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Why the US Sucks at Olympic Lifting: Part 19

Having looked at US success in track and field and swimming in Why the US Sucks at Olympic Lifting: part 18, I’m going to change gears (ha ha) a bit and look at a couple of exceptions that exist in the US in terms of this whole issue of sports and what we’re good at or have been good at. Because while most seem to think that all I’m doing is repeating the same information (and to a degree I am) the exceptions to some of the ‘rules’ that appear to exist are often more interesting.

The first exception I want to look at is US cycling and there are a number of reasons to examine it.  An occasionally seen argument is “Everyone said the US couldn’t win the Tour De France and we did that and therefore anything is possible, including an American doing well in OL’ing” and it’s worth seeing if the situations between the sports are at all similar or comparable.

Certainly cycling in this country has never been more than a niche sport (until recently) but the idea that the US was not producing on any level is more of a misconception than reality as you’ll see below.  In fact, you may be quite surprised at how the US has done in the world of international cycling.  The surprise is that we’ve done it given the situation of the sport in this country: small numbers of athletes, no incentives, etc.  Basically US Cycling seems to lack a lot of factors that seem to be ‘required’ for success.

Of equal interest is that in the last decade or so, the situation in US cycling has changed drastically and that change is worth examining.  A niche sport has, relatively speaking, exploded.  The number of cyclists has increased, the country cares and we are producing results at a level even better than before.  Looking at how this happened (or even the fact that change-resistant America could have this happen) is also illustrative as it may provide a ‘blueprint’ for how this might happen in another sport.

This is long and it will take me 2 days to cover it because there’s a lot of necessary background to all of this.  So it goes but I will get to OL’ing on Friday.  So, after you’ve read this, it’s time for me to bore you with cycling.

How the Sport is Played

Cycling, like all sports, is similar to many (involving head to head racing) but with it’s own nuances.  And since those nuances impact on a lot of the factors about US cycling, I need to go into some detail here.  It should go without saying (I’ll say it anyway) that bike racers race on bikes, two wheels, pedals, gearing.

I’d mention that in contract to the track bikes I talked about (with one fixed gear), modern bikes have many gears (achieved with a combination of a front chainring that usually has two different ‘sizes’ and a rear cog that may have 9-11 different sized cogs) and can freewheel.  This just means that the rear wheel can spin if the legs aren’t moving.

I’d mention that this wasn’t always the case, early racing bikes only had or at most two gears.  Cyclists changed gears by stopping, physically removing and flipping the wheel and then resuming.  This was done until the invention of the derailleur, the mechanism that allows you to shift while riding.

It’s also, tangentially why bike shorts are black.  Since cyclists had to physically flip the wheel, they’d get grease on their hands and black shorts allowed them to wipe their hands without it showing.  And it’s been maintained since the early 20th century solely out of tradition.  Cycling does a lot of things out of tradition, some of which are very stupid.

Cyclists race in a variety of different events but the basic goal is the same: cover a fixed distance course in the shortest time possible.  One type of race is called a time trial, this is one of the few events where racers race by themselves (there is also a team time trial); the goal here is to cover a fixed distance (which can range from very short to very long) as fast as possible.  When a team does this, they alternate who’s in front to go faster and save energy for reasons you’ll learn in a second.

Leader of the Pack

Most races are done pack style which means everybody races as a group; here’s it’s about who crosses the line first, time is not really relevant except in something I’m going to talk about in a second.  These types of races vary massively and I’ll gives some details below.

But the key is that everyone is racing at once in a big pack; first guy across the line wins.  So it’s easy to know who’s winning or losing and who won or lost.  And while this seems simple in premise, the nature of bike racing and the speeds involved (sometimes going as high as 40mph (64 km/h) or higher has a huge implication because wind resistance is the main form of resistance.  And as speed increases linearly, wind resistance increases exponentially, as does the power required to go faster..

Breaking Wind

Which mainly has an impact for a huge factor in cycling which is drafting; this is where you sit closely behind someone, in their slipstream.  This can reduce the power you need to put out by up to 20% depending on a host of factors (their size, your size, how close you sit, etc.).  You do the same thing every time you get behind a large truck to save gas.

Drafting allows a cyclist to put out much less energy than they would if they were in the front which is good over long races.  In fact, one commonality of great cyclists is that they often do less work than everyone else.  More accurately, they only do work as needed.  They will sit in the pack and draft or coast and save energy so that they can blow it out of the water when they need it while newer cyclists waste a lot of energy not riding smart.

That’s all predicated on sitting in well, mind you (and the fact of the freewheel and gearing).  Because if our cyclist falls off the back for some reason, suddenly his power requirements go through the roof.  It’s also generally expected that everyone take a pull at front although there are some exceptions having to do with team tactics I’m about to discuss.

It’s also a general advantage in pack races to be nearer the front than the back and most feel that being in the top 10-15 cyclists is ideal.  This isn’t just because being further back means you’re towards last place but has to do with how the pack yo-yos (just like on the freeway) when people slow down or speed up.  Too far back and the yo-yo effect can throw you off the back.   It’s also easier to navigate tight corners if you’re closer to the front, you don’t have 30 other guys trying to fit through at the same time.

All of this adds to a bit of jostling and jockeying for position in the race.  And when you add a bunch of aggressive psychos and metal machinery and body contact, crashes and accidents happen.  Cyclists are being found to have very low bone density because their sport isn’t weight bearing or high impact and when they crash they often break into little pieces (as do their bikes). Many of them get right back up and into the race.  Here are some awesome crashes to keep you interested in this (at least watch the one at 1:10, it’s AWESOME).

Because when a cyclist gets blown off the back of the pack, out of the draft, he’s in big trouble and may be out of the race.  Because he is now at a huge disadvantage relative to the rest of the pack.  They can match his speed with less effort or go faster at the same effort by working together and he can’t.  If he can’t get back to the pack, he’s usually out of the race.  To get back to the pack he can either make a heroic effort, potentially exhausting himself (but it’s that or lose).  Better yet he can find someone else to work with him.  That’s right, he may work with his competitors to get back to the main pack.

Because cycling is another of those individual team sports.  Because while only one guy wins any individual race (by crossing first or having the best time in a time trial), doing so requires a team of helpers at most levels.  And the nature of the races means that it’s often beneficial (or required) to work with an opponent for various reasons.  One of them being when 4 guys are off the back; they will form an alliance to get back to the main pack (or just make the time cutoff).

And with that said, let’s look briefly at some of the main types of races since this is relevant to the US situation versus the European situation.  Because since man started racing each other on bikes, they’ve come up with new and creative ways to make each other suffer.  I already told you about time trials so let’s look at some other main types of races.

Crits

One of them is called a criterium or crit.  Crits are single event shortish races (usually lasting 30 minutes to maybe 2 hours or so) with tight corners that can be raced within the confines of a city with some streets blocked off (all you really need to run a crit is a square block, starting gun and a clock).

Cyclists come flying into the corner, try not to die and then explode out of the corner at full sprint and they do this over and over in a race.  Crits tend to be exciting and fast with lots of crashes; since they are on a closed course, competitors get to see the racers come by a multitude of times.  It’s easy to know who’s winning and who’s losing and the winner is the first guy across the line.

So by the criteria I laid out last week, crit racing is a sport that Americans will ‘get’. Even if most still don’t watch it (because there is more interesting stuff going on). In a lot of ways it’s kind of like auto racing but without the big metal shells (i.e. cars) to protect the athletes when they wipe out and break. In any case, crits look like this:

Success in crits tends to be predicated on explosive power, speed and bike handling.  You have to be crazy enough to hit the corner at speed, not crash and then jump out to get back ahead of everyone.  And this may happen hundreds of times over the course of the race depending on the course and how long the race runs.

Other Road Races

But crits are far from the only kind of bike race.  There are also point to point races (often raced between towns or what have you), sometimes you block off a big loop (like 6 miles/10km) and go around it a handful of times; this might be done around a town or out in the sticks or something.  These types of races are typically much longer and success is predicated on longer duration endurance, speed and pack and team dynamics.

Different types of stage races can favor different types of cyclists depending on the nature of the course.  Sprinters, climbers, all arounders, time trialists can all have an advantage depending on the course even if the races are always predicated on a base of endurance (as well as pack and team tactics).

The same basic dynamics still hold though, it’s first guy across the line wins and it’s pretty easy to tell what’s going on.  The big disadvantage from a spectator point of view is that you only get to see the racers pass by once or at most a few times.   Until we got chase helicopters, watching this kind of race meant seeing very little action, racers come by and go into the distance.  Back to doing something else.

Tours

In addition to one-day races where you race once and then go home, there are also tours (also called stage races), races contested over a number of days  (this can be as few as 3 days or as many as 21 days) usually doing different types of races on each different day.  Usually there’s at least one time trial, one or more road races and often others.  It’s more a way of testing all around ability since specialists tend to be at a disadvantage (with an exception I’ll mention shortly).  It’s also where team tactics become absolutely crucial.  For a number of reasons tours tend to be events that nuanced Europeans get and coarse Americans do not.

For example, while each day’s stage has an individual winner, the overall winner is determined by their total time (called the general classification or GC); lowest time wins.  Depending on what develops, it’s even possible for the winner of the overall to not win a single individual stage which defies a lot of sports logic.

As well, the nature of the racing usually means that the road events end in a pack or sprint finish.  It’s just too hard to get away from a pack of 50 guys who can work together to go faster by drafting and rotating lead.  It happens but it’s tough.  So most races end with a group of 50 guys crossing all at once.  And to avoid unfairness, everyone is given the identical finish time (the first guy across the line still ‘wins’ the day).

First or 50th, everyone gets the same time to keep it fair for the GC. I’d note that the nature of the racing, the advantage of the pack often makes it impossible for anything but a pack finish to occur in the road race. This makes it hard to gain an overall advantage.  It’s another reason for teams or individuals to work together (or against someone else).  In the short-term it may be worth it to form an alliance to keep another team from gaining an insurmountable lead over everyone.

A final upshot of all of this is that nature of many tours does actually give time trial specialists a bit of an advantage.  Since the road races tend to end in a big group finish (where everyone is given the same time), often it’s only in the time trial that someone with a chance to win it all can gain a lot of time over a competitor.  So if they can gain 15 seconds lead in the time trial and then just stay with the pack for the rest of the event, they will win.

Tours are predicated on a lot of factors.  The guys winning have to be fairly well rounded, often a time trial background is beneficial. Being able to put out a big effort day after day is a big key as well.  Tours select for the ability to recover, especially at the extremes.  A huge part of doing well in tours has to do with the team dynamics of cycling.

There is No ‘I’ in Team But There is a Me

It goes under appreciated by many in this country but road cycling at the highest levels is a team sport (I mentioned this briefly when I talked about UK track cycling) with the team being made up of a number of different individuals. One of them is the team leader, the guy with the best chance to win the overall GC.  Usually he’s the most talented and most well rounded.

There are also sprinting and climbing specialists.  Climbers are usually light as hell (a 5’4″ (64cm) climber might be expected to weigh 128 lbs (58kg)) because weight hurts you more going up than on the flats.  Sprinters are typically bigger, they have the chance to win single stages when the pack rolls in and it comes down to a sprint finish.  Mind you they have to sprint after 2-6 hours in the saddle and don’t put out nearly the power outputs of a track cycling sprinter.  Both climbers and sprinters have their own points championships and specialist jerseys for doing well and can win individual stages but they aren’t in contention for the GC in tours.

And then there’s the domestique; these are the grunts without the talent to win the race (at most they have the talent to win a single stage); their role is to protect the leader in various ways (such as helping him back to the pack if he flats), handle the pack, lead out the sprinters, go back and get water and food, that sort of thing. They are the infantry of cycling races; critical to winning but ultimately expendable.

The team dynamics of cycling have a number of implications not the least of which is that it makes a sport that Americans have trouble getting. Because in our sports, one team is supposed to defeat the other one. Certainly good sportsmanship is expected (even in our murder sports) but you don’t help the other team. That’s not the point of sports to Americans.

But road cycling is different and alliances are common and expected.  Which means that teams that  should be trying to straight-up murder one another will form alliances for some or all of a given race because it serves their short term need. It would be like making a short-term agreement with the Germans in WWII before trying to defeat them at the end. And that truly defies American sports logic. Help the other team? Especially one with a Frenchman on it? That’s bullshit to any American (and rightfully so). And it’s an integral part of road cycling.

Riding a Bike is Like Falling Off a Log: Anybody Can Do It

I would mention in passing that one ‘benefit’ of cycling is that, outside of some minor details in terms of body position and pedalling style and bike fit, it’s not a particularly technically demanding sport. It’s a movement pattern derived from basic bipedal motion (I described it recently to someone as seated running with gears) and outside of a few nuances, you can pick it up rather quickly and go start ruining yourself almost immediately.

You can buy a bike and ride it home if you want (helmet highly required). It might take you 10 years to get great while you develop physiologically and tactically but it only takes you 10 minutes to get competent. And 9 minutes of that is paying for the thing, being mindblown by the amount of money you just paid for a kid’s toy and getting your helmet on.

And all of this is just a big lead in to the following discussion of…

 

Physiology and Genetics: Part 1

When I talked about track cycling in the UK, I made the comment that cycling, because of the diversity of what it encompasses can actually support a lot of different physiologies although there are clearly some basic requirements for the sport. On the track you can see sprinters and endurance guys and even there most of the sprints have an endurance component and aren’t pure sprints.

In road cycling it’s even more diverse due to the different types of racing and the dynamics of the team. Everyone needs basic endurance but there are many different roles to fill. A leader, sprinters, climbers and domestiques; all working together to win the overall race or tour for team glory, money and chicks. So no only can the sport accommodate a lot of different physiologies, a fully developed team needs them all.

Which like some of the other sports I’ve discussed also means is that you wouldn’t expect any single ethnic group to dominate the sport, it’s too un-specialized in terms of demands (and that actually eliminates some groups that are more genetically specialized). Rather, there tend to be far more cultural, economic and tradition based reasons for cycling to be pursued.

There doesn’t seem to have ever been much of a tradition for blacks to enter the sport although other ethnicities (such as Miguel Indurain from Spain) have. Because even though a lot of countries in the Europeland ™ area have large black communities, there just doesn’t appear to be much interest. No tradition, no heroes, other sports like soccer and such are the big players (like the big three are here).  It’s a white sport across the board.

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Sociopolitical Rhetoric

Bicycles are one of the earliest forms of transportation (after feet) and both were and are still a big part of many cultures.  Europeans have been racing bicycles since about the time they were invented and some of their races have been consistently contested for over 100 years.  That’s in addition to their role for transportation, recreation and all the rest.  Overseas, as much as it is a competitive activity, cycling is part of the way of life.  Coupled with the tradition of racing and great racers, this means tons of access and a monstrous number of people entering the sport.

As I’ve noted repeatedly, riding a bike is a way to a better life for blue collar Europeans and folks will work their brains out to succeed. And they do it in some of the harshest conditions imaginable given the weather, the locations, the terrain. It makes them hard, it weeds out the weak. But the ones who survive are simply incredible.

And traditionally countries like Italy, France, Britain, etc. are the ones that have consistently produced the best cyclists at both the amateur and professional level.And it’s just a function of the same things as before, numbers, tradition, coaching, access, incentives, etc.

In the US, things couldn’t be more different.  Because while cycling was certainly part of our early development (and US cyclists were involved in the craziness of the 6-day velodrome racing), we rapidly became a car culture and cycling for transportation died out.  Our cities and roadways are set up for cars and only certain enclaves are more bike friendly than car friendly.

It’s not as if there isn’t plenty of pavement but between traffic and people who try to run you over for using ‘their roads’ cycling in the US can be dangerous indeed.  Folks who rode bikes around town are just too poor to afford a car or are considered nuisances on the road.  I know cyclists who carry guns when they ride in certain areas; no joke.

All of which worked to really remove bikes from the US awareness for the most part.    Cyclists in the US are often seen as targets more than athletes. And that does probably impact quite a bit on the numbers going into it. Any sport that is an outright hassle to pursue is not one most people bother with. The presence of the big three and the complete lack of any sort of incentive for pursuing the sport didn’t help.

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Incentives or the Lack Thereof

Because in contrast to Europe where even a mediocre pro cyclist can make a living, there is literally no reason to pursue cycling as a sport in this country; at least there wasn’t one until very recently.  The only way to make money is to turn pro and that’s a European thing with few guarantees. While some colleges have a cycling ‘team’ (or group) there are no scholarships to be had.

And in direct contrast to Europeland, cycling in the US is just like swimming (which is why I ordered things this way) pursued predominantly by middle and upper class whites.  The same group that doesn’t necessarily need sport to earn money or an education. They can do it for personal reasons.

Because cycling is not a particularly cheap sport. A very low end racing bike will set you back a few hundred dollars, back in the day anything decent was $600-$1000. Nowadays a decent entry level racing bike will run $2000 and you can literally spend as much as you want on gear ($10,000 or more for the bike alone is not unheard of).

What cyclists in the US had had to have a pretty damn high internal drive.   They weren’t suffering on a bike to try to make a living like someone in Flanders or Belgium; they were doing it because they wanted to hurt and hurt a lot.  All out of the same basic internal drive that makes another white kid want to stare at the pool bottom for 24 hours/week.

It didn’t help that the racing scene in the US was abysmal.  Overseas you can race every other day for a few pieces of Monopoly money; in the US you drive hours to get to one of the few races.   There was no money to be had, no fame or glory, no college scholarships.  Cycling wouldn’t even get you chicks.  Hell, if there was an anti-chick getting sport it was cycling. You wore fruity colored tights and shaved your legs.  And that was the guys.

And yet the US always had a small group of insanely dedicated who trained like crazy, followed all of the European stuff, etc. It was never more than a niche sport here of course. It wasn’t massive but neither was it tiny or non-existent. They even made a documentary about cycling in the US in 1979 called Breaking Away. And they were always there.

And it was long felt that the US simply couldn’t perform at the highest levels, especially not against the Europeans and certainly not in the Tour De France.   And since we have recently done so, the argument that “Since the US did something considered impossible, therefore US Olympic lifters could do the same.”  is sometimes made as I mentioned above.   Folks seem to think that recent US cycling success is some oddity or that US cyclists came out of nowhere to do something thought impossible.  And that’s really not the case.

At least one thing they fail to recognize is that while, as a professional sport, the European cycling scene is sort of the pinnacle of the sport, that’s not all there is to international cycling.  What about the Olympics?  How did the US do there?

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USA Number…Well, Fifth Actually

It will come as a bit of a surprise to many but the numbers don’t lie: while the US was never able to really produce overseas in European professional cycling for quite some time, we’ve actually held our own at the Olympic level.  It’s only a surprise that we did so well given the circumstances of the sport in this country.  Small, no tradition, no real support, no incentives.  Not a sport you’d expect to do very well.

Yet, as shown in Cycling at the Summer Olympics we are fourth in terms of total medals won and fifth in terms of golds with France, Italy, Great Britain and the Netherlands (all Europeland cycling crazy countries) topping us.  And if you take out Italy and France (who own) we’re actually in pretty good running with numbers 3 and 4 in terms of total medals and golds.

No, not fantastic but not as awful as many seem to think we were doing.  Mind you some of this is probably related to mountain biking, a recent addition to the Olympics and an American invention. But medals we do win and have won and this tradition stretches back pretty far. In cycling.  We’ve consistently developed Olympic champions over at least a 30 year span.

Specifically, a US cyclist took 6th in the Olympic road race in 1976, it’s felt that Greg Lemond would have medaled in 1980 had we not boycotted and American Alex Grewal (a Sikh-American, told you we had some of everybody in this silly ass country) did take gold in 1984. Tyler Hamilton, another American cyclist who won the Tour De France also took gold at the Olympics in 2000 before failing a drug test and becoming a sports pariah. And there are clearly more US cyclists who have taken Olympic medals. And that was against countries with much larger cycling traditions than ours.

So clearly we had at least some talent along with the other infrastructure needed to compete at the Olympic level. You simply don’t win golds without that ever. It is worth noting that the Olympics program includes only two road cycling events: the one day road race and the time trial. This is relevant and you’ll see why in a second.

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The Big Question

Because now we have a quandry: why could US cyclists at least hold their own in cycling at the Olympic level but completely fail to do well in European professional cycling?  Certainly there are lots of reasons.

At least part of that was due to the sheer number of great European cyclists (that existed for reasons I touched on in an earlier part of the series, it’s a massive, highly incentivized sport with decades of tradition and heroes and easy access and tons of coaching overseas); the Americans were competing a field of such depth that success was going to be difficult no matter what.  One of my book sources stated that in a typical US bicycle race there might be 100+ competitors and maybe 10 have a real chance of winning; overseas, it’s more like 150 racers and 50 have the potential to win.

Another was the team aspect. With so few Americans even trying to go overseas, they had to join or be hired by foreign teams and it doesn’t appear that they were universally accepted. We simply weren’t in a position to have American only teams during most of the time we raced.  Cycling has a bit of a snob/elitist appeal and folks in Europeland don’t like Americans anymore than we like them on the whole. US Cyclists didn’t appear to get much respect or support from folks on their ‘team’ for various reasons. And you just can’t ride those events without that team support.

But those aren’t actually the truly important factors at work here. Because the main reason US cyclists (who clearly demonstrated that they had the talent to succeed at at least the Olympic level) couldn’t do well overseas were related to geography. No, I haven’t lost it 5 weeks into this insanity; just read on.

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Racing in the USA

Remember when I made that really out of place comment about the structure of US cities way back when I talked about US geography? And you’ve been wondering for like 10 days what in the hell it had to do with anything. Finally the riddle will be solved because this was the singular part of this series that it applied to.

Because inasmuch as anything else, it was the structure of the US as a whole both in terms of city structure as well as the roads connecting cities had a huge impact on the type of bicycle racing that developed and was emphasized in this country. Which impacted on what type of cyclists we developed and how we trained them. And that impacted on what we were prepared to succeed at. And, by extension, what we weren’t prepared to succeed at.

As I mentioned, once you get out of New England (damn Yankees) and especially as you move south and west from New England you start to see the structure of the cities changing moving towards more systematically laid out street designs and a lot of urban sprawl. By the time you get to the warm-weather states where folks can cycle year round, most cities are laid out on a big grid with lots of 90 degree corners. Here’s Phoenix, AZ for example, it looks like someone took a waffle iron to the desert.

Phoenix
Where’s Walmart?


And because of how the country developed, invariably the connecting interstates and highways are made for high-volume, high-speed traffic; and by the time they were really in place we were a car culture. And people in this country don’t like cyclists. You’d get killed riding on most of them, even if it were legal. The connecting roads were for cars, not bikes.

And because of that, the US racing scene primarily focused on crits, races that could be easily raced within a closed off city set up like a grid.  That’s on top of it appealing to the coarse American mindset.  They are short, fun, lots of crashes and don’t take all day.  It’s a sport Americans get based on the criteria I laid out.

And it selects for guys with the power, speed and bike handling to do well in them.  And since it only requires a one time effort, it only needs guys who can blow it one one day at a time.  I’d note in passing that the US also focused on the time trial because of its Olympic status (and probably because of it’s relative resistance to team tactics and other silly shit; just like UK track cycling’s focus on the track).

But now let’s look at Europeland.

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Racing in Europeland

Now think about how cities and the overall countries are set up in Europe. Because they were built 2000 years ago, the city areas are twisty and complicated and confusing with roads going in every damn direction. And often cobbled. Basically they are impossible to race a bike on easily. This is Paris, France note how the streets go every which way and many just end. You can’t run crits in this environment and they never developed to any significant degree overseas.  It’s also not a style of racing that really appeals to Europeans.  French and Italians like their sports nuanced and complicated, like their women.

Paris
Where’s Pepe LePew?


In contrast, the connecting roads between cities started out as basic transport roads for horses or whatever and are now paved. Just perfect for cycling. And drivers know how to deal with cyclists (i.e. they won’t run you over out of spite like in some areas of the US). And the roads would have been originally used for travelling between cities, often by bike because all of those countries have been around long before cars were around.  And given this, it wouldn’t take long before our genetic competitive imperative would show up and folks would start racing.

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The Classics

So first some guy got the idea to see who could go from town to town as fast as possible and the first race was on.  They would be enshrined as the classics, single-day races across distances ranging from 70-200km (43-160 miles) usually between cities (one was the insane Paris-Brest-Paris 1200 km/745 mile race that took around 90 hours).  Paris-Roubiax, Paris-Niece and a ton of others were simply the consequence of guys racing from town to town, often on roads that were marginally paved at best.

Famously,  Paris-Roubaix is actually still raced on cobblestones (it’s actually one race in a subcategory of what are called cobbled classics; there are more than one of these stupid-ass things). This is Parix-Roubaix and it’s supposed to be even more fun when it rains (WET cobblestones plus rubber tires = badness).

Some of the classics have been raced for over 100 years and wining any of them is a feather in the cap of international cyclists. There is even a classics ‘hat-trick’: three major classics that have been occasionally won by the same guy in a year though I am at a loss to name either the races or the guys who have achieved this.  Those are demi-gods in the pantheon of cycling.

But that was just the beginning of the insanity that was European cycling.  To keep today and tomorrow more even length wise, I’ll cut it here and talk about the minor and major tours along with how cycling has changed in this country tomorrow.

Read Why the US Sucks at Olympic Lifting: Part 20.

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