Blazin' Saddles

  • Quintana, Contador, Porte and Armstrong star in crazy fortnight that changed cycling

    Pity our cycling blogger - he takes a well-earned break for a holiday, and comes back to find that the sport's little world has shifted on its axis.

    Nairo Quintana, winner of the Tirreno-Adriatico.Nairo Quintana, winner of the Tirreno-Adriatico.

    You take a break from professional cycling for a fortnight and return home to a seismic shift in the sport.

    Not only does the Cycling International Reform Commission publish a report as damning as it is long, a French - yes, French! - journeyman tests positive for EPO, Lance Armstrong plans to tour around France - yes, France! - again, and there are wins for both Richie Porte and Nairo Quintana in Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico.

    Oh, and after his third and fourth second-places of the season, Peter Sagan finally picked up that elusive maiden win for Tinkoff-Saxo amid news that cantankerous

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  • Lance Armstrong ‘back on the Tour de France circuit’

    Lance Armstrong will ride the Tour de France route this summer

    Lance Armstrong (AFP)Lance Armstrong (AFP)

    Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong will ride the Tour de France route this summer in aid of charity.

    Armstrong was handed a lifetime ban by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in 2012 and stripped of all seven of his yellow jerseys for what was described as "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."

    In January 2013, Armstrong finally admitted to using banned substances in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, and said his feat of seven consecutive Tour de Frances between 1999 and 2005 would have been impossible without doping.

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  • Will the Fantastic Four race against each other this season?

    Felix Lowe wonders whether cycling fans will see Vincenzo Nibali, Nairo Quintana, Chris Froome and Alberto Contador all do battle this year.

    Team Sky's British cyclist Christopher Froome (L) and Tinkoff-Saxo's Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador (R) wait for the start of the last stage of the Ruta del Sol tourTeam Sky's British cyclist Christopher Froome (L) and Tinkoff-Saxo's Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador (R) wait for the start of the last stage of the Ruta del Sol tour

    In the week that the Cycling Independent Reform Commission published their eagerly anticipated report, Chris Froome pulled out of the up-coming Tirreno-Adriatico race to deny spectators their first chance of seeing the four biggest stars of the sport do battle in 2015.

    Despite Oleg Tinkov's much vaunted 'Grand Tour Challenge' - in which the Russian owner of Alberto Contador's Tinkoff-Saxo team failed to entice Vincenzo Nibali, Nairo Quintana, Froome and his own Spanish rider into racing all the major three-week stage races of the season - it seems like the Big Four's paths will not cross

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  • GB Olympic legend Victoria Pendleton makes surprise sport switch

    Olympic star Victoria Pendleton has switched from one type of sporting saddle to another.

    Victoria Pendleton (Reuters)Victoria Pendleton (Reuters)

    They say sport stars never lose their competitive spirit and that can certainly be said for former Great Britain Olympic stalwart Victoria Pendleton.

    The British cycling legend appears to have been itching to get back into competition, and more specifically into a saddle again.

    Now 34-years-old, Pendleton has begun her intensive training to become a jump jockey, with the goal of competing in the Foxhunter Chase at next year's Cheltenham Festival.

    With her change of career funded by bookmakers Betfair, she has been working with National Hunt trainer Paul Nicholls and Team GB's eventing

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  • Ian StannardIan Stannard

     

    As Tom Boonen shook the hand of Omloop Het Niewsblad winner Ian Stannard on the podium in Ghent on Sunday, he remarked sardonically: "It was a good team time trial, eh?".

    That it was, with Etixx-QuickStep trio Niki Terpstra, Stijn Vandenbergh and Boonen all combining to ensure that the leading four-man break held off the chasing group to the bitter end of Saturday's cobbled classic.

    The only problem? The win went to Ian Stannard - the defending Omloop champion and only non-Etixx rider of the lot.

    It was a scene that mirrored Spain's total hash of the Florence finale of the 2013 world

    Read More »from Sky setting the Stannard in early season races
  • E3 Harelbeke organisers' long history of cheeky - and 'sexist' - blunders

    Organisers of Belgian race make monumental gaffe with latest outrageous promotional poster.

    Poster promoting the 2015 E3 HarelbekePoster promoting the 2015 E3 Harelbeke

    E3 Harelbeke may be over a month away, but the organisers of the opening cobbles classic of the season are already feeling the pinch thanks to the latest in a long line of risqué promotional posters.

    Branded by its detractors as anything from 'tacky' to 'offensive', 'unfunny' to 'sexist', the offending poster shows a gust of wind catching the hem of a podium girl's dress to reveal a derriere clad in a blue pair of knickers emblazoned with the E3 Harelbeke logo.

    The final part of the marketing jigsaw comes in the form of a cyclist's be-gloved hand stretching out to pinch the girl's backside -

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  • Belgian cycle race forced to pull 'sexually intimidating' poster

    The organisers of a Belgian cycling race have been widely condemned for a poster.

    Peter Sagan's controversial 'pinch' on the podium (AFP)Peter Sagan's controversial 'pinch' on the podium (AFP)

    The organisers of the Belgian cycling race E3 Harelbeke have received a severe backlash after promoting their event with what has been seen as a sexist poster.

    The posters have had to be withdrawn entirely as a result of widespread criticism of the promotional billboards which are believed to be overtly sexist.

    In what was a dubious concept, the event attempted to poke fun at the incident last year when Slovakian rider Peter Sagan infamously pretended to pat the bottom of a 'podium girl'.

    Sagan, who won last year's event, was forced to issue a Facebook apology for the incident and present the

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  • Cycling enjoys Terrific Thursday as 2015 season finally hots up

    There was plenty to enjoy on a busy Thursday, according to our blogger.

    Geraint Thomas looked pleased with himself in the Algarve (Imago)Geraint Thomas looked pleased with himself in the Algarve (Imago)

    With five races overlapping on Thursday, cycling did its best impression of the kind of football Super Sunday programme that sports presenters have thrust down our throats for years.

    From three different continents the results came thicker and faster than Peter Sagan at a local pub quiz - with Britain and Team Sky even getting in on the act.

    In a week threatened to be dominated by the off-the-bike news that Lance Armstrong had been sensationally fined $10m for drugs lies in his SCA Promotions case, that Alberto Contador and Fabian Cancellara were both going to retire at the end of the 2016

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  • Oleg Tinkov promises not to slay second-place Peter Sagan

    Tinkov on Sagan: "I hope he wins two or three major classics. If he fails to do so I will be upset - but I won't kill him."

    Oleg Tinkov (Imago)Oleg Tinkov (Imago)

    In another busy week for the flamboyant Russian entrepreneur, Oleg Tinkov has backed his man Alberto Contador to do the double and has vouched not to kill misfiring Peter Sagan.

    Oh to be Oleg. To escape the current rouble crisis and the plummeting value of his assets, the Tinkoff-Saxo owner is able to travel the world alongside his glowingly-attired cycling team, taking time out to offend all and sundry on social media while occasionally turning the pedals with the likes of Eddy Merckx, Pavel Brutt and other legends of the sport.

    This week, Tinkov is on the Arabian Peninsula for the Tour of

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  • Bradley Wiggins’s £10,000 custom road bike is beautiful

    The Dogma F8, which retails at around £9,400, has smaller handlebars and a lower stem to "get as much into time trial mode as possible".

    Bradley Wiggins' bikeBradley Wiggins' bike

    Sir Bradley Wiggins' road bike features a photo of himself next to the Union Jack and a list of his honours so far.

    The Dogma F8, which retails at around £9,400, has smaller handlebars and a lower stem to "get as much into time trial mode as possible" according to Wiggins.

    Olympic time-trial champion Wiggins, who is riding for team Sky, finished third in the short time-trial stageat the Tour of Qatar on Tuesday and revealed beforehand how unpredictable the race can be.

    “I can’t remember the last time I did an individual time trial on a road bike, so it’s hard to predict what people will do.

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