Blazin' Saddles

  • V for Vendetta

    Much was made about Mark Cavendish's childish two-fingered salute in Romandie last Wednesday but for Alejandro Valverde, the race's eventual winner, 'V' simply stands for Vendetta.

    You see, much like Cavendish's anger at being written off, targeted and lampooned by his critics who "know jack s--- about cycling", so too does Valverde think both the media and doping organisations have it in for him.

    Apparently, the International Cycling Union and the Italian National Olympic Committee are displaying "an institutional and personal viciousness" against him. It's nothing short of a symptomatic

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  • In it to bin it

    It's as petty as a famous heartbreaking American singer-songwriter, but apparently an environment group in Belgium has lodged a criminal complaint against three riders for throwing away their rubbish and bidons during last week's Fleche Walloon.

    Team Sky's Chris Froome, Ag2R's Blel Kadri and Benjamin Gourge of Landbouwkrediet have been targeted by La Coalition Nature for littering during the one-day race.

    Throwing away empty food packs and water bottles technically violates Walloonian law, which says: "Any person who holds waste is required to provide or make the management conditions to limit

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  • The Italian Job

    With the carnage of the Netherlands a distant memory, the Giro's return to Italian soil was marked by victory for Italian team Liquigas in the TTT and an all-Italian podium.

    A week ago, Vincenzo Nibali was getting his passport ready to travel across the Atlantic for the upcoming Amgen TofCal. But with team-mate Franco Pellizotti held up at UCI customs for a dodgy bio ID and suspect hand luggage, the 25-year-old was fast-tracked to the Liquigas roster for the Giro.

    Four days in and Nibali is the race's fourth pink jersey after his airtight team beasted the 32.5km TTT in Piedmont. The man known

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  • Greipel loses his marbles

    German Gorilla Andre Greipel went bananas after losing out at the end of stage three of the Giro, won by boy band pin-up lookalike Wouter Weylandt.

    Greipel was caught short on the final bend of another accident-packed stage in Holland, allowing the QuickStep sprinter to take his first victory of the season.

    Incandescent with Teutonic rage, Greipel, who believed Weylandt didn't pull his weight during the closing kilometres of the stage, threatened his generously chinned Belgian rival at the finish line by shaking his fist and, according to Cyclingnews, bellowing the words: "You didn't do

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  • Red-hot Dutch carnage

    Riddled with as many crashes as last year's international stock markets, stage two of the Giro required more bandages than an Egyptian mummy conference.

    New pink jersey Cadel Evans labelled it "one of the most ridiculously dangerous stages I've seen in my career", and said he won the maglia rosa "for best crash avoidance".

    With bodies strewn along the verges as if they were victims of a bloody battle, this was more like a Ridley Scott-Russell Crowe film version of the Giro. At one point, the pile of riders was so dense that their bikes were welded together.

    The thing is, if you have overly

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  • Big Brother on wheels

    Before Alejandro Valverde chose his overall victory in Romandie as a platform upon which to attack his doubters and defend his name, Saddles was unsure about how he'd lead this week's blog, such was his disillusion with the sport he so clearly loves.

    Things got off to a rude start when Mark Cavendish took it upon himself to say a huge "up yours" to the media with a V-sign when any normal-in-the-head self-respecting young man would have been content with a simple arms-aloft celebration after doubling - finally - his tally of stage wins for the season (now one for each finger proffered).

    But

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  • On ya bike, Eyjafjallajökull

    It's been erupting with bile for ages now, isolating individuals, dirtying reputations and sending into turmoil a cycling world which wishes it would just shut its trap and cool down a little.

    No, Blazin' Saddles isn't talking about Mark Cavendish and his verbal explosions but volcano Eyjafjallajokull, which has put Iceland back on the map following last year's financial meltdown.

    Eyjafjalljokull - whose name looks like an Icelandic death metal troupe but sounds more like a Celtic dance routine (BS is sure one of those poncy tap-fests made famous by Michael Flatley of Riverdance fame was known

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  • Cavendish the puppet master

    Could it be that Mark Cavendish and his verbal barbs are in fact inspired and wholly deliberate?

    Last week Blazin' Saddles had a routine pop at Cavendish for his latest outburst towards team-mate Andre Greipel, in which the Manxman labelled the German a second-rate sprinter who only won "small races".

    Since Cav's stinging attack, HTC-Columbia manager Bob Stapleton has moved mountains to stress that all is ok in the camp and that his two prized assets are not going to come to blows in a two-wheeled take on celebrity death-match.

    Greipel, in his own classy riposte, went on to win two stages in

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  • Cycling’s Fab answer to Messi

    Watching another display of all-round brilliance from Fabian Cancellara over the weekend, Blazin' Saddles wondered whether or not he was looking at the Lionel Messi of cycling.

    Ok, BS admits that the analogy is flawed from the outset: cycling and football are two so incomparable sports that this whole sorry attempt to draw similarities is an exercise of journalistic laziness. But that's never stopped him in the past.

    Physically, besides their generous hooters the two men could not be more different. One is a pasty diminutive 22-year-old Argentine who was so small as a teenager that he used to

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  • Summer snub for Dutch teams

    Some riders will be unexpectedly booking their summer holidays for July after ASO released the list of 22 teams included for this year's Tour de France.

    Ironically, given that the race begins in Rotterdam on 3rd July, it is two Dutch Pro-Continental teams that have suffered the cruel blow of exclusion.

    But while many will not exactly rue the absence of Skil-Shimano - for whom Kenny Van Hummel's daily battle with the broom wagon was the sole highlight last year - it is the snub to promising outfit Vacansoleil that will have raised even the Mona Lisa's eyebrows.

    Not least because Vacansoleil

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