Archive for the ‘olympics’ Tag

Olympics and Canadian Cycling

Olympic spirit struck without notice. I didn’t plan to watch a lot of the olympics. I haven’t been shy about my opinions against hosting the event in China for many reasons. Plus, I’m Canadian so we’re not known for having a great showing at the summer games.

Having come off of a great Tour de France I was pretty sure that the TV would be off for a year except for the occasional CSI and watching stuff with the family. Then I realized that there was a chance for some quality cycling to hit the airwaves again. That being said, I know that these games are mostly about gymnasts, sprinters and swimmers (OK…we get it…Michael Phelps is a good swimmer. Enough already).

So I setup the NBC alert to tell me when the races were on, which was great. Except of course for the fact that none of it was on TV…grrrr. It’s all swimming and gymnastics in the opening days so sports like cycling get bumped to the highlight reel. I decide that I’ll have to get the news the old fashioned way by seeing the results and then catching the replay later to confirm what I already know.

Canadians do many things well. One of those things is ride bikes. Alright, we may not do it as well as the US, Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland, Belgium and a few other European countries. Even Luxembourg. We do however hold up pretty well in North American pro-category racing and in triathlon. We may not have many riders out there, but the few that we have are there on pure guts. Canada doesn’t spend a lot of money on sports compared to other countries. That’s another subject altogether.

So let me get to my point. Svein Tuft. 4 time National Time Trial champion. He’s a powerhouse who wins most of the events he enters. Svein is not known as the “sit in the pack” guy who has an explosive sprint. He gets things done in the way of another of my favourite riders – Jens Voigt. Svein rides above and beyond with one simple goal, break away and put the hurt on everyone in the pack until they can’t catch up.

On the world level though, I had some doubt about our Canadians being able to hold off a strong field of European Pro Tour riders. Svein Tuft is a local phenom, but these guys (including Canadian Ryder Hesjedal) ride bigger races with 6 figure salaries and support vehicles, massive sponsorships and training programs. Svein rides like hell in some amazing races, but as an armchair athlete I found it hard to imagine comparing our local hero against the best in the world.

The time trial came and went, and I caught the whole thing in the highlights and online results. And then I saw it:

1 Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) (45.350 km/h)
2 Gustav Erik Larsson (Sweden)          0.33.36
3 Levi Leipheimer (United States)       1.09.68
4 Alberto Contador (Spain)              1.18.08
5 Cadel Evans (Australia)               1.23.54
6 Samuel Sánchez (Spain)                2.25.81
7 Svein Tuft (Canada)                   2.28.01
8 Michael Rogers (Australia)            2.35.42
9 Stef Clement (Netherlands)            2.47.99
10 Robert Gesink (Netherlands)          2.51.45
11 Stephen Cummings (Great Britain)     2.56.48
12 David Zabriskie (United States)      3.06.39
13 Stefan Schumacher (Germany)          3.13.95

That’s 7th in the world! And not just that, but 38 seconds ahead of US National Time Trial champion (and known as “the most aerodynamic rider in the pro peloton”) Dave Zabriskie. Then I saw number Stefan Schumacher at number 13 another 7 seconds adrift. Schumacher won both of the time trials in the 2008 Tour de France.

All I can say is Go Svein Go. Awesome work and much respect.

Read about his start in cycing here: