Stage 10 of this year’s Giro d’Italia saw an undulating, Quintana humbling, GC busting cracker of a time-trial.
Tom Dumoulin, to coin a modern phrase, smashed it. Nairo Quintana was many minutes off the pace; he had, as the French would say, ‘un jour sans’.
A day without.
In a sport which has been all but swallowed up by finely calibrated athletes imbibing a heady cocktail of science, nutrition, and data , ‘un jour sans’ is still considered an acceptable reason for a bad day on the bike.
It’s one of the many reasons that I love pro cycling; it can’t quite let go of the archaic grey-areas and the semi-mystical search for success.
If I were a team boss I would still be feeding my riders steak for breakfast, banning them from eating the middle bit of their baguettes, and filling up their bike bottles with wine and brandy.
I am also unusual in that, although it’s not everyone’s idea of a good time, I’ll happily sit and watch a time-trial; essentially 180 pro cyclists riding along a stretch of road, one by one, against the clock.
But, in the name of ‘scientific advancement’, my ‘fun’ is being ruined.
A time-trial should showcase the photogenic union between cyclist and bike – where many hours of practice in a wind tunnel whittles man and machine into a wafer-thin wind-proof slice of pure technology.
The bike should look quick, and beautiful, like the final evolution in the two-wheeled world of natural selection.
Instead, and presumably in pursuit of ‘more speed’ and ‘better times’, bike manufacturers are taking their eye off the ball.
They have become preoccupied with making bikes which may well be quick, but might charitably be described as quirky, and accurately as ‘owww…MY EYES…take it away!
The seat posts are at wonky angles, the tubes are bent into weird shapes, and some bike makers seem to be filling in the gaps with what I can only assume are ash-trays or glove-boxes.
Are these bikes conclusive evidence of the involvement of our stylistically challenged friends – the triathletes – during the development phase? They are essentially road bikes wearing sleeveless jerseys, Speedo’s, and compression socks, and they are enough to put even me off watching a time-trial.
Fast and beautiful is what we’re after. If we can’t have that, we’ll settle for beautiful. If we are now deciding that fast trumps beautiful, I may have to flick channels on TT day and watch whatever food/baking programmes the other channels are showing.
So, come on Giant, Specialized, Canyon, Trek…
Step away from the science, help me avoid competitive baking, and get back to making beautiful TT bikes.
(Images: Tom Dumoulin via BobHteU at Flickr CC | Trinity Advanced Pro by Giant…an acquired taste?)