Blazin' Saddles

  • Splitsville for Schlecks?

    Frank Schleck told Eurosport this week that he misses his brother Andy desperately, and that the pair talk on Skype both before and after he rides each stage on the Giro.

    Unfortunately, Saddles doesn't have the means to listen in to the Schlecks' Skype chats, but he does have many media pals, so hacking into the brothers' recent voice messages was easy.

    Here is what Saddles might have managed to overhear (you know, if he had hacked the Schlecks' phones, which he emphatically hasn't)...

    "Hi Andy, it's your brother Frank. I tried calling you on Skype earlier but there was no answer. So I

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  • Someone key that Ferrari

    This Ferrari isn't quick enough to escape a furious pelotonOh, to have been a fly on the wall during the Giro's longest ever air transfer from Denmark to Italy after the dramatic climax to Monday's stage three in Horsens.

    Supposing the seating arrangements were organised alphabetically by team, then there would just be a couple of Kazakh whippets separating the Androni Giocattoli team of reckless sprinting fiend Roberto Ferrari and the disgruntled BMC squad of ankle-crocked pink jersey Taylor Phinney.

    Luckily there would have been pretty much a whole fuselage of emaciated angular cyclists filling the gap between Androni and Team Sky, who led the cries

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  • Blazin’ Saddles’ bumper Giro preview

    The 95th edition of the Giro d'Italia has been labelled the most open race in years - which is basically how anyone describes a Grand Tour without Alberto Contador's name on the start list.

    After an intriguing spring classics campaign, the Giro marks the first of three Grand Tours this summer — only the final of which, the Vuelta, will be won by Contador.

    With around 10 riders who could realistically reach the podium — including a non-plussed Frank Schleck, who will lead the RadioShack circus against his wishes — the race should be an eye-catching spectacle as it carves its way through one of

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  • McEwen’s magic moments

    McEwen looks over his shoulder as he prepares to start the next chapter of his life

    Aussie pocket rocket Robbie McEwen took time out from his busy schedule of filming the Zoolander sequel to confirm this week that he will soon retire from the sport.

    In one of cycling's worst kept secrets since Jan Ullrich's curried bratwurst addiction, pint-sized dynamo McEwen told the Belgian press that he was "definitely done after the Tour of California" in May.

    We all knew his retirement was earmarked for this season, but the day the peloton is finally deprived of the Brisbane bike boomerang for good will certainly be a sad one.

    Saddles will always remember the way McEwen won his first

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  • Nice guy Eddy

    Eddy Merckx waves to fans at the start of the second stage of the 2010 Tour de France

    When it was revealed earlier this week that Denis Galimzyanov — Russia's biggest cycling talent since, er, Vladimir Karpets — had tested positive for EPO, it made Saddles think back at something Eddy Merckx said in January.

    During the Tour Down Under in South Australia, Merckx — the race's official human mascot — told reporters that he believed the sport to be 95 per cent clean.

    "I cannot say 100 per cent clean because no sport is clean," said Merckx, levelling some potentially hazardous (albeit heinously indirect) accusations towards the World Lawn Bowls Association.

    Merckx's view on doping

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  • Classics spring clean


    With the cobblestone and Flemish races now over and the Ardennes classics just around the corner, Saddles weighs in with 10 key points he'd like to get off his chest.

    Don't sack off Tommeke: If Lance Armstrong confirmed for seven successive years at the turn of the century that cyclists can come back from a medical condition that affects the nether regions, then Tom Boonen did just that this year with his indomitable Flanders campaign. He showed that there is life after tearing the sensitive flap of flesh known best as the perineum. While Boonen's wins in the E3, Ghent-Wevelgem and Flanders

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  • Modern Day Delilah

    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

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  • Yorkshire pudding in a bid

    2002 - Sheep graze at sunset on the Yorkshire Dales after Great Britain was declared free of foot and mouth disease.

    If you are reading this on April 1, Saddles assures you this is no April's Fool: Yorkshire, England's largest county, has submitted its formal bid to host the start of the 2016 Tour de France.

    Yorkshire may not be as glamorous as London, the last English city to host the Grand Depart back in 2007, but officials from the county in the north of England hope that the cities of Scarborough, Sheffield, York and, ahem, Hull, will have as much pulling power as Barcelona, Venice and Berlin — Yorkshire's chic continental rivals for the crown.

    Plans are sketchy, but it is thought that a prologue in

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  • Johnny collared?

    Vacansoleil-DCM are rumoured to be considering sports psychology sessions for their anxiety-ridden rider Johnny Hoogerland, who is set to sit out the first waffle of Belgian classics while he cobbles together a plan to beat the demons in his head and maybe, just maybe, one day stand on top of the podium for anything other than a Most Combative Rider award or a token KOM jersey.

    Inside sources have disclosed to Saddles (ie. this bit has partially been made up) that Vacansoleil-RunDMC team management have given the 28-year-old compulsive live-wire a series of questions for him to ponder over

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  • Cavarotti

    There's more to Cav than a Page 3 birdHe's full of surprises is that Mark Cavendish. Who would have thought someone so tough and macho would not only be into ballroom dancing but also have a penchant for opera?

    A video interview with Cavendish and his Sky team-mate-slash-human-zimmer-frame Bernard Eisel on the popular sharing website YouTube sees the world champion compare this weekend's Milan-San Remo race to an opera.

    "Milan-San Remo is the perfect example of an Italian-style race," he started ominously, prompting Saddles to think of examples of non-Italian-style races held in Italy.

    In a fabulous piece of erudite analogy, Cav

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