So yesterday, I was kinda off my game (see the comments). But you gotta cut me a little slack, even with the two updates a week thing, ’cause there was this story on 10/23, where it’s like “all Basso’s efforts will be concentrated on reaching the top of the podium in Paris, July 23.” Now, I guess that is a bit nebulous, as many riders have used the Giro as a tune up for the Tour, but when I saw that, my brain just went “ok, no Basso for Tour.” Probably reason #847 that I don’t write for VeloNews. And I was out of the country when that Zabel/Petacchi piece came out at Velochimp. But I should have seen that two sprinters on a team is one sprinter too many. Just ask Tom Steels and Fred Rodriguez how many wins they’ve gotten over at Davitamon-Lotto this season. Need more evidence? (scroll down) “It is a great honour to have Erik Zabel as a pacemaker in San Remo…” Ouch! Guess that one is settled, then.
Meanwhile, in that same link (search “Jan”), the German press is all about this ’06 Tour. Despite the disperate opinions on who the Tour favors in the anglophone press, the Germans, perhaps because they represent a more homogenous population than the ragged collection of English-speaking countries that write about cycling on the internet, appear to be completely convinced that this next tour is custom tailored to the big Rostockian. “Come on Jan, just say merci! The French are serving you your second win on a yellow-gold [which is better/worse than “white-gold,” I guess – ed.] tray…” No offense intended, but Der Kaiser isn’t the best in clutch situations. Maybe (if you want him to win, that is), you should put the big guy under a little less pressure?
Moving right along to Giro news, though Simoni wants to win Alpe d’Huez, his 2006 program is being focused around the Italian Grand Tour, which means another showdown with “The Kid”, though unlike 2004, they won’t be on the same team, so it will be somewhat less ridiculous to watch them battle. Also in the mix will be returning champ Paolo Savoldelli, who has been promised a bit more team support this time around, so hopefully, this means no more feeds from Danilo DiLuca. And Gibo’s cousin had better learn to duck a jab, because guess who’ll be back form Columbia Selle-Italia next year? Yeah, it’s Wlad Belli, who was booted from ’01 Giro for socking a “Simoni Hooligan” (who turned out to be a relative of Simoni’s) right in the face. Belli’s feat of balance and cooridination (note that he is not even looking his target!), like all great moments in cycling, was later immortalized in Playmobil figurines by Anthony Pope.