Friday, January 29, 2010
“Let's just say, that these days you shouldn’t have to go anywhere or do anything that a tee shirt is not appropriate attire. When you're wearing one of your favorite tees, you know you'll be comfortable, and that's reflected in your attitude and behavior.”
Founder and Ironman Champion
(Boulder, Colorado) – In a sports world where companies are producing products to help you go faster, further and longer, former professional triathlete Tony DeBoom felt that something was missing along the way. He couldn’t find comfortable, conscientious, art-driven casual clothing that represented his lifestyle. What little casual apparel did exist was cheesy and dull. Enter the Endurance Conspiracy. “The Endurance Conspiracy is about those perfect moments we all feel when we’re running on the trails or zipping down the mountain roads or swimming in the ocean. It’s capturing those flawless moments and expressing them in our own way artistically,” says Tony. “The ideas that make us feel alive and smile manifest themselves in our designs.”
The Endurance Conspiracy is an athlete owned, art driven, casual clothing line that captures the essence of endurance sports through artistic designs and environmentally friendly materials. Our love of the outdoors and our athletic adventures are a constant inspiration and influence in our products. What’s the “conspiracy” you ask? “It’s different for everyone”, says Tony, “for me, it means that you can’t really understand the joy I feel when bombing down a canyon road unless you experience it yourself - it’s like we’re all in on a little secret. We started the EC line with tee shirts because it’s our absolute favorite thing to wear. We love the idea that the tee shirt can be used as an auto-biographical compilation of ones life, a conversation piece or even valued as a precious souvenir.”
Tony is a longtime closet artist who after years of competing, coaching, and enjoying the environment was inspired to creatively express the joy he felt from his way of life. The company’s mantra, “The Fit Shall Inherit the Earth” is already making waves in the endurance sports capital city of Boulder and DeBoom has inspired a few well known athletes to the point where they have joined on as business partners. Two-time Ironman World Champion (and little bro) Tim DeBoom and three-time World Champ Peter Reid, are among the superstar multisport industry veterans that are part of the Conspiracy. “I saw Tim wearing one of the EC designed shirts at the New York Marathon and I immediately felt the connection. The designs are cool with some more loosely connected to our sport than others, making them more universal and capable of reaching well beyond the walls of multisport. I would proudly wear this clothing line at races, around the house or even at a concert!” commented a passionate Reid.
Endurance Conspiracy uses the most environmentally friendly organic cotton available on the market today and the end result nets an incredibly soft and comfortable line of products. The inaugural line includes graphic tees and trucker hats, which are currently available at the online store.
The Endurance Conspiracy is offering a special for the first 50 orders that includes a very limited edition T-shirt complete with a special hello from Peter Reid and the DeBoom Boys.
For more information, please click on the title link or call 303-579-5424.
During the 2010 April Cover shoot, Triathlete's Photo Editor Nils Nilsen captures this time lapse during the studio session. Chris Lieto, Professional Triathlete, will be featured on the cover. Chris Orwig, life long friend of Lieto and outstanding Professional Photographer, spent the day shooting Lieto. Brooks Institute of Photography played host during the studio session of the shoot.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
BMC Racing Team has hit the roads around Agoura Hills, California for a final tune-up for the 2010 season. Fresh from a strong start at the Tour Down Under, marquee signings Cadel Evans and George Hincapie joined Alessandro Ballan and the rest of their new colleagues for a training ride on Wednesday.
The US-registered Professional Continental squad recently secured much-hoped-for wild card status from the International Cycling Union (UCI) and will accordingly be invited to the full list of ProTour and Historical calendar races. Given the strength contained within their ranks will be a force as they head towards the Spring Classics with Hincapie and Ballan at the head of the squad.
World Champion Evans confirmed yesterday that he will head to the Giro d'Italia for the first time in eight years determined to secure another spell in the race leader's jersey. Already showing good condition in South Australia at the Tour Down Under last week, Evans' enthusiasm for the new season was mirrored by his teammates as they spun their legs out at the camp north-west of Los Angeles.
With all the cycling teams having their training camps for the 2010 season team Radioshack's Chris Horner stopped by Nytro in San Diego to do a interview on bike fits. Horner will soon join his teammate Lance Armstrong in Spain for Radioshack's team camp later this month.
If you are in the San Diego area this weekend make sure to stop by the season opening Triathlon expo and on Saturday its the Competitor Endurance awards where Chris Lieto will be getting athlete of the year. You might also see Horner riding on PCH with all the Pro athletes coming into the area for this weekends events.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
(Madison, WI) (Westlake Village, CA)—Iconic footwear and sportswear brand K•Swiss and Trek Bicycle, the world leader in bicycle technology and innovation, are proud to announce the formation of the 2010 Trek/K•Swiss Triathlon Team. The joint venture between Trek and K•Swiss will be seen as the world’s premier triathlon team, bringing together nine of the world’s top international Ironman and Ironman 70.3 athletes.
The launch of Trek/K•Swiss Triathlon Team underscores both brands’ continuing investment in the finest athletes in the world. With more than 30 years of experience, Trek has proven itself to be the industry’s most forward thinking and innovative manufacturer by continually striving to produce the most technologically advanced bicycles on the planet. K•Swiss has upheld a similar tradition of excellence and ingenuity, expanding from classic tennis footwear to running footwear and apparel designed to enhance the performances of the world-class triathletes they support.
“We couldn’t be more excited about this partnership and what we believe it will bring not just to the athletes but to the entire sport of Triathlon,” said Trek Bicycle Road and Triathlon Brand Manager Nick Howe. “At Trek, we’ve long believed that working with the best athletes in the world is paramount in helping us to provide the absolute best bicycle products available. To have an opportunity to partner with a team of this caliber and to work with a company as committed and innovative as K-Swiss is extremely exciting.”
“Joining with Trek to put together this triathlon team is a very exciting venture for us,” said K•Swiss Sports Marketing Director Erik Vervloet. “Trek has consistently been an industry leader in design and innovation and is always looking to move the needle in delivering the fastest bike available, anywhere. We strive to provide that same relentless focus on innovation in our footwear. Combine this partnership with some of the top triathletes in the world and you have a fantastic team. With the help of our athletes, we want to continue to push the envelope in developing the best triathlon products on the planet. We look forward to working together with Trek and are very proud of the team that we've put together. We believe that the results will speak for themselves.”
The Trek/K•Swiss Team is comprised of two World Champions, a 2nd place finisher at the 2009 Ironman World Championships, and multiple 70.3 champions.
Fraser Cartmell UK 3x Ironman 70.3 Champion
Julie Dibens UK 2009 Ironman 70.3 World Champion & 3x XTERRA World Champion
Joe Gambles AUS 3x Ironman 70.3 Champion
Heather Jackson USA Top Ironman 70.3 athlete
Chris Lieto USA 3x Ironman Champion & 2nd Ironman World Championships (’09)
Matt Lieto USA Top 5 Ironman athlete
Paul Mathews AUS Ironman 70.3 Champion
Michael Raelert GER 2009 Ironman 70.3 World Champion
Andrew Yoder USA 2nd in the Colombia Triathlon in 2009
Ivan Basso is moving up 2010 racing season debut. The Italian had planned to race the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya starting March 22, but instead he will be at the starting line earlier than originally planned - at the GP dell'Insubria and the GP di Lugano on February 27 and 28.
"The results obtained during my winter training are really good and,together with management and trainer Aldo Sassi, we thought that move to an earlier start could be useful," said Basso.
"My training plan was studied so I could be ready for the most important events of the season and these races, following a period of altitude training at Teide, will help me toward my goals. These races aren't a test." Basso intends to use the competitions more as supplemental training.
In addition, Basso said he was moving up his debut for his fans. "During last season, I received a warm welcome everywhere," he said. "Many months passed since my last race and I miss it. I want to meet my fans again - they are fundamental to my work."
He added yet a third reason for the program change. "I will also get to race near home - another good reason to accept the invitation to attend these races.
Basso's Liquigas-Doimo team will start its Italian racing season with him at the Giro della Provincia di Reggio Calabria from January 30 through February 2. Directeur sportifs Stefano Zanatta and Biagio Conte will be in charge of the team including Manuel Quinziato, Aliaksandr Kuchynski, Daniel Oss, Mauro Finetto, Jacopo Guarnieri, Fabio Sabatini and Brian Bach Vandborg.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Designed as a 'go at your own pace' social ride for riders of all levels, you will get to explore the three peaks surrounding the Bay Area in a supportive and social environment. Much more than a series of rides, these are ego-free adventures with your friends. They will welcome you with a breakfast and fresh coffee at the social gathering, then we will set off on the adventure. There is no pressure to keep up, everyone gets a map and directions, so you can take your time and enjoy the ride. Following each ride we will have an informal social event to recount stories and enjoy some well-deserved food!
Matt Dixon is the coach to many of the top athletes in the sport of triathlon. The photo above is of Max Testa, Chris Lieto and Matt Dixon after completing a threshold test on Chris. Make sure to sign up for one of these rides and meet Matt and his group of athletes.
To learn more click on the title link.
Moving from their European base in Girona, Garmin-Transitions made the short trip to Alicante, Spain for their first training camp of the 2010 season.
Minus their Tour Down Under squad, the riders and staff began a two-week camp last week.
On the menu was a mix of training rides, group exercises and team meetings. In 2009, the team had their most successful season yet with Tyler Farrar winning 11 races, David Zabriskie taking the Tour of Missouri and Bradley Wiggins and Christian Vande Velde finishing in the top ten at the Tour de France.
Though Wiggins has moved to Sky, the team have signed several strong reinforcements including Robbie Hunter, Michel Kreder, Johan Van Summeren, Peter Stetina, Fredrik Kessiakoff and Travis Meyer.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Armstrong finished his stage race of the season, the six-stage race around Adelaide in 25th place, a slight improvement on last year's 29th as he gears up for his attempt on an eighth Tour de France title in July. "Having a beer with Team RadioShack," he tweeted. "Good week here at Tour Down Under."
Armstrong joined the new RadioShack outfit from Astana, moving with team boss Johan Bruyneel who masterminded all of his record seven Tour de France victories between 1999 and 2005. Bruyneel said Armstrong was in better condition than last year, when he returned from a three-and-a-half-year retirement, and also happier with his new team. Armstrong famously fell out with Astana teammate Alberto Contador last season in a feud that came to the boil during the Tour de France, when he placed third behind the Spaniard.
"Lance is good. He's a lot different than last year. Physically his form is a lot better, he feels good in the bunch and he feels good in the team so that's three things that are better than last year," Bruyneel said.
Armstrong earlier said he was happy with the trip, although it was too early to make any predictions for the rest of the season. "It's still so early. Not much can be taken from here in terms of what happens in the summer, in fact nothing," he said. "The main thing is we got good racing in, which equals good preparation mixed with no bad luck: illness, injuries, crashes. Smooth trip, good weather."
Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) will turn his attention to the months of March and April for the Spring Classics followed by the Tour of California after capturing the overall title at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina on Sunday.
"In Italy it's very cold but I have been able to train very well in my region because the temperature is very OK, about 15 or 20 Celsius," said Nibali. "It is very important for training well especially before the Tour de San Luis race and also it was good training during the race. Now, I feel like I am in very good condition for the start of my season in Europe."
Nibali will target Italian stage race Tirreno-Adriatico followed by Milano-Sanremo in March before riding Amstel Gold Race, La Fleche Wallone and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in April. "Liège-Bastogne-Liège is the one Classic that I can do the best in," he explained. "I hope that one day I can win this race because it is the most beautiful race."
Following the Spring Classics, Nibali will skip the Giro d'Italia, travelling instead to the America's western seaboard to compete in the Tour of California between May 16-23.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Lance Armstrong's rivalry with Tour de France champion Alberto Contador is "healthy" for cycling and better than the usual doping controversies, the sport's chief said on Saturday. Pat McQuaid, president of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) said the verbal hostilities since last year's race have long been a part of cycling.
"I see it as a healthy rivalry, I don't see it as being over the top," he told reporters in Adelaide during the Tour Down Under. "I think they're both saying things to position themselves in the lead-up to the Tour (de France) and I think that's a strategic aspect that there's always been throughout cycling."
Seven-time winner Armstrong has compared July's Tour de France showdown as "Ali-Frazier" after the former teammates fell out spectacularly during last year's race. Contador has accused Armstrong of being a bad teammate, calling their relationship "non-existent" and provocatively describing Luxembourg's Andy Schleck as his main rival.
McQuaid said cycling had benefited from previous rivalries including Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali's legendary clashes of the 1940s and 1950s, and Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault's row in the 1980s. "I don't think there's anything unhealthy about it. I think it's good for the sport. Controversy of this type is a lot better than many other types of controversies which our sport has had over the last couple of years," McQuaid said, referring to doping.
"From that point of view I think it's a good thing. It generates interest in the Tour and will be a big talking point in advance of the Tour and during the Tour. The two individuals are bringing pressure on each other and I think it's how they deal with that pressure and deal with the event that will all unfold during July."
Armstrong, 38, is embarking on the second year of his comeback at the Tour Down Under, while Contador will start his season at next month's Tour of the Algarve.
Armstrong to Remain Focused On Tour
Lance Armstrong on Saturday vowed not to repeat last season's mistakes when he "goofed off" after the Tour Down Under, affecting his comeback year. The seven-time Tour de France winner said he paid the price in last February's Tour of California, where he had a tough time and placed seventh. The American fell and broke his collarbone in March before recovering to finish third in July's Tour de France behind Spanish rival Alberto Contador.
"I messed up in the weeks after this last year. I went back and thought I was on schedule or slightly ahead of schedule and I goofed off a bit much and suffered bad in California," Armstrong told reporters. "I have to not make those mistakes again and just keep on the gas right through February."
Armstrong said it was too early to tell whether he was on track for this year's Tour de France, where he is bidding to become the race's oldest winner at 38. "It's still so early. Not much can be taken from here in terms of what happens in the summer, in fact nothing," he said. "The main thing is we got good racing in, which equals good preparation mixed with no bad luck: illness, injuries, crashes. Smooth trip, good weather."
He added that he was "50-50" on returning to Australia for Melbourne's road world championships in October, adding that he was not sure whether he still had the power needed to win. "Back in my explosive days it would have been good," he said. "It's just a question of your condition. At 260-kilometers it's the guys that have the best preparation that do well. You can't hide after six hours."
Thursday, January 21, 2010
As the season approaches and teams are conducting training camps, Rock Racing has been surprisingly silent. No press releases of upcoming training camps or even a 2010 team roster. In 2009 Rock rode in a splashy kit proclaiming “Rocks not dead”. For 2010 team owner Michael Ball stated he was taking the team to the next level: pro continental. Rumors swirled around the team. Rock Racing was going to be registered in Mexico, they were going to race in Europe and even earn wild card entries into the Classics and smaller stage races. With a strong core roster of Spanish riders like Oscar Sevilla, Victor Hugo Pena and Francisco Mancebo the team has proven to be a force to be reckoned with domestically, so why not take it to the next step? Hyperbole ramped up to overdrive at Interbike where Ball unveiled a complete line-up of Rock branded cycling apparel as well as full carbon fiber frames and components. For 2010 they strengthened the Rock team by signing Tony Cruz, a rider who has raced successfully on both sides of the Atlantic. However the new marquee rider Ball was rumored to have signed was Floyd Landis. Landis issued a press release in December stating his departure from the OUCH team (now UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team) however leaving out who he was going to be racing for in 2010. This only fueled the fires of speculation of who he was racing for in 2010. But all those Rock Racing dreams of a European campaign, and perhaps even an American campaign, have seemed to have crashed with the denial of pro continental status by the UCI. Sources have told me that Ball still owes money to riders and race promoters which will seriously hamper any chance of competing in any races of importance. After several days of text messaging with Landis I was able to track him down on the phone to discuss the upcoming season and whether Rock was indeed dead.
Click on the title link to read on......
On Sunday, January 31st at 9:00am, Helen's Cycles and current US National Road Race Champion George Hincapie will join forces to raise funds for the Haitian Earthquake Relief effort.
A minimum donation of $25 (although you can donate more!) is required to participate in the ride. Donations of $50 or more will allow you an extended ride with Hincapie after the initial ride concludes.
Please arrive at Helen's Cycles in Santa Monica by 9:00am with your receipt of purchase in order to receive your wristband that will allow entry into the ride. Roll out will begin at 9:30 for a relatively easy one hour ride through Santa Monica with Hincapie.
Helen's Cycles will donate an additional $10 for every donation made. Donations to go directly to Partners in Health, a national doctor's organization currently in Haiti. "Partners In Health works to bring modern medical care to poor communities in nine countries around the world. The work of Partners in Health has three goals: to care for our patients, to alleviate the root causes of disease in their communities, and to share lessons learned around the world."
Click on the title link to learn more.
There are many reasons to want to burn fat during exercise. For obvious reasons, in the context of the series I'm currently doing, people want to burn fat during exercise to lose weight. In that regard, one must emphasize that as much as we talk about weight loss, fat burning (or rather, a change in body composition) is the priority for most people who commit to exercise and diet to lose weight.
I must emphasize (and this is a late addition to the post) that the principles we've been speaking about in our previous three posts in this series do not suddenly cease to exist - in other words, the fundamental issue is still total calorie balance, not necessarily fat burned. And so this post looks at fat use during exercise, but I don't want to overplay the concept that you can burn fat to accelerate fat loss. In fact, in the long term, it's the creation of the calorie deficit that is needed, as we discussed in Part 2 A and B of this series.
Click on the title link to read on.....
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Columbia’s Santiago Botero has returned from a temporary hiatus to compete against a world-class peloton at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina. Botero will officially retire from cycling in June, 2010.
“I was training a lot in the gym until the end of December and I have been on my bike for just three weeks,” Botero said. “But, I live at altitude and when you come from that and being in the mountains every day, you always have one extra point. We will see, my rhythm is slow but maybe I can do something.”
Botero along with long-time friend Victor Hugo Pena will join the Colombian National Team’s ten-man roster during the seven-day stage race through the mountainous region of San Luis. The pair bolster the Columbian National Team team with their extensive pedigree in stage racing.
Botero, is a former world champion in the time trial and Pena is the only Columbian to wear the yellow jersey at the Tour de France. “I believe I have a possibility for the overall but, we have two or three good riders that have a possibility for the overall and Pena is one of them too,” Botero said.
Botero outlined several stages that suit his ability. Stage two that will take the riders on six-lap circuit through the streets of Potrero De Los Fuentes before sending them out toward the first mountain finish, a distance of five kilometres atop the Mirador ascent. He also pointed out the stage four and the stage six mountain finish atop Mirador del Sol.
“Then there is the time trial and normally I am good in this speciality. I don’t know what my rhythm is like now but we will try to win a stage and do a good stage. Also, stage six is hard. The profile looks hard on that day.”
The fourth Tour de San Luis is sanctioned by the UCI as a 2.1 category event for a second consecutive season. It has attracted some of the best teams and riders in the world, including three ProTour teams Liquigas-Doimo, Katusha and Footon-Servetto along with five Professional Continental teams ISD, Andalucia Caja-sur, Xacobeo-Galicia, Scott-Marcondes and Androni-Giacatolli.
“Always the European teams are at a high level but in the pack with the wind it’s not easy here,” Botero said. “The wind here is dangerous. I don’t know the riders too well here. Now, I know many of the directeur sportifs because they are all my age and from my time. My generation has disappeared.”
Botero ends his career where it began
Botero, 37, turned professional in 1996 and rode for teams like Kelme, Telekom and Phonak. He stepped down to the amateur ranks following one season with the US-based Rock Racing team in 2008.
He became the most decorated cyclist in the history of Colombian cycling when he won the International Cycling Union Individual Time Trial World Championships in 2002. He was also the winner of the Tour de France King of the Mountain Jersey along with two stage wins. Other career highlights include an overall win at the Tour of Romandie and stage wins in the Vuelta a Espana, Dauphine Libere, Vuelta a Andalucia and Paris Nice.
In June of 2006, he temporarily retired for the season after being sidelined by Phonak for his association with Spanish Dr Eufemiano Fuentes and the Operacion Puerto case.
Last year, he took on a mixed racing schedule with the amateur Colombian team Indeportes Antioquia-IDEA-FLA-Lotería de Medellín and occasionally competed with the Colombian National Team.
“Last year was supposed to be my last season but I am racing for six months more because there is an important race in my city, the South American Games and it is important for my city that I stay and race,”
Botero said. “I will race for the national team at the Games and my regional team for the Vuelta A Colombia. I will end my career after that.”
“I was in Rock Racing and I felt like it was better for me to be back in my home with my family in Colombia,” he continued. “I was tired. I was travelling a lot. I came from racing in the Tour de France and in Spain and to come back to this level, to this same kind of life, away from my family, I had no motivation. My motivation is to be in my home with my family now.”
Upon his official retirement, Botero may take a management role with Indeportes Antioquia-IDEA-FLA-Lotería de Medellín. He will also launch a bike manufacturing company under the brand X-Kape by Santiago Botero.
Asked if he will miss a sport that has given him a nearly two-decade career, Botero said, “Yes, in 2006 I remember my motivation was to win the Tour de France and be in the Olympics, things like that. In one moment you come back to small races, they are hard too but, you lose a little bit of the motivation. But, I like the bike, I love riding the bike, it is apart of my life. When I finish my career, I am sure that I will continue riding every day because I need the bike.”
By: Bonnie D. Ford
Lance Armstrong's band is truly back together now.
In the 16 months since the seven-time Tour de France winner announced his comeback, he has re-established his competitive credentials by finishing third in the sport's most prestigious event after three years away from racing, attracted a major new American sponsor to the game and reconstituted the team environment in which he was most successful. Armstrong is now freed from the distracting presence of a teammate, Alberto Contador, who could and did demonstrate he was the better rider this past summer.
All those developments were somewhat predictable, given Armstrong's ability, commercial appeal and force of personality. Also predictably, he and Contador became embroiled in a theatrical feud, and Armstrong continued his decade-long defense against allegations of having used illicit performance-enhancing techniques.
Will RadioShack's buttoned-down infrastructure -- the very opposite of an Astana team that overcame serious financial and personal dysfunction to put two men on the podium at last year's Tour -- make any difference in Armstrong's results come July?
Armstrong has consistently maintained that he will start this season at a higher level with a year of base endurance under his belt. His progress will be predicated on avoiding interruptions such as the crash in a minor stage race in Spain in March that shattered his collarbone and marked the end of an astonishingly long injury-free run.
Even absent that detour, it's unlikely Armstrong would have won the internal battle for supremacy with Contador, clearly the best climber in the world and, in a more recent evolution, one of the best time trialers. The 27-year-old Spaniard has won the past four three-week Grand Tours he has entered and has youth, explosiveness and mental toughness on his side. Right on his wheel in the mountains is amiable and even younger Andy Schleck of Luxembourg and the Danish Saxo Bank team, last year's Tour runner-up.
Much could depend on the contenders' supporting casts. Schleck will have familiar characters around him, including his faithful brother Frank. It's a different story for Contador, who landed back at Astana only after circling the runway for months trying to get out of his contract. By the time he finally taxied to a halt, most of his former domestiques had followed Armstrong to RadioShack. Contador will be surrounded by an interesting mix of untried riders and veterans.
There's no disputing Armstrong has one of the best tactical minds in the peloton, aided and abetted by longtime team director Johan Bruyneel. The two have reassembled the kind of loyal posse Armstrong could count on in his years at the U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams. But, like him, the crew is aging.
Five of RadioShack's riders are over 35. At a team camp in December, Levi Leipheimer noted with some amusement that he is the youngest of the bunch by a month, after Armstrong and Chris Horner (38), Jose Luis Rubiera (37 later this month), and Jason McCartney (36 like Leipheimer). Two other riders in the Tour picture, Andreas Kloden and Haimar Zubeldia, are 34 and 32, respectively.
There is no clear heir to Armstrong or his generation on the RadioShack roster. The prodigious talents of 19-year-old Taylor Phinney, who rides for the Trek/Livestrong under-23 team Armstrong helped found, are at least a year or two from ripening. Expect the team to go after a high-profile rider to fill the gap, perhaps as early as this summer's traditional transfer season.
The team's two major goals in 2010 will be the Tour of California, where Leipheimer is the three-time defending champion, and the Tour de France. But RadioShack could be a factor in the spring classics, as well, led by nomadic Belgian sprinter Gert Steegmans. A talented lead-out man who chafed in that role, Steegmans has won races of his own, including the Champs-Elysees grand finale stage at the 2008 Tour de France. But his career stalled last year when he refused to sign an anti-doping agreement imposed by the Russian Katusha team that called for a fine of five times a rider's annual salary in the event of a doping conviction.
Armstrong is talking about testing himself on some of the treacherous cobblestoned byways featured in the classics. That was the plan in 2009, as well, but it was derailed by his injury. However, it has become a top priority again because of the cobbles the Tour peloton will encounter in the first week of that race.
An accomplished classics rider earlier in his career, Armstrong wants to sharpen his muscle memory on cobblestones to gain a potential advantage over Contador -- one of what may be very few. There's no team time trial in the Tour this year, and the course is top-heavy with climbing.
More-is-better seems to be Armstrong's mantra this year where his calendar is concerned. He's toying with the idea of racing the world championships in Australia in nine months -- a competition he regularly eschewed at the height of his career -- and has not ruled out racing in 2011.
Aside from his contentious relationship with Contador, which played out as much in the media and on Twitter as it did on the road, Armstrong was combative on other fronts, as well.
Early in the season, he lashed out at detractors who criticized him for dropping his much-hyped plan for independent drug testing. There were no signs of detente between the star and French anti-doping authorities, who accused him of delaying an out-of-competition test by taking a shower (an allegation they later dropped) and contended the Astana team was receiving special treatment during the Tour from testers representing cycling's international governing body.
Armstrong assailed one and all, sometimes caustically, as he did when he posted a video in which he read aloud the e-mail address of one critic. However, in a mea culpa that might never have happened a few years ago, Armstrong publicly and privately apologized during the Tour for demeaning the talents of fellow contenders Carlos Sastre and Christian Vande Velde.
Most recently, French judicial authorities have opened an investigation into the contents of medical waste they say Astana left behind during the race. Bruyneel has formally denied any wrongdoing by the team.
Overshadowing athlete signings in the offseason was RadioShack's hiring of Garmin team physiologist Allen Lim. Phinney, a friend and pupil of Lim's for several years (both men live in Boulder, Colo.), played matchmaker in the deal, alerting Armstrong to the fact that Lim might be available.
Lim had been an integral part of Garmin since the team's early days. It became his full-time haven when his role as training consultant for Floyd Landis blew up in his face after the cyclist tested positive for synthetic testosterone, eventually costing Landis his 2006 Tour de France title. Lim was not implicated.
A cerebral number cruncher, tech guru and nutrition maven who also delighted in finding low-tech solutions for athletes -- he filled cut-off panty hose with ice to make cooling devices for riders to stuff into the backs of their jerseys on hot days -- Lim felt secure operating within Garmin's aggressive anti-doping culture. The riders credited him with boosting morale and performance as the team matured into a Pro Tour squad. But a burned-out Lim felt he needed to move on. Among other things, RadioShack promised he could spend more time at home in Colorado, where the Trek U-23 program is moving.
The notion that Lim would go to work for a team led by Armstrong infuriated some Garmin fans, and Garmin manager Jonathan Vaughters admitted he felt personally stung, but several riders said they understood and supported Lim's desire for a career change.
In Year 2 of Armstrong's return, the question remains as to whether he has more to gain than lose by trying to regain his champion's form. He said he doubted the concept himself when he was lying on the ground in pain after his crash and in the days that followed his surgery. Armstrong has plenty of momentum with his new team, but there's still loose gravel on the road ahead.
Bonnie D. Ford covers tennis and Olympic sports for ESPN.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
By: Greg Brown RBA
It is dark, early January, fresh snow lights the side of the wet roads. Cyclist Ivan Basso of Team Liquigas-Doimo is home in Cassano Magnago with his wife and two children, thinking about his training and the season to come.
He trained on his fixed-gear bike (48x16) for 120-kilometers on the roads just south of Lake Maggiore, in Northern Italy, today. Basso is building for another win in the Giro d'Italia in May and for the biggest of them all, the Tour de France in July.
Basso was born one kilometer away from where he lives. He raced his first road bike, a Benati, around nearby Lake Varese, the same roads he used to train on before his 2006 Giro d'Italia win and second place in the 2005 Tour de France.
"It's not great here," Basso said. "We have a big problem, it only becomes beautiful at the start of March. For an athlete, that's not good."
If he knows there is a bad spell coming, Basso will drive two hours south to Liguria or another hour south to Pisa to train with Michele Bartoli. He said that he's done this a couple of times already this winter, spending New Year's Eve with Bartoli.
Santiago, three years old, and wife Micaela come upstairs to offer coffee.
"I prefer to stay at home," Basso continues. "So much during the season I am on the road with team training camps or races, away from my family. Even if you do take a flight to Spain, for example, you can't always guarantee that the weather will be nice."
His home roads offer many training routes. He scans a road map of Italy and starts to rattle off his testing grounds.
"Campo dei Fiori, for climbing, also Mottarone. Or up Lake Maggiore to Indémini, it's ripido, or how to do say?" 'It's steep,' he wants to say.
On the eastern side of Lake Maggiore rises Cuvignone (Monte di Colonna), which he also uses for climbing tests. Closer to home, he will use the 13-kilometre Mozzate loop or the 27-kilometre Lake Varese circuit for time trial tests.
Basso typically trains alone, but he will sometimes ride with Liquigas teammate Ivan Santaromita or pass a couple of hours with one of the area's past greats, Claudio Chiappucci. Chiappucci befriended Basso, 14 years younger, and let him in on his professional life 20 years ago.
Chiappucci won three stages and the mountain competition twice in the Tour de France in the early 1990s. Basso had the chance to follow him in the Carrera team car when he finished second at the 1994 Giro di Lombardia.
"He took me to the gym, training... It was a big deal, not every boy could do that."
Basso started racing professionally the year Chiappucci retired, 1999. He went on to win the 2006 Giro before serving a two-year doping suspension for ties with Operación Puerto.
He placed fifth at the Giro and fourth at the Vuelta a España last year. Now, he believes that his mind is back into the sport and that he is ready to win his second Grand Tour.
Referring to the Giro and Tour, he said, "I think that I have all the possibilities to return and win everything that I had in mind at the moment of my stop."
Basso said that he needs to improve his time trial performances to win a Grand Tour. He wants to return to the time trial position that he had in his last years with Bjarne Riis' Team CSC. He is spending extra time this winter stretching and riding his time trial bike twice a week.
"After my suspension, I found that my body could no longer achieve the position that I had before. Instead of finding a new bike position, it is easier to stretch and exercise to achieve that old position."
He will have his first test when he starts his season at the Volta a Catalunya, March 22 to 28. The Spanish stage race usually starts off with a time trial. His season will continue with Giro del Trentino, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Giro d'Italia and Tour de France.
"I feel at the same level as the other five or six riders that will try to win a Grand Tour. Of course, it is little bit of a dream to believe I will be able to return after five years [to the Tour] and be at the same level as them."
Basso believes that his dreams will come true and he's training to make it happen. Tomorrow, he will be back on his white and green Cannondale fixed-gear bike, which waits for him, leaning on the wall outside the back door.
Santiago Basso trying dad's first bike.
Mario Cipollini unveiled his new brand of bikes at the ISD team presentation on Monday, claiming his bikes have an ego as big as he does.
Cipollini has created two models: the Fastline an aerodynamic racing bike, and the Snuglife, a bike more suited for long rides.
“The MCipollini bike is an egoistical bike because its been created for a rider like me, who demands the best and pays huge attention to detail,” Cipollini told Gazzetta dello Sport at the ISD presentation near Verona.
“I’ve applied everything I learnt during my career to the design of the bike. There’s my experience, my search for perfection, my attention to detail and my attention to design.”
The bikes have oversized carbon tubes, with the integrated seat tube curving around the back wheel. They are made in Italy win collaboration with Federico Zecchetto of the Giordana and DMT brands.
Cipollini works as a consultant for the ISD team and has again designed the florescent yellow, white and black team clothing. The ISD bikes have the same standout colours.
Monday, January 18, 2010
By: Jeffrey Sankoff, MD
Athletes are constantly striving to improve performance by modifying their training. These efforts sometimes include choices not only about how to train but also where. One modification that has gained in popularity over the years is high-altitude living and training. But does it really work, and if so, how?
The stresses imposed by altitude are linked to potentially beneficial changes in physiology and include lower ambient temperature, atmospheric oxygen concentration, humidity and increased exposure to solar radiation. For the endurance athlete, it is the decrease in oxygen concentration that has the most varied effects and interest.
Aerobic muscle function is entirely dependent on adequate oxygen delivery to cells. With the decreased oxygen concentration at altitude, blood oxygen levels fall, causing oxygen delivery to the tissues to be impaired, which negatively affects aerobic muscle activity. After a move to high altitude (higher than 1,000 meters), the respiratory and circulatory systems adapt immediately. There is an increase in the frequency and depth of breaths to increase blood oxygen concentrations, and heart rate increases to deliver more oxygen-carrying blood to the tissues. These responses reverse with descent to lower altitudes.
Other adaptations to high altitude occur at the cellular level. These changes last much longer upon return to lower altitudes and are presumed to confer benefits to endurance athletes. The most important of these changes are increases in red blood cell production and hemoglobin concentration.
The formation of red blood cells is called erythropoiesis and is regulated by the hormone erythropoietin, or epo. Hypoxia (low blood oxygen levels) spurs the release of this hormone in greater than normal quantities. Consequently, at altitude, red blood cell production and the formation of hemoglobin (the molecule within red blood cells that carries oxygen) are increased. The process takes about 30 days. Within 60 days of returning to lower altitude, red blood cell numbers and hemoglobin concentrations return to normal.
For many years, physiologists have speculated that because the capacity to deliver oxygen is greatly increased in individuals who live at altitude, their aerobic function should be enhanced when they return to lower altitudes. This belief has led to the development of several altitude-training strategies:
• Live high, train low. The negative effects of training at altitude, such as impaired exercise performance and delayed improvement in overall endurance, can offset the positive ones, so many athletes live and sleep at higher altitudes but train at lower levels. This may be simulated with the use of altitude tents and hypoxic apartments.
• Live high, train high. If athletes train at a lower intensity at altitude, they may avoid the pitfalls while gaining further benefit from the constant exposure to hypoxia. Higher-intensity exercise at altitude is often done with the use of supplemental oxygen.
• Intermittent altitude exposure. The concept here is that athletes exposed to periods at altitude will retain the advantages when they return to sea level to train. Athletes employing this strategy usually alternate between high and low altitudes in three-week intervals. When at high altitude, training intensity is diminished.
Unfortunately, the scientific literature on this topic, though extensive, remains inconclusive. There is no question that athletes who live at altitude do increase their red cell number and hemoglobin concentrations. However, there is no conclusive proof of any improvement in performance. For every study that shows benefit, there is another that shows none. On the other hand, no studies have ever shown a decrease in performance attributable to living and/or training at altitude. At worst, these strategies will do no harm, and at best they may increase performance.
Alberto Contador took the opportunity on Sunday morning, the first rest day of Astana’s training camp in Calpe, to officiate at the inauguration of a new cycle-friendly project in Alicante, a ciclovía. The ciclovía is an innovative take on urban bike trails, and is the first of its kind in Europe.
Contador shot off the opening gun with project leaders Alicante mayor Sonia Castedo and the president of the Puerto de Alicante, Miguel Campoy. The Tour champion pronounced it “a great honor” to fire the pistol at “the first Ciclovía in Europe.”
Ciclovías are distinguished from other types of bike path by being located on regular city streets where motorized vehicles are forbidden during open hours. They originated in the New World, especially in New York and in Latin America. In fact, the model prototype is in Bogotá, which converts 121 kilometers of road to non-motor leisure use every Sunday and on holidays.
The new ciclovía in Alicante’s capital city is an 8-kilometer circuit--4 kilometers of blocked-off city street running out and back along the seafront from the Plaza de Galicia to the dramatic Quarry Outlook. As of today, the route will close to motor traffic every Sunday for safe use by cyclists, skaters and pedestrians.
Ex-professional rider Santos González, current director of the Puerto de Alicante Area Sport division, was one of the creators of the project. His opus has generated great interest in other European cities that are also trying to promote urban and leisure use of the bicycle as a clean, quiet, affordable and sustainable vehicle.
Ironically, Alicante’s route will be closed in the summer, perhaps as a concession to heavier auto traffic due to tourism, or recognizing that citizens don’t require tempting to a bit of healthy excercise along the sunny coastal strip during the warm months.
The endeavor met with enthusiastic backing from the public this morning, as demonstrated by the massive crowd of about 40,000 people who flooded the route starting at 9:00 am.
Training on the TT bike
Alberto Contador spent the rest of the morning trying out his new time trial bicycle, to which he is adjusting as quickly as possible in order to be ready for his first race against the clock of 2010, which will happen in February at the Volta ao Algarve.
Astana’s captain devoted about two hours to testing different technical aspects and tweaking his position on the new machine, which is distinquished by its excellent aerodynamic performance. Meanwhile, the rest of the team took their road bikes out for a session of about two hours.
Two of the five breakaway riders from Sunday's Cancer Council Helpline Classic share the same birthday, September 18. Caisse d'Épargne's Mathieu Perget came into the world 13 years to the day after Lance Armstrong. It was enough of a reason for the two to have a chat one year ago - when the Texan returned to competition at the Tour Down Under. That's when Steve Morabito, Armstrong's then teammate at Astana, made the presentation, and the American signed a jersey for the Frenchman's girlfriend.
Both Armstrong and Perget said they felt like they are in better shape than they were in January of 2009. Perget seemed to prove this by initating the breakaway at the Cancer Council Helpline Classic, and Armstrong followed him.
"I wondered what I could do to show off and please myself," said the 25-year-old Perget. "Halfway into the race, after a fast lap, I thought it was the right moment to attack. But I didn't want to go for just one or two laps ahead. When I attacked, I heard 'go Mathieu' in Spanish, and that was my former teammate Oscar Pereiro."
"When our group was formed, Armstrong's turns were twice as long as ours. He obviously enjoyed being in the front. He was fully on."
Friday, January 15, 2010
By: Ruppert Guinness
Bouncy start to race preparation ... the seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong in Adelaide yesterday with his eight-month-old son, Max.
Lance Armstrong may be a seven times Tour de France champion, a former world champion and a multimillionaire who is steering a worldwide fight against cancer that has raised more that $US350 million.
But nothing makes the 38-year-old Texan smile more than the intimate time he spends each morning with his eight-month-old son, Max.
This is the moment that Armstrong - who survived testicular cancer to produce one of the greatest sporting comebacks with his tour wins from 1999 to 2005 - cherishes most before another day in the saddle.
It is the moment the Herald witnessed yesterday in Armstrong's suite at the Adelaide Hilton, before he joined the other riders in his new team, RadioShack, for a four-hour ride in preparation for Australia's biggest bike race, the six-day Tour Down Under.
The hard kilometres were the last thing on Armstrong's mind as he played with Max, all eight kilograms, seated on his knee.
They shared loving glances and chuckles while Armstrong's partner, Anna Hansen, rearranged some of the toys and stuffed animals that had scattered on the floor.
Every now and then, as Hansen picked up one of Max's favourites, she would squeeze it and wave it at Max, much to the amusement of father and son.
Few people see this private side of Lance Armstrong. It emerges when he puts aside the trademark mask of stone he wears as one of sport's fiercest competitors and the outward passion that fuels his commitment to the Livestrong Foundation, which drives his worldwide cancer campaign.
This gentle side of Armstrong shows how much he enjoys fatherhood and the living miracle that Max represents.
Armstrong has three other children with his former wife, Kristin Richard - Luke, 10, and twins Isabelle and Grace, 8 - but his conception with Hansen is the first to be natural.
The six-day Tour Down Under starts on Tuesday, but racing in Adelaide among the 18 international teams in town for the first ProTour event of the cycling calendar begins tomorrow night with the Cancer Council Helpline Classic, a 51 kilometre inner-city criterium race.
The classic, held on a tight circuit suited for sprinters, attracted 138,000 spectators last year when Armstrong opened his comeback from a 3½-year retirement.
Finishing third in last year's Tour de France, he convinced all that he could win an eighth crown this year.
The presentation of the four prestigious jerseys of the 2010 Giro d'Italia took place on Thursday on the occasion of the Pitti Uomo exhibit in Florence.
Yolanthe Cabau Van Kasbergen, a 24-year-old Dutch actress, host and patroness of the 2010 Giro, modeled the four leader's jerseys in front of a delighted audience, including Giro winners Ivan Basso and Damiano Cunego, as well as former Italian national champion Giovanni Visconti.
Once again, Santini will supply all the leader jerseys for the Giro d'Italia 2010, and redesigned them to fit new trends in sportswear fashion. Moreover, since last year's innovation, the Tricolore Italian flag became an integral part of the four jerseys.
With the Maglia Rosa, the Maglia Verde and Maglia Bianca honouring the overall, the mountains and the Under 24 years classifications as usual, the Maglia Cyclamen representing the points classification will change in 2010 and become the Maglia Rosso Passione.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
After Team Katusha in December and several Quick Step riders last week, Alberto Contador's Astana squad has travelled to Calpe, near Alicante in southern Spain, for a training camp.
Except for the team's line-up currently in Australia for the Tour Down Under, the whole of Astana's roster has met in Calpe on Thursday for some extensive rides in better weather conditions.
"I don't remember a winter that was that bad," said Contador to AFP, explaining that his pre-season build-up had been somewhat compromised by the cold weather and snow that reigned in Europe since Christmas.
"I am completely confident," he meanwhile declared, even though the 2009 Tour de France winner was not able to train every day in the last weeks. "I feel really good, compared to other years." Contador is scheduled to debut the 2010 season at the Volta a o Algarve in Portugal from February 17-21.
"This year, I don't think I will attain the same level (in Algarve) but it will be a good assessment for the other races," added Contador, who also plans to race Paris-Nice from March 7-14.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Lance Armstrong has outlined his expectations for Team RadioShack as it prepares for its first race together. Armstrong is expecting at least one stage victory when the team lines up next week for the ProTour-opening Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Australia.
“We need to perform,” said the Texan. “If we leave without a stage win, I would be disappointed.”
RadioShack’s entire executive team will fly in for the race, adding pressure to an already closely watched team debut. “We understand that this is a big commitment on their part,” Armstrong said after arriving in Adelaide with partner Anna Hansen and son Max.
“I’m probably not here to win the overall classification of the race myself,” he admitted. “You win a race because you have an exceptional condition and because the course suits you. My condition is better than 12 months ago, but we learned that bunch sprints often dictate the race. As going strong uphill and sprinting is the recipe for winning here, I believe Andre Greipel and Allan Davis are again the favourites and I see Alejandro Valverde being competitive as well.”
Armstrong arrived in Adelaide from Hawaii, where he’s been training since Christmas day. His longest ride recently was six hours in duration but Armstrong has been averaging three to four hours on the bike daily.
“I haven’t raced since the Tour of Ireland in August,” he said. “My training data is good but it doesn’t tell me that I’ve become a sprinter to win the Santos Tour Down Under. I’ll use Willunga Hill to test myself but our overall ambition is to have a win in the team.”
The RadioShack line up for the Santos Tour Down Under includes Daryl Impey, Jason McCartney, Yaroslav Popovych, Sébastien Rosseler and Tomas Vaitkus but Armstrong designated Gert Steegmans as its man to watch. “He will be a factor in the race,” said Armstrong.
Armstrong’s new Belgian team-mate Steegmans hasn’t raced since last June. His contract with Team Katusha was dissolved last August after Steegmans refused to sign the team’s new anti-doping agreement which required riders to pay five times their annual salary as a fine to the team if they were ever found to have violated doping regulations.
Mike Rann, Premier of South Australia, and Lance Armstrong at their first press conference in Adelaide this year.
Lance Armstrong has announced his charity, Livestrong, will add $250,000USD to the financial aid pouring into Haiti following yesterday’s earthquake. The donation came after Armstrong learned the death toll may exceed 100,000 after landing in Adelaide, Australia, where he is due to contest the Tour Down Under starting Sunday.
“On behalf of Livestrong, we’ve decided to donate 250,000 US dollars,” said Armstrong, while sitting beside South Australia Premier Mike Rann. Armstrong said the donation was carried out by the United States of America’s Former “President Bill Clinton en route with a UN envoy and a staff, including Doctor Paul Farman”.
“Haiti is a little country outside the US and I’m honoured we can do so for our neighbours”, Armstrong added. “Haiti didn’t need another problem added to the political turmoil and the poverty. The global community has to step up.”
Armstrong landed in Adelaide on board his private jet, a Gulfstream from Mellow Johnny Airways. The plane’s tail number was N7LA, which references the number of Armstrong’s Tour de France wins and his initials.
Lance Armstrong Talks about LIVESTRONG's Commitment to Haitian Relief Efforts. LIVESTRONG pledges $250,000 to direct relief efforts for Haiti's earthquake victims.
Mark Cavendish signalled that the World Road Championships is a major goal for him over the next two years and this year's Championships in Melbourne, Australia, will sit alongside the Tour de France as one of his two major season objectives for 2010.
"The World Championships is a big target. It'd be nice to win Milan-Sanremo with number one on my back, but in terms of wins, the Tour de France and the World Championships are the big aims for this season," said Cavendish at a press conference at the HTC-Columbia presentation in Majorca on Tuesday.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Felt Bicycles is pleased to announce the addition of 2008 Ironman 70.3 World Champion Terenzo Bozzone to its lineup of talented Olympic and World Champion triathletes. The 24-year-old New Zealander will ride Felt bikes, including the DA triathlon bike and AR aerodynamic road bike, in 2010 and beyond.
“After visiting the company and speaking with Jim Felt and the rest of the crew, I had no doubt Felt was the place I wanted to be,” Bozzone said. “Felt’s track record of producing aerodynamically superior bikes is second to none, and I’m confident I will be on the best possible bikes and well looked after.”
Bozzone already has dozens of major victories to his name, including the 2008 70.3 Half Ironman World Championship title. Born in South Africa and raised in New Zealand, Bozzone has seen success at every level of multisport competition. As a junior athlete, fresh out of high school, he won the Men’s Under-20 Duathlon World Championships in 2001 and 2002, and the Under-20 Men’s Triathlon world titles in 2002 and 2003.
In the following years Bozzone chalked up elite category wins at nearly every major half-Ironman. In 2008, he dominated the Ironman 70.3 series, winning in Kansas, Idaho and California, before taking the 70.3 world title in Florida.
“Terenzo is a fantastic talent and we couldn’t be more pleased he is choosing Felt Bicycles to help take him to the next level of his career,” said Felt company namesake Jim Felt. “He’s a proven winner, and the sky is the limit for this young athlete.”
Having conquered 70.3 competition, Bozzone is now turning his attention to full Ironman-distance competition. His transition to the longer format got off to a solid start last March when he finished second at his first full Ironman in New Zealand.
Bozzone competed at the Hawaii Ironman World Championships for the first time last October and despite suffering badly on the run he finished 11th, showing great promise. “I am really enjoying competing over the full distance races and I think I have gained a great deal of experience this past year,” Bozzone said.
For 2010, Bozzone plans to continue competing in key 70.3 events, while also focusing more on the Ironman events. “My main goals are to get an Ironman title under my belt and win a couple 70.3 races,” he said. “And a top-five in Kona would top off the year for me. Long term, I aim to be the best triathlete in the world, and the most recognized triathlon is Kona.”
Chris Lieto is widely known as the best cyclist in the sport of Triathlon. After a near miss that left him second in this years Ironman World Championships, winning that race in Kona still his greatest ambition. Lieto discusses these things and what he think it will take to be the greatest endurance athlete on the planet.
Armstrong used the time in Hawaii to play with his time trial bike, as well as innovative internal temperature measuring. He had to swallow "thermometer pills" for that. The internal temperature gives hints about the rider's state of fatigue. But in the end he did the big one.
We speculated that Armstrong would not go the extra mile this early in the season, but this is Lance Armstrong we are talking about, after all. So on Sunday the Team RadioShack rider rode up Mauna Kea. The top of Mauna Kea, famous for its observatory, is at 4.200m (13,796 feet), so there is plenty of climbing from sea level, where all the accomodations are located. Measured from the bottom of the sea floor, Mauna Kea is the highest mountain in the world (10,203 m or 33,476 feet).
The climb itself is hard, but even worse, the last five miles are unpaved. The climb is so steep that the visitor center (located in 2,800 meter/9,300 feet of altitude) warns the tourists about it. "Ordinary vehicles cannot cope with the steep, unpaved road; you will need to obtain a four-wheel drive vehicle."
By Mike Pesca
Seun Adebiyi was looking for a challenge because graduating from Yale Law School and missing a spot on the Nigerian Olympic swim team by one-tenth of a second was not enough.
Neither was earning his pilot's license, overcoming a fractured spine, immigrating to Alabama when he was 6, helping his mother pick crops to make ends meet, and majoring in mathematics and classics in college.
Always an athlete, always proud to be Nigerian, Seun, which he pronounces "Shawn" for the benefit of American ears, sat down and scientifically studied Olympic sports to see which one would be his next.
In Search Of Inspiration
It makes sense. His mother and father are both professors. Well, professors and, in the case of his mother, the founder of a program to boost the job skills of inner-city Alabama youth. And in the case of his father, the founder of a microfinance program for rural Nigerian women.
Oh yeah, Dad also dabbles in solar farms and AIDS work. And Mom commuted nine hours between Huntsville, Ala., and Jacksonville, Fla., each week to provide her only son with a top-flight private school education.
So that's where Adebiyi comes from. His question was where he was going.
Adebiyi decided that the Winter Olympics would be his best bet because Nigeria has never sent a single athlete to the winter games.
He crossed skiing off the list — cross-country was too hard and downhill was too dangerous. Luge was downright scary, and since he has never shot a gun, biathlon was unrealistic.
"And then we found skeleton," Adebiyi says. "Everyone was like, 'What's this?' "
Skeleton is headfirst, one-man bobsled. Drivers run 30 meters, then slide down a nearly 1 mile track, where they can achieve speeds of 80 miles per hour.
For Adebiyi , it was perfect. "As a sprint swimmer I believe I have the explosive movement," he says. "Even better, my body density, which used to work against me in swimming, actually works to my advantage in skeleton."
He took a crash course — literally — in Lake Placid, N.Y., home to one of the U.S.'s two skeleton tracks, and then moved to Salt Lake City, home of the U.S.'s other track.
I know what you're thinking. Oh no, not another Yale Law School grad turned Nigerian Olympic athlete story.
Sadly, that's not it at all. About the time Adebiyi started taking skeleton seriously, he noticed a lump in his groin.
Because Adebiyi was otherwise in great health, doctors first dismissed the lump. But further tests revealed the worst possible news. Cancer. Specifically stem cell leukemia and lymphoblastic lymphoma, two aggressive forms of cancer that ultimately require a bone marrow transplant to give Adebiyi the best chance to survive.
But the bone marrow registry is made up of only 8 percent donors of African ancestry. Plus, because there is more genetic diversity among Africans and blacks than among Caucasians, finding a match is that much harder, according to Katharina Haarf, co-founder and executive vice president of the German Bone Marrow Donation Center.
"Because of the bad statistics, only 17 percent of African-Americans who could wind up benefiting from a transplant get a transplant," she says. "The number is close to 40 percent among Caucasians."
Adebiyi wasn't in the 17 percent, so he relied on an initially successful round of chemotherapy to contain the disease and will soon be getting a cord-blood transplant as his next best option.
New Goals, Same Dream
But none of this means that Adebiyi is giving up on the Olympics. "You don't harbor a dream your whole life and then sell out when you're 26," he says.
Indeed, Adebiyi has expanded his goals. He recently traveled to Nigeria to start that country's first ever bone marrow registry. Three hundred cheek swabs later, that part of his dream is under way.
Additionally, Adebiyi has a goal of registering 10,000 new bone marrow donors here in the United States. He hopes many of these donors will go to the Yale Club in New York City on Jan. 10, for a simple cheek swab, which will also place them on the national registry.
Ten days later, Adebiyi will enter the hospital and get a cord-blood transplant, which will give him the defenses of a newborn, or almost none. He will be in isolation, "basically a bubble boy," he says, for about six weeks. Then he will slowly try to rebuild his immunity and his life, including getting back on the track.
"There's a strong parallel between the challenges of transplant and the challenges of being a skeleton athlete," Adebiyi says. "There’s a time for all-out effort, and there's a time for surrender."
Surrender, to Adebiyi, means making peace with uncertainty, giving up some control, relying on others for a moment. His list of goals for 2010 is beating leukemia, registering 10,000 bone marrow donors, passing the bar exam, and establishing a Nigerian National Skeleton Team — which he fully intends to be on.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will leave Hawaii tomorrow for Adelaide to compete in the Tour Down Under.
Armstrong has outlined his travel plans in a brief message on his twitter site.
He is expected to arrive on a private jet ahead of the race, which begins with a prologue on Sunday.
Tour Down Under organiser Mike Turtur says preparations will step up a gear with Armstong's appearance.
"He was always arriving this week," Turtur said.
"The exact time of arrival was not clear, but obviously we now know what his plans are and it'll be great to see him.
"We've also got Cadel Evans arriving not too far away and Robbie McEwen coming also later in the week, so a lot of good arrivals over the next few days."
By Krystle Potter
To some triathlon is just swim, bike, and run for a really long time, and that it is just a sport. To some yoga is a “girly, wimpy, poor excuse for exercise or a way get a good stretch, or for those who can bend themselves into pretzels.” Unfortunately for those who view yoga and triathlon in this light completely miss what both of these truly are. They are both a way of life, they are holistic practices. In order to be a triathlete, you must eat, sleep, train, and focus your mind, body and even your spirit. Similarly, being a yogi entails eating properly, resting, exercising, and focusing the mind properly etc. Although Yoga alone will not make one a triathlete, integrating yoga and using its holistic precepts will allow one to tap into their full potential as not only a triathlete but also their full potential as an individual.
The five foundation principles of the yogic lifestyle as described by Swami Vishnu-devanada are, “Proper exercise, proper breathing, proper relaxation, proper diet, and positive thinking (deep Philosophy) and meditation” (Vishnu-devananda xi). For the purpose of this exploration of the integral necessity of yoga for the triathlete (as well as any endurance athlete), I will focus on these five principles and show how yoga can serve as the key to achieving one’s full potential as a triathlete and as an individual. One can still be a triathlete without the conscious integration of yoga, however they who do this will not achieve their full potential as an athlete or an.
Proper Exercise - proper posture
In yoga the proper exercise is more commonly described as having proper posture. If one neglects to have the proper posture, one will most likely develop or cause an injury. This could be due to over stretching, twisting and bending of joints in inappropriate angles etc. These injuries could be acute or chronic. Acute injuries would result from a single instant. For example, if one were to fall out of the hand stand posture and in doing so twist their shoulder the wrong way which would result in injury. Over time with proper treatment this injury will heal. Whereas chronic injuries such as a pulled or even torn muscle develops slowly over time and/or is a continuous cause of pain. Such an injury could be caused by lack of stabilizing the knee while doing such poses as Pidgin posture. In this instance, continually putting the knee in a vulnerable position time and time again without stabilizing the knee by using the muscles in the shin and foot could cause injury of the knee to develop. Thus improper practice causes injury. Similarly, in triathlon training, if the proper position or technique is not observed during practice, acute and/or chronic injuries can develop. Observation of proper posture through yoga will promote proper posturing during triathlon training and racing which will prevent injury.
Another aspect of proper posturing is that it will result in more efficient form, which will thus increase the performance of the tri-athlete as well as the yogi. Proper posture of the three disciplines (swimming, cycling, running) are required for efficiency and injury prevention as well as rehabilitation. Since swimming is possibly the most technique oriented disciplines of the three, it will be used to demonstrate this. The stroke that is practiced in triathlon is the free style. Swimming requires, balance in the water, rotation about the spine with the spine used as the axis, stabilizing the shoulders, while breathing, rotating the neck, as well as kicking. Indeed there is much coordination is needed for swimming and certain postures in yoga assist with this. However, the more influential aspect of yoga that aids in swimming technique are the body awareness and breathing. Exhaling completely to allow a full breath of fresh air in while still stroking is the key, and yoga aids in this coordination.
The swimmer needs to know where his/her hands, fingers, arms are at all times throughout the stroke. If the swimmer enters their hand into the water either too far or too close to the so call “midline of the body,” over time this will result in injury of the shoulder. Postures such as Downward-Dog aids in swimming for this reason since when one is in Down-Dog, the yogi must become aware of their arms, how to hold their shoulders to support themselves. They become aware of what angles hurt, and what angels are proper for the individual’s body. Additionally, an integral part of the stroke is the rotation about the spine while still using the arms to paddle through the water. Poses such as Down-Dog while lifting one leg to the sky, if practiced correctly will teach the yogi to elongate the arm of the opposite side of the lifted leg to keep the trunk and spine long and strong while practicing the posture. This same position of the body is exactly what is needed through the rotation of a free-style stroke. The collapsing of the side while stroking or while performing the posture while practicing yoga has many detrimental effects. The most important position for breathing is to prevent the lung cavity from collapsing which causes and promotes shallow breathing. In the water, this position will make one’s stroke more efficient and will also aid in endurance since a more full breath can be taken, and fatigue will be lessened since energy will not be wasted due to inefficient stroke and inefficient breathing.
Beyond posturing, yoga focuses so heavily on suppleness of the spine which eliminates stiffness. “Excessive stiffness can be due to different causes, but especially to faulty body alignment and poor balance, which cause shortening of the ligaments” (Vishnu-devananda 53). Endurance training only exacerbates this stiffness especially of the vertebral column. Think of one training for an Ironman who cycles near 250mi, and runs 30 miles, or who swims 4miles each week. One might think that their bodies would not be stiff since they are so active and are achieving the purpose of exercise which, according to Vishnu-devananda, “is to increase the circulation and the intake of oxygen” (47). Unfortunately, ‘simply’ exercising for hours on end will not provide the practitioner with a lose and supple spine. Analyzing the movements of the three sports, swimming, biking, and running, they are all very linear motions! Swimming has a greater amount of range of motion than biking and running, however it is still very linear in nature. Thus it is not providing the spine, the stretch, bend, twist and elongation needed for the health and suppleness of the spine. This suppleness will aid in the technique for swimming, position on the bike, and form in running.
An interesting analysis of the general concept of exercising shows how “physical culturists” and the yogic approach differ. Physical culturists focus on purely the physical aspect of yoga, ignoring the mental and spiritual component of yoga. The physical culturists’ approach is described as “emphasizing violent movements of the muscles,” (46) which produce large amounts of lactic acid, lack of oxygen to the muscles, consequently the practitioner feels pain and stiffness. The practice of Yoga is the very opposite of violent muscle movements. In Yoga, “all movements are slow and gradual with proper breathing and relaxation” (Vishnu-devananda 47). In the physical culture, the idea is increase the intake of oxygen to reduce the fatigue that is generated by the production of lactic acid, whereas the yogic method is to not even cause the body to enter into a state where there is the excess production of fatigue due to violent muscle movements. Through yoga, the body is observed as a whole system which every component of the system needs to be cared for. Although the before quoted idea may seem contradictory to triathlons, the basic precepts can be applied, which will aid the triathlete. There is no way to avoid this fatigue, muscle tear, and sheer exhaustion after running a marathon or an Ironman, for example. However, using yoga to become more efficient in form and technique of not only posture but proper breathing will decrease the violent nature of endurance training and racing, especially with running. This yogic approach will increase stamina, and potential for performance through more efficient movements with the body.
With more control, a lighter and more graceful approach in one’s movement will decrease the amount of unnecessary stress on the boy that develops over time due to the violent movements. The application of the seemingly contradictory concepts between yoga and triathlon may seem impossible. “Doing yoga during your marathon doesn’t involve Sun Salutes while sandwiched between thousands of racers or Downward Dogging it to the finish line. It’s about applying little tricks you’ve learned on the mat, like using form principles of an asana and practicing mindfulness exercises at the mile-markers. Doing so will keep you injury free and running at your peak” (Yoga for Marathoners). Yoga for the triathlete as well as the marathoner is a vital component to training and racing. Being clam while having the proper posturing will aid in efficiency, endurance, decrease chances for injury and make the triathlon experience more of an enjoyable practice rather than a chore.
Proper breathing is one of the vital functions of one’s body during an athletic performance, just as it is essential for yoga practice. There are many misconceptions concerning breathing. For example, some think that during exercise breathing harder and faster will get more oxygen into the blood to get sufficient oxygen in the blood which will generate the energy needed to sustain the physical activity. This is not the case at all! Instead having steady slower breaths which use the majority of the lung capacity is what needs to be practiced at the point where we naturally want to hyperventilate. One way to achieve this is by the following strategy: “…Yogis emphasize exhalation rather than inhalation. As long as the air sacs are filled with old air, no amount of strength applied in inhalation can bring fresh air from the atmosphere” (Vishnu-devananda 238). Further, with regards to marathon running which can be applied to cycling and swimming as well; ‘”If you’re out of breath, it’s not because you aren’t breathing in enough, it’s because you aren’t breathing out enough,”’ (Yoga for Marathoners). The reasoning behind this concept is that, “in ordinary breathing we squeeze out a very little volume of air from the apex of the lungs, leaving the base of the lungs almost inactive” (Vishnu-devananda 238).
The goal of proper breathing techniques is to facilitate, “efficient breathing technique, you’ll not only be capable of a higher level of performance in the marathon but also you’ll teach yourself how to acquire a better supply of oxygen and improve almost every aspect of your exercise experience” (Galloway 167). In yoga efficient breathing will allow the practitioner to experience a new level, explore deep and unexplored places within themselves through their practice. Similarly, in triathlon, if the athlete practices the same breathing techniques (s)he will discover new and before secret areas of their athletic practice. Most of all they will become more efficient athletes. Linking posturing to breathing, proper posturing will open and allow the ribs to expand freely which will facilitate proper posturing in both triathlons as well as yoga practice. Additionally, “the relation of the harmonized breath helps the Yogi to the regulation and steadiness of mind” (Vishnu-devananda 222). This steadiness of mind will allow for one to be more calm which will inherently facilitate more regular and controlled breathing. When we are in a state of stress our breath tends to become shorted as described before, consequently causing lack of proper breath, as well as lack of proper posturing, all of which can result in injuring not only to the physical body but also of the mental and emotional body.
Many seek the practice of yoga for relaxation the relaxing aspects. These attributes learned aid in not only everyday life, but also in athletic performance. Relaxation is essential not only for the sake of relaxation, but also for efficiency, recovery, and rejuvenation of the athlete as well as the yogi. In order for the athlete to become stronger, they must allow themselves sufficient time to rest in order to recover. Training and relaxation need to be in harmony with one another. Too much training without proper rest will cause tight muscles, emotional fatigue amongst an array of other detrimental effects. Relaxation may be a day off, or may be a 30 minute meditation session, or maybe more hours of sleeping. Relaxation practices can be observed throughout the day in everyday life as well as during training and a race.
Relaxation is not only a practice of shavasana at the end of a yoga session. This is a portion of relaxation, however there are so many more dimensions to it. Relaxing during the difficult poses allowing for one to breath properly and in order to attain the proper posture are essential. Similarly, from an athletic stand point, remaining calm during training as well as racing will have the same beneficial benefits of proper release of tension, breathing, and posturing. All of these benefits have the potential to work together to create a more efficient triathlete as well as individual. Remaining clam in physiological terms means that unnecessary tension is not held in the body, thus energy is not lost due to tension. That same energy which is conserved is then able to be used for athletic performance. In psychological terms, the mind is quite, controlled, and focused allowing that same individual more potential to accomplish their goals by releasing the unnecessary tension. Overall, if proper relaxation is not practiced by the yogi or athlete sever physical, mental and emotional fatigue will result which most likely will end in injury of the body, mind, and/or spirit.
Diet is essential to the athlete, yogi, and every human being for that matter. “The body needs food for two purposes: as fuel to supply energy and to repair body tissues” (Vishnu-devananda 204). The triathlete needs to be especially contentious of his/her nutrition during training, but also during their everyday lives. The athlete needs to consume more food than the more sedentary person, but they still need to consume the nutrient dense foods which will provide health to their body as a whole. In yoga, the idea is to consume healthy, more natural foods to care for not only the muscles, but also the organs is essential. The body as a whole needs to be observed, for if certain systems in the body are not working properly due to organ dysfunction, the athlete will not be able to perform, nor will the yogi have the ability to participate in his/her practice. If a triathlete consumes foods which do not support the body’s health as a whole, the triathlete will not be able to perform to his or her full capabilities as an athlete. Their muscles may be strong, but the body is a whole system which needs to be cared for. The teachings of yoga show us that caring for the body as whole rather than independent systems is vital to one’s health which can be translated to one’s performance as a triathlete.
Positive thinking/ Meditation
According to Danny Dryer, author of ChiRunning, ‘”Many people run with a mind-over-body mentality-they will get to the finish no matter how-but true mind-body work is working with your mind and body as a team”’ (Yoga for Marathoners). One cannot eliminate the mental component from endurance running and/or triathlon, or even yoga. In endurance sports, the mental component is needed not only in racing, but also in training. Seemingly countless hours of training, the days seem to blend together, wake-up, eat, train, go to work/school, eat some more, train, eat, train, and sleep…day after day after day. How do you keep things in perspective, how do you keep a positive look on the world. How can you go for a six hour bike ride!? Or how can you swim for an hour straight!? It is so boring, you just swim lap after lap after lap the same mundane thing! How do you deal with all of this? Being positive, keeping your mind fresh, appreciating the world around you as well as yourself as a being. Many understand this concept, however many do not know how to actually achieve it. Yoga is the key and path by which one can achieve a positive state of mind as well as control over his/her thoughts. This is so important for the individual. In a practical running application, “Running mindfully means staying in tune with your body throughout the race” (Yoga for Marathoners).
“You don’t have to give in to any negative message that hits you when you’re under stress. By focusing on the positive, you maintain control. It’s what you put in the forefront of your thoughts that counts” (Galloway 88). On method which will facilitate this is mantra yoga. Mantras “…provide a form of concentrative mediation.” This medication during exercise does not mean that you just go and sit in the middle of your race in lotus pose, rather it is the state of your mind during the race. The concept of mantras can also be described as “Magic words” or mantras in the form of single words. “Magic words gradually program your internal systems to pull together in an instant the complex series of internal connections that produce success in past experiences. Invoking an isolated work to dramatically turn around the natural effects of fatigue can increase speed for a short distance, but will use up valuable resources you need in the long run.” (Galloway 88). Keeping this meditative focus throughout the race as well as the yoga practice will essentially allow all of the other precepts of yoga to fall into place.
Overall, Yoga allows us to act, rather than always be acted upon. Control over our internal environment through a proper diet, as well as our mental state through mediation practices will allow the yoga practitioner to be better able to achieve the physical feats. Proper posturing, breathing and relaxation will work hand in hand with proper diet and meditation/ positive thinking will allow the practitioner to achieve more as a yogi and consequently as a triathlete. Yoga opens the doors and allows one the ability to fulfill and/or achieve his or her full potential.