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Michael Creed

Mike Creed (Optum) following stage one of the Merco Cycling Classic.

The UCI, race radios and the crabs in the pot

Mike Creed
March 16, 2012, 19:53 GMT,
March 16, 2012, 19:53 GMT

Creed calls for race radios in all races

Upon hearing the latest about the new breakaway league, which sounds like a great plot line for a WWE story, I was a bit annoyed at myself for my own ignorance to the details of the teams' grievances regarding revenue sharing.

But I was mostly annoyed about the constant moaning with regards to the radio debate. So, I just want to speak briefly on what I believe to be a debate that came a bit too late for anyone to take seriously.

Over the past two years rules have been arbitrarily applied by the UCI without vote or input and subsequently ignored by riders, teams and fans. But none of those rules created ruffle much as the radio ruling. Why?

To be clear, I would like radios to return to racing. Not just pro tour races, but all races.

The fact the WorldTour teams only fought for radios at their races and not 1.1, 2.1 or lower shows how removed they feel from the rest of the sport.

I might be more passionate about the radio debate and support the WorldTour teams if they were including the whole of the sport, but they're not. In general, when someone says "I just want what's fair", what they really mean is: "I want what's best for me".

This makes them no better than the people they have a grievance with.

NRC races in the US are often (not always) lower budget affairs. And being that, they can only afford so many course marshals or cops to block the course. And in most of those races you only have 1 team car, so if you have a man in a breakaway and the car is behind the break you have no way of communicating a major event in the field, e.g. multiple team flats, crashes requiring bike changes or the need for rain clothing.

The items I just listed is not exciting racing. It's real chaos that is preventable and possibly dangerous.

If you want exciting racing on two wheels, watch motocross or Moto GP.

Bike racing is not a endless event of dynamics. It's a subtle cloak and dagger series of conservation and protection, punctuated by a brief flurry of explosion.

Now, I realize there are exceptions to that last statement. Races like Roubaix, and Flanders and a handful of stage races are amazing to watch for hours. And in the pack, any high level race is almost always a constant series of skillful movements and stress. But in general that stress and skill set doesn't translate to TV. Claiming a radio ban will lead to exciting racing is totally correct but what it will certainly do is take away some stress from team mechanics that don't have to worry about charging the radios.

Now, why did the radio debate live on? Because it made the directors' jobs harder. They essentially become bike chauffeurs, finding small talk with the mechanic or something to listen to besides local French radio.

Team managers or owners didn't speak up when the accountability to conform to arbitrary rules fall on the rider or manufacturers, the lowest people in the cycling totem poll.

Rule: "Two same size wheels please."
Team response: "Fine more room in the truck anyway."

Rule: "Bike has to be double triangle."
Team response: "Sure fine, I'll tell my sponsor"

Rule: "Seat has to be 5cm behind the bottom bracket."
Team response: "Fine, we have wrenches"

Rule: "Time trial reach can't be more than 75cm
Team response; "Oh.. like Obree? We're not like that crackpot"

Rule: "3 to 1 rule"
Team response: "Okay but I wish you'd told us earlier, but our mechanics don't need sleep anyway."

Rule: "No more radios"
Team response: "WHATTTT!!!! FASCIST!"

Most of the rules listed have ways around them, which makes them not only silly but poorly thought out. But no radios means 'no' radios. And directors become chauffeurs. When the UCI started doing bike fits, convenient as it is, and the teams didn't fight for their rights, that was the first step (in my generation) of the teams surrendering their right to have any say.

I hope changes do come. I want to race with a radio, I want to do my own bike fit, I want the lightest bike my team can give me, and I want a time trial bike that looks like a spaceship.

I don't want to be held down by one mans interpretation of tradition. Doug Stanhope said "tradition is the baggage of dead men."

Yes, it's unfair to pull out a quote out of context to support your argument. But it's no worse then having someone from the mountain top tell you to push your saddle back.

Let's not fool ourselves in that bike racing was more exciting in yesteryear. If we want more exciting racing, lets consider six mans teams, shorter more dynamic courses, on live video feed, team radio feed and my own personal idea, rocket propelled bikes. And please, WorldTour brass, don't forget about us. Otherwise we're just crabs in a pot.

Michael Creed gives a big grin one of the teams action photos.

The ups and downs of having an opinion

Mike Creed
December 07, 2011, 22:45 GMT,
December 07, 2011, 23:43 GMT

Vino and Liège-Bastogne-Liège also on Mike's mind

Question: How do you know when it's the off-season?

Answer: When riders start updating blogs.

Every off-season riders start blogs with the best of intentions but between traveling, getting your head kicked in and the constant talking of yourself those best intentions wither and die.

And unless you're willing to talk about the well-paved path of team camps, new teammates, equipment and season goals you're going to upset someone.

Beware those who dare to share an idea. With Twitter and Facebook there is a tremendous amount of noise out there. And to be noticed or stand out you have to create a tremendous amount of noise.

Pandering and placating are a must. Being self-effacing and self-deprecating is considered professional and humble. And confidence is being a snob.

Now, there is an argument to be made that criticism comes with the territory and people don't want to be mentally challenged when watching sport. They use sport to relax and unwind, not to hear the ideas and morals of some skinny guy on a bike. If you are willing to accept praise for your ideas, you must be willing to accept criticism for them too and I agree.

I have a very thin skin. I think almost everyone does, especially pro cyclists even if they won't admit to it. Eventually most get tired of talking about themselves and opening up to criticism and stop using the Twitter account or blog for anything other than team PR or sponsor spam.

Allow me to get grandiose about blogs for a second. With all the noise out there, there is no room for a nuanced view. You're either right or wrong. You either love or hate someone or something. You can generate so much more energy and passion with love or hate than with something in between and while that might be the essence of being a fan, I think that viewpoint is reactive, over emotional and ultimately shallow.

But, here I am writing a blog for a site that hosts a forum that thrives off this. Why? First I was begged [ed. if you say so Mike] and second and I wanted to put my two cents out there about Vino and LBL.

Assuming the emails and story is true I don't think there is any great scandal. Vino really wanted to win the race, enough that he offered a great sum to a person who was in a position to beat him. Now, if Kolobnev wanted to win the race more than Vino, he could of denied the offer. But at the end of the day, Kolobnev decided the money was a better route. If anyone should be mad here it would be his team.

They pay him and support him to win races, not to sell them. Otherwise, I don't see why anyone can have a complaint. Kolobnev put himself in the position to be bought off, he earned that. Nobody else in that field could. It's not as if Vino bought the entire field and made the race a farce.

I've been offered money a few times, and I honestly can't remember a time I agreed to take it. But I feel like I'd be misleading if I said it's never happened but I'm getting old now and my memory is gone. I do however remember when I was with Rock Racing, buying some riders to help out with defending the lead in a race overseas. Did it seem shady? Yeah. Would I brag about it? No. But we needed the help and they needed the cash.

To quote Verner Moller from his book "The Scapegoat" that chronicles the events surrounding Michael Rasmussen's exit from the 2007 Tour: "Morality is fundamentally about empathy, that is the ability to put one's self into another person's position".

Morality in cycling has become a quasi-religious movement with sinners, saints and vast spaces between. Black and white. Virtuous and indignant. And to me that's a shame.

Michael Creed gives a big grin one of the teams action photos.

Lucca-bound after California training camp

Cycling News
February 16, 2011, 22:43 GMT,
February 17, 2011, 0:31 GMT

Mike sees new generation of US pros, reflects on own career

Seeing how many of you don't know who I am, I feel like I should introduce myself. But after many false starts of writing something, feeling self critical about it and then deleting it, I'll just skip that step. If you want to know who I am, and why Cyclingnews put me up on the site, use Google. It won't come up with much, and that's a pretty accurate answer.

Formalities. I'm very happy with my new team. Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth. We had our team camp last week and it was a blast. The equipment, staff, and race program is top notch.

At camp we stayed at a beach house in Oxnard, California. The weather was great, riding was good, and we spent a lot of time busting each others' chops. The team is made up of old and new school riders, but the common trait for every rider in the team is one of a scrapper.

And if I learned anything in my career (and there is a good case for having not) natural talent and training isn't anything without a fighting spirit. I look forward to getting into racing and seeing how everyone bonds together. If the final night of shenanigans is anything to go by, it'll be a cinch.

I'll spend the next few days in Italy, a last-second trip for getting some riding in and putting things ahead and behind me. The training in Lucca is pretty incredible - I'm sure there is training better someplace else in the world, but I'm not aware of it.

Often when I find a new road or climb I curse myself for spending my ProTour years in Girona, Spain. Girona isn't a bad place at all, but Lucca is light years ahead. With regards to food, airport, weather and training Lucca pretty much has it all.

It's also great to see the new generation of American riders take up camp here. It's bittersweet to see these "kids" come through with so many years and promise ahead of them. It's sweet in the sense that you're aware of the excitement they must be feeling and your nationalistic side wishes that for anyone brave enough to move across the Atlantic and try their hand.

But it's bitter in the sense that it means your own time is running out. With back and hip issues bringing my career to what may be a premature end, I can only look on in envy as these guys climb the UCI rankings and get what they worked so hard for.

My own career has more than enough rocky years, some due to my own youthful ignorance and some I believe were out of my hands (remember "here to stay"?). The issues with my hips were something unexpected and crushing to my performance but I believe I've found some solutions and exercises to keep them at bay for one more year.

I consider this year as possibly my last. If everything goes well with my hips I should be fairly successful and I'll continue. Who knows, maybe I'll even return to Europe if there is a opportunity. But if they persist and my performance continues to not be an accurate reflection of my ability, than it's better to stop.

I love cycling too much to continue to the point where I would be bitter towards the sport. I'd like to stay in it at some level for as long as I can - whether that's as a DS or coach, I don't care.

Well, that's all I've got for now. If by any chance you want more of me you can read or follow me on Twitter @michael_creed

Michael Creed

Follow veteran professional Michael Creed as he embarks on the 2011 season with the US-based Continental squad Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth.

Creed has been a professional since 2000, races on both road and track (where he's a multi-time national champion), and has ridden for teams such as Prime Alliance, US Postal Service, Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team, Team TIAA-CREF, Team Slipstream, Rock Racing and Team Type 1.

The 30-year-old American pro has a wealth of experience, a keen sense of humour and will be providing insight into a season in which he hopes to bounce back from a few rocky years in the US peloton.