Category archive: Cycling
Bryn Lennon/Getty ImagesMark Cavendish's HTC-High Road is one of four American-based teams to make the 2011 Tour field.
Used to be we had to wait until much later in the year to find out which cycling teams were getting invited to the Big Spin in July, but ASO, the sports conglomerate that owns the Tour de France, got it out of the way today. Eighteen teams received slots owing to the elite status conferred on them by the UCI, cycling's international governing body. Four lower-tier Pro Continental teams drew wild cards.
French cycling has been in decline for a quarter-century, but it's still startling to see just one home team in the first 18 -- a percentage remedied by the organizers, who gave all of the wild cards to French squads. Four American teams will start to equal last year's record.
There are always odd teams out for various reasons, and this year's Most Disgruntled Award goes to Spain's new Geox-TMC team. Geox's exclusion is due to the fact that the UCI denied the team elite status due to doping episodes during a previous management incarnation sponsored by Saunier-Duval. It also leaves 2008 Tour champion Carlos Sastre out in the cold.
With the beleaguered Lance Armstrong saying he'll watch from the sidelines and triple Tour winner Alberto Contador facing suspension for his positive clenbuterol test (a decision is due within the next week), there may be no former Tour winner in the 2011 field.
The lineup list by country:
AG2R La Mondiale
Cofidis (wild card)
Francaise des Jeux (wild card)
Saur-Sojasun (wild card)
Team Europcar (wild card)
Sky Pro Cycling
BMC Racing Team
When last year's cycling season opened, we were eagerly looking toward Lance Armstrong's final Tour de France, wondering how his rivalry with Alberto Contador would work out. As the 2011 season begins, we're still wondering a bit about exactly how the 2010 season worked out.
For one thing, we still don't know who is the official winner of last year's Tour because Contador tested positive for very low levels of clenbuterol. The positive test wasn't revealed until weeks after the Tour. Contador claimed it was the result of eating tainted meat (hasn't that happened to all of us?), and we still don't know whether he will keep his title or receive a two-year ban. Meanwhile, Armstrong had a terrible Tour de France, and just how rough a year it was off the bike depends on the continuing federal doping investigation. (I loved the Cycle Sport magazine line about Armstrong retiring to spend more time with his lawyers.)
This week's season-opening Tour Down Under in Australia is Armstrong's final scheduled international race, and May's Tour of California is his last planned professional road race. With Armstrong's career ending and Contador's up in the air, this will be the year to focus attention on other riders, specifically the ones 25 years old and under.
"It will be a clash of the youngsters, that's for sure," Versus announcer Phil Liggett said of this season. "We'll see the arrival of Andy Schleck."
Schleck, 25, won the best young rider jersey at the Tour in 2008, 2009 and 2010, and depending on the Contador case he could find himself with the 2010 yellow jersey. Schleck finished second to Contador for the second consecutive Tour last year. He lost the jersey after his chain slipped off during an attack on Stage 15. That won him a lot of sympathy and fans, though Liggett fails to see what the fuss is about.
"It's a bike race; we're getting silly about this," Liggett said from Australia. "Talking to a lot of the riders, they feel the same way. It was pilot error. He dropped the chain. It fell off. It's his fault. Contador didn't know what was happening at the time. If you look back at it, Schleck lost the Tour in the prologue when he lost 42 seconds to Contador."
Since then, Andy Schleck and older brother, Frank, have formed the Luxembourg-based Leopard-Trek team with some of the sport's biggest names (including Fabian Cancellara and Jens Voigt). The team's performance will be one of 2011's biggest stories.
Neither Schleck is at the Tour Down Under this week, but HTC-Highroad's Mark Cavendish is. The top sprinter in the world, Cavendish, 25, has won 15 Tour stages and won the 2009 Milan San Remo. He'll be challenged in the sprints in Australia by former HTC teammate Andre Greipel (now with Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Garmin-Cervelo's Tyler Farrar, 26, from Washington State.
Other young riders to watch include a familiar name -- 20-year-old Taylor Phinney, the kid with the great DNA who will be riding for BMC. He is the son of former pro Davis Phinney and gold medal-winning cyclist/speedskater Connie Carpenter.
"He'll be a superstar, as well," Liggett said. "He'll be better than his dad. There's a lot of great young talent all over the world."
That isn't surprising. Armstrong may be leaving, but he helped build cycling's popularity in America, with the rest of the world (especially Australia) keeping pace with its own stars.
"It's amazing the popularity of the sport now," Liggett said. "Everyone wants to ride a bike. Maybe as you get older, you believe you'll die if you don't stay fit, so we're getting on bikes."
Joe Papp, the former cyclist whose online marketing of performance-enhancing substances enmeshed several professional and amateur riders in doping cases, had his own sentencing on federal drug charges delayed a third time.
Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty ImagesSome may recognize Joe Papp from when he testified at Floyd Landis' 2007 arbitration hearing.
Originally scheduled for June 2010, Papp's sentencing was postponed until last September and then until Jan. 21 in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh. A new date has been set for May 20, which would be 15 months after Papp pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to sell human growth hormone and erythropoietin. He faces up to 10 years in prison.
The facts of Papp's case and the plea agreement are sealed. He has cooperated with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's investigation of several of his former clients, the majority of whom were amateurs. Several riders have been suspended for their illicit purchases and some cases are yet to be resolved.
Papp was unknown to most U.S. cycling fans until he testified about the use of testosterone in the peloton at Floyd Landis' May 2007 arbitration hearing in which Landis unsuccessfully sought to overturn the results of the positive drug test that cost him his 2006 Tour de France title. Several months later, federal agents seized evidence indicating that Papp acted as a middleman for a Chinese supplier of EPO, selling it to more than 180 customers via a website called eposino.com from September 2006 to September 2007.
A quick stage-by-stage breakdown of the 2011 Tour de France route, which was unveiled Tuesday in Paris:
July 2Stage 1, Passage du Gois to Mont des Alouettes, 111.8 miles: The peloton will parade in neutral mode over the slippery surface of the Passage, which is covered by tides most of the day. A short incline at the finish will favor classics-style sprinters.
July 3Stage 2, Les Essarts (team time trial), 14.3 miles: Overall contenders with weak TT support will lose time, but the short distance should keep the gaps manageable and the race won't be lost here as it has been in previous years.
July 4Stage 3, Olonne-sur-Mer to Redon, 123 miles: First true sprint finish.
July 5Stage 4, Lorient to Mur-de-Bretagne, 106.8 miles: Another flat stage featuring a hill at the end for the classics specialists.
July 6Stage 5, Carhaix to Cap Fréhel, 98.1 miles: Could be the most dangerous day of the Tour if coastal winds kick up.
July 7Stage 6, Dinan-Lisieux, 140.4 miles: Transitional stage is the longest of the race and should finish in a sprint, although there's a tricky little climb near the end.
July 8Stage 7, Le Mans to Chateauroux, 133.5 miles: Dead-flat course for the speedsters.
July 9Stage 8, Aigurande to Super-Besse Sancy, 118 miles: The peloton heads into the Massif Central, where racing tends to be unpredictable. In 2008, the overall contenders marked each other on the uphill finish and the yellow jersey changed hands.
July 10Stage 9, Issoire to Saint Flour, 129.2 miles: Undulating course looks made for a breakaway win.
July 11Rest day, Le Lioran.
July 12Stage 10, Aurillac to Carmaux, 100 miles: Rolling roads with a probable run-in for the sprinters.
July 13Stage 11, Blaye-les-Mines to Lavaur, 104.3 miles: Looks like a repeat of the previous day.
July 14Stage 12, Cugnaux to Luz Ardiden, 129.8 miles: Tour organizers clearly decided they wanted the Pyrenees to count this year, unlike 2009 when the climbs were too far from the finish to make a difference. Luz Ardiden, where Lance Armstrong famously crashed after tangling with a young spectator's bag, will be the last of three ascents and follows the Tourmalet.
July 15Stage 13, Pau to Lourdes, 96.9 miles: The Col d'Aubisque will fracture the peloton late in the stage and the overall leader will have to keep it together on the long descent to Lourdes.
July 16Stage 14, Saint-Gaudens to Plateau de Beille, 104.3 miles: A day of relentless climbing culminating with the long grind up this renowned pass. Every previous stage winner here (Marco Pantani in 1998, Armstrong in 2002 and 2004, and Alberto Contador in 2007) has eventually won the Tour.
July 17Stage 15, Limoux to Montpellier, 116.1 miles: The sprinters who made it this far will be rewarded by a flat finish in the midsummer heat of southern France.
July 18Rest day, Drome region.
July 19Stage 16, Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Gap, 101.2 miles: Moderate climbing, ending with the descent into Gap. Should be won by a breakaway as the overall contenders take a breather.
July 20Stage 17, Gap to Pinerolo (Italy), 111.2 miles: The sinuous climbs of Montgenevre and Sestrieres on the French-Italian border could make things interesting mid-stage, but the lead pack will come back together toward the end. Won't shake things up.
July 21Stage 18, Pinerolo to Galibier Serre-Chevalier, 117.4 miles: The grand Galibier, first conquered by the Tour peloton 100 years ago, has frequently figured into the route -- 31 times since 1947. But this is the first time a stage will end on the 8,600-foot summit for its highest-altitude finish ever.
July 22Stage 19, Modane to Alpe d'Huez, 67.7 miles: Haven't had enough of the Galibier? Riders get to climb it from the other direction before attacking the 21 switchbacks of the Alpe on a short but painful day. As usual, it will pay to attack early on the finishing climb.
July 23Stage 20, Grenoble, 25.5 miles (individual time trial): With such a mountain-heavy course, the podium could be sorted out by the time this test arrives. Then again, look what happened last year. The exact course hasn't been announced, but will include two climbs.
July 24Stage 21, Creteil to Paris, 99.4 miles: The final sprint is not only prestigious but pivotal if the green jersey is still in contention -- which remains to be seen given the sweeping changes in the points system this year.
The Tour of California's much-anticipated shift from February to May in 2010 made for better weather, but the overall climate of the race didn't prove to be ideal for a couple of other reasons. First, offseason wildfires and flooding damaged roads and forced organizers to change the start city and route for the queen stage up to Big Bear. Then, the narrative of the race was overtaken by Floyd Landis' confession and allegations against former teammate Lance Armstrong and others. HTC-Columbia's Michael Rogers of Australia won by a scant 9 seconds, breaking the American stranglehold on the title.
In a sense, the 2011 edition could be the true fresh start organizers craved. After years of wistful talk, the race will finally visit the high-altitude resort area of Lake Tahoe. There are some familiar way stations along the eight-day route, and the Solvang time trial is back after a one-year absence. Andrew Messick, president of race presenter AEG Sports, said decisive climbs will be placed closer to the finish of stages, answering the traditional criticism from riders and fans. And the zigzag road up to Mount Baldy in the San Gabriel mountains north of the Los Angeles metropolis should provide the most challenging finish in the six-year history of the race.
Once again, the race will conflict with the Giro d'Italia, but it will be an appealing part of Tour de France lead-up for some top contenders and will form part of a more sensible calendar for American teams and riders. The U.S. national road championships will take place just a week after the Tour of California ends, and some domestic teams will go on to Philadelphia the week after the racing in South Carolina.
Here are the stage starts and finishes and some preliminary analysis. The final route won't be announced until December or January:
Stage 1, Sunday May 15: South Lake Tahoe to North Lake Tahoe (Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort)
A picturesque circuit around the lake with a short uphill finish. Might not be suited to pure sprinters.
Stage 2, Monday, May 16: North Lake Tahoe (Squaw Valley) to Sacramento
Sprint finish is dictated here. Here's hoping it won't result in the demolition derby that ensued this year.
Stage 3, Tuesday, May 17: Auburn to Modesto
Another day for the sprinters.
Stage 4, Wednesday, May 18: Livermore to San Jose
Expect lots of climbing in this stage and a possible finish in the foothills on the outskirts of San Jose as opposed to downtown. Could separate the overall contenders from the pack.
Stage 5, Thursday, May 19: Seaside to Paso Robles
Should include a significant stretch down spectacular -- and windy -- Highway 1, but without route details, it's hard to speculate on how tough this day will be. The only certainty is that it will be long.
Stage 6, Friday, May 20: Solvang individual time trial
The Solvang time trial that was a key factor in Levi Leipheimer's three wins (2007-09) has returned, and the rolling route through "Sideways" wine country will be extended by an as-yet-unannounced distance. The little faux-Scandinavian hamlet has always done a great job of making the day a party experience for fans, and that should be doubly true in its 100th anniversary year.
Stage 7, Saturday, May 21: Claremont to Mount Baldy
If the race goes all the way to the top, the last 4.5 miles will feature 18 switchbacks and an average gradient of 10 percent. Organizers think this road won't be as vulnerable to the fall/winter elements as the way to Big Bear. Looks as if the race finally has itself a difference-maker. Amateurs will be able to ride the route several weeks before in an event similar to "L'Etape du Tour," a Tour de France tradition.
Stage 8, Sunday, May 22: Santa Clarita to Thousand Oaks
Will retrace the peloton's path over some of the tough terrain of this year's circuits in the canyons above Malibu, but the finish appears to be headed to the flatter roads near title sponsor Amgen's headquarters.
One footnote: If you click on the Tour of California website, it's hard not to notice that Armstrong's image still dominates the top of the page, but AEG Sports spokesman Michael Roth said nothing should be read into that -- "It's left over from last year," he said. "We haven't got our new key art yet."
Armstrong, 39, has not formally retired, but he has not raced professionally since the Tour de France in July and is one of the subjects of a wide-ranging federal investigation into doping and fraud in cycling. He remains under contract to RadioShack for next year, but has given no indication of whether he will compete in road races or other endurance events.
It's fitting that a wildly tumultuous cycling season would come to a close with a wide-open World Championships. The men's, women's and under-23 races will roll out this week in Melbourne and Geelong, Australia -- the first time the championships have been held in that country and only the fourth time in the last 20 years the event has taken place outside Europe.
The U.S. will field a strong young team that has a legitimate shot at the elite road race, a 163-mile jaunt that starts with a dogleg from Melbourne to the port city of Geelong and wheels around 11 laps of a roughly 10-mile long circuit there. Breakaways should go early and, if wind buffets the course as expected, a lead group could stay out all the way. The course is backloaded with hills and thought to be suited more to classics riders than sprinters.
Garmin-Transitions' Tyler Farrar and HTC-Columbia's Tejay Van Garderen will be the protected U.S. riders, with veteran Christian Vande Velde serving as road captain, according to BMC Racing assistant director Mike Sayers, who will guide the team. It's a departure for the Americans to have a manager from a trade team as opposed to the national federation, but Sayers hopes his familiarity with the top international contenders will pay dividends -- although he admits personal dynamics could get tricky if he finds himself having to strategize against defending champion and BMC leader Cadel Evans of Australia.
Other pre-race favorites include Belgium's Philippe Gilbert, Spain's Oscar Freire and Italy's Filippo Pozzato. As for the 28.4-mile time trial, it should be Fabian Cancellara's race to lose, although the three-time champion from Switzerland could be challenged by Germany's Tony Martin.
Twenty-year-old U.S. phenom Taylor Phinney, who signed with BMC last week, will stick to the U23 events, a wise choice given the many years ahead that he has to compete with his elders.
LAS VEGAS -- This is horsepower of a different color.
That was my reaction after watching my first cyclocross race -- the discipline known as the steeplechase of the sport, with good reason.
Elvis -- nothing happens in this town without his say-so -- kicked things off Wednesday night with a rendition of "Viva CrossVegas." An elite 125-man field that included U.S. champion Tim Johnson and his counterparts from several other countries took off under the lights. The course, laid out mostly on the grassy expanse of a soccer complex with some paved and some dirt sections, snaked around several fields like the "Dante's Inferno" version of an airport security line, with a few extra obstacles thrown in.
I stood at the bottom of a short, steep incline to observe the action on the transition that is the signature difficulty of 'cross. Riders wheeled around to the base of a short, steep hill, clipped out of their pedals, lifted their bikes and streamed up and over a series of low barriers with surprising lightness of foot, then remounted and powered into a flat section of the course.
The first time, that is. With every lap over the next hour, the field strung out more. Faces hardened into masks. Riders unclipped a few steps earlier and heaved their bikes onto their hips with more discernable effort. I felt an empathic lactic acid buildup.
Meanwhile, a beer-swilling, cowbell-clanging crowd was in no pain. 'Cross is amazingly spectator-friendly -- it's easy to dash between different vantage points on the course, and proximity allows for direct communication (read: heckling) with the riders.
French champion Francis Mourey nipped Johnson's Cannondale-Cyclocross World teammate (and defending "CrossVegas" champion) Jamey Driscoll at the finish line in one of the most important early-season races in North America -- and perhaps the last edition here, as the Interbike trade show it piggybacks off is moving back to an August date in Anaheim next year. The top riders here will go on to compete in the Grand Prix series that includes stops in Louisville, Ky.; Madison, Wis.; Ft. Collins, Colo.; and Portland, Ore.
'Cross is an old European sport with a quickly burgeoning American following. Sponsorship money and events have expanded to the point where riders like Johnson, a New Englander who has juggled road and 'cross for years, can now make a full-time living at it. The fall-winter discipline isn't an Olympic sport; it's against the rules to run it on ice or snow (although that clearly wouldn't have been a problem in balmy Vancouver, nor would it be in sea-level Sochi, Russia four years from now). But 'cross will have a mini-Olympic cycle of sorts here in the United States, as Louisville will host the elite world championships in 2013.
Former professional cyclist Joe Papp's sentencing on federal charges of trafficking in performance-enhancing drugs has been delayed a second time as the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency continues to sift through a list of the clients who allegedly purchased doping products from him online.
Papp was to be sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, but the hearing has been delayed until Jan. 21, according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office there. The sentencing had already been postponed from the original date last June. Papp pleaded guilty in February to two counts of conspiracy to sell human growth hormone and the red blood cell booster erythropoietin during a yearlong period starting in September 2006. Those charges are punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison.
USADA chief Travis Tygart would not comment on any cases pending before that agency. Earlier this month, a cyclist admitted buying EPO from Papp's website and accepted a two-year suspension from USADA. The rider, Jonathan Chodroff of the Jelly Belly team, was an amateur when he committed the offense and midway through this season informed team management he was quitting to continue his education.
Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty ImagesSome may recognize Joe Papp from when he testified at Floyd Landis' 2007 arbitration hearing.
A second rider contested the allegation and was cleared by a three-man arbitration panel last week, according to that rider's lawyer, Howard Jacobs. USADA does not disclose athletes' names when they are not sanctioned and Jacobs also declined to name rider. The agency could still appeal that decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.
Court records in Papp's case state that the sentence is being delayed because he and his attorney "need more time to develop and present evidence that would be of value to Papp at the time of his sentencing." Several documents in his public file state that he will seek a reduced sentence. The plea agreement detailing the facts of Papp's federal case is sealed, and Tygart would not comment on any aspect of that proceeding or the extent of Papp's past or future cooperation with USADA.
The 35-year-old Papp was a second-tier pro in the United States and Europe and might have remained unknown to most cycling fans had he not testified against deposed 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis at Landis' 2007 arbitration hearing.
Papp, who tested positive for synthetic testosterone at a 2006 race in Turkey, had no inside knowledge of Landis' career and was called by USADA to describe how riders used micro-doses of testosterone as a recovery agent during long races. Landis' challenge to his own positive test result was unsuccessful, and this year he confessed to having doped throughout his heyday in the peloton.
At Landis' hearing in May 2007, Papp, who was about to be suspended from competition for two years due to his own transgression, testified that he was appearing because "I had a responsibility that extended beyond me ... to my family, to be an ethical parent, to be -- to be a good person, and I also had a responsibility to the sport that I loved."
However, according to court records, Papp continued his clandestine sales of EPO and HGH during and beyond the period he was cooperating with USADA in the Landis case. Four months after Papp testified at that hearing, federal agents raided his mother's home in suburban Pittsburgh and seized evidence, including a customer list for a website, eposino.com, that Papp maintained as a middleman for a Chinese supplier.
The site included information and tips on how to use EPO, and also featured translated excerpts of a 2004 book, "L.A. Confidentiel," by journalists David Walsh and Pierre Ballester that was published in French and contained numerous allegations of doping against Lance Armstrong.
Federal prosecutors said Papp netted $80,000 from sales to 187 customers from September 2006 to September 2007.
Papp subsequently provided evidence in another case. Based in part on Papp's cell phone records and photographs, arbitrators ruled in December 2008 that former Rock Racing rider Kayle Leogrande could be suspended for a doping violation even though he had not tested positive for a banned substance -- a so-called "non-analytical" violation for use of EPO supported by the testimony of two team staff members.
Sources with direct knowledge of Papp's case have told ESPN.com that the majority of Papp's alleged clients are amateur or Masters-level athletes. Not all are cyclists, and not all are U.S. citizens. Some are now retired and none are believed to be prominent members of the pro peloton.
While awaiting sentencing in June, Papp became involved in a domestic altercation with a woman he was dating and according to court records, both were charged with simple assault. Papp's nose was broken as the two flailed at each other in his car on the way back from a shopping trip in the Pittsburgh area, according to the police report. Neither he nor the woman elected to press charges.
Documents in the court file also show that before Papp pleaded guilty to trafficking, he turned over two handguns to a friend and former federal air marshal with the understanding that they would be sold and he would not regain possession of them.
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- What transpired this weekend at the U.S. national road cycling championships wasn't so much a changing of the guard as a non-violent coup d'état.
Trek-Livestrong's Taylor Phinney and Ben King, a combined age 41, overthrew their elders in two extraordinary -- and extraordinarily different -- races that made everyone forget about a field somewhat depleted by end-of-the-season fatigue and indifference.
The time trial won by Phinney had a mere 15 entrants, but everyone knew it boiled down to an even smaller match race between him and RadioShack's Levi Leipheimer. Phinney, starting second-to-last, buzzed by his three-minute man and stopped just past the finish line to watch the digital timer tick down his fate. He wound up winning by the narrowest margin in the event's 25-year history -- 0.14 seconds, a mere push of the pedal.
King's victory was far more unexpected, and made him the first U.S. cyclist to hold the under-23 and senior elite titles simultaneously. On a punishingly hot, humid day that would whittle the peloton down to 44 finishers, King gambled on a small breakaway that went from the gun, never imagining he would solo to the finish. As the gap stretched taffy-like to five, 10, and finally 18 minutes before a lethargic peloton roused itself, King still assumed he'd be reeled in eventually and thought he might try to help Phinney or one of the RadioShack riders "when the selection was made behind me."
Except it never was. King came into the finishing circuits alone as he had been for much of the race, by now "cross-eyed and delirious with pain." He'd been in this position before, having won the U.S. junior championship and the U-23 title -- the latter just last month -- with similar gambits. King managed to push through and his sunburned face split with joy as he crossed the line, soon to be joined by Phinney, who embraced him with a look of equally happy disbelief.
The teammates may get to ride together one more time this season at the upcoming world championships in Australia, although the 20-year-old Phinney has already declared his intention to ride in the U-23 events. "That's been my focus the whole year," he said. King will have the option to ride in either of the road races.
Their paths will almost certainly fork after that. Phinney, one of the most sought-after young riders in the world, said he's still weighing offers (BMC is rumored to be the front-runner). King, 21, announced Sunday he had signed a one-year contract with RadioShack. The fact that his future team is the parent of sorts for the U-23 Trek-Livestrong squad explains why RadioShack didn't invest a lot of energy in chasing King once it was clear he had a shot.
In the absence of actual car-to-rider radios -- which are slowly being phased out of elite racing because of critics who say they make racing too predictable -- King got direct verbal support from the RadioShack team car. "You're making history!" team physiologist Allen Lim shouted when the car pulled within King's earshot. "This is huge!" In fact, the performance by these two burgeoning talents may provide some consolation for RadioShack, which had a decidedly average season for a team organization used to dominating the races it targeted for most of the last 12 years.
Phinney and King will get gypped out of a full year in their new Stars-and-Stripes apparel. The national championships will move back to Memorial Day weekend next year, a more logical slot on the calendar immediately following the Tour of California. If they keep riding as fearlessly as they did this weekend, they -- along with other 20-somethings like Garmin's Tyler Farrar, Andrew Talansky and Peter Stetina, BMC's Brent Bookwalter, Cervelo's Ted King and HTC-Columbia's Tejay Van Garderen -- will increasingly crowd the sport's senior citizens out of the headlines and off their home roads.