Friday, 31 December 2010

The perfect day

Kiff in the Riff

The guide book said it was dodgy, and not to travel that road. What more enticement did Steve Thomas need to put it on the line for a good story

For sure it was soft, so we had to blow it up somehow. But where was my pump ? Ahh, yeah, of course, it was back in Spain. The problem was that we were in the middle of Morocco, and standing next to a police check point at the bottom of a mountain. That was when we realised that Mark was running Schraeder valves, and that I was on prestas. We fiddled around with his pump for a while, then finally sussed it; only thing was that we let all the air out of my tyre, and it wouldn’t blow up again. An hour later we were still sat beneath the tree, waiting for some kind of divine intervention. But it just wouldn’t come. Ten Swiss Army knife minutes later a bastardized bit of rubber was rammed in to the pump fitting, and with a two up effort we managed to re-inflate my flat tyre. And that was just the start of day two....
Day one had been the arrival day, the day we got confused and sat three hours outside a bank, waiting to exchange some currency. The day we moved our watches the wrong way, that day. Oh well at east we were on the move again, and heading off towards some great canyon the guys at the hotel had told us about. It may have been December but it was still pretty damn hot, and we were grinding our way up some 7 mile long climb in to a dead head wind. We’d been out for two hours by now, and were considering a mint tea stop in the next village, which was right at the top of the pass. Next thing we knew there was a strange chinking, we were being stoned by the local kids. There was to be no tea stop here. We big ringed it rapidly out of the village, beneath a shower of stones and boulders. I’d come across this kind of thing before, in fact I even get it at home. But Mark was most concerned, I’d never seen him look so worried. Which was quite amusing for me.
It was almost two hours climbing later that we decided to give best to the days ride, but this meant that we had to retrace our original route, kids and all. This time round they were waiting for us, and chased us well out of town, unfortunately we were climbing at their running pace. I glanced over my shoulder to see a pale faced, and very worried, Mark surrounded by jeering kids, hurling stones at him and chanting “ Roberto Carlos “. I didn’t work it out until later, but they must have seen the World Cup or something.

Sunset now

It had been an eventful day, and one Mark wouldn’t forget in a hurry. We sat up in the town square at Chefchaouen that evening, supping mint tea and eating local sweets as the sun went down over the Rif. The square is a great place to hang out and watch the World go by. A huge paved area, with a fountain in it’s center,which pans out before the kasbah and the mosque, and is lined with small cafes and fruit shops. The locals sit in the cafes playing back gammon and watching TV. Most still dress in traditional hooded robes, even if they do have Nike trainers beneath them. It really is quite a chilled out and cool place, far from the hassled out streets and medinas of Tangiers and Marakesh.
By now we’d been in town a couple of days, and the local kif dealers had more or less given up on us. The stress of things was beginning to melt away, and the dimly lit town begun to look a whole lot sweeter. There were very few Westerners around. And those who were tended to be of the variety that you’d expect to see in a seedy kif smoking place.
As the sun bid good night the grand mosque called the locals to prayer. This was also time for our holy bit, a pilgrimage to the mega bucks Hotel Parador, for some of the only beer in town. This was a great palace of a hotel, and we promised to treat ourselves to a slap up meal here on the last day. That could be construed as extravagant, until you realise that the whole lot cost just over a tenner each, for four courses of Moroccos finest.
After about 10.30 pm the whole of Chefchaouen closes down, and there’s didly squat to do. Which I guess is why kif smoking is so popular with the locals. We were pretty well knackered anyway, and another days adventure had to be hashed together. So it was back to the hotel for a cold drippy shower and an electric shock before bed.

Out of bounds

We’d been climbing for ages. Three old women carrying house sized bundles of sticks had been heading us off on every hairpin bend, embarrassingly keeping pace with us. Luckily for us they eventually turned off, which eased the pressure some. Where the track went we hadn’t got a clue. These kind of trails were neither on our map or signed on the ground. All we knew was that we were in the general area that the guide book advised not to go.
Each and every corner revealed a whole new vista, and an even better one at that. It was becoming strangely magnetic, the terrain and scenery luring us deeper and deeper in to the Rif. Things were getting greener by the meter, and great secret villages miraculously appeared upon the terraced hill sides. This was what we’d come for, the real and secret Rif.
I couldn’t help but notice a kind of ever loudening thudding noise. It seemed to be echoing right across the valley, but there was no sign of anything. We figured that it must be some kind of weaving, or agricultural implement. That was until we entered the first of these hidden villages. We climbed up a rocky track to a small plateau above the village, where upon we were surrounded by bemused villagers. This was it, Kif country. All this greenery, all the hidden villages, Moroccos kif growing industry was centered around these valleys. As for the beating, the local women beat the stuff with great sticks to make it in to a kind of pulp.
They’d never seen mountain bikers before, and many of the villagers had never even seen a white man. What the hell should we do ? Make a run for it ? Retire here ? Or just get on with the job ? The latter was the only serious option, and that took some doing. But finally our new found friends let us continue, on the understanding that we would drop in for “ mint tea “ on our way back down the valley.
The main track ended here, but one of the locals told us of a narrow single track which followed an irrigation line right through the whole valley. We soon picked it up and were on our way. It has to rank as one of the finest, and most obtuse, single tracks I’ve ever ridden. We passed through village after village, sending local kids, women, and goats running for cover. We didn’t dare stop, we’d probably be stoned to death.
The trail traversed a spectacular open valley, with beautiful green terraces lined by wild mountain flowers. Entranced by the views we were oblivious to the gang of locals who were perched just above us, shouting and beckoning to us. We pushed on in a hurry as soon as we noticed them, then suddenly the track ended, in a ravine. It turned out that they were telling us that there was a better track just above, which lead on to the next village. I kind of felt ignorant and rude having ignored them, so we stopped off for a chat. This turned out to be the days top move. One guy virtually directed us right back to Chefchaouen.
The route back was just amazing; a long 2 mile rocky climb, followed by a 7 mile dirt track descent. The whole scene was almost biblical. The trail was lined with locals fully robed up, riding their donkeys back from the market in the next village. A truly magical sight indeed.
The only problem was that the other village just happened to be along what the guide book described as the most dangerous road in Morocco, being as it was controlled by kif growing Mafia mad men. Sure it made for an interesting ride back to Chefchaouen, but it’s all part of the Rif experience. And that was some fine experience for us “ Engleesh “.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

I say a little prayer for you

GVA Trophy CX - more woes for Nys

New tunnel opens for cyclists in USA

Ride 4 Gaza

If you happen to be in or around Kuala Lumpur in a couple of weeks and fancy a good ride for a good cause then check out Ride 4 Gaza. The ride is a charity event for the Gaza fund (Palestine that is - not the fat footballer). The organisers hope to attract up to 1000 cyclists for the ride, which will take place on the 16th January, with the start being in Putrajaya at 7am.

The facebook page for the event is

Entry forms can be downloaded at

Great Hour Record rides

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Tabriz Petrochemical set for Tour de Langkawi


Presenting their strongest line up so far for the 2011 edition of Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL), Tabriz Petrochemical from Iran is looking to defend the Asian and overall team classification and aims for the yellow jersey.
Two out of the three Iranian riders in the line-up were among the top 10 in the overall classification in LTdL 2010; which are Hossein Askari and Ghader Mizbani.
The 35 year old rider Askari who is all too familiar with LTdL had participated previously under the colours of Telekom Malaysia All-Star, Giant Asia Racing and finally recruited by Tabriz. But there was no doubt, his best performance was when he ranked third overall in the 2010 edition, just 2 minutes 39 seconds behind the overall yellow jersey winner, Jose Rujano Guillen of ISD-Neri.
Once again, Askari will be the main focus of the 2011 edition, assisted by Eibegger and Mizbani to record encouraging results in two consecutive climbs up Cameron Highlands and Genting Highlands.
Iranian rider Mizbani, 35, which have the same climbing strength, collected 46 wins in his professional career since 1999, Mizbani who was ninth in the overall classification in 2010 also listed among the candidates who will grab the prestigious yellow jersey and the King of the mountain jersey.
Tabriz team manager Kazem Khatounabadi, listed Mehdi Sohrabi as their sprinter for the pursuit of stage victories. In the remaining flat stages of LTdL 2011, spectators will be expecting great performance by Sohrabi at the finish line. The 29-year-old bronze medallist in the Points Race event at the recent Asian Games, Guangzhou, turned  professional in 2005 with team Paykan, had represented Azad University before moving on to Tabriz in 2009.
This Sprint specialist is ranked top in the 2010 UCI Asia Tour rankings with 466.66 points, with victories in the Asian Cycling Championships (ACC) and the current Iran road race National Champion.

The three European listed to complete the team are former Footon-Servetto rider Markus Eibegger, former rider for Fuji-Servetto and Katusha Continental Team, Boris Shpilevsky and returning for his second year with Tabriz, German rider Tobias Erler.
Eibegger’s skills cannot be underestimated; the 26-year-old rider who hails from Judenburg, Austria has proven his ability in LTdL 2010 when he claimed sixth place overall during his debut with Footon-Servetto, as well as his extensive experience competing in Giro d'Italia. With six victories in his professional career, Eibegger was also Austria’s national champion in 2009.
The Russian rider to strengthen Tabriz line-up is 28 years old Shpilevsky, who collected 24 stage wins throughout his career since his professional debut with team Preti Mangimi in 2007 to 2008. The Moscow born rider had previously rode for Fuji-Servetto in 2009 before being recruited in Katusha’s Continental team in 2010, with impressive victories at Giro del Friuli, Fleche du Sud and Firenze-Pistoia.
Tobias, 31, a former teacher who made a name in cycling, ranked fifth overall in Sprint Classification LTdL 2010. His vast experience racing in Asia since 2006 representing Giant Asia Racing before moving to 3C-Gruppe and Baier Landshut in 2009, this talented German rider is also among the contender for the Sprint classification.


Team Manager: Kazem KHATOUNABADI

Riders: Hossein Askari (IRI), Ghader Mizbani (IRI), mehdi Sohrabi (IRI), Markus EIBEGGER (AUT), SHPILEVSKY Boris (RUS), ERLER Tobias (GER).

A motto!

Boardman's finest hour

Japanese invade Thailand

As the snow builds in the mountains of Japan many of it's top cyclists head west in search of warmer climes and better winter training grounds. It's been a traditional migration for many years now; ever since the Fukushima brothers first went to Chiang Rai province in Northern Thailand to see if the riding was as good as their former team manager (and now local resident) had told them it was.

Now between December and early March Japanese, Taiwanese, Malaysian, and Korean riders follow the path paved by the Japanese riders and head to the region for winter training. Up to 30 or so riders at a time can be found pedaling the mountains around Chiang Rai, including the Fukushima's and Japans number one rider Yukiya Arashiro, who finished 9th in the recent World Road Race Championships, and rides with the newly re-named Europcar team.

If you want to see what the riding is all about then get yourself over - and check out the link to the Green Tree Guesthouse (in the side bar - or drop us an email at and also see out article on riding in the region.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Alberto Contador's Christmas message

MADRID, December 25, 2010 (AFP) - Triple Tour de France winner Alberto Contador issued an optimistic Christmas Day message on Saturday declaring he would be cleared over a doping charge and that 2011 would be an historic year for him.
The 27-year-old Spaniard was provisionally suspended in September after trace amounts of clenbuterol, a banned weight loss/muscle-building drug that is also used to fatten cattle, were found in a urine sample taken during this year's Tour de France.
However, Contador expressed his confidence on his twitter that his claims he unknowingly ingested the clenbuterol from beef brought from Spain to France during the second rest day of the Tour, just four days before he won his third title on July 25, would be borne out.
Clenbuterol was banned by the European Union in 1996 but it is still administered illicitly by some ranchers.
"I cannot say it has been either the best Christmas nor the most tranquil, but I am confident that in 2011 reason, ethics and the truth will prevail, and that justice will be done," he said.
"I would like to thank my team Saxo Bank (who he signed a two-year contract with in August) for retaining its faith in me. This year coming up will be HISTORIC (his emphasis)!"
The UCI asked the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) to open disciplinary proceedings against Contador on November 8 and the cyclist - who also won the Tour in 2007 and 2009 - has threatened to quit the sport if he is suspended for two years.

Journey to Pittsburgh - Streetfilm

Super Prestige cyclo cross, Diegem, Belgium

Always the sun

Corsair - heavy metal?

Monday, 27 December 2010

Danny McAskill's Youtube story

Cyclo Cross World Cop Zolder, yesterday

The Impossible Hour - Ole Ritter

Iranian's get more fire power

Boris, with the rainbow rings of a former World Track Champ
The Iranians have long been the most feared riders in the Asian peleton; with names like Kazemi, Mizbani and Askari striking fear into the hearts of any rider when he sees their name on the start list for a race. Restrictions and bias have pretty much confined these world class riders to racing in Asia, where they are more easily able to obtain travel visas, which is a real shame for them and the sport in general.
After many years of riding on other Asian teams Iran launched it's own pro teams a few years ago - the Tabriz Petrochemical team and Azhad University teams. The former was the baby of the strongest of the Iranians, while the latter was a track lead squad made up of fast finishing sprinters.

The Tabriz team has been the most dominant team in Asia for a few years now, not only thanks to it's Iranian powerhouses - but to other riders from the former Soviet nations. This year it's gone a step further to increasing it's power, and giving the team some serious explosive sprint strength by signing two more well established, and non Iranian riders; Boris Shpilevskiy, a super fast Russian rider who  has won many Asian races, and served a short time in the Pro Tour, and Markus Eibegger of Austria, who rode with the Footon Survetto Pro Tour team last season.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Boxing with Castro

As it's Boxing day here's a great boxing story.
This story has absolutely nothing to do with cycling - other than the fact that I was guiding a bike trip at the time - and that Cuba also has some great cyclists - it was,  or at least I think it was printed in a leading "lads" magazine a few years back, but as I never got paid I kinda forget. I just happened to be sat watching the movie Ali, and thought I'd post it. It was the "Rumble in the Jungle" - and wow, how you can relate to Ali's pain, it was said to be the moment the damage was done. But, either way - it's Football World Cup time, and we at BNA (me are not exactly fans of this poncy overpaid and over-exaggerated sport. There are few sports that compare in terms of physical prowess, dedication and prowess - boxing is one of them. But personally I don't like to get hit...

Castro’s hit man

 After a whole month of rum, salsa and close shaves I was heading back through a mid morning hang over to my Havana lair to pack my bags ready for a late night flight back home, having failed in my quest to track down perhaps the most famous of all Cuban boxers, and maybe even the most popular man in the whole country - Teofilo Stevenson, three time Olympic Heavyweight Champion.
Slumping down into my pit after an all night farewell rampage I figured 40 winks would be a sound idea. Glancing left I noticed the message light glimmering on my phone; “Steve, I am at Stevenson’s house, he is coming back especially to meet you, come here now!” It was my buddy Abel, a hustling Mr Fixit who could supply anything from mother daughter combos to back door cigars.
Bemused and nervous I grabbed my camera and a clean T shirt and raced across Havana to the given address. I’d heard and read so much about this super hero of the ring; you only have to mention the name Stevenson in Cuba and expressions of pride and honour beam across everyone's faces, something that really has to be seen to be believed. This guy is not only one of Castro’s best mates, he’s his very own sporting hero - and probably the most popular man on this communist island stronghold.
Legend has it that  Stevenson lives in a great mansion, presented to him by Castro many years ago, as was the case with many other of Cuba’s great boxers, though I was about to find out that that rumour wasn’t quite right. Sure enough by Cuban standards the house was something a cut above the average, but by British standards it was maybe equivalent to a 3 bed semi town house lingering on the burbs of Havana city, hardly a mansion.
Bumbling into the house I found a band of half a dozen rum drunk Cubanos, but there was no sign of the great man himself; “He is rushing back from the airport to meet you.” It was Cuban Olympic week. the biggest annual sporting fiesta in this sport mad country, and Teofilo had once again be invited along as patron. An immediate sense of panic set in, what the heck was expected of me? Here I was about to meet one of my all time sporting idols, a man who they say could have been Ali if he had chosen so, and now little old me was about to deprive the nation of their great hero at their biggest sporting event. A glass of rum was thrust into my hand and I was presented with tattered copy of “The 100 Greatest Boxers” book, and shown the page with our man on it “He’s the only amateur boxer ever to make it to this book, and the only post revolution Cuban to make it to the Boxing Hall of Fame.”
Sweating even more still I dared to look around the living room; the entire front wall was made up of a near life size photo montage of Cubas greatest hitter flooring one of his opponents on his way to his first Olympic gold in the 72 Munich games, aptly the decked fighter was American. On the opposing wall was a picture of  Muhammad Ali himself, and a signed pair of his boxing gloves, while the far corner decor is finished off nicely with a poster of Stevo with Fidel  Castro, who is holding his champions arm aloft and grinning admirably at him.
A chicken jumps through the door as it swings open, and Stevenson walks in dressed in jeans and a T shirt, all six feet five of him, with a half empty bottle of rum in one hand. Humbled and nervous I edged towards him, without so much glance in my direction he reached out as he had done to floor his opponents on so many occasions before, and with a near crushing grip shook my hand.
“I want to speak English!” He uttered to me while heading for the TV, “Watch with me. I want  $1000, my fee.” Thinking of that right hand with three inches more reach and more knockouts it had caused than Ails I stuttered and tried to straighten things out, I didn’t have that kind of dosh, if that was a problem then I was sorry and would leave; “Umm, ok. Sit.” After fiddling with a few cables he poured more rum into my glass and the show commenced.  Harry Carpenter was commenting, it was the 72 Games first up, followed by the other two, I’d never seen anything quite like it; his right blow just came out of nowhere, faster than a greased ferret, we had to replay the final blows just to catch a glimpse
The TV was on the blink, and the gang were trying to rustle up $5 for another bottle of rum. Here I was; sitting next to a man who was offered $5 million back in 72 to fight Ali, a man who they said was better than the greatest, a man who could now be one of the richest sporting stars on the planet - a man who didn’t have $5 dollars for a bottle of rum, and who’s car lay rusting on the porch because he couldn’t afford to run it, yet a man who was still perhaps the most loved of all Cubans, I couldn’t quite get my head around it.
“Why, why did you not take the Yankee dollar, you could be as rich as Ali now?” I questioned; “Watch..” He replied fiddling some more with the video. What followed was one of the most humbling videos I’ve ever seen; It was a National Day speech by Castro himself; the entire speech was dedicated to Stevenson. This guy epitomises every ideal that the regime stands for, he is the ultimate Cuban revolutionary roll model, and a man who refused the lure of the west for his beliefs and his people. “Professional boxing is corrupt. What is $5 million compared to the love of 5 million Cubans?” As he said these words he leant towards me and looked me straight in the eye, and I knew he meant it.  “Ali is rich, we are great friends - he comes here sometimes and we go out to drink and chase girls, maybe I wish I had a little more, but I am happy with the way things have worked out.”
Pouring another rum into my bottomless glass he informed me ”I like you. You will come with me today to the Olympics, you stay in my house and pay nothing and will be my guest of honour.” The room went silent, I didn’t know what to say; the other guys in the house could not believe it “Nobody ever gets such an opportunity...” The chance to spend a few days with Stevo on his home turf would be a bit like hanging out with the Pope in Rome, only with more frills along the way; “It’s a great honour. But i have a flight tonight, and I have waited weeks for a seat.” Before I’d even finished this sentence the big guy was on the phone; “Stevenson can arrange anything here in Cuba...” Panic set in some more, Cuba is not the best place to find yourself in a high profile roll as a western journo; “I send for a car, we go by your hotel and fetch your bags. You want to meet Fidel?”
The potential different scenarios played through my mind; but with a pile of deadlines to meet back home, and the possibility of being put to hard labour for a while or lost without trace coming through on the headlines I finally wangled my way out of the trip, and persuaded the guys to take me back to the hotel, but not before another bottle of rum and a back street tour of most of Havana with the great man himself, what a day.

 Teofilo Lorenzo Stevenson
Born in Jamaica 29/3/52, parents moved to Cuba soon afterwards to work on a sugar plantation.
Height 6’5”
Olympic Heavyweight/Super Heavyweight Champion 72/76/80
*Cuba boycotted the 84 and 88 games. If they had gone Stevenson was odds on for a 4th Gold. As it stood he was the first boxer to take 3 Olympic gold's at the same weight. Only 2 boxers have ever gone the distance with him in any Olympic bout, another record.
World Champion 74/78/86
Voted Cubas greatest sportsman of last the century

Cuban boxing

For almost a century Cuba has produced some of the greatest boxers in the world. Some of it’s most famous fighters came out pre-revolution; with names like Kid Chocolate and Kid Gavilon becoming world champions. In 1959 Castro over threw the Bastia regime. Siding with communism following a snub by the US he banned professional sport from the country in 1962, many of the then great pro fighters chose to leave the country.
Sport has always been big in Cuba, and it is a great way for young Cubans to get on in life and to get to see the world. Boxing has always been at the forefront of this, and kids are talent spotted at a young age and offered the chance to attend state run sports schools; Stevenson was selected at 13 years old to leave his Las Tunas home to live and study boxing in Havana.
Stevenson was the first, and still the biggest, of Cuban Olympic boxing heroes; since then the nation have dominated the amateur sport, earning some 27 Olympic gold's since 72 (despite missing 2 games). and a pile of other shrapnel along the way.
Olympic gold is a near certain way for a Cuban to secure their future - with the gift of a car and a house being the usual pay back, though back in 92 Joel Casamajor defected after being presented with a push bike for winning the gold (he allegedly was not favoured by Castro.). The most recent Cuban heavyweight monster was Felix Savon who did the triple in 92/96/2000 - had they not of boycotted the 88 games the he too had a real chance of four titles.

Footnote - we were destined to met again a few years later, when the big guy was reinstated as national coach... but that's another story

Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas

To all of our readers we'd like to say thanks for your support and following, and wish you all the best for Christmas and the New Year - keep on riding, and keep on checking the site !

The Pegasus cost - McEwen and Hunter in the Shack

Although we're not really a race site, we figured we'd bring a little good news for at least 2 of the victims of the "Pegasus scandal". It's two star signings - the 2 Robbies (McEwen and Hunter) have joined Lance Armstrong's Ream Radioshack for 2011. This should give them some serious firepower in the sprints this season, which is just as well - as they don't have the firepower for the GC in the major tours.
Meantime - team Geox is also suffering hard at not regaining it's Pro Tour status - with the teams new sponsors trying to take control of the team from owner Mauro Gianetti, threatening to pull their sponsorship if this doesn't happen - this situation is a disaster for the sport, and shows some major holes in the UCI points system, as the team has signed both Carlos Sastre and Denis Menchov for 2011, 2 of the best grand tour riders around. Both are now free to find other teams - if they so wish.

Team RadioShack for 2011

Lance Armstrong (USA), Fumiyuki Beppu (Japan), Sam Bewley (New Zealand), Jani Brajkovic (Slovenia), Matthew Busche (USA), Manuel Cardoso (Portugal), Philip Deignan (Ireland), Ben Hermans (Belgium), Chris Horner (USA), Robbie Hunter (South Africia), Markel Irizar (Spain), Ben King (USA), Andreas Klöden (Germany), Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland), Levi Leipheimer (USA), Geoffroy Lequatre (France), Tiago Machado (Portugal), Jason McCartney (USA), Robbie McEwen (Australia), Dmitriy Muravyev (Kazakhstan), Nélson Oliveira (Portugal), Sérgio Paulinho (Portugal), Yaroslav Popovych (Ukraine), Gregory Rast (Switzerland), Sébastien Rosseler (Belgium), Ivan Rovny (Russia), Jesse Sergent (New Zealand, Bjørn Selander (USA) and Haimar Zubeldia (Spain).

Now it's goodnight from him, and goodnight from me ;) - the Two Robbies in action...

A better use for your track pump

How to Uncork a Bottle Without a Corkscrew from Hamel Family Wines on Vimeo.

Christmas is coming - teeth, a good present?

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Santa on his bike, err bikes, err Santa's

UCI react to allegations in Pegasus Racing declination - here's hat they say,,

Registration refused for Pegasus Sports:
Explanation from the UCI

Following the reactions which followed the decision by the UCI Licence Commission to refuse the registration of the Australian team Pegasus Sports as a Professional Continental Team, the UCI would like to explain some points in order to ease the discussions and allow for a better understanding of the context in which this decision was taken. The full reasons will be communicated to the team’s management in the next few days.

First of all, the UCI would like to express its deep disappointment faced with the situation that has arisen: the project of a professional Australian team was a new and very important step in the process of the globalisation of cycling which is a strategic priority of our Federation. A successful outcome of this initiative would have stimulated the pleasing growth phase that our sport is experiencing, notably with the creation and development of high-level races on different continents.

For the UCI, the failure of Pegasus Sports is very bad news, but that cannot however affect the rigorous work our Federation carries out for cycling, or the respect that is due to all those who have fulfilled their obligations according to the regulation.

While waiting to learn of the reasons for the decision announced by the Licence Commission on 20th December, the UCI can however presume that the refusal to register Pegasus Sports is based on a financial aspect, given the serious shortcomings the formation had presented.
Despite the extended deadline of 15th December that was exceptionally granted by the Licence Commission, Pegasus Sports did not provide either a bank guarantee or sufficient financial guarantees for 2011.

To reply to certain declarations that have appeared in the press, the UCI feels obliged to explain that despite the public announcements, the management of the Pegasus Sports project proved to be rather unprofessional from the start.

Informed of the registration procedures on 23rd June 2010 in the same manner as all the other teams, Pegasus Sports didn’t respect the deadline of 1st October fixed for the initial registration requests.

Following this first and significant non-conformity of the regulation, all the riders under contract with the Australian team obtained the right to free themselves from their commitment to the team.

Pegasus Sports’ request to obtain a UCI ProTeam licence had moreover not been able to be taken into account following the result of the sporting evaluation established by the UCI on October 20th, which ranked the team 23rd. As a result, the Pegasus Sports file was evaluated for a possible registration as a Professional Continental Team. However, given the shortcomings on the financial side, which could not guarantee that the team would survive the whole 2011 season, this option also had to be rejected.

Following this decision and in line with the regulation, Pegasus Sports appealed to the Licence Commission, which took charge of the file.

However, the team still did not change its attitude: it did not undertake the necessary steps to rectify the shortcomings regarding the UCI regulation, that were however indicated several times in the different reports established by the UCI’s auditors.

Even so, the Licence Commission granted an extended deadline (10th December) to Pegasus Sports so it could sort out its problems. Exceptionally, this deadline was even extended a further five days (15th December).

Yet, at the end of this ultimate chance, fundamental documents such as the bank guarantee and sufficient financial guarantees for 2011 are still missing from the Pegasus Sports file.

The UCI can now only sincerely regret this conduct from the leaders of Pegasus Sports and express its sympathy to all the riders and others involved with the Australian team who unfortunately bear the consequences.

Asian Racing for Tour de Langkawi


AISAN Racing Team is the continental team that has carved a name among the local fans especially sprint specialist Taiji Nishitani, who will once again lead the challenge from the Japanese team in Le Tour de Langkawi 2011, from 23 January to 1 February.
Aisan opened eyes when they won a stage and ranked 12th overall and fifth in the Asian teams category in their first appearance in LTdL 2010.
With eight of the 10 stages in 2011 route involving flat courses, Nishitani is expected to continue to add into his collection of victories in LTdL, after winning Stage 4 from Mersing to Parit Sulong in the previous edition.

The 29 year old rider began making a name among local fans when he won Stage 6 in the 2009 edition of Jelajah Malaysia in Bera, and he is expected to get help from his teammate; Masashiro Shinagawa in the bunch sprint to the finish line.
Shinagawa, also a part of the team’s line-up in 2010, is considered the most experienced rider in the team because of his racing experience in Australia and Europe.
Previously riding for Skil Shimano, Shinagawa, 28, also raced in the classic Paris-Roubaix, a well respected rider in his native country; he emerged twice as the national champion in 2006 and 2009, as well as Japan's under-23 national champion.
Another rider to look out for is Kazuhiro Mori who raced under Aisan’s colors since 2006, also respected for his dominant ability in track events. Together with Nishitani they competed in the 4km team pursuit for Japan in the recent 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou. Mori had also been listed as the individual time trialist for Japan in the Asian Games and finished seventh overall.
Kenichi Suzuki and Takeaki Ayabe will be given the climber’s task to conquer two consecutive gruesome climbs up Cameron Highlands and Genting Highlands for Aisan in the 2011 edition, both had competed in the previous edition and are surely familiar with the conditions in Malaysia.
Takeaki who previously represented Team Miyata-Subaru before being recruited to Aisan had extensive experience in Asian races. Another rider in the list racing in LTdL 2011 is Shimpei Fukuda.
The most interesting in the Aisan Team line-up for LTdL 2011 is their former rider Takumi Beppu has been assigned as team manager. Beppu who ranked 27th overall in LTdL last year had extensive racing experience with professional teams such as Jura Suisse and Mapei, also familiar with the intricacies of the route in Malaysia, Aisan is a strong force to be reckon with in this edition.


TEAM MANAGER: Takumi Beppu

RIDERS: Taiji NISHITANI, Takeaki AYABE, Shimpei FUKUDA, Kazuhiro MORI, Masashiro SHINAGAWA, Kenichi SUZUKI

The dream of the bicycle

A sublime message

2010 Road Season reveiw

Orangutan wins bike race

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

King of the Castle - bar-cam

Ahh, Wednesday, or not as the case may be

Wednesday Morning, Boulder from jamie kripke on Vimeo.

New updated iPhone Tour de France app

I guess it could pass a few seconds, but from a first glance it wouldn't take much more - but yes, now there's a Tour de France iPhone quiz app available - click the pic to see

King of the castle

King Of The Castle 2010 - Cagliari/Italy from Tri-Ridedotcom on Vimeo.

Alberto Contador latest news

It looks like the Alberto Contador anti doping case is set to continue until at least mid January, as the Spanish Cycling Federation have said that they will not be reaching any verdict until then.
Meantime, Contador attended the first team Saxo-Sungaurd training camp/get together recently, and has denied having any professional relationship with Madrid Cycling Federation president Javier Fernandez Alba, who is currently under investigation in a doping enquiry. Alba also works in a "clinic gym" north of Madrid, and was described by Spanish magazine Interviu as Contador's "discoverer, manager and coach". Contador denies this involvement.
Back in Switzerland the UCI are busy making snowmen and mince pies, and considering introducing a scale of charges and suspensions for doping offences These could range from just a few months for lighter substances such as Clenbuterol (which Contador tested positive for) to life for EPO.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Skill Shimano for Tour de Langkawi

Skil-Shimano will be a team to watch during the 2011 Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) from January 23rd to February 1st. They’ll return to Malaysia with a strong line up of sprinters and high ambitions for their Japanese climber Yukihiro Doi who is no stranger to the event as he already made the top 10 overall in 2007 and he has improved a lot since.

“We’ll come with strong and motivated riders, including our sprinter Kenny van Hummel who collected five bunch sprint victories in 2009 and ten in 2010”, warned team manager Iwan Spekenbrink. Van Hummel became famous during the 2009 Tour de France, the only one the Skil-Shimano team took part in, as he struggled alone in the mountains and fought hard with the label of lanterne rouge (the last rider on GC). His courage touched the heart of media and fans but he’s above all a great sprinter likely to shine as a stage winner at LTdL.
The Japanese branch of the Skil-Shimano previously took part in the event but this will be the first participation of the established and well respected Dutch-based squad. Doi is the link between the two sponsors. He remained the only Japanese on the roster but he’s also one of the best climbers in the team. In 2007, he led the Asian classification of Le Tour de Langkawi for a few days but eventually passed the blue jersey onto Iran’s Ghader Mizbani. He finished eighth on GC in an edition that featured Tour de France stage winners Thomas Voeckler, Sylvain Calzati and Sandy Casar, just to name a few. Since then, Doi has moved to the Netherlands and improved both his English and his cycling skills. He finished sixth in the 2010 Tour of Turkey won by Italian star Giovanni Visconti. “I’m happy with my development as a cyclist with Skil-Shimano”, said the Japanese who is a potential winner for the 2011 LTdL overall.
In this Dutch-Japanese alliance, another ace will be Mitchell Docker from Australia. He led the 2008 Le Tour de Langkawi for one day riding for Drapac-Porsche before heading to Europe. He’s a fast rider who will target stage wins. Skil-Shimano’s recruit from the defunct Cervélo TestTeam Martin Reimer who was the 2009 German national champion will be another super talent to be watched closely during the ten days of racing.

TEAM MANAGER: Iwan Spekenbrink
RIDERS: Mitchell DOCKER (Aus), Koen DE KORT (Ned), Kenny VAN HUMMEL (Ned), Albert TIMMER (Ned), Yukihiro DOI (Jap) and Martin REIMER (Ger).