Monday, August 28, 2023

Slip sliding away..

 Slippery When Wet
Been following the season's last grand tour?  Our friend at BikeRaceInfo was pretty excited: "This year, 2023, will go down as one of the finest seasons in cycling history. This year’s Vuelta will be equal to the task, that’s a stone cold lock, I promise. Keep the fino sherry and tapas at hand, put the cava on ice, this will be a superb GT."

Based on the first two stages, you might want to wait on icing-down that cava? WTF? This thing is already hinting at the farcical scenes from this year's Giro. Zio's already asked some of these questions but did he miss something?

What really is going on? Can modern bicycles no longer be ridden on wet roads? Are wet roads somehow wetter now? La Vuelta 2023 started with a stage that should never have happened as it did. That CPA guy should have seen the "twilight team time trial" noted on the stage list and sent someone down there to make damn sure the street lighting was adequate. But he seems a lot more about CYA than CPA, reacting angrily post-incident rather than doing anything when problems could have been avoided.

Rain doesn't care who is out there when it falls. Bike races not held on velodromes have traditionally been run rain-or-shine, despite what our friend Mr. Stanley says he'd like to see. Why/how has this become such a contentious issue? What has changed?

Are carbon bikes with stiff wheels unrideable on wet roads? They've been around awhile so how could that be the problem? Disc brakes? Perhaps, as they seem rather touchy and certainly more powerful than old-time rim brakes, so perhaps it's much easier to lock-up a wheel and hit the deck? What about the more recent "improvement" tubeless tires? Lower pressure in wider tires is hyped as a "game-changer" but does that mean the game has changed to where wet descents must be neutralized or avoided? Why doesn't a tire maker/marketer come up with a sticky rain tire ala MOTOGP?

And why the go-slows? Zio thought of Cancellara slowing the Tour when his teammates (the Schlecks) couldn't ride down the hill without crashing. Roglic hits-the-deck so J-V neutralizes the race? Fair play? But when the race leader crashes J-V doesn't seem to care. Looked really bad on TV and unlikely to impress anyone new to the sport.

Then there's the issue of where the finish-line is. Zio thinks a bad precedent was created with the "two kilometer" rule, which is now three kilometers? In the bad-old-daze the GC contenders could all just sit up at the end of a sprint stage and roll-in together while the fast-men barreled-in to the finish. But somehow this was codified and nowadays you see a sort of mini-race to get to the spot where if you crash later you don't lose any time.

The result has been the "finish-line" has become subject to whim as was demonstrated on Vuelta Stage 2. A real farce!

But don't get Zio wrong, there's plenty of blame to go around! A lot of it should rest at the feet (wheels?) of the riders as perhaps was the thought of the clown who threw tacks on the road yesterday? The riders certainly need to look out for themselves as they are traditionally expendable while teams, sponsors and race-organizers roll-on year after year. But instead of whining ( that now xing?) before/after on social media they should vote-in a strong leader or just have someone take over and speak for the riders as Bernard Hinault used to do in those bad-old-daze.

Organize your labor and go on strike! Put your money where your tweets are! That's how two stages in the same day and other things riders hated were eliminated. There are some women in Spain who say they're not gonna take it anymore and will not play until things are changed - do they have bigger cojones than you? 

Otherwise, as they say -

Buy that t-shirt HERE.

Someone asked about the title "Slip sliding away.." Zio used that to imply where the credibility of pro cycling is going if episodes like these continue...

Update: The hits just keep coming! Here's the latest episode of this farce.


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