No more sponsoring for RSNT: Envos press release

You can find it on the main Luxembourgish media, now I quote from here: 
"L’image que donne l’équipe RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK cette année n’est nullement en ligne avec l’image que souhaite communiquer Enovos"
Dans le cadre de son partenariat avec l’équipe cycliste luxembourgeoise LEOPARD TREK, puis RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK, Enovos tient à exprimer sa satisfaction quant au déroulement de l’année 2011. Il s’avère que l’année 2011 avec le sponsoring de l’équipe LEOPARD TREK était très satisfaisante au niveau visibilité, image de marque et communication pour le Groupe Enovos. De plus, les résultats sportifs étaient au rendez-vous.
La saison 2012 n’a pas apporté les résultats espérés. Considérant uniquement le volet sportif, ceci fait partie du risque du sponsoring. Par contre, l’image que donne l’équipe RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK cette année n’est nullement en ligne avec l’image que souhaite communiquer Enovos.

Trop de points négatifs ont fait la une depuis le début de l’année. Finalement le retrait de Fränk Schleck du Tour de France 2012, suite à un résultat anormal lors d’un contrôle antidopage, a amené Enovos à reconsidérer son partenariat avec RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK.

Enovos déplore fortement l’évolution de ces derniers mois. Toutefois, en tant que société socialement responsable, Enovos ne souhaite pas continuer ce partenariat, étant donné que les valeurs représentant l’image de marque d’Enovos ne sont pas compatibles avec les affaires développées autour de RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK.

“As part of its partnership with the Luxembourg cycling team Leopard Trek, then RadioShack-Nissan-Trek, Enovos wishes to express its satisfaction with the way things went in 2011. It transpired that with the sponsorship of the Leopard Trek team in 2011 gave a very satisfactory level visibility, branding and communications for the Group Enovos. Additionally, results were at the level expected.

“Unfortunately, the 2012 season has not brought the desired result. Considering only the sporting angle, this is part of the risk of sponsorship. However, the image that the RadioShack-Nissan-Trek team has given this year is by no means in line with the image that Enovos wants to communicate. There have been too many negatives have since the beginning of the year. Finally the withdrawal of Fränk Schleck from the 2012 Tour de France, following an abnormal result of a doping control, led Enovos to reconsider its partnership with RadioShack-Nissan-Trek.

“Therefore, the sponsorship agreement is terminated by Enovos with effect from 1 August 2012. Enovos strongly deplores the events of recent months. However, as a socially responsible company, Enovos does not wish to continue this partnership, as the values ​​representing the image of Enovos are not compatible with the affairs developing around RadioShack-Nissan-Trek.”

TdF reportage 6. Tour des souvenirs...

"Souvenir souvenir que me veux tu?..." I used to like Verlaine when I was in the school, I used to like him very much and spent many afternoon planning to break away, à la Boheme. That spleen he wrote about I used to know very well. The feeling of something that is missed, that should come but it's maybe lost and you don't even know what it is. That feeling of a sick sun projecting long shadows on the white dirty paths of le Tuilerie, of a party somewhere you are not invited to but you brought a party dress in your suitcase like somebodyelse brought a hope. You sit there exhausted, look the sun slowly going down and your mind is too full and too empty and you can't think a thought.
Sometimes I feel too strongly. I know that. I feel deeply in my soul and not my feelings only. They call it 'empathy': it's useful but hurts. Especially when you are in love and badly, so that you feel so much pain for yourself and even more for your loved one when he's sad or angry or wrong.
My last days in Paris I remembered too much, too long and too deeply about that Tour of some years ago when I went there sure that Andy Schleck was going to win. That feeling I felt I will never forget. Such a sickness I have never tasted in my life after or before and it was waiting for me in that crowded square full of flags, in this music they play when you get on the podium. Your back to the Arch de Triumph, your arms rised, your body in pain and joy wearing that jersey that is yellow like the fields of France. And what you see from there, in front of you, is unique. You don't get it like a gift, you fought for it and became worth of it. So when you know you... when you know... it's an hard feeling for sure to be there and to watch it in somebodyelse eyes. Too hard.
But souvenirs are like that: one comes after another and you find yourself about to cry with a stupid smile on your face. On my way back to Italy I wrote on the first page of my Hamingway's book: "I must remember I am lucky". Ah yes! so much...


TdF reportage 5. Tour de Jensi

With no Schleck(s) in the race that has been a weird TdF for me but fortunately Jens Voigt was there again and made it a great Tour: a Tour de Jensi. 
I love that man. How many times did I tell it? but it's true! I remember the night after Andy Schleck's victory in Avoriaz: I found Jens in chat on fb, called him and he was all happy of course. "Can you please give Andy a small kiss by me?" I asked "That will not make your wife jealous, will it?" I was joking of course and he said: "Sure I can. My wife isn't jealous if I give a small kiss to Andy!" Ihihi! Jensi!
I love him because he's always been loyal and a vey good friend for Andy, because of his good nature, always generous and friendly especially with children, and because of his courage and attacking attitude as a rider. 
We often think of Jens as of a terrific helper but he has been and still is a great racer who won important races and got splendid results. He said that was his last Tour de France but I read he has got offerts by three teams for the next season. I'd like to see him racing again, by the other side his - large! - family has the right to have him finally at home. Anyway, he made my Tour better and I want to dedicate him a special post.
Look here his results in 2012:
And here 
you can read about his long and beautiful career.
In short: he start racing as a profesional rider in 1997 with ZVVZ-Giant-Australian Institute of Sport and in1998 moved to GAN (which became Crédit Agricole) "where he spent the five years amassing 20 wins, among them a day in the maillot jaune in the 2001 Tour de France, and a stage in the 2001 Tour de France." 
But the most of us met Voigt in CSC jersey. With that team he won 2005  Tour Méditerranéen, ahead of team mate Fränk Schleck. That year he also won the prologue of Paris–Nice and got a splendid 2nd in  Liège–Bastogne–Liège - beaten on the line by Alexandre Vinokourov. In  2005 Tour de France Voigt wore the maillot jaune but just for one day because unfortunately "he fell to168th at stage 10 after a fever, and he was eliminated for failing to finish stage 11 within the time limit."
In 2006 Voigt won a stage in Ster Elektrotoer race in June. In that year Tour de France he got his second stage victory: "On the memorable stage 13 from Béziers to Montélimar, the longest stage of the 2006 Tour at 231 km, Voigt got in a five-man breakaway which finished 29 minutes and 58 seconds ahead of the main bunch. At the line, Voigt outsprinted Óscar Pereiro." and  in "stage 15, Voigt helped Fränk Schleck pulling hard in the break with teammate David Zabriskie which eventually gave Schleck the win".
In 2007 Voigt won the third stage of the Tour of California and Criterium International: 'his race' given that he won it five times.  He also won twice Deutschland Tour (2006 and 2007). 
2009 was a terrible year: he crashed and had to abandone the Tour on 21 July "while descending the Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard with the yellow jersey group during stage 16. He incurred a fracture of the right cheekbone and concussion." I was there on the road and perfectly remember that day.
In 2011 he followed Andy and Frank Schleck to Leopard Trek and then to RSNT. 
Good luck Jensi and thanks for many wonderful days!
I took some pictures of him in last Tour de France: enjoy!


Few thoughts about Olypics

1. The Kitch Feir: I didn't like the opening cerimony. Matter of style and taste. It missed a strong center – thematic or formal - and resolved itself in a desordered summs of sketches. I liked the Bond's part, the Mr Bean's part, the olympic circles part... but they were just parts, mechanicly put together, not moments of a whole developping something. Concepts, no ideas. Like to read the summary of an history school book: precapitalism, industrial revolution, fights for rights, wars and wellfare, new technology. We come from shit but go toward a bright future. Mah... Anyway I liked the 'new generations' spot and the 'collective building' spirit. In those time of economic disaster I prefered a soberer show. Athletes parade should be earlier: they must sleep. And it should takes more time: we barely saw them. They are supposed to be the heart of the Olympic Games, aren't they? Finally: ok, opening cerimony is a moment to introduce and till a certain extend celebrate the host country... but moreover to celebrate the human gender as a unit in its best achievements. London show put the stress on the inclusiveness and achievements... of the British society. I saw few World honestly in it. Am I too strict? Ok: I didn't like it. That's a matter of personal taste!
2. Media covering disaster: only four years ago we could have said the media covering was ok, not now. Media evolved dramaticly since there. Now we expect an intercative and multitask covering able to allow to follow the whole Olympic event and each sport event from everywhere and by different media. The official site was great but the tv coverage was a disaster. I know: too many events at the same time. You should have many dedicated channels. Yes: you should. Why not? Where is the problem? You could provide on the official site many live streamings. Honestly I only watched the cycling road race: on streaming and on RAI. RAI was quite good – well normal – because the commentators were the same as in TdF, Giro etc, but the show was mixed with others events so that we missed important moments of race.
3 A surprising race: the ammount of spectators surprised all, organizers included. They were many and that should have required a stricter control. Riders said they were scared. Other problems came from the organizations on the race road, with cars driving on the left and troubles in mechanic aid. Read more on Cyclingnews.
But the race has been surprising also and moreover for its result. I beted on a bunch sprint, it seemed written given the easy route, all flat with just that 'hill' to climb nine times. In a bunch sprint Cavendish was sure to win and GB team already sold the victory like something got. Cavendish was so sure he worked all the Tour for Wiggins. Wiggins and Froome of course worked all the day for Cavendish and we even saw Sky riders from others nations working for GB team – not really nice. All other nations thought gave all to make the race as hard as possible puting their hopes on rulleurs and saving sprinters till the end. It worked
When attacks started like fireworks on the gentle butterflies hill Sky... ehm...GB team couldn't control as they used to do in the Tour. "Wiggins and Froome were exhausted" Nibali said "Now they understand how we were feeling in the Tour". Humiliated and offended Spaniards, Italians, Australians plus many smaller countries not only didn't help the chase but launched so strongly their kamikazes that at the finish it was a war all against all, no teams, no law. Amongh the others, Gilbert solo. 
Spaniards didn't help Italians and two riders went away: Rigoberto Uran first and then Alexandre Vinokurov. Surprising to see a climber down there! Uran is a splendid racer still young and not really fast. On a mountain finish expect him amongh the best ones. In London city it was amazing and weird. Vinokurov passed him while he was turning to watch... surprised probably to be so close to the line and so far from the bunch. Surprised he lost the victory but got a splendid silver medal. Behinde Kristoff got the bronze medal but that is another story: the race was here in front. 4th was Taylor Phinney 5th Stuart O'Grady: two different generations of cycling, the past (6 Olypics for the Australian) and the future (that's the best result for USA since 1996 and for sure not the last one for Phinney).
4. A forbiden race: it seems that really RR is taboo for Fabian Cancellara. It's unbelivable and unfair. Switzerland did all perfect – thanks to Luca Guercilena, team ds and LT/RSNT man – puting three riders in front, Cancellara attacked at the perfect time and looked unstoppable. He crashed in a corner pulling the front group. I can't explain that. He went too straight. Unbelivable and sad. He went against the barriers, hurted his shoulder and side, got back on his bike but the race was over. He will compete in TT and nothing is brocken... if not the heart.
5. As if.... GB can't complain: they did their race but were not alone. Italy missed twice the right train: with Modolo and with Nibali. They did a good race but couldn't say it's Spaniards' fault if they didn't get a medal. It's surely Spaniards' fault if LL Sanchez didn't get a medal: he could. They decided to not pull but failed to put a man in the right move. That's life. Audacious solo riders won: Uran – not on his field, without a team and against all Sky – and Vinokurov: smart, experienced, discussed maybe but all committed to his mission. Bravo! BDW who say Uran sold the victory understand nothing of cycling: at the sprint with Vinokurov he was beated anyway and was probably thinking GOD it's a miracle! I am HERE!
That was a wonderful race.


Tdf reportage 4. Tour de Sky

Stage 17 
Nibali attacks in the first descent and reaches the break. Sky can't react or they think the finish is too far away but must work and spend because that break can't stay away too long. Crazy, audacious, it seems finally the exploit this Tour is missing since the start and now it's almost the finish, the true last chance. Valverde slows down, goes and talks with Liquigas leader who finally stops. The break can go, Nibali is back to the front group and Liquigas is moderately pulling instead of Sky. Nibali will try again in the final climb supported by Ivan Basso but in vain: "I had no legs" he will say. Van den Broeck attacks and it seems that Sky agrees as if the expected alleance is done but against Nibali. Froome gets stopped again by Sky and must renounce to a stage victory more than possible. Valverde won. Behinde is a massacre. Last image I keep: Zubeldia is dropped but doesn't give up. Kloeden has got a flat, stops, starts again just when his leader - the best placed in GC for his team - is arriving: not a look, he speeds up and lets him there. Good to know, wise to remember. Evans sinks and finally Van Garderen is free to make his race. Sky rules. I run to take my train.
1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 4:12:11
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:19
3 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling
4 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:00:22
5 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:00:26
6 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
7 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:37
8 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:54
9 Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan 0:01:02
10 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin - Sharp 0:01:11
Stage 18 
I am traveling, somewhere between Paris and Rambouillet. A wonderful sprint Paul says on Saturday on the train to Chartres: he's English but lives in Versailles. Cavendish wins and Sagan gets more points. Sky rules.
1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky Procycling 4:54:12
2 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
Stage 19 TT
"They want to win all" LL Sanchez said some stages ago. Yes, they do. Sanchez had his stage victory and today is doing splendid again. Another one who is doing splendid -SPLENDID! - is Jens Voigt. Nibali loses 3 minutes. Van Garderen passes Evans in front of me, on the atop finish of this long TT in a Tour full of TT and so poor of atop finish. Sky rules.
1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 1:04:13
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:01:16
3 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:01:50
4 Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:02:02
5 Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:02:25
6 Patrick Gretsch (Ger) Argos - Shimano 0:02:28
7 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:02:34
8 Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Movistar Team 0:02:46
9 Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 0:02:50
10 Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:03:05
11 David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Sharp 0:03:12
12 Matthieu Sprick (Fra) Argos - Shimano 0:03:20
13 Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Movistar Team 0:03:24
14 Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:03:27
15 Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:03:34
16 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:03:38
17 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Sharp 0:03:40
18 Bert Grabsch (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:03:43
19 Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 0:03:49
20 Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan
Stage 20
There we go. The sun hits hard in place de la Concorde but when the break arrives nothing else matter. Nothing else especially... because there is Jens Voigt in it and the peloton - all Sky and all Liquigas pulling - catches it just at the last lap. When they enter the square with 12 seconds left... I know I am not the only one madly hoping they can maybe make it. But no way. Cavendish wants that one. He always wins here and wins again. You'd say he crossed France just to come and sprint on this boulevard of glory. Sagan is second and that isn't bad at his age. He's second and wears the Green Jersey: that's great. The Yellow Jersey passes fast working in Cav's train. They will do it again in London in few days prbably. Sky rules.

1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky Procycling 3:08:07
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
3 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
Final Overall
1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 87:34:47
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:03:21
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:06:19
4 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team 0:10:15
5 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:11:04
6 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan 0:15:41
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:15:49
8 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:16:26
9 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team 0:16:33
10 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:17:17
11 Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 0:17:54
12 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:19:33
13 Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan 0:19:55
14 Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank 0:25:27
15 Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team 0:27:22
16 Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan 0:28:30
17 Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:31:46
18 Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team 0:37:03
19 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team 0:38:16
20 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:42:26
Green Jersey
 1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
Polka Jersey
1 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar 135 pts
2 Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Astana Pro Team 123
3 Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank 77
4 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 63
5 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 51
6 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 48
7 Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 43
8 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 40
9 Brice Feillu (Fra) Saur - Sojasun 38
10 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin - Sharp 34
White Jersey
1 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 87:45:51
2 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:06:13
3 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 1:05:48
4 Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 1:16:48
5 Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 1:21:15
6 Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 1:26:53
7 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 1:27:33
8 Dominik Nerz (Ger) Liquigas-Cannondale 1:31:08
9 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 1:41:30
10 Davide Malacarne (Ita) Team Europcar 1:46:41
Most Combactive Rider
 1 Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank
Best Team
It's a Tour de Sky because you can find only two names out that team to put at the level Wiggins' team is: Fabian Cancellara and Peter Sagan. Cancellara took the Yellow Jersey and kept it till he could defending it strongly and in that we saw a team, a true team around a leader. Then it disapeared and we just saw some individualities making their own race. RSNT won the team classification without being a team. That's weird and sad. Maybe they didn't if they had to work for a leader till to Paris. 
Peter Sagan went to the Tour aiming to the Green Jersey and that could even sounds arrogant at his age. He won it in such a superbe way you can simply say chapeau!  
GC contenders never really contended in my opinion. The route didn't help but they never was at the level of Chris Froome in the - few - mountains where they were supposed to attack. Evans wasn't in shape - never recovered from his sickness in spring - Van den Broeck will never be that strong. Nibali gave all and we saw it wasn't enough. They both missed a team to really compete with Sky and BMC. Young French riders are promising and brave but probably we have to wait some years to see them on the podium. I'm sure we'll do. Pinot especially but not only him. Voeckler's Polka Jersey is a career award well deserved but disappointing: it shows very well that climbers had no chances in this Tour.  
Finally CA Sorensen impressed the jury keeping racing with an injuried hand. He really was a combactive rider in this Tour, daily trying and break away not for stage victories but for KOM points. He failed. Such an award should have gone better to Jens Voigt: he was three weeks attacking and almost won a stage. This could be his last Tour de France so he made it a true Tour of Jensi. RESPECT!
MORE and more traditional PICS  HERE 
.......................AND MORE TO COME!


TdF reportage 3. Tour des nations

It's the name of a Paris' metro station: Nations. Paris itself is a caldron of identities where everyday cultures and individualities meet and clash. People wear their identity as they wear their clothes: uniformity, fashion and creativity. A national identity is something collectively builded day by day. And French identity is complex enough... "Etrangers de la ville, la ville est à vous et vous etez de la ville" Prevert wrote. French identity is as complex as the concept of 'citizen' is. Too complex for a short cycling blog.
But Paris is more than France: it's Europe, it's world. You find the world in his streets and squares. It's le Tour de France and Franch people madly love their Tour, nevertheless in place de la Concorde like on the Tourmalet it has got the colors of a Tour des Nations. Colors of flags and symbols proudly displayed, of langages and names. Some colors more than others and that changes with places and times. Italians in the Alps, Basques on the Pyrennes. This year the Tour speacks English and British colors are evrywhere.
English cycling supporters were few like cycling racers few years ago. In 2008 I was in UK at the start of the Tour and it was hard to find any news. Cavendish first now Wiggins or better Sky: British cycling conquered the Tour and cycling conquered the  British people.
Australia, New Zeland, USA and Canada: colors and symbols of a sport that crossed countries and seas. And those are people who come from the other side of the planet spending money and all their holyday to wait here in the sun Cadel Evans or Richie Porte. Ryder Hejesdal is no more in the group but still his supporters are on the road. 
Few Luxembourgers this year: no Luxembourgers at all left in the race. But in Chartres a saw a supporter wearing a yellow t-shirt with Andy Schleck's face and written WINNER. They were in Liège and on the Alpes supporting Frank Schleck: they support him now that he decided to stop and fight to demonstrate he's clean.
Few Italians in spite Vincenzo Nibali outstanding Tour. Many Dutches but few flags, few Belgians an no flags: disappointed and frustrated by bad luck and poor performances. Almost no Spaniards: maybe a protest for Contador. But LL Sanchez deserves a big BRAVO!  Many Irish flags for Daniel Martin. Many and strong supporters from Norway, their face painted in national colors, singing loud for Boasson Hagen. 
In place de la Concorde we are ALL singing for Jens Voight who is in the last break of his last Tour. Jen belongs to the world.
.................................................................MORE TO COME!

Andy Schleck's schedule updated

"I'm happy to report that Andy Schleck is set to resume racing soon. We've established a schedule for the remainder of the season where he should be in a good position to attain results - USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Canadian races, followed by Worlds and the two Chinese races." 
So no Vuelta - and that's normal given his long stop - and no Italian races... and that's a pity. Worlds suit him anyway. That was Frank's main goal this season, let see if Andy can achieve some good results for Luxembourg. It would be great and I'll try to be there.


TdF reportage 2. Tour des gourmandes

We walked a lot and ate very few but when we ate we ate well. It makes no sense to go to France and to eat Italian food. If you don't like French food it's better to try one of the many Lebanese reastaurants of Paris: good, cheap and special. As far as me, I prefer the traditional French food.
That's what we ate: 
in Rambouillet, a gallette au saracin, that's a salt crépe made with buckwheat: delicious! 
In Chartres, a souppe aux ognons: a 'poor' dish I belove. Our host told me that Paris market workers used to eat it at 6 in the morning after their first delivering ride...
In Paris, escargottes: one of my favourite dish you can find only in France.
The last day we had our lunch in the restaurant atop the Centre Pompidou: don't go there if you are hungry and looking for something cheap. It's expensive but the location is unique and you can taste a very good 'nouvelle cusine'. 
Finally: in France you can buy at everytime and almost everywhere tasty stuff by small shops and kiosks and go to eat them in a beautiful park. 
...........................................................MORE TO COME!

TdF reportage 1. Tour de France and tour de force

This reportage is shared in 
1. Tour de France and tour de force
2. Tour de gourmandes
3. Tour des nations
4. Tour de Sky
5 Tour de Jensi
6 Tour des souvenirs...

I had just cliked on 'book it' when I got a weird invite for a press conference in Luxembourg; that day, in few hours. By RSNT. Andy Schleck out of Tour de France. What a Tour could it be without Andy Schleck? What a Tour could it be for me at least? What was I going for? My son stared at me with tears in his eyes and said: "So! You don't want to go! You don't bring me to Paris!" OMG I had not thought about that honestly. I confess I had not. "I have already booked. Don't worry: we go. It just means I will spend more time with you visiting France than running after Andy. We go and support Franky". I had just finished to prepare our backpacks when the news came out about Frank Schleck's positivity. I thought: "Ok, not my Tour." Andy's firm reaction gave me some morale, I sent a "100% with you" sms and got a "Thx" that really made my day – week? month? That was the day before we left, it was hot and dusty beside the river and we were walking in the shadow of thirsty trees.
Our train was starting at 8.55 pm from Florence central station, then we had to change in Milano, but my ex hub hurried in from his work – in the railway, note! - at 6 pm – by bike so sweating like hell – and told us there was a national strinke since 9 pm: "You are better to go now and take a earlier train!". So we did... and found out it was a regional strike. We were at the railstation two hours earlier thought. That's what I mean when I say my ex hub messes up my life. "Ok, not my Tour at all".
We arrived in Milano at 10.30 pm but just to see the night train for Paris had got a 3 hours delay. It showed up eventually around 2 am in a desert station where a one hundred people were waiting camping like war refugees: no open toilets, no food, no drink, no infos. On the train... exactly the same. For the record: our ticket costed more than 80 euros. I asked for a toilet and the railway man was: "They are out of order", "ALL?", "Yes", "So where can he pee?" I insisted pointing to my son. He gave up and opened a toilet: it was awfully dirty. "If you prefer like that!" he said polemically. I don't think we had options!
We arrived to Paris Gare de Lyon at noon, with a two hours delay, and in spite of all it looked great: the sky was dramaticly painted in white and gray clouds over the gray roofs eyeing with windows and terraces atop the high large white buildings, so typically French. Italian cities are red roofed. You get the difference in a glimpse. After a creme café by an art-deco chic and shabby bistrot, we crossed the new Charles De Gaulle  bridge toward the Gare d'Austerlitz – my son in amazement all the way - and we walked to the Jardin des Plantes.
Ok, I'm not going to write a Visit Paris blog. Then in Paris I don't feel as a tourist: I have been there many times and know it quite well. That definitely helps when you have got few time. Jardin des Plantes – white paths amongh grasses and flowers - Mosque de Paris – crowded and colored for the Ramadan's start – place de la Contrescarpe – where Hamingways used to write and drink at the table of an old fashion brasseries – Pantheon – the beating heart of the French Revolution... and a superb view from the top – Jardins du Luxembourg: the most beautiful park in Paris if you ask me. And that was our route, all on foot.
That night we slept in Rambouillet, a small town few km from Paris: 'ville royale', rich of history, surrounded by a beautiful forest. For us just a place between Paris (stage 20) and Chartres (stage 19). We stayed there two nights at a B&B in the residential area called La Clairière: quiet, green, just a little far from the rail station... especially on Sunday when the bus doesn't work... ! On that Sunday roads were closed for the Tour start so we walked early in the morning for half an hour bordering dark golden fields and a gray highway.
On Saturday we spent the day in Chartres watching the last long TT and the visiting the famous cathedral. I must say the second one was more interesting then the first. The cathedral is a masterpiece of gothic art and its colored windows survived to centuries and wars. We got in exhausted after a long day at the barriers and got out relieved by the beauty of the fresh, dark, linear church.
Hot and cahotic like a cauldron, Place de la Concorde was simply amazing on Sunday. We arrived at 10 am and left at 6 pm bravely defending our good place at the barrier against hordes of pushing people. After four hours – FOUR! - the 'carovane' arrived, then the race. The Tour de France in Paris it's something you must live, it can't be described. It isn't just cycling. It's an experience made of images – riders, spectators, monuments, commercials – sounds – roars and music and the French comment and the passing cars and bikes – and smells – sweating, creams, scents and food – feelings of bodies pushing you harder at each passage, a collective emotion growing stronger and stronger, exploding at the sprint. People make it great. Mad people. And you must be mad to resist. Mad really or madly in love.
Hot and dusty, les Jardin des Tuilries with thier permanent fair and their giant wheel looked like a mirage after the podium cerimony while we were walking slowly toward the Louvre. You need light to see but too many light makes you blind, cancealing dettails in a total white: so it was that afternoon. At the sunset in the freshness of a dehors next to Saint Eustache we had a well deserved dinner. Our B&B in Paris was in Foubourg Saint Denis: a room under the roof in a very old charming building. Not well frequented... like the most of the charming places...
Our train back to Italy was late in the evening on Monday and we tried to do the best of our last day in Paris. First of all we walked to the old good Notre-Dame: you can't skip it in a first visit to the city. This time I focused on the beautiful wooden chorus, decorated with the story of Jesus. Have a look if you go there. The second step was to visit the Centre Pompidou: I know it by heart! Braque, Picasso, Cezanne, Mirò and one of my favourite artist: Marcel Duchamp. 
Out of there a smart series of subways brought us quicky to the Tour Eiffel – a brilliant writer who didn't love it used to have his lunch just under it: the only place in Paris where you don't see it! - and finally a bateau-bus to relax on the Senne admiring from the river all the monuments we already visited on foot. To be honest it was still too hot to enjoy it: people at first fought to sit by the side of the boat but very soon came looking for a little shadow in the middle of it. At 7 pm we were at Gare de Lyon and at 5.30 am in Milano. At 9 we arrived to Florence. That was in short our – short - Tour de France. 
............................... MORE TO COME


Support Frank Schleck

So I'm just back from France. I have something to write and tons of pictures to check. While I was there I got the news that Frank's B sample was positive too and that of course isn't a good news. It's a good news instead the fact that Support Frank Schleck fb page already have 950 likes. 
I post here the last comunicate by Frank even if it's 'old' now. I'm sure he will be cleared soon and completely. 

Communique Frank Schleck

En date d’aujourd’hui, j’ai reçu le résultat de l’analyse de l’échantillon B du Laboratoire national de détection du dopage de Chatenay-Malabry. Cette contre-analyse fut positive, mais pour moi rien ne change.

Je sais que je n’ai rien fait d’illégal. Je continuerai à agir pour déterminer par quel moyen la substance interdite a pu entrer dans mon organisme.

Pour le moment, nous analysons, minute par minute, tout ce que j’ai pu faire, manger ou boire, les jours précédents ainsi que le jour même du contrôle du 14 juillet 2012.

Des spécialistes en la matière affirment que ce produit, pris dans des conditions extrêmes, telle qu’une course cycliste, est dangereux, et peut être même mortel.

Pour cette raison, j’ai absolument besoin d’en déterminer l’origine. Dans la mesure où je n’ai rien pris d’illicite, je suppose que quelqu’un a dû m’administrer cette substance.

La contamination a également pu être accidentelle ou elle a pu se produire par un phénomène qui reste actuellement encore inconnu. Les investigations continuent.

Dans la mesure, où les analyses complémentaires prendront quelques jours, je communiquerai les résultats dès qu’ils me seront connus.

A translation here:
 "The result of the counter test was positive but for me nothing changes: I just know that I did nothing wrong. I will therefore continue my search to find out how the substance could have entered my body."
"At the moment we are analyzing minute by minute what exactly I have been doing, eating, drinking on the days before the control and on the 14th of July itself, whom I met, what materials I came in contact with, what nutritional supplements I took...
"The medical world states that this product, when performing in extreme conditions such as in a cycling tour, is very dangerous; it can even cause death. Therefore I really need to find the cause that clarifies how this product ended up in my system: since I didn’t take anything, I assume it must have been given to me by someone, or it could have happened through an accidental contamination, or it could be caused by something that is not yet known to me since we are still undertaking a number of analyses.
"Since these extra analyses will take a few days, I will communicate again from the moment I have received the results of the extra tests."


In short and translated: Interview with Andy about Frank

1. 100% sure. Andy is sure that Frank did nothing forbiden: "We are all the time together. We are completely sure"
2. Poisoning: Frank is shocked, hey talked and agree that it must be a poisoning because that substance isn't in the food but in treatments they don't use.
3. Disappointed:: "I am more disappointed than sad" because of some reactions: as if somebody were expecting something.
4. Disgusted: Now  we are disgusted about cycling. I love that spor more than anything else but today it's really too hard for me and for all my family." 
5. Ready to fight:  Of course he support completely Frank: "All our family and our friends are with Frank. And we are ready to fight for him."

TdF 16: winners and losers

A big  break: Kessiakoff Voeckler CASørensen Hincapie Vinokourov Voigt Faria da Costa Arashiro Karpets Taaramae Hoogerland Popovych Cummings Ten Dam Kiryienka Fédrigo Sprick Paolini Casar Dumoulin Martin Paulinho Caruso Azanza Hondo Marzano Stortoni Bouet Minard Feillu Levarlet Valls Ferri Trofimov Vorganov Ladagnou.
A great break: Voeckler and Feillu.
Two great attacks: Nibali on the last climb and on the last descent.
A great defeat: Evans, dropped on the Aspin, lost on the Peyresourde.
Many races in a race and many winners: Voecker for the stage but also for the Polka Jersey he snatched from Kessiakov kom after kom, ferociously. Sky for the Tour because they responded to each attacks: Froome first then Wiggins himself. Nibali, Froome and Wiggins arrived in this order together and solo to the finish. In the opposite order they will probably arrive to Paris. Nibali today won the fight for the podium: he - with Basso - definitely dropped Evans and gained 1 minute more on Van den Broeck (now 4th in GC). RSNT still leads the teams classification in spite of all. Van Garderen won the right to make his race for the White Jersey. Jens Voigt is my personal daily winner because he's still there, still breaking, still attacking, still pulling and finally 7th. 
Many losers too: Kessiakov lost the jersey, Feillu lost the stage, CA Sorensen lost both, Evans lost the Tour and Dan Martin lost the bet because it was risky one: he attacked too early, pulled too hard, can't keep the pace on the Tourmalet. Van den Broeck lost the podium and it's probably over for this Tour. It will be hard for him even to keep that 4th.
Tomorrow Nibali promises a new attack: for the GC and for the stage victory. For the Tour sake and our amusement. Allez!
1 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar 5:35:02  
2 Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank 0:01:40  
3 Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:03:22  
4 Alexandr Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
5 Brice Feillu (Fra) Saur - Sojasun 0:03:58  
6 Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 0:04:18  
7 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin - Sharp 0:06:08  
8 Simone Stortoni (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
9 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha Team    
10 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:06:11  
11 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:07:09  
12 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling    
13 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling
1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 74:15:32  
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:02:05  
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:02:23  
4 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team 0:05:46  
5 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan 0:07:13  
6 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:07:55  
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:08:06  
8 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team 0:09:09  
9 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:10:10  
10 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:11:43  
11 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:11:47  
12 Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 0:13:14  
13 Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan 0:13:39  
14 Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank 0:14:43  
15 Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team 0:21:06  
16 Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan 0:21:26  
17 Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:21:41  
18 Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team 0:22:47  
19 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team 0:24:20  
20 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:33:57  
White Jersey
Van Garderen
Polka Jersey
Green Jersey

TdF: Allez Fränk!

Fränk Schleck in last Giro Pic by @IlariaPranzini
Shocked like everybody, I don't deny, I read the breaking news on my phone while enjoying a night out in a fresh square of Florence. It made me suddenly sleepy, I couldn't keep my eyes open and that's why I didn't post anything till now. I wanted to know what happened exactly and what Fränk had to say about. Andy said:  "On my life and on my family, I'm sure he hasn't taken anything," and on my life I believe him. 
1. yesterday "the UCI advised Luxembourger Fränk Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) of an Adverse Analytical Finding in a urine sample collected from him at an in-competition test at the Tour de France on July 14, 2012. The WADA accredited laboratory in Châtenay-Malabry detected the presence of the diuretic Xipamide in Schleck's urine sample. According to UCI anti-doping rules the finding does not require a provisional suspension, but in a statement the UCI said, "the UCI is confident that his team will take the necessary steps to enable the Tour de France to continue in serenity and to ensure that their rider has the opportunity to properly prepare his defense in particular within the legal timeline, which allows four days for him to have his B sample analyzed." Xipamide, the substance found in Schleck's urine, is not specifically mentioned on WADA's prohibited substance list." http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/uci-announces-adverse-analytical-finding-for-frank-schleck-at-tour-de-france
2.  RSNT sent around a quite cold press release: "Even though an abnormal A sample does not require these measures, Mr. Schleck and the team believe this is the right thing to do, to ensure the Tour de France can go on in calm and that Fränk Schleck can prepare his defense in accordance with the legal timing to do so. On the subject of xipamide the team can declare the following: it is not a product that is present in any of the medicine that the team uses and the reason for the presence of xipamide in the urine sample of Mr. Schleck is unclear to the team. Therefore, the team is not able to explain the adverse findings at this point" The expression 'Mr. Schleck' particularly impressed me.
3. Fränk wilfully went to the police and said: "A doctor from the UCI has tonight informed me that a Prohibited Substance has been detected in my urine during a routine doping control performed on July 14, 2012. I categorically deny taking any banned substance. I have no explanation for the test result and therefore insist that the B sample be tested which is my right. If this analysis confirms the initial result, I will argue that I have been the victim of poisoning."
4. Fränk wilfully retired from the race "to respect for the Tour" even if the UCI rules allowed him to start.
My opinion: I firmly believe that Fränk is clean because of many reasons. Some of them are 'personal' and can't make an evidence but some others are objective and I think everybody should agree with them. 
1. Fränk didn't want to go to this Tour de France and didn't want to be the team leader: he said he was very tired and that his top shape was already gone after a very long season. He has no goals in this race and he was racing under his normal level. Why should have he doped? to keep going? and why? many MANY riders retired in this Tour and he will probably change team at the end of this season so he had no reasons to please RSNT.
2. Leopard SA recently stopped paying him - also - and even suggest him - also - to sue the team if he isn't happy. In such a situation I don't expect the team to support Fränk. At the opposite I would be not surprised if they were trying to discreditate him. 
3. Even admitting the sample B is positive - sometimes it is not especially for those kind of substance - it isn't epo, cera or similar but a diuretic. It could maybe cover something else but till there is no evidence of that 'something else' it is just a diuretic. So and in that case Fränk could face a warning and a fine, at least a short bann. This story remind me - and others - Kolbnev's case: he has been completely cleared so no panic please and be careful when you talk of 'doping', 'dopers' etc. 
The B sample will be ready in four days: lets wait. It was already a sad Tour without Andy, it's a very sad Tour now, without Fränk too. I'm going to leave to France tomorrow night and I leave with a very heavy heart. Allez Fränk! stay strong and I'm sure all will be cleared soon. Fortunately you have got a good, honest, caring family and many friends. Daniele Bennati retweetted a quote shared by his wife: "Who is not your friend now, has never been it". Agree.


TdF 15: Fedrigo stunning eyes and few more

From tv :P
"Think think think...!" Whinnie the pooh uses to say beating a hand on hin head - BDW I found out a Winnie the Pooh quotes site LOL http://thinkexist.com/quotes/winnie_the_pooh/ - and I'm doing the same since the finish of yesterday stage. I'm desperately thinking of something even slightly interesting to write about it but damn all I can find are Fedrigo's stunning blue eyes. Oh yes: exactly my kind of blue. And a really big nose too, that I really apreciate. Forcing my self to think I see that one small, random thought came to my mind watching that stage, watching the finish. I thought: Fedrigo doesn't look happy for his victory. He should...  After a six month serious sickness that unabled him to seriously race he wins a stage in the most important race in the world. You must be happy. I watched his face on the line, his beautiful eyes and he looked distant. That's why I like to interview riders: I'd give something to know what was in his mind. Maybe it's just his nature: somebody get excited, someothers get empty. I think and thought: maybe he put all his soul in the making of this victory and now he has nothing left. 
Fedrigo is a break-away man and when he breaks away rarely he fails to win. Yesterday he did all rght: managed to go with the right break - not easy:  Sky had asked twice the peloton to let it go but too many teams was targeting that stage - attacked at the right moment - 5 km to go more or less - and went to the finish with the right mate - Vandevelde: the less fast at the sprint but the best one in the flat. Behinde... nothing at all. Nothing. Total boredom. 
You'll say: sprinters stages are always been like that in the Tour. Ok, but that was supposed to be a middle mountain stage and we are almost in the 3th week of race. In my opinion this Tour route is very bad designed: Wiggins gained his leadership in the fisrt days and it's almost impossible to attacks it by his opponents who are not cronomen. They are supposed to attacks on mountains that are too far from the finish so they don't dare to risk or on steep climbs that are too short to make them gain seconds: why to try if you will lose them - and more - in the last long tt? Face it: Wiggins already won this Tour and a Tour already won a week - ot two - before the end is boring. 
Look at the Jerseys field now: Sagan already won the Green one, he just has to reach Paris. He has got no opponents. Goss even stopped - or never started? - sprinting for the intermediate points. Greipel is focused on stage victories yet. Cavendish renounced to anything: At Its British Majesty Service like all team Sky. So no fight here. RSNT firmly keeps the top of best team classification: a must for Bruyneel's team it seems because this year they won it - only - often. A little more interesting the situation in White Jesery and Polka Jersey overalls: the fight is quite open yet in the first one but mountains are so few that you wonder how can they fight... Cadel Evans could target it in next days: better than a 4th in Paris! About the White, well... Pinot must do the same: going for victory in next days would also allow him to pass Van Garderen, who isn't free to fight for himself. That would be something worth to be watched. 
I leave to Paris in two days, just the time to see if something happen, if not... wake me up there.
Two interesting link for Schleck's fans: 
1. Walking for Andy: Andy's math teacher will walk Lux-paris. He starts july 23 It makes few sense given that Andy will be not in yellow in Paris this year. Will be he? 
2. 'Money laudry'? Leopard says that's why they didn't give riders their money.  http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/schleck-cancellara-complained-to-uci-about-non-payment-team-owner-confirms Well, I mean... keep paying them by their personal bank account as you always did in the past. What they do with their money shouldn't be your bussiness! That story is really weird... Leopard even suggests they should sue the team as Fugslang did!
Polka Jersey
1 Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Astana Pro Team 69  pts
2 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 55  
3 Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank 39  
4 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar 37  
5 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 33  
6 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 32  
7 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 32  
8 Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 29  
9 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team 21  
10 Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 20  
11 Christophe Kern (Fra) Team Europcar 20  
12 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 19  
White Jersey
1 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 68:40:18  
2 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:01:54  
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:40:35  
1 RadioShack-Nissan 205:52:34  
2 Sky Procycling 0:12:38  
3 BMC Racing Team 0:17:46