Women of Qatar
The US National Team has taken some lumps in this year’s Tour of Qatar. With half the team involved in the inevitable wind-crazed crashes, blown off roads or swallowed in pothole’d mashups, if one attempted to gauge the team’s performance based solely on the Final GC lists … you’d think they couldn’t figure out which side of the chamois to butter.
But GC listings don’t do justice in cycling … ever. It’s the rarely told stories dug out of pavement and heard lashing against headwinds that tell the true tales of suffering and hoped for glory.
On Qatar’s epic stage 2, it was only Alison Starnes of the US Team surviving the storm scene mayhem and making a 30-strong chase group behind the HTC/Garmin driven Tour winning breakaway. It was pure carnage out there, as tree-bending winds ripped the race to shreds like a kleenex in Katrina. As Starnes put it, “At one point I hit 65kph in a tailwind section. We were flying, or crawling … but it was all the same – suffering.”
Starnes would launch a brave solo effort at 3km to go on the day, putting enough distance between her and the pack to secure an 8th for the stage, and a bump up to the top-20 in general classification. Starnes would receive neither mention in the press, nor camera time for viewers … simply a quiet ascent up the ranks of results and stoic recognition from team directors and fellow competitors of just what a phenomenal display of speed, power and determination the young woman gritted out in the deserts of Qatar.
TIBCO pro, Megan Guarnier showed again that she’s one of the toughest riders on the circuit today. Mega was the solo warrior swinging the big punch to the peloton’s gut after a horrifically aggressive initial 30km of constant attack and counter-attack for the rights to soak up attention on the final stage of Qatar.
Mile after mile, Guarnier powered away off the front of the race, notching significant tv-time and exposure for the US National Team. Showing a growing team cohesion and comfort with the Euro-racing, Jackie Crowell whipped off the front in a 10-rider counter move that sped away after the eventual capture of her teammate Guarnier. It would be a powerful, coordinated, uber-pro chase by HTC that would bring back the move in the final kilometers, protecting that team’s leader and Tour winner, Ellen van Dijk.
Stage racing, if viewed only through the lense of a GC spreadsheet, can be cruel to the egos of those participating. With the US National Team for this year’s Tour of Qatar … if viewing only the final results, you’ll never get an idea of the crashes, the breakaways, the pain fought through and overcome. This was a young, experience-hungry team brought to Qatar by USACycling … and make no bones about it, a significant investment in creating our next set of superstars on the international stage.
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Floyd … dropping doping turds like a constipated poodle
If you haven’t read the full transcripts of the Paul Kimmage interview of Floyd Landis, chunk out a couple hours of your day and feast eyes on the admissions and accusations. It may turn your stomach, might make you snicker in desert-y-delight, or more likely just be ignored as not having much nutritional content.
It’s already hard enough to concentrate on the Tour of Qatar, when there’s real life EPIC going on in Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Yemen. And with the advancing Lancestrong and Clenbutador doping debacles that will undoubtedly ensnare the cycling world’s media attention in the months to come … I find it difficult to quell the stomach acids enough to ingest FLandis’ latest tell-blame-spit on all.
But the interview is serious, and honestly talking about the problem of drugs in our sport is paramount when we put so much effort into developing and guiding youth into positions where they WILL have to decide a course of action for themselves.
Sport is beautiful. It’s a way to bring people together, to show common interest and humanity. It is a necessary outlet for energies of nativism, loyalty, and competition. It is not real life, but it is a reflection of real life.
And right now, in America, we’re inundated with pharmaceutical insanities … bullshit anti-aging, happy pill snake oil salesmen slinging hormones and patches, uppers, downers, builders and reducers.
Sport mirrors real life. Both must be cleaned up, in my book.
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