Millar switches tacos

Brit David Millar has joined Team Slipstream, the cleanest, greenest cycling team in the world. It’s also the only cycling team sponsored by a manufacturer of gourmet burritos.

Team Slipstream powered by taco-maker Chipotle is managed by former pro Jonathan Vaughters and is famously green and clean.

Its youth program is much admired and, for the future of cycle sport, probably needs to be slavishly copied.

Sir Paul Smith meets David Millar:

The Slipstream team is owned by software entrepreneur Doug Ellis who holds it’s vitally important for team members to be squeaky clean ie drug free.

David Millar finished his two-year suspension for EPO use in June last year and was brought back to the pro peloton by the Spanish Saunier Duval team. Millar will hand back his Scott Addict and will now race on Team Slipstream’s Felt bikes.

Team Slipstream has also signed US pro Dave Zabriskie and an un-named former winner of Paris-Roubaix. Is it Stuart O’Grady, Fabian Cancellara, Tom Boonen or Magnus Backstedt? Vaughters isn’t yet ready to say.

Team members don’t just sign pledges that they’re clean, they submit to medical profiling, including blood volume tests. 30 per cent of the team’s budget is spent on its clean medical profiling.

The team will be based in Spain and, because of its highly ethical stance, is highly likely to gain Continue reading “Millar switches tacos”

10 things to do with your kids this summer

Summer holidays. Aaah, bliss. Bliss for kids, that is. For parents it can be a six-week nightmare of shuttling offspring to and from sports camps and baby sitters. For some kids the baby sitter is the family goggle box. When we were younger our summer holidays were spent outside, the real outside, with our friends. Today, for a variety of sad-but-not-quite-true reasons, that’s no longer the done thing.

However, the success of such books as The Dangerous Book for Boys shows there’s a desire to claw back some freedom for our little darlings.

We’ll never get back to the Enid Blyton idyll of children going off on long, multi-day trips without parental taxis but perhaps if the parental taxis were bikes instead of cars we could let out our kids experience at least a part of the unfettered childhood we so fondly remember?

Most of the ten ideas below will be parent-led but here’s a thought: encourage older kids to do some of them without you.

These ideas were written for the August-September issue of Cycle, the CTC magazine, and are all to do with what to do with kids in Britain. If you live outside the UK, the ideas need to be adapted for your neck of the woods.

According to market research company Mintel, 18 per cent of all UK families have been on a camping holiday in the past three years. Mintel’s definition of ‘camping holiday’ probably has more to do with Eurocamp-style prepared tents among manicured lawns rather than roughing it in farmer’s fields under a lightweight sliver of taut polyamide. Don’t knock it, the ‘luxury’ version could be an ideal starter for nylon newbies, especially kids.

Arrive without a car and you may find you pay less, especially as you can fit into a smaller plot.
Campsites with all mod-cons have lots of family-friendly facilities, such as laundries, swimming pools and other kids for yours to Continue reading “10 things to do with your kids this summer”

Shanaze Reade wins BMX Worlds

The BMX star stunned the track cycling world in March by joining up with Victoria Pendleton to win the Women’s 500m Team Sprint World Title. At the UCI BMX World Championships held in Canada over the weekend, Shanaze Reade won the senior women’s event by quite some margin. She was previously world champ at the junior level. She’s now the surefire favourite for BMX Olympic Gold next year.

This is her first year as a senior rider.

Here’s a video of Shanaze and Victoria Pendleton on the podium:

Elite Women
1. Shanaze READE (GBR)
2. Sarah WALKER (NZL)
4. Cyrielle CONVERT (FRA)
5. Willy KANIS (NED)
6. Amelie DESPEAUX (FRA)
7. Anne-Caroline CHAUSSON (FRA)
8. Laetitia LE CORGUILLE (FRA)

There’s a WMV video file of the final here. Go to Samedi, elite women.

Dirty stinkin’ rats? Guilty until proven innocent?

Here’s a TV debate on the latest Tour de France debacle. This debate was shown on the France24 English-language news channel, Thursday 26th July.

Andrea Sanke, France24
Andreas Evagora, deputy head of news, Eurosport, Paris
Philip Turle, journalist, Radio France 1
Carlton Reid, editor,
Danny Nelissen, former Tour de France rider, Team Rabobank, now Eurosport’s Benelux commentator

This video can be placed on iPods via iTunes here, or as a direct .m4v download here.

189 riders started the race. A tiny – but prominent – few have had (leaked) Adverse Analytical Findings. One has admitted guilt, Moreni. Moron.

More may be doping, but have evaded tests.

None of this is good but I’m with UCI boss Pat McQuaid and the IOC* on this one: cycling is doing more than any other sport to cleanse itself of the cheaters but, de facto, that means there will be drugs busts. Going forward? You’d be mad to dope.

However, despite the fact there are clearly dopers in cycling it’s simply unfair to tar all with the same brush or to assume all the currently accused riders are guilty.

Now, they may be guilty as hell but what has happened to innocent until proven guilty? Heaven help him if Bradley Wiggins is ever (wrongly) accused of doping at some point in his career. He’s famously anti-drugs and has stated his unbending views on those he believes are cheaters, including Floyd Landis. However, in the current climate anybody can be accused of doping and it’s instant trial by media.

Labs can also make mistakes. They often do. ‘A’ tests in other sports tend not to be leaked and mistakes are withdrawn by the anti-doping authorities long before the AAF makes it into the public domain. In cycling, the merest sniff of controversy and you’re guilty, no chance of rescuing your reputation.

Fevered hacks, embedded on the Tour de France merry-go-round, are upset and wounded, I understand that, but whipping up the lynch mob does journalism no favours. Cycling is the loser, unfairly so.

* IOC perspective on recent revelations on the Tour de France

26 July 2007

The recent doping-related events at the Tour de France, whilst disturbing, indicate a painful, slow but nonetheless significant shift in attitude against those who choose to violate the rules in sporting competition. The revelations serve as a valuable reminder that the fight against doping in sport is a daily battle which must be fought in concert by the sports authorities, sports teams, athletes and coaches, and governments.

It is understandable that the incidents of the past days leave sports lovers feeling deceived. Despite this, it is important to recognise that an increase in exposure of those who are not playing by the rules – be that through increased testing or through other means of proving doping – is an important signal that increased efforts in the fight against doping do have an impact.

Moggies to be in vanguard in war against dopers

A French news agency reports that a team of scientists from MADA is to attempt to retrain a famous American cat to spot cyclists who dope. If successful, the new technique could be rolled out on other cats, starting with kittens.

Currently, Oscar curls up next to care-home residents about to expire, but Dr. Steffen F. Line of MADA believes the cat’s ability to sense when a person is close to death could be used in sport.

“Cats often can sense when their owners are sick or when another animal is sick,” said Dr Line.

“They can sense when the weather will change, they’re famous for being sensitive to premonitions of earthquakes.

“Oscar is not psychic, we believe he is picking up on biochemical impulses. We hope his talents extend to the ability of telling when a banned substance is being used in sports such as cycling.”

Cycling is currently reeling over a number of cases of sporting fraud, including in the ongoing Tour de France.

Patrice Leberk, CEO of the company which owns Le Tour, is a cat lover and would like to see the use of felines in anti-dopage.

“We’ve tried sniffer dogs. We’ve tried being nice to the riders. We’ve tried being horrible to the riders. Nothing seems to work. Oscar may be our last hope. My own moggie can hum La Marseillaise and if he can do that who knows what specially trained cats will be capable of?

“We need to catch them young, of course. I plan to donate some of my own kittens to further Dr Line’s research.”

Cofidis rider Bradley Wiggins said: “See, I told you Floyd Landis was guilty.”

Polka dot bra in Tour de France cheat shock

The ‘Men in black’ just can’t beat pro-cyclists willing to use any and all means to help them win.

Click this video for incriminating evidence of the yellow jersey getting grossly unfair hillside assistance:

Oh, and want to wallow in a 10-minute interview with Alexandre Vinokourov? Here he is after stage 13 of this year’s Tour:

And this Kazakhstan news anchor says the behaviour of a world-famous Kazakh citizen is “disgusting” and “unacceptable.”

‘Cycling has blood on its hands’

A fair enough Vino-related headline, you might think. But, er, it’s from Al Jazeera.

UPDATE: Al Jazeera has now changed its headline, it’s now ‘Cycling in disarray’. Not quite as catchy.

Tour de France viewing figures higher than 2006

More than a million people watched the London-Canterbury stage live on Britain’s ITV1. And as this year’s Tour is the most open and exciting for years, TV audiences across the world are up (apart from in Kazakhstan…)

When the Tour rolled out from the centre of London, 480,000 people were estimated to be tuned in via ITV1, 7.4 per cent of the total UK audience. By the end of the stage, 1m people were watching, 8.95 per cent of the audience.

However, when the Tour moved to France and the coverage in Britain switched to ITV4, available only via cable and set-top boxes, the audience, understandably, dropped. On Tuesday 10th July the audience was 329, 000, a 2.2 percent share. Nevertheless, this is high for ITV4.

Across the world, year-on-year audiences for the Grand Boucle have risen. The Danish national cycling squad may have kicked him out for not alerting dope docs to his whereabouts but Michael Rasmussen is popular with his home crowd. Danish channel TV2 reported viewer numbers are up by 40 percent. A massive 80 per cent of the Danish population watched Rasmussen pull on his first yellow jersey.

Spain’s Television Espanola said audiences were up by 11 per cent in the first half of the race and this is now likely to be higher as the race powers through the Pyrenees, close to the Spanish border.

The core audience in France rose 6 per cent, said TV station France 2. Plus, new for this year, the lucky French get to watch their national Tour in high-definition…if they have HD-TVs of course. Apparently, you could see every hair on that now-famous Golden Labrador…

RAI TV of Italy reports that an average of 1.2 million people saw the ninth stage in the Alps.

In the US, the Versus channel reports that viewer impressions are up 5 per cent to an average 219,779 homes over the first half of the race. Tiny compared to the Armstrong years, but with no American in contention for the top spot this is to be expected.

German TV stations ARD and ZDF controversially pulled the plug on their Tour coverage on the first sighting of an AAF – Adverse Analytical Finding – but up to that point the TV audience had been steady at 1.4 million. SAT1, a German satellite TV company, picked up the pieces but most Germans will have tuned in to the Eurosport to get their Tour fix.

It’s worth pointing out that the AAF reported for Patrik Sinkewitz of T-Mobile was leaked after the A test when it shouldn’t have been revealed before a confirmatory B test. The test was carried out in a training camp six weeks ago. Why was it leaked when it was? There are certainly echoes of the errors and leaks made last year in the case of 2006 winner Floyd Landis. If only execs at drug testing labs and cycling federations also had to lose a year’s salary for their transgressions…

Phil Liggett’s pre-Tour predictions:

Fabian Cancellara winning Stage 3 (with breathless commentary from Liggett and Sherwin):

Must. Eat. Goat.

Every cyclist needs to eat. And lots, too. But, for some, this can often come with a weight penalty…

Watch this animated short from 13-year old Shadow Scythe, the son of world-famous blogger The Fat Cyclist.

And place it on your iPod or computer via iTunes right here or as a direct .mp4 download here.

Bikes, beer and baby aardvark ballerinas

Bike-friendly beer maker New Belgium Brewing Company of Colorado is currently a few dates into its summer promo tour called Tour de Fat. This is a “ballyhoo of bikes and beer.”

New Belgium is the third biggest craft brewer in the US and is big into bikes. I used one of the company’s TV ads in the Shimano/YouTube bike video competition (which closes August 30th):

New Belgium produces six beers, including the bike-inspired ‘Fat Tire Amber Ale’. The company’s Tour de Fat is an annual “cycling circus”, now in its seventh year.

It aims to increase awareness and participation in cycling as the sustainable transportation alternative. Last year Tour de Fat travelled to 11 US cities, attracted more than 31,000 people and raised more than $166,000.

Chris Winn, Tour de Fat’s coordinator, said: “Tour de Fat is a one of a kind, must-see summer event. People and bikes parade around decorated in outrageous costumes, great musicians take to the solar-powered stage, and fascinating performers entertain with creative antics, all while we raise money for local organisations that support the two-wheeled lifestyle.”

Tour de Fat is free to participants, but money spent on beer and New Belgium Brewing soft-goods goes towards local charities.

New for this year, one volunteer in each city will commit to live car-free for one year, as part of the Car-for-Bike Trade Program. The individual will sign over their car title and in exchange get a hand-built New Belgium commuter bike. The selected volunteer will chronicle the trials and triumphs along their car-free journey. The volunteer is chosen after submitting a video or letter describing themselves and their desire to live car-free.

At the Carbon e-Racer Kiosk participants can see how much they will help the environment by making a commitment to join Team Wonderbike. Team Wonderbike members promise to commute by bike at least once a month for a year.

The Tour de Fat has bands which play from solar-powered stages and that are transported in solar-powered trailers.

And check out the Sprockettes, a minibike dance troupe from Portland, Oregon.

But what about the baby aardvark ballerinas mentioned in the headline? They’re from Circus Contraption, “a potpourri of circus oddities, including whimsical costumes, original music, baby aardvark ballerinas and a beetle tamer.”