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M Gee

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The New Skinny
« on: December 28, 2015, 02:59 »
The Bike Show interviewed Geraint Thomas here:
http://thebikeshow.net/aint-nuthin-but-a-g-thang-geraint-thomass-world-of-cycling/

At about minute 27 they talk about the current emphasis on diet and weight. I know I have made fun of the super skinny upper body that we see today more than we saw in the past. I think this open discussion of this is interesting and valuable.

This post should probably be in another thread - but I couldn't find where quickly - so I didn't try harder. If somebody knows where it belongs, tell a mod, please.

Regardless, it is a good and interesting interview.
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  • . . .He had the bit between his teeth, and he loiked the taste, mate . . .

    AG

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    Re: The New Skinny
    « Reply #1 on: December 29, 2015, 10:22 »
    yeah its interesting ... weight issues and power data are the new EPO
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  • M Gee

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    Re: The New Skinny
    « Reply #2 on: December 30, 2015, 02:35 »
    yeah its interesting ... weight issues and power data are the new EPO

    Yes, precisely so! It has become a "bottom-line" item for participation in the pro echelons.

    I began noticing, back when Tyler released his book, that much of the "dark side" stuff was about weight control. But I'm getting off into the forbidden zone here! I'm thinking, that today the teams are primarily focusing on psych pressure and peer pressure to keep the weight issues in control. And I'll leave anything else unsaid, lest we have to move the thread. But if the discussion goes that way, maybe that other location is the right place.

    But the interview does not go there at all, and that is where I think most pro riders are existing today - with having to adhere to the ultra-discipline required to keep the weight at the very bottom of the power zone.
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  • AG

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    Re: The New Skinny
    « Reply #3 on: December 30, 2015, 12:42 »
    absolutely

    while there might be the implication of drugs, there isnt a magic pill that just melts the fat away ... weightloss of that magnitude takes training, discipline and less calories than every before.

    even if darkside issues are involved, every member of the peloton is under immense pressure to drop weight and keep it off (preferably while maintaining power/speed)

    not just the stars but the doms, the newbies ... everyone.
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  • L'arri

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    Re: The New Skinny
    « Reply #4 on: December 30, 2015, 13:54 »
    I think weight has always been an issue - I can think of several memoirs in which coaches or DSs told riders they needed to lose a bunch - but today it is about skinny and then some.

    By which I mean that the character of performance training is more like a delicate tuning process than a seasonal programme. Riders today simply cannot eat a bit too much at Christmas and, like Lemond and many others used to do, burn off the excess during early races.

    Setting aside Dark Side probabilities, it is plainly suggested that individuals like Wiggins, Froome, Porte and Thomas made big strides by dropping a whole lot of weight, to the extent that it would appear to be an intrinsic part of Sky's stage racing preparation. To that list, I would probably add Visconti who seems to suit longer climbs better now than when he was slightly stockier at Pro Conti level. I'm sure there are others.

    On the other hand, we can also speculate on a few examples where weight loss may have been a bad or misguided strategy for some riders. My memory is somewhat foggy here but I suspected that, in CX at least, Albert and Pauwels both struggled after a big (and possibly experimental) drop in kilos a few seasons ago. I also wondered sometimes if Rui Costa and Majka had gone a bit too far in 2015 and paid for it.
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    M Gee

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    Re: The New Skinny
    « Reply #5 on: January 01, 2016, 00:48 »
    Yes, yes! Riders used to gain a bit off-season, and ride into shape. That was more common than not.

    To think that some riders today may have lost too much weight! But of course! It must certainly be the case, but you know, I had never considered it before!

    I'm watching TdF 2015 on youtube - and it is the French broadcast. It's affecting the way I use my words! :D
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  • M Gee

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    Re: The New Skinny
    « Reply #6 on: January 01, 2016, 01:27 »
    . . . it is plainly suggested that individuals like Wiggins, Froome, Porte and Thomas made big strides by dropping a whole lot of weight, to the extent that it would appear to be an intrinsic part of Sky's stage racing preparation.  . . .

    I think what you say is quite clearly validated at this point in time. The recent interview with Geraint Thomas, and Wiggins only a short time in the past, are both background validation of exactly this conclusion. In the Wiggins interview, he talks about losing weight for the Tour, and now he is working to put it back on for the track.

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  • lucprevost

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    Re: The New Skinny
    « Reply #7 on: January 01, 2016, 12:41 »
    Leontien van Moorsel had anorexia problems in 1994... because the ratio power/weight was already important for racers...

    I remember meeting  dutch pro, Gerad Vianen, in 1974, on the roads around Montreal.
    He was here for the World Championship.
    I was 14.
    The first thing he told me was that I was too fat!
    «You have to see the veins on you legs» was is second advice.

    Nothing new in the new skinny.
    Just more science.
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  • M Gee

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    Re: The New Skinny
    « Reply #8 on: January 03, 2016, 02:32 »
    Leontien van Moorsel had anorexia problems in 1994... because the ratio power/weight was already important for racers...

    I remember meeting  dutch pro, Gerad Vianen, in 1974, on the roads around Montreal.
    He was here for the World Championship.
    I was 14.
    The first thing he told me was that I was too fat!
    «You have to see the veins on you legs» was is second advice.

    Nothing new in the new skinny.
    Just more science.

    I love that anecdote, but I disagree. There IS something NEW in the NEW skinny. It is not that "skinny" is valuable, it is the pervasiveness of "skinny" as a bottom line for the pro peloton. Read on, please.

    You're right - it's not new.

    Bruyneel was famously told off by Sainz for wanting to wear a gold chain with his wedding ring on it in a TT in the Vuelta many years back. Sainz's logic - we spend good money getting the bike as light as possible, we spend time getting you to the right power to weight and then you blow all of that with unnecessary weight ...??!!!

    Also, save for a couple of very notable exceptions (yes Jan Ulrich, we're looking at you!), the riders of previous years didn't pack on any more weight than the current crop did. They were a different body composition in general - most GT winners were a similar build to 'cross riders of today, because they needed to be in order to have the capacity to climb and TT respectably enough before the advent of oxygen vectors - so had a different appearance both in and off season. And the fact that they usually started racing during the classics meant that they were keen to turn up to the start of the year at something resembling a racing weight - maybe a different weight to what they would carry up a mountain, but a racing weight nonetheless.

    Only bit that I'll disagree with is about it being "more science".

    To me, the weight focus is just part of the PR bullsh*t used to mask the various teams' programmes. Weight is the perfect tool for them to use as a mask for what they are dosing their riders - since all of the amateur sleuths have no way of measuring it and since it can be an element of the performance equation.
    Hence the inclusion of weight in the discussion inthings like Froome's release and here again in Thomas' PR piece ...

    I will heartily disagree. That riders of the peloton, in general, carried more body weight in previous decades is validated by simply reviewing race video from pre-1980 races. Even better, from pre-1970 videos and/or images. One has to simply see a photo of Bahamontes to see the stereotypical ultra-skinny upper body - but photos of the peloton from those years reveal a lot of riders who were carrying 10-15 more lbs than would be acceptable today. Look at Lemond, and Hinault. In Hinault, we see the upper body typical of a sprinter today.

    Science, and money, have changed things. #1: money for the riders today is real. It is no longer the pittance it was before 1980. Money changes priorities. The riders have a real incentive to keep cycling as a career choice. #2: science. Science has not really introduced any new concepts - but it HAS confirmed that the ultra-skinny upper body has the best GC chances. And, it HAS offered better knowledge on dietary technique. In 1960, dietary technique was something some coaches talked about - and you took your chances on which techniques you trusted. Dietary science was, in human baby terms, newborn.

    So, my conclusion is, that pre-1980, things were very different. Even into the 1990's, things stayed much the same in many regards, altered only by the advent of steroids in the 80's, and O2 vectors in the 90's. Only in the 90's, when the anti-doping pressures got higher, but the money was there, did riders seek alternative resources to the O2 vector. And weight was one of the primary alternatives.
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  • 42x16ss

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    Re: The New Skinny
    « Reply #9 on: January 03, 2016, 03:52 »
    absolutely

    while there might be the implication of drugs, there isnt a magic pill that just melts the fat away ... weightloss of that magnitude takes training, discipline and less calories than every before.

    even if darkside issues are involved, every member of the peloton is under immense pressure to drop weight and keep it off (preferably while maintaining power/speed)

    not just the stars but the doms, the newbies ... everyone.
    But there are! AICAR, GW1516 and specific peptides do EXACTLY this, as does a combination of Clenbuterol and Trenbolone. Getting ludicrously thin while maintaining power is easier than ever  :lol

    How do you think guys have been able to get so thin AND strong ever since Rasmussen in 2007?
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  • DB-Coop

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    Re: The New Skinny
    « Reply #10 on: January 08, 2016, 11:13 »
    How do you think guys have been able to get so thin AND strong ever since Rasmussen in 2007?

    Bad example imo, Michael was old school, I think in reality the question about this 'new skinny' is how it works, how can you focus on weight and be the best up a mountain and the best on an ITT? Really I think the question is that, if somebody was willing to sacrifice one or the other, shouldn't he be faster? The question here being why/how does GC riders win stages, shouldn't these primarily be won by climbers/tt'ers? if weight can just be manipulated to improve results.
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  • M Gee

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    Re: The New Skinny
    « Reply #11 on: January 09, 2016, 23:48 »
    You have completely misread my post ... as your "disagreement" is exactly the same as a point that I have made - the riders of the previous generation were built differently to today.

    The point that I am disagreeing with is that the focus on weight is new - as it has long been a part of the peleton. Remember the stories about LeMond being given a hard time for eating ice cream during the season because it'd make him fat?

    Weight has always been a focus. The difference now is that weight changes are used as justification for improvements in performance - and, as I said, I believe that's really just a mask for the current crop of PEDs.

    You are absolutely right. The riders were built differently. And the focus on weight in cycling started way before I was even born. What is different is the quantity of focus. The riders were built differently because the riders today are far more focused on weight as a paradigm. That is what I am saying that disagrees with what you are saying. It isn't a cover - the teams have uncovered a strategy that works to increase the power to weight ratio.

    The competition at all levels in the pro peloton is fiercer than it was 40 years ago. One reason is that there is more money involved. So, every little edge is important. The peloton of 40 years ago had very little science to rely on. No power meters. Fewer studies. No wind tunnel. Way less nutritional support. They relied on peer knowledge, expert coaching, and personal experience. All of which are notoriously fickle.

    Today, every pro's goal is to be Bahamontes skinny. No upper body. In the 70's and 80's (I know from personal experience), it was regarded as a necessity to bring a little weight into the Grand Tours so that one could live through the three weeks. This was "general knowledge", so is likely much older. Today many of the top riders look like death warmed over on the first day of the GT, because on-the-road nutrition is that much better, and focus on weight is that much greater.

    I will add thyroid to 42x16ss's list of PEDs that are specifically used to reduce weight. I have no doubt whatsoever that some of the current peloton are availing themselves of such cocktails to aid their weight loss goals. So, in a way, you and I see exactly the same picture. Except the weight loss is not a mask, nor a misdirection intended to disguise, PED use. It IS the goal (at least, for the PEDs mentioned).

    It has been a goal for far longer than I have been a cyclist. What is different and new is the lengths to which it is taken, and the depth of the peloton for whom it is critical.

    So, yes, we entirely agree that riders were built differently. We entirely agree that weight was a focus back farther than our fathers remember. (:lol) Where I think we disagree is that today the focus on weight is much much stronger, and affects more of the peloton than ever before in history.

    Maybe it would be more productive is I said it this way: what is regarded as the ideal optimum weight for a pro road cyclist is much skinnier than it was even 20 years ago.
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  • DB-Coop

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    Re: The New Skinny
    « Reply #12 on: January 10, 2016, 13:39 »
    Maybe it would be more productive is I said it this way: what is regarded as the ideal optimum weight for a pro road cyclist is much skinnier than it was even 20 years ago.

    Two reasons why this is true, even without taking into account new sports science:

    1: Compare the pre-epo days with now and you will see that the GT routes back then, to a much larger degree had more deciding flat km's ITT's and cobbles as opposed to today's climb heavy GT's, meaning that the ideal weight of a GC contender was higher back then, ie. between the 1980'es and now the ideal weight/power distribution for GC contenders have lowered, favoring lighter riders.

    2: The role of PED's as an artificial booster to power. Epo and blood infusions on a large scale such as in the mid 1990'es also produce an impact to the ideal weight/power distribution, since this will allow the same muscle mass to produce more power, it seems only logical that this increase the desired weight/power distribution, meaning higher weight climbers would be favored to lower weight climbers. or in the words of Herrera "When I saw riders with fat asses climbing like aeroplanes, that’s when I knew"

    Based on those two points I would say that everything points to that the ideal weight of a GC contender has never been lower. On top of that advancement in loosing non-muscle weight have also been made.
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  • 42x16ss

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    Re: The New Skinny
    « Reply #13 on: January 11, 2016, 03:27 »
    Bad example imo, Michael was old school, I think in reality the question about this 'new skinny' is how it works, how can you focus on weight and be the best up a mountain and the best on an ITT? Really I think the question is that, if somebody was willing to sacrifice one or the other, shouldn't he be faster? The question here being why/how does GC riders win stages, shouldn't these primarily be won by climbers/tt'ers? if weight can just be manipulated to improve results.
    He may have been "old school" but if you look at how he improved out of sight in the ITT in 2007, while keeping so thin, I'd have to say he's the pioneer in this regard. Within a few years, Contador, Andy Schleck, Wigans, Froome, Nibali and others have gone the same way.

    Sky have become the masters of this, coincedentally, while Rasmussen's old Doc, Geert Leinders was there. I usually avoid talking Clinic/Darkside here in Velorooms, but this is too much to ignore.
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  • DB-Coop

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    Re: The New Skinny
    « Reply #14 on: January 11, 2016, 12:11 »
    He may have been "old school" but if you look at how he improved out of sight in the ITT in 2007, while keeping so thin, I'd have to say he's the pioneer in this regard. Within a few years, Contador, Andy Schleck, Wigans, Froome, Nibali and others have gone the same way.

    Sky have become the masters of this, coincedentally, while Rasmussen's old Doc, Geert Leinders was there. I usually avoid talking Clinic/Darkside here in Velorooms, but this is too much to ignore.

    Apart from that stage 13 result I see nothing unusual that year, and considering the profile of that stage, even that could be explained, not saying that Michael wasn't fueled up that day, just saying I don't think weight loss fit in, it is not as if Michael had much weight, if any, to loose from his 2006 version. Plus from reading his book, I really doubt anybody could, across multiple season get away with what he did, I mean his plan was basically use all his bio-passport strikes to set him up with enough time to prepare for the Tour along with having bags in the freezer ready to go, had Michael won, he would not have been able to defend his title regardless as he had no strikes left.
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  • 42x16ss

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    Re: The New Skinny
    « Reply #15 on: January 12, 2016, 03:07 »
    Apart from that stage 13 result I see nothing unusual that year, and considering the profile of that stage, even that could be explained, not saying that Michael wasn't fueled up that day, just saying I don't think weight loss fit in, it is not as if Michael had much weight, if any, to loose from his 2006 version. Plus from reading his book, I really doubt anybody could, across multiple season get away with what he did, I mean his plan was basically use all his bio-passport strikes to set him up with enough time to prepare for the Tour along with having bags in the freezer ready to go, had Michael won, he would not have been able to defend his title regardless as he had no strikes left.
    I'm not just focusing on the weight loss here, but the overall power coming from such a slight frame. Until Rasmussen in that TT in 2007, that kind of power on the flat was unheard of. Until then, the best GC TTers carried that bit more muscle - Lance, Ulrich, Evans, Vino, Riis, Indurain.

    They were lean, but not thin in the same way as Schleck, Contador, Wigans, Froome, Nibali, Aru, Gesink etc are, and all of those guys are no slouches in the TT.
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  • M Gee

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    Re: The New Skinny
    « Reply #16 on: January 12, 2016, 16:22 »
    I'm not just focusing on the weight loss here, but the overall power coming from such a slight frame. Until Rasmussen in that TT in 2007, that kind of power on the flat was unheard of. Until then, the best GC TTers carried that bit more muscle - Lance, Ulrich, Evans, Vino, Riis, Indurain.

    They were lean, but not thin in the same way as Schleck, Contador, Wigans, Froome, Nibali, Aru, Gesink etc are, and all of those guys are no slouches in the TT.

    Ha. Maybe you're right again - and what we are saying is not so different! Because what you are saying validates what I'm saying!  :lol

    Except that the weight loss alone ultimately is allowing these guys to put out a better P/W ratio. I thought it was interesting that either AG or L'arri proposed a couple of instances where perhaps the riders carried the weight loss too far, and lost capacity. Which should happen, assuming the dark side is not available.

    I think this focus started on the dark side, but it has evolved. It is my firm opinion that most of the pro peloton today is having to get skinny without the advantage of the dark side. Unless they are only riding in those Central and South American races we've been reading about here! 

    But competition can be a big motivator. Any anorexic can tell you that. ;)
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  • DB-Coop

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    Re: The New Skinny
    « Reply #17 on: January 12, 2016, 17:43 »
    I'm not just focusing on the weight loss here, but the overall power coming from such a slight frame. Until Rasmussen in that TT in 2007, that kind of power on the flat was unheard of. Until then, the best GC TTers carried that bit more muscle - Lance, Ulrich, Evans, Vino, Riis, Indurain.

    They were lean, but not thin in the same way as Schleck, Contador, Wigans, Froome, Nibali, Aru, Gesink etc are, and all of those guys are no slouches in the TT.

    Lets start with Rasmussen 2007, if you look at the stage profile you will see that it is clearly a good TT for a poor TT'er like Michael.

    Secondly there is the results:

    Michael was originally 11th 2.55 after Vino.

    Now here is where I would say this is nothing out of the ordinary[1]. The route seems to give him a benefit, on top of this Michael had in 2007 while riding the Giro tested out the effect of taking two bags at the same time, meaning that if he took it this day would have an extra liter to give over a clean athlete. In this top 10 best guesses for cleans would proabably be Evans, Wiggins and Chavanel, yes?. Given the point in the race of the TT, midway through, after the alps, recovery also matters a lot, giving an added advantage to dopers as well to the strongest in the peloton in terms of power left[2]. On top of these reasons why Michael should be good on the TT look at the prologue, where Michael did poorly, had he actually increased his ITT ability long term[3], then he would surely have done well here too, yes?

    Also the riders you mention in the end of your post don't fit the same bill, lets compare Michael with Wiggins[4]. There is in my opinion a vast difference in being skinny, and then improving on the ITT while not gaining muscle to what Wiggins did in dropping weight and remaining as or nearly as powerful on the ITT.

    My oppinion on this whole weight thing is that there are two types of weight, muscle weight and "waste" weight. Under any circumstance waste weight should be looked to be minimized, ie. no need to carry around fat/bones etc. on the bike[5] the muscle is different, in that there is an optimal amount it would seem, and depending on the parcours, ability to decrease "waste" weight and athletic ability[6], there is a level which is ideal for racing, and those riders will be at an advantage for GC. More of that in my response to Hiero above.
     1. If we consider the Armstrong years the ordinary, ofc!
     2. The first definitely Michael, the latter Michael or Vino/Klöden/Contador most likely.
     3. As opposed to through two bags
     4. Likely the most extreme mismatch
     5. From an efficiency standpoint, granted that there might be a breaking point there as well
     6. Including the levels of doping
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  • 42x16ss

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    Re: The New Skinny
    « Reply #18 on: January 12, 2016, 23:20 »
    The only name I'd consider close to clean on that list is Chavanel, possibly Wigans, as he obviously wasn't doing whatever it is he's been up to since 2009. The rest of that list..... say no more!

    Post Merge: January 12, 2016, 23:27
    Ha. Maybe you're right again - and what we are saying is not so different! Because what you are saying validates what I'm saying!  :lol

    Except that the weight loss alone ultimately is allowing these guys to put out a better P/W ratio. I thought it was interesting that either AG or L'arri proposed a couple of instances where perhaps the riders carried the weight loss too far, and lost capacity. Which should happen, assuming the dark side is not available.

    I think this focus started on the dark side, but it has evolved. It is my firm opinion that most of the pro peloton today is having to get skinny without the advantage of the dark side. Unless they are only riding in those Central and South American races we've been reading about here! 

    But competition can be a big motivator. Any anorexic can tell you that. ;)
    Yep, we more or less do agree. several of the riders I mentioned look(ed) like they should certainly be losing power on the flats - Froome, Wigans and Rasmussen in particular. Aru and Gesink (who also worked with Leinders at Rabo, don't forget) are very close as well IMO, as was Schleck.

    Even though Rasmussen was already ludicrously slight and spent most of his career blood doping, he still seems the go to man here IMO. I may be way off the mark, but his 2007 TT compared to say, 2005 and his history with Leinders, who then went to Sky makes me think there's still more skeletons in the Rabobank closet.
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  • « Last Edit: January 13, 2016, 01:51 by 42x16ss »

    L'arri

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    Re: The New Skinny
    « Reply #19 on: February 23, 2016, 19:33 »
    Definitely not the new skinny.



    Or it could be an extra jersey, I guess.
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  • just some guy

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    Re: The New Skinny
    « Reply #20 on: February 23, 2016, 19:35 »
    Definitely not the new skinny.



    Or it could be an extra jersey, I guess.

    Taken over from Betancur  :lol
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