Blazin' Saddles

  • For most people February 14 is the chance to appease a loved-one with a cheap card and a tacky box of chocolates.

    But for the cycling community over the past decade, Valentine's Day is less about roses and more about one of the best-loved men to don the famous maglia rosa.

    Marco Pantani died of acute cocaine poisoning in his hotel room in Rimini on Valentine's Day in 2004. It was a pretty sordid way for a great champion to go.

    Given his spiral into depression and drug addiction, it was perhaps, in hindsight, hardly a surprise. Yet it remains shocking that such a thing could have happened to

    Read More »from Spare a Valentine’s Day thought for Marco Pantani (13.01.1970 – 14.02.2004)
  • Why Lance Armstrong could get a lucky let-off after all

    Lance Armstrong

    Many might believe that Lance Armstrong does not deserve any luck whatsoever, but he could yet be afforded incredible leniency, it seems.

    There will be a possible reduction in sanctions for Armstrong, but that is strictly if he is particularly cooperative with the sport's governing body.

    That is, if he testifies to the Cycling Independent Reform Commission, which was set up by UCI President Brian Cookson.

    The commission was created to look into the history of doping within the sport, including allegations against the governing body itself regarding letting Armstrong off the hook over past

    Read More »from Why Lance Armstrong could get a lucky let-off after all
  • Weekly round-up: King Kittel a giant amongst men in Dubai

    A lot of balderdash is often written about riders peaking too soon - but if anyone should rein things in at this early stage in the season it's Giant-Shimano's Marcel Kittel.

    The 25-year-old sprinter this week notched two-from-two in sandy Dubai, showing a savage array of sprinting skills to take the spoils over vastly differing terrain - winning a routine bunch dash on Thursday before holding on in the hills to surge clear of a trimmed group of 30 on Friday.

    [REPORT FROM DUBAI: KITTEL MAKES IT TWO IN A ROW]

    So routine was Kittel's victory at the chintzy themepark of Atlantis that the German

    Read More »from Weekly round-up: King Kittel a giant amongst men in Dubai
  • Sir Bradley Wiggins has revealed that he was forced to take his children out of school and move them to another due to a big cycling story that led to them being bullied.

    Wiggins had to relocate his kids after Lance Armstrong's admission that he doped during all seven of his Tour de France wins last January.

    The British cycling legend revealed that his two children, Ben and Isabella, were repeatedly asked by friends whether their father had used drugs like Armstrong and described what it was like for them.

    "They were harassed and bullied," Wiggins admitted to the Daily Telegraph.

    "It was hard

    Read More »from Sir Bradley Wiggins reveals his children were bullied over cycling story
  • Sacre Bleu! French to launch their own Team Sky

    If you can't beat them, copy them. That is the stance taken by the French Cycling Federation who this week took a large step forward in creating their own version of the British Team Sky.

    For years the public were force fed French cycling victories at the same rate as grain was shoved down the throats of the proud nation's ducks.

    But just as the world's stance on foie gras has tightened, so too have the victories dried up. The legends of Anquetil and Hinault are now long forgotten. It is almost 30 years since France last topped the podium of her own national stage race.

    To make matters worse,

    Read More »from Sacre Bleu! French to launch their own Team Sky
  • Danilo Di Luca may need a helping hand with his performances on the bike, but the drug-shamed Italian proved this week that his mental arithmetic skills could still function with but a sudden natural rush of blood to the head.

    Amid several sweeping statements on Italian TV, Di Luca claimed that 90 per cent of the riders in last year's Giro d'Italia were doping, and that if the remaining 10 per cent were clean, then it was only because they did not care about their performances in the race because "they were preparing for other races and therefore not doping".

    With echoes of Lance Armstrong's

    Read More »from Shamed Di Luca fires bazooka at ’90 per cent doped’ peloton
  • There are some funky cycling team kits in the peloton but none have generated quite the same buzz as Team Sky's jersey, which you can see modelled by Chris Froome below.

    Sky stuck with the same basic colours as last season - but it was the fishnet stocking-style mesh of the jersey that really turned heads.

    Manufacturers Rapha said: "The design philosophy is ‘robust simplicity': streamlined, lightweight, durable and unfailingly fit for purpose."

    Sounds great… except there is small problem, as Tour de France winner Froome has painfully discovered.

    They say a picture paints a thousand words, so

    Read More »from Froome feels the burn after discovering flaw in new Sky kit
  • Lampre lifeline for Horner as twit Tinkov dreams big

    An intriguing week in the world of cycling is topped by news that fashion crime Lampre-Merida are favourites to fill their Michele Scarponi-shaped void by signing a man eight years the Italian veteran's senior.

    They say the colour pink takes years off your life - and Chris Horner will certainly hope so when the American Vuelta winner, 42, finally ends his World Tour exile by signing for Lampre-Merida.

    According to "an anonymous source close to the situation" (whose hidden name in such scenarios usually ends up being the same as the byline underneath the story header) the Horner-to-Lampre deal

    Read More »from Lampre lifeline for Horner as twit Tinkov dreams big
  • With the Tour Down Under about to get under way in Australia, Blazin' Saddles makes his predictions for the coming season.

    Last year, Saddles got pretty much everything wrong - except when it came to Bradley Wiggins, whom your erstwhile cycling blogger predicted would crash out of the Giro d'Italia before saving his season with victory in the Tour of Britain.

    To be fair, Lance Armstrong discovering a loophole to make a comeback with the Bruyneel Bacon team was always a bit of a long shot - as was the little-known Riccardo Riccotta winning Paris-Camembert ahead of Portugal's Thiago Manchego.

    Read More »from Pass the pipe to Wiggo, redemption for Lance and more 2014 predictions
  • Cycling review of the year 2013: Part Two

    READ PART ONE HERE

    As 2013 draws to a close, our cycling blogger takes a look back at all the main stories from the past six months. In part two of his year review, Blazin' Saddles looks at July through to December.

    July: The month started with Belgian Jan Bakelants in yellow before passing the reins over to South African Daryl Impey, who became the first African rider in history to lead the Tour de France. Within a week the fabled maillot jaune was covering the spindly shoulders of the African we all expected to take Impey's accolade, Kenya's Chris Froome, who secured the overall victory

    Read More »from Cycling review of the year 2013: Part Two