Tweets: Stripes, strops and Stalinist airbrushing

A career that’s going from strength to strength. A career that looks to be buckling under its own success. A confession that was not a surprise and was without regrets. Plus TUEs, TTT camps, Tours and maple syrup. All in this week’s Tweets of the Week. Continue reading

Friday Feature: Jubilé Vinokourov photo gallery

Alexandre Vinokourov celebrated his official retirement in Monaco last month and VeloVoices was on hand. The activites kicked off on Saturday evening with a short transmission on Les Rois de la Pedale broadcast on French Eurosport with Alex and some of his guests who would be ‘competing’ the following day in his invitational criterium: Jubilé Vinokourov.

Here’s Vicent Lavenu, general manager of AG2R La Mondiale, who recruited Alex to ride for what was then the Casino team, no doubt sharing a few of his memories of Alex’s early days with the viewers. With their backs to the camera –  from left to right – Jacky Durand (French Eurosport), the great Eddy Merckx and, side on, Guillaume di Grazia (French Eurosport).

There’s a few Rois in this photo (image courtesy of astana fans)

The gentleman in the rear of the photo is Alex’s dad who bravely took part in the following day’s criterium along with a number of Alex’s closest family friends from his amateur club in St Etienne plus a number of the Kazakh officials and embassy staff, who were also in attendance for this prestigious event which was filmed for Kazakh television.

Messrs Van Petegem, Tchmill, Lelangue and Ullrich await their turn in the spotlight

The racing took place on Sunday afternoon. First a race for local amateurs and then the main event. But there was just time for a few questions beforehand with the local press who gamely also participated – well, for a few rounds, at least.

A few questions from the local press before the race

The eagle-eyed among you will note that the Astana boys are all in special shirts. These were worn to publicize Astana’s bid to host Expo 2017. It’s in competition with Liege, Belgium, and the winner will be announced in December 2012.

Is that yet another non UCI-approved jersey? (image courtesy of astana fans)

A number of the latest Vino-4-ever shirts on the shoulders of Alex’s St Etienne family.

Alex with some of his closest friends and family before the start

Alex’s daughter, Irina and her doggie, Lola, lend their support

Monaco resident Chris Froome (Sky) was happy to take part out of respect for Alex and his distinguished career.

Chris Froome proved popular with the fans. Will 2013 be his year?

Alex had rounded up quite a large team to support him in the race. In fact, it was anyone in Astana colours not riding in the Tour of Bejing, plus new recruits Vincenzo Nibali and Valerio Agnoli. This meant his team was much larger than anyone else’s.

Enrico Gasparotto, winner of this year’s Amstel Gold, relaxed before the start

Alex had wisely given the boys mountain bikes – no sense in letting them beat him just yet. They happily rode at the front of the peloton for the first few largely processional laps of the 50 lap criterium.

Alex and his twin sons

All ready for the off – left to right – UC Monaco President Umberto Langelotti, 2013 Astana recruit Vincenzo Nibali, Jan Ullrich  – now sponsored by a shampoo – Alex, Eddy Merckx, Richard Virenque, Vincent Lavenu and Fast Phil Gil in his all-white world champ’s strip. On your marks, get set, go …

Gallery of rogues or legends: you decide!

Now, don’t forget, it’s my party so you’ve got to let me win. Drinks on me later

The first ten laps were ridden at a gentle pace but as soon as the tempo was upped and the racing proper started Messrs Merckx and Ullrich were out the back and off their bikes while Richard Virenque rode gamely on, despite being lapped.

What do you suppose these two are chatting about?

Words of racing wisdom for one of the twins. How soon before they can beat Dad?

Don’t you just love the ‘Vino forever’ signs?

Everyone’s chasing Fast PhilGil

Recognise the rider in red and white? Yes, that’s Davide Rebellin  – 41 years young and still competing.

Yaroslav Popovich and Chris Froome lead the chasing pack

Trademark attack from Vino on his golden bike with two laps to go

There was only ever going to be one winner!

Was it only me who noticed that Vincenzo punctured, stopped, changed his wheel and rejoined the race after missing a lap?

How big is that cup? It’s a whopper!

Yes, that is the lovely Mrs Gilbert  – a willing recruit as a podium girl – in the background along with young Alain clutching his shades.  Poppo’s wife was also pressed into service but, unfortunately, the cameraman’s blocking our view of her but you can just see her red dress.

The winners perfect their champagne spraying technique

Thanks, guys, that went all over me!

Kazakh champagne! Do the French know about this?                                            (image courtesy of astana fans)

He’s a bit of a cutie isn’t he? I was of course referring to Alain Gilbert in his Tintin t-shirt.

It was very much a family affair with young Alain [Gilbert] helping out while his mum was a podium girl

The race was followed by a knees-up [don’t you mean ‘gala dinner’? – Ed] at the Fairmount and predictably the following day it was announced that Alex would be taking up a role as a manager next year at Team Astana.

My cameraman – now relieved of his duties – left his camera battery at home so I had to rely on mobile phones, friends, Twitter  – particularly Michelle Cound – and Astana fans for photographs. Many grateful thanks to you all.

Tweets of the Week: Mod is for modest, Movember madness and marriage proposals

Funny, cruel, odd, personal … you get it all on Twitter. Each week, we’ll have a rundown of some of our favourite tweets. Here are the tweets for the week ending 4th November 2012.

I don’t want all this attention … really!

We’ll start with Bradley Wiggins – Tour de France defending champion (although chances are he won’t defend next year), no doubt soon to be Sir (although would a Mod want to be part of the Establishment?) and reformed tax avoider (news is he has pulled out of that Cayman Islands scheme). But, as we see from the tweet below, he’s quit Twitter…

He never really tweeted anyway, so not sure if we’d have known if someone hadn’t pointed this out.

Now, last week was the unveiling of what looks like a cracking parcours for the 100th Tour de France. A night-time finish in Paris complete with fireworks, twice up Alpe d’Huez, time trials that don’t seem designed to crush the life out of the race the second week in … so much to get excited about! But it was Wiggo’s attire at the presentation that elicited a lot of comment – even a few arguments.

With a haircut like that and a peacock-blue coat while all around him was wearing black – nah, that wouldn’t attract undue attention. It’s a wonder we can even notice him, blending so seamlessly into the background. (Is it just me or does he look like Napoleon?!) Here are some of the horrified reactions…

Of course, in that lineup we also see the recently divorced (from Bernie Eisel) Mark Cavendish, former Sky water-carrier and super-domestique. Looks like Brad has decided that anything Cav can do, he can do better.

While Wiggo’s rival teammate is swimming with blondes and dolphins.

And now a word from our German riders

I must admit, I was never a Jan Ullrich fan – I never understood why, if you wanted to win the Tour de France, you would come to the race overweight. However, with all the crap surrounding those years coming out of late, my opinion of him has softened quite a bit (I’m sure he’s relieved!) and this picture, which he posted on Facebook, softened my opinion just that much more. He looks really happy, doesn’t he? Good on him …

One German rider who knows about babies is, of course, Jens Voigt. The man is a non-stop baby machine – someone should have told the customs officer.

And a picture of Jens in the airport … LOVE the t-shirt!

And here’s a picture of the god of the Argonauts, Marcel Kittel. I don’t think I need to explain why I like posting pictures of Marcel, do I?

But hey, who knew that tennis superstar (and Mrs Andre Agassi) Steffi Graf won a sprint in the Giro?!

#Movember madness

Koen de Kort has convinced the mighty Greg Henderson to participate in Movember as well. They’re on the team Mouthful of Awesome, so give generously. Here’s the progress so far …

Personally, I’m hoping for a Yosemite Sam-like tache on Greg by the end of the month! Remember Dave Zabriskie’s facial ornament from a few years back? Something like that!

Skins walk off the field

Skins, who do a wide range of compression clothing, have decided to sue the UCI for the Armstrong debacle that they feel damaged their brand, which brought out a little discussion from our revolutionaries. The UCI must be feeling really embattled at the moment – Kimmage is suing them, Skins is suing them, fans want to sue them … could get interesting in the next few months, people, very interesting indeed.

Speaking of cycling clothing, can a cycling jersey be at the forefront of the zeitgeist? If so, reckon Velocast has nailed it. By the way, these really are for sale – and there’s also a lovely line in t-shirts. Christmas is coming up, people. And in the spirit of the UCI, I reckon that with all this free publicity to the tens of fans who read this column, I should be getting a t-shirt in the post as a thank-you unrelated merchandise sample …

Oh, unless you count this response. Team Cupcake, anyone? Yes! TEAM CUPCAKE! Somebody make a jersey from that, please!!!

Goin’ to the chapel and we’re gonna get married …

I am a girl, Taylor. And I would marry you… (sigh)

And on that note of wishful thinking, I leave you until next week, tweeties!