Postcards from Manhattan I

It’s incredibly cold here. So cold, in fact, that it reminds me more of Chicago, the Windy City. Fortunately, I have plenty of layers, I just didn’t expect to have to wear them all at the same time. It is, however, sunny and so I’ve been roaming around those districts, such as The Meat Packing District, where there are fewer high rises thereby allowing me to enjoy the warmth of the sun.

Whenever I hit New York my first port of call is always the book stores. I like to check out all the new releases, particularly in the Cookery Section. This helps me decide how and on what to spend my Amazon Gift Vouchers. I can happily while away days in both Borders and Barnes & Noble. 

I spent Saturday with my beloved but he was off to work on Sunday at the Greater New York Dental Meeting, leaving me to my own devices during the day. I have a packed programme planned which mixes Museum and Gallery visits with Xmas shopping and a cycling tour of New York. Yes, New York, a bit like London, has been sprouting bicycle lanes and so I decided to try them out.

It’s fair to say that cycling in New York is not for the faint-hearted. New Yorkers are not renowned for their patience and tolerance towards those on two wheels. However, by avoiding periods of peak congestion, I found it was a great way to enjoy the city and its parks. 

Over the week end I was a woman on a mission. I’d decided what to buy to wear for my sister’s wedding in February, I just had to find one in my size, and I did. I can now order my bespoke hat from Jane at The Hat House and I’m good to go, as they say over here. 

I suffer badly from vertigo and the hotel we’re staying in has everything I dislike: glass lift shafts, courtyard hotel rooms, glass barriers, wall to wall views. I’ve not been able to use any of the equipment in the gym which is wall to wall glass, with views into the abyss. My beloved, of course, finds this mildly amusing as I cringe in the corner of the lift and edge along the corridors. To make matters worse, we’re on 31st floor. I normally never like being above 7th. But then I didn’t pick the hotel.

Winter fare

It seems to me that every time I venture outdoors, I’m wearing more and more layers. We could well be in for a similarly cold, or even colder, winter to last year. That’s not a complaint, merely an observation. However, I’ll probably have to stop saying that the day-time temperature here rarely falls below 10 degrees in the winter.

While yesterday’s weather threatened rain, the sunshine’s back today although I doubt the temperature will exceed or even equal 10 degrees. The snow has been falling not just on the mountains, but also in the hills close to the coast giving the wind a really wintery chill. The ski resorts are opening this week end and further snow falls are forecast. Now, where did I put my cross-country ski gear?  

I have good circulation, or so I’m told. My hands and feet are usually as warm as toast, and I only ever wear gloves when cycling, more to protect my hands should I kiss the tarmac than to ward off the cold. But, while I waited for my cycling coach yesterday, my hands felt as chilled as the rest of me. I love my new 3/4 Rapha bib-shorts but, on my return from New York, may be faced with the prospect of struggling into my full-length Assos tights which are loose everywhere but the calves.

I rode with my beloved on Tuesday, before he left for Paris. En route we met up with a small group of clubmates. I grabbed their wheels and clung on for dear life. Try as they might to dislodge me, I was having none of it. Winning, finally, their respect as we cycled together in a fast pace line along the coast road. I have noticed that I can much more easily close gaps in the peloton thanks to the interval sprint training I’ve done over the past 9 months or so.

I was feeling similarly strong when I rode yesterday. I managed to dissuade my coach from cycling up into the hills, as I now find the descents far too cold. Instead we rode around the Cap and indulged in one of my favourite pastimes (on the bike) – sprint training. Unfortunately, he’s promised (or was that a threat?) next month’s training together will involve assessing the progress I’ve made in improving my pedalling technique. Thank goodness he’s given me a heads up. 

I’m trying to sort out all of my paperwork before I leave tomorrow for New York. As a consequence, next week, I’ll miss club night. While most members have renewed their licences there’s still a few delinquents and each week brings us more new members. I have prepared a detailed file with complete instructions on the entire process, but you know that old saying “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink….”  So whenever I go away, there’s always a few problems to sort out on my return. It also means I’ll miss my English class next week, but the poor souls have been given work to complete in my absence. Slacking is not permitted in my classes.

On my return, the club is hosting the Telethon Cyclosportif which annually raises funds for good causes. The Telethon’s the French equivalent of  the BBC’s “Children in Need”. I have promised a few of my cakes to supplement the shop bought ones. I’ll make these today and then pop them in the freezer for my return. It’s a great way of using up left-overs in the fridge and fruit bowl. I’m going to make a couple of banana cakes, a carrot cake, a trio of savoury cakes and, of course, some of my (in)famous pain d’epices. That should keep the troops happy.

Timber!

The recent storms have uprooted some of the trees in the Domaine affording our gardeners the opportunity to run amok with a chainsaw. Or so I thought. It now appears that they may well be honing their skills to qualify for next year’s Timbersports World Championship.

A few weeks ago, while idly flicking through the mainstream sports channels, I happened upon the World Timbersports Championships from Austria. I fondly imagined that this was a minority sport: not so. Established in 1985, the STIHL Timbersports World Series assembles the world’s top lumberjack and lumberjill (I kid you not) athletes and it is watched by over 20 million viewers from over 60 countries. They even have a US based collegiate series.

Back to a wet Tyrol, where the 16 top athletes from around the globe were competing in a variety of disciplines based on traditional logging skills to determine the best all-around lumberjack in front of a crowd of 4,000 sodden spectators. I just had to watch. Like all top athletes they made it look easy however I was mindful that the slightest slip could lead to something other than wood being severed. Equally, there’s no way I could watch this for hours on end but those sodden spectators, not forgetting 20 million viewers, probably feel the same way about cycling.

The New Zealanders have dominated this sport in recent years and the secret of their success? Lots of practice. So what do you have to master to win the title? Timbersport disciplines comprise hot saw, single buck, springboard chop, stock saw, underhand chop, boom run and pole climb. Let’s look at each of these in turn:-

Hot Saw
The competitor uses a customized chain saw to make three precision cuts within a small designated space. Competitors will be disqualified if they saw outside of the designated space or fail to saw a “cookie” (circular piece of sawed wood). Key to this discipline is the reliability of the custom-made saw. U.S. competitor Matt Bush set the hot saw world record in 2003 at 5.085 seconds.

Single Buck
Here the competitor cuts through white pine using a single man band saw.  New Zealander and 3-time STIHL® TIMBERSPORTS® Series champion Jason Wynyard set the world record for the single buck at 9.39 seconds in 2007.

Springboard Chop
Using an axe to chop pockets into a 3 metre poplar pole, the competitor then places springboard platforms into the pockets to climb up the pole and chop through a log at the top of the pole.  The springboard chop world record is 32.77 seconds set by New Zealander David Bolstad in 2000.

Stock Saw
Similar to the hot saw; the competitor must cut two cookies from a pine log within a designated space using a power chainsaw. Jason Wynyard set the world record in this discipline at 9.81 seconds at the 2008 finals in Columbus.

Underhand Chop
Standing on a log, the competitor must sever said log with a racing axe making cuts from both sides. This is one of the more dangerous disciplines because the competitor is swinging a razor-sharp axe at approximately 110km/h between his feet. Jason Wynyard set the record for the underhand chop discipline in 2003 at 12.11 seconds.

Boom Run
This mimics the skills required to move logs down river. Competitors run down and back across a string of seven logs of different shapes and sizes attached end to end in a 25 metre pool. The competitor with the fastest time advances to the next round.

Speed Climb
Using spurs, ropes and a harness, competitors race to the top of a 20 metre pole and return to a cushioned crash pad. On the descent, reaching speeds in excess of 20km/h, they must touch the pole with their feet at least once every 6 metres. Again, speed is of the essence.

Wyngard wins again

You now know more than you ever wanted to know about Timbersports which may (or may not) come in handy if you’re cornered at the office party by one of the office bores. You now have the ideal weapon with which to strike back and I don’t mean an axe!

Lightweight

The weather’s been a bit of a curate’s egg this week as we slide inexorably towards winter.  Rain on the coast has translated into snow in the mountains where they may well be about to experience their third consecutive great winter. Many of the resorts are opening next week end. This has spurred me on to go cross-country skiing this winter – great cross-training for my cycling.

Despite the almost incessant rain, I have managed to fit in my training thanks largely to the sunshine on both Wednesday and Friday. I had feared for Sunday’s pointage, after torrential rain overnight, but it had stopped by the time we awoke. Indeed a stiff, chilly breeze rapidly dried the wet roads although the sky looked threatening all morning. As a consequence, only the die-hards turned up. Normally the roads are thronged with cyclists but it was play “spot the cyclist” this Sunday as large numbers chose to remain under the covers.

We returned home to a bowl of hearty vegetable soup and my beloved boys in claret and blue away at Ewood Park. Sadly, the roll-call of injuries is such that Houlier has had to decimate the ranks of the youth squad. While they proved to be a match for the Red Devils last week end, their efforts fell on stonier ground today.

Friedel, normally so reliable, had a poor game and was constantly under pressure from the set pieces which characterise all of Sam Allardyce’s well-organised squads. If my memory serves me correctly, didn’t Houlier sell Friedel to Blackburn when he was the Liverpool manager?

Man for man, my beloved boys in claret and blue, with few exceptions, were head and shoulders smaller (and hence lighter) than their Blackburn counterparts who effectively muzzled both Gabi Agbonlahor and Ashley Young, thereby snuffing out any potential Villa threat. Key to the result however, aside from Pedersen’s two goals, was Blackburn’s control of the midfield.

Robert Pires came on after the second goal to inject some much needed experience and Gallic flair but had no impact whatsoever on the game. It’s still early days, but I’m sure he’ll prove to be a valuable addition to the squad.

Villa are now 13th with 17 points, just one more than their blue-nosed neighbours who, incredibly, beat Chelsea at the week end. Equally amazing was Spurs win at the Emirates. However, the top of the table  is starting to look all too familiar. Chelsea lead with 28 points, the same number as Man U in 2nd place, while Arsenal are 3rd with 26. Man City, after beating Fulham today, are 4th with 25 points.

OGCN went down 0-1 at home to Montpelier. Once again, Ospina was our “man of the match”. Knowing that he’ll be lured away (sold for as much money as possible) at the end of the season, and with goalkeeper number 2 retiring, OGCN have already bought his replacement. The boys are lying in 15th place with 16 points, just one less than AVFC.

Tale of two teams

I wrapped up my English class yesterday evening so that I could get back in time to watch the England v France clash. My class asked me which team I would be supporting. “The French” I replied and then I explained why.

I arrived home in time to watch the game. It unfolded pretty much as I anticipated. The French were tactically and technically superior in every position on the pitch as they outflanked, outmanoeuvred and out-thought their opponents. I accept that England had a number of sacred cows missing from their line up but their replacements did not herald a brighter footballing future as England succumbed to basic route one football.

The French delighted us with the excellence of their spritely passing, good use of possession, their control of and movement on the ball. In fact, the final scoreline of 1-2 flatters to deceive as France struggled to convert their dominance into goals. The reality was far more emphatic than the result suggests. On a personal note I was delighted to see a rejuvenated Gourcuff compliment the excellent play of Nasri, Benzema and Malouda.

Laurent Blanc’s French team demonstrated to the sold-out Wembley crowd that they’ve learned well the lessons from S Africa, underlining all too clearly that the English have not. Now you know why they had my support.

On target

When I started on my new regime a month ago, the dietician advised I could lose 3-4kg, but I was highly sceptical. On any diet I lose around 1kg per month at best. However, probably thanks to the bout of tummy troubles, I was indeed almost 4kg lighter. I decided to try and hit the magic number on yesterday’s weigh-in by removing my jewelry and wearing the lightest clothes possible. It worked. 

The last couple of days I’ve been pretty much housebound by the appalling weather. Yes, after last week’s balmy days, it started drizzling on Sunday. It was overcast on Monday morning but, in the afternoon, we were treated to torrential storms. Thunder and lightening overhead, twice took out the electricity. I braved the rain on Tuesday morning for my trip to the dietician and returned home feeling decidedly cold and damp.

Fortunately, it started to clear up in the afternoon, allowing me to attend the opening party of my cycling coach’s new office in Nice. Where, naturally enough, the discussion revolved around the exploits of many of his clients in last week end’s Nice-Cannes marathon, run in near perfect conditions. I displayed remarkable self control by declining the champagne and nibbles on offer for still water.  I need to capitalise on my admirable start.

I skipped the club yesterday evening and hope that there wasn’t too much paperwork for the Treasurer to deal with in my absence. However, I’m going to be down there most of this afternoon and evening thanks to a management meeting, checking the club’s books for October and then my English class. Two of our younger riders, who want to improve their spoken English, have said they’ll turn up this evening. As further enticement, I have promised some chocolate chip cookies – works every time.

I will however be hoping to finish the class on time and get away promptly to get back home to watch the England v France football match. I know it’s supposed to be a friendly, but I suspect Blanc will regard an England scalp as a fitting reward for the rehabilitation of his side after this year’s World Cup debacle.  

I managed to fit in a quick circumnavigation of Cap d’Antibes this morning, on slowly drying roads. With better weather forecast for the next couple of days, before the rain returns at the week end, I’ll be looking to maximise my time outside on the bike before spending the week end down the gym and on the home trainer.

Hirsute horror

The weather this week has been superb and I’ve been keen to take advantage of it as much as possible. My dear Swiss friend is visiting this week end with his “petite amie”. My beloved and I are delighted as she’s a mutual friend and, in an effort to share his interests, she’s taken up cycling. My Swiss friend and I rode together on Thursday while my beloved and his friend worked – well someone’s got to earn the dosh.

We had a leisurely ride over to Golfe Juan. I enjoy riding on his wheel as 1) he provides adequate shelter from the wind and 2) sets a steady tempo for me to follow. I get neither of these two when I ride with my beloved. We stopped in Juan les Pins for a coffee and basked in the sunshine. On the return leg I managed to momentarily misplace him (incredibly careless) but we were soon reunited in Antibes.

While we were out we met a number of my clubmates who were curious to learn with whom was I riding. Frankly, I could appreciate their concerns. My Swiss friend has grown a moustache and now resembles a 70s porn star which he maintains has always been the height of his ambitions. It’s not quite as luxuriant as the one sported by Dave Zabriskie, but it’s heading that way.

We returned to find the worker bees still beavering away, so I went to rustle up dinner. I enjoy catering for a crowd but it’s been more of a challenge to accommodate my new regime without cooking two separate meals. The main courses have been backed up by some of my crowd pleasers, particularly for dessert.

Friday I had numerous club related errands to do, plus coffee with another of our locally based professional riders, so settled for a quick jog along the sea front. Today dawned wonderfully warm and sunny. We decided to cycle over to Monaco. The views out to sea were wonderful, although there was rather more traffic than I would have liked, but then it is a Bank Holiday (11 Nov) week end. We decided to stop and have a drink (ridiculously expensive) at the Cafe de Paris and peruse the acres of expensive cars lined up outside of the Casino: worth collectively, by our reckoning, at least Euros 7.5m. Not that I would swap any one of them for any of my bikes.

My Swiss friend’s girlfriend hasn’t been riding for long but she kept up admirably with the pace, although she was flagging a bit just towards the end. A late lunch of my home-made gnocchi and pesto revived everyone. They’ve now left me in peace to check out the 19th Salon du Palais Gourmand. I just hope they leave some room for dinner.

Opacity obscures objectivity

A certain amount of disquiet is being expressed in the French sporting press about the UCI’s new ranking system for the 2011 cycling season. For the first time the UCI is using a deliberately “secret” system which takes the points earned in the two preceding seasons by each team’s top 15 riders plus some consideration of the team’s ranking in Grand Tour events. The end ranking guarantees entry for the top 15 teams to cycling’s 1st Division providing said teams meet the UCI commission’s ethical, financial and administrative criteria. These are rather more clear cut as they’re set out in the UCI’s Rules and Regulations. The remaining spots will go to 3 of the 5 teams ranked 16-20th: namely, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Geox-TMC, Quickstep, Cofidis and AG2R.

The French are concerned and I’ll explain why. If we look at the teams in turn. FDJ is 21st therefore, under the new system, it is automatically denied entry to the 1st Division. Bbox, along with Cofidis, were relegated last year and have decided to remain in the 2nd Division with their new sponsor Europcar. I assume they’re gambling that with the Tour starting next year in their backyard (Vendee), they’ll get a wild-card. Cofidis and AG2R are fighting it out for the remaining slots. It’s possible, though unlikely, that if neither Cofidis nor AG2R are successful that France (horror of horrors) will not have a team in the 1st Division.

The press are talking about parallels with football because French clubs, who have to balance their books, and have small budgets, constantly lose their best players to clubs in England, Spain, Italy and Germany which have greater wherewithal. By and large, those cycling teams with small budgets are unable to attract the better paid, big point’s scorers.

The UCI made a preliminary announcement on 3 November confirming the 1st Division status of Omega-Pharma Lotto, Garmin-Cervelo, Rabobank and Team Sky. The other 11 teams (in order) are:

  • Unnamed Schleck Luxembourg Team
  • HTC-Highroad
  • Lampre-ISD
  • Katusha
  • Liquigas-Cannondale
  • Saxo Bank SunGard
  • Radioshack
  • Vacansoleil – DCM
  • Astana
  • Moviestar
  • BMC

The definitive list will be published on 20 November.

You can understand the concerns of  management of the individual teams. When seeking sponsorship they cannot give potential sponsors certainty that the team will be present at the prestigious events. I was involved in a project last year with a group of potential sponsors. While they wanted to enter initially at the Continental-Pro level, their long-term aim was Pro-Tour status and “guaranteed” entry into the all important Tour de France. After significant ground work and due diligence, my advice to the potential sponsors was to co-sponsor an existing Pro-Tour team. While this doesn’t afford them the  same level of involvement and control, it does give them exposure at the desired level.

Postscript: UCI announced today, 22 November, that the two teams to lose out in the battle for a place in the 1st division are Geox (with Sastre and Menchov) and Cofidis. The French can heave a sigh of relief that they have one team (AG2R) in the 1st Division.

It’s probably safe to assume that when it comes Grand tour wild cards, preference will be given to domestic teams. So, if you’re a 2nd Division side, from a country other than France, Spain or Italy, it’s unlikely you’ll be riding any of the Grand Tours. Progression into the upper echelons won’t be easy without a big budget to buy in those stars who have earned plenty of points in the preceding seasons. However, I do worry that the increased pressure to win could have unfortunate side-effects.

A good read

This month’s Cycle Sport magazine opines on “the best 50 cycling books of all time [in the English language]”. Lists are always interesting, open to debate and, ultimately, very subjective despite their authors proclaiming their objectivity. Given that I have quite (typical British understatement) a large collection of books on cycling, I was keen to see where we agreed, where we differed and which books were in their list which I had yet to acquire and read.

I guard my books and only a favoured few are allowed to borrow them. I say this from bitter experience as a number of books have been borrowed and never returned and, as they are now out of print, are proving difficult to replace. For example, my beloved, one of the worst culprits, may borrow any book but cannot remove it from the premises. I don’t keep lists of who has what book at any point in time, I don’t need to, I know by heart where they all are at any given time.

You will note that I qualified the list as, not unnaturally, Cycle Sport has only included books either written in English or those subsequently translated into English. So, for example, “Tomorrow We Ride” written by Jean Bobet, “A Century of Paris-Roubaix” by Pascal Sergent and “We Were Young and Carefree” by Laurent Fignon make the list as they’ve been translated from the original French into English.

For similar reasons, the biographies feature largely English speaking riders notably Tommy Simpson, Barry Hoban, Robert Millar, Graeme Obree, Allan Peiper, Greg LeMond, Stephen Roche, Sean Kelly, Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and many tomes about that man Lance. However, a couple of my favourite books feature cyclists who are not so well known and they’re both on the list. “A Significant Other” by Matt Rendell covers a former domestique of Lance’s from Columbia, Victor Hugo Pena. While, “Kings of the Mountains” looks at the role of cycling within Columbia’s most recent history and the Columbian riders who’ve ridden in Europe.

Stories about a few foreign riders make the cut, again solely because they’re written in English: Paul Howard’s revealing “Sex, Lies and Handlebar Tape” about Jacques Anquetil, Matt Rendell’s excellent “The Death of Marco Pantani” and William Fotheringham’s “Fallen Angel – The Passion of Fausto Coppi”.

I have read a number of books about Pantani and I would say that while Rendell’s is undoubtedly an excellent read, and certainly a measured account, it falls short of Philippe Brunel’s tale “Vie et Mort de Marco Pantani” simply because Brunel had greater access to Pantani while he was alive.

My favourite book about Il Campionissimo was written by Jean-Paul Ollivier “Fausto Coppi La Gloire et Les Larmes”. As a historian, the author weaves his tale about Coppi against a backdrop of the social and economic history of Italy. As a consequence, he breathes more life and meaning into his subject and leaves  the reader with a greater understanding. I’ve also enjoyed the same author’s insights into Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil and Raymond Poulidor.

A book I’ve read recently, and whose words really resonated with me, is “Le Metier” by Michael Barry. The book is a seasonal account of the last year Barry rode for Columbia-HTC,  beautifully illustrated with photographs. In my opinion, Barry most accurately conveys to his readers what it’s like to be a professional bike rider. Even as a hobby cyclist I found I could empathise with his accounts of training on his own.

Doping looms large as one of the most frequently covered topics in books on Cycle Sport’s List: specifically, Will Voet’s “Breaking the Chain”, Jeremy Whittle’s “Bad Blood”, from “Lance to Landis” by David Walsh and Paul Kimmage’s “A Rough Ride”.  For me, the most illuminating book on this subject is  “Prisonnier du Dopage”  by Philippe Gaumont a former pro-cyclist who rode for Cofidis 1997-2003.

There are a few surprising omissions. To my knowledge there’s only one book in English about the Vuelta “Viva la Vuelta – the story of Spain’s great bike race” by Lucy Fallon and Adrian Bell and for that reason alone it should be on the list. “The Giro d’Italia – Coppi versus Bartali at the 1949 Tour of Italy” is the only book on that race on Cycle Sport’s list. For some reason, neither the Vuelta nor the Giro have spawned the same number of books as the Tour, not even in their native languages.

There’s a few other books I would put on my list which are not on Cycle Sport’s. I rather enjoyed David (Talking Heads) Byrne’s “Bicycle Diaries”  which chronicles his thoughts and observations as he pedals through some of the major cities in the world. 1960’s Italy and Italian cycling culture in brought to life in Herbie Sykes “The Eagle of Canavese” about Franco Balmamion who won back to back Giro titles. I loved “Indurain: una pasion templada” by Javier Garcia Sanchez which showcases one of Spain’s sporting idols, the very modest and humble Miguel Indurain whom I have been fortunate to meet. For those of you whose better halves don’t share your passion for cycling, can I suggest a Xmas stocking filler: “Roadie: the Misunderstood World of a Bike Racer” by Jamie Smith.

I don’t have all the books on Cycle Sport’s list and that in itself raises some concerns as I’m now bound to try and obtain copies,  even though many are probably out of print,  because my collection just won’t be complete without them. Amazon and eBay, here I come………………………….

Spanish conquistadors

The weather this week end was bike friendly, enabling me to enjoy lengthy rides on both days. I rode on my own on Saturday as my beloved was still in the UK. Sunday, I teamed up with a couple of my clubmates to ride to the pointage in Cannes. The roads, in both directions, were thronged with cyclists, much to the annoyance of other road users: most notably our 4-wheeled friends.

After a good ride, there’s nothing better than a relaxing afternoon on the sofa watching someone else expend effort. This week end saw the climax of the Moto GP season in Valencia. Having caught some of last week’s action in the 125cc class, where the kid who won went from the back of the grid to atop the podium in impressive style, I decided to check out this week end’s Championship decider.

Marc Marquez, who had so impressed me last week, demonstrated he had an old head on very young shoulders (he’s only 17) by shadowing his nearest rival, Nico Terol, playing safe and leaving nothing to chance to wrap up the Championship in his inaugural season. Brit Bradley Smith won the race, recording his first ever, and last, win in 125cc as he, like Marquez, is moving up next season to Moto2. Another Spaniard, Toni Elias won the Moto2 Championship.

Jorge Lorenzo had already won the overall Moto GP Championship, but 2nd and 3rd places were still to be decided. Casey Stoner started on pole and Dani Pedrosa signalled his intent to hang on to his championship 2nd spot by zooming from 8th on the grid into 2nd place on the 2nd bend in the first of 30 laps. However, he was later  hampered by his injured shoulder,  fading after 10 laps. Nonetheless, he retained that overall 2nd place.

Pole starter Casey Stoner would clearly liked to have left Ducati on a high note (he’s moving to Honda), but was unable to fend off a resurgent Lorenzo who overtook him with 8 laps remaining. In the early rounds, Jorge had demonstrated some superb bike handling skills to remain upright and retain control of his bike after tangling with rookie Marco Simoncelli, who’s around 25kg heavier than most of the other riders, Jorge included. He then moved through the field with seeming ease.

Lorenzo’s team mate, Valentino Rossi, would also have liked to finish his 7-year long stint with Yamaha (he’s replacing Stoner at Ducati) with a win but, on the day, he readily settled for 3rd behind Stoner and 3rd in the Championship behind Pedrosa. So, in only his 3rd season in Moto GP, Lorenzo recorded his 9th win of the season, his 16th podium (equalling Rossi’s record) and won overall with a points total of 383, thereby beating the previous record (also held by Rossi).  Rookie of the year, American Ben Spies will be riding with Lorenzo at Yamaha next season.  In reality, next season starts this week with bike testing  on the Valencia circuit.

Winning Trio

(Photo courtesy of Eurosport)

Postscript: I thought Marc Marquez was young but an article about an even younger rider caught my eye in today’s Nice Matin. Eleven year old, Nicois, Fabio Quartararo is the reigning 50 and 70cc Spanish Champion who, at the week end, was gunning for the Campeonato Mediterraneo 80cc Championship. He finished 4th overall, leaving him something to aim for next year. When he wraps up the 125cc Championship in a few year’s time, remember where you first heard his name – my blog.