Friday, July 29, 2011
Even before Greg Welch was forced to retire in 1999 as the world’s top-ranked triathlete, the ‘94 Ironman champion could easily envision paddles in his future. Unfortunately, they were the kind of paddles attached to a defibrillator, delivering body-jarring jolts of electricity to re-start his heart.
After 12 years and 10 heart surgeries lasting a total of more than 60 hours, Welch indeed has found the power of the paddle, but it’s a paddle of a different sort. He’ll be using it to navigate the treacherous 32-mile channel in Hawaii called Kai’iwi, a wind-whipped and shark-infested span of ocean that’s locale of the Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships on Sunday.
“I do have trepidation,” said Welch, 46, his native Australian accent still intact after 21 years of residence in the triathlon hotbed that is north San Diego County. “I’ve gotten over the fear of my heart problem. I couldn‘t care less about my performance. I’ll just be out there for the challenge of trying to get from Point A to Point B. And I know my limits.”
Should he forget or ignore those limits, surely, Welch will have sufficient reminder with him on his 14-foot board. For one thing, there’s that high-tech gadget just beneath the skin on the left side of his chest, an implanted defibrillator. It monitors and responds to accelerated heartbeats that result from the ventricular-tachycardia condition that drove Welch to retirement..
Perhaps more importantly, Welch will be in the standup-paddleboard (SUP) three-man team event with Encinitas buddies Roch Frey and Chuck Glynn in a relay format. Frey, who recently combined with Welch and Paul Huddle to finish the 40-mile event to Catalina, is 43 years old and coming off both hip-replacement and knee surgery. Glynn is 25.
“Chuck’s the young buck, one of the best paddleboarders around,” said Welch, “and he’s got two old cronies who are washed up and almost dead.”
If only Welch was completely joking. Nothing less than the prospect of death would be able to make a veteran triathlete – let alone the winner of five world championships, including the rare “Grand Slam” -- walk away from the world’s most grueling sport.
Consider that in ‘99, Welch was the early gold-medal favorite for the debut of triathlon in the Sumemr Olympics, which happened to be located on the Sydney Harbor course where Welch grew up racing. He was already qualified for Team Australia and ranked No. 1 in the world.
During the ’99 Ironman, however, Welch began having what he thought were asthma attacks in the first--phase swim. He stopped thrice in the water to let his breathing calm down. It happened 12-14 more times during the bicycle phase and a few more times in the running marathon, prompting Welch to pull off the road to regain his breathing. Somehow, he still finished 11th.
“I was so mad because I was one place out of the money,” said Welch. “But I could’ve killed myself. I basically had 18 cardiac arrests. But it was the Ironman. There is no (pain) threshold.”
Diagnosed with ventricular tachycardia, Welch was taking a treadmill test in Los Angeles a few months later and went into full “v-tach,” his heart rate racing to 320 beats per minute. Fitted with the internal defibrillator, he’d run, pedaled and swum his last race.
Even when doing nothing at all athletically, though, Welch’s heart issue worsened. Thirty times in 2003, the defibrillator could not control his heart rhythms systematically and zapped him with 800 volts of electricity as the last measure.
“I’d know it was coming and I was like ehhhhh, waiting for it,” Welch said. “It’s horrible, really horrible, and left me a basket case for about a year.”
As the v-tachs subsided over an 18-month period, though, Welch couldn’t stand the sedentary life and its own side-effects. Naturally drawn back to the water and the sport of his youth, he returned to surfing, but soon found that the pressure from lying on the board set off the defibrillator.
“Now I can’t even surf?” Welch said. “I was devastated. I tried golf, but couldn’t even walk a difficult course without feeling it. And then I tried paddleboarding, and once I got out there, I realized it didn’t raise my heart rate too much. I was a new-found athlete.”
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Rock Racing owner Michael Ball and Mario Cipollini
The Rock Racing professional team may have folded in dramatic style early in 2010 but the brand is set to return to the peloton after the creation of a joint-venture with an Italian fashion company.
Italian businessman Roberto Tronconi is set to relaunch the brand in Europe after long negotiations with Rock Racing founder Michael Ball. He was forced to sell his clothing brand Rock & Republic to avoid bankruptcy but kept control of the Rock Racing brand.
The team hit the headlines in 2008 when Santiago Botero, Tyler Hamilton and Oscar Sevilla were not allowed to start the Amgen Tour of California because the races' policy against riders caught for using performance enhancing drugs. Mario Cipollini joined the team that spring and rode in California but fell out with Ball after he backed out of plans to create a European-based Rock Racing team.
Rock Racing bikes and clothing will soon go on sale in Europe and the USA and Tronconi hopes to sponsor regional teams in California and New York, and an amateur team in Italy.
“Michael Ball is not dead and has not run away to Mexico,” Tronconi told us.
“I know he angered a lot of people during his time in the sport but I also think he was a visionary who was perhaps ahead of his time. Unfortunately his team faltered but we’re very excited about the brand living on as a joint-venture between my fashion company and Michael Ball.
“I’ve spoken to Michael on a regular basis and I’ve been to the US to meet him. He has helped us reproduce the amazing clothing designs that were created for the team. He’s given us two special machines for the printing and we’re going produce the same high quality clothing and distribute it around the world. We’re close to the heart of the Italian bike industry and will also produce high-quality carbon fibre frames and components.
"Unfortunately we can’t get a stand at the Eurobike show but we hope to be at La Vegas for the Interbike show.”
Tronconi has already created the rockracing.it website and the rockracing.com site will soon be relaunched.
“Some people think we’re a clone of the old Rock Racing but we’re the real deal,” Tronconi told us.
“We want to do things right but we’re convinced there is still a lot of interest for the Rock Racing brand. We’re here to stay.”
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
Dr. Eric Goodman and Peter Park made this Private FOUNDATION video for Lance Armstrong and Doug Ulman... They are now letting everyone use it. It is not for the faint of heart! THIS IS NOT FOR BEGINNERS! Pay attention to details, keep up only as long as is comfortable, get better every day.
Earned a doctor of chiropractic degree after undergraduate study in physiology and nutrition. He developed an innovative approach to human performance and movement in his work training elite athletes.
Lance Armstrong's strength and conditioning coach and one of the top trainers in the country, owns Platinum Fitness gyms. A professional triathlete and ultrarunner, he has won two World's Toughest Triathlon titles and five top-10 finishes in Ironman competitions
Please click on the title link to learn more about Foundation Roots.
Dave Zabriskie , who crashed out in Stage 9 with a broken wrist, was there in spirit when Vaughters carried a life-sized photo of the American to the podium.
Cadel Evans has been keeping fans back home up all night watching him become the first Australian to win the Tour de France.
Over the years, Evans has been better known for failing to live up to expectations. He finished second in the 2007 Tour and was expected to win the next year, but was runner-up. Last year, he was leading the race but crashed and fractured his left elbow.
This time, persistence, planning — and a little good luck — paid off.
"I hope I brought a great deal of joy to my countrymen, my country," Evans said Sunday after climbing onto the winner's podium on the Champs-Elysees. "It's been a pleasure and an honor to fly the flag over here."
The 34-year-old Evans, the oldest champion since before World War II, stood on the podium wrapped in his national flag, his eyes tearing up as he listened to the Australian national anthem. He then embraced Andy and Frank Schleck , who finished second and third, respectively.
The brothers from Luxembourg had pushed him all the way to the end but were finally defeated by his solo strength in Saturday's race against the clock.
Boulder's Garmin-Cervelo celebrated a successful Tour with the team title and three riders finishing in the top 20. Tom Danielson , the top American, finished ninth, Christian Vande Velde climbed to 17th and Ryder Hesjedal grabbed 18th place.
"We've had a great Tour, but we're most satisfied in the way that we did it," said Garmin-Cervelo manager Jonathan Vaughters on the team's website. "This team is about teamwork, sacrifice, working as a unit, and that's exactly how we rode this Tour."
The team title is determined by the time of the top-three riders in each stage.
Tyler Farrar finished the final stage in fourth place to help pace Garmin to the team title.
Tour de France
A brief look at Sunday's 21st and final stage:
Yellow jersey: BMC team leader Cadel Evans becomes the Tour's first Australian winner.
Stage winner: British sprint specialist Mark Cavendish of the HTC-Highroad team wins his fifth Tour stage this year, bringing his career total to 20.
The other jerseys: For the first time, Cavendish takes home the green jersey, awarded to the best sprinter, which he has long coveted. The "King of the Mountains" polka-dot jersey goes to Olympic road race champion Samuel Sanchez of Spain. Pierre Rolland of France wins the white jersey given to the top young rider.
Garmin-Cervelo: Tyler Farrar places fourth in the stage, finishing 159th overall. Tom Danielson is the team's highest-ranked rider in the overall standings (ninth) as Garmin grabs the team title.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Despite dropping down in the overall standings from fifth to seventh yesterday, Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) still believes in himself and his team to fight for victory in the Tour de France this week.
The double Giro d’Italia winner (2006 and 2010) correctly predicted yesterday's outcome on Monday’s rest day: “[Alberto] Contador is still dangerous: he could flip the situation with one of his trademark attacks.”
Basso lost time to Contador, Cadel Evans and Samuel Sanchez yesterday when the three riders got away on the final climb of the day. Contador put in a surprising attack on the category two climb that was brought back by Leopard Trek. A second attack saw him distance himself from the favourites with only Evans and Sanchez able to match his speed.
"I had a problem with my saddle. Just when I returned, Alberto attacked," Basso told BN/De Stem. "I was forced to chase. I lost some time, but am not worried."
Basso chose to not defend his Giro crown this year, something that was taken over by the Spaniard, opting instead to focus his season around the Tour. It’s seems to have paid off as the Italian is still within an arms reach of victory.
"I am a diesel, all right. I have to learn to cope. If anyone jumps, I take time to get on their wheel."
The next three stages of the Tour will be decisive for men like Basso and the Schleck brothers who are not known for their time trial ability. It will be their last opportunity if one them were to win this year’s Tour de France.
"It's about conserving energy for as long as possible," said the Italian who has twice before finished on the Tour’s podium.
"The next three days we really climb, get the longer mountains. They will suit me better."
The Italians form was doubted coming into the race this year as a training fall on Mt Etna in May disrupted his preparation. He needed several stitches to his face and had to spend a few days off the bike.
Three weeks before the Tour de France he was seen struggling in the mountains at the Critérium du Dauphiné, his last warm up race before the Tour. However, so far in the mountain stages of the race Basso has showed himself as a true contender.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
They are fierce rivals in the saddle, fighting tooth and nail for three weeks to try to win cycling's biggest prize - the Tour de France yellow jersey.
But Australian Cadel Evans and Italian Ivan Basso share one common and deeply private source of motivation that if successful will see both riders meet atop the podium on the Champs Elysees in Paris on Sunday and provide the tour with one of the most heart-warming finales in modern times.
As Evans and Basso enter the third and most punishing week of the 3430-kilometre tour, both riders will tap into the motivation of honouring their deceased Italian mentor and trainer Aldo Sassi.
Sassi, who died last December from a brain tumour, was honored on Saturday at a dinner in Bormio, Italy, after Mapei Day - named after the training centre that Sassi headed and an annual ride that takes thousands of cyclo-tourists up the twisting Stelvio Pass in the Italian Alps.
Evans and Basso could not attend because of their tour commitments, but they were there in spirit.
As the three-week tour continued after Monday's rest day with stage 16, a 162.5 kilometre leg from Saint Paul Trois Chateaux in the Drome of Provence to Gap at the foot of the Alps, Evans was still third overall, two minutes and six seconds behind the French race leader Thomas Voeckler.
But Evans, whose bid to win the tour last year was cruelled when he crashed and broke his elbow on stage eight when he took the yellow jersey - only to lose it in tears on stage nine, said on Monday that Sassi was still a driving force behind every pedal stroke he makes.
''Aldo is always in my thoughts when I'm suffering. Last year, riding the tour with a broken arm was nothing compared to seeing his family suffer,'' he told The Age. ''He is the one man who has had faith in me through my entire road career. Only my legs worked harder than he did for me.''
Meanwhile Basso, who won last year's Giro d'Italia after serving an 18-month ban for admitting intent to dope, was still fifth overall at 3.16.
Basso visited Sassie shortly before he died and vowed to the popular Italian trainer that he would do all he could to make this year's podium in the tour. ''Aldo is all the time in my heart,'' Basso told The Age, touching the left side of his chest. ''He is a friend and all day his memory is with me.
Basso is getting stronger as the tour continues, and benefited from the staccato attacks by Andy and Frank Schleck.
Basso has not ruled out the danger Voeckler poses as the tour nears the first of three Alpine stages
''This tour is open, but we exit the second week with Voeckler riding really, really strong,'' Basso said.
So many miles from France and I still had a most spectacular day yesterday. I’m back home in Los Angeles to see the noted specialist, Dr. Ramin Modabber of the Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Group. The good doctor is a huge cycling fan, the Chief Medical Officer for the Amgen Tour of California, and for me the perfect person to consult with after my Stage 9 high speed descent ends with me crashing into a guard rail and bouncing my way down a European hillside.
There is, of course, so much beauty to the Tour. I’ll never be jaded enough not to appreciate the pageantry of it all. It’s of course a rolling circus of sorts and the mood and delight that it brings to the French nation and the global cycling community is quite extraordinary. It’s a true privilege to be riding there, but for those of us that don’t make it to Paris there’s also a very real disappointment. I certainly wish I could take that infamous left hand turn over again because I desperately wanted to see Paris this year.
When I replay the events of that day in my mind the scenes are not entirely complete. I hit my head pretty hard or maybe my memory just sucks or maybe I just hit my head pretty hard. I remember being in the front of the peloton. The chase was on. Voices in my ear piece were instructing us to close the gap. We looked around for allies. We could reel some of gap back in on the descent. But the road was slick in spots. I remember seeing it wet then dry then wet again. Ryder was near me. Julian Dean was in front of the group. Thor was behind me. Vino was close by. Now Lotto and Garmin were working together. Two Lotto riders were directly in front of me: Willems and Van Den Broeck. I was on the wheel of Lotto’s, Frederik Willems, I believe. The pace increased. We dropped off the mountain with increasing speed. Surely the gap was coming down. My ear piece echoes with: The gap at 2 minutes. 2 minutes. 2 minutes.
Voeckler’s in the break but certainly we will bring him back now. Suddenly, the left-hander and the eerie sound of screeching brakes, bikes skidding in front of me. I see the Lotto rider in front of me unclip. My mind stops, times freezes. I’m living in slow motion. Around me the horrible grating sound of metal on metal, then exploding carbon. My hands instinctively tighten on the brakes. My breath and heart beat shut down. My eyes are unemotionally fixed on a concrete post directly in front of me. A metal guard rail runs from the post both left and right. I can’t turn. My bike is locked up. The sound of rubber sliding on the pavement washes over me. My front wheel disintegrates into the concrete post. My fork is sawed in half. My hands snap backward as I flip over the top of my handlebars. My head smacks the top of the concrete post as I summersault the guard rail and bounced 20 feet down the embankment. I’m suddenly laying motionless in wooded brush. My hands are numb. My left leg is screaming in pain. I’m afraid to move but I’m alone. I wonder who will see me down here. Does anyone even know what happened? Suddenly a voice blasts over my ear piece: Crash! Crash! Crash!
I took several breaths and slowly willed my body toward the embankment. I was crawling, dragging my left leg. Half way up I hear someone above me. I crane my neck toward the road to see a helmeted motorcycle rider anxiously making his way downward. He lifts me under my arms and helps me back up to the road. Cars, riders and busted bikes are scattered all over. I’m dazed but I think about remounting my back-up bike. I try to stand but I can’t. I simply can’t. To my side is Lotto’s Willem. He looks at me searchingly and asks, “What happened?” I hesitate. It’s too hard to talk. The realization of being out of the race settles over me and I start shivering. Willem again asks, “What happened?” I just shake my head from side to side pausing only briefly to reach up to pull the radio piece from my ear as it crackles: The gap at 7 minutes. 7 minutes. 7 minutes.
An ambulance finally arrives and they load Vino. He’s broken. I watch in dazed detachment. Later he would explain his split second choice as riding off the road or riding up the back of Thor and wiping them both out. I’ll say what you already know, Vino’s a warrior. After what seemed like 45 minutes I’m loaded into a car that takes me back up the mountain we descended down and I’m dropped at a ski patrol station. I’m laid out on a stretcher, cold and pissed. Around me there’s others injured and a lot of commotion about how to get us to the hospital. Finally I get someone’s attention and order a whiskey. Instead of the drink I get a lot of confused looks. I’m nearly ready to pass out from the pain in my leg. Whiskey damn it! Cooperation is not forthcoming. I’m shivering uncontrollably now and growing more angry by the second. Someone hands me a thick under garment from my rain bag that the team left with me. I take it and put it on to warm myself but its the whiskey I really want. I root through the rain pack and pull out my full face baklava and also put it on. I draw a few angry breaths through the small holes covering my mouth and LOUDLY ask again for a whiskey in a way that now sounds more like a demand. Those around me shutter from my volume and my new look but still respond ‘No’ while mumbling to each other that I hit my head. I suspect they are rationalizing my behavior by telling each other its a head injury. Someone excitedly pops in front of me with a glass of water and the French equivalent to Tylenol and fearfully extends it toward me. I slowly lean forward, my eyes moist, my ski-masked head slightly tilted and gently whisper to him, ‘Whiskey? S’il vous plait.’
I’m finally transferred to a local hospital. I sensed they wanted me out. The attending physician reeks of cigarette smoke. How’s that possible? He’s been told I hit my head and he’s certainly been informed about my demands for whiskey. He begins to good-naturedly lecture me on the problems of alcohol. I know I’m not a drinker but he’s not going to be convinced of that so I suggest to him that we make a deal. I stop drinking if he stops smoking. He chuckles, uncommitted. I ask the doctor to think of me every time he lights up. He smiles and continues his examination.
I’m required to spend the night. Head injury. I’m not convinced of that but I have no chance to convince them that this is really just the way I am. My leg’s in a brace and on my lap is my trusty iPad. My body has shut down but I couldn’t relax. I’m restless, irritable and alone. Of course I feel lucky as well. News of broken bones and more serious injuries filter into my room. Emails come from my teammates and friends. I console myself by reading their words, sometimes more than once. Thor, Tommy D and Julian Dean are especially kind and supportive. I’m out of the Tour but I’m okay. It could have been much worse and they remind me of this fact. And while I’m worried about my hand and knee I’m also grateful that fate cleared a more gentle path for me than maybe some of the others. To see what happened to Flecha and Hoogerland later on that same stage was both sobering and horrifying.
Strangely, the days events made it so I was unable to sleep. Looking to calm myself and find a diversion I pull up the HBO crime drama OZ on my iPad and lay in bed watching the entire 3rd season. I finally pass out between 2 and 3am hopeful for an early morning pick-up by the team. At 8am I’m ready to go but my ride doesn’t show up till a few hours later. I’m transferred to the Rest Day hotel in Saint Flour, I believe. It was good to see the guys again but it would also be bittersweet as this would be my last night with them. I gently settled into my room with Ryder, my knee badly swollen, and began making plans to get back to the US. I would need to see a specialist back home.
Yesterday, Dr. Modabber kindly cleared time to see me. He x-rayed my hand and wrist and confirmed that I did not fracture any bones. He convinced his MRI tech to skip lunch to scan my knee. The pre-scan evaluation and diagnosis was not good. The possibility of a meniscal tear was high. We spoke about the required surgery and maybe removing the 3 screws that have been in my knee since my 2003 accident. But to our delight the scan showed no tear just a ‘femoral contusion’ from the impact. ‘If you can deal with the pain you can spin’ was what I was told. No climbing. No strenuous efforts. I left the doctor’s office elated and headed immediately over to one of my favorite vegan restaurants, Native Foods. To my surprise on the restaurant wall hung the framed Wall Street Journal article about the first cyclist to attempt the Tour de France on a vegan diet. In the background Lynyrd Skynrd’s ‘Freebird’ played. I couldn’t help but smile, life was offering me another special moment.
When I got back home I slipped into my gear and slow-pedaled around the lake near my house. My knee hurt, my right hand still had pain and numbness, but I was pedaling. I’m not in France with my teammates but I was pedaling. And after a brilliant and crazy 9 stages of the Tour, I was pedaling again. When I returned to the house my 3 year old boy, Waylon, was on the driveway. I lifted him onto my bike and we pedaled off together, in my head the lyrics of ‘Freebird’ playing softly.
For more on DZ please click on the title link to go to http://davezabriskie.com/
Monday, July 18, 2011
On an at times damp day in Sutherland - one of the most sparsely populated parts of the UK - the lure of a “Twitter Ride” with a seven-time Tour winner was enough to draw in a sizeable peloton for the planned 30 mile loop from Dornoch to near Golspie by way of Loch Fleet.
Armstrong had arrived in the area on Friday to stay at the exclusive Skibo Castle for a spot of golfing r&r on Scotland’s far north east coast. Having been out on his bike on Saturday he tweeted: “Nice 35 mile ride in/around the County of Sutherland. Small roads, no cars, and beautiful terrain.” Later that day he tweeted the rendezvous for his second Scottish Twitter Ride – the first took place in Paisley near Glasgow back in 2009.
The faithful duly arrived at the appointed time and place - the Eagle pub in Dornoch at 5pm - for the chance to ride with the Texan. Such was the throng on Dornoch's main street that, according to the Scotsman newspaper, the police had to close it to regular traffic before the riders set off. With rain falling in the area while the ride took place, the paper says there were “a few accidents” among the riders, though apparently nothing serious.
After the ride Armstrong posed for photographs and signed autographs before heading back into Skibo Castle from where he tweeted: “Thanks Scotland for coming out for a little ride. To the 1000+ who came over Dornoch - you rock! Keep ridin'..”
A big thanks for all the well wishes, messages, tweets, emails and postings of support and concern. It’s helpful with the healing process when you know that people care about you and are willing to openly express their empathy for you. I’ve always felt fortunate to have such cool fans and that feeling becomes even more meaningful when things suddenly go south.
I haven’t been silent on purpose. From the moment I hit the ground on Stage 9 my life has been a dizzying blur: my body, bruised and painful, my mind scattered and restless, and my mood, alternating, seemingly on its own, between extreme calm and utter surliness.
I’m back in LA now, planning to see a specialist who will examine my left knee and right hand. I had x-rays taken in France but I need a new evaluation by a highly respected US specialist. I can tell you that reports of my wrist being fractured were not accurate. I may have broken a bone in my hand and I hit my knee so hard in the crash that I could not recognize it shortly afterward as it ballooned up to grotesque proportions.
Heading into the Tour I was full of energy, excitement and purpose. I was more thrilled to be there than maybe during any other year prior. My body felt fantastic and the team was ready to do some good work.More importantly, I was ready to do some great work for the team. The last thing I expected, or certainly wanted, was to be updating my site like this. But this is racing. Cycling is both a beautiful and dangerous sport and the truth is, I’m incredibly lucky, lucky to have had a great first week, and lucky to be even updating you today. There are a hundred ways in which my crash could have ended much worse than it did and when my mind travels back to the mental replay of my impact I feel a great sense of relief and gratitude (with a bit of a cold sweat mixed in).
I’ll gladly take you through some of my experiences of that first week, including the amazing Team Time Trial, Thor in Yellow and my accident. It was such a rewarding start to the Tour (except for the accident, of course). But I’ll have to do it in parts. I truly appreciate your patience in hearing from me, your kindness and support, and your understanding here.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
The six bicyclists racing a JetBlue flight from Burbank to Long Beach Saturday proved the power of the pedals, beating the flight by a long shot. The cyclists, members of the urban bicyclist organization Wolfpack Hustle, made the trip in 1 hour and 34 minutes, using the path along the Los Angeles River for most of the trek.
The cyclists and a blogger aboard the JetBlue flight left at 10:50 a.m. from the same intersection in North Hollywood –- with the blogger having to drive to the airport, arriving an hour before the 12:20 p.m. flight, then catching a ride to the aquarium in Long Beach, the finish line. The plane had just taken off when the cyclists arrived.
The cyclists had boldly predicted victory earlier Saturday morning. Joe Anthony, 33, who took the JetBlue flight, said the race was meant to show "how feasible cycling is in L.A.," And, he said, "maybe how ridiculous it is to fly 40 miles."
The Tour de France has exited the Pyrenees, and in a surprising turn of events, the general classification favorites have been unable to wrest the yellow jersey from the shoulders of the courageous Frenchman Thomas Voeckler.
Even seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong took note of the performance, today indicating via Twitter that he thought Voeckler could win the Tour de France if he made it to the top of the Plateau de Beille with the leaders, which he did.
Armstrong himself had to go up against Voeckler's steely resolve in the 2004 Tour de France, and while he was able to finally unseat the Frenchman on the first day in the Alps.
"He wasn't 'swinging off the back' today," Armstrong said. "He was one of the strongest. The others weren't assertive and/or aggressive enough to make a selection," Armstrong said.
"He has 2:06 on Evans. Final TT is 42km. He's French. It's the Tour de France. He won't lose 2:06 in the final time trial assuming he keeps them close on Alpe d'Huez. His teammate Pierre Rolland has been a rock star and has to continue to be. Lastly, the dude knows how to suffer. Will be fun to watch."
Friday, July 15, 2011
As the Tour de France peloton embarks on the final stage in the Pyrenees tonight, Italian Ivan Basso knows he will no longer be able to hide behind the uncertainty of his form following his brilliant ride in the 12th stage from Cugnaux to Luz-Ardiden on Thursday.
Two days before his fourth place, 30 seconds behind Spaniard Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) in the 211-kilometre stage, Basso told The Saturday Age that the lack of attention on him compared to the other favourites was not a concern. But Basso stepped out of the shadows in Thursday's first taste of the Pyrenees with a splendid ride, especially on the final 13.5-kilometre climb to the finish. His Polish teammate Sylwester Szmyd was also impressive. Four kilometres into that final climb up to Luz-Ardiden, Szmyd set the tempo on the front of the group of contenders.
What got tongues wagging was the sight of Basso, last year's Giro d'Italia winner who had served an 18-month ban for admitting intent to dope, riding on Szmyd's wheel, and then in front of Australian Cadel Evans (BMC) and Luxembourg's Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) to take fourth behind Sanchez.
The Italian said: ''I am very content. It was an important first test for me … especially after my crash on Mount Etna [while training in May].
''Szmyd rode great today to help pace me over the Tourmalet and keep me in the group until the final part of the stage … I have to stay concentrated and remain calm. There is still lots of racing in this tour. This was only the tour's 'antipasto' [appetiser].''
As Basso was elevated from 11th to fifth overall, three minutes and 16 seconds behind French race leader Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), the big question was whether the disappointing eighth-place finish by three-time tour winner Alberto Contador, 43 seconds behind Sanchez, was evidence that he simply isn't up to winning the tour again. But Basso warned against ruling out the Spaniard, who won the Giro d'Italia in May.
''Alberto has had a lot of problems in this tour, with crashes and other difficulties,'' Basso said. ''And do not forget the efforts of the Giro. I was beat after winning the Giro last year. But no one should underestimate him. He is sure to be a force to be reckoned with in this tour.''
Contador, a mentally tough athlete who is carrying a knee injury sustained last week, set out to turn Thursday's result into a positive, even though it also highlighted the threat that the Schleck brothers - Andy and Frank - pose.
''We have seen from the beginning of the tour that the Schleck brothers were to play two cards and they would take turns attacking,'' Contador said. ''Perhaps I spent more energy than necessary and my knee has bothered me a bit but I'm happy with the outcome of this first mountain stage''.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Perhaps the broadest smile at the summit of Luz-Ardiden belonged to Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale), as the Italian put his troubled Tour de France build-up behind him with a forceful showing on the race's first mountain stage.
Immediately on crossing the line, a remarkably fresh Basso could scarcely keep a grin from his face, even if his initial assessment of his day's work was a cautious one.
"It's only the first day in the mountains, so let's stay calm," he said. "I think we rode very well, but it was the first summit finish and there's still a lot to do in this Tour."
After emerging from doping control a short while later, however, Basso had time to be more expansive on what was his most impressive performance at the Tour since before his suspension for his implication in Operacion Puerto. He finished in fourth place on the stage after appearing to be among the strongest of the podium contenders, and moved up to fifth overall as a result.
"I'm smiling because it was a good performance," Basso said. "I'm very happy because I hadn't had very good sensations for a few months, since the accident I had."
A fall in training at Mount Etna in May meant that Basso had struggled in the weeks immediately before the Tour, and although his Pyrenean starter had whetted the appetite, he pointed out that the real meat of this Tour de France is still to come.
"This is only the antipasto of this Tour, because we have another two days in the Pyrenees and then the tough phase in the Alps," Basso grinned.
Szmyd's support crucial
Team manager Roberto Amadio had told Cyclingnews on the eve of the stage that other teams would set the agenda in the Pyrenees while Basso kept his powder dry, but although Leopard Trek made the running on the Tourmalet, it was Liquigas-Cannondale who seized the initiative at Luz-Ardiden.
The lime green colours of Sylvester Szmyd, in particular, shone through the gloom of the cavernous final climb, as the Pole thinned out the lead group with a relentless stint of pace-setting in the finale. Basso was fulsome in his praise of the harmony of his team.
"I'm really very happy with the work of my teammates, they were very strong in the flat, and then you saw what Szmyd did on the climbs, it was the Szmyd that you all know," Basso said. "The only off-key note of this Tour for me so far was the team time trial, but my teammates have shown in the stages since how strong they are."
When Szmyd swung over, it was Basso himself who did the most to lead the overall contenders in their attempts to close down Fränk Schleck's attacks in the finale, and the Italian came home just ahead of Cadel Evans, Andy Schleck and Damiano Cunego.
"Today it was important to see how the legs responded," Basso said. "That was the objective for all the favourites, and I think they all confirmed themselves. Rather than watching the others, I think about myself, and knowing that you're going well is an important injection of confidence."
Contador down but not out
One favourite whose performance offered more questions than confirmations was Alberto Contador, as Basso and Evans's forcing the pace in the final kilometre dislodged the Spaniard from the select group chasing Fränk Schleck and stage winner Samuel Sanchez.
Contador conceded 13 seconds to Basso, and never appeared comfortable at any point during on the long haul to the summit. Although Basso's morale was doubtless boosted by the sight of the Spaniard floundering on the final kick to the line, he stressed that Contador had the ability to recoup his losses in one fell swoop.
"I think Contador has had a lot of problems in the first part of the Tour, a lot of falls, but let's be careful not to underestimate him," Basso warned. "Contador is a champion. You need to remember that he might only need one real attack to win the Tour de France."
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Stephen Moxey’s competitive spirit will not be all that’s pushing him to keep up with cycling legend Lance Armstrong.
The memory of his wife, who died of breast cancer at just 40, and the difficult journey all cancer patients face will have him pedalling hard during the Ride with Lance fundraiser next month.
“If I keep that in mind, I think I’ll make it,” Moxey said.
The Kitchener man is training diligently since signing up a few weeks ago for the Aug. 27 event benefitting the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre.
Donations are currently at about $324,000. Last year’s ride raised $1.2 million, the same as the previous year.
This is the fourth time Armstrong, a cancer survivor and seven-time Tour de France winner, will lead the 120-kilometre route through the region’s countryside in support of local cancer programs and patient care.
There’s still room for more riders, who must raise at least $20,000 to join. Out of the 50 available spots, 36 cyclists are registered.
Moxey’s goal is $50,000. Already he’s at $22,000 and his fundraising will get a big boost from his company and its many customers. Moxey and his wife, Melody, started Economy Group, which runs Economy Lube locations across Ontario. The company will match $1 donations on oil changes until the ride.
“She really cared about all her employees,” said Chris Muter, who is vice-president of operations and worked alongside Melody. “She was always there for everybody else.”
When she died, he said, “the company went through a very hard time.”
Melody celebrated her 40th birthday with a big party just a few weeks before she was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, a rare and aggressive type. Surgeries and chemotherapy didn’t slow the disease, and she died six months later.
“There was really no way of stopping it,” said Moxey, 46.
Moxey didn’t realize at first the seriousness of the cancer, believing treatment would save her. Then he had to come to terms with the news the cancer was terminal.
He would lose his wife, whom he met in high school, and the couple’s two young daughters Mindy and Priscilla would lose their mother.
Melody remained resolute.
“She was really strong,” he said. “Nothing seemed to faze her.”
Suddenly, Moxey became a full-time father on top of running a growing business. A few years later, Moxey is adjusting to life with just his daughters, now 9 and 5.
“It’s amazing what you can go through and prosper still,” he said. “It’s been a challenge, for sure.”
Recovox President Tom Hodge and Normann Stadler
Two time Ironman World Champion, Normann Stadler underwent emergency heart surgery on July 4th. The surgery was to repair a failing heart valve and an aortic aneurysm. The surgery was said to have gone well. We are wishing Normann a safe and full recovery.
There has not been an announcement as to the future of his career, but we will keep you posted. Recovox wants to wish Normann a fast recovery.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Long ago, a 22-year old amateur named Bob Roll set his sights on a race coming to his home turf—a race up Mt. Diablo. Bob knew this would be his race. He had trained up the mountain’s Northgate Road every other day. Race day came and Bobke assaulted the mountain like a man possessed, beating out the pro favorites and taking a surprise victory in the 1983 Mount Diablo Hill Climb.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) has staked his season on a strong performance in the Tour de France. The 2010 Giro d’Italia winner missed out on defending his title in his home tour to be fresh in July and, so far, the gamble appears to be paying off.
The 33-year-old from Gallarate, south of Varese, is currently in eleventh place, 3’36” behind new race leader Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), but within a minute of most of is rivals in the race for yellow jersey
“If they’d asked me to finish the first week of a race like this with a gap of a few seconds, a race full of mixed stages and finishes that didn’t really suit me, I’d have leapt at the chance,” he said. “We’ve only had one off day, the day of the team time trial, but apart from that we’ve proved we’re up to the challenge in the other stages.”
Liquigas-Cannondale finished 57 seconds behind team time trial winner Garmin-Cervélo on stage two, meaning Basso lost 53 seconds to BMC Racing’s Cadel Evans, the best of the genuine contenders. Other than that, Basso has lost just a handful of seconds on the three uphill finishes, and goes into the second week just 1’10” behind the Australian.
While the green and blue team has looked after Basso well in the tough, stressful first week, the Italian has been lucky in that he has avoided all of the crashes that have seen the abandon of Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana), Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and others. This luck has been assisted though, by the Italian deliberately keeping out of trouble.
“My teammates have shown great character and also strength as they’ve protected me every day,” he said. “Naturally I thank them for that. As for me, I’ve been lucky so far as I haven’t been involved in any crashes. But I think that my customary caution has also worked in my favour. I’m not into running risks and sometimes I use up a bit more in terms of energy than my opponents.
“I’d rather waste some energy than throw away the chance to win the Tour,” he explained. “I know my strength; I’m a strong climber so I’ll focus on that to make the difference.”
With the first week out of the way, the Tour’s first big rendezvous will be on Thursday, when the stage finishes at Luz-Ardiden.
“The battle for the different classifications will calm down,” he explained, “starting with the GC: Voeckler is an expert rider and he’ll be trying to hang on to the yellow jersey for as long as possible.
“But then the gloves will come off on Thursday. We’ve haven’t seen anything yet really. Lots of riders have been saving themselves as they’re well aware of the climbs we’ve got to face.”
While he feels ready for the challenges, he can’t say how his rivals are feeling.
“I can’t say how they’re doing because the routes weren’t selective,” he said. “Evans is the one who’s shown that he’s most in form, even though the routes suited him. If he keeps this up in the Pyrenees and the Alps, I’d say he’s the favourite.
“We haven’t seen much of Andy Schleck but he’s doing well,” he continued. “Him and Fränk are the only ones who can create superiority in numbers. Sanchez has stayed under the radar but I thought he looked brilliant. Contador? He’s the strongest and the one to fear on the climbs. I wouldn’t rule out a podium place for Klöden and Gesink though: they’ve got what it takes to make up time.
“Having said that though, my first thought is my personal performance,” he added. “I’m calm and motivated, and know I can make my mark. If someone proves that they’re stronger than me at the end, well chapeau to him. I definitely won’t be holding anything back."
Lance Armstrong - Check out 92 yr old Georgia! She's riding her stationary bike 100 miles today @ LSC Davis!!
DAVIS, CA - Lance Armstrong's 2011 LIVESTRONG Challenge held in Davis this weekend, attracted over 1,400 bike riders from 36 states and nine countries, all in support of cancer survivors.
In its first year in Davis, challenge participants raised more than $880,000 for cancer survivor support programs and awareness. Armstrong rode in the event Sunday morning and greeted cancer survivors young and old.
"We're thrilled and grateful to be able to bring the LIVESTRONG Challenge to Davis for the first time this year," said Armstrong, chairman and founder of LIVESTRONG. "The Davis community has opened its arms and we want to thank everyone who has contributed to the success of Sunday's Challenge."
Karen Linn, of Mariposa, said this was her third time riding in the challenge, but this year's event was special. She was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in December.
"I just finished all of my cancer treatments and everything," Linn said. "I'm free of cancer now and it means a lot to be able to do this today."
Cancer survivors who rode in the challenge Sunday received a special token of recognition.
"Anyone who received a yellow rose is a cancer survivor and they come down a special lane in celebration and a yellow rose is handed (to them) at the finish line," said Leigh Harmon with LIVESTRONG.
Sunday's bike challenge featured multi-distance rides including 20, 45, 70 or 105-mile options.
Friday, July 8, 2011
From Blair Cannon...
It's official!! I am going to attempt to swim the 21-mile Catalina Channel from Santa Catalina Island to Rancho Palos Verdes, just South of Los Angeles, to raise awareness and money to benefit Monarch School for homeless children and the Great Friend Foundation Scholarship Program for children of military families in San Diego.
The swim will begin at midnight on August 5 and I am expected to reach Rancho Palos Verdes nine to fourteen hours later. This attempt will be officially sanctioned by the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation, who will impose some restrictions. While in the water, I will not be allowed to make supporting contact with any person or object, nor will I be allowed to wear a wetsuit. I will simply wear a speedo, cap and goggles and rely on an escort boat and support crew to help me navigate the channel and toss me treats when I get hungry or thirsty.
For more information please click on the title link.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
I arrived in Gois on Monday with the rest of the team in argyle style, that style being a private jet. It’s a luxury to fly this way and it happens rarely for us so when it does its hard not to be excited about it.
We came a day or two earlier than many of the other teams because we wanted to do some recon and properly check out the team time trial course. That course is FAST, very few turns and it should be quite the show of team speed and power. The team was strong in our warm up laps and we’ll certainly be going for it on Stage 2.
The following day we rode the last 100K of Stage 1. It felt good to be on the course with the guys. We were loose but serious about our recon. What we found was quite a nice drag to the finish. The run-in to that finishing climb will be difficult but we hope to be in the mix.
Yesterday we did the blood control and the team presentation in the French Amusement Park. The pageantry was all very French and we had some fun with it. Let me tell you what happened because it was quite funny (at least to us).
They organized us below the ground and we were scheduled to rise up on a platform to ground level. They wanted us to be standing in a straight line, evenly spaced across the stage, centered as possible. But at the last moment while we were under the stage, surrounded by a huge wardrobe department, Thor found a wig and put it on looking to truly play the role of the God of Thunder. Surprisingly, someone found him a hammer and he gladly assumed the character.
We decided that we would rise from below the ground and the rest of the team would bow to Thor and raise their arms in a gesture to his grandness. Thor, wig and hammer, wearing the World Champion’s Jersey was absolutely loving every second of it, and the truth is so were we. But the French stage coordinator who was organizing our team was completely freaking out. He was afraid the stage was not designed to deal with our antics and he was fearful it might tip or collapse.
The whole episode was really spur of the moment, just the guys and I having fun, being ourselves, enjoying the moment. It was all quite funny to us but then to see the photos on the internet was really quite enjoyable. Unfortunately some of the comments were from people who took it all too seriously and thought that the Tour forced Thor and the team to perform in that way. Some accused us of being actors or entertainers and not athletes. For us it was both funny and entertaining, and why not entertain the fans that were there. Clearly the one who got the most out of it all was Thor. He really seemed to enjoy himself, and maybe too much, as he’s been looking for us to bow down ever since.
Well our chef has arrived, and that’s important to someone who’s on a specific diet. He’ll be cooking some vegan foods for me which is perfect, especially since I’ve been living off of my energy bars and powered mixes since I arrived.
I have to say that I’m digging the new Tour kit. Our clothing this year is spot on. Everyone loves the changes and the fit and the predominantly white kit will serve us well over the next 3 weeks.
I also received two new bikes for the Tour. The new Cervelo S5, which feels super fast, as well as a newly painted TT bike. It all feels special and I’m really pleased by that.
I did my traditional pre-race full body shave (except for the head). It’s become a ritual for me and helps me to further zone into the moment. It’s also quite funny as well, as for many professional athletes in other sports, when the playoffs come around the shaving stops and its all about hair growth. For cyclists, and especially me, it’s all about getting the perfect shave, the less hair the better.
Was more than fired up last night as I watched the docu, The Corporation. I don’t really understand how some people get away with what they get away with. Frustrating.
My private Tour entertainment is important. Quality down time helps the body recover and the mind stay focused on the task at hand. So I’ve downloaded the HBO series OZ, as well as the first season of The X-Files. Should be good Tour entertainment for my twisted mind.
My roommate is Ryder again this year, which is perfect for both of us. We understand each other and roll with the same sense of humor. Should be good and I’ll let you know what funny shit he comes up with. I’ll tell you now you should have seen the look on his face when I told him he can’t touch my pillow.
I think my position is understandable when you know that I brought my home pillow to the Tour this year. So far my sleep has been perfect. It’s a bit hard to believe I’ve not traveled with my pillow previously but that’s the truth. I was previously relying on French hotel pillows and its definitely not worked as well as having my own. I’m so pleased by that decision that I told Ryder he’s not even allowed to look at my pillow.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
American David Zabriskie Aims to Compete in the World's Most Grueling Bike Race—As a Vegan!
To climb the Tour de France's steep mountain passes and cross its scorching plains, cyclists have tried stuffing themselves full of steak and pasta, gulping down wine and cognac, smoking cigarettes, taking amphetamines and, of course, using other drugs during the race's 107-year history. On Saturday, American David Zabriskie plans to try something entirely new: Riding the Tour on a vegan diet.
Experts say he is the first cyclist to attempt the most difficult bike race in the world sans meat, dairy or eggs. (He will cheat slightly, he says, because he plans to eat small amounts of salmon two days per week to increase iron absorption).
Cyclists in the Tour de France can burn 8,000 calories a day—so many that some riders, already lean from their training, are unable to eat enough food to keep up with calorie loss.
The conventional wisdom is that eating plenty of meat and dairy provides protein to help cyclists' muscles recover, and that the iron in red meat keeps the body producing ample amounts of hemoglobin, part of the all-important red blood cells that transport oxygen to the muscles. Iñigo San Millán, a sports-medicine professor at the University of Colorado and a former physiologist on Zabriskie's team, calls the cyclist's desire to go vegan "a strange concept." To many cyclists, he says, a vegan diet "doesn't make much sense."
Before last season, Zabriskie, who rides for the U.S.-based Garmin-Cervélo team, was a typical meat-eating athlete, scarfing down whatever he wanted so long as it didn't make him fat. But at the beginning of last season, his team's chiropractor gave him a blood test that screened his sensitivity to certain types of foods. The chiropractor, Matt Rabin, told Zabriskie he had the highest sensitivity to food on the team. Another blood test showed Zabriskie had the highest inflammation of his muscles.
During last year's Tour de France, Zabriskie turned down the red meat being passed around the dinner table because he thought it required too much energy to digest. In the late summer of last year, he began phasing out all meat from his diet and by October, he had also cut out dairy.
After nine months on the diet, Zabriskie says he's feeling better than ever. He has had some of the best results of his career and says he feels more focused. "I think a lot of people see food in terms of whether it's going to make them fat or make them skinny," he says. "I'm seeing food in terms of how it's going to make me think and will it give me clarity." Zabriskie says he's noticed that even small ailments, like canker sores and a persistent rash he used to get, have all gone away. Even his vision has improved, he says.
This winter, Zabriskie's team director, Jonathan Vaughters, caught wind of his new diet and gave him a call. Vaughters was concerned the diet would lower Zabriskie's iron intake, which is crucial for endurance athletes. He told Zabriskie that he could try the diet, so long as he took regular blood tests to monitor his level of ferritin, the protein that stores iron. He said Zabriskie should eat more dark, leafy greens and other sources of iron. Vaughters says he's fine with the diet, so long as the results are good. "At the end of the day, I just want him to go fast."
Vaughters says he was surprised when blood tests early this season showed Zabriskie's ferritin levels had remained stable on the vegan diet—which means his hemoglobin and red blood cell counts also remained normal. He says he's been pleasantly surprised by his performance. "He's won more time trials this year than he has in his career," Vaughters says. "The proof is in the pudding."
To get guidance on the diet, Zabriskie consulted with Brendan Brazier, a triathlete and author of "The Thrive Diet," a guide to vegan diets in sports that has become something of a bible for the cyclist. Brazier lives near Zabriskie in the outskirts of Los Angeles and began joining him on rides.
Earlier this season, Zabriskie said his energy levels were down and he felt weak. He wasn't sure if it was a result of the diet or a recent bug he was getting over. He got in touch with Brazier, who advised him to take vegan protein shakes made from hemp seeds, flax seeds and brown rice protein, among other ingredients. (Brazier invented the shake and markets them under the "Vega" brand). Zabriskie says he now drinks three or four of the shakes throughout the day.
Zabriskie also consulted with a professional motorcycle racer, Ben Bostrom, also a vegan, who advised Zabriskie to include small amounts of fish a couple of times a week because of the incredibly large load he puts on his body during training. "He told me, don't get too hung up on the word 'vegan'," says Zabriskie. The fish, Zabriskie says, helps his body absorb certain vitamins and iron.
During the Tour of California in May, Zabriskie won the time trial. Last month, he blew away the competition at the U.S. national time trial championships in Greenville, S.C. That victory, he says, reinforced his decision to change his diet. "I knew I had done everything right," he says.
Zabriskie is not a contender for the yellow jersey. He has raced in the Tour de France five times and finished it three times. He became the third American to wear the race's coveted yellow jersey in 2005 when he beat Lance Armstrong in the race's opening prologue. This year, if he just finishes, he could become a hero for advocates of the Vegan diet—at least those who don't mind the fish.
Vaughters says it might change the way professional athletes view veganism. "This is definitely the ultimate test of the vegan diet," he says. "If it works here, no one can ever say you can't do X,Y,Z as a vegan."
Here's what the cyclist plans to eat on race days during the Tour.
Oatmeal with black strap molasses; whole food optimizer; cacao nibs; nuts; cinnamon; two tablespoons of coconut butter; an apple; hemp seeds and flax seeds
Six Clif Bar Z bars (vegan); two Clif Bar shot blocks (vegan); two Clif Bar gels (vegan); dates; six to eight bottles of special team race drink
On the Bus, Post-Race:
White rice with maple syrup and cinnamon; vegan protein shake;
two bottles of special team recovery protein drink; goji berries
Vegan protein shake
White rice or pasta; salad with leafy greens; vegetables —including broccoli, spinach, carrots and beets.
Fresh fruit and a vegan protein shake before bed