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Cycling News and Opinions
Unfair and Unbalanced
March, 2010

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories

March 30: The Tour organization announced the teams getting invitations to the 2010 Tour de France

March 22: The Giro announced the names of the teams invited to ride the 2010 edition.

We've got a new sponsor, William Lewis Imports. The link to his site is in the upper right hand corner. This makes me very happy because I've known and liked Bill Lewis for decades. He has a wonderful eye for product. He introduced several iconic products to the American market including Tommasini and Picchio frames and Marresi shoes. There was a time, in the early and mid 1980s when Marresi shoes were the finest in the world and Bill Lewis spotted them. Today he has his own line of Quattro Assi frames. Being the nut he is about beautiful bicycle products, he still does steel frames. You can get a Columbus Spirit frame with hand-carved lugs from him. I think that is a very fine thing. You should give his site a look-see.

March 20: Despite Mark Cavendish's having less than optimal form, HTC-Columbia is riding for the speedster in today's Milan-San Remo, the season's first classic. Here's the note from the team:

"San Luis Obispo, CA -19th March 2010 - HTC-Columbia will take part in Saturday's Milan-San Remo Classic aiming for victory for a second straight year with Mark Cavendish.

"He's the winner of the 2009 race and he's our best option for winning the race in 2010," says HTC-Columbia team manager Rolf Aldag.

"Although I'm sure all seven team-mates are also capable of getting good results in their own right, they will do everything they can to support him."

After not winning a stage in the recent Tirreno-Adriatico race like Cavendish did last year, Aldag says "it was a pity it didn't happen but in a way it means less pressure on him. Nobody will be looking at us to chase now if there's a breakaway of 20 riders.

"We'll keep on assessing the situation as the race unfolds. Mark's very clever and very honest and he'll let us know exactly what's going on. He won't just kill his team-mates for no reason.

"We always put a lot of emphasis on communication between the riders in HTC-Columbia and it was a big part of how we won the race last year. It'll be a big part of our game plan again this year, too.

"Milan-San Remo is a very difficult race to predict, there are so many different interests at play and it's by no means guaranteed there will be a bunch sprint. But it could happen, and the team will be working for Mark and supporting him 100 percent. There is no plan 'B'."

HTC-Columbia for Milan-San Remo:- Michael Albasini (Swi); Lars Bak (Den); Mark Cavendish (GB); Bernhard Eisel (Aut); Matt Goss (Aus); Maxime Monfort (Bel); Michael Rogers (Aus); Peter Velits (Svk)."

March 19: Lance Armstrong won't be riding Milano-San Remo tomorrow. He has been felled by a severe case of gastroenteritis, preventing the 7-time Tour winner from racing the 298 km Italian classic. Radio Shack has said that Armstrong will be replaced by Fumiyuki Beppu. Armstrong is still scheduled to race the Criterium International, which starts March 27. Both Alberto Contador and Armstrong will compete in the short French stage race, making for their first competitive meeting of the season.

March 16: The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled against Alejandro Valverde's appeal of the Italian decision to ban Valverde from racing in Italy. It's about time. I think the press release from the UCI looking to hand Valverde an international racing ban says it all:

"16.03.2010

The UCI has noted the ruling issued by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on the appeal of Spanish cyclist Alejandro Valverde against the decision of the Italian National Anti-doping Tribunal to suspend him from all sports events organised in Italy for a two-year period beginning in May 2009, for having breached the anti-doping rules in the context of “Operation Puerto”.

The UCI welcomes the decision of the CAS, which confirms the conclusions the UCI reached after conducting a thorough review of the documents relating to the Puerto case, and of Alejandro Valverde’s involvement in it.

Consequently, after careful study of the grounds of the CAS decision, the UCI expresses its determination to take the necessary measures to secure a suspension that is applicable internationally."

March 9: Update to the Petacchi story below. Lampre sent out a press release saying that Petacchi will start Tirreno-Adriatico tomorrow, noting that while his condition is a bit doubtful, the race is essential preparation for Milan-San Remo.

Yesterday Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi crashed while out on a training ride with Lampre teammate Lorenzo Bernucci. He went to the hospital for 5 stitches to his chin. More troubling, while trying to release his foot from his pedal he twisted his leg. The bruises from the crash and the pain from twisting his leg are severe enough to require evaluation from the team doctor.We should know today if Ale-Jet will start Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday, a vital tune-up for Milan-San Remo.

March 7: In a week the collected movers and shakers in the bicycle business from around the world will be headed to the Taipei bicycle show. It's amazing how fast things shift. A few short years ago it was the Cologne show for buying the consumer-level bike products and the Milan show for enthusiast product. Now, it's the Taipei show for both.

But... I think we'll see a resurgence in high-quality Euro-produced bike goods. I know, I know...I've written the obituary of the Italian bike trade. But, as the old saw goes, the only constant is change. The lead time for Asian aluminum frames is approaching a half-year.

Bike Europe reports that several big-name European bike makers are banding together to produce frames in the Ukraine. China has instituted new labor regulations that have caused many factories producing bike merchandise to shutter their doors.The great wild west that was Chinese industry may be slowly coming to a close. Coupled with consolidation in the Chinese bike industry and the expensive logistics of bringing product from China to Europe or the U.S. is the growing strength of the US Dollar (another item for which many funerals have been held). The Chinese Renminbi is tied to the ol' sawbuck, so Chinese product has just become more expensive.

It's a long way from Ukrainians making cheap-o commuter frames to Italian artisans crafting beautiful works of bicycle art. But this may, just may be the start of something big.

Larry and Heather of CycleItalia had a perfect day as tifosi watching the Montepaschi Strade Bianche race in Tuscany on Saturday. I fluctuated between pleasure in reading their March 7 blog post about their day in Chianti country among the men with the big rings and outraged jealousy at not being there with them.

March 4: My apologies for the dearth of news postings in the last couple of weeks. We moved and the telephone company was very slow in getting our internet connection hooked up. We've got it back in the big ring now.

I meant to note this a while back. One of our sponsors, Challenge Tires, is equipping the Yahoo cycling team. It warms my heart seeing them investing in American cycling.

From here on the races will keep coming at us. Right now we've got the Tour of Murcia and the Tour de Langkawi going on. Tomorrow the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen starts. On the 6th the Montepaschi Strade Eroica (the Italian race that goes over sectors of dirt roads) is held and on the 7th we get Paris-Nice. Tirreno-Adriatico starts the 10th. Hot stuff!