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

Sastre says good bye and wins final race

Category: Cycling

Carlos SastreCarlos Sastre ended his 14-year career with victory in Criterium of Oviedo this Saturday.

"It was a very special day for everything - for the environment I've lived in, for the reception of my peers... they can say goodbye by making me feel appreciated after all this time fighting out on the road," said Sastre. "The truth is that it was an exciting day that I really enjoyed."

Sastre, who won the 2008 Tour de France, announced that he wished to retire from the sport a few weeks ago.

"It's time to say goodbye to many years of suffering, defeats, joys, a lot of experiences, all of them memorable - the truth is that I am happy I made the decision. I've been in professional cycling all these years and, especially, have been able to shine and do what I liked," he continued.

Even though he retires, the Spanish rider won't entirely leave the sport.

"In the short term I will continue working as I have done so far with the Foundation Víctor Sastre, without any responsibility, as a hobby, but enjoying time with children and other cyclists without so much stress, and with all those who have been to me a stimulus for improvement and learning.

"The truth is that I feel happy because it has been a very good time, very important in my life, both personally and sporting. Saying goodbye to the homage of my colleagues, having been on the podium of the Tour of Spain with my own team has been very special to me. Thanks and a big hug to everyone," added Sastre.

Don't you know me?

Category: Cycling

More than a month after the World championships in Copenhagen, I yet haven't finished the editing of all the photos taken. I never expected it to be easy, as I also have to name all the riders. And let's admit it, I really can't say that I can recognize all the riders everytime. Some of them I had never heard of, some of them I have barely heard of today. When walking around in Copenhagen and the airport the day after the men's race, I saw many potential race cyclists. People who walked around with big bike bags, men and women who had a helmet strapped to their hand luggage. Sure, I recognized Marianne Vos and Nicolas Roche, but only because they wore clothes that strongly suggested that they were professional cyclists.

Recently I had a conversation with an acquaintance who lives in Monaco and who said that some people there is cocky, unsympathetic and believe they are superstars. One person he had talked to during the week was really upset because a restaurant in her neighborhood hadn't let her order food when they had just closed. However, he didn't have anything bad to say about cyclists. Indeed, he mentioned pro cyclists as the opposite to the super star people he so much dislikes. The cyclists must work incredibly hard even when they have received their pro licenses and therefore they have no time for any prima donna behaviours.

During the world championships for example, some teams lived in nice hotels, ate food at restaurants every night, the soigneurs stood along the roads, they had team cars and all that. But many riders lived just as I did, cleaning our own rooms, making our own food, making the dishes ourselves, borrowing the washing machine from the hotel and so on. The Serbian team had a masseur coming over after the races, but he wasn't there for them full time and when one of the junior riders was injured and had to visit the hospital, he paid the bill himself. And Ivan Stevic was so sick of "home made race food" (pasta, pasta and some more pasta) that he asked his trainer if they could please, go out and eat in a restaurant the night before the elite men's road race.

These people really fascinate me. They never give up, barely ever acts snotty, they travel by metro and buses. Sometimes when the hotel is near the finish line, they go on a short little warmdown tour to the hotel. Few soccer players would (or could) do that.

I do understand that Lance Armstrong didn't ride through Paris last summer without a guard, after the last stage of the Tour de France. His team mates did. I am aware that I would personally have been quite dangerous to him. Not because I hate him or want him anything bad, but because I really felt the need of telling him that I truly admire him. And most likely I would have knocked him down when seeing him, due to nervousness. But Lance Armstrong is quite special.

Certainly there are days when these riders are nervous, anxious, scared, shaky. There are days when they are upset and being nice to someone is impossible. They are just like everybody else, which is sometimes forgotten. They can win whatever race, but if they suddenly starts missing anti-doping controls or starts smoking pot and drink alcohol every Sunday, well, then it is "bye bye". Poor attention is too damaging to the team so riders with big problems aren't worth keeping, unless they are doing great things on the bike, like winning the Tour de France.

Well, well, time for me to stop talking. I hope something of this has made any sense at all. See you.

Rasmussen awaits November verdict

Category: Cycling

Alex RasmussenAs most riders are having holiday now, there is little to write about. There is few races going on and therefore few interviews about racing and dreams. However, this is an interesting period of the year as we will find out who hires who, and what happens to the different teams. Who will receive WorldTour licence and what team will only exist on the paper and then disappear?

Next month, November, will also be interesting as we will most likely find out whether Alberto Contador will be suspended or not.

Also Danish rider Alex Rasmussen will have to wait another while to see if he faces sanction after receiving three warnings in an eighteen-month period for missing out of competition doping controls.

The Dane received two warnings from Anti-Doping Denmark in 2010 as he failed to compile his whereabouts form. This wouldn't have been a huge issue unless he had missed an out-of-competition test by the UCI in April of this year. And now he must wait until November 17 to know if he will be banned.

Rasmussen says that he missed the tests due to a lack of organisation on his part and not because he attempted to cheat.

Rasmussen had wished that the Danish Olympic Committee (DIF) would be able to reach a verdict in the next few days.

“The wait is a little annoying,” Rasmussen told sporten.tv2.dk. “The case is clear and I just want a decision so that I can move on. But unfortunately, DIF cannot assemble the people for consultation before then.”

If cleared, Rasmussen had already agreed to ride for Garmin-Cervélo for 2012 before he was informed about the three warnings. This means he doesn't have to worry about signing a contract if cleared, but Garmin-Cervélo could still have a problem with this, as they have a strict anti-doping stance and having missed three anti-doping controls don't sound like something they would like. The Garmin-Cervélo has earlier stated that it would not sign Rasmussen due to its “stringent” anti-doping policy, but since then Rasmussen claims that team manager Jonathan Vaughters will complete the signing if the Dane is cleared of wrongdoing.