Saturday, March 31, 2007
Landis visited San Francisco to participate in an informal competition on a brand of stationary bike manufactured by CycleOps Power. On Friday evening, 35 contenders were vying to keep up with Landis' wattage output, displayed on a monitor. "Nobody's going to beat Floyd," said Michael McCormack, a two-time Ironman winner and founder of the San Francisco training center, called M2 Revolution Cycle and Motion Studio. 1440 Bush Street - San Francisco
A video interview by Recovox with Floyd will be posted soon. Having seen it up front I was shocked to see how many watts he was able to produce Friday night. No one was even on the same planet when it came to the numbers. If you have the chance to hang out with Floyd you will soon realize what a true champion he is. I became a big fan Friday, and look forward to seeing him in the 2008 Tour de France.
Friday, March 30, 2007
At 162 kilometers in length, including two categorized climbs, today’s final stage of the Castilla y Leon race in Spain was set to be another hard day in the saddle as Team Discovery Channel looked to defend Alberto Contador’s overall lead. However, with a roster including powerhouses like Leipheimer, Basso, Martinez, Brajkovic and Danielson, the Team was clearly suited to control a mountain stage, and they did just that, leading Contador to the overall victory and third place on the day.
Sports Director Johan Bruyneel did not specify a team leader coming into this weeks’ race, instead looking to see which of his squad had both the fitness and motivation to take control. Bruyneel stated, “Our entire team continues to impress me this year. Although it was Contador winning here in Spain all the guys are looking great, not just those on the podium. The classics riders like Gusev and Devolder are preparing well for the coming weeks. Tom and Levi look good for Georgia and Ivan is showing good fitness as he prepares for the Giro, although he lacks a bit of top-end speed right now. Overall, all the guys are performing better than expected and I could not be happier.”
Contador was pleased with his continued good form this week, saying, “I was a bit unsure of how I would feel yesterday on the climb. I worked very hard to win Paris-Nice and you never know how much you will have left in your legs. In the end, I had just enough to win. Now I think I will take a short break from racing to recover and start to prepare specifically for the Tour. I want to be my best in July.”
Team Discovery Channel will take to the road next in Belgium at the Three Days of De Panne.
Natalie Coughlin upstaged the three fastest women in history to post the quickest time for the women's 100 metres freestyle at the world championships.
The American won her morning heat in a slick 54.04 seconds to head a distinguished list of qualifiers for Thursday evening's semi-finals in one of the most anticipated races of the championships.
Coughlin is in devastating form after breaking her own world record for 100 backstroke on Tuesday but is up against the three fastest women sprinters of all time.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
It was time to climb into the mountains today and shake up the General Classification for the 22nd Vuelta a Castilla y Leon on the next to last stage of this year’s race. With six Discovery Channel riders starting the day in the Top Ten there could be no doubt in the peloton’s collective mind that the team would be riding to move someone to the head of the class.
A group of eight stayed away for much of the race with race leader Vladimir Karpet’s team of Caisse d’Epargne heading up the chase behind and eventually making the catch. As the peloton closed in on the slopes of the climb two more riders attacked off the front. The Discovery Channel riders decided enough was enough and moved to the front to gain control of the race and neutralize the duo’s effort. Looking powerful and strong, the boys in black and blue were on a mission.
At 4km to go Saunier Duval rider and climbing specialist Koldo Gil took flight with Karpets unable to respond to defend his lead. However, one of DC’s own climbing aces Alberto Contador had the legs and went right along with Gil. Racing side by side in a pure display of racing tactics, first Gil would go with Contador quick to counter. Next Contador would push it with Gil sure to respond. At the line Alberto Contador nipped Gil by half a bike length to take an exciting win on the top of Navacerrada and grab the leader’s jersey in the process.
With others in the group feeling strong legs as well, Discovery Channel’s Ivan Basso, Levi Leipheimer and Tom Danielson followed in quick order just a few slots back on today’s climb. It was another show of teamwork and fine form from the DC riders today. “We call that Plan A,” quipped Danielson after the stage. Yes, perfectly executed.
Tomorrow’s final stage contains both a Cat. 1 and 2 climb with just a slight little kicker at the very end. Look for Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team to control the race throughout the day to seal another win for Alberto Contador.
I showed up at the San Diego Wind Tunnel on Monday morning the day after the final stage of the Tour of California. Trek bikes invited me as one of their athletes to improve on my position. It is a huge honor to be a part of the TRek team. They are by far the most thorough and advanced in their research on aerodynamics. they don't miss anything and go the extra mile to make sure everything is thought of. Being a part of that is a humbling esxperience. To have the best around working with me to help improve on my aero position and a result of a faster bike times at the races. I was anxious to learn and see what things we could do to give me some free time in a race.
I walked up the stairs and turned the courner and who was in the tunnel? Ivan Basso, fresh from the Tour of California, and finetuning his position on his new TTX. I had the priveldge of watching Ivan Basso go through his tunnel testing first. I found that to get the information you really want from a wind tunnel test you end up spending hours. Trek takes the extra time to make sure ecverything is checked and every thing is thought of. Scott Daubert from Trek, is the one that fasilitated the day with the help of other Trek engineers like Mark Andrews, and Aerodynamic specialist Steve Hed. They think and look at everything. From the bottom to the top, from air pressure in the tires to wrist position and angle.
Seeing him first hand riding his TTX in the tunnel was a real pleasure and unique experience. to see how comfortable and aerodynamic he is. It was my first experience in the tunnle so i was not sure what to expect. so after watching Basso for 6 hours look graceful and powerful on the bike and seeing his position and aerodynamic numbers, which i assumed were the norm and a baseline for what I could compare my numbers to.
I soon found out that is not the wisest way to look at your first time in the tunnel.
I mounted my bike and tried to get warmed up in a tunnel that must have been 60 degrees. My bike was mounted on a table a couple feet above the ground. You look down a hall that opens up to a huge wall of honey comb. The air passes through the honeycomb straight at you at 30 miles per hour and blows past you down the hall and back around to the huge fan that keeps the air flowing around. At 30 mph when sitting on a stationary position it feels like 50 mph.
We started with my base line current position. Looking at Basso's numbers then seeing what my numbers where was a rude awakening. Basso and the professional cyclist out there are in a position that is designed for the most aerodynamic advantage possible, not for comfort and longevity in power. Not to mention that swimming really screws up your aero dynamics. Not sure who said it, but they said "Stop swimming and we can save you a bunch of time". Having broad shoulders from swimming is the number one biggest drag. Most cyclist don't use their upper bodies much at all and have very narrow upper bodies which help out immensely. I, on the other hand have to swim in a triathlon so I am stuck with dealing with drag.
We tried dropping my bars 2 cm and moving my saddle forward. My assumption was that if you lower your front end you will save time. To my surprise dropping my bars really did not change things that much. So in the end we left my bar height where it was and moved my saddle and bars forward to open my hips a little. I think this will help with feeling as strong the last hour of an Ironman ride as I do in the first hour of the ride.
Thanks to Scott Daubert, Mark Andrews, Steve Hed, and Ivan Basso for making my first wind tunnel experience a great and successful one.
I can't wait to test the position through out the year this year and in Kona. See you at the races.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Talent is a funny and often misused word in the ‘talent vs. hard work’ paradigm to characterize athletes. Some athletes learn easily and excel quickly, even at new endeavors, so they are considered natural talents. Others excel in spite of lacking natural genetic attributes because they practice intently and display an outstanding work ethic. The picture seems sensible, but it’s flawed. It’s essential to expand our perspective to get more relevant use of the term talent.
Could it be that the most important and profound athletic talent is the talent to work hard and compete intently? To make the most of your genetic abilities? When I hear someone say, “That guy is so talented, he dominates the Cat III’s but hardly even trains!” I don’t think, “Wow, what a talent.” It’s more like, “Wow, what a punk. What a waste of natural genetic ability."
In my endurance career, I experienced a rapid improvement curve upon my introduction to distance running in high school runner and later as a rookie professional triathlete. My VO2 Max value was 81 ml/kg, which is considered really high, enough to say I had the talent and potential to be the #1 triathlete in the world. I also displayed a tremendous competitive spirit. However, I was also saddled with a glaring weakness - a lack of resiliency for training. I could train hard for a couple days or weeks, then I would become tired and have to rest, while others carried on, and on, and on. Triathlon greats like Mike Pigg and Scott Molina worked long and hard virtually every single day. After Olympic distance events on the pro circuit, Pigg would commonly fly home and then ride 100 miles on Mondays. My day-after routine looked a little different: I would fly home, sleep in till 10am, get a massage and then take a long nap. I was not ready for any significant training for several days. I had a lack of ability, or talent, to train at the level of the top athletes, which counted for far more than my superior VO2 Max test result.
Make no mistake - the genetic component of athletics is tremendously important. Special attributes like height, strength, speed and size are obvious pre-requisites for the various sports and positions at the elite level. In endurance athletics, the VO2 Max test (measures your ability to efficiently utilize oxygen, factoring in body weight) is considered a reliable predictor of performance potential. Dr. Max Testa, one of the pioneers of VO2 Max testing, says that VO2 Max results are 88% genetically determined. And that the trainability component (i.e. - get in shape and improve your VO2 Max) also has a strong genetic correlation. However, we often see the most genetically blessed athletes falling behind the performances of those with superior competitive spirit and work ethic.
The best definition of talent relating to athletics I’ve heard came from Dr. Glen Gaesser, professor of exercise physiology at the University of Virginia. During a lecture to athletes many years ago detailing VO2 Max test implications and other science-oriented topics, someone asked him how to identify the most talented athletes. He paused dramatically to allow everyone to poise their pens, and then he said, "Go to a race and stand at the finish line. Then . . . see who crosses the line first. There is the most talented athlete."
Or, as Testa says, "Genes determine who makes it into the peloton (the "pack" in professional bike racing), but not who wins the race." Truly superior athletic talents are people like Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, or Michael Jordan who possess the whole package: superior natural genetic ability, awesome work ethic and competitive spirit.
For more information on Brad Kearns visit - www.bradventures.com
What can be said is that the result of the time spent in the tunnel exceeded the goal that the crew had at the start of the test. That was to at least be equal to the equipment available to Ivan last year. The assumption by Ivan and not immediately discarded by Discovery and Trek was that CSC and Cervelo had done as good a job as possible with Ivan. While they did do an incredible job, in a head to head comparison, with very few and only minor changes, Ivan has simply been made more aerodynamic on the Trek TTX that he was on the Cervelo P3.
How much faster?
There are two 50k plus TT’s in the Tour this year and the gain for Ivan on paper, over these TT’s was larger than the difference between winning and finishing off of last year’s podium (as it stood the day the Tour ended anyway).
Conditions change and the most important of conditions is the rider’s physical ability, but the value of testing is undeniable at the top of the sport now. The benefits of testing are only as good as the quality and focus of the test facility and staff though, and San Diego’s Low Speed Wind Tunnel is at the pinnacle of what’s available for our sport…
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Three-time world and Commonwealth Games champion Emma Snowsill of Australia has just won the 2007 Mooloolaba BG Triathlon World Cup, in Mooloolaba, Australia, with a time of 1 hour 59 minutes and 20 seconds. Amongst one of the most competitive women’s fields ever assembled for a world cup, Snowsill was able to break away from her biggest rival Vanessa Fernandes of Portugal at the five kilometre mark in the run to take top spot in the first world cup of the 2007 season. Snowsill’s team mate and current Under23 world champion Erin Densham was able to pass Fernandes in the final stage to claim second place, 31 seconds back. A further 10 seconds back in third was Fernandes.
After the opening 1,500 metre ocean swim, a group of 22 athletes, including Snowsill, Densham and Fernandes, formed and were able to work together over the hilly 40 kilometre bike to build almost a minute gap on the rest of the field. Out onto the tough and hot run course it was Snowsill and Fernandes immediately taking the lead. At the 5 kilometre point of the run Snowsill was able to break away and cruise to her sixth world cup win. A fading Fernandes was overtaken in the final kilometre by Densham.
An estimated 25,000 spectators enjoyed the 32 degree temperatures to watch a total of 73 of the world’s top women competing for valuable Olympic qualifying points and their share of the US$100,000 prize purse.
2007 Mooloolaba BG Triathlon World Cup – Elite Women results
1. SNOWSILL, Emma (AUS) 1:59:20
2. DENSHAM, Erin (AUS) 1:59:51
3. FERNANDES, Vanessa (POR) 2:00:01
4. TANNER, Debbie (NZL) 2:00:22
5. LISK Ricarda (GER) 2:00:57
6. HEWITT, Andrea (NZL) 2:01:09
7. NIWATA, Kiyomi (JPN) 2:01:29
8. LUXFORD, Annabel (AUS) 2:01:47
9. BENNETT, Laura (USA) 2:01:56
10. DITTMER, Anja (GER) 2:02:02
Friday, March 23, 2007
I emailed Chris a few days ago to get his view of Paris-Nice. This was his reply...
What's up Neil,
Here's pretty much how it happened. It looked like a WWF tag team on Discovery. A real hoedown. They kept winning stages but, every one was tag teaming them so they couldn't get the lead. Problem was. On the last stage the teams ran out of tag team partners and then Discovery just B- slapped all of us!
That's about it. In short it was real fun!
You gotta love Horner!
Check out Road Magazine, its a must. One of the best cycle publications out there. www.roadmagazine.net
Thursday, March 22, 2007
“It is awesome to go to my first ITU Continental Cup and come away with the victory. I think I may have surprised a couple people.”
I arrived on Friday afternoon and relaxed for a little while before heading out to check out the race course. I swam in front of the Hotel where the race was held. It looked like the swim was going to be a smooth, clear, and straight forward. Race day revealed something different.
Then I headed out to check out the bike course. I realized that the start of the bike is on a gravel road. Literally we had to ride on and gravel dirt road for about 400 meters then you make a left turn and immediately start climbing a 16 % grade climb. And if that is not bad enough within another 400 meters that turns into a 20% grade climb. After about 5k of climbing up and down you reach a "flatter" road that has rolling hills, which on race day we would ride for 2 loops of 15k. I enjoyed my "easy warm up ride and then headed back over the hills to get back to my room. I couldn't wait till tomorrow to find out what adventure the run course had in store.
Friday night I found myself in the dark trying to find my way around my hotel room. The Island of Roatan was going through power savings so each day the power on the island would be turned off for a minimum of 5 hours. Luckily they supplied each room with a candle. This made for an interesting, but island style way of doing things. I made the best of it and enjoyed the island spirit.
Saturday I woke up at sunrise, around 5:30, and headed out for an early swim. It was so nice and quit. It was like I had the ocean to myself. Just as I was getting out of the water the rains hit, and hit hard. within minutes the walkway was flooded and big puddles were forming everywhere, including the transition area for the race the next day. The empty dirt lot next door that was to host our transition area with our bikes and run shoes was now a huge muddy lagoon. Change of plans were in the works for sure.
With a little clearing in the sky I bolted out the door to run the run course and see what it was going to be like on race day. Turns out that it is more like an xterra off road run course. A little section of pavement then off into the jungle and up a single track trail with roots and vines all over the place. You come out of the jungle onto another short paved section till you hit dirt then grass and don't forget mud. I laughed to myself and couldn't wait for the adventure on race day.
I got back from the run to no power again and decided it would be a good time to take a nap. When I woke up it had stopped raining so I figured I should get out to the bike course one more time. This time I got a ride up the hills from Ivan, an Argentinean man that was living on the island for the last couple months. It turns out that he was going to be the photographer on race day. A great guy that helped save my legs for race day by pulling me up the steep climbs. Thanks Ivan!
Race morning I woke up to a down poor and no power as expected. I had my breakfast and headed down to the race. Just as I was setting my stuff up in the new transition area in the middle of the gravel road it stopped raining. That was a great sign in that I think the race would have been postponed if the rain kept up. I got a good warm up in and soon found myself on the start line on the beach.
Off we went in to the beautiful water. The swim was fast, and for about 3/4 of the way I was still with the lead group as we turned to head back. Within minutes the group splintered in different directions and some of us stayed straight heading back to the beach, but we soon found ourselves on a shelf of corral reef. The water was about 6 inches deep and no where to go but over it. I tried to stay as flat as possible on-top of the surface of the water and used my hands to crawl across the reef trying to keep my toes from dragging on the bottom. Finally we made it through but lost about a minute to the leaders out of the water.
Onto the bike and up the hills I worked my way through the field and up to the lead group of 4. By the time I caught them we were on the flatter rolling section of the course. I tried to get away with no luck so I rode with them for another 5k and took my turns of pulling. Then on a small hill I attacked hard and got a gap of about 10 seconds At that point it was keep my head down and ride. With the bike course being rolling and with lots of turns I could get out of sight. In the next 7k I put a minute on them and at the next 8k I put another 30 seconds or so. The last 15k home which included that last 5k with the big climbs I extended my lead to a total of 3 minutes starting onto the xterra like run.
The next leg of the adventure began through the jungle and sliding in the mud. It was hard to get any sort of rhythm on the run, but any short paved section I would try and find that rhythm. It wasn't until 1/2 way through the run I could see my competitors and that was the first time I had a chance to see what my lead was after coming off the bike. I was till about 3 minutes up and was very happy with that as the heat and humidity got worse. I stayed focused on my run and couldn't wait to get to the finish line, but not before jumping in the ocean for dip just 100 meters from the line.
It was a great race with a lot of Island spirit and laid back atmosphere. What a great and exciting way to win my first ITU event. The race organizer Leslie and her group were great, and put on a perfect race with everything from the rain and mud thrown at them.
New Discovery Channel signing Ivan Basso continues to use the early season to work out the kinks with his new team and new equipment. Cyclingnews European Editor Tim Maloney visited Basso during his latest round of wind tunnel testing to see what the Italian star has been up to.
In his first race since winning the 2006 Giro d'Italia, Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team rider Ivan Basso had a respectable ride in the Tour of California last month with a 49th spot in the final general classification as well as a ninth place finish in Stage 5's windy 23.5km Solvang ITT.
More importantly, Basso played a key role in supporting his Discovery Channel teammate Levi Leipheimer for the overall win and became further integrated with his new team.
Basso may have completed the race on February 25th, but his work was still far from over as he headed for a session at the San Diego Air & Space Technology Center's low-speed wind tunnel the following day to fine-tune his TT position. Cyclingnews spoke to Trek road bike product manager Scott Daubert about the art and science required to eke out every second for the Italian rider as the challenge of the Grand Tour time tests loom in the coming months.
His abilities on the bike notwithstanding, Basso's pleasant demeanor continues to make the job of his support crew that much easier. "Well, I'd only seen Ivan from afar during the Tour of California, so I didn't get much of a sense of his mindset until we met at breakfast the day after Levi's win on the morning of the 26th," said Daubert. "It was 6:30am and Ivan came to breakfast and walked around our table, giving a gentle "ciao" with each hand he shook. I was at the table with aero guru Steve Hed, Trek bike fit specialist Michael Sylvester, Trek's new team liaison Ben Coates and Trek engineer Mark Andrews. Ivan's amiable early morning demeanor spoke volumes to us of his heart and dedication to the sport of cycling and to life itself. Sometimes it only takes a simple greeting like on that morning to be won over. So I'm a big Basso fan now. Ivan was in a good mood that morning, even though his right eye had been bitten by something during the night and was swollen shut. He was sort of embarrassed by his looks but had good enough humor to laugh about it."
Between Lance Armstrong and the US Postal / Discovery Channel teams, Daubert and his team at Trek have likely logged more time analyzing TT positions in the wind tunnel than any single group in the bicycle industry. By now, the process was quite well defined, but team manager Johan Bruyneel still had some specific input on what he wanted to see from the session. According to Daubert, "We knew from Johan's direction that we needed to explore the high hand position that Floyd [Landis] used in 2006 for Ivan. Levi is using a similar set up with great success, as suggested by Steve Hed in our November 2006 wind tunnel tests, so I suspected Johan wanted to know more about the position's benefits. Ivan also was interested in looking at the high hand position as we got rolling in the tunnel. It was clear Basso understood exactly how the day would progress, because he was focused and ready to go as the tunnel's test table was zeroed."
Aerodynamics guru Steve Hed has closely collaborated with Trek in its wind tunnel sessions over the last few years and Daubert has extraordinary admiration for him: "Bless the guy! Hed has so many ideas clamoring around in his head that he sometimes confuses the rest of us - and we even speak the same language! Imagine what Ivan was thinking as Hed poked and prodded, adjusted and suggested during the session. At one point I was watching the exchange between Ivan and Hed and realized that Basso had lost the plot. But luckily, Trek sponsored triathlete Chris Lieto was scheduled in the tunnel after Ivan and Chris had brought his trainer, Dr. Max Testa, to observe the session. So I asked Dr. Testa to help with the translations with Basso. My Italian is good enough to recognize that Ivan had interest in what Hed was saying, but also that he was confused. So Dr. Max Testa helped us out several times during the day so we owe him a big thanks!"
In somewhat atypical fashion in comparison to other riders, Basso showed a strong interest in the hard science surrounding his test session. Daubert added that, "Ivan makes an effort to understand the situation at hand. In a move that I've never seen other riders do, Ivan wanted to look at the raw data produced by the tunnel. The printout sheet is columns of numbers that mean very little unless you know what to look for. Hed explained the important parts of the data to Ivan, so after each set of runs, Ivan would come to the control room for a discussion."
Basso's existing position proved to be quite excellent already, but the results of his first wind tunnel test session with his new Discovery Channel team suggested that some very minor changes may still yield some additional time savings. Still, Daubert was careful to instill any false hopes, saying, "We tried to relay to Ivan that there are no guarantees here at the tunnel; it's only a simulation. But Ivan had no illusions and promised to put time riding in the new position during his training rides at home in Italy, so he can feel for any improvements. We didn't find any speed in the high hand position, nor did we make any huge changes to his saddle height or fore/aft position. Most of the time we found is related to his hand and head position which makes it easy for him to practice at home. Ivan won't have to make radical adjustments to anything in his TT position."
After the wind tunnel testing, Ivan had to catch a plane back to Italy that evening. "There was a rush at the end of the test and I only had a quick moment to ask Ivan if he was satisfied with the day and what we found," Daubert said. "He confirmed to me that it's probably unrealistic to expect a miracle. I believe Ivan values what we learned in the tunnel despite the pains of coming all the way to America, testing the day after a hard stage race and then having to listen to far-fetched ideas (in a somewhat foreign tongue). He's a trooper."
Unfortunately, a hard crash in Stage 3 of Tirreno-Adriatico forced Basso to abandon the race prior to the individual time trial two days later so he was unable to test his newly refined position in competition. Obviously, though, the season is still quite young and Basso will have more than ample opportunity to see if his efforts in the wind tunnel will have paid off.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Three time world Triathlon champion and Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Emma Snowsill, tells how a chocolate diet keeps her going during race time. The petite racer's recipe for success involves brownies, cakes and bars of chocolate before racing.
While Snowsill's chocolate cravings may have nutritionists screaming in horror, it is a recipe that has worked for the 25-year old in hundreds of races including the 2003, 2005 and 2006 world titles.
Prior to becoming the first female to win three Olympic distance triathlon crowns, Snowsill enjoyed a chocolate breakfast four hours prior to the race and topped up with other portion just prior to the race start.
It provided Snowsill, a convert to the sport just seven years ago, with the fuel she required to continue Australia's long domination of world triathlons while writing her name into the history books with a trifecta of crowns.
"It doesn't matter what form it is in, as long as its chocolate," said Snowsill.
It seems fitting then that Chocolate Graphics® is a major sponsor of Emma Snowsill providing her with all the chocolate she needs to keep up her winning streak.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
IT'S a measure of Erin Densham's growing success in triathlons that the world under-23 champion yesterday quit her job as a part-time cashier.
After winning the first two open races of the domestic season, in Perth and Hobart, Densham has decided it's time to get serious and devote herself fully to the sport.
"I've been working at Big W for the last six years," she said yesterday.
"But I just quit today. I found it really hard trying to be a professional athlete and then rushing into work.
"It was hard to be on my feet for eight hours and then have to turn around and train. I wasn't recovering too well.
"I'm going to put it all in one bag now and see where I can take it."
Densham, 21, who moved from Sydney four months ago to train in Melbourne under VIS coach Jonathan Hall, has had to reassess her goals after a big start to the season.
"The Beijing Olympics really weren't a thought before," said Densham, who commanded attention after chasing down world championship silver medallist Annabel Luxford to win her first Australian sprint title in Hobart earlier this month.
"But because I've started winning a lot of people have been asking me about it."
Densham said she had been surprised by her smooth transition to open ranks since winning the world under-23 championship in Lausanne, Switzerland, in September.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Matthew Dale profiles pro triathlete and clothing designer Emilio DeSoto
Only unlike Al-Sultan, DeSoto went topless. More muscular than most triathletes, the Cuban-born DeSoto cut a striking image. He was one of the first to look futuristic, donning an aerodynamic helmet, with the latest shades protecting his eyes.
“I used to have some edgy haircuts,” DeSoto confessed. Flamboyant is the adjective often attached to his surname.
Long before Faris Al-Sultan turned heads with the look, Emilio DeSoto sported a racing Speedo,
“He was fit, he was good looking and he was fast,” said Bob Babbitt, co-publisher of Competitor Magazine. “And he looked good doing it.”
Today, DeSoto is 47. He has been racing since the early ’80s, etched a respectable professional career, mostly at the Olympic distance, and still lists his occupation as professional triathlete. He’s best known now as the founder of DeSoto Clothing, a triathlon-specific line he created in 1990.
As for the flamboyant tag, DeSoto scoffs. He married for the first time last September.
“Took me that long to find a woman who’d put up with me,” he said.
To celebrate his 40th birthday, DeSoto tossed his earrings into the ocean. Now he unwinds by restoring scooters and old cars. His current model under repair: a ’65 Volkswagen bug.
“I’m definitely not the attention-getting athlete I might have been in the past,” he said.
Raised in Northern California, DeSoto studied mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara, then headed to San Diego for dual purposes – to pursue an MBA and live in triathlon’s burgeoning Mecca. He developed into what he calls a “blue-collar” professional triathlete. His portfolio never rivaled Mark Allen’s or Scott Tinley’s, but he was talented enough to race across the globe, his passport being stamped in China, South Africa, Chile, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand and throughout Europe.
While he didn’t pocket Allen’s appearance fees, race director’s often picked up his airfare. “Allen would be paid $5,000 to show up,” said DeSoto, who lives in San Diego’s tony beach-front La Jolla community. “A race director would pay my airfare, and I’d camp out in a tent. It was a great way to see the world.”
DeSoto has raced often at the 70.3 and Ironman distances. His last Ironman came in 2003 at Coeur d’Alene, and it was one of his most memorable events, not because of the number on the clock, but for the experience. His time that day: 14 hours, 5 minutes. Over 7 hours of that coming on the marathon.
Two days before the race, with temperatures in the 40s, DeSoto and friends shopped for cycling gloves and polypropylene tops. Come race day, temperatures soared into the 90s. After swimming 2.4 miles in 54 minutes, then riding 112 miles in 5:43, DeSoto set off for the run.
“My body just stopped absorbing fluids,” DeSoto said. “I was dehydrated.”
DeSoto said he fainted twice. The first time, at about eight miles, he said people rushed to his side, but he heard an official say, “If you assist that guy, he’ll be disqualified.”
Like a fallen boxer, DeSoto said he heard the official giving him a 10-count.
“I got up and started walking,” he said.
The second time, DeSoto strategically collapsed on a grassy knoll near a lake, cooling his head in the water.
“I had nothing to prove that day as far as how fast I can do an Ironman,” said DeSoto, who owns a 9:37 Ironman personal best. “I’d done that all my life.”
But DeSoto made the trip with friends, and he was determined to cross the finish line.
“I firmly believe character is built not by what we achieve but by what we overcome,” he said. “Quitting was not an option.”
Hanging with age groupers proved to be enlightening.
“At that point in the race, if somebody passes you, they spend time with you. If you pass them, you spend time with them,” he said. “It’s the magic a person never sees as a pro unless you experience that kind of a catastrophe.”
DeSoto said he will race another Ironman.
“Probably a number of them in the near future,” he said. “What dictates my ability (to race long distances) is the more successful we are (at DeSoto Clothing), the busier we are.”
DeSoto said his company did between $2 million and $2.25 million in sales in 2005. The company has 15 full-time employees. There are bigger tri-specific clothing companies, but DeSoto is content to keep the company at a size that enables him to live a balanced life. He teaches spinning, races regularly, surfs and likes to snowboard via helicopter in Canada.
“So many companies are hellbent on growth for numbers’ sake,” said respected coach and race director Paul Huddle. “Or for the sake of pleasing stockholders. That’s what you’re supposed to do in business. But Emilio seems to have what a lot of people would like to have, but it’s human nature not to have it. And that’s to arrive at a place where he says, ‘This is enough. It allows me to maintain my lifestyle. I’m big enough.’ ”
DeSoto long had an eye for fashion. As a 11-year-old kid he’d take jeans his mother bought, tear holes in them, bleach them and rub them with rusted metal to create the distressed look. He’d cut long-sleeve shirts into short sleeves. He’d remove buttons off jean, replacing them with multi-colored buttons.
His triathlon innovations include the two-piece wetsuit, vented arm sleeves for the bike that cool the rider and the transition backpack.
DeSoto still races frequently, predominantly at the Olympic distance and his times have not slowed significantly.
About DeSoto seemingly being ageless, Huddle said’ “It’s phenomenal. Downright amazing.”
The key to racing fast in middle-age, said DeSoto, is to not overtrain and include intervals in many of your workouts. One of his favorite track interval workouts: eight 200s, four 400s, two 800s and one 1,600. One of his favorite spinning workouts: three minutes hard, three minutes easy for an hour.
“If you start going on a long, slow run every day or a steady bike ride every day, after a while your body adapts to the stress and won’t change much,” he said.
For DeSoto, the blessing is that his vocation and avocation are intertwined. The scene for a recent meeting with a business associate: a 90-minute run.
“When I started, I knew I’d be involved in the sport for the rest of my life,” DeSoto said. “One thing I’ve never experienced (since then) is physical or mental burnout.”
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Wednesday's start of the 42nd Tirreno-Adriatico will mark Ivan Basso's second race of the year, following on his debut in the Tour of California, and his first on home soil since being barred from the Tour de France due to the Operación Puerto investigations. The 29 year-old rider from Cassano Magnago knows he will have his work cut out for him; believing that, even if he starts off 'bad,' he will finish with good form.
"I don't feel any particular emotions for this return [to Italy]," said Basso in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport. "You know why? It is not the time when I feel close to my people. I know that they are impatient to see me up close. But the fans essentially want me in two races, the Giro and Tour, and I will be there."
He made a rocky debut with his new team, Discovery Channel, in the Tour of California. Unfortunately he was caught up in a crash in stage one that resulted in his knee being banged. At first he did not think it was such an issue. "I have to say that the problem is a little more complex than I originally thought. The swelling in the right knee has put abnormal pressure on the tendons, but two MRIs have excluded any serious problems."
After making his re-entry into Europe, Basso took five days to recover and has slowly built his form for Tirreno and the races to come. "I came back and worked gradually, without any specific training. I continued going at a rhythm of 85 to 90 RPMs on rides near my home. Then, at the end of last week, I increased the work-outs. Today I rode for five hours," he indicated.
"I want to listen to my body here in Tirreno and understand the race sensations I have; not force it, above all in the first days. You should not be amazed if in the finale the group makes a high pace and I am dropped, but one or two teammates will always be with me." Basso pointed out that he will have certain objectives in the Corsa dei Due Mari. "I don't want to hide out. If the first day goes OK, the second better and the third... It is clear that I will give my all in the time trial [Stage five - ed.]; racing without risking it is useless. This race I will have to start 'male' (bad - ed.) and finish well; not the other way around."
After Tirreno, Basso will make his way to Milano-Sanremo on March 24, and then the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, 26 - 30, skipping the Critérium International, which he won last year with Team CSC. "It is a longer race, five days instead of two, there is a mountain top finish that will be of use and also the time trial will be a good test," he reckoned. "This will also give us more time to decide if we will do a mountain camp and preview the key Giro stages."
Monday, March 12, 2007
1 Chris Lieto 341 35 6 09:16 1 25:43 1 15:43 50:42
2 Brian Grasky 339 33 27 10:50 2 28:01 3 16:58 55:50
3 Cam Hill 345 40 8 09:28 9 29:37 7 17:20 56:25
4 Tommy Brown 197 22 1 08:30 16 30:38 8 17:28 56:37
5 Craig Pansing 325 26 16 10:15 18 30:48 2 16:10 57:13
6 Richard Armstrong 340 26 35 11:03 3 28:15 16 18:18 57:37
7 Emilio De Soto 343 99 18 10:26 13 30:04 6 17:13 57:44
8 Brandon Sullivan 352 33 12 09:59 20 30:51 4 17:02 57:53
9 Matthew Beauregard 333 28 42 11:15 11 29:50 5 17:03 58:08
10 James Davison 342 28 2 08:52 25 31:08 15 18:13 58:14