See what I meant by yesterday’s headline was that one major race currenty going on (the Vuelta) is like the 3rd week of the Tour, which is “boring” because it generally lacks any real GC change; and the other major race (Tour de Pologne) is like the first week of the tour in that the stages are long, flat, and invariably end in group sprints. Today was no different, with big, fat Niki Sorensen (CSC) fending off master of body language Javier Pascual Rodrigues, in an exciting-if-somewhat-meaningless finish in Avila. Heras maintained his insurmountable lead. And in Poland, tailwinds prevented anyone from so much as establishing a break before Lampre’s Daniele Bennati won his second group sprint of the Tour, while race leader Luca Paolini (Quick.Step) still has yet to finish in a position other than second. The win is Bennati’s 5th ProTour group sprint victory in the past month.
Speaking of group sprints, has anyone ever seen Jimmy Casper win one? Because I sure haven’t. People are always talking like the good-natured former lanterne rouge can rock a group gallop, but I’ve never seen him do it. I have seen Alejandro Valverde pull off such feats, which is probably why cycling’s Michael Vick is not just ready for the World Championships at the end of this month, but is in fact raring to go. How nice of ProCycling to keep us posted on that. Personally, I’d have used the space to cover Nick Nuyens’ second-straight GP Wallonie victory, but the Walloon region (much like Homer Simpson) has trouble keeping pace with its overachieving neighbor Flanders. And, while we’re on the topic of keeping pace (last segue of the post, I promise), yet another Phonak rider has been suspended due to irregular blood levels.