There was an interesting chat with Wiggins on cyclingnews.com today. At first read it sounds like Wiggins is defiantly going to try and and go for it (read the headline), but the when you watch the included video Wiggo is clear that Froome is the man for the tour and Sir Bradley is just hoping to squeeze on the podium. But putting the internal battles at Team Sky aside, I wonder if something like this is possible in this supposedly clean era.
Seven people have won the double and two of those have done it twice and (of course) Eddy did it three times.
- Fausto Coppi in 1949 and 1952
- Jacques Anquetil 1964
- Eddy Merckx 1970, 1972, 1974
- Bernard Hinault 1982, 1985
- Stephen Roche 1987
- Miguel Indurain 1992, 1993
- Marco Pantani 1998
Some say this is impossible in the modern era, but Wiggins and crew seem to think its possible. There was talk last year of Ryder Hesjedal being fitter at the tour than he was when he won the Giro. But its hard to tell if that’s just bluster, or if it was a reality that was stopped only by him crashing out. Its is worth noting that he crashed out six days into a three week stage race and we have no way of knowing what his form would have been like after the first week.
Another complicating factor is that there just isn’t the disparity in talent that there was in the pre modern era. It has been well documented that even Merckx’s closes competitors were still well below his level. They won their share, but really it was Merckx’s who was the “guiding light”. Technology and increased budgets have shrunk the gaps between the domestiuqe and team leader. The roles haven’t changed, but the training has. And, with all things cycling, you can’t ignore the dope factor. Just look at that list of folks above.
According to the Team Sky website, Wiggo has been hiding out from the media on Mallorca and doing rides up to eight hours, its going to take plenty of those in order to gain and hold onto the needed fitness for the five weeks between the grand tours.
Peter Sagan crossed the line first (again), telling all his critics to…do the running man, as he won without the aid of the Fabulous Canellara. Actually, Sagan was so dominant, without following sucking wheels, that he had time to look back, then celebrate in the final meters.
Sagan is showing that he may indeed be the full package, able to win (kinda, more in a minute) in a bunch sprint — as we saw in Cali. He’s able to make it over climbs in a favorable position, though we have yet to see how he does in the high mountains. He can also TT moderately well, as we saw at Tour de Suisse. It is worth noting that all of his bunch sprint finishes have come while most of the better dedicated sprinters were racing the Giro. That’s not to take away from the fact that Sagan is proving capable of winning nearly anywhere. A fact that has Phil saying he’s the next Eddy Merkcx.
This declaring of great athletes to be the next whoever isn’t unique to cycling, it happens everywhere. We can’t help but judge heroes in the making by the heroes of the past. However we should blunt the instinct to compare and just accept the fact that they aren’t near the same athlete. This constant comparing against the past does a disservice to the athletes who are working hard to establish themselves as themselves. This could be (aside from youth) the main reason for Sagan’s totally ridiculous victory salutes. Which I love by the way — panda, then a chicken — who thinks of that!?
There will never be another Merkcx, the times are different, the riders are different, and the racing is different. A multitude of factors would have to change for a rider to take all three jerseys, or be competitive year round. I mean actually competitive, not just the journalist thinking such and such has a shot. Sagan is not the next Eddy Merkcx. There will never be another Eddy Merkcx. Peter Sagan is the first Peter Sagan.
The PRO season is almost over. In fact, it ends on Saturday with the Tour of Lombardy (Actually there is a race the day after, but really who’s paying attention to the Chronos des Nations). Which is good, because I can’t really get up and watch races any more. It makes me late for work. It’s also good, because DAMN would my legs be tired (even if it was my job) after racing for ten straight months.
This being not only my first season racing, but also the first time I’ve paid attention to any race other than the Tour, its been beautiful watching people watching people put themselves in the hurt locker because they love it (and get paid wonderfully as well.) Now they just have to kit up and do it for our enjoyment one more time.
The Tour of The Falling Leaves was first run in 1905, with Giovanni “The Red Devil” Gerbi taking the win. Since then the race has seen riders taking multiple victories. Gilbert has won the last two years and Damiano Cunego won the two years years before that. In fact, the results show that the winners often manage to drop the hammer the next year.
Even though he’s having the kind of golden year that only comes around once in blue moon, don’t count on this being an easy win for him. If this year has proven anything, its that the favorite doesn’t always get his way. I mean this year we saw a domestique, who was sent up the road to help the World Champ Thor Hushvod. Maybe this year Gilbert will be neutralized and we’ll see another surprise winner.
Tacked to a cork-board in the break room is a picture of Uncle Sam, with his pointy finger and imploring stare. It tells me that a certain company that makes power meters wants me to get fast. I’m convinced, but then again I want to get fast and I don’t have a power meter, so of course it seems like the way. However, not all agree.
There are some die hard old schoolers at work. Ones who think that they don’t need a computer, let alone a HR monitor. Eddy didn’t need those tools, and neither do I. One of these people too a picture of The Great Mr. Merckx with a word bubble saying
“I didn’t train with a power meter”
Or something to that affect. I laughed when I saw it. That laugh was quickly followed with a thought.
“I should add a thought bubble saying “But I did dope”
One could expect this post to be a rant about training. Sorry to disappoint. I actually care very little about how others choose to train. That’s not my problem. The thoughts I had swirled around the worship and need for heroes.
Its something we forget. That despite what he claims, Eddy was busted for doping (you have to scroll down). Still, he is (rightly so) held up as the greatest cyclist of all time. I think we forget it because its convenient for us to forget about those…let’s say less than beautiful moments in his career.
For a moment let’s contrast that with cyclist views of Mr Armstrong.
If you were to ask nearly any road cyclist what they thought of Mr Merckx you would about how great he is. That’s a near universal ( I know I’m making an assumption here). Now, ask about Lance and you’re either going to hear.
“Greatest cyclist ever!”
“He’s a cheat! A doping CHEAT!”
That’s quite a difference. Maybe time will change that perception, and the racers two generations from now will view Lance the way we look at Eddy now. Maybe not.
I was thinking about this the other night when I wondered why I was willing to accept the limitations and hang ups of the people I admire (I’ve given up on the notion of have a “Hero” in the sense that we use it.), but was unwilling to accept those things in myself.
Heros are people. They aren’t the way we remember them. They, like you and me have hang ups. They make mistakes. Just like you and I. They are heroes, not because they are born a particular way, but because we put them up on that pedestal.
We do this because, in them we see traits that we wish we had in ourselves. Guess what, they’re in you just as much as its in them. An important part of hero worship seems to be the notion that they are some how other than us. It can become an excuse for not asking the best of ourselves. Maybe that’s why I don’t believe in heroes anymore.
For me, hero worship was a thing I got lost in. I stopped looking for who I was and how I could find those things in myself. Its one of the reason I switched from climbing to cycling. I lost who I was by trying to be like my climbers I admired. I know that’s a hang up that might be unique to me, and might not be something others deal with.
If we’re going to have heroes, then we need to use them to find how we can use those traits we see in them to make ourselves great.