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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.
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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.

ZZZZZ… March 25, 2009

Posted by wetalkhablamos in chechu, lance armstrong.
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It seems we’ve been snoozing on the job. It’s time to catch up on lost time, we’ve missed you.

Chechu’s 2009 season has started strongly. A good result in Australia was followed by a terrific result in California. Finishing 10th overall, he climbed, chased and yes, sprinted brilliantly over a tough parcours. He’s racing in Spain this week, supporting Leipheimer and Contador in Castilla y León.

And then there is Lance Armstrong.

On the wall of his parents’ bar in Baldarnón, there’s a huge photograph of Chechu on a climb at the Tour, with Lance on his wheel. I asked Chechu when it was, he couldn’t remember. It was USPS, so maybe 2003. Or 2002. Perhaps 2001.

And in his home gym, there are the framed maillot jaune, signed by Lance. There are at least two of them, casually propped up against the wall.

Chechu talks about those USPS days with energy and sparkle. His relationship with The Boss keeps delivering for him. Lance was instrumental in Chechu signing with Astana last year, and the key motivation for racing one more year.  The loyalty has brought Chechu overwhelming fan support in the USA.

Chechu is a consumate team-player, and he’s at his best working with other people. Even his Barlata is a collaborative venture. Yet what an asset he is to his partners. Good words flow naturally from him. He finds the positive in disappointment or calamity. Loyalty is instinctive.

Loyalty has been endangered in recent times. Our economy, based on greed and self-interest and so very fragile, is mocking our lives. We look back to past times, searching for values like integrity and gratitude which once worked so well.

There’s more to be said about this, but for the moment, let’s be thankful for Chechu Rubiera, who is gracious and good.

And also for Lance Armstrong. Always.