Mar 2 2007
There’s nothing like the giddy thrill of a season-opening race in which there is no clear favorite (except for that one guy who is always a clear favorite for every race until June or so…) to take the mind off darker news. Here are previews from Cyclingnews and Pez; if the map looks familiar to you, good eye – the course uses much of the same roads as The Ronde. For the very reasonable price of *FREE* you can catch the action live, starting at 8am EST on Cycling.TV. My pick? For abosolutely no reason whatsoever, I’m going say Liquigas’ Luca Paolini will be the first Italian to win in over a decade.
Of course, if my recent claims and prognostications are any indicator, Paolini is now doomed to spontaneously combust during warm-ups tomorrow. I’ve barely been back a week, and already, fate’s spitting in my eye. Remember yesterday, when I said it looked like Petacchi was back? Well, Bennati put a bike length on Ale-Jet yet again. Whether it’s Bennati’s improvement or Petacchi’s regression is unclear; the 26-year-old Lampre man says their current duel reminds him of the Petacchi’s own emergence against Cipollini at the ’03 Giro. If true, this certainly does not bode well for the 33-year-old Petacchi.
And then there was that rant two days ago, where I said America and other non-European sites would prove far more fertile ground for the sport of cycling than its current haunts. Today, the story broke that the Tour de Georgia is entirely without a title sponsor and some one million dollars short of its $2.5 million budget. And the US Open championships director just kind of up and quit. Of course, you could contrast this with the announcement of a Million Dollar Race, in the UAE, of all places. Unfortunately, the race organizer is Unipublic, a key member of The Cartel, which has promised to stock the field with the winners of the three grand tours. So if things keep going in their current direction, the event could finally settle which Continental Squad has assembled the best group of ex-dopers: Relax-GAM or Tinkoff Credit Systems?