Category Archives: EuroPro

Post Tour EuroPro Review Parte Deux – Boogaloo Electrique

Hmm, no wonder Breakin’ 2 didn’t do well in France.

Alright, this is what you’ve all been waiting for (ok, it’s just me, then). It’s time for the Europro Tour de France fashion dos and don’ts. This year the peloton produced some magical sartorial moments. But for every winner, there has to be a loser. Let’s get started. And the first category is…

Best Team Kit

Winner: Belkin


Belkin – so fresh and so clean

(Lars) Boom! Their first at bat with all the bases loaded and they slam-dunk a touchdown (I got the American sporting references right, yes?). Riding for the first half of the season, they were the non-sponsored Blanco. Oddly, lots of people dug that kit, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Then the US peripheral giant steps in right before the tour with a super-clean, super-stylish, green, black and white setup. Looking good guys. Modern, yet with a nod to the golden age of trade teams. Then what happens? They were everywhere! Mollema and Ten Dam were kicking it on GC. The whole team was drilling it on the front of the windswept stage 13. They were getting max airtime for their new sponsers and looking damned good doing it. Sometimes a fresh lick of paint (and a fat sponsor cheque) can make all the difference.

Loser: Lampre

The Little Prince

The Little Prince – this photo is the only evidence that he was at the Tour de France

Lampre were nowhere to be seen at this tour, not even in the breaks, and that’s probably for the best. Cunego, the little prince, must be tiny, because I never saw him at all for 3 weeks straight. Do they ever win anything? Really? Ever? Their kit always sucks. The pink and blue is not working at all. They ditched Wilier for Merida and lost even more Italian cool points. To be honest, last year, their kit was worse, but I’m docking serious points for lack of effort. If you’re going to rock hot pink, royal blue and flouro lime, then show that crazy shit off in an attack. That way we’d maybe have seen more of the one awesome thing you had going for you at this tour (more of that later).

Best Cap

Winner: Omega Pharma Quick Step



Was it the best cycling cap at the tour? To be honest, I don’t know, but it was the only one I remember seeing. Their kit sucks. Sorry. Gradients are OVER, man! OVER! But, they are a top level team and they actually wore cycling caps on the podium. Cheers for that! Cav, keep the soul fire burning. Chapeau! #capsnothats

Loser: Team Sky

Froome in a Hat

Not a cycling cap. From a company that sells cycling caps. And doesn’t sell baseball caps.

What the fucking fuck? I’ll say this right now up front. I love Rapha’s stuff. I love all that golden age of cycling nostalgia bullshit they sell me. I lap it all up, mostly because they actually make superb clothing. I love their cycling caps. So why the hell is Chris Froome wearing that ridiculous NASCAR/F1/Golf shit on his skeletal noggin on the podium? Can I buy a Team Sky straight bill douche hat on No, I can’t. Because it’s not a cycling cap. They have a very nice Team Sky cycling cap. I own one. It’s great. So what the hell was going on here? Was this part of the Murdoch 21st Century Fox tie-in before the tour? Make it more accessible to golfers? I can’t believe Simon Mottram was down with this. This is a travesty. A travesty! Alright, it just seems kind of weird to me.

Best Facial Hair

Winner: Tie – Jerome Cousin and José Serpa

Hirsutes you, sirs!


Jérôme Cousin wins most aggresive facial hair on stage 10

Wow. First of all, Europcar are amazing. They’re like the Dirty Dozen, but mostly French, and in tight lycra. OK, they’re nothing like the Dirty Dozen. They’re like the Seven Samurai, except there’s nine of them and only one of them’s Japanese and… OK, terrible analogies. They’re just brilliant and hilarious and swashbuckling and way more exciting to watch than most teams out there. Is there a breakaway? Well you can bet your last centime that somebody from Europcar is going to be in it, and chances are they’re going to be from a woefully under-represented ethnicity, or they’re going to make ridiculous faces, or they’re going to have a spectacular moustache, like Jérôme Cousin has.


Serpa – tachetastic

Remember what I said earlier about Lampre? Why didn’t I see this magnificent bigote until the third week of this tour, and why can’t I find a better picture of it? By the third week it was taking up half his face! Shame on you, Lampre! How could you deprive us of this amazing facial foliage? Oh, and he’s Colombian. Extra awesome points.

Loser: Peter Sagan

Clown Prince of the Peloton

Clown Prince of the Peloton

Yes, he’s amazing. Maybe people still really love clowns in Slovakia, but they scare the shit out of me.

Best Way to Show Off a Leader’s Jersey

Winner: Team Sky

Yellow Jersey, not yellow bibs

Yellow Jersey, not yellow bibs

You’ve got the yellow jersey for 2 weeks. Do you dye your pubic hair yellow? No. You wear the yellow jersey with your regular team bibs. Classic, classy. The opposite of that stupid fucking baseball hat! Sure, ride a custom yellow bike into Paris when you’ve actually won the Tour de France (still in your regular bibs), but don’t do what this guy did…

Loser: Team Europcar


You think the gloves are too much? Nah, I’m sure you’ll be wearing all this shit in Paris.

First week in the tour, you’ve been over a couple of small bumps and you’ve won the polka-dot jersey, What do you do? You don’t do this. Polka-dot bibs are never, ever right. I get it, you’re wild and crazy (mostly) Frenchmen, but that ain’t right.

Best Eyewear

Winner: Ryder Hesjedal

I'm just here to catch some tasty waves

I’m just here to catch some tasty waves

Hey look, Ryder isn’t wearing Oakleys like everyone else. He’s wearing big ass funky Swedish aviators.

Loser: Ryder Hesjedal

Hey look, Ryder is so cool and laid back in his big ass funky Swedish aviators. In the words of Liberace, ‘return to the classics’. Let’s let the Badger show you how you rock aviators and stick it to the man.

Badger don't care

Badger don’t care

Best Bike

Winner: Europcar


So it’s not the best shot of the bike, but it has the seal of approval of this guy, and he’s wearing a cycling cap.

White Colnago C59 with Campy 80th Anniversary Super Record. Enough Said.

Loser: Everyone else

Post Tour EuroPro Review Parte Un

I’ve been out of action here for a while for two reasons. Watching this year’s tour has been a full time job for a start. I don’t know about you, but this has been probably the best Tour de France since the last time a British cyclist won it. How often does that happen? Also, I put a lot of my Bespoke panache into the Le Tour du Vin fundraiser that we had last week for our Bike MS team. Oh, and my laptop is now blind. It works, but the screen doesn’t. This makes writing a blog quite difficult. I’m currently tapping this out with one thumb on a tiny virtual keyboard while trying to get a two year old to stop doing Hulk Hogan moves on me and go to sleep. I’ll have to add the pictures later!

I’ve been thinking about a lot of things during and since Le Tour, but always Schwinn Paramount™ on my mind is what it means to be EuroPro. Of course, EuroPro can never truly be achieved. It is an ideal. It is always over the next HC climb or cobbled berg. EuroPro is only truly attained by the Pantheon of Gods, Demi-Gods and Demons that name the hairpins of Alpe d’Huez and the shower stalls at Roubaix, and in very special cases, both.

First of all, before we get into the stylistic elements of what EuroPro is (trust me, those are coming – this TdF has been a rich seam to mine), lets not forget the proclivities, idiosyncrasies and extravagances of the truly EuroPro are all forged in the same fire. Pain. Medievel levels of pain. You can’t ever achieve EuroPro unless you have taken physical and mental suffering so far that you find a sense of satisfaction from it. This is not masochism or martyrdom, it is the knowing that you can hurt far more than you ever have before, and more importantly, more than the guy next to you. It is a badge of honour and a stepping stone on the path to Merckxian Enlightenment. Once you know that you can take that kind of pain, then you know that you can dish it out! Here’s the Bespoke Honour Roll of PainMeisters of the 2013 Tour de France:

1. Geraint Thomas.

Welsh Hardman

Welsh Hardman – ouch that hurt, just give me a second, then I’ll ride another 3,000km full gas.

Stage 1. Fractured pelvis. That has to hurt a lot at the best of times. I can’t imagine what it’s like to ride a bike at race speed day after day, km after km like that. He kept going, his Mum back in Wales begged him to pull out. He kept going. He suffered through the Pyrenees, survived the ferocious pace from Britanny to Ventoux, and then put the hurt on everyone on the flats leading up to the Alpine climbs. Welsh. Hardman. This bodes very well for him one day joining the Roubaix Pantheon. Oh yeah, the reason he missed the tour last year? To grab a fat gold rope at the Olympics.

Drilling it on the front on Étape 14

Drilling it on the front on Étape 14 – oh are you guys hurting, let me turn it up, how about now?

2. Tony Fucking Martin.

Tony Fucking Martin

Tony Fucking Martin – easy girls, he’s taken!

Same shit, different hurt. Tony apparently left half his freaking skin in Corsica (this happens a lot in Corsica, but is usually due to drunken, ginger haired, pale skinned British tourists neglecting to apply sunscreen). How do you come back from that? You win the Mont Saint Michel Time Trial on stage 11 with blood pouring out of your bibs! Tony. Fucking. Martin!

Tony Fucking Martin

Tony Fucking Martin – rocking the Alien movie poster look.

3. Jens

The Jensie

The Jensie – the crown prince of pain.

It’s kind of a cliché to talk about Jens, but holy panéed deep fried shit balls soaked in cognac and set on fire, the man is almost 42. I’m 42. He should not be able to do the ridiculous shit that he does. Does it work? On the Amgen Tour of California? Sure. On the Tour de France? Hey, he makes them chase him down, he makes them pay for their supper. Sure, he’s going to go in reverse like an Italian tank on the last climb (what, WW2 is too soon, reallly?), but, damn, why the hell is this geriatric German who should be wearing Depends™ the last survivor of the breakaway in the big show? Jens must have made a Faustian pact to be dishing out the pain to all the young bucks out there, and wearing cycling bibs instead of a bib to catch his spilled soup. Is this really your last tour Jens? I bet, your last race is next year’s Amgen. You’re going for one last stage win, aren’t you. Shine on you crazy diamond. We’re going to miss you at the big show.

That’s just my shortlist. Of course, there were other PainMeisters out there. Who were yours? Chava? Ted King? Let me know who I’ve missed out, and why. More TdF EuroPro action to follow soon.


Wiggo loses time in the Giro - photo AP

Wiggo loses time in the Giro – photo AP

Team Sky set out with a very bold statement in their debut year, 2010, that their mission was to put a British rider in the Maillot Jaune on the Champs Élysées within 5 years. After their first Tour de France that year, it really looked like a hollow promise. The team was far too aggressive on the early climbing stages and ill-equipped to back up that bravado with any results. They obviously had a pool of talent but just looked like a newly promoted small town championship football team taking on the might of the Mancunians (sorry to my American readers for the English football analogy, but there’ll be some more later).

The next year Wiggins was looking much stronger and the team more cohesive, but a crash in the first week put paid to any GC hopes. EBH nabbed a great stage win and he and Thomas both showed great promise as puncheurs.

2012 could not have gone better for them. Their GC squad looked like (and drew unwelcome references to) the Postal Train of the previous decade. Wiggins won all his tour targets with consistent climbing and imperious TT performances. His colonels on the climbs, Froome, Porte and Rogers made it all look so easy. We did get to see the first signs of trouble between their top two GC men with Froome’s ‘Hinault’ moment and the WAGs’ (that’s wives and girlfriends for the non-Premiership followers) twitter fight.

This year has seen a reversal of fortunes for our two protagonists as Froome has flourished out of Wiggo’s shadow. There’s been some more handbag waving with Bradley’s flip-flopping statements about who would be leading the team for this year’s TdF. I’m sure it’s a huge relief for Froome that Wiggins won’t be there on Saturday

Porte has proven himself more than capable of winning big stage races with Paris-Nice this year, and Uran was superb in the Giro. Where I’m heading with this is that it’s hard to keep a team cohesive when there are so many stars and not enough water carriers. Cycling is an unusual sport in that, unlike football, the whole team works to get the win, but only one of them (or two as is often the case with Sky) gets to stand on the podium. The rumours suggest that Uran is being wooed away by other teams looking for a GC leader. If he goes would Henao follow? They’re both ideally suited to the steeper climbs of the Giro and Vuelta and even though Porte is supposedly being groomed for a Grand Tour, presumably that would be the Giro or Vuelta and he could be up against the arguably better climbing skills of his current Colombian teammates on whatever teams they end up on. With Sky’s British-based team and Commonwealth preferences for leadership, you can imagine Uran might think he’d rather get a real leadership role where he isn’t having to make up time lost nursing Wiggins up the hill.

With their meteoric rise, and dominating performances, the comparisons to Postal have been inevitable. Aside from the predictable doping rumours, people refer to the Postal Sky Train style of racing. It’s certainly not as entertaining as a Voeckler breakaway or Contador dancing on the pedals up the Alpe, but it gets results like Georgie Graham’s boring, boring, boring Arsenal. Also like Postal, they’ve been pretty lacklustre in the Spring Classics. One day races really don’t seem to favour the Pain Train style. EBH hasn’t quite lived up to the promise of his talents so far. Poor guy, it doesn’t help him that a certain Mr. Sagan showed up on the scene!

They’ve completed their initial mission two years early, and while you’d think British cycling fans would be jubilant, there’s quite a bit of backlash about the team’s wealth, Murdoch money and, yep, you guessed it, overpriced Rapha kits. Combine that with the superstar roster twittering away at each other and it makes one think of Real Madrid or Man United. Ugh, now I hate them too!

What do you all think? Yes both of you! Are you Sky haters? Who will you be cheering for at Le Tour?

Badger Watch 2013

It’s almost time the Tour, which means The Badger will be in action once again, greeting local dignitaries, congratulating stage winners and kicking some ass!

It seems some French right-wing crackpots want to disrupt the Tour de France to protest against same-sex marriage. I don’t know what The Badger’s views on the subject of marriage are, but I do know that he doesn’t stand for anyone messing with the sanctity of his bike race.

Nobody messes with The Badger

Nobody messes with The Badger. Wait, wasn’t the guy on the right in Goodfellas?

The Badger can smell a fake FdJ rider from 50 metres.

The Badger can smell a fake FdJ rider from 50 metres.

In Praise of Europcar

How can you not love these guys? They’re such an exciting team. Guaranteed to have someone in the breakaway every day, and able to pull off incredible stage wins. Today was only the first day of the Dauphiné, and it was supposed to be a day for a sprinter, but David Veilleux rode his heart out from the gun to win by almost 2 minutes. They always make the Tour de France much more exciting, and they consistently embarrass World Tour teams that should be kicking their arses.

They are also hilarious. Voeckler is always comedy gold. His face puts out 400 watts alone as he goes through more anguished expressions than Carlos Santana doing a solo.

Tommy gives us his 'O' face.

Tommy gives us his ‘O’ face.

Now there’s the 19th century bare-knuckles boxer turned bike racer Damien Gaudin. How the hell did he win the prologue of Paris-Nice? The guy looks about as aero as an IKEA store. Then he goes and finishes 5th in Paris-Roubaix by trying to tear off his handlebars. Perhaps his flailing elbows have some magical aerodynamic effect that nobody knows about yet.

More Suplex than Souplesse

More Suplex than Souplesse

David Veilleux might be able to hang on to the yellow jersey at the Dauphiné until the TT on Wednesday. That’s a lot of tv time for the sponsor that’s paying a lot less money than the FDJs and Lotto Belisols.

Oh, one more reason to like them. They ride Colnagos. The fact that there is no World Tour team on Colnago just seems wrong to me.

Italian Style

It’s been a week since the Giro d’Italia finished and once again it was a terrific spectacle. The landscape, the architecture, the weather all combined to create what is probably my favourite of the three grand tours. It’s also a great opportunity to see the Italian teams showing off their incredible sense of style. It seems that the designers of Italian team kits tend to lean more towards the Versace end of the spectrum rather than the Armani. You can keep your Bauhausian, Swiss-influenced understated boring stuff for elsewhere. Italian teams like to make a statement. Why put De Stijl on a jersey, when you can have the Sistine Chapel.

The real scandal at Vini Fantini is not why they signed serial doper Danilo DiLuca, but how they signed off on that dreadful day-glo yellow kit (maybe they knew how bad the visibility was going to be in the Alps).

Vini Fantini

Vini Fantini – visual doping

Of course, Vini Fantini is sponsored by Cipollini bikes. Some of you may be aware that this is the company of retired (shy and retiring) sprinter Mario Cipollini. If not, well, here’s what Italian Style is all about:

Lifelong LSU fan Mario Cipollini

Lifelong LSU fan Mario Cipollini

Much like the world’s greatest 5′ 6″ goalkeeper, Jorge Campos, who would design his own kits, Super Mario expressed himself artistically through the medium of the TT skin suit:

Mario's skinless skin suit

Mario’s skinless skin suit

Back to the present. Through the constant ebb and flow each year of team names and sponsors, it’s warmly reassuring to know that some things will always remain the same. That’s right, Lampre’s kit will always be fucking hideous.

Two Little Princes

Two Little Princes and some mad Photoshop Skillz

I think the whole Contador ban was a ruse by the UCI to find a way to give Scarponi a Giro win because they felt so bad for him having to, in the words of Spinal Tap’s manager Ian Faith, “dress like an Australian’s nightmare” year after year.

Michele Scarponi

The arm and leg warmers really take it to another level

Of course, in every artistic medium there are masterpieces that cannot be denied. So, too, in the canvas that is the team kit, there is one that has just as much genius in it as Raphael’s School of Athens, Michelangelo’s David or the Basilica of St. Peter. I refer, of course, to Marco Pantani’s Carrera kit.

Lycra meets Canadian formal wear. Genius.

Lycra meets Canadian formal wear. Genius.

Before Jeggings, there were Jig Shorts

Before Jeggings, there were Jib Shorts