Twisted Spoke

My twisted take on the world of pro bike racing.

Archive for the ‘Tour Down Under’ Category

Andre Greipel, the Incredible Hulk on wheels.

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Massive Attack.

Yes, he has a big leg up. Two to be exact.

Experts, director sportifs and other sprinters were astounded by the speed, strength and dominance of Andre Greipel in the 2010 Tour Down Under. Many theories were floated — EPO-laced sauerkraut, bionic limbs, selective gene splicing, a small turbo surgically inserted between his heart and legs.

But it was Saxo’s Banks Stuart O’Grady who had the correct answer. The Australian simply said look at the considerable bulk of his legs. The photo above was taken at the 2008 TDU and you can only imagine how massive those thighs appear now.

This man is the Amazing Hulk on wheels. When his skin starts turning green we’ll have full confirmation.

Written by walshworld

January 25, 2010 at 5:14 pm

The Boss man wins stage 4 of the Tour Down Under. Griepel rules.

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The Boss Down Under.

Alberto Contador admitted that despite 4 grand tour wins he’s not the boss of the peloton. At 38 years of age and back of a long retirement, Lance Armstrong isn’t the boss anymore.

But ask anyone who the boss of the Tour Down Under is and the answer is unanimous: Andre Griepel. He proved it once again on stage 4 from Norwood to Goolwa with a convincing win over Robbie McEwen (Katyusha) and Graeme Brown (Rabobank). It was his third victory in this Tour Down Under after winning the event in 2008 and nearly winning in 2009 before a crash forced him out of the race.

Between the brutal cross and headwinds and the dominance of Greipel’s HTC-Columbia team, all breakaways were hopeless and submission total. The German sprinter singled out the work of new signing Matthew Goss.

“If you have riders like him then no one can pass us,” said Greipel. “We deserve the win because we always ride from the front.” Spoken like a true boss man. This is the Tour Down Under brought to you by Andre Greipel.

Not that a few riders didn’t give it their best despite the long odds. Rockin’ Robbie McEwen has been hunting his first win of the season and came close once again. “The sprint was tough, especially the last five or six kilometers coming in,” said McEwen. “We got a big crosswind from the right which put us in the left gutter. It just blew the bunch to pieces.”

Radio Shack also did their best to steal a win from Columbia but miscalculated according to McEwen. “I was well placed coming into the sprint on the wheel of Gert Steegmans,” said McEwen. “I come across the line second but couldn’t catch Greipel, I gave him a bit too much head start coming from third. I was hoping Steegmans would just hit out early because he’s so strong but he waited and waited, I think he out-waited himself.”

The 25 knot gusts of wind blew away Alejandro (on borrowed time) Valverde’s chances for overall victory. The Spanish dropped from fourth overall down to 26th. He lost 17 seconds and Greipel’s time bonuses pushed the deficit to 41 seconds.

The rocket from Rostock, Germany wins in the wind. The Boss man of the Tour Down Under has put his foot down again.

Written by walshworld

January 23, 2010 at 11:48 am

Griepel wins, no, Evans wins, no Valverde wins. No, wait… who?

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Andre Greipel wins the third stage in the Tour Down Under. No wait… that didn’t happen.

In a surprising turn of events, Australia’s own world champion Cadel Evans and Alejandro “borrowed time” Valverde beat the sprinters and finished first and second. No, wait … that didn’t happen.

The hilly stage from Unley to Stirling wasn’t nothing if not unpredictable and crazy. The long shot, out-of-nowhere winner?  Portuguese national champion Manuel Cardoso of the Footon-Servetto squad. Yeah, that happened to everyone’s shock and amusement.

It was like the horse at 400 to 1 odds winning the Kentucky Derby. Like the high school kid with the nifty science project winning the Nobel prize in Chemistry. Well kinda, sorta.

Manuel, that's who.

“I was extremely happy to have won the tough stage to Stirling,” said Cardoso after the finish. “Once the attack had been closed Caisse d’Epargne did a lot of work on the front in preparation for the finish but I was able to make a big move in the final kilometre.”

The race heated up 70 kilometers in when Simon Clarke (UniSA-Australia) and Karsten Kroon (BMC Racing) pulled off an escape move. They were later joined by Maciej Paterski (Liquigas-Doimo), Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) and Jack Bobridge (Garmin-Transitions). The move was dangerous but ultimately doomed as Valverde’s Caisse d’Epargne’s team ramped up the speed. That tactic brought Valverde and Evans to the front of the action.

“Coming into the last kilometre it was like riding a race in slow motion, everyone was so exhausted,” said Evans. “When I saw that it looked like they had the lead-outs going – Sky, Rabobank… when they started to accelerate they blew.

“I was just following the wheels through [the group] and it looked like Caisse d’Epargne had enough guys left to follow close to Cardoso but obviously not and I couldn’t come round him,” he added. Cadel barely knows his own teammate so Cardoso is a bit of a mystery for the man in the rainbow lycra.

That’s bike racing. Sometimes the big stars crush everyone in site, sometimes a relative unknown has his day. It wasn’t Andre Griepel, Alejandro Valverde or Cadel Evans that made the headlines.

Greipel and gripes. German wins second stage while others complain.

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The G man with Stapleton.

Welcome to the Tour Down Under presented by HTC-Columbia.

The team may have re-ordered the sponsor position but nothing else has changed. If there’s a sprint finish, they’re going to win whether it’s Cavendish or Greipel. They could probably throw a geriatric Mario Cipollini on his old Saeco Cannondale and win.

Once again, it was Andre Greipel who won in front of Greg Henderson (Sky) and Robbie McEwen (Katyusha)  in his home away from home, Hahndorf. The German sprinter is the most popular rider in the heavily Deutschlandish town. Griepel may someday be elected mayor.

“Today we wanted to give a chance to the breakaway but the other teams wanted to chase them back,” said Greipel. “We have a good team here to maybe hold on to the leader’s jersey, but there’s two really hard stages coming up.”

The stage from Gawler to Hahndorf followed the usual procedures. Omega Pharma – Lotto teammates Mickael Delage and Olivier Kaisen and UniSA-Australian National Team rider David Kemp made the early and doomed escape. They had the crazy, champagne-soaked podium girls fantasy when the gap reached 11 minutes. But then the relentless pressure from HTC-Columbia and Team Sky yanked the leash back.

Read the book, guys.

With 9k to the finish, the peloton came back together in one big, fast, happy family. From there it was textbook Columbia, the team that wrote the “Sprinting For Dummies Textbook” for the rest of the lycra universe. Doesn’t anybody read anymore? Greg Henderson and Robbie McEwen battled it out to take Behind Griepel honors and Henderson wasn’t happy about McEwen’s tactics.

“Chris Sutton couldn’t quite get in front, then McEwen came and bashed me off CJ’s wheel, so I’m not really sure what he was up to there. I might have to ask him later on,” said the Sky sprinter. Hey, why do you think they call him Rockin’ Robbie? The man is train-less and a superb bike handler so what did Henderson expect — Miss Manners?

There was also a bit of the old argy-bargy between BMC Racing Team’s Danilo Wyss and Graeme Brown (Rabobank). “I was directly on the wheel of Greipel when Graeme Brown came at me from the left and forced me off my perfect line,” said Wyss. “If that hadn’t happened, I certainly would have finished higher up.”

That’s what happens when one team dominates the sprints — the others bicker among themselves. Count yourself lucky boys, it could be worse. If it were Cavendish, you’d not only lose, he’d embarrass you with one of his trademark victory routines.

Written by walshworld

January 20, 2010 at 8:56 am

Greipel wins stage one of Tour Down Under. Non-favorite the favorite again.

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Greipel takes stage one.

Sandbagging over.

Andre Geipel spent the last few days before the 2010 Tour Down Under telling journalists he wasn’t the favorite and had no idea what his form was.

This fabrication despite the fact he’d won the 2008 edition and was well positioned to win in 2009 before he crashed out. The HTC-Columbia sprinter practically gave himself a new twist on his nickname: Andre the Not-So-Giant.

Consider the downplay over. The German rider from Rostock out-sprinted Gert Steegmans (Team RadioShack) and Jurgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) to take the opening day honors. Add the 141k stage from Clare to Tanunda to Greipel’s haul of six Tour Down Under stage wins. He starts his season off in high lycra style with the yellow jersey of race leader.

“We came here to win a stage and now we’ve won one, so our main goal has been reached. Everything else is now on top of that,” said Greipel. “We waited and spoke with the other teams but nobody wanted to ride with us, so Bert Grabsch chased them down just like he does in time trials.

“Of course it’s just the first stage, we have to take the responsibility to win every race now as we have in the last two years. So for sure that’s the focus now again. And no crashes,” said Greipel, referring the the collision with a parked police bike that forced him out of the race last year.

Not a mechanical, a technological.

Defending champion Allan Davis had a rough day out, the out being any hope of winning the general classification. The Australian had a technological break down. His Astana team neglected to bring radios so when the peloton split on the Megler climb, Davis was in the dark.

“It was just a bit of a miscommunication, we didn’t have radios,” said Davis. “I was just riding within myself up the climb and found myself 50 meters behind my teammates and they didn’t realize. They just started pulling and I didn’t realize I was on the back so it left me behind.” Twisted Spoke notes that the Post-Bruyneel Astana is already off to a disorganized start.

Radio dispatch from The Shack: “Almost.”

Lance Armstrong made it clear he had high expectations for his new team. Corporate sponsors flew in, expensive brunches were served and the Texan talked up the fitness level of their sprinter, Gert Steegmans.

The former Katusha rider hadn’t raced for six months but after the Shack training camp, Armstrong had declared him ready to rock. Well, almost. Steegmans was well-positioned for the final sprint but was no match for Greipel.

The 38 year old Armstrong finished the stage in good spirits and more importantly, in one piece.

The Rocky Rainbow.

World Road Champion Cadel Evans had a decidedly rocky start to his season. Riding for his new team, BMC Racing, Evans wasn’t as lucky as Armstrong. Barely 300 meters into the race, an Euskaltel-Euskadi rider went down taking out half the peloton with him.

“I started on the front row and still managed to get in the middle of it, but that happens and from there on in everyone was a bit nervous of course,” said Evans. “I had a one in two chance of being in it.” Perhaps Evans was distracted by trying to memorize the names of his new teammates.

A massive crash, forgotten radios, a favorite who pretended not to be. The 2010 racing season is off to an exciting start. Andre the Still Giant is as fast as ever.


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