Twisted Spoke

My twisted take on the world of pro bike racing.

Archive for the ‘Saxo Bank’ Category

Cancellara wins time trial and overall in Tour of Oman. Goodbye Abdul.

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Oman, he's fast.

Who better to hack up the competition in the Middle East than the rider they call Spartacus?

Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) used a strong second place in the final time trial to win the inaugural Tour of Oman. Meanwhile, Evald Boasson Hagen got a measure of revenge by winning the stage, erasing the bad memory of his disastrous nature call two days previous.

Fast rising young talent Cameron Meyer (Garmin-Transitions) showed his skill in taking third place in the race against the clock and jumping into third overall. Somehow, someway, Garmin usually finds a way to grab a stage. While Tyler Farrar missed his shots, Meyer made his mark on the 18.6km course around the capital city in Muscat.

So ended the thrilling, exotic, surprising and exceptionally well run Tour of Oman. Kudos to Eddy Merckx, the Municipality of Muscat and the boys from Amaury Sport Organization (ASO).

Back in Europe the rest of the pro riders endured rain, snow and generally miserable weather. Not here in sunny Oman. The riders not only enjoyed the beautiful (though occasionally hot) weather and solid training but also appreciated the warm welcome and cultural exchange.

“It’s great to win but most of all it’s been a fascinating trip. The Oman people are special. We get hung up about so many things but they know how to enjoy life,” Cancellara said.

“It was nice to be in real contact with the people and see them along the roadside cheering for us. No other sport allows such close contact like that and it made racing here pretty special.”

Marco Pinotti (HTC-Columbia) took away far more than some hard racing kilometers from his trip to Oman. “On television, this part of the world seems quite dangerous because we’re near Yemen and just across the gulf from Iran, but it’s totally the opposite to what I expected,” said Pinotti.

Abdul Al Salaam

“Oman is an Islamic country, but everyone is friendly and quite open. They way they welcomed us is a clear sign for both us and for them that we can all live together. I hope this event continues in the future because it can only help different countries, continents and culture understand each other better.”

The young Boasson Hagen is not yet at the age to offer cultural assessments. He did however admit to hitting 100km/h on the descent of the second climb. Eddy Junior, slow down, wave to the locals, it’s good race karma. Still no word on whether the Norwegian got an Arabic tattoo while in Muscat — a tat and a podium placing, not a bad haul.

And so we must also leave behind revered Arabic cycling commentator Abdul Al Salaam, who has enlivened the race with his predictions and amusing presence. Now blind and in failing health, the former soigneur of Merckx and Hinault stood at roadside during the time trial, correctly guessing the exact speed of each racer based simply on the sound of the tires.

An amazing character — we hope to see him next year. Chapeau Omani cycling fans.


Frank Schleck survives fish attack. Eight stitches, many unanswered questions.

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Schleck nightmare: the Stargazer.

Was it a deadly puffer fish? The poisonous tiger fish? An electric eel?

News that Saxo Bank’s Frank Schleck ended up in a hospital with serious swelling after a fish sting, raised more questions than there were answers. Initial reports on the fishing trip-gone- awry left out the where and the exact what? We need a a species, Frank.

The Wasp fish.

“I caught this tinny one and as I grabbed it to unhook it the stupid thing stung me,” said Schleck. “Thirty minutes later it was swollen like bad ass.” A good, solid medical description but we need more details.

Are we talking about the vicious weever fish, whose venomous spines cause victims weeks of intense pain?

According to Frank the swelling returned ten days later. It’s a possibility. Normally found in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean, one was found in the Thames estuary and may have migrated to other locales.

“I Googled the fish and it turned out to be poisonous. Ten days after the swelling came back and I went to the hospital and they had to operate and remove the bacteria. I had eight stitches,: said Schleck still refusing to reveal the exact species of fish.

The soapfish. Harmless? No.

Perhaps we’re dealing with the a stonefish — the most venomous fish in the world. They are primarily marine, but some species are known to live in rivers. There’s just no way to know without careful investigation. What is Bjarne Riis saying?

Another possibility for the Schleck stinger is the stargazer, found worldwide in shallow waters. They attack by burying themselves themselves in sand, and they leap upwards to ambush prey — including perhaps skinny, unsuspecting cyclists.

One could also make a case for the saber tooth blenny. Don’t let the silly blenny part throw you off. They’re deadly. According to the wiki, it tricks fish into offering their under-parts to be cleaned. But instead of eating parasites, the sabre tooth blenny bites the victim. The question becomes, did Frank has his jersey off and did he have parasites? This story is just one mystery wrapped in another mystery, a burrito full of confusion.

The Toadfish.

Given the date of the attack, just before Christmas, and knowing Frank Schleck was married in Mondorf on New Years Eve, we’re assuming the fish attack took place somewhere in Luxembourg.

Readers are encouraged to submit their own theories and we offer this primer on Venomous fish. Was it a waspfish, surgeonfish, the misleading named soapfish? Are there marine biologist cyclists would could shed light?

What a few weeks for the Brother Schleck. First, Andy collides with a toy car while on a training ride and now Frank is stung by a mystery fish that may or may not even biologically belong in Luxembourg.

Boys, take it easy out there.

Written by walshworld

January 7, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Andy Schleck voted Luxembourger of the year. Attempt to move Frank into second place fails.

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Saxo Bros.

Saxo Bank’s Andy Schleck is trying to get his older brother Frank on the podium again.

On the fearsome Mont Ventoux climb in the 2009 Tour de France, Andy attempted to dislodge Lance Armstrong and Bradley Wiggins so Frank could earn third place overall.

Then this weekend, Andy Schleck was named Luxembourger of the year in a vote conducted by broadcaster RTL. Frank finished fourth but Andy wasn’t satisfied with the result and attempted to move his brother up the standings.

“They gave second place to Thierry van Werveke. I hate to say this but he died this year,” said Andy. “How can you be the best when you’re buried in the ground?”

Then the younger Schleck questioned the selection of the third place winner, Luxembourg Premier Jean-Claude Juncker, saying “he’s a politician, he can’t possibly be more popular than Frank. I think they should recount.”

RTL refused to change the overall standings and rebuffed the arguments of Schleck. Undaunted, Andy insisted he was sharing the award with his brother Frank. “I’ll be Luxem and he’s going to be Bourger,” said Schleck. “They can say what they want — a dead guy and a politician — Frank deserves to be on the podium with me.”

Fort his part, brother Frank also has big plans for Andy. Having just married his girlfriend Martine Schmid, Frank will be pushing his brother forward. Not to the podium, but the altar. “I was the first,” said Frank Schleck. “Andy will the the second.”

Written by walshworld

January 4, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Schleck crashes into car on training ride. A very, very small car.

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Schleck crushes toy car.

Andy Schleck hit a car while on a training ride in Luxembourg. Perhaps out of embarrassment, he neglected to mention the size of the car. Sub-sub-sub compact.

Cycling fans were astonished to hear that the skinny stickman from Saxo Bank slammed into the car going 35 kilometers an hour yet sustained only minor bruises. Now we know why his injuries were so inconsequential.

According to Schleck, the car came off far worse. “There was more damage on the car. His door was a wreck and so was his bumper,” he said. “The passenger window and the front window were smashed too.”

Neither Schleck nor police could explain why the late model, toy orange Camero or Firebird was laying abandoned in the middle of the road. According to crash experts, the impact with Schleck’s Specialized bike also tore off the engine hood, rear tire and rim and back window.

“I couldn’t avoid the crash,” said Schleck. “I didn’t have the speed on but I couldn’t avoid it.”

Schleck will travel to Fuerteventura in January for Saxo Bank’s first team camp of 2010. Let’s hope there aren’t any more toy cars to deal with there. These are the kinds of obstacles that ruin training.

Written by walshworld

December 28, 2009 at 12:02 pm