There have been leaked stories to the effect that DSM felt there was a lack of transparency from their former star man and that his relationship with Fabian Cancellara was not the best thing.
Whilst I cannot say specifically what is being alluded to here (as I don’t want suing), its pretty clear that aspertions are being cast against Hirschi.
This is not only tough for the rider themselves (if there is nothing mirky in his alleged lack of transparency), but is also a blow for a sport that is currently hanging its hat on the new generation of riders being different to those that went before them, and in a number of ways.
This is a shame for lovers of the sport who unless the NDA is broken and more details are given will be left watching the guy who lit up last summer with a different and more negative perspective.
I hope there is a way out for both team and rider whereby any ambiguity is cleared up as this stinks and is hanging over his starting racing this season in the Drome next week.
When looking for a contemporary cyclo-cross star back in 2018 to pin my hopes on the Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal rider Laurens Sweeck fitted the bill.
He was fast, acrobatic, agile and raced at the top tier of the sport taking it to Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert.
The last week has made me love him even more with his strengths in cycling overlaid with the emotion of how real life affects you.
There was everything in the Saturday race at Middelkerke (well actually there was no snow, but we got that Sunday) with the Telenet series win up for grabs.
With Eli Iserbyt, a team mate of Sweeck, in for the win depending in what happened to series leader Toon Aerts there was plenty of drama and excitement crammed in to an hour.
Pauwels Sauzen got three riders clear from the start with Aerts struggling. If Iserbyt could take the win he would take the series.
However he was clearly struggling and the team was stuck in a challenging situation of making sure they won the race as opposed to trying something clever to engineer a win for Eli.
Sweeck managed to slip away almost without effort. It was more that the others made mistakes or dropped back but on the last lap of the race it was clear he was emotional and crying whilst trying to understand from his pit team if he should stop and wait close to a minute for Iserbyt.
As it happened Aerts managed to recover enough to climb the field enough to ensure that he had enough points to take the win.
It was only in the post race press conference that a tearful Sweeck revealed that his Father-in-Law had passed away in the week and he’d wanted to win for him.
Iserbyt was critical of the team work which meant there was a bit of spice, even within the same team ahead of Sundays race in Lille (The one in Belgium).
With a coating of snow on the course it was again Sweeck who flew clear just before half distance enjoying a solo win to banish the bad feeling and emotion of 24 hours before.
It was a majestic win with controlled aggression riding over the icy snow and through a frozen forest.
Probably the best weekend of the season so far with an undercurrent of grief and emotion.
My thoughts are with Laurens and his family at this time.
Regular readers of the blog will remember that back at the end of 2020 I lost patience with the Tacx app and moved over to Rouvy for my winter training. You can read about my break up with them here.
Despite the influence of a major company like Garmin at the helm their app felt empty of riders and lacked a racing and community feel.
I didn’t have the correct hardware to run Zwift or RGT so its android app (powered by Bluetooth) left Rouvy the sole option.
Having said that my first impressions were good, it didn’t feel like the best of a bad lot and after getting up a level in the career structure by mid December I was ready for my first race.
That was a really good experience, and you can find out how I got on by clicking here.
And so my life and lockdown rolled on with me hauling myself up the Stelvio and taking part in the GCN Cheddar Gorge challenge.
It’s not all been perfect though and my advice to Rouvy is that there are still some fundamentals to work on and make better to improve the experience.
I entered a race last Wednesday evening but the app was so slow opening and then loading me into the event the other riders were gone.
It was only by 30 seconds so I hit the pedals to try and catch up. The app crashed. I reloaded (taking three minutes to get me back to the start line) and then 3 minutes into the ride and a way off the back of the peloton it crashed again.
I did check the Facebook page for Rouvy members and it appeared I wasn’t the only one to have issues with that race but I found that in the days after that I couldn’t get back online.
I get that there are snags with software but Rouvy isn’t free so I do expect good service as much as possible.
It’s important to note that since last week an update has been put in the Google Play store and I have found the stability a lot better since then.
I have been using top down map view as opposed to AR in the main though.
But hey, I am nitpicking over some issues that were frustrating for a few days but in the context of being able to ride and race whilst in lockdown I am not going to complain.
Regular readers of the site will know that I was a keen player of this game across 2020.
The purpose being you buy and trade pro riders with their price going up and down based on performance. You get money by their share price going up and from prizes, but of course there is the risk your rider tanks and their value goes down.
Here are my riders for the early week of the season based on my initial EUR 5m outlay.
With the early part of the season (should it happen to plan) being week long stage races and one day classics I am looking at riders who have those skills to bring me in some cash.
My strategy being that once the Giro comes around I will be able to sell a couple of these for a profit or add to my line up with their prize money gains.
Its incredible to say it but Peter Sagan looks my biggest gamble at EUR 800k. He needs to get a spring classic win to justify my outlay on him or do something in a race like Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico.
As you know I have been trialling Rouvy as an alternative to Tacx after some software issues.
It’s ok, Garmin karma got its own back on me when I whalloped my Forerunner on the kitchen door and the screen exploded. Sucks to be me.
We might come back and do a review on Amazons repair service at some point but that would need them to send the watch back… anyway consumer issues aside, I have been having some fun on Rouvy. The riding is fast and despite one or two people putting out over 10 watts per kilo and zooming past from 3km behind, it seems a decent community. So I am happy.
So much so that mid-week last week I entered a race on the Caves route course.
I downloaded the footage and despite only being on a mobile phone joined the race in augmented reality (AR).
I’d done some reading and knew that the racing on here was intense. I still wasn’t prepared for just how much despite a nice 10 minute warm up with a couple of hard sprints.
The timer on screen counted down and the 220 of us intrepid racers flew out of the car park at the start and on to the route. For the first 5 minutes or so I was totally unaware of what was happening as riders flew forward and back past me with the drafting indicator firing on and off repeatedly.
There were some graphical issues but these were soo resolved as the race settled down.
I say settled down but these guys start fast and then don’t let up.
It was super hard and I was drifting outside of the top 100 riders despite putting down nearly 3 watts per kilo and over 200 watts total on the big climb of the race.
At the first split I was already over 5 minutes down on the leader but I was more focused on how the graphics neatly let you know where you were and did the time checks. I could see a group wasn’t too far ahead and set about staying close on the downhill before pulling as hard as I could in the valley road to get back on.
I did and it was nice to do some turns and have a little rest as well in the wheels.
By split 2 the leaders had increased their lead to 8 minute and it was clear that the climbs were proving too much for me to hang on.
My group was still working well together and we set about the flat roads and little lumps on the run in as hard as we could.
Every up hill metre was earned and hurt. This was despite my standard turbo and sensor set up as opposed to direct drive. I was tweaking the resistance up hill to make it more authentic even though it was costing me.
The flat was where I could really make a difference.
The last 2km were downhill having turned off a main road. I was sprinting as hard as I could but I was cooked. In the end I was 86th place at 11 minutes.
I was happy with the place and my ride, but gutted with the time gaps.
But the bug has bitten. When my Fenland Clarion CC racing season ended I never imagined I’d get my shorts and jersey on the race for my team again in 2020… I might squeeze one more in… any flat routes out there? ! 🙂