So after months of everyone being all like “ch! Hell yeah, it’s a sprinter’s course,” there seem to be now some differing opinions on the topic. Most loud on the topic has been Mario Aerts who thinks it’ll be impossible for a sprint train to get things going, especially if it rains. Stijn Devolder thinks things won’t even get to a sprint, while Belgian coach Jose (Belgian?) De Cauwer thinks to two climbs are tough, but not tough enough to kill off the sprinters. Of course, these guys are all from Belgium, which has been nothing but a flat ramp for Germany and France to invade each other through the centuries, so we’ll see how their predictions play out. Abraham Olano, a “ten kilos heavier” former World Champ from Spain, a decidedly hillier country, had no problems big-ringing the climb and yapping the whole way. Madrid resident Giovanni Lombardi also seems to think a group sprint is inevitable.
Having seen the course, and the “McEwen turn” at 600m, I’d have to say it’ll be tough, but not that tough. With more, smaller teams this time around, and Worlds finishing groups generally in the 10-20 range anyway, the final shot should be smaller than your average group kick, but still with all the big names in it (minus one or two to bad luck). That having been said, it ain’t the Via Roma, and trains should be less of a factor than at Zolder in 2002. Pretty any serious rider with a pair of legs and an equally good pair or huevos has got a shot from a strong break or a kamikaze (Valverde especially) attack.
And, of course, there’s the usual Old White Man crap going on as well. A bunch of Old White Men known as the UCI and some other Old White Men at WADA continue to bitch at each other about who is responsable for unethically besmirching the good name of a currently young but Very White Man Indeed named Lance Armstrong. Some other of these Old White Men, including a few females, have boycotted the the event, citing the hostile attitude of some other Old White (yet Swarthy) Men in the Spanish Cycling Federation, in preparation for the election of another Old White Man (or Woman!) to be the Old White Man mas importante at the UCI. They will slap each other with frilly white gloves in the press, issue a deluge of ultimatums and and sweeping declarations, and say “this is a dark day for the future of cycling” fifty or sixty times, until honor is defended and order restored, at which point, the show, as it so invariably does, will go on.