Tweets of the Week: Hansen’s 9 days of Hell, Swiss knitting and SuperSagan’s gym secret

Well, it’s the last Tweets of the Week for 2012 – if I get around to it, I will try to put together a Greatest Hits of Tweets for Christmas week as the Twitterstream has been rich fishing grounds all year and I’ve caught VeloVoices’ quota of succulent tweets. However in the meantime, I will leave you with an (almost) all-photo Tweets, starting with the best series of tweets in the world, ever. Yes, it’s …

Hansen’s Training Camp Diary

Lotto Day 1

Lotto Day 2

Lotto Day 3

Lotto Day 4

Lotto Day 5

Lotto Day 6

Lotto Day 7

Lotto Day 8

Lotto day 9

Jump, Fabs, Jump!

Training camps came in all shapes and forms: RadioShack-Nissan did some sort of bizarre track and field training camp. Um, hey guys, don’t quit your day job.

Fabs jump 2Fabs high jump 2

Fabs jump 1Poor Fabs.

Andy Schleck, however, got to do the pole vault. Is this just the strangest training camp ever? Give a guy with a broken pelvis a long pole with which he has to somehow catapult himself through the air and over a bar. Does that sound wise to anyone out there? However, something must have cheered Fabs and Andy up (Bruyneel disappearance perhaps?), as they’ve both been tweeting again. As has Mark Cavendish now that he no longer rides in the Death Star – funny that.

Schleck pole ault

There was quite the spirit of bonhomie in the RadioShack training camp – not to mention a little knitting needle action. Gregory Rast seems to be a dab hand at purling and casting off. And I for one think Fabs will look, well, fab in this chunky jumper.

Knitting for FabsBefore we leave RSNT, let me just say the next couple tweets are a veritable masterclass in Fabianese. I’m so glad he’s back!!!

Fabs sandals

I love him. I. Love. Him.

And to wrap it all up

The guys from the team formerly known as Rabobank have taken matters into their own hands, I see.

Rabobank sponsors

While SuperSagan seems to have taken the elegant Mr Basso into his hands and onto his shoulders. Why? God only knows. Maybe perfecting his Incredible Hulk persona. Anyway, glad to see the Velvet Samurai back as well.

Sagan and Basso

And last but not least, That Boy Phinney. Yeah yeah yeah, I’m putting in my favourites today, so sue me. But I can’t wait to see how Taylor performs in 2013 – another maglia rosa? A podium place in a spring Classic? The sky’s the limit for this guy. And his hair is trying desperately to kiss the sky too …

Taylor hair day

And that’s your lot. This year, it was the best of times and the worst of times, but no matter what, it all was Twitter fodder. I suspect next year will be just as fun and infuriating. Let’s all hope for a catastrophe-free season in 2013. And some damn fine racing!

Happy birthday Michael Barry

Michael Barry (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Michael Barry (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Today, it’s ‘buy one get one free’ as we’re celebrating both Michael’s 37th birthday and his recent retirement. The latter has not been without controversy as he finally admitted to doping while chez Lance. More about that later.

The GP Montreal was officially his final race as a professional cyclist as the arm he had broken in August started acting up and becoming increasingly painful and swollen around the site of the fracture, plate and screws. In some ways it was more fitting that he should end his career on home soil in front of family, friends and supporters in a race that was won by his teammate Lars Petter Nordhaug.

Michael has long been one of my favourites in the peloton largely because of his eloquence when talking and writing about pretty much any subject – but especially cycling – and his elegance on the bike. His years of indentured service as a domestique made him the perfect team captain on the road. We’ve often seem him leading the peloton for hours on end. If you’ve ever wondered how he and others manage to do it for such lengthy periods, watch him in training being paced by a motorbike in this short video:

While he’s ridden for a number of teams in his 14-year professional career, the last three were spent at Sky where he no doubt imparted much wisdom to the younger riders on the team.

In recent years, Michael’s also compiled a number of videos to assist with training and reconnaissance of key stages in Grand Tours and key races. Like his writing, these articulate better than most the life and times of a professional cyclist. Here are just a few of them:

As I mentioned above after retiring from the sport, Michael confirmed that he doped for a period while riding in the service of Lance Armstrong but has ridden clean since leaving the team and riding firstly for HTC and then Sky.

Michael said he changed his mind on doping after crashing at the 2006 Tour of Flanders. Despite the severity of his injuries no one from Discovery Channel came to visit him in hospital. He claimed this was when it struck home he was taking risks with his health on behalf of people who didn’t care about his health or value his well-being. He left the team in 2006 and started speaking out about the need for clean cycling.

His results, such as they were, have been voided for that dark period, but his few career highlights –  eighth in the 2008 Olympics road race, runner-up in the Canadian national road race in 2001 and 2012, and a stage of the 2008 Tour of Missouri – were achieved clean.

Given that he’s such a wordsmith, it’s only fitting that I should let Michael have the last word. I hope you enjoy your retirement with your young family and please keep writing!

Michael Barry and his two young sone at his farewell race (image courtesy of Michael Barry)

Michael Barry and his two young sons at his farewell race (image courtesy of Michael Barry)

Many of my fondest memories involve the bike but reach far beyond races: riding through the parks with my mother on the way to school, riding with my father, uncle and aunt through Provence, riding with my wife in the Rocky Mountains, and teaching my sons to ride their bikes. On the bike, our relationships developed. That will continue long after I retire as cycling will always be a part of me. Cycling has given me something that reaches far beyond finish lines and race results. Over the last year, as I’ve thought of retirement and reflected on my career, this has become increasingly clear. The racing journey has been a thrill but the cycling journey will continue.