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Comment is back November 7, 2009

Posted by wetalkhablamos in cycling fans, drug abuse in sport, giro d'italia.
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Nicky OrrPosted by Nicky Orr, co-editor, ChechuRubiera.info

If the story about Pereiro’s drug test in a Spanish restaurant is true, then something has gone badly wrong

I read with dismay the account of Oscar Pereiro’s random drug test in a restaurant in Santiago de Compostela.

Drug abuse in cycling – as in life –  is a degrading activity which inevitably hurts and humiliates. Teams, cyclists and fans suffer.

The authorities now take extraordinary measures to combat this abuse. Because – quite rightly – the cheats will and must be caught.

Yet, as a fan and a pen-friend, I don’t want Chechu to be violated as Oscar Pereiro seems to have been.

With his head and legs clearly visible to the restaurant’s customers behind the doors, Pereiro had to remove his trousers and underpants down to his ankles as the regulations demand, then take off his shirt and wash his hands so that he couldn’t manipulate the samples. Then he had to deliver the sample. That done, the testers carried out the blood testing procedure and put the samples in a mobile fridge they had carried into the restaurant.

What is missing in this ethical crusade is respect. The testers showed no respect for an athlete who has actually done nothing wrong. They showed little respect for his companions and the other diners either.

Sporting ethics is at the heart of the doping battle. But set aside respect for fellow human beings, and surely the battle is so much harder to win.

Giro d’Italia may start in Washington DC soon. It’s time the eco tifosi put their collective foot down

As globalisation of cycle racing has occured in recent years, the peloton has regularly criss-crossed the Atlantic and travelled en masse to the Far East and Australia.

We’ll never forget Chechu’s phenomenal climb on Mt. Hamilton in California  in February 2008 and this comment is not an attack on non-European racing.

However, we have to question the environmental cost.

At the start of this year, we decided to offset Chechu’s air travel to and from races in 2009 by making simple changes to our lives every day.

To kick it off with a certificate, we planted a couple of trees. Then we changed to A++ rated washing machine; installed an electricity cost monitor; composted; air-dryed clothes twice a week; cut down meat consumption; recycled paper and card, bottles, cans; recycled clothes; opted for paperless banking; painted with low VOC paint; used non toxic cleaning products; said no to plastic bags; pumped up tyres; turned off at the socket …

In January, Chechu flew long haul to Australia and we were already in deficit by 4,450kg. It didn’t get much better in February with his trip to California and by the end of April, the deficit was 617kg.

We were exhausted and, without serious help from other fans, we accepted that our goal simply wasn’t achievable.

So it wrankles when we read that Giro organisers want to fly the peloton to the USA.

In 2009, Team Astana required 16 team members at Tour Down Under. 18 teams travelled from Europe or USA. Assuming they had similar staffing, nearly 300 cyclists and support staff took long haul flights to Australia.

You can add the international media and photographers, team sponsors and manufacturers, and cycling’s officials. Plus a few fans, and it could add up to 500 long haul return flights.

Using a carbon calculator, return flights from Milan to Washington (business class) is 3,000kg x 500 peeps = 1.5million kg.

I think this enviromental cost is too high. Maybe it’s time to twitter Al Gore. I wonder if he speaks Italian.

Coincidentally, at the time of  this year’s TDU, Australia was suffering its worst drought in 1000 years, attributed to climate change. The water crisis crippled agriculture, environment, economy and culture.

Please note. This comment does not represent the opinions of Chechu Rubiera but is a discussion point written by the editorial team at ChechuRubiera.info. We welcome your responses below.

Safe Cycling May 20, 2009

Posted by wetalkhablamos in cycling fans, giro d'italia, lance armstrong.
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Watch Lance Armstrong’s latest video message from the Giro.

A key element of cycle racing is competition as entertainment, and without the fanatics, aficionados and tifosi lining roads to shout, to run, to paint the tarmac, there seems less sense in the daily torture endured by professional cyclists.

Fans are part of the team and we have a voice. Sponsors, crucial to cycling, want to sell us something, and they care what we think. Well, we think, “Enough. Keep cycling safe.”

So … if you can, send an open message to @lancearmstrong, ask him how we can help.

Post a message here, with ideas on how to lobby those who can affect change. We’ll publish them.

Shout for Chechu May 12, 2009

Posted by wetalkhablamos in chechu, giro d'italia, lance armstrong, team astana.
1 comment so far

For the last few days, we’ve been blessed with daily updates and photographs from Christine and Roger in Italy. They’ve tracked Chechu and his team during the first four stages of the Giro d’Italia. They’ve even stayed in the same hotel.

What an amazing experience. Christine has just phoned from Padova. At the team bus, there was a big group of Spanish fans chanting Chechu’s name. For once, his support was louder than Armstrong’s. He’s a popular bloke, and the adulation is well-deserved.

Christine and Roger have earned their privileged insight over a number of years. They’ve worked to build friendships with cyclists and staff, even with partners and parents. A special door is open to them, it’s not going to be open to everyone. And don’t expect Chechu to invite you in. He’s working too.

At the Vuelta a Espana last year, we were spectators like everyone else. No special access, and so our experience was different. Still good, but different. We also hung about for ages, took photos and said hello to a couple of team staff. But I was just another fan and they were working. No time to chat. That’s fine.

We were at the finish lines, partly by design, part accident. If you don’t have passes for access at the start line, then do go to the finish line. At the Vuelta, there was no security cordon. I leaned against Astana’s very clean team bus for a while, watching and taking in the atmosphere.

I saw Chechu there and said a quick hello. Not for the first time, I’d travelled thousands of miles to see him, but in truth that’s all I hoped to achieve. But he was there, close by, our hero. It was good.

So my top tip. Get yourself noticed. For Chechu, wear a fan t-shirt or brandish an Asturias flag. Then he knows you’re there for him.

GIRO: GO OR NO GO? April 3, 2008

Posted by wetalkhablamos in chechu, giro d'italia, team astana.
5 comments

Chechu Rubiera told El Comercio yesterday that there’s still a whisper of a hope that Astana will ride the Giro d’Italia next month.

“I know it’s difficult, but the team is negotiating the few possibilities we have for riding, so we’re waiting to see what happens in the talks.”

If the organizers of the Giro agree on a deal that lets Astana ride, what are the repercussions?

Suppose Astana rides a successful Giro. Praise flows in the media, fans have fun, sponsors relax.

Would the Tour de France feel any pressure to follow suit? Would it create the tiniest crack in their armor? Would it it cause a drop of uneasy perspiration on their brows?

What do you think?

Rebecca, Kansas City