Blazin' Saddles

  • 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

    buffett.jpg

    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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  • Vuelta: Week three round-up and awards

    Is that a bottle of cava in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

    The 67th Vuelta a Espana finished with a memorable Spanish one-two-three on Sunday. In the final of his three weekly round-ups, Eurosport blogger Blazin' Saddles takes a look at the final five stages following the second rest day — plus shares his whimsical Vuelta Awards with his faithful readers.

    Stage 17 — Santander to Fuente De
    Alberto Contador has clearly had a productive rest day as he pulls off an extraordinary coup to take the red jersey, blending an obviously premeditated attack on the second of three climbs with a delicious swathe of impromptu brilliance — such as combining with his

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  • Vuelta: Week two round-up

    After what was arguably the hardest conclusion to any Grand Tour stage in living memory, it's entirely understandable that the remaining 181 riders have the day off on Tuesday.

    The 67th edition of the Vuelta is perfectly poised ahead of the final run of stages, with an all-Spanish podium virtually guaranteed and two riders — Joaquim Rodriguez and Alberto Contador — separated by just 28 seconds with four competitive stages remaining.

    Since the first rest day, the Tour of Spain has really been about three superhuman Spanish riders, with varied combinations of Rodriguez, Contador and Alejandro

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  • Vuelta: Week one round-up

    This Vuelta a Espana is as sizzlingly hot as the temperatures in northern Spain — just eight days in and we have already had more summit finishes, suspense and wearers of the leader's jersey than the entire duration of the Tour de France.

    It's proving a real delight to see multiple teams — Katusha, Movistar, Rabobank, Saxo Bank — riding hard on the front, and not just the robotic men in blue from Team Sky. Unlike the Tour, the destination of the overall crown is not a given and we have a fierce battle on our hands before the race enters Madrid.

    You see, the Tour was won through strong time

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  • News that Lance Armstrong has given up the fight to clear his name and has now been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles has rocked the world of cycling.

    Here was a man renowned for never throwing in the towel — a man who once crashed on his way to winning at Luz Ardiden, a man who recovered from life-threatening cancer not only to live a healthy life but also to win cycling's hardest stage race seven times — finally saying, quite literally, that "enough is enough".

    The US Anti-Doping Agency and the World Anti-Doping Agency claim that by stepping down, Armstrong has effectively conceded

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  • Vuelta a Espana preview: Contador v Froome

    It's less than a month since Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France in Paris, but it's that time of year again: the third and final Grand Tour of the season, the revenge race and last chance saloon that is the Vuelta a Espana.

    In between Paris and Pamplona we have even had the small matter of the Olympics. While many riders have had a hectic schedule, for one of them - the overwhelming race favourite - the Vuelta marks the first major stage race of the season. Yes, Alberto Contador is back — and in most people's minds, anything less than the overall win for Bertie in Madrid would be a major

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