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David L. Stanley
The 2022 Cycling Year in Review

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David Stanley is an experienced cycling writer. His work has appeared in Velo,, Road, Peloton, and the late, lamented Bicycle Guide (my favorite all-time cycling magazine). Here's his Facebook page. He is also a highly regarded voice artist with many audiobooks to his credit, including McGann Publishing's The Story of the Tour de France and Cycling Heroes.

David L Stanley

David L Stanley

Melanoma: It Started with a Freckle

David L. Stanley's masterful telling of his bout with skin cancer Melanoma: It Started with a Freckle is available in print, Kindle eBook and audiobook versions, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

David L. Stanley writes:

The Top Ten Wild & Wacky Items that Made Me Go WTAF This Cycling Season

From the Home Office in Flint, MI.

10: That spinning teacups ride at the bottom of the Mur van Geraardsbergen.  You’ve raced a cold and wet and windy 200 km to stay near the front of classic race and you’re in with a shout. You hit the cobbled runway that throws you up one of the toughest bergs in the sport, you’re already seeing black spots and you’re greeted by dozens of kids in down puffies, eating cotton candy and waffles, screeching their lungs out as they spin in wild circles on a Mad Teacup ride near the base of the climb.

Up the steep Geraardsbergen (or Grammont, or Kapelmuur) in the Tour of Flanders. Sirotti photo

9: Cargo cycling shorts for gravel riding. We have panniers for the front and rear wheels and jersey pockets and handlebar bags and a behind-the-seat pack. Do we truly need to sully the smooth lines of modern cycling shorts with cargo pockets? I love my cargoes, in fact, I am wearing a pair of Carhartt multi-pocket shorts as I type this, but cargo cycling shorts? This heresy will not stand.

8: “Indoor cycling gear.” I ride inside a lot these days. In the same goddamn shorts and jerseys I wear outside. The same shoes. The same gloves. You’re hot? Point a fan at yourself: a Honeywell Turbo costs $18 at Target. Unless you have no authentic cycling gear (because the proper kit does make the sport about 10,000x more comfortable), do not go out and buy a pair of $100 Shimano Indoor Cycling shoes and a $70 pair of Pearl Izumi indoor shorts and a $129 Castelli Insider jersey. Just don’t. What you wear outside works inside, too.

7: That Wout van Aert RedBull helmet. Every time I see Wout in his snazzy RedBull helmet, I am reminded of how weak cycling’s marketing structure is. It makes me, once again, realize that if there is to be economic change that can move pro bike racing into the 21st century, it’s going to be riders who force it.

6: Jonas Vingegaard sure looks like a 25 year old McCauley Culkin. A little healthier, sure, and let’s hope, much wiser about his earnings.

5: Top shelf doper and classics rider supreme Davide Rebellin, age 51, the owner of maximum gumption, pins on his last race number. Let’s be fair—at the height of Davide’s career, nearly every top rider was a doper. His doping issues are a matter of public record. But still, he had career of note: wins in several shorter tours, plus nearly every hilly Classic that mattered. In a new era, he was still reasonably competitive at an age when most men are playing bocce and knocking back grappa; not racing bikes on the Pro Tour. So, do we remember his wins and his heart? Or is he a stain, finally gone? Maybe a combination of both?

Davide Rebellin winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège way back in 2004. Sirotti photo

4: Benoit Cosnefroy “fake breaks” his arm playing paintball. It was a prank staged by his buddies at the pre-wedding bachelor party, designed to terrify his bride and all the parents. The French cycling media sees the posts of him in ER/A&E getting a cast. They lost their collective shit and marbles. Rarely has a small time prank like that taken in such a huge clump of supposedly responsible journos. It was beautiful to watch unfold on Instagram.

3: Colnago sells out their dealers. Not sure what Ernesto is thinking with this move. He created a marvelous superbike. Fully tricked out, the carbon fiber bike boasts titanium lugs and the finest componentry available on the planet. All for the low, low price of 17K Euros. That’s $17,400 in US cash. But wait, there’s more, if you order before midnight tonight, they’ll throw in a nifty little Colnago NFT, just for being a valued customer. This just in! On October 24, Colnago opened a magnificent superstore in Dubai. I might be missing the point here, but Dubai has never seemed a cycling hotbed. It’s certainly hot, and they have an extremely wealthy population, but I like the idea of people riding bikes, not buying them as showpieces in their homes. Still, if you’re one of the super-wealthy, you get to do you as you see fit. Please, buy a crap-load of bikes, my Middle-Eastern friends. I like Colnagos. My 1984 Superissimo was bellissimo. I wish Ernesto well with this project. 

2: Brian Holm is shocked he can’t do cycling commentary for Eurosport and represent those same pro cyclists simultaneously. Yes, ace ex-pro cyclist, excellent DS, colon cancer survivor, and cycling agent Holm has been told he cannot be seen as transparent and objective at the microphone as a commentator if he represents the same riders as their fiduciary. In other news, Holm is also a Danish politician, so his pearl clutching on being called out for his lack of transparency should surprise no one familiar with the ‘ethics’ of politics.

1: Most IRONIC MOMENT of the Season: Vinokourov says Astana won’t sign Quintana because of his doping issues. In what must be the single most outrageous moment of the season, known doper and briber and all-around skirter of the legalities of sport, Alexander Vinokourov, told the media that they should not speculate that Nairo Quintana’s next team might be his Astana Squad as they would not sign known dopers to their roster.

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Melanoma: It started with a freckle Schwab Cycles South Salem Cycleworks frames

From the Hats 0ff/Chapeau/Good on ya! Department

1. To benefit relief efforts in Ukraine, Jan Ullrich auctioned off his 1998 Tour de France bike. 1998 was the Tour when Jan finished second to the late Marco Pantani. It brought over 40,000 Euros for relief work in Ukraine.

2. Fellow German and four time world time trial champion Tony Martin put his silver medal from the 2012 Olympics up for grabs for the same charity. As far as I can ascertain, the bidding closed on Saturday April 9 at nearly 30,000 Euros.

3. Ciao, Sonny Colbrelli. As we all know, Colbrelli, the 2021 Paris-Roubaix winner collapsed and went into cardiac arrest at the conclusion of a stage in last spring’s Volta a Catalunya due to an arrythmia. After having a defibrillator implanted, Sonny recently decided to fully retire. To commemorate, he had a marvelous tattoo done that depicts a walk through the Forest of Arenberg as he holds hands with his young daughters. Good choice, Sonny, and Buona Fortuna!

Sonny Colbrelli wins the 2021 Paris-Roubaix. Sirotti photo

4. Luis Angel Maté (Euskatel-Euskadi) of Marbella, Spain donated 100 trees to a local Spanish reforestation project that arose as a result of recent massive wildfires. He also donated a tree for every kilometer he rode in the breakaway during the Vuelta.  Said Luis, "Sierra Bermeja – the fire last year was 30,000 hectares (nearly 75,000 acres) burned. I think right now this is the moment to act in this time with the climate crisis. I think it's the responsibility of everybody. For that, I think about the future generation and just to give them a good future. It's for that reason I do this." Vuelta organizers Unipublic also pledged to donate 100 trees to the project, while Maté’s TEAM Euskaltel-Euskadi did the same.

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14 Takes on the Riders and the Racing of 2022

1. Ganna, Filippo. For all the great racing we saw this year, all the new and newish faces that came to the forefront, Ganna’s Hour was unquestionably the highlight of the season. Ganna spun his 64 x 14 gear at 95-105 rpm (I counted) to cover 0.9505 kilometers every minute. His 64 x 14 translates to 119 gear inches. On that gear, his bike traveled 9.5 meters for every pedal rev.
That’s 35.5 MPH. 56.7 KPH.

Feilippo Ganna sets off on his quest for a new World Hour Record.

Alex Dowsett offered this on Twitter:
To give you perspective, let’s overlay all the recent Hour records. Ganna lapped these riders this number of times:

    Boardman-1.5 times.
    Dan Bigham – 3 times.
    Victor Campanaerts – 5 times.
    Me in 2021 – 9 times. Me in 2015 – 16 times.

Said Signore Ganna - “56.792 is not bad. I think next time I try it in another part of the season with fresher legs, and we can go higher again.” 

Drive down a deserted street at 35 mph. Open the door. Look down at the pavement flying by. Imagine yourself doing that on a bike for 60 minutes? Yeah, I can’t imagine it either.

2. Pauline Ferrand-Prévot is the first UCI Gravel World Champion. With her gravel win, she added another rainbow jersey to add to her enormous collection—9 world championships across all disciplines. Truly one of the sport’s finest all-around riders of both genders.

3. This Remco Evenepoel fieu. If Remco laid claim to the crown at La Vuelta, was the World’s RR his coronation? What a set of bookends for a 22-year old rider: Liege-Bastogne-Liege at one end; the worlds at the other, and a Vuelta in the middle? Not bad, sir. And Remco? Listen to Eddy. Ride the Giro this year. Win it.

Remco Evenepoel in his new Rainbow Jersey. Sirotti photo

4. Youth shall not be ignored. Is it time to abolish all these young rider competitions? The young talent is astonishing. Look at this (alphabetical) list.
    Joâo Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) - 24
    Thyman Arensman (DSM) – 22
    Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) – 19
    Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) – 22
    Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) – 23
    Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) - 23
    Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) – 23
    Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos Grenadiers) - 21
    Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) - 25
    Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) – 23

Conventional wisdom always said that riders needed years of elite competition to build their fitness so they could be competitive over the 200+ km classics and the Grand Tours. As usual, conventional wisdom was wrong.

It might be time to institute a special jersey for the best rider over 35. The potential sponsor short list includes AARP, Prevagen, and any of those companies that have flooded our airwaves with ads for Medicare supplement insurance.

5. Marianne Vos at the Tour of Scandinavia was relentless. 3 stages, 3 wins.  On the third stage from Moss to Sarpsborg in Norway she took her third win in three days in three countries. It was her 245th win as a professional and her 11th in the race (formerly known as the Ladies Tour of Norway). For comparison’s sake, Eddy has 525 wins. Rik van Looy, in 2nd place, has 379. But remember that these men had far more racing opportunities. Vos is right in there with them.

6. Fabio Jakobsen. In a tear-jerking Hallmark Movie moment made real, Fabio made the time cut at the Tour’s alpine stage 17 by 17 seconds. The sprinter buried himself on the 130 km, exceptionally mountainous stage 17, up the Peyragudes' 18% final climb to beat the time cut by 17 seconds. Dozens of his competitors stood at the finish, screaming encouragement. The Voiture Balai was the Vulture Balai that day for many, but not for Fabio.

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7. The Young Americans. At the Grand Tours this year, a batch of American kids showed they were serious contenders and super-domestiques, not merely packfiller. Matteo Jorgenson, Neilson Powless (the first Native American in the pro peloton), Sepp Kuss, Kevin McNulty, Quinn Simmons, Kevin Vermaerke—they race their bikes. We can’t forget Joe Dombrowski (31) but he’s not cycling young anymore. We also need to shout-out 20-year-old Magnus Sheffield. He took a huge win at the 62nd De Brabantse Pijl. He will definitely be in the mix when he begins to ride the Grand Tours.
    • McNulty’s stage 17: beat Pantani’s best time on Pla d’Azet.
    • Sepp Kuss was incredible setting the pace on stage 16 into Foix.
    • Neilson Powless: thisclosetoayellow jersey and 8th in the climbers competition.
    • Matteo Jorgenson: But not for his spin-out on stage 16, he may have caught Hugo Houle and denied the Canadian his win which honored Houle’s late brother.
    • Quinn Simmons: Incredibly active, always on the attack, he figured in 5 major breakaways.
    • Kevin Vermaerke: he rode well early, but a large scale chute in Stage 8 broke his clavicle.

8. Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) wins Classic Brugge-De Panne over Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) and Marta Bastianelli (UAE Team ADQ) to win a second consecutive WWT race. You win consecutive World Tour races, and your game is on point.

9. Biniam Girmay breaks out.  At the 2022 Giro d'Italia, he became the first Black African cyclist to win a Grand Tour stage after winning stage 10. Let’s work to make certain that the arrival of this 22-year-old opens the floodgates of cycling talent on the continent of Africa.

Biniam Girmay wins Giro stage 10. Sirotti photo

10. Alpe d’Huez. It was Thursday, July 14 – Stage 12. Tom Pidcock arrives. Chris Froome returns from the mostly dead. Neilson Powless confirms he is a genuine talent. And Pogo can neither drop Vingo nor outsprint him. A day of L’Alpe that we’ll watch over and over. That Pidcock, he can go down hills like a Grand Prix motorcar.

11. Quinn Simmons. The Quinnster takes the KOM at the Tour de Suisse. Who saw that coming? Did you? Did you really?

12. Athletes matter. In a rare move, the organizers of the Route d'Occitanie took the well-being of the athletes into account. In extreme heat, temps went over 100F/38C.  This triggered a heat wave alert, instituted by French authorities, and the stage was shortened. Far too often,  athletes in all sports are seen by the Blazers, not as nearly priceless commodities, but as disposable assets. This must change.

13. Jai Hindley takes the Giro. On few pre-race favorites lists, the Aussie comes out of nowhere to dispatch all the top choices. Top guys were present, indeed. As the race grew tougher, Landa, Carapaz, Buchman, Nibali, Bilbao—all caved under the Aussie’s climbing pressure.

14. The Toast of the Classics. Strade Bianche goes to Tadej with a daring solo move. Matej Mohoric and his dropper seat-post fly to victory in Milano-San Remo. Mathieu van der Poel nips Dylan van Baarle and Tadej in a Ronde van Vlaanderen for the ages. Dylan van Baarle takes a stellar Paris-Roubaix with revenge and anger in his stomach. Michal Kwiatkowski pips Benoit Cosnefroy (who has not yet suffered his ‘broken arm’) in a photo at the Amstel Gold. And of course, young Mr. Evenepoel shuts down all comers at Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

When Sport is Bigger than Play

Cycling is a high speed sport. Still, much of the time, road racing is not all that exciting. Yet cycling also has brief moments of brilliance and lucidity where we can see the true essence of sport. A bike race is a competition, of course, and we are desperate to win, but to win without honor isn’t winning. It’s just finishing first. In order to have honor, one must have a competitor against whom one can measure oneself as a person and an athlete.

That’s why The Handshake on Stage 18 matters. It was a show of respect and fair play and grinta between two equals, Jonas and Tadej. Not merely equals, but two men alone at the top of a very steep ziggurat of excellence.

Another fine moment of sportsmanship, after stage 17: Vingegaard & Pogacar.

It is those rare moments when sport shows the world what constitutes true honor among people.

See you in January. The Tour Down Under starts January 17th. The Vuelta a San Juan rolls down the ramp on January 22nd.  Or maybe we’ll see each other sooner. The UCI Track Champions League started in Mallorca on Saturday, November 12 and runs throughout the winter. So does the Euro 6-Day circuit. If you haven’t watched much World Tour-level track cycling, check it out on the UCI YouTube channel or any number of the pay TV services. It’s pretty much non-stop action from the first roll-out.

It was a ground-breaking 2022. Here’s to the men and women who gave us those thrills all season long. Vive le Velo!

David Stanley, like nearly all of us, has spent his life working and playing outdoors. He got a case of Melanoma as a result. Here's his telling of his beating that disease. And when you go out, please put on sunscreen.


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