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Yes, you are a cheat, even you Larry.

It’s not neccessarily your fault but still.

Post the U23 Worlds there seems to have been a huge amount of hand wringing and gnashing of teeth from Pros saying “Well everyone drafts the cars, so please let me massage my conscience for a minute to make it seem as if it’s okay”.  It really doesn’t matter if the nicest guy in the Peloton gets back on using a draft. It’s still against the rules.  So lets set the rules out fairly clearly, here they are from the UCI Website. (PDF Download Here)

UCI Regulations on Drafting

 

So lets get a couple of cards on the table, I’ve DS’d, I’ve rode races (the latter not in a while, kids eh?) I’ve been on both sides of doing this. I’ve been the one sheltering, I’ve been the one shouting at the driver to close up to the car in front so I can jump across, I’ve been the one shouting at the driver “Steady Trapper, for f**ks sake”.  I’ve also been that guy in the drivers seat, one eye glued to the rear view mirror, the other eye watching speedo, wing mirror and the road ahead, sweating bullets to make sure you don’t have a rider come in that back window. I remember on the first day of the Rás, the first rider to sit on my bumper was Russ Downing, as I was moving up to feed the riders, me absolutely bricking it to get up and get my job done, but also to give Russ a good chance to get back up through the cars.

Any good DS that doesn’t help his own team, or others out, in this scenario isn’t a good DS.

With all those cards laid out on the table, how do I still see this as cheating ? Simple the rules as defined above deem that it is. The UCI Regulations on everything are not designed to give anyone clarity but mainly to put a veil of decency over what happens and they like to seem in control.

In Nils’s case, it was such a prolonged time behind the car before he was even in the cavalcade that it really warranted detailed attention. The only thing mitigating in his favour was that in my own experience when you have the prescene of a Commisare on a motorbike, they will normally warn you when they feel you are breaching the tolerance for fairness.

Instead of wringing the hands, and oh sure look everyone does it, how *can we all be cheating*, Professional Cycling needs to put it’s own house in order. And sadly this is where it all falls apart, an invisible CPA, a UCI that doesn’t really care and riders divided, you can be sure nothing will change. We’ve been down this road before, actually we are always down this road, the usual sign posts occur, someone threatening to sue, the UCI hiding behind something and the rest of the world still turning. And nothing changes.

We’ve moved passed the era of Armstrong, Ullrich and the super charged doping, the UCI, the CPA, they have no super baddies to fight, but like any relationship, the hard work is the grind. Riders need to pull the finger out and put the CPA to the sword, or do the decent thing and join the Cyclist’s Alliance. No amount of David Millar throwing shapes is going to change anything. What’s needed is actual change.

Sadly in the case of Nils or Larry the problem is there is no Referee’s Whistle, there’s no pause in play, there’s no second chances.  Riders, and the CPA need to stop pissing about and actually start making meanful changes to the sport now, before it’s too late.

Episode 45 and 46 – Three Grand Tour Season Wrap Up Parts 1 and 2

Scott O’Raw and Derek sat down for a single episode to wrap up the three Grand Tours and well it turned into two episodes and a few bits that ended up on the cutting floor.

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The Belgian Machine – What’s it like from the Inside.

So I’ve been very busy lately with family and life, but I’ve managed a few appearances on The Velocast. To keep you going to the end of the Vuelta, I spoke with one of the riders I looked after during the Rás, Connor Lambert. I put a few questions to him about what life has been like for a Ginger Aussie/Paddy in Belgium these past few years and what he’s taken from it.

Hey Connor, so you’ve based yourself in Belgium the last three years, how have you found that in comparison to the standard in Australia ?

The comparison in the standard of racing to Australia is next to none. While in Australia the top riders would also be the top riders here once you go past the usual top 15 or so the consistency and level drops drastically.

In Belgium you can race as many times a week as you want for the better part of 6 months and with races usually between 100-120km and with fields of usually 70 minimum but can be upto 175 as a maximum to the race organisation but there has been cases of early season races being 200+.

With the National series in Australia declining you rarely see races exceed 100km (excluding Grafton-Inverell+Melbourne-Warnabol both 230km and 277km respectively). I have noticed as well that these “National series” races are also putting out fields of 40-90 riders at best which is a shame considering the level it was at just a few years ago.

Would you recommend this path for riders wanting to try make it as a Pro ?

I definitely would recommend to any aspiring racer from Australia to give the Belgium experience a shot.

For the first year as an U23 I’d say give it the 3 month stint and really go for those kermese level races where you can. This is so you can experience the living away from home aspects but not be away for potentially damaging times on your first go.

Then if after that you Decide that you want to give it another crack apply for a visa and email some teams and come over for 5-6 months if you can and try and see what it’s like in team racing here and get as many interclubs, pro kermese’ and if you manage a team that does some UCI races that is valuable experience.

After those years it’s all about creating contacts and seeing what other avenues are possible for you to chase down and continue on the dream of one day making it as a professional.

What advantages and disadvantages did you find with moving and racing in Europe ?

There was lots to take from it to be fair but I suppose if I was to list the things out it would look like this

Advantages

  • High level racing
  • Experience living out of home
  • Meet new people/make new friends
  • Open doors to new opportunities
  • See the world
  • Learn more about yourself
  • Grow as an athlete/person

Disadvantages

  • Potential head crack
  • Away from family and friends
  • Monetary expense
  • Easier tempted to eat bad foods

You’ve done your three years, what lessons did you take from it ? And what would you change ?

The major lessons I have learnt is to be strict on myself in terms of diet and training regimens. My first season in the Netherlands I got lazy and found myself eating cheap/easy food which caused me to gain weight, in turn declining my performance, leading to lack of motivation, then to taking the easy option in training. As you can see something as simple can have a snowball effect and cause more things to go wrong which cracks a lot of people. I have also in the past neglected my racing equipment which caused me to have mechanical issues when I couldn’t afford to be having them.

If I could change things from my past seasons here I would be stricter on my diet and my bike maintenance which would have made a massive difference from the start and potential have me at a higher point than current. I would also loosen up a little too. I am someone who can be quite insular and keep to myself which I believe did get me through my first season here but being a shut in isn’t a good thing in the long run. Each year I have gotten better at socialising and learning to actually “live” here rather than just exist. I have made countless friends in both Belgium, Holland, the Uk and Ireland.

What’s your next move now – and what’s your plans for the next 1-2 years ?

So now for 2020 I will move onto riding for the Zappi Racing Team based in Italy. I will get the opportunity to race a different style of racing and some very big races over the course of next season. We have a very busy program with the U23 Giro being one of my major goals to be selected for. As well as riding for Zappi I am hoping to get the call up for the Irish National team for the Nations Cup races as well as the European Champs and World champs.
As for 2021 nothing can be said for certain but I would like to be coming back to Europe and racing at a high level again so we will take it step by step and see how my progression through 2020 goes!

Episode 44 – Being a Soigneur with Astrid van Uden

We talk to Astrid Van Uden, who’s been Soigneur for Team Smartstop, Team Bridgelane, USA Paracycling Team and had many other roles in between.

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Episode 43 – TDF Rest Day Recap

Joined by the other half of the Velocast, Scott O’Raw for a change, Derek and Scott discuss the first two weeks of the Tdf. They look at the Ellingworth effect, the ability of Quickstep to ride like a GC team from here on out. And stick their thinking caps on to see who they think will win.

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Tour De France 2019 Preview

It’s time to dust off all your yellow kit and get ready for the best three weeks of the summer. Yes, it’s Tour De France time, ITV are in the final stages of defrosting Gary Imlach as we speak. John and Derek finally sat down after a long hiatus with some travelling in between keeping them apart.

Episode 41 – Early Season Wrap up and Giro Preview

We look at the Season so far and review score cards. We also look forward to the Giro as it unfurls this weekend, and we preview it with slightly different ideas of how it will play out.

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Episode 40: The MvdP Show…

John and Derek discuss Ardennes week and how it’s played out as the Mathieu van der Poel show.  We also discuss was Amstel Gold the greatest one day race every (Hint: Derek thinks it wasn’t even the greatest Amstel Gold that day) We also discuss the rise of the young guns at Team Sky/Ineos.

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