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  #9921  
Old 12-13-12, 18:22
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while Libertine questions the sudden explosion of British cycling talent, it is precisely that track programme that has developed that.
Read me again. I'm not so suspicious of the guys (and girls) that have come from the protective nest of British Cycling and its track program.

I find it, however, rather too convenient that a country that has created only a handful of world class talents in the last 30 years (and I named Robert Millar and Boardman as the last ones before this current crop) suddenly has, at the same time as that development program that they've put so much time and effort into starts reaping its rewards, some absolutely world class riders coming extremely suddenly from absolutely nowhere... and who have nothing to do with the ongoing development program. The track program didn't develop Chris Froome. The track program didn't develop Jonathan Tiernan-Locke. Britain, apparently, just lucked into these spectacular natural talents at the right time.
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  #9922  
Old 12-13-12, 18:54
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Originally Posted by Libertine Seguros View Post
Read me again. I'm not so suspicious of the guys (and girls) that have come from the protective nest of British Cycling and its track program.

I find it, however, rather too convenient that a country that has created only a handful of world class talents in the last 30 years (and I named Robert Millar and Boardman as the last ones before this current crop) suddenly has, at the same time as that development program that they've put so much time and effort into starts reaping its rewards, some absolutely world class riders coming extremely suddenly from absolutely nowhere... and who have nothing to do with the ongoing development program. The track program didn't develop Chris Froome. The track program didn't develop Jonathan Tiernan-Locke. Britain, apparently, just lucked into these spectacular natural talents at the right time.
I think you have to look at the history and culture (yes I did use the c word) of British cycling to find the answer. Road racing was banned from the early to mid-nineteenth century, so while the nascent sport was developing on the continent, with the long and spectacular one-day races and the early editions of the Tour, British cyclists were riding track and TT. It wasn't really until Simpson made a beachhead in the 50s and 60s by forming an ex-pat community in Ghent that British riders made serious inroads in to the European road race circuit. And when Simpson died on the slopes of Ventoux in '67 that sort of died with him. Had he lived we may have had a different story: he was the glue that held the community and the likes of Hoban and Denson together. His long term plans included a coaching centre in Ghent for British cyclists to come over and learn the 'trade' so to speak. Pretty sure he had even bought the land for it. Talk about bein ahead of his time: Brailsford is talking about doing the same thing now.

So while the suffering and spectacle of these great races were lived and breathed by the cyclists and public of Belgium, Holland, France, Spain and Italy but the Brits didn't really get it. The rarefied culture of TT and track didn't really produce great road riders, Simpson being an honourable exception. There's an anecdote about a British rider recently arrived in Ghent taking part in his first road race asking whether the other riders knew how long it was, so fast they were riding. Put mildly it was a culture shock: that channel of ours is more than just a stretch of water.

Since then only the odd talented and dedicated rider has made a breakthrough, and put simply the reason for that is its a minority sport in this country and talent would get siphoned off into better funded sport with greater popularity. However British Sport in the 1990s identified cycling as a sport they could target and win medals at, and they started to pump lottery funding into it, which meant the best talent isn't lost to other sports. At the same time there is an extensive scouting network for talent, as well as a lot of money going into technical advances in the bikes themselves.

I think we have to be clear that this isn't East Germany, we aren't feeding these talented kids steroids and Poe unbeknowst to them, this is a dedicated and well-funded programme to identify and nurture talent (despite what was suggested in the Olympics thread).

You mention Froome and JTL. Firstly while Froome has a British father he's only been carrying a British passport for 3 or 4 years. He did not grow up here or learn his trade on a bike here. You ask where we got him from, the answer is Kenya. BC has virtually nothing to do with Froome's development, and the fact he races under our flag is his choice. I certainly view him as more Kenyan than British (although I will stop short of going Daily Mail on him and calling him a plastic Brit).

JTL I'll put my hand up and say I know little about his development beyond his illness. I think it's a stretch calling him world-class yet though.

Wiggins and Cav we know all about, so who else? Stannard, Swift, Kennaugh, Thomas, Cummings, Dowsett, Rowe? Potential there certainly, and also the best pool of talent Britain has ever had to call upon, but largely untested and unrealised potential that may mostly end up as domestiques rather than all-singing all-dancing GC contenders. But not a sudden excess of world beaters in my opinion.

Last edited by JimmyFingers; 12-13-12 at 18:59.
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  #9923  
Old 12-13-12, 18:56
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Are you ready Hog?
Mild mannered Froome zig zagging up mountains to Alien Froome!
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  #9924  
Old 12-13-12, 19:09
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Originally Posted by Libertine Seguros View Post
Read me again. I'm not so suspicious of the guys (and girls) that have come from the protective nest of British Cycling and its track program.

I find it, however, rather too convenient that a country that has created only a handful of world class talents in the last 30 years (and I named Robert Millar and Boardman as the last ones before this current crop) suddenly has, at the same time as that development program that they've put so much time and effort into starts reaping its rewards, some absolutely world class riders coming extremely suddenly from absolutely nowhere... and who have nothing to do with the ongoing development program. The track program didn't develop Chris Froome. The track program didn't develop Jonathan Tiernan-Locke. Britain, apparently, just lucked into these spectacular natural talents at the right time.
Those are two examples. Assuming that Britain did not have the infrastructure which they have developed then we still expect some riders to come through who are going to be good. Furthermore I find it perfectly acceptable to consider these two riders (tbh more like one) as anomalies. As the Hog has said many times what makes Sky suspicious are all the factors together. In isolation this is not all that suspicious, it is certainly not a stretch of the imagination to have a country such as Britain having two or even more such anomalies. If Britain had 5 of these riders then maybe there is something to get suspicious about but until then..

The Froome saga could be compared with what we do in cricket where we borrow all the good southern hemisphere players and bring them over to play for us. They have nothing to do with the system, just imports who are wearing the same kit.

And also what are you exactly accusing British Cycling of? Riders such as Froome and JTL are obviously talented regardless of whether they are taking drugs or not.

Oh and lets wait and see how good JTL is. We know he can be good but whether he is or will become world class is certainly something which is up to debate.
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Gratz to Cav.
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  #9925  
Old 12-13-12, 19:12
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Mild mannered Froome zig zagging up mountains to Alien Froome!
If Wiggins takes the TdF route in '13, Froome will take racing to a new level. Pantani and Ricco will come across as wheelsuckers in the history books.
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  #9926  
Old 12-13-12, 20:05
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And also what are you exactly accusing British Cycling of? Riders such as Froome and JTL are obviously talented regardless of whether they are taking drugs or not.
I'm not accusing British cycling of anything. I just think it's interesting that after several lean years regarding top level talent from the UK where the sum total of their top level riders were two Classics journeymen and a time trial specialist who we know was taking drugs, they just happened upon two at the same time who had nothing to do with the hard work they put in at BC to develop people.

That isn't any slight on the guys who came through British Cycling, because those are the natural product of creating such a cycling development program: they are what one might expect, i.e. a country that only sporadically produces top talent at the sport starts to create a focused program in order to improve that, and as a result starts having more success. Froome and JTL had freakish breakouts that had nothing to do with said program. And yes, places happen upon freakish talents, guys that would reach the top regardless of where they're from, and it happens all the time (Kelly and Roche, for example, more recently somebody like Sagan). But it is kind of interesting that these guys suddenly break out and show their immense natural talent, that had been hidden, only at a time like this, when British cycling is at the top. This will sound really harsh and unfair, and that's because it IS harsh and unfair, but a bit like all the people who come crawling out of the woodwork to claim the credit for the success, it feels like all of a sudden these hidden talents that few had anticipated (or at least few had anticipated at this kind of level) are emerging from outside BC's warm embrace to take their share of the spoils of victory.
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  #9927  
Old 12-13-12, 20:30
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If Wiggins takes the TdF route in '13, Froome will take racing to a new level. Pantani and Ricco will come across as wheelsuckers in the history books.
At the next training camp they'll raffle off the races each rider wants to win.

Because they can never test positive they know they can win whatever they want.

Froome will go full-dawg. At least Wiggins knows how to contain his performances when doped.

Froome can't help himself.
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  #9928  
Old 12-13-12, 20:38
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Froome dawg was riding mountain bikes in South Africa at 21 for fun.

A few years later he's "jumping all over the places". Which I guess that zig zagging up mountains.

He is a freak of nature. Never has someone looked so poor on a bike been able to rode with such power.

His Tour TT's were out of this world.
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  #9929  
Old 12-13-12, 20:57
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Originally Posted by Libertine Seguros View Post
I'm not accusing British cycling of anything. I just think it's interesting that after several lean years regarding top level talent from the UK where the sum total of their top level riders were two Classics journeymen and a time trial specialist who we know was taking drugs, they just happened upon two at the same time who had nothing to do with the hard work they put in at BC to develop people.

That isn't any slight on the guys who came through British Cycling, because those are the natural product of creating such a cycling development program: they are what one might expect, i.e. a country that only sporadically produces top talent at the sport starts to create a focused program in order to improve that, and as a result starts having more success. Froome and JTL had freakish breakouts that had nothing to do with said program. And yes, places happen upon freakish talents, guys that would reach the top regardless of where they're from, and it happens all the time (Kelly and Roche, for example, more recently somebody like Sagan). But it is kind of interesting that these guys suddenly break out and show their immense natural talent, that had been hidden, only at a time like this, when British cycling is at the top. This will sound really harsh and unfair, and that's because it IS harsh and unfair, but a bit like all the people who come crawling out of the woodwork to claim the credit for the success, it feels like all of a sudden these hidden talents that few had anticipated (or at least few had anticipated at this kind of level) are emerging from outside BC's warm embrace to take their share of the spoils of victory.
I'm not sure I take your point: Britain is suspicious because its never been good at cycling bar a select few, which I hope I have addressed, or the fact the BC is taking credit for JTL and Froome? It's tantamount to saying Britain can never produce good cyclists, at least not with doping. The insinuation is that they are being engineered through nefarious means. One or two handy riders is ok, a dozen and we're doping?

There's another thread somewhere that was discussing what a British team would look like without Cav, Wiggins and Froome, and even though someone suggested a decent looking team it was laughed at, compared to the teams continental countries could produce. Hardly strength in depth compared to the top European countries, or Australia and the USA.

I'll take Froome is exceptional, and potentially a multi-GT winner, but JTL is completely unproven at the top level so I feel that argument lacks substance, and we'll have to reserve judgement on that 'immense natural talent' you have imbued him with.
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  #9930  
Old 12-13-12, 21:36
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I'm not sure I take your point: Britain is suspicious because its never been good at cycling bar a select few, which I hope I have addressed, or the fact the BC is taking credit for JTL and Froome? It's tantamount to saying Britain can never produce good cyclists, at least not with doping. The insinuation is that they are being engineered through nefarious means. One or two handy riders is ok, a dozen and we're doping?

There's another thread somewhere that was discussing what a British team would look like without Cav, Wiggins and Froome, and even though someone suggested a decent looking team it was laughed at, compared to the teams continental countries could produce. Hardly strength in depth compared to the top European countries, or Australia and the USA.

I'll take Froome is exceptional, and potentially a multi-GT winner, but JTL is completely unproven at the top level so I feel that argument lacks substance, and we'll have to reserve judgement on that 'immense natural talent' you have imbued him with.
No.

My point is like this:

- Great Britain has been able to produce a handful of top riders over the years, in fits and bursts.
- It isn't a strong traditional cycling nation, doesn't have its own strong national calendar, etc.
- this then means that the situation from point 1 is unlikely to change without further stimulation, and these top riders will continue to be ones chanced upon rather than developed.
- Great Britain has put a lot of work into a development program to end this reliance on luck when it comes to top level riders.
- It's quite a while since the chance/luck factor has led to Britain creating a top level talent
- This development program is starting to reap benefits, and has led to the creation of a very successful British-led team backed by several of these products.
- At the point of this team becoming successful, the chance/luck approach has coincidentally suddenly hit upon stars from unexpected sources too.

I'm not so much criticising British cycling or accusing them of doping, I'm just drawing attention to the fact that until recently all British cycling had in the top levels was a couple of aging classics journeymen. Now, not only do they have the top level talents developed through BC, but they have people who've been knocking around for a while suddenly discovering that they're that good too. And this just happens to coincide with the time when there are the best opportunities for them. The guys from inside the BC system? Well, they've been groomed for those opportunities, and they're part of a system that was designed specifically to create those opportunities for them. Now, there are guys coming out of absolutely nowhere (not part of the BC development system) to claim those opportunities that they wouldn't have had if they had happened to break out at any other time (i.e. not when the BC development system had created such a successful team and squad).

The question then is, how much of it is them being that good, and how much of it is the luck of the timing? If he was a 25-year-old hitting the European scene for the first time now, would Jamie Burrow be a potential GT winner, with the opportunities Sky present him? All I know is, it's a mighty convenient coincidence that these top level British talents have just suddenly started to perform at a time when there's a top level British team with top level support just waiting to give them a contract.
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