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Saturday, 12 December 2015

THE COGNITIVE SELF

20th century philosopher Michel Foucault was particularly unusual in his methodology. Rather than concentrate on one subject he sought to gather wisdom from the study of, well, everything. History and more specifically Genealogy were his means to find answers to the concept of the self and the direction of knowledge, which can be structured by the diversification of themes:
"... [Genealogy examines] the constitution of the subject across history which has led us up to the modern concept of the self."
He viewed genealogy as an inquiry into the seemingly not important, but eventually crucial, parts that constitute a subject and not into the timeless condition of being. Each of these elements are indivisible from the fabric weaved into the current self.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

THE PROGRAM... A NON-ENHANCING PERFORMANCE

Too soon or too late, but it's definitely an odd time to come out with this movie as the story has saturated the sport and some riders are still around, which makes it difficult from a legal and sporting point of view.
I had the best seat, front row, just off the stage where later Frears, Walsh and the impeccable host Rebecca Charlton would hold a Q&A session.
As cyclists we tend to have an inherent passion about our sport, we debate, argue, shout, cheer, and mimic our greatest heroes and ride in the same parcours. So when a director who has not a clue or is not remotely interested in cycling, is given the job of unravelling one of the most controversial stories in the history of cycling, nothing too good can come out of it.
The film is the visual representation of 'Seven Deadly Sins', a book written by journalist David Walsh and his pursuit to unmask Armstrong's doping and the various types surrounding a systemic doping that had its pinnacle at the turn of the century (by no means over now, and very present in the past as well).
Whatever people's opinion on Walsh, he was part, if not the major act in the unveiling of the doping culture. He is by no means the only reason Lance admitted to doping, but thanks to his investigations he moved enough opinions to keep the case above the surface.
Actor Chris O'Dowd plays Walsh and he's the only good note in this sketchy film.
The story unravels with snippets of episodes, the acting is marred by the strange impersonations of too many well known riders/coaches/managers etc.
The 'cycling' in the film doesn't come across as important and it shows. It seems to be told by someone who has been told about cycling but has not being involved.
Armstrong's notorious chasing down of Simeoni was a laughable affair of 30 metres, which made no sense in tactical terms. That was a crucial moment because not only Armstrong threatened him but by chasing him down himself while wearing the yellow jersey he basically killed any ambitions the Italian rider might have had. That didn't come across.
But Frears admitted during the Q&A after the screening that he was only interested in the criminal side of the story. He seemed confused and unimpressed by an audience that was more focused on the nuances of the sport. But those nuances are important. At the heart of all the doping there was yes greed, fraud, threats, bullying but also a chase for glory, fame, sporting immortality.
Ben Foster, Lance in the movie, had a passable performance but the general feel was one of a 'B' movie, something that would come up in the afternoon on Channel 5. Hurried, fragmentary, at times ridiculous.
And let's forget the title sequence... as a designer I cringed. Bad type, bad editing.
It confirmed was I thought the film would be like and I only went because I hoped the Q&A would bring light to the making of the movie. But with a reluctant director, it wasn't going to happen.
A friend suggested they should've made a film about a story like Armstrong's but with fictional characters. That would've freed the legal headaches and the silly make ups. Or stick with a well edited documentary (but that's been done).
However, I was in good company and a night out is a night out.

4/10

Friday, 9 October 2015

2015 SEASON - GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Jakob Fuglsang 
Astana Pro Team
No wins from him since 2012 (apart from a TTT at the 2013 Vuelta)

Mark Cavendish
Etixx-Quick Step
All in perspective given his status as one of the fastest sprinters in history. Lots of wins but only one in the World Tour at the Tour. Outpaced by several sprinters when it mattered, this has been his worst season to date, although other riders would give their right hand to have his 2015 results. Contract not renewed

Michal Kwiatkowski
Etixx-Quick Step
Often in the thick of it, he won the Amstel Gold Race but nowhere near his previous season. The rainbow jersey's curse strikes again

Rigoberto Uran
Etixx-Quick Step
The Colombian was outperformed in the Grand Tours and was never a real threat all year. His form was coming on just before the Worlds, too late

Heinrich Haussler
IAM Cycling
Winning the National championship was a good start but since then Heinrich has all but disappeared from the top tier

Roberto Ferrari
Lampre Merida
Nothing since 2012, the step up hasn't happened

Filippo Pozzato
Lampre Merida
His lack of wins is in sharp contrast with his enormous support he gets from the fans. He might not find a World Tour contract for 2016

Nairo Quintana
Movistar
Tirreno Adriatico, then 2nd at the Tour with a couple of impressive stages, but all too late. However, he looked all year as though his top end was lacking in power when it counted

Ryder Hesjedal
Cannondale-Garmin
For a Grand Tour winner, Ryder has not followed on his 2012 form. Although aggressive on some stages, he hasn't managed a win since Vuelta 2014

Dan Martin
Cannondale-Garmin
A year to forget for the Irish champion. His talent was lost in the Cannondale merger. No results in 2015

Moreno Moser
Cannondale-Garmin
The Italian rider clearly has talent and he's developing into a strong time triallist. He needs focus and attention and a stricter team in terms of management/coaching

Andrew Talansky
Cannondale-Garmin
Like many from that team, he disappeared after promising so much in 2014

Marcel Kittel
Giant-Alpecin
Illness perhaps, problems in the head more probable. He struggled to finish races, let alone winning them. Not the Kittel who outsprinted Cav in Paris. A change of team will hopefully give him a clean slate

Ben Swift
Team Sky
As a designated sprinter in one of the top teams, Swift has not shown the potential his management seem to believe in

Julian Arredondo
Trek Factory Racing
He was meant to be the next Colombian sensation but often fails to make a mark for himself

Bauke Mollema
Trek Factory Racing
Perhaps his ambitions for Grand Tour podium are too much. He would be a great lieutenant for a proper GT contender









OUTSIDE WORLD TOUR:

Bardiani team
After being protagonists in most races last year with growing talent, this year they has been very subdued grabbing only one stage at the Giro but also having a spat with MPCC over the participation of a rider with high cortisol levels prior to the Giro

Theo Bos, Tyler Farrar, Matthew Goss, failed to convert any effort in results all from an otherwise impeccable MTN-Qhubeka


Sunday, 26 July 2015

TOUR DE FRANCE 2015 - WEEK 3

 Stage 17 
The Alps. The last hope for some, the last struggle for others.
The rest day, as per script, became a stress day, with doping allegations, data crunching, numerology and mythology having their 15 minutes of fame.
Then, like at the opera after the instruments are tuned up with a well rehearsed cacophony, all was ready and quiet. Well, if 50km/h and a few mountain passes can be considered quiet!
A few riders tried to ride through illness and fatigue, some of those eventually had to give up. Notably, Kwiatkowski, who coincidentally has been told his contract won't be renewed by Etixx-QuickStep. But the biggest surprise was the retirement of BMC leader Tejay van Garderen, leaving the race in 3rd place. The American struggled from the start and was repeatedly dropped until he eventually threw in the towel, unable to keep up with the pace. That opened up the race for the podium.

Monday, 20 July 2015

TOUR DE FRANCE 2015 - WEEK 2

 Stage 10 
The first week is always very unpredictable, as the GC guys normally just ride through it and form is not at its peak. For those reasons many riders have been caught out by the pace and hard parcours. The Pyrenees would be a better test for many riders and stage 10 became a nuclear test!
Nothing happened much until the final climb of the day, a 20km climb with over 1,200 metres of altitude gain. By the time Froome attacked with his trademark Speedy Gonzales impression on the pedals, Nibali and Contador had started to lose ground in a very unlikely fashion. Froome would go on to win by a big margin over teammate Porte and rival Quintana. Geraint Thomas proved once more to be an invaluable domestique and showed much improved climbing prowess.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

TOUR DE FRANCE 2015 - WEEK 1

 Stage 1 
Controversy started even before a single rider had stepped down the ramp of the opening individual time trial. Lars Boom had shown abnormally low level of cortisol, which could mean poor health or doping. Under the MPCC rules (Mouvement pour un cyclisme credible), a voluntary organisation for professional teams with a clean-cycling ethos, Boom should have been suspended for racing for 8 days, but Astana wouldn't have it and the rider took to the start. Astana was therefore suspended by MPCC, which is like hitting someone with a foam baton.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

GIRO D'ITALIA 2015 REFLECTIONS


THE CROWDS
Cycling is a sport that allows the fans to be in close proximity, for free, to its stars and heroes. That has the side effect of gathering distracted, ignorant (or potentially mean) people, alongside the vast majority of fervent supporters. So it happens that an idiot enters the course with a fixie bike and the peloton crashes to a halt, losing some of its best pieces, and almost stopping the eventual winner on day two. Then there were the idiots taking photos by leaning into the path of the oncoming peloton, causing more crashes.
But, as I witnessed in person, there are no better fans than cycling fans, and Giro spectators are awesome. Everywhere there was enthusiasm (still not sure about Milan and puncturegate) and excitement, people

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

SIMON JENKINS DOES A U-TURN

Dear Mr Jenkins,
I am glad you've finally turned around to the idea that cyclists are not pests but human beings like everybody else.
I applaud that during this last year you've taken up to cycling and it has contributed to your change of mind.
What saddens me is when people of your culture have to act out a part before understanding it.
It is akin to say it's ok to be racists if you don't know anyone of different ethnicity or you're not one yourself; it's ok to ignore pay inequality unless you dress and behave like a woman for a year;
it's ok to inflict on the poor if one mingles exclusively with the rich.
Perhaps respect and understanding should be exercised by reason and intellect.
I'm a cyclist but I'm no hero, it's just what I do and should be allowed to do without the aggression and rage thrown at me on a daily basis in the streets of London.
I shouldn't have to wait for every Londoner to get on a bike for a year before they understand what it's like and why they shouldn't kill me.
Please keep on cycling, Mr Jenkins, but it's not an exclusive club you've entered, you said it yourself:
"this morning's cyclist is this afternoon's pedestrian and this evening's motorist..."
you could/should have worked that one out sooner.