June 29, Stage 1: Porto-Vecchio – Bastia 213km

The breakaway group appears to be riding quite leisurely at times, and the peloton has no interest in  catching the break up to 65 km to go. We do see Jerome Gautier (Fra) perform the TPR seated as well as off the saddle. On an intermediate sprint, Andre Greipel (Ger) collects a few valuable points with the TPR, Sagan and Cavendish close behind. Teams become more organized, perhaps protecting key riders. In spite of this, many notables will hit the pavement before the end of the race. Including Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) contacting a more user friendly fence this time around. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) is delayed and takes advantage of the SBHH to rejoin the field.

Chaos ensues with a team bus stuck at the finish line, and for several tense minutes this becomes the storyline. In the end, Cavendish, Sagan and Greipel are delayed and the sprint is left to Marcel Kittel (Ger) with features of torso rotation and a hike movement, while Alexander Kristoff (Nor) relying more on a SBHH, and Danny Van Poppel (Ned) with a rotation skill set. In a front view, we note Kittels’ arms are bent and weight shifting on the handlebars. There is a Cavendish commercial, which I may need to look at several times and see if I can find a few more details of the skill set, though this is complicated by the uniformly black outfit.

Nature Valley Grand Prix. Minneapolis, MN. June 14.

Great day for a criterium, and the rain held until later in the evening. Standing at the start of the long stretch of road, and had a good view of the riders accelerating off saddle as the field stretches out, 2-3 wide. With a bit of practice I was lucky enough to see the performance of 3 riders, spaced out in the field (that is a 2-3 sec view of each). It’s made a lot easier with the likes of Shelley Olds, and her well defined skill set, even if she’s a block away you can dig into the memory bank and compare with what you already know. Same with Tom Zirbel, well defined and precise skill set, unmistakable. I was able to see the full complement of skill sets, off saddle, hands on the hoods/drops performing their movement patterns. Even one skill set off saddle which was true to the concept, when most people tend to drop the pelvis (rider unknown, does deserve a mention).

I did see the results for the Stillwater criterium (did not attend), Jade Wilcoxon and Olds slugging it out for the win, and Wilcoxon wipes out on the final turn before the climb. She was ahead in GC by 1 sec (not a comfortable lead) but I do think she could have matched Olds on the uphill sprint. But then I’m reading the tea leaves.

Criterium du Dauphiné. Stage 8: Sisteron – Risoul 155.5km

Final stage of the event and rainy one at that. Christopher Froome (GBr) wearing some thick gloves, needing a teammate to help gather an energy bar from his back pocket. Speaking of Mr. Froome, quite an interesting assortment of habits; now don’t try this at home all of you aspiring riders (you are doing it anyways) he has a death grip on the top of the handlebars during the climb as he helps Richie Porte (AUS) to the finish line. Yet the skill set is alive and well, which is an asterisk on adopting a movement pattern, and while I harp about keeping the arms relaxed for most people in the process of learning, one can’t complain if the skill set is a good as that. Make a mental note though. Later on, in an end on view, he would be sprinting with Andrew Talansky (USA) for second; elbows further bent with weight shifting and trunk rotation. And Talansky, made his advance under cover of the fog and rain, an aparition. Certainly much to learn from the intricacies of Froomes’ performance (can I borrow him for a day?).

Michael Rogers (Aus) was getting some good help from Alberto Contador (Spa), Rogers rode within himself, his SBHH was as one might expect, and to finish 2 min behind for that stage might be a good result. As a team if the choice is to work for the podium vs 9th for Contador, it’s the podium, a no brainer.

Way before all of this David Veilleux (Can) was seen bopping the torso up down quite actively (a sign he was likely headed backward at the time), jumping off the saddle with a decent SBHH, but more than likely he was fried. He had his vest on, and his number was obscured, until the TV lists his name. When the camera is in sight riders put on a brave face on, and they just can’t wait for the camera to fade away into the horizon.

Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) is becoming an interesting quantity, his eyes are fixed on the rider ahead, they work like a “tractor beam”. While he has a decent SBHH movement skill, the backsweep appears to have good contact with the crankarm. According to the announcers he has a track background. Who says track riders can’t climb?

Criterium du Dauphiné. Stage 7: Le Pont-de-Claix – Superdévoluy 187.5km

Andrew Talansky (USA) appears to be shaking his ailments and is accounted for in the main group of riders. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) would be seen climbing off the saddle, and of note is the weight shifting on the handlebars. He was struggling in the lead, after dropping Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) and would do it all again to win the final stage, ahead of Chris Froome (GBr). On one occasion, on one of those views of the full group climbing, we had a chance to see several riders off the saddle and performing the SBHH, much like Swan Lake on wheels. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) was doing his best to help Michael Rogers (Aus) into 3rd place. A really nice job at setting the pace, off saddle for extended periods, SBHH movement skill set at the highest level. Very much at ease at all times.

Rohan Dennis (Aus) was seen struggling bopping the trunk up and down, and the off saddle SBHH about as labored as it gets, a step short of implosion. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) breaks from the group, and doesn’t quite create a big gap, rides with De Marchi for a period of time and gets himself into trouble, and somehow finds the will power to win the stage, still maintains a very fluid SBHH off saddle skill set which makes it all possible. One thing about Christopher Froome (GBr) that took a bit of time to relate to was his riding form, and it almost reminds one of a track sprinter, and the way in which his win unfolded a few days ago lends more substance to that assertion.

Fixed Gear Classic, Blaine, MN. 060713

A few notes on Friday’s edition of the Fixed Gear Classic at the NSC Velodrome, Blaine MN. Basically I’m following the order in the start list, the notes at hand and have but a MN second (vs NY minute) to make the observation. When there is great clarity in the movement skill, it makes my job relatively easy. When there is no clarity, then it’s not and you may not even make it into the discussion. So we begin with Leon van Bon, quite a notable roll motion of the torso and pelvis, and certainly very good on the SBHH as well. Joseph Marshall, significant bop of the head during a high effort in a sprint, and you do see the same from elite road sprinters, but as far as I can tell it detracts from the performance, and in this case the torso/pelvis lacked clarity. Same for Fred Mills on one occasion. One notable, Dan Casper TPR skill set off the saddle for effective accelerations and resorts to the SBHH during a scratch race/Madison Kilo with a very nice flow of movement, good tie in with the hip hike. However, in the sprint (if I recall) he fell apart, it’s a sprint, keep the same skill set, nice flow and magnify the whole (I know he is not a sprinter but no reason he can’t surprise someone). Did like John McGuire in the Madison Kilo, great SBHH skill set. Also honorable mention to Andrew Kruse. Then we turn to the ladies, Valerie McGoldrick, appears to rely on a roll motion, some low level bounce on the saddle (all of which is less apparent with lower gears) and wasn’t quite able to put a skill set in play. Jennifer Zierke, in the Win/out race, a nice off saddle acceleration TPR. Tara McCormick very nice SBHH on the Keirin, and finally Cari Higgins who (as we all know) delivers an excellent SBHH. We do know that right? Wish I had had a better look of Shelby Reynolds, Dana Feiss and Tela Crane. Maybe next time.

“Where are the younger athletes AND their coaches?” They ought to be in the stands with eyes glued on high level performances. “See that? That’s what we are practicing tomorrow.” You get the idea.

Many thanks to the organizers, volunteers and the Nature Valley grand Prix for attracting high quality talent to town! Great job.

Criterium du Dauphine, Stage 5: Grésy-sur-Aix – Valmorel 139km

What a great 12 km of racing! To the lead group, Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) on the wheel of Frantisek Rabon (Cze). Teklehaimanot did not appear very crisp in his skill set, he had the sidebend component, though I had a difficult time with the hike portion. He would implode soon after, and the chase would also go by him, he recovered somewhat and finished with a very decent time. Out in front leading the way, good experience! Needs to polish his skill set though.

Tim Wellens (Bel) with good form, now in the lead ticking off the pedals with the SBHH leading the way. The announcers report “good form” what exactly do they mean by this, I suspect they are just looking at the feet. Matthew Busche (USA) overtakes Wellens, also performing with an SBHH, though a more compact skill set. In the meantime we have a Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) sighting at the front leading the chase group.

Rohan Dennis (Aus) is getting dropped, not through a lack of effort, but from what may be a loss of his skill set, appears to be relying mostly on the downstroke (he is being pushed back and forth on the saddle) but a slow motion of the performance would verify that.

Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) attacks the group, off saddle, hands on the hoods weight shifting and ___________  (you should be able to fill in the gaps by now). Christopher Froome (GBr) drops his group posture and gets to work, time trials to Contador with a very smooth SBHH skill set, but he still has another gear left into what looks like a savage TPR, decisive and jaw dropping. That’s why you watch the broadcast, to witness greatness. Not to take anything from Contador, but this was Froomes’ day.

Criterium du Dauphiné. Stage 3: Ambérieu-en-Bugey – Tarare 167km

We begin with Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) born in Argentina, just west of Buenos Aires. I’m getting sidetracked, an excellent SBHH movement skill both seated and mirrored off the saddle with the hands on the drops. Looks so effortless, that anybody could do the same. As in Golf, it all looks so easy, until you try. Then we have Sander Cordeel (Bel) collecting some valuable advertising time by being in the break, a respectable SBHH. Finally, from the group in the break is Jacob Rathe (USA) with a TPR skill set, who must have imploded, finishing over 9 back, followed by Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) one of the workhorses for Team SKY (perhaps illness related?), though he did have a very busy Spring.

Finally the sprint, won by Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) with a TPR movement pattern, though choppy in appearance, nevertheless the effort is fundamentally skilled and his unique variation on the general theme. Did catch sight of Elia Viviani (Ita) 5th in the sprint, who won the previous stage, perhaps got stuck in traffic, his TPR motion did not appear as decisive as in the previous stage. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) keeps appearing in the top 10 in the sprints. Looking forward to the Time Trial where we can get a better look at the movement skills.

Criterium du Dauphiné Châtel – Oyonnax 191km, Stage 2

A few notes on the broadcast, notably Rudy Molard (Fra) who departs the breakaway group, off on a mission. For him it is the SBHH movement pattern, smooth and dynamic undulating motion, which he maintains in spite of being quite exhausted. As he goes off saddle, hands on the drops, the exact same skill set is apparent (he must have been reading this blog). On one occasion he applied a greater roll motion of the pelvis than he had earlier, at least this appeared to be the case, perhaps adapting to changing circumstances in the event. He would be caught by the peloton and finish 2 min back. On one occasion there was a Thomas Voeckler (Fra) sighting way in the background, off saddle; not a sharp image but after a while you get to know the athletes by the way in which they move. I keep noting excellent performances from the French riders. Also a Christopher Froome (GBr) sighting, SBHH, very composed and relaxed within the field. The final sprint was won by Elia Viviani (Ita), and I thought we were about to walk away empty handed with a frontal view, the camera crew comes through from the helicopter and an excellent TPR skill set in unfurled. Quite a brutal effort if you ask me, the torso and pelvis rolling in unison, very compact. Somewhat reminiscent of Pettacchi. He does have a track background, though I would like to have seen his track performances (but we know that just riding the track won’t cut it, what we need is to develop the skill set). What would it look with Mark Cavendish (GBr) side by side? in which he was second a few times at the Giro.

US Pro Championships 2013. Chattanooga, TN

Men’s Road Race. Some decent views of Chris Butler climbing (and also seated later on) with a very marked-exaggerated SBHH sequence, and Lukas Euser with what amounts to a Roll sequence while off the saddle. Tyler Wren leading the field, climbing off saddle with a Roll motion, appears to be quite effective at that. Later on in the waning km of the race I get a look at Phillip Gaimont with an effective Roll of the torso which is accompanied by a hike motion. As the chase overtakes him I would have liked to see if his movement pattern was falling apart or it was a surge of the chase, since it was a rather small chase and he had a 30 sec lead with 18 km to go. Nothing to report of the final sprint, the views were not illuminating.

Turning over to the Time Trial, it’s Thomas Zirbel’s day with a decisive Torso rotation accompanied by a hike motion, very steady on the saddle. While Nathan Brown delivered a SBHH motion.

Some stuff to report from the Women’s race, of note was Jade Wilcoxson’s ride in the road race. On the flat she rolls the torso and hikes the pelvis, though very bouncy on the saddle, which was surprising to see. Her overall technique is very similar to Zirbel’s, but he is active yet steady on the saddle. When she moves off saddle, it’s curtains for Kristin McGrath (I think), and her TPR skill set (which may have had a hike motion embedded) is far more accurate than seated. That appears to be her strength, by far. She may benefit from sitting back on the saddle.

A few views of the time trial, at the finish line the camera appears to have been located in the 10th row, maximizing viewing obstructions. Some views of Carmen Small, but I could not quite see what the skill set was, and the lack of contrast in the skin suit does not help in that regard. Now that Womens’ cycling appears to be getting better views and opportunities, why not show what and how they perform a high level of quality. Really would have liked to see more of the climbing, and off saddle in particular. Next year as they say.