Blazin' Saddles

Modern Day Delilah

Blazin' Saddles

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Mark Cavendish and Peta Todd


While Mark Cavendish was feeling all my, my, my, Delilah this week, the rest of the world was left asking why, why, why, Delilah.

Yes, this is news that the world champion has become a father — and he and his partner Peta Todd have named their newborn girl Delilah Grace.

The announcement set tongues wagging about the possible origins of their daughter's two names. Many believe there is a musical theme, with Cavendish a big fan of Tom Jones and U2, whose respective songs Delilah and Grace were personal favourites of Cav's while competing in the teenage ballroom dancing circuit on the Isle of Man.

Others claim Todd was the driving force behind the name, thanks to her love of the Plain White T's song Hey There Delilah and Will Young's teary melody Grace, from his hit fourth album Let It Go.

One rather outlandish stance is that Cav and his belle were listening to the KISS back catalogue while watching the 2009 baby-slasher horror flick Grace at the time of conception.

There's little credence to this, though; indeed, it's more likely that Cav, a renowned devourer of literature, was reading James Joyce's short story Grace while his girlfriend watched TV series Friends (The One When Ross And Rachel Consider Naming Their Daughter Delilah) just moments before doing the deed.

Saddles has another more plausible theory, however: Cav is no Biblical philistine and he clearly knows his religious references; presumably calling his daughter Delilah was a means at getting under the skin of his old sprinting foe Andre Greipel, who's son is called Sampson.

Talking of Andre the Giant, the Gorilla has been in the wars this week after hurting his wrist in a crash after the finish line in Wednesday's Scheledeprijs race in Belgium.

The Scheledeprijs is a one-day mini classic that Cavendish decided to miss owing to the birth of baby Delilah — and the dramatic crash after the finale got Saddles thinking about this season's influx of freak accidents.

Cars and collarbones

It seems that collarbone breaks are cycling's skinny jeans and checked shirts this season, with anyone who's anyone sporting their own personal take on the shoulder fracture.

Swiss powerhouse Fabian Cancellara never does things by half measures — and when he hit the deck on an innocuous flat section during the feeding zone in the Tour of Flanders last weekend, the RadioShack-Nissan man pulled off a rare quadruple fracture of the collarbone.

The injury will put Cancellara out of action for this Sunday's Paris-Roubaix and will also force him out of his part-time job as Simon Gerrans's taxi driver for the foreseeable future.

Spartacus is not the only one who has succumbed to cycling's most frequent bone snap: so far this season the likes of Filippo Pozzato, David Millar, Carlos Quintero and Wouter Mol have all collared themselves in heavy falls.

The most spectacular collarbone break clearly goes to Dutchman Sebastian Langeveld, who collided at high speed with a spectator in the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Such was the impact between the GreenEdge rider's bike and the trailing leg of the fleeing fan that Langeveld's bent front wheel was ripped from his frame and rolled down the road, narrowly avoiding the speeding peloton.

To make matters worse, the crash actually occurred on a cycle path, which must have been rather galling for both Langeveld and the local town planners.

It's not just riders who are breaking their collarbones at the same frequency as Omega Pharma-Quick Step are racking up wins: in the same post-finish pile-up that floored Greipel in the Scheledeprijs, a press photographer was left with her own broken collarbone, not to mention broken eye socket and ruptured spleen. Ouch.

In a complete mirror image of what usually happens in the aftermath of a big crash, clusters of concerned riders gathered around the prone body of the photographer as she received attention. Saddles almost expected one of them to pick up her camera and start taking pictures.

Besides collarbone breaks, loads of stories so far this season have involved collisions with cars. Less than a year after he was rammed from the side by a media car during the Tour de France, Juan Antonio Flecha's early classics campaign was delayed after Sky's Spaniard allegedly hurt his wrist lashing out at a driver following a training incident.

Australian track star Shane Perkins hurt his own wrist in a collision with a car in the lead up to the world championships in Melbourne, while Russian track cyclist Ivan Kovalev was involved in a nasty hit-and-run too.

Last week, American veteran Levi Leipheimer was rammed from behind by an old man while training for the Tour of Catalunya, resulting in a fracture of the fibula. "I can't communicate how close I came to being killed and that was incredibly scary," said a scared Leipheimer, communicating how close he came to being killed.

The saddest case of automobile accident came with New Zealand's Julian Dean who broke his leg in the Tour of Catalunya after colliding with a parked car. It was the GreenEdge veteran's first race back after fracturing his shoulder in a pre-season training camp.

Saddles sincerely hopes there will be no more car crashes or collarbone cracks this coming week — or in any week for that matter. That said, Saddles has a sneaking suspicion that habitual duck-on-ice Tom Boonen is due a big fall — and it may come on Sunday's Paris-Roubaix, whereby altering the dynamic of the race in the same way that Cancellara's spill changed events in Flanders.

Fingers crossed Saddles' sixth sense is as good as his attempts to write something upbeat and funny this week.

Random talking points

- is Philippe Gilbert going to become cycling's Fernando Torres this season following his megabucks move to BMChelsea?

- are Tyler Farrar and Mark Renshaw going to win anything this season or would it be worth a punt on both riders enduring fruitless campaigns?

- are Alberto Contador's decision not to appeal his doping ban and Saxo Bank retaining their licence for the remainder of season linked in any way whatsoever?

- how long before the excuses rain down about Australia's complete and utter humbling at the hands of Team GB in the track worlds in Melbourne?

- if the weather's bad in Roubaix on Sunday, will the riders just gather at the start and then decide to be done with it and just award Boonen the win?

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