The unbearable heaviness of bad reporting
December 27, 2014 § 36 Comments
Coryn Rivera is America’s cycling star. Barely 22 years old, she is the reigning elite women’s crit champion. She holds sixty-eight national titles on the road, track, and in ‘cross. In 2014 she won virtually every major race she entered. Next year she has her sights set on pro success as a road racer to match her reputation as the country’s undisputed dominatrix of pro sprint finishes.
What’s more, there’s little reason to doubt that she will achieve it. In addition to a national road title as a junior, she also took a bronze medal in the road race at junior world’s. She scored sixth this year on the Champs-Elysees at La Course by Le Tour de France and won the young rider’s category. The only women to finish ahead of her were the best veteran pro roadies on the planet.
If Coryn were a man, she would be splashed all over VeloNews. Her every move would be religiously recorded on the Internet, and we’d be reading full-length feature interviews about every aspect of her life. In short, she would be like Taylor Phinney, with this difference: Phinney has nowhere near her talent.
Two years older than Rivera, Phinney may well one day win a world time trial medal. If the stars align, if he regains his health, and if he has a world-class team dedicated to delivering him and him alone to the line, he could even bring home a monument on the order of Roubaix, much less likely a win at Flanders. Otherwise, Phinney is a tremendous time trialist who’s simply too big physically to be a superstar in the hillier classics or the big tours. The days when a giant like George Hincapie could win a mountain stage of the Tour ended with his pathetic doping confession and the collapse of the Drugstrong Era.
What Phinney has, of course, is a pedigree, and it’s a pedigree that has provided him with the best connections imaginable in the world of cycling. His mother, Connie Carpenter-Phinney, is one of the best American woman road racers of all time. Her resume boasts Olympic gold in ’84, with silver and bronze medals at the world road championships in ’77 and ’81, along with twelve national cycling titles, countless wins in US road races, a successful career as a speed skater, and the distinction of being the youngest woman ever to compete in the Winter Olympics. Taylor’s father, Davis Phinney, is the winningest American bike racer of all time, with 328 wins, including two stages in the Tour and the overall at America’s premier stage race, the Coors Classic. Davis achieved all this when American cycling had no program to bring US amateurs into Europe; had he raced in his prime among the European peloton he would have been the dominant sprinter of his era.
It’s this pedigree and carefully nurtured career, along with his world class speed against the clock, that has guided Taylor along as the Chosen One among America’s professional cyclists, including a stint under the watchful eye of Lance Armstrong. Rivera, on the other hand, has had none of that. She grew up in extremely modest circumstances in urban LA, supported by her Filipino-American family where every race entry fee, every piece of equipment she had to buy, and every long distance trip was a sacrifice. She is truly a self-made woman.
From her days at the Carson velodrome training under Tim Roach, I watched her blitz any and all all comers, male and female alike. But no matter how many titles she won and no matter how brilliant her racing, she has always had to fight and scrap. When she burst onto the US pro women’s scene, collecting scalps with ease from older, “better,” and vastly more experienced racers, she received a modicum of press and nothing more.
This reflects the old boy network of cycling, where testicles matter more than results, and where the stellar athletic achievements of women are footnotes to the off-season training camp antics of men. If we want cycling to grow in recognition, we need to start recognizing the very best.
And that means starting with Coryn.
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Wankmeister cycling clinic #25: Training vs. Racing
November 23, 2014 § 5 Comments
I know some dudes who are great racers and some other dudes who are great trainers but they’re not usually the same. F’rinstance, there’s a bunch of dudes who are killing it in October and November on the group rides and the dudes who win all the races are at the back or off the back, and then later in the year the training beasts aren’t doing so hot and the racing dudes are smashing everyone’s face in. What’s up with that?
Racing and training are different. I’ve broken it down for you below.
1. Training: You get to stop when you’re tired and then start again after a latte, a potty break, and a chat with your pals.
Racing: You get to stop once, at the end, or when you fall off your bicycle, which then becomes the end.
2. Training: Looks matter.
Racing: Legs matter.
3. Training: Everyone’s a winner.
Racing: There is only one winner. And it’s not you.
4. Training: Your buddies help you.
Racing: Everyone tries to kill you, especially your buddies.
5. Training: Mileage matters.
Racing: Winning matters.
6. Training: Strava matters.
Racing: Winning matters.
7. Training: The best rider doesn’t always finish.
Racing: The fastest rider always wins. [Note: I’ve said this before and been ridiculed. Now re-read it and STFU, unless it’s one of those races where the winner crosses the line last.]
8. Training: You can tell your wife you killed it.
Racing: Results are posted on USA Cycling.
9. Training: You can’t lose a training ride.
Racing: You can lose a race, and you will.
10. Training: Respect is earned by showing up, shit-talking, wearing a fancy kit, riding at the front, blogging, buying lunch for others, etc.
Racing: Respect is earned by winning.
11. Training: You might be able to hang with Daniel Holloway, Mark Cavendish, or Taylor Phinney on a winter SoCal training ride.
Racing: I don’t need to say this one, do I?
Hope this helps.
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Race preview: Paris-Roubaix 2014
April 10, 2014 § 7 Comments
This year Paris-Roubaix promises to be the one of the best editions in years. Here’s why:
- With the less-than-on-form Tom Boonen failing to effectively challenge Fabian Cancellara at the Tour of Flanders, 2014 marks the first time in over a decade that there is less than a 98% chance that the race will be won by either Tommeke or Fabs. Riders, fans, and pundits alike are thrilled at the 3 – 4% chance of crowning a new winner.
- Following the sunny, pleasant weather of the Ronde, Paris-Roubaix promises to be another beneficiary of the global warming that seems destined to kill off the human race while, instead of hanging the Koch Brothers and Exxon from the nearest yardarm, instead basks in the warmth of a fun bicycle race. Trademark applications have already been submitted to change the race’s nickname to the “Heck of the North.”
- Rainy, chilly weather ruined half the pro peloton’s Belgian campaign with the sniffles and the ouchies after Milan – San Remo, so team managers are doubly pleased at the prospect of picnic weather for Paris – Roubaix, even as the ghosts of Roubaix Past roll in their graves.
- As with MSR and the Ronde, Paris – Roubaix 2014 promises to be another epic “strategic” battle between alcoholic, drug-addled team directors screaming instructions into earpieces while their automatons robotically follow instructions until their legs fail or their bicycles break. A PSA on race radios and how they’ve improved race safety will be given by Johan van Summeren.
- The finishing velodrome will not be renamed “Specialized.”
- American fans have a new, popular, handsome, energetic disappointment to replace the old, battered, brokedown disappointment of George Hincapie, as Taylor Phinney promises to be one of USA’s greatest potential 2nd-place finishers since Big George.
- A handful of up-and-coming French riders promise to bring Gaulish strength back to this legendary French race by threatening to crack the top fifty.
- 2014 Paris – Roubaix has introduced a brief comedy segment called the “Wiggins Hour,” where Mr. Drinkypants himself seeks to be the first TdF – PR winner since Bernard Hinault.
- Sep Vanmarcke believes he’s ready to beat Cancellara in a sprint finish on the velodrome in Roubaix because, unicorns.
Top pros analyze Tour of Flanders 2014
April 8, 2014 § 18 Comments
Cycling in the South Bay was privileged to interview several top professionals after Fabian Cancellara split the lead group and won out of a four-up breakaway.
CitSB: How did the race unfold?
Sep Vanmarcke: I was with Cancellara over the Kwaremont and Paterberg, but in the end he destroyed the field and made us look like children. Belgian children. Stupid Belgian children.
CitSB: Any conclusions about the race?
Greg van Avermaet: All in all it was a more tactical race than the last two years, since changing the finish from Meerbeke to Oudenarde. I am very pleased with second place but it was very difficult to beat Cancellara due to him crushing us all like a bunch of bugs on the windscreen of a jet.
CitSB: You must be disappointed with seventh place?
Tom Boonen: Yes, of course, I was just two percent or so off. I believe I had a chance to beat Cancellara, but that was only in the warm-up around the bus.
CitSB: How would you evaluate the race?
Peter Sagan: Evaluate it? I got my ass whipped. You know how they say it in Slovakian? “Your eleventh finger is in the meat grinder.”
CitSB: What was going through your head as you approached the line in a 4-up breakaway with Cancellara?
Stijn Vandenbergh: “I’m totally screwed.” Something like that.
CitSB: You must have felt good about your early breakaway, taking the pressure off Greg for most of the race?
Taylor Phinney: If you think it feels good to have Cancellara annihilate an entire field when you’re one of the riders in the field, you’re a complete fool.
CitSB: What is Team Sky planning to improve on its top Ronde placing of 65th?
David Brailsford: We’ll do some more marginal gains away from the testers next year, that’s for sure. And wait for Cancellara to retire.
CitSB: It’s been 2008 since Italy won a monument. Why do you guys suck so bad?
Filippo Pozzato: I would like to point out that Cancellara comes from the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland.
CitSB: How does a guy with no teammates beat an entire field of 200 riders, including 30 riders from Omega-Pharma-Quickdope riding on their home turf?
Patrick Lefevere: Heads will roll, trust me. We do not race for second place. In fact lately we haven’t even been racing for tenth. Firings and public humiliation will continue until morale improves.
Phinney takes race of truth, victor in race of lies TBD
May 6, 2012 § 10 Comments
In the first stage of the 2012 Giro d’Italia,
Davis Phinney became the first American to win a stage in the Tour de France Taylor Phinney became the first American to win an ITT in this prestigious, 3-week event in which the world’s best doped athletes ride amongst some of the world’s lewdest, craziest, and most drunken sports fans.
Although the time trial is commonly regarded as the “race of truth” due to the test of each racer’s strength and skill against the inflexible constraints of the clock, experts agree that the rest of the Giro consists of a “race of lies.” Wankmeister lists the most notably mendacious events below.
Team Car Hang and Draft: Rider gets dropped, crashes, breaks his bike, has a bowel movement, and finds himself wayyyyy behind everyone else. Rider then grabs onto car, or gets motor-paced by team vehicle back to the group. In marathoning, this would be like having the leaders pull away from you, then having your supporters plop you on a moped and drive you back up to the front.
Beat the Cut Grupetto Scam: Big tours set time limits so that the podium girls can blow the commissaires before they have dinner with their wives. Riders who have no hope of finishing the 200-mile stage with 15,000 feet of climbing on the same day team up so that enough of them are together to prevent the majority of the field being kicked out of the race. In golf this this would be like having 95% of the players at the US Open spend 15 hours dawdling per round so that if the rules were enforced and the players DQ’d, the event would be cancelled.
Handshake Deal Sprint Rigging: Riders are in breakaway. Spindly no-hope wanker dude wants to win. Powerful, badass sprinter dude wants money. Done…the essence of sportsmanship, where a bold and crass financial transaction is packaged in adjectives like “courageous,” “canny,” “tactical,” and “surprise outcome.” In baseball they actually do this. It’s called “the Chicago Black Sox from the 1919 World Series.” And in cycling, it happens all the time.
Sprint Train Lameness: Alleged fast man with cool nickname like “Lion King,” “Manx Missile,” etc., is the fastest human being ever to ride a bike. So fast, in fact, that the only way he can beat solo sprinter dudes like Robbie McEwen who have to win on brains, balls, and brawn is by hiring the other ten fastest riders in the pro peloton and paying them to do nothing but drive him to the line. In college sports there’s an analogue. It’s called “Bear Bryant and the Alabama football program.”
Perfectly Timed Breakaway Catch: Riders are brainless doofuses who have no idea how to reel in a breakaway. So they hook their tiny brains up their race directors via radio to perfectly time the breakaway “catch” with 1k to go. The valiant escapees don’t get the chance to do the Handshake Deal Sprint Rig, and the Manx Misericordia gets to win the 15th Tour stage with his sprint train. In pro football it’s called “$50 million Quarterbacks Too Stupid To Call Their Own Plays.”
Domestique Donkey Food and Water Hustle: The word “domestique” in French means “put on your bitch suit you stupid skinny prick because I’m going to drive your sorry ass back and forth a hundred times to the team car per race to fetch water, food, and drugs so that I don’t have to work and can place in the race even though you’re just as good, probably better than me, but I’m more famous.” In football they are called “fullbacks,” “the practice team,” and “Tim Tebow.” I mean, why pay Cunego all that money just to find out he’s too weak to do the race on his own, when you can pay his bitch $12 to finish the race for him?
Domestique Donkey Wind Pull, Climb Pull, and Tempo Pull: Donkeys in bitch suits go the front and break the wind (saving protected douchebaguette 30% or more energy) while prima donna Brad Pride or Abandy Schleck get a peddie. Boys in bitch suits blow up, fall off the back, and barely make the time cut, then fail to get a team the following year because they have no UCI points. In soccer this would be like having the entire team get the ball in scoring position, then stop the game, and bring in Lionel Messi while the goalie stands off to the side and everyone else on the field just watches.
Multi-team Conspiracy: When a leader sucks and his whole team sucks, he will conspire with several other sucky teams to work against potential threats, breakaways, strong riders who race aggressively with panache, etc. This assures that the better funded, “cooler” team takes the win over that ugly dude from GS-Colnago-Pimplimiento-Ladies-Products-Cologne wearing the orange and pink and red and blue and green-striped kit. In basketball, this would be like two weak playoff teams agreeing to waylay Kobe on his way home from Whole Foods and break both his legs.
Sticky Bottle Scam: When a rider has been dropped (again) or has a blister on his pee-pee, the team car hands him a bottle and drags him several hundred yards closer to the pack. In swimming this would be like letting a dude jump into the water before everyone else.
Derailleur Adjustment Cheat: When a rider’s drugs aren’t working right and he needs to drop back to the team car to have the soigner ram the suppositories further up his ass with a fist, the team mechanic pretends to adjust the derailleur while pushing Dopey along for kilometers at a time. In auto racing this is called “The Pit,” and it’s the reason no one takes seriously a sport where you get to whip in and fill up with gas, change tires, have a smoke, and do quick photo sessions of Danica’s long, flowing pubic locks.
UCI Bio Passport Permanent Doping Visa: When a rider’s blood values have become so ridiculous that even a UCI drug tester can’t look at them without giggling, the entire governing body throws the program in the trash and issues every rider a doping visa, valid for entry into every race, and in every country (except Iran and North Korea). In football it’s called “Weight Training.” And it starts in junior high.