Field Theory by Hadyn Green

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Field Theory: Who says chivalry is dead?

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  • JackElder,

    Even within cycling, there's a lot of debate about this. For example, there used to be a certain etiquette about toilet breaks on long stages - the whole peleton would dismount en masse and sort it out, basically, and if you made an attack at that point, you might win the stage but you'd find your fellow riders much less cooperative. And in a sport where cooperation matters as much as it does in cycling, that can materially affect your future results. Then someone figured out "sod them, I can just piss on the go without having to stop", and now everyone does it (though it's very rarely televised).

    Anyway, in this case it's probably moot; all Contador has really done is burned some goodwill. Unless Andy Schleck suddenly becomes a significantly better time triallist before the weekend, Contador is probably going to make enough time on Schleck to win the race even if the sneak attack hadn't happened. In this respect, you can think of it as like that goal of England's that wasn't allowed at the world cup: it's something people are going to be arguing about for a long time to come, but in the end it didn't make a difference to the actual result of the match.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Gracewood,

    For me it's the unwritten rules of a Grant Tour that make it all the more interesting. Every year there's some new intriguing fact about how a team works to slow down a breakaway or a rider hitting the wall because he didn't eat eleventybillion calories in the right way.

    As for the specific incident, I reckon Contador did the right thing. Schleck and Contador had been "attacking" each other for the past few days, something had to give.

    I'd go as far as to say Le Tour is my favourite televised sporting event: part scenic video, part chess game, and part rugby league match. I mean check it out: Jens Voight crashes at 70kph, probably breaking ribs, brushes himself off, and finishes with the pack.

    That's up there with the apocryphal rubgy players' torn ballsacks and broken arms.

    Orkland • Since Nov 2006 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • BlairMacca,

    Its also an unwritten (or possibly written) rule that cyclists pull into the shoulder of the road around the south coast, but you don' see many following that....

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 201 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    Jens Voigt is a legend.

    That is all.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    Oh I agree Voigt sounds like a fuckin hardman. Still, if he lost any blood he can just inject some more at the end of the stage.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2081 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    Its also an unwritten (or possibly written) rule that cyclists pull into the shoulder of the road around the south coast, but you don' see many following that....

    No, that'd be unwritten. Because the written rules are:

    If the road is too narrow to safely allow vehicles to pass, you are in danger of being run off the road or hit by a passing car. In this situation it is acceptable to move further out into the path of traffic to prevent other users from passing you. If you do have to move further out, remember to find a gap, signal your intentions and move across when it is safe. Once you have moved out try to ride as quickly as you can and allow the following traffic to pass when the road widens.

    http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/roadcode/cyclist-code/about-cycling/cyclist-responsibilities.html

    There is nothing anywhere in the road code that obliges cyclists to pull aside for other vehicles (except the stuff about emergency services vehicles that applies to everyone). And trust me, the road shoulder around the south coast road is pretty dodgy if you're on a road bike.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    Don't get me started on unwritten rules. The stupid "let's kick it out when someone falls over" unwritten rule cost West Ham the 2006 FA Cup final.

    Even worse, I'm pretty sure it was Steven Gerrard rolling around on the ground in the final minute of the game. The Hammers kick it over the side line just in their half. Now, the Liverpool player should have thrown it in to the goalie to return the ball to play (stupid unwritten rule) but instead fires into no man's land near the goal line on the edge of our box, with Liverpool players chasing. Poor old Lionel Scaloni has to react sprinting to clear but his kick only succeeds in going towards the middle of the park where, surprise surprise, Gerrard (fecker) is now up on his feet and fires a thunderbolt into the back of our net forcing the game to extra time.

    We were about 30 seconds away from our best result in 30 years until those cheating Mickeys used an unwritten rule to rob us.

    Not that I'm bitter...

    *sobs*

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 890 posts Report Reply

  • BlairMacca,

    In the interests of not starting a cycle vs car war I will only say that it is common sense to only ride one abreast and to pull in when a wide shoulder opens up to let a long stream of traffic open up. I will leave it there.

    To get back on topic I don;t have a problem, you don;t see formula 1 cars pulling over if a car blows a tyre out

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 201 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    Still, if he lost any blood he can just inject some more at the end of the stage.

    To pick up on this: I've never understood the ban on homologous blood doping in cycling. For those of you who don't know, this is the practice of transfusing some of your own blood off prior to the event, then transfusing it back into yourself during the race. Like, in the evening. Not while you're riding. That'd be mad.

    This is banned, but it's quite hard to catch. Since it's your blood, they can't detect that you've done it (but if the transfused blood has anything naughty in it, that's detectable). But, you know: it's YOUR blood. What's the rationale behind stopping people doing this?

    The ban here has meant that the blood is usually not labelled, as authorities searching your room and finding a couple of pints of A- labelled with your name would have a strong circumstantial case against you. But this means that it's possible for mistakes to happen; Tyler Hamilton notably ran a legal defence that he may have had a chimeric twin in utero after he was found with what appeared to be someone else's blood in his veins. The judge didn't buy that one.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    It's interesting that the unwritten rules that are being talked about at present are the 'gentleman' type rules - kick the football out, don't run out that guy in cricket, don't attack in cycling when a guy is fixing his bike.

    There's a whole 'nother set of unwritten rules which ain't so nice. In ice hockey if a guy sprays your goalie with ice you sort them out. You don't shoot pucks on the other team's goal during warm up (again, sorting out follows). I presume other sports have similar ones.

    While the first set seem to be disappearing from sport (cricket has seen a bunch broken in the past few years), the latter set seem just as strong as ever.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6208 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Sportsmanship is a layer we place over sport to make it less ruthless.

    Sorry, but that's rubbish.

    That said, I can't see what the problem is with Contador. What was he supposed to do; sacrifice some of his lead from the other hundred guys behind him?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    There is nothing anywhere in the road code that obliges cyclists to pull aside for other vehicles (except the stuff about emergency services vehicles that applies to everyone). And trust me, the road shoulder around the south coast road is pretty dodgy if you're on a road bike.

    Did you read all of it? I did yesterday, which is why I remember this snippet:

    Always ride as near as you can to the left side of the road. If you are holding back traffic you must move as far as possible to the left side of the road to allow traffic to pass, as soon as you can. However, you do need to cycle in a sensible position on the road to keep safe. See Cyclist responsibilities for more information.

    But clearly the rules are different for racing events. Drafting people would be illegal otherwise, as the 2 second rule applies to bikes too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • Whoops,

    Yes yes, must adhere to unwritten rules about not taking advantage of a competitors poor equipment selection/mechanical sympathy/competence... it's just not on, and I'd hate to win because I 'cheated'.







    Now, where did I leave those performance enhancing drugs?

    here • Since Apr 2007 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    Of course I read all of it. The problem is, there's a tension between the requirement to keep left, and the requirement to not be ridden into the gutter. You'll note that there's also an admonition not to ride in the door zone, which is clearly in some conflict with keeping left...

    But clearly the rules are different for racing events

    Yup - they normally have road closures, for one thing.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Irvine,

    Is this the *first* Field Theory cycling post? :)

    Quite separately from whether Contador obeyed the old gentleman's rules or not (and in fairness, there was no guarantee that the 3rd and 4th placed riders Sanchez and Menchov were about to sit up and wait for Schleck either), the thing that leaves a bad taste in my mouth is that Contador said he was unaware of Schleck's mechanical difficulty.

    Bullshit.

    For Contador, the sequence went like this:

    1. See Schleck attack
    2. Start chasing
    3. See Schleck pull up suddenly 20m later, looking at his chain in a perplexed manner
    4. Keep sprinting up the hill out of the saddle like he'd just nicked something, while looking guiltily behind to see what was happening

    As Jack said on Twitter, he would have been aware of the situation from race radio and from his team director (who has TV in his car) instructions (via an earpiece).

    The whole thing cheapens Contador's efforts, and his victory (he'll amost certainly win now). And we'll get more fecking fingerbangs.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 241 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    . But, you know: it's YOUR blood. What's the rationale behind stopping people doing this?

    Good taste?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • Adrian Wills,

    I agree with Losers moan about sportsmanship thing. To bring up a good quote from a mediocre movie...

    "Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and f**k the prom queen!"
    - Sean Connery, The Rock.

    Parnell, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    But, you know: it's YOUR blood. What's the rationale behind stopping people doing this?
    Good taste?

    Agreed, gross.

    Also this: the tour is, technically only I suppose, a test of your endurance and ability over the days as you try and cycle about France faster than the other guys. If you inject yourself with blood that's fresher and packed full of oxygen and energy (stuff your blood might not have after all that pedalling) then it's not really you on the tour. It's you plus you a few weeks beforehand when you weren't so tired.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2081 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    "Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and f**k the prom queen!"

    That was the quote I was trying to remember when I wrote this.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2081 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    The technical reason why autohaemotrasnfusion is considered doping is that it's a medical procedure whose only objective is to improve performance. Even though it doesn't carry significant health risks, it puts all competitors in a position of having to do it in order not to be at a disadvantage. Good enough for me.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7386 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Irvine,

    I, for one, would like to see the All Blacks injecting themselves with their own blood at half time on dressing room cam instead of making all those pointless substitutions. But for a bit of plasma, we could have had more Piri on Saturday night.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 241 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I don't think you really need a particularly sound reason for making a rule against something in a sport. So long as there's a rule, there you go. That's the sport. I expect the rules against living off blood bags during a race would be because widespread usage would bring the sport into public disrepute. How's it going to look when your star athletes hold up their winning trophy with a needle tracked arm like some junkie? The ick factor is enough.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    The unwritten laws of sport add another layer to the rich tapestry of sport. It's another way in which today's players and fans are connected to the history of the game.

    Stuff carries a bit of a discussion (cribbed from the SMH), listing a few that have, and do exist.

    Those who speak against unwritten rules aren't really suggesting that a fielding team should run out an injured batsman short of his line, are they? And is the practice of dribbling out the clock really that offensive?

    That said, we shouldn't get too precious. Apparently, there is an unwritten rule against Mankading someone in cricket. Don Bradman had this to say in his autobiography about the controversial incident where Vinoo Mankad gave his name to the history of the sport:

    For the life of me, I can't understand why [the press] questioned his sportsmanship. The laws of cricket make it quite clear that the nonstriker must keep within his ground until the ball has been delivered. If not, why is the provision there which enables the bowler to run him out? By backing up too far or too early, the nonstriker is very obviously gaining an unfair advantage.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3009 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Gracewood,

    And we'll get more fecking fingerbangs.

    Oh my gosh http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/ is wonderful. Thanks for the link!

    Re autoheamobloodification or whatever, I smell a business opportunity: transfusion stations partway along Auckland's north-western motorway bike route.

    Orkland • Since Nov 2006 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    If a rule is there, then exploiting it is generally fair game. Being a sportsman is a fine thing and people will admire that in itself, but ignoring it will win games and professionals are paid to do that. Most people watching are amateurs, though, and highly respect sportsmanship, so a player does have to consider how unpopular it might make them.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

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