Friday Group Ride #19

Okay, so this is a bit more like the Saturday Group Ride, which is to say it was hard and fast and your guide for the day yo-yoed off the back like something produced by the Duncan corporation. No walking the dog here.

It’s been a week of hard rides for the PROs what with the Fleche-Wallonne and recon rides for Liege-Bastogne-Liege. And frankly, closer to home there have been some monsters as well.

Recovery is on my mind. I wonder how after such an amazingly difficult race on Wednesday these guys can be ready for L-B-L. It’s not a novel question, but even after all these years it still elicits wonder on the order of seeing Disney Land for the first time.

So question #1 is: What are your super-secret recovery tricks?

Easily the best feature of this week’s Fleche-Wallonne was seeing the rematch of a resurgent Cadel Evans against Alberto Contador. Aside from the fact that they are stylish riders, even more enjoyable was the obvious turning back of the clock to a time when the Grand Tour contenders didn’t spend the spring hiding like ground hogs.

Chris Horner seems to be on form that requires a deal with Dorian Gray’s portrait artist. I’ve had a man-crush on him since I first met him in ’96 when he told me at the Tour DuPont, “Yeah, this win definitely sets my career in motion.” He’s had some tough, tough breaks. To think he might win L-B-L is as foolish as hoping that Goldman Sachs really had everyone else’s best interests at heart, but I would love for that guy to have the legs of his life tomorrow.

Is Contador taking a page from the Lance Armstrong book of head-game BS by saying he’s just riding L-B-L for reconnaissance? Should we believe him? I prefer to think he’s lying through his very bright pearly whites. And I like it.

It’s not a stretch to think he could take it. He gets my vote. Who do you think will take the V? First correct guess gets stickers.

Image: John Pierce, Photosport International

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  1. Robot

    The best recovery trick I’ve learned is to rest a week or so between efforts of any sort. Also, Asian massage, a double shot of oatmeal washed down with Mountain Dew and a long, warm milk bath.

    And I’m going to pick Sylvain Chavanel for the L-B-L win. I don’t think that’s going to happen, but I’d like it to. I sure would.

  2. Souleur


    Recovery trick: a must is to still ride, but granny gear spin no matter what, no effort, not even breathing hard and a good diet!

  3. SinglespeedJarv

    Best recovery trick is to keep on riding. Over the years I’ve learnt I don’t do well by taking days off. Other than that, when I was younger and had the luxury of no other commitments I would have a bowl of muesli and yoghurt and an hour’s sleep.

    Excuse me for a minute, I feel the need to go outside and throw bricks at the car’s racing through my village at 80mph.

    As for La Doyenne, I can’t see Gilbert being beaten this year. I don’t think the hills are long or steep enough for the likes of Contador and the Schlecks to be able to drop him on current form

  4. MJR

    I was beat today after a tough ride last Sunday and a (rare for me lately) 5 bike-commutes this week. So instead of getting on the bike at 7am, I walked the dog for nearly 2 hours instead of our normal early morning 30 minutes. Then rolled around town on my commuter doing errands at midday- libray, hardware store, deli.

    This combo of easy pedaling, other “exercise”, and relaxing usually sets me up well for the coming week.

  5. C.Monaco

    Milk, preferably chocolate, a bunch of dark, dark greens and some time in the sauna at the gym. Jump back and forth from sauna and a cold, cold shower, giving each a good few minutes of your time. Then I wring my legs through a foam roller – the grandest pain a cyclist can feel – and chow a banana almondbutter and honey sandwich on some gnarly-grain bread. I’m flying my San Francisco Bay Area colors with this one, but it works a dream.

    I tip Pippo for the win. I sure hope he’s riding!

  6. Michael

    I am in the happy position of working for an apparel manufacturer who happens to have compression wear in their line-up, and I have to say that nothing beats recovery from a hard ride than lying down on the couch, legs jacked up under 3 feet of couch cushions while wearing a set of compression tights. No placebo affect, I feel really, really refreshed the next day.

    I am a firm believer in regular massage once per week, thankfully I have a generous benefits plan that re-pays a big percentage of each visit as otherwise I could not afford this! I usually get a 1 hour massage on the legs, hips, glutes and back and follow that with a chiropractic tune-up right after while I am still nice and loose.

    It leaves me feeling “proper” and centred…at least until the following week’s visit, by which time I am in desperate need of both! LOL

  7. Michael

    As for Liege, I think either Gilbert or Hesjedal takes it. No one will let Schleck ride away like last year, and I am not so sure he has the form in his legs to be a factor at km 220+. Just too many missed racing days this year. I think Evans is back on the podium tomorrow as well. As proven by his winning break in the Vuelta last year Hesjedal is perfectly suited to a parcours like tomorrow’s, and I think he may just be the only guy with the perfect blend of form, fitness and racing qualities to give Gilbert a run for his money tomorrow, especially with Van De Velde coming in at the last minute to play the super-domestique.

    Official prediction

    2. Gilbert
    3. Evans

  8. todd k

    I’m going with Valverde. Though this race should be a good test of Contrador’s self proclaimed recovery ablities, no?

    WIth two kids south of three years old in the house, I’m ironically finding all my cycling ‘recovery’.

  9. Jim

    Eat within an hour of finishing the hard ride – preferably something with lots of protein and reasonable carb content. Take a long, hot shower. Then take a 90 minute to two hour nap, with the legs elevated. Active rest the next day – a one hour very easy spin. And rehydrate as if you were being paid to drink.

    Hmmm. Guess that isn’t really a trick, it’s just what you’re supposed to do.

  10. Doug P

    My recovery trick would be massage, (especially the feet!) whether in the gym or done by myself in the shower. For ‘la Doyenne’ I’ll pick Andy Schleck, as he seems to be coming on form, and Alberto for second.

  11. randomactsofcycling

    Recovery? What the hell is that! Pretty much anytime I rode on my own I am recovering from the beating my clubmates give me. The tip is to eat and drink – while you ride. Yeah the ride might only be two hours long but you’ll suffer afterwards and won’t recover as well if you aren’t putting calories into your system consistently.
    As for L-B-L, I think Contador is foxing. He wants one of these Spring Classics bad. But I think it will stay together and if it does, I can’t bet against Freire.
    Do we get to pick a Dark Horse?…Jens Voigt!

  12. Michael

    Agreed. Vino couldn’t even muster any enthusiasm or emotion in any language during the post-race interviews, and all Valverde could do was winge about a little bit of road rash.

    We probably should have seen this coming with the Trentino results from Vino, it was only a matter of time until a former convicted offender won a big one.

    Though I will say Chapeau to Gilbert for his inspired last-ditch chase. He simply left that for too late. I think he was overly concerned at the start of that climb with wheelsucker extraordinaire Valverde and not wanting to pull him to the line. Had he attacked the old fashioned way at the base of the climb he may just have made up that 40 second gap by the top, and Valverde clearly did not have the gas to follow him up hill.

    On a closing note, this will be a most unpopular podium, though I liken this to free speach in a sense – the very essence of freedom of expression is the right of those who say things we do not want to hear to be allowed to do so.

  13. Doug

    Vino did his time. Had Millar won would so many people be disgusted?

    I still like Vino, props for the win. He isn’t the shit talker that Ricco is so why lump him in the same category.

  14. sophrosune

    I’m with you, Doug. I guess people aren’t satisfied with two years out of the sport on the first offense. What I would like to know is now that we’ve completed the Spring classics and a number of week-long stage races, it would appear Astana has won 5 races and RadioShack 1, so is RadioShack still going to beat Contador at the Tour just on the superiority of their team?

  15. SinglespeedJarv

    @Doug unlikely (although there are those who would be disgusted by Millar), but why? Well:

    Vino: unrepentant doper who won’t admit he’s ever done anything wrong
    Millar: repentant doper who is on the board of WADA

    A big difference between them is that Millar was busted in ’04 and Vino in ’07. In ’04 it seems the lessons of the Festina affair had been long forgotten by most of the peloton and the arms race was back on. Although this does’t excuse what Millar did, put it into context that by the time Vino had been caught injecting someone else’s blood, cycling had gone through the Puerto and Telekom affairs and you would have thought that by then perhaps, just perhaps, by then the riders not only knew what they were doing was wrong, but that they were destroying the sport. But no, Vino had to attack and attack, Vino had to destroy. And so did all the others who followed.

    If anything I have (infintessimally) more time for Ricco than I do for Vino because he at least grassed up others. But all the doping affairs from Festina onwards gave them plenty of time to change thier ways before they got busted, but none of them did.

  16. grolby

    @SinglespeedJarv, agreed. Leaving aside the doping question (though I was very disappointed with the result of L-B-L today), Vino’s attack had me raising my eyebrows – didn’t he say that he was riding to support Contador? That didn’t look like the ride of a domestique to me. It’s not as though Contador was having an off-day, either, he was clearly riding strong. But once your teammate goes clear, what can you do?

    The fact is that Vino is a renegade, always has been a renegade, always will be a renegade. It’s looking increasingly likely that the 2010 Tour will be a case of deja’vu for Contador.

  17. bubba

    some thoughts: maybe americans dislike vino because he doesn’t match our cycling demographic: middle class or privileged, and english-speaking (hamilton – boarding school; millar – no comment; vaughters – etc.). seems to me that vino has paid dues the entire time he’s raced (like having to throw the olympics to those well-know finishers ullrich & kloden). the fact that he was suspended, and the rest of the top-50 haven’t been, shouldn’t take away from enjoying an attack-filled finish and good team tactics.

  18. sophrosune

    Not sure if you guys saw the race, but Contador came up to Vinukorov after he won and gave him the most enthusiastic hug and congratulations. I think the team tactics may have been known to only those in the team. Certainly Contador seemed pleased witht the outcome. As impressive as Vinukorov may have been in this race, and him being a renegade and all, he is never going to beat Contador in a mountain stage or a time trial.

    So, I guess by your responses that Contador doesn’t have to worry about RadioShack’s superior team…since, well, they’re not superior. Maybe the fact that they’re all over 35 might have something to do with it. What a joke.

  19. todd k

    I agree with sophrosune. Vino played off a dig by Contrador on the Cote de la Roche. It was a good move, to be honest. Though a given rider may or may not be designated ‘the man’ for the day, a good team will still fire multiple bullets.

    I can’t help but to also ponder how ‘lucky’ Vino is to be a Kazakhstani rider with access to a Kazakhstani team thar happens to have a pro tour license. Most riders coming out of bans seem to either be faced with racing on a lesser Italian team or not racing with Rock.

    Wonder if ASO will let him ride the tour, though? Since Operation Puerto I can’t recall ASO letting any banned rider race le Tour in their first opportunity post ban. (Anyone recall an exception?) Vino seemed to use a lot of his 9 lives with the ASO, specifically cheating in their marquee event after getting a huge benefit of doubt from them. I have a hard time believing ASO won’tact on that.

  20. randomactsofcycling

    Another great race from the sounds of it. Let’s not forget their was a race here! And well done to Astana, Contador is not their only quality rider. Those were some clever tactics.
    I do hope Vino is clean but it does stick in the throat that he is not at all repentant. “This is a beautiful revenge for me.” What the hell does that mean? Who wronged who?
    I’d like to finish on a positive note so I’ll say congratulations to Gilbert for what must be one of the most consistent Spring Classic campaigns in recent memory. That guy is genuine class.

  21. SinglespeedJarv

    @sophrosune watched the whole abysmal last 100km. What else was Contador going to do than hug his boss after his boss had just won. Just remember whose team Astana is.

    To be honest I was joking about the Tour ref. I was joking about Vino as ASO are clearly not going to let him ride. I just don’t understand this supposed rivalry between Astana and Radioshack, as if they are the only teams that will count at the tour.

    @randomactsofcycling by you saying “another great race” I’m guessing you didn’t watch it, or if you did my sarcasm radar has failed and I apologise. Without getting into the politics surrounding the results, it was the most disappointing edition of the race and the worst classic I’ve ever seen. It was a 240km club-ride. In the final 21km Andy Schleck made one attack, Gilbert made two attacks, Evans bridged to all three moves. All of these were chased down by a big group and Vino was allowed to ride off the front.

    Hardly a classic. As one journo put it, Liege should be ignored next year. The winners list is a cheaters hall of fame and the worst possible example cycling could give to the wider pubblic and media at large.

  22. todd k

    I am actually not sure of ASO will stop Vino as LBL is also an ASO event. ASO hasn’t been saying much about Vino, which got me to thinking…

    I did like seeing Cadel, Valverde and Gilbert try to close the gap. I also liked seeing a bunch of classic guys and tour contender being active.

    One thing I do like about LBL is the grades on the climbs- steep enough to put folks on the limit, but not so much so as to allow anyone to take their foot off the gas.

  23. Michael

    I would not say that Vino attacked Contador. In a spanish language interview after the race Contador said his job was to mark Schleck, which he effectively did with that devastating acceleration to bridge up to and past them. Vino countered in a good spot on the downhill and everyone let him ride away. Classic team tactics, and a savvy attack by Vino.

    I am not a fan of his, but to say he attacked his own teammate is a gross misinterpretation of what happened on the road.

  24. Lachlan

    a) Had I been on before the race I would have voted Andy S… so nil points 😉

    b) very unhappy to see vino win. Definitely represents the more questionable end of dopers (valverde in 3rd doesn’t exactly help the stench that pervaded the post race press conference, and most viewers thoughts)

    c) think it just shows that Astana will be strong and confident enough for the tour … and reminded me more of the kind of Lance-working-for-support-riders early season help that big tour winners sometimes do to payback in advance for support later in the year. LBL is more a vino sorta race than a Contador one, so from a team tactics pov I’d say it ran very well to script…. of course had vino come back, Alberto would have been primed to go again… etc etc.

  25. Souleur

    I found it interesting from several points

    -Now…Vino conceded that he is clean….pointedly…first words out of his mouth that he was clean, as in as he crossed the line. Perhaps its a knee jerk reaction, or perhaps worse than that. I don’t know. But, I do know that he has never conceded his doping that I know of-so matter of factly. So, for me, its a disappointment that he concedes it at a time that he should be enjoying a moment.

    The depth of his guilt in dope can really be arguable, and as the doping topic is in cycling, will go on into eternity. My personal opinion is that his doping may have been somewhat less than others. Sure, he did it, but there is an eastern bloc mentality that I think may be clouded his judgement, in that he had a doc, Ferrari, a team doc that said this is something you need, so he did it. Autotransfusion is dope. Trusting, maybe, stupid..for sure. Either way in my opinion its less than the obvious EPO/CERA injections and other HGH/Testosterone pro-growth injections, which runs a deeper course of cheating in my opinion due to their deliberation and the long lasting effect of gaining muscle mass which outlives 120 days blood transfusion.

    Similarly controversial is the fact that Valverde can race LBL and other Belgian races, but cannot race others due to the incongruence of cooperation between nations and the recognition of a uniform policy/governing body. Yes, he can be a racer today, winner, champion, but don’t cross the line down the road 6o miles, because there they don’t allow you to win…and be champion, because your a cheat.?.?..

    Either way, its a controversial win.

  26. jza

    So sick of people lumping EVERYONE with a doping conviction into the same boat.

    Millar admitted, apologized, and is productively contributing to clean sport. His results are less than phenomenal, but there are some bright spots.

    Basso is a shadow of the win-the-Giro-by-10-minutes guy he used to be, but a reliable top-10 in shorter stage races. Which is believable. He’s a genuine phenom going back to his junior years.

    Ricco, doper from the get-go, going back to his junior days. winning just like he used to, but I’ll bet he learned to ride without throwing up the flags.

    Vino, phenom from his junior days, in the eastern-bloc ‘techniques’, then had BIG years ’99-04. There weren’t clean wins then. Maybe if he had struggled to find his legs, I could buy this. But a 260km monument three months into his first season back? Sorry, not buying it.

    I’ve been digging this season, Cofidis and Bouygues are taking wins. Still, nobody’s winning Monuments clean.

    There are several new CERA type blood boosters out there and autologous blood doping is as common as ever. This isn’t a ‘clean era’ by any means.

  27. SinglespeedJarv

    @jza while I agree with you on you’re assessment of convicted dopers and their returns, it seems a balanced and rational approach to the situation, you’re also throwing around some fairly big accusations there.

  28. randomactsofcycling

    I’m not sure what sound is made when a hornet’s nest is opened….but sure sounds like one just did….

  29. jza

    Lomabardia kills me. It’s my favorite race. Cunego is my favorite rider. Gilbert was pure class. Hell, Bettini’s wins were spectacular. I want to believe Lombardia is the one race at the end of the calendar that doen’t bring the Alpha Dogs. The fact that a great descender has as good a chance as a good climber is definitely helpful. But….aaaaaaaaaagh!

  30. SinglespeedJarv

    @jza you missed or ignored my point. If you say the monuments are not won clean, then how do you explain the 2009 MSR and Lombardy which were won by two of the most outspoken anti-doping riders in the peloton?

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