The Roar
The Roar

Tim Renowden

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Joined January 2012

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Tim Renowden has been following professional cycling closely since Indurain won his first Tour. An ex-runner, now a club grade bike racer, Tim tweets about sport at @megabicicleta.

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Yes, he has really stepped up. No shortage of courage!

A sad end to the Cancellara-Boonen cobble rivalry

Kwiatkowski and Degenkolb (and perhaps Matthews) have gone past Sagan this year – all are smarter tactically, and they win more races.

Sagan looks out of shape, to me. First year of big contract, maybe he’s lost some hunger, or maybe he’s just spending too much time doing PR. He’s not in top nick, anyway.

A sad end to the Cancellara-Boonen cobble rivalry

Yeah, Terpstra is awesome, I agree.

A sad end to the Cancellara-Boonen cobble rivalry

Yes, the Classics (especially the cobbled ones) are fantastic viewing and it’s all part of cycling’s rich history. Definitely a rite of passage when new fans coming from the Tour de France start to learn about these great races and their place in the sport.

Gilbert not so much a man for the cobbles, Greg van Avermaet is the BMC man for those races (although he’s under a doping enquiry at the moment and probably shouldn’t be racing) and Gilbert will target the Ardennes races (Amstel Gold, Fleche-Wallone and Liege-Bastogne-Liege). He was going pretty well at Milan-San Remo until he crashed.

A sad end to the Cancellara-Boonen cobble rivalry

Hi old crank,
The UCI had split the Hour into two separate categories, the “athlete’s hour” or Merckx Hour restricted riders to using frames and positions similar to what Eddy Merckx used in 1972: round-tubed frames, drop handlebars, no deep section aero wheels etc.
There was also an “absolute hour” which is still held by Chris Boardman – with very few restrictions on equipment or position. After Boardman set his record in 1996, regulations were brought in to limit what riders could do in terms of position on the bike and also frame design, which limited their ability to get aerodynamic, which meant that his record has been virtually out of reach (and will probably remain so for a while yet).

Meanwhile, the Merckx Hour was unattractive to riders because it didn’t really allow sponsors to showcase their technology, so it also drifted off the radar.

Last year the UCI decided to remove the Merckx technology restrictions and just let riders use any bike that meets current UCI track regulations at the time the record is attempted. Suddenly the record was achievable and worthwhile for sponsors, hence the flurry of attempts.

Rohan Dennis' magic hour, made vivid by Bobridge's torment

#dadjoke

Rohan Dennis' magic hour, made vivid by Bobridge's torment

Yes, probably Wiggins will set a very serious mark. I would like to see Tony Martin make an attempt, too. It could be like the Indurain/Rominger/Boardman period in the mid-90’s, only with better dope testing.

Rohan Dennis' magic hour, made vivid by Bobridge's torment

I think he’ll do well too, but I don’t think he’s going to come out and make the podium at Milan-Sanremo, for example. I’d point him at the mini-classics (the ones mid-week during the Belgian and Ardennes weeks) and some of the week-long stages races, perhaps the Vuelta if he’s going well at the mid-point of the season.

He’s got plenty of time to build experience. I would just hate to see him burn out or be crushed by the weight of a nation’s expectations.

Haussler's experience trumps youth at Australian Championships

Agreed. It’s a national championship, it should be open to any eligible rider regardless of which team they ride for. It wouldn’t be fair to the OGE guys to say “Sorry, your team is too strong so you’re not allowed to race Nationals”, IMO.

Forgotten man of cycling claims national road race title

Yeah, I mean the kid is clearly hugely talented but there’s a big step up from under-23’s to competing against the likes of Kittel, Cav and Greipel. I think it’s important to remember that he is only 20 and to manage the expectations we put on him in his first few seasons. The classics might be too long for him this year (an extra 100km makes a big difference) but we’ll have to wait and see. It’s going to be quite a task managing his race programme in his first year. OGE has shown good touch in this regard with Matthews and the Yates brothers, so fingers crossed.

Haussler's experience trumps youth at Australian Championships

Evans may have Rohan Dennis for support at Nationals, but with his hour record attempt coming up I’m not sure what his plans are. He is named in BMC’s squad for the TDU so he is in Australia. Campbell Flakemore has also joined BMC, so that’s another bonus for Cadel.

Similarly Richie Porte has Nathan Earle, now with a year at World Tour level in his legs. It’s not the same as having a team of 9 riders, but it’s better than nothing!

Gerrans' shattered collarbone gives rivals a chance at Road Nationals

Good point about Matthews – that would definitely take him out of the equation!

Rogers will be dangerous at nationals too, but I can’t see him winning too many sprints – he would need to go early and hope there’s no organised chase behind him. Think he’s perhaps more dangerous in the TDU than Nationals, actually. He’s capable of consistency over a week-long tour and will be leader for Tinkoff.

Gerrans' shattered collarbone gives rivals a chance at Road Nationals

Leaper, Alex Morgan, Jason Spencer, Alistair Donohue, Mitch Barry, Nick Bien.

Ain't it a fine time to be on a bike?

Blackburn has a strong team, too.

Ain't it a fine time to be on a bike?

Who’s riding for TKM, Bones?

Ain't it a fine time to be on a bike?

I think it’s sold out in all grades, but ask @MelbCycleLeague on Twitter. You might be a bit late.

Ain't it a fine time to be on a bike?

Bones, I’ve got to admit my turbo trainer gets pretty dusty at this time of year. Would much rather smash out a couple of hours in the hills!

Ain't it a fine time to be on a bike?

Charly Wegelius takes a similar stance in his book. He recognises that dopers cost him a lot, but refuses to be too critical – even of panto villains like Danilo Di Luca (who Wegelius says was an outstanding team leader despite his repeated cheating). Perhaps just because these are people he knows well as friends and teammates and he simply doesn’t want to cause them harm by speaking out.

I think it’s also tricky to denounce someone, even if you do want to cause them harm, without proof. Ethics aside, it’s asking for lawsuits. I can understand why a lot of riders would take the path of least resistance and stay quiet.

Hushovd comments reflect deep-seated contradictions in cycling

He hasn’t mentioned anything on his blog or Twitter, as far as I can see. You’re right, he’s an entertaining read and definitely provides a different angle from a lot of PR-airbrushed riders. I hope he finds another World Tour ride.

Follow the money: Team name and roster changes for 2015

That is a risk, and it’s not that difficult to imagine a scenario where it occurs, but I don’t think it’s a reason not to try.

A bit of an addition to this story: there are a number of professional athletes already signed up for the Clean Protocol, and some were racing at the Kona Ironman this week. So this is happening. It needs to be driven by athletes. The Clean Protocol told me via Twitter: “the mode of action is not sanction, it is social pressure of a positive kind which will lead commercial force for change”.

How far it goes remains to be seen, but I think it’s worth watching.

Instead of punishing dirty cyclists, should we reward the clean?

They’d find it easier to attract sponsors, mainly. You may have noticed over the last few years there’s been quite a lot of sponsors departing cycling because of its image problem. This might be a way to attract a few back, particularly from amongst mainstream companies.

Instead of punishing dirty cyclists, should we reward the clean?

Agreed, a bit of pressure from teams (or even the MPCC if they got their act together) would kick this off. Perhaps Astana might be feeling the PR pinch enough to start? We can dream…

Definitely something for team managers to investigate in the off-season. Sponsors also clearly important.

Instead of punishing dirty cyclists, should we reward the clean?

Yes, there is that possibility. I suppose that risk could be reduced by being strict on transparency, eg if a rider falls off the ‘clean’ list, the Protocol needs to be open about why, whether that’s because of physiological data or some other factor.

Obviously this would be voluntary, but non-participation could be career-limiting, so it’s not voluntary in the fullest sense.

Instead of punishing dirty cyclists, should we reward the clean?

Yes, they stuffed it up royally. But the group of four was full of riders for whom second place was a failure, so none wanted to drive the group (which would doom them to defeat). If there’d been one rider with slightly lower ambitions, it would have stayed away for sure.

It happens in men’s racing too, every now and then. A breakaway starts playing funny buggers as the line approaches and suddenly they get caught. That’s tactics, eh?

Ferrand-Prevot the next superstar of women's cycling

There’s no doubt that watching cycling is more relatable if you ride yourself. Not necessarily racing (racing suburban crits has taught me nothing about Grand Tours) but just riding and knowing what it feels like. And knowing that spending your energy budget wisely is half the battle: no matter what the race/ride distance, if you get to the key moments with nothing in the tank, you’re done for. You don’t need to race to understand that riding smart is crucial.

The fact is, many road races are long, but usually the decisive moments are very short. Winning is about conserving energy and then dumping it out as fast as possible at a key moment. The long bits are really just a process of making everyone tired to varying degrees, which helps decide the winner. I’ve made my thoughts about over-long races (especially in Grand Tours) known here before a few times, but basically I think it’s pretty clear that massive distances = attritional racing. That’s part of cycling’s history and romance, but (big simplification here) if you want explosive racing, you’re better off with shorter distances.

It’s like Test cricket versus T20. You pick your strategy based on the conditions of the match.

Ferrand-Prevot the next superstar of women's cycling