-Roubaix brunch @The Schmidt Haus Sunday morning

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Spokes Man

...discussion points from the Commish.

Captain on the Road
Missed by a nose

As the dust begins to settle from Milan-Sanremo I can begin to look back at what actually happened in the race.  Degenkolb showed impressive power and race tactics, but there was another rider with whom I was most impressed. As I think about this years race as well as lasts I am compelled to say that the best ride of the day was by none other than Luca Paolini.
Image result for tinkoff saxo water bottle holder
Not the Captain
We know what a protected rider is and his lieutenant's role seems pretty easily defined.  In addition, each team brings several domestiques, be it climbers, strongmen or just some guy who's good at carrying water.  But we also often hear that a certain rider is designated as the "captain on the road".  What exactly is this?  Some say its just a bullshit title given to make a domestique feel better.  Others say these are the guys that really control the race.
El Capitan
There have been a lot of good "captains" over the years.  Big George Hincapie is the first to come to mind.  A man who seldom won himself, but was always on the winning team.  So why was he good? (Remember the motto of  this blog: the only thing lamer than doping talk is tech talk)  The ability to read a race, position and protect his rider and probably most important, the ability to control the speed of the peloton.  The Spokes Man's question  of the day:  who's the best road captain out there today? Who do you want calling the shots?
Pulling on the Poggio

Luca, with his sagely beard, embodied the role of "captain on the road" last Sunday.  As his team leader Kristoff began to suffer at the back on the Cipressa Paolini took action.  First to the front of the peloton to slow the pace a bit.  Then he gathered his teamates as they dropped back to help pace Kristoff to the top.  As they entered the last climb of the day who was there to set the pace?  Luca.  Fast enough to deter attacks, slow enough to drag Krsitoff up.  Job well done.  Oh wait, there's more.  After guiding his man down the tricky decent he pulls wide around the final turn placing his man right at the front of the peloton.  How did he navigate this terrain so well as others (Gilbert) crash and others (Sagan) follow single file? A little digging shows us that Luca has a few podium finishes here himself.  He knows the route, knows his leader and knows himself.  Some say he dropped him off a little early, but that is Kristoff's style.  Also, his man almost won being able to hold off all but one for the last 300 meters.  It's a shame that Paolini wasn't rewarded with a team victory.  Its a shame that his amazing performance as a road captain becomes a mere footnote.  Had Kristoff won I have no doubt people would be talking about how Paolini had done the same thing last year.  Instead, Luca will have to fight for  few more victories of his own in order to be recognized.  Road captains may be respected, but only race winners are glorified.


 

The Broom Wagon

...cleaning up after the weekend's races.

Degs the Legs
My hair is so caffeinated!
Yeah, we all saw it.  Team Wiskota Dynamic went 1,2 at Milan-San Remo, but hey I'm not really expecting any kudos.  With impressive rides by both Degenkolb and Kristoff, Wiskota Dynamic hits his first goals of the season making those early round picks count in the Monuments.  The score sheet has plenty of room for others as Mathews, Sagan, Cancellera and more secured solid placings.  

Best scone ever?
Great race and a great host made for a successful Wiskota team event last Sunday.  Thanks Kalberers, hope to do it again soon. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Broom Wagon

...cleaning up after the week's events 
From the Sun to the Seas

Tirreno-Adriatico
Image result for Tirreno adriatico Nairo
Best of the best?
Nitro Katana proved to be the strongest in Italy as our much anticipated battle between the "fantastic four" fizzled out before it really got going.  The snowy mountain top finish made for good watching, but when it came down to it Nairo was the best of those who were trying.  Best of the best?  Perhaps, but we'll need to see a little more.  Is Bauke Bartokomis the early season revelation?  


Paris-Nice
Image result for Porte Paris nice podium
Best of the rest?
Nice $700 cap, goofball
Skynet dialed up the power train launching Richie Porte to victory on the decisive stage in Paris-Nice.  We got some pretty fun action on the penultimate stage run into Nice with rain, breakaways, crashes and of course disappointing Americans.  In the end, Porte and Thomas put in an impressive effort to keep their positions only topped by Porte's impressive victory in the final mountain TT.  Best of the rest? Perhaps, but some other stage racers would be well served to take note.  Choose your program carefully and win while you can.  Porte will have an impressive race victory under his belt before he implodes at the Giro, while Talansky and TVG will have saved their efforts for another top 20 moral victory at the Tour.  
   
Image result for paris nice 2015 porte crash
I want to see more of this
Image result for paris nice 2015 porte crash
And less of this
Up next:  La Primavera, La Classicissima, the first Monument: Milan-San Remo!!!