Blazin' Saddles

  • Best of Blazin' Saddles 2014: 12 days of cycling Christmas

    Kiss snubs, stupid selfies, shocking outfits and a Polish climbing winker

    With the festive fortnight well and truly under way there's no better time like the present to sing along to the 12 Days of Cycling Christmas, which casts a nod at some of the past year's stand-out headlines.

    So, Santa hats on, gather around the tree and let's get going... because on the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

    12 bonus seconds

    11 teams in Velon

    10 per cent clean (according to Di Luca)

    9 Roubaix runners-up

    8 minutes (almost) for Nibali

    7 German Tour wins

    6 fleshy Colombians

    5 Astana positives

    4 Sagan shockers

    3 favourites crashing

    2 Hour records

    And a Polish

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  • Santambrogio blames rock solid positive on erectile dysfunction

    Felix Lowe is back with another doping dispatch from the world of cycling.

    Italian Mauro Santambrogio celebrates on the podium winning the 180 kms14th stage of the 96th Giro d'Italia Italian Mauro Santambrogio celebrates on the podium winning the 180 kms14th stage of the 96th Giro d'Italia 

    Ruffled by Michele Ferrari and Astana stealing all of the doping limelight, two of Italy's most notorious offenders have emerged from the shadows this week.

    Riccardo Ricco, riding the crest of a wave following the publication of his biography, rallied against the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) after the UCI-funded body failed to reduce his 12-year ban despite the 31-year-old climber setting aside a whole seven hours to run them through all he knew about doping.

    Having had his own four-year ban reduced to just 18 months after opening up to the CIRC, Mauro Santambrogio

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  • Worried about losing the Tour? No, I'm just glad I didn't die, says Contador

    "Maybe I lost the Tour - but I didn't lose my life," the Spaniard has said of his crash at cycling's showpiece event this summer.

    Alberto Contador shrugged off his Tour de France disappointment by storming to victory at the Vuelta a EspanaAlberto Contador shrugged off his Tour de France disappointment by storming to victory at the Vuelta a Espana

    Cycling superstar Alberto Contador has said that he is not bothered about having missed out on the Tour de France - he's just happy to have survived what he believes could have been a fatal crash.

    "When I think I was going 77kph (48mph) at the time and I only broke my tibia, well, on balance, that's good," he told the BBC.

    "Maybe I lost the Tour, but I didn't lose my life."

    Contador's words are not just hyperbole: dozens of riders have been killed in the history of professional cycling, and even on a superbly well-run event such as the Tour fatal accidents can happen.

    The first Tour death

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  • Kazakhstan's Astana Pro teamKazakhstan's Astana Pro team

    Despite a WorldTour reprieve from the UCI, the tight noose of the law seems to be slowly tightening around Astana's neck as the Italian media continued its drip-feed of doping allegations ahead of the imminent release of the controversial Padova Investigation.

    Already, this week's explosive allegations have forced dastardly doping doctor Michele Ferrari into making a staunch defence of Astana - while somewhat bizarrely lauding the waffles of Montecatini, the town where the Kazakh team of Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali carried out their training camp last November.

    But the latest

    Read More »from Reprieved Astana walk WorldTour tight-rope as Padova noose tightens
  • Can you spot the cyclists in this picture? Tinkoff-Saxo unveil camouflage kit in the Canaries

    Their new kit might be raising eyebrows and laughs in equal measure, but Blazin' Saddles says that Tinkoff-Saxo seems to be a pretty good place to be right now.

    <a href=http://www.tinkoffsaxo.com/news/tinkoff-saxo-unveils-innovative-training-kit/ target=_blank>Pic:www.tinkoffsaxo.com</a>

    With Kilimanjaro successfully scaled, Tinkoff-Saxo arrived in Gran Canaria  this week for their traditional winter training camp with a new camouflage-inspired training kit.

    Saying the fluorescent yellow, light and dark green kit is the most alarmingly disgusting in professional cycling would be doing scant justice to the short-lived tan and black Footon-Servetto kit of 2010 (which, quite literally, had a black foot on it) or the garish rainbows of Neri Sottoli last year or any number of bright cyan numbers in the Astana (Boo! Hiss!) back catalogue.

    But let's be honest - Oleg Tinkov's kit

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  • Everything you do and don't need to know about Velon

    Blazin' Saddles takes a look at the cycling organisation that is taking the world by storm. Or at least trying to.

    Cycling is promised a better future by Velon. But what exactly is it? (Reuters)Cycling is promised a better future by Velon. But what exactly is it? (Reuters)

    Everyone who's anyone has been taking about Velon this week.

    But what - or who - is it? Why is the logo purple? And can on-bike cameras really solve all cycling's woes?

    If the advent of the sport's newest organisation has passed you by then fear not for here are some of your potential questions answered...

    In a nutshell, what is Velon?

    It's a new range of the popular Velib hire bikes in Paris brought out in association with the famous French actor Alain Delon.

    Enough of your joking, my friend - be honest now.

    In a nutshell, Velon is a joint venture between a raft of Pro Tour teams - promoting

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  • Yanto Barker launched Le Col whilst competing as a professional cyclist, notably riding for Wales in the 2006 Commonwealth games and has made numerous appearances in the Tour of Britain.

    This year, Yanto was crowned the number one rider on the British circuit.  

    “There are always time constraints when running a business, training and racing full time", he said.

    "I learnt quickly that it is vital to implement a strict schedule to allow me to manage both effectively. I treat Le Col and riding as two separate businesses, this enables me to maintain focus and deliver both on the road and for the

    Read More »from Yanto Barker: Why juggling sports and business can be done
  • Australia celebrates a century in the Tour de France

    This year, Australia will celebrate their personal 100th anniversary in the Tour de France – a century after Donald 'Don' Kirkman and Iddo 'Snowy' Munro became the first Australians to take part in 1914.

    Cadel Evans of Australia celebrates after winning the 98th Tour de France (Reuters)Cadel Evans of Australia celebrates after winning the 98th Tour de France (Reuters)

    In 2003 we had the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France - fittingly won by Asterix (or was that an asterisk?). A decade later there was the Centenary Tour with its celebratory double ascent of Alpe d'Huez, a race almost entirely dominated by Britain's Chris Froome.

    This year it was the opportunity for Australia to celebrate their own personal ton milestone in the world's biggest cycling race - a century after Donald 'Don' Kirkman and Iddo 'Snowy' Munro became the first Australians to take part in the Tour in 1914.

    Munro's back story was particularly compelling: in 1909 the diminutive

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  • Birthday boy Bernard badgers bad-boy Lance

    In defence of Lance Armstrong (sort of)

    Bernard Hinault rides on the Champs-Elysees ahead of the 2012 final stage of the Tour de France.Bernard Hinault rides on the Champs-Elysees ahead of the 2012 final stage of the Tour de France.
    Five-times Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault has taken the occasion of his 60th birthday to further twist the knife into the rotting carcass that is Lance Armstrong.

    Speaking to French media ahead of his landmark on Friday, Hinault - the last Frenchman to win the world's biggest cycling race, way back in 1985 - could barely disguise his disgust when the American's name was brought up.

    "Him? He no longer exists. We put a big line through his name. Au revoir Monsieur! Get out and don't come back! We don't need to talk about him any more," snapped Hinault before - presumably - hawking loudly

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  • As Lampre wield the axe, what now for Chris Horner?

    USA cycling star must re-evaluate career again

    Chris Horner at Lampre (IMAGO)Chris Horner at Lampre (IMAGO)

    Less than a year after Lampre-Merida gave then-Vuelta champion Chris Horner a lifeline, the veteran American finds himself looking for similar goodwill after his employers refused to prolong his contract into the 2015 season. 

    The snub from Lampre means 43-year-old Horner is scrambling to find somewhere to ply his trade for a second consecutive year - much like a poor freelancer looking for their next gig. 

    Unlike most of us poor freelancers, however, Horner is not exactly poor - although he may find himself having to reduce quite substantially his lofty financial demands. He already had to

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