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There’s been a lot of news out of Australia this week. Thomas Voeckler crashed and broke his collarbone moments after arriving off his flight to the end of the world, William Walker is retiring after heart problems in the Australian national championships and not to mention the heatwave hitting the country as the Tour Down Under is about to begin.
Voeckler’s crash is a shame for the team and their sponsor as they’re about to start their first WorldTour race with their shiny new ProTeam licence. He is their most popular rider and photographers in Australia are particularly rueing the news as photo opportunities with an open zipped shirt, tongue wagging Voeckler in the Australian heat is missed forever.
The most interest news of the week is perhaps Will Walkers literal near death experience. He was diagnosed with tachycardia which is an excessively rapid heartbeat in the past and forced him to retire from what looked like was going to be a promising career. He returned to the sport a few years ago and wanted to go well at National champs so to make the national team for TDU, except his heart had other ideas. While in the break he started feeling no so good and his heartbeat reached 270 bpm. Yikes. He thought he was going to die he tells the CyclingTips blog.
This has forced him to retire from the sport a second time. I can’t help but think though, with a name like William Walker, he has nothing to worry about as a television career as an Australian version of some sort of Walker Texas Ranger like show surely awaits? I don’t know, all I’m saying is it’s a brilliant name and something needs to be done with it.
I want Mark Cavendish to be in professional cycling forever. Not only because he is a really good bike rider with the third most Tour de France stage victories. Or because even without having the looks of Mario Cipollini he is married to a page 3 model, I want Mark Cavendish to stay around because he wears his heart on his sleeve.
There’s never a dull moment, whether Cavendish wins or loses.
I was dying to find out what he thought of the 2013 Tour de France when for the first time it seemed he had to let go of his unofficial title as sprint king. In a recent interview with the BBC, I managed to get a glimpse of what’s been going through his mind.
Dolph Lundgren look-a-like Marcel Kittel certainly put his hand up this July in dethroning Cavendish. He won four stages compared to the Briton’s two, including beating him on the Champs Elysées. It’s the first time in four years Cavendish has lost in Paris.
“Kittel is good. He’s not just had a good year, he’s good,” Cavendish told the BBC, but just when you thought it ended there, Cavendish showed his personality, “But at his age  I was winning five, so I’m not that worried.”
Time will tell if Cavendish has to give up his crown. Some feel it would ruin Kittel’s perfect hair, but it’s not just Kittel’s head which is well-oiled, he benefits from a drilled sprint train as Cavendish calls it. Next year, Cavendish in his second year with his new team, Omega Pharm-Quick Step, will be reunited with namesake Mark Renshaw who he has heralded as the best lead out man in the world. Along with Alessando Pettachi, Tony Martin and Matteo Trentin, they’re certainly not going to make it easy for Kittel’s leadout train.
I would like to see Cavendish keep winning over the next few years, even if only for his post race interviews. You never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes it’s dropping the f-bomb live on TV, sometimes it looks like he is going to burst into tears at any moment. There’s nothing more entertaining than the climax of an exciting end to a race followed by great insight from the winner. Unfortunately most of the time we get “The team did a great job, we thought we could win today, I finished it off after a fantastic job by the boys.” Although Cavendish is always the first to thank his team, that could be followed by a “we used [insert rival team] train because they made the mistake of going too early” or “I don’t know why the other teams bother riding when their main guy ###### has no chance of beating me.”
While Cavendish’s looks might hold him back from endless modeling opportunities, which might await Kittel’s hair in the future, it is clear that his personality could lead him into a career in something where outrageous comments earn money.
I was really disappointed today when South African Burry Stander (Specialized) did not win a medal in the Olympic Cross Country Mountain bike race.
Shortly after the race finished and I stopped being disappointed and thought about what he actually achieved. After starting on the front line, Burry found himself in about position 25, not for the first time this season.
On lap one he used his superior strength to work his way up the field. At this point the commentators had not mentioned him yet even though he is one of the top five best cross country mountain bikers in the world.
As he got into the top ten on lap two, they noticed the green and gold colours of South Africa.
To the delight of the thousands of people supporting him back home, he joined the three leaders in front.
Immediately, Olympic medalist Chris Boardman announced Stander as the favourite. But it was not to be as Stander felt the effect of chasing down world class athletes such as eventual winner Jaroslav Kulhavy and Nino Schurter and starting dropping off the pace and out of the medals. The support for Stander was incredible though.
The commentators mentioned him more than any other rider. I felt so proud to be South African.
I thought to myself how wonderful it is to actually be in a position to be disappointed that one of my fellow countryman did not win a medal at the Olympic games in cycling.
We have very little infrastructure to support our cyclists in South Africa compared to the Great Britain’s and Australia’s of this world but here was an African Mountain Bike kid setting the Olympics alight.
Burry, a medal would just have been the cherry on the top.
You did a nation proud today.
Nice feature on Astana’s Simon Clarke.
“I thought that was it – the next step was just waiting for them to send through an offer. In the week after the test my old Amica Chips director, Giuseppe Martinelli (who is at Astana) messaged me from this random French number, saying, ‘If I can get you a spot at Astana would you be willing to come back and ride with me?’
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