(Yes, I am aware Reagan was not sworn in until 20 Jan 1981. I don’t care. Riders born after 1/1/80 are herein described as “Reagan Babies”.)
Perhaps there will be no image more representative of the 2006 classics season than that provided by Alejandro Valverde and Paolo Bettini in the closing meters of today’s Liege-Bastogne -Liege: the young Spaniard, sprinting to victory in this long, hilly classic with a Cipo’-sized gap, peering over his right shoulder just long enough to see the Italian drop his gold-covered head in disgust at being beaten soundly in a race he considered as good as won. Il Grillo, previously unbeatable in these small sprints, was perfectly positioned on Inbatible‘s wheel, but was never a threat to come by him in the closing meters. For those keeping track at home, that’s all four of cycling’s five Monuments this season taken by riders born after 1980, and perhaps more significantly, the winner at each event has been different. Without question, the Reagan Babies have arrived.