Monday, January 30, 2012


Like many others, I used this pejorative to describe Levi's tactics. But I've gotten away from describing him negatively, mainly because he has recently shown (or possibly because the tv coverage has shown) he can do more than follow. I wouldn't even bring this up but I ignored my own directive and read some of the comments following an article on A short aside: 95% of the comments are mindless rants and the few that are thoughtfully presented are quickly and soundly criticized by more mindless rants.

Let's define wheelsucker: A person who follows the wheel of others in order to save energy in their draft, which also helps in pacing. That's what team leaders are supposed to do, up to a point. Their teammates expend maximum energy to deliver the leader to the last climb, or in the case of sprinters, to anywhere from 500 to 100 meters from the finish. But that is not what we are talking about here.

Cadel and Levi are similar in their climbing style, in that they lack the speedy acceleration of Contador or Schleck, but instead generally do a gradual increase. After all, you cannot do what your body cannot do, you do what you can. But what gained both of them (possibly unfairly) the wheelsucker tag was their lack of initiative when the opportunity presented itself. Sometimes it was team tactics, or lack of team, sometimes it was a poor choice, sometimes it was because they had no more juice in the legs. Once Cadel moved to BMC and had a real, dedicated, well-coached team, he proved he was a winner. We still haven't seen a lightning acceleration, but we have seen him motor away from folks. When Levi left Schleck in Colorado last year, it wasn't like he was gone in a puff of smoke (yes, he did accelerate). He just saw the opportunity and kept the hammer down.

Most of the time Levi didn't have to win the climbs because his tt skills more than made up for it. In a multi-day race, unproductive energy expenditure is a serious waste. If you only have X amount of energy, it must be apportioned appropriately. Enough of this, I just wanted to expel it from my mind and I promise not to read any more comments.

We have at least four super teams that should make the racing season extremely exciting. Truthfully, my guy is Horner. After that, I just want to see really good cycling.

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