Blazin' Saddles

  • With Carlos Betancur and Alberto Contador both winning back-to-back stages en route to securing the first major European stage races of the season, our cycling blogger Blazin’ Saddles takes a look at what we’ve learned from an eventful Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico.

    Contador back to his best - but still lagging against the clock

    The big winner from two enthralling week-long stage races was Spaniard Alberto Contador, who will feel vindicated in his decision to mix up his usual early-season schedule and take part in Tirreno-Adriatico. Contador’s back-to-back hilltop wins showed that the

    Read More »from Contador, Cavendish, Sky: 7 things we learned from Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico
  • TeamSky v Orica-GreenEDGE: Rock-Paper-Scissors

    The sporting rivalry between Australia and Britain extends beyond cricket and rugby.

    In recent years Britain has become the dominant nation on two wheels, which must be quite unsettling for the Aussies, with their strong and proud cycling culture.

    Britain’s ability to extend its success from track to road has been helped by TeamSky, the professional team that helped Mark Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins and now Chris Froome rise to the top, which was - and remains - closely linked to the Team GB set-up.

    For the last few years Australia’s equivalent team – Orica-GreenEDGE – has been trying to emulate

    Read More »from TeamSky v Orica-GreenEDGE: Rock-Paper-Scissors
  • Paolini pulls Pippo’s leg amid Roma radio chaos

    Who can forget Filippo Pozzato's hilarious celebration for second place in last year's Roma Maxima race, when the Italian wrongly thought he had taken the spoils? Clearly Luca Paolini can't.

    Twelve months after his friend Pippo raised his arms over the line in the shadow of the Coliseum, Paolini did exactly the same thing - while wearing a comedy red nose.

    Sprinting against countryman Rinaldo Nocentini for 52nd

    Read More »from Paolini pulls Pippo’s leg amid Roma radio chaos
  • Cyclist collared by chopper as Tinkov eyes Sagan

    Less than a week after Matti Breschel was floored by a flying mattress in Oman, another fellow pro has been hospitalised after an unlikely run in with a race helicopter in Malaysia.

    Unheralded Russian rider Pavel Kochetkov of Katusha was kochetkoffed his bike during a stage of the Tour of Langkawi after a low-flying helicopter blew the 27-year-old off the road as he edged clear of the peloton in pursuit of an attacking rider from Singapore.

    Kochetkov was forced to abandon the race with a broken collarbone while the pilot was subject to the same fate as the driver who careered into Juan Antonio

    Read More »from Cyclist collared by chopper as Tinkov eyes Sagan
  • Giving O’Grady the once-over as Omloop looms

    Once upon a time - only once, mind - there was a rider called Stuart O'Grady who had to rewrite his autobiography in the light of a French senate report which, in the end, didn't actually incriminate him. If only he'd known - perhaps he'd have saved himself a lot of trouble.

    The world of cycling was shocked (in as far as it can be when a rider from that particular generation admits to a penchant for needles) and the Australian veteran went into hiding following his sudden retirement. Then, when his tell-all book 'Battle Scars' came out, O'Grady hooked up with reputed Aussie sports anchor Mike

    Read More »from Giving O’Grady the once-over as Omloop looms
  • Flying mattress gives cyclist nasty injuries

    Danish cyclist Matti Breschel must be the most unlucky man in the sport after suffering extensive injuries in the most bizarre of accidents.

    Remarkably, Breschel's bike was struck by a flying mattress this week, sending him sprawling to the road at high speed.

    And even more unbelievably, this freak incident took place after the Tinkoff-Saxo rider's race had finished at the Tour of Oman.

    As the Dane explains:

    “After the stage, we were riding back to our hotel and on a descent when I was going 70 kilometers an hour, a mattress flew into my front wheel and brought the bike to a standstill.

    "I hit

    Read More »from Flying mattress gives cyclist nasty injuries
  • Both Chris Froome and Alberto Contador recorded their first wins of the season within a matter of hours - but it was the Team Sky man who made more of a splash in a busy week of racing.

    It's hard to read too much in these early season stage races, with many riders still trying to shed winter weight, find their footing within new teams or adapt to new tactics within existing teams.

    Just look at Carlos Betancur. The podgy Colombian is apparently riding six kilos over his optimum weight - that's the weight of a pro bike - and still managed to outsprint an in-form John Degenkolb to take

    Read More »from Weekly round-up: Froome draws first blood in Tour countdown
  • 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