riding too slowly

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Re: The Womens Hour
« on: October 25, 2014, 10:13 »
On the plus side, things like jumping the furthest or highest, running the fastest over 100m 400m are "pure".  They are the ultimate in athletic endeavour.   There are no tactics; you run in separate lanes from your rivals; it is just you against the watch.  It is not 5 of you fighting to get a good run at the bar. 

It is the same with the hour record.

Sadly pharma aids and national politics have ruined these events.  Flo Jo's exploits, born of the Moscow/Los Angeles low points have cast a long shadow over women's short distance events, with no recovery on the horizon.  The current Bolt fiasco, where one athlete is protected by an administration riding the gravy train, whilst his rivals around him, doing exactly what he is doing are repeatedly pinged, is going to leave men's sprint events in an identical hole.  That hole is, in an event with so little to commentate about, apart from absolutes, it becomes tragically and permanently flawed if the absolute is distorted.  Every Women's Olympic 100m final has the time flash up as they cross the line, together with Flo Jo's World record.  Third rate - what is to talk about, let's move on ?  As one poster on the Guardian Hour article so eloquently put it, this article is all about people who broke the record, is there a story to tell about those who tried and failed?  Well of course there is, but it is not newsworthy and will never be told.   That is the problem where the event is only a measure against an absolute standard.

The hour record has already been similarly savaged.  Remember all the Tony Romminger or Moser taking it, hype.  At the time it was hard not to view it as a joke.  Obree was a small gulp of air taken by the head as it broke the surface, but death by drowning was the ultimate fate of this entertainment.

We have seen various attempts by the UCI to change rules to try and resuscitate the corpse.    Behind the current wave are the new press pack, finding out about Boardman, the pundit expert voice of cycling, for so many  for the first time.  Match their desire to hide from a truth they do not want to contemplate with Cookson and his "schoolboy" enthusiasm to ensure he never looks too closely at his heroes to see what is in their "wash bag".  Suiting both would be a renascence of this discipline. A fresh coat of paint over a very dirty house.  Sanitise the exploits of the dopers of the past with the deeds of the new "clean riders" of the present.  Look - Jens rode clean and now he has taken the hour record.  "Shut up legs".  Just go and look at the comments section of the Guardian article to see ignorance in all its splendid glory. 

Track and Field has life support locked in place courtesy of the mechanics of the Olympics. 

The sport of Cycling is in a different league from these "pure" events that at heart, have little to interest the fan who relishes a sporting drama.  I don't mean the little disciplines that are the winter training extracts from the whole, the sprint, the  pursuit, the team pursuit, the motor pace ( crickey a World Championship  at being the best skiver sitting behind somebody else ?  It used to happen !  Who else can remember the sound of the big bikes at Saffron Lane for the Amateur and Pro Motor paces World Champs – yes it was so good they had two World titles !) I do mean road racing.  Race radios did huge damage to the sport, but what else has so many factors at play all in a dynamic with so many possible permutations to be computed at one time.  A change in direction on route to a straight road with few hedges and a wind from 3/4 ahead.  No time for a lone break.

One of the great features is that the race is the race on the day, with the conditions of the day,  times are really irrelevant.  To be a great race, there have to be many features. Of course that so many of our new lovers of the sport cannot recognise this was best witnessed at the outpouring of eulogies to Brad's 2012 Tour win.  The race was one of the most boring in the past 50 years.  But move some distance away and take another look.

The hour record is something that is wholly bad for the sport.  Fundamentally it is a list of glory seeking dopers who are never satisfied with the amount they have already stolen from others - male and female.  For those who have taken it in my lifetime - nailing my own colours to the mast - I will make a single exception - Obree - technically advantage, thinking outside the box giving him enough to make good the pharma difference.   

Women competing in road cycling have less financial incentive than men and therefore a crude hypotheses might be that doping is less prevalent in women's cycling, a generalism I would endorse. 

Trumpeting an hour record is pointing the way to a  dark path that would throw away a current advantage.  Were Bolt to waltz off into the sunset with his swag bag and name in the record books, without ever being exposed, see where all that "glory" would leave men's track and field in 15 year's time.

An hour record, regardless of bike, should be nothing anyone who wants a clean sport should support, I would rather see a resurrection of the motor pace World Champs than that.
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  • « Last Edit: October 25, 2014, 11:45 by riding too slowly »


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