Blazin' Saddles

  • Saxo-Shimano Showdown

    With Lotto-Belisol and Ag2R-La Mondiale being granted WorldTour status, two remaining teams — Saxo-Tinkoff and Argos-Shimano — will battle it out for the last remaining berth in cycling's top division.

    Blazin' Saddles imagines that the UCI and Pat McQuaid have rather a lot on their plate at the moment, so he's done their homework for them and come up with some key head-to-heads which should be taken into consideration.

    TEAM NAMES

    It was announced this week that Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank would go Dutch, drop the banks, and emerge as a more streamlined Team Saxo-Tinkoff — resisting the temptation

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  • Searching for Saxo Bank in Gran Canaria

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    Recently, Blazin' Saddles heard about Bjarne Riis's Saxo Bank-Tinkoff squad returning to the Canary Islands for their annual off-season training camp — and so in the name of good old quality investigative journalism, your faithful cycling scribe booked himself an easyJet flight to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, in search of Saxo.

    November is an odd time in the cycling calender: with team rosters still undergoing 11th hour changes, pro riders are recalled from their post-Worlds winter break and brought together in a bid to bond and gel ahead of the coming season.

    For Astana, for example, it will be

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  • Skyfall

    British drivers this week showed they have zero tolerance towards British Cycling key figures for whom zero tolerance is not an issue.

    In the space of 24 hours, Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky and his mentor and coach Shane Sutton were both hospitalised after freak collisions with drivers.

    Thankfully neither victim was seriously injured — although 55-year-old Sutton will remain in hospital under close observation for a few days.

    It's the latest blow for the sport, described recently by Scottish ex-doping celebrity David Millar as a "deeply criminal business". It now seems

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  • After another action-packed yet testing week for cycling, Blazin' Saddles takes a look at the stand-out quotes from around the globe.

    "Listen, everybody, this is kilometer zero for a new cycling. We start fresh. Now there is no mercy for the people who still haven't understood yet."

    In a long and impassioned blog entitled "Turbulent Times", Jens Voigt assured fans that he was not about to become the next rider from the old generation to come out and admit to a doping past.

    "I did not dope and I am sick — read it from my lips — I am sick of my wife [and children] getting asked in school if I

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  • Tour de France 2013 route rundown

    The first 100 per cent French Tour in 10 years will start in Corsica and feature four mountaintop finishes — including the Ventoux and an unprecedented double ascent of Alpe d'Huez — and just 65km of individual time trialling ahead of a nocturnal Parisian finale.

    Blazin' Saddles takes you through the race, stage by stage...

    1 Saturday June 29: Porto-Vecchio to Bastia - 212km

    For the first time in history, the Tour visits Corsica, birthplace of the diminutive emperor Napoleon. How apt then that the first yellow jersey could go to pint-sized speedster Mark Cavendish, who in the absence of a

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  • Rabobank move into bull market

    RabobankLike a US Postal rider's blood, the plot thickens as the fallout from the Lance Armstrong doping scandal continues. The latest stage of this tragicomic soap opera saw Rabobank pull out of its sponsorship of the men's professional cycling team.

    Having informed its riders just 30 minutes in advance, a statement was released by the Dutch lender Rabobank saying that the decision was "inevitable" following the damning USADA report (in which former Rabobank doctor Geert Leinders featured heavily as well as former rider Levi Leipheimer, who admitted to taking EPO during his three years at the team)

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  • Who really won the Tours de Lance?

    Lance Armstrong celebrates his seventh Tour de France winTour de France director Christian Prudhomme has announced that he does not want Lance Armstrong's seven titles to be re-attributed in the wake of USADA's damning 1,000-page report.

    By all intents and purposes it seems that Armstrong's seven Tour wins between 1999 and 2005 were accumulated largely thanks to a systematic doping ring that made the doctors of the Eastern bloc look like a bunch of interns at Boots.

    At best, it has also been argued that the UCI effectively cast a blind eye at what was going on at Armstrong's US Postal team during the seven years following the Festina scandal of 1998

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  • Transfer merry-go-round

    Vincenzo Nibali

    It's that time of the season as the races wind up and the focus shifts to who will be riding where next year. With that in mind, Saddles took a look at the main transfers on the World Tour and main Pro Continental ranks to bring you this handy recruitment round-up. Feel free to discuss the moves in the comments section below...

    AG2R-LA MONDIALE

    In: Steve Chainel and Yauheni Hutarovich (FDJ), Davide Appollonio (SKY), Carlos Betancur (ASA), Domenico Pozzovivo (COG), Samuel Dumoulin (COF)

    Out: Nicolas Roche (STB), Martin Elmiger, Kristof Goddaert and Sebastien Hinault (IAM)

    There's a bit of a

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  • The Secret Race: Uncovered

    With the season's main races now done and dusted, your faithful cycling blogger has finally found the time to sit down and read Tyler Hamilton's explosive warts-and-all tome on the "hidden world of the Tour de France: doping, cover-ups and winning at all costs".

    'The Secret Race' is a read and a half; there are enough twists and turns to keep all fans of the espionage crime thriller genre interested — and without wanting to give too much away: the Texan did it (although so did pretty much everyone else).

    You see, riding in the peloton from the 90s onwards without EPO was like being in

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  • World road race preview

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    Come Sunday evening, we're all going to be sick of the sight of the Cauberg.

    The fabled Dutch climb — renowned for its prominent role in the Amstel Gold Race — was used in both the TTT and ITT; now the peloton must drag itself over the Cauberg's 12% maximum gradient 10 times on Sunday in pursuit of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

    Like a spring classic, the World Championships road race is always notoriously long, making it veritable ordeal that will no doubt be played out over multiple phases.

    The undulating parcours is a leg-sapping 265km, starting with a 100km loop through the

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