The Real Pre-Season Begins

Feb 8 2011

Tom BoonenTom Boonen, Heinrich Haussler, Tyler Farrar—all names you’ve heard of before. And all names you’ve seen taking wins at the bevy of tune-up races filling space underneath this week’s doping headlines.

Even the Etoile Besseges—the second peloton’s tune-up race—you’ll catch a glimpse of a few names who’ve stolen a Tour stage, or at least featured in some post-stage drama on the sport’s biggest stage.

Yes, say what you will about the goofball photography and technical mishaps, but Qatar, and the more mountainous Tour of Oman are serious races, and not only because they’re must-air components of the multi-million dollar broadcast rights package that the UCI uses to sell the Tour de France.

The furor over Urinegate last year, and the fact that wins routinely come, like Boonen’s Stage 1 triumph, out of small, select, big-name groups really attest that the preseason has arrived. While some of the courses may be even less inspired than their Australian counterparts at the Tour Down Under, the teams and riders more than make up the difference.

I’m sure that as space opened up between the elite echelon and the rest of the field on Monday, plenty of racers pulled in the flag early, reasoning that Qatar wasn’t worth the sort of all-in, protracted effort that just isn’ sustainable for months at a time.

But with intensity work just a touch below that level an important part of the training plan for anyone hoping to be on form for the Classics—that is, essentially the entire peloton—you’re got 100+ riders going at a reasonable approximation of full gas, something you can’t always say about the TdU.

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5 Responses to “The Real Pre-Season Begins”

  1. Anonymous February 10, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    “Recently this has been refuted by many prominent figures recently though . . .” Next time restrict yourself to sources with a basic command of written English.

  2. Trenderton February 11, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    “Next time restrict yourself to sources with a basic command of written English.” Shut up.

  3. john February 11, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

    I will concede that in the past some of the riders in the TDU were less than enthusiastic but in the last few years since it got protour status it has been game on. The stage around the hills near Stirling is a lot harder than it looks on TV ,I know ,I live here. Ask the riders for their opinion about the difficuty of the race over the last few years. As soon as the organiser toughens up the course the better. Time to remind the nothern hemisphere riders who complain about the travel time and jet lag is that every aust. sporting team/athlete has dealt with this for many years.

  4. Jan February 12, 2011 at 5:50 am #

    “Time to remind the nothern hemisphere riders who complain about the travel time and jet lag is that every aust. sporting team/athlete has dealt with this for many years.”

    Yes, but we had the big races here in Europe which Australians wanted to come to and win, like the Classics or the GTs. So no wonder that Australians dealt with those problems in order to be able to compete in the events considered the best this sport has to offer. When you had the Worlds over there last year, European riders wanted to go to Australia, too, and had no right to complain – they could have well stayed home.

    However, it’s a whole different story with the TDU. If you are a ProTour team (or whatever they call it these days) because you want to ride the big races, you are also forced to take part in the TDU, which, in itself, is hardly an objective worth mentioning for most of the professional peloton. There have been exceptions, fortunately, e.g. Andre Greipel, but I bet if you asked him he’d prefer a single Tour de France stage win over his TDU GC wins.

    That is not to say that I don’t like the TDU, I think it’s a good and interesting start to the season just as San Luis, but I’m not convinced that it should have ProTour status.

  5. Chris February 13, 2011 at 8:34 pm #

    @Jan

    Remember: Pro Tour last year, World Tour this year. Next will be Solar System Tour, followed by Cosmic Tour (subject to negotiations with Mavic).

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