My name is Elin - A pro cycling lover's reflections

No more Team Saxo Bank for Schleck brothers

Category: Cycling

Fränk and Andy Schleck won't race with Bjarne Riis' team next season. The rumor has now become official. Instead, they will compete for a brand new team, based in Luxembourg.

Riis has been struggling to find a new backer for next season, but has now announced that the team will continue with a new sponsor that replace Saxo Bank. Without the Schleck brothers.

Perhaps Alberto Contador will race for the team. The Spaniard has said that he doesn't intend to stay with Astana team, which many see as the Kazakh team's closure. I don't think Astana Team will leave, but it is certainly a great loss that Contador don't stay. Though not particularly shocking.

"It's official that we will not be riding with Bjarne next season." Andy Schleck wrote in a message to Cyclingnews. "We're not going to stay. We're going to leave at the end of the year. All the doubts and news about us racing in the same team as Contador are now finished. We're not going to continue." He continued.

I like environment changes, it makes you see things in another way. I think that Andy Schleck has been prevented by himself to win the Tour (and a bit of technology!). Now he actually has a chance to think about what to do. He has a chance to see himself in a different way. What do I need to actually win.

"It's been a fantastic five years for me [in Saxo Bank] and eight for Fränk and I learnt a lot in that time. I'll still stay friends with Bjarne but this is the end of the road for us as a team."

Custom Cycling Jerseys
Custom Cycling Jerseys that Make a Statement

Life is never easy

Category: Life

Sorry if I was late with today's post. But I haven't had the time. Sorry, too, that the post is a bit harebrained. But something bizarre happened today. Something that I, thankfully, have never been through before.

We had rented a trailer to move our stuff to the new apartment. We had just driven some few kilometer when the car suddenly began to move strangely. It didn't listen to my partner's commands. Instead, we had a sideslip and ran into the cable barrier.

Thank goodness we are not injured, nor the car. The glass on the front lights broke. We got some dents on the car. The trailer showed no significant damage to itself, just some dents as well.

For me, the shock was hard to deal with at the beginning. I had to write a lot in order not to start screaming. I was really frighten. I didn't want to sit in that car. I was terrified of it.

I have never taken a driving license because I think cars are too big for my own ability. The accident today did not help to reduce the thought. Had we drove a bit faster, I had perhaps been in the hospital today. But now, we were able to continue driving. Although we reduced the speed a lot during the rest of the trip.

Thanks to all those who helped us. The woman who phoned the emergency and asked me how I felt. And the truck driver who helped us to drive on.

And thanks to my mom and stepfather who came and helped us. Probably the brake on the trailer didn't work properly, which led to the accident. When parents looked at the car, they realized that the tow bar was also completely broken. Oops! We hadn't noticed. But in the end everything is fine. We are alive, no injuries and we needed a new car anyway.

See you tomorrow, when I am, hopefully in my new apartment. An apartment where we will only live for one month though.

Love/ Elin Lännholm

Paris, Paris, Paris

Category: Cycling

Already when we arrived at the metro station Champs Elysees Clemenceau at 11 o'clock, it was crowded around the long main street Champs Elysees in Paris. Most were foreigners. And even if many people had waited for hours it was possible to get good seats. The vast majority of people watching the Tour wouldn't arrive until several hours later. It would take some time before rider arrived or even started the stage, and people were happy if they could skip all that waiting.

I knew exactly where I wanted to stand and I found that exact spot. I could follow the entire race on a big screen just steps from the spot where the ceremony would take place later. Where Alberto Contador would raise his hands in the air.

In the beginning it was pretty boring to stand there, but I had something to look forward to. And it really helped. I watched when the staff learned to act quickly when it came to prepare the podium and how they learned to cooperate. I laughed a lot.

Around 12:30 something finally happened. More people came around and the race announcer started to talk about some minor race, La P'tite Boucle NESQUIK, which was going to be raced. It was some kind of a kids' race, but fun to see.

After the children's race the caravan suddenly arrived. Everybody in the audience was very excited. Wow! Now our dreams would come true. Now the cyclists would soon arrive. Flashes from cameras around began to dazzle and suddenly the big TV-screen showed pictures from the stage, that was just about to start. I saw how Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador jerked around, had a great time, at the start in Longjumeau.

Just seconds after the broadcast had started, I managed to see Radio Schack's costumes. It was not the normal jerseys, the red ugly once, but these were really smart, beautiful. Black. With the rider's name and then the a large 28. 28 apparently stands for 28 million people around the world suffering from cancer. But the race jury told them they couldn't wear them. Strange. In usual cases, the teams are just being fined with a few Swiss francs, but now they were refused to wear the nice jerseys. The jury even threatened to disqualify and remove them from the race. Huh? I have never heard something like that ever.

The riders did what they were told. They picked up their regular jerseys from the team car and slipped them over the black jerseys. But, the race jury said "No, no! Can't do that either! The numbers must be visible." And again they talked about disqualification.

People around me mostly looked at the caravan. But I was constantly looking towards the TV screen and it really shocked me what the jury said. I had to tell the people around me and I did. Suddenly, they all tried to pretend to be familiar with the sport of cycling, even though I knew it was only two Dutch guys behind me who actually understood what I meant.

Soon we saw Yaroslav Popovych and one of his teammates sit down on the ground, and switched jerseys. Or switched. They sat on the ground and began to sew. Soon pretty much all RadioSchack's cyclists were there. All, except Armstrong. He refused. He wasn't amused.

But as the flag dropped and the riders should start racing, Armstrong was stopped. The race jury refused to release him. At least without the number. He just had to do something about it. But as all of the other RadioShack riders had to sit on the roadside and pin their own numbers, Armstrong didn't. It was someone else who did it.

It was pretty relaxed while the riders rode to Champs Elysees, just like always. It doesn't happen much. Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck "attacked" from the peloton, just to have some fun. Then sat up. And then Schleck's chain got caught up, requiring a bike change. I laughed, and the people around me (once again) looked at me. They hadn't noticed. They didn't really watch the race. What? How could they possible miss it?

World Champion Cadel Evans talked to the race doctor, while Anthony Charteau smiled. Charteau is the first French rider who has won the King of the Mountains competition, since Richard Virenque won the same competition in 2004. That made it even more fun for the Frenchman.

When the peloton crossed the Place de la Concorde everybody was so excited. The mood was good, but still nervous. I felt how people began to move closer to the fence, but it was still not as scary as in Bordeaux. Soon the riders would be riding past us all. The cameras were on. Everyone was ready to see the peloton and maybe get a glimpse of one of their big idols.

George Hincapie (BMC) punctured just as the race reached the Champs-Elysees, but the rest of the cyclists were in the peloton. It was hard to keep track of riders. I saw Alessandro Petacchi, Alexander Pliushin and Thomas Voeckler, possibly Carlos Sastre, but otherwise it was all just a mess. The eyes were not well adapted to the speed yet.

Christophe Riblon (Ag2r) accelerated, while Belarussian Aleksandr Kuchynski took a few points in the points competition. Why? Probably just for fun. To try his legs. It was easy to see though that this wouldn't be the breakaway of the day, and it wasn't.

Anthony Roux (FDJ), Sandy Casar (FDJ), Danilo Hondo (Lampre), Karsten Kroon (BMC), Christian Knees (Milram), Nikki Sorensen (Saxo Bank), Tony Martin (HTC), Remi Pauriol (Cofidis), Christophe Riblon (Ag2r), Alan Perez Laudun (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Ruben Perez Arrieta (Footon-Servetto) all became part of the breakaway instead.

These guys led the race for a long time. I saw how much they tried, but it didn't really work all the way through.

After the first lap the audience had relaxed again. At least it felt that way. It wasn't as much excitement in the air anymore. Not the same pressure. Although there were many people remaining, it was calmer. And it would continue until the last lap.

In the end, my eyes started to get used to the speed. I see them all. Every single one of the riders. Every guy in the whole peloton. I shout at them. Trying to give them my support. Trying to make them work harder. I know that they heard it.

On the last lap, the three guys remaining of the breakaway, Knees, Kroon and Sorensen, are caught. The sprinters are beginning to prepare.

Suddenly there is a lot of Norwegians around me. I am a fan of Thor Hushovd, so I followed in their cheerleading chants. I hope with all my heart that Thor Hushovd shall win the stage. That he will win the green jersey. He seemed to be in a good position but then something happened.

Petacchi rode shoulder to shoulder with Mark Cavendish. Hushovd disappeared. Cavendish won the stage just in front of Petacchi. Julian Dean grabbed third.

Hushovd was really not happy after losing the stage. After the sprint, he disappeared along the way and didn't return until just before the ceremony. He was surrounded by people and looked really disappointed. He didn't look up when someone shouted his name. He didn't care. The disappointment was too great. He wasn't satisfied.

Alessandro Petacchi was satisfied however. He had won the green points jersey. Andy Schleck took the white jersey, Anthony Charteau won the King of the Mountains title. And of course, Alberto Contador in yellow.

The award ceremony was cool to watch. I didn't see it from the front, but only saw the heads of the cyclists. But it was obviously interesting too. Alberto Contador, the big star, received a lot of applauds. How people loved him. It was cool to see him. I applauded, too, but he's so boring. If he hadn't won the Tour three years in a row, had someone bothered about him? He is totally uncharismatic.

Also RadioSchack's rider got to step up onto the podium. They were nominated for the best team. Sylvain Chavanel was appointed most aggressive rider.

Later on it was time for the lap of honour. Hushovd had finally dried his tears. It was a completely different person who rode past us. Waving. Smiling.

There were those who are more popular than others. Thomas Voeckler, for example. The French guy had been far back in the peloton throughout the stage, but he was very grateful that the race was over. He has been a bit sick and such. He smiled a lot and waved and chatted with his teammates. He seemed a bit disappointed with how things had been during the past three weeks though, but still grateful that so many people still love him as much as they did in 2004. He is wonderful.

I was really tired at 19 o'clock when everything was ready. I had been standing there, at the same place, for nearly nine hours. Had hardly eaten or drunk any water. But I was incredibly happy. I walked around like I was on drugs, just as the previous day in Bordeaux.

I had a chance to rest myself for a few seconds while my boyfriend went to the bathroom. But seconds later, I was equally excited again ... Eight Radio Schack-cyclists (and some others involved in the team) rode past me on their bikes, on their way to the hotel. I just stared at them. Could hardly believe they were actually there, right by the side of me. The first thought was, where is Lance? But I didn't see him. But for sure it would be madness if he rode around on the streets of Paris without a security guard.

It was still cool that the other took the bike to the hotel. Most other riders took the bus.

Elin Lännholm, 25 July 2010

Custom Cycling Jerseys
Custom Cycling Jerseys that Make a Statement