Sometimes, Belgium makes me wonder. I’ve never been, I’ve never really known anyone from there, but the place is just odd. Like (overlooking the all-white kit before Memorial Day) Tom Boonen’s celebrity – they decided to make him into a meat product and spread salesman after the whole “eat Boonen on first date” deal from last season? I guess there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just kinda strange, you know? And their determination to hold not especially pleasant bike races in anything short of the worst weather. The tenacity there is admirable, but I wonder if Belgian folks have ever considered that maybe this sort of weirdness and persistence, practiced by a few million cycling fans at once, is what drove the reigning World Champ to live in Monaco? (Search “Monaco”.) Of course, Belgium has its advantages, too. One would certainly never find a headline claiming a rider “sprints” to victory in a TT. Speaking of the Tour of California, JJ Haedo won his second dash to the line in today’s stage, this time clowning on none other than Fast Freddy himself. Strong, strong start for the Toyota-United squad, though it’s doubtful the guys in stars and stripes will be giving Phonak and Floyd Landis any challenge for the GC lead.
Over at the Tour of Valencia, meanwhile, things have been a bit more interesting. Rabobank’s Alexandr Kolobnev got after a few bonus sprints and extended his lead over Milram’s Alessandro Petacchi to 17 seconds. Ale-Jet had to content himself with (*yawn*) yet another stage win, though to hear Lampre’s Danilo Napolitano tell it, it was a real squeaker this time around. I’m not entirely convinced, but since footage of that even is not forthcoming, I guess we’ll never know. Let’s drown our sorrows, then, in a fancy new product with a familiar-sounding name. And for those of you out there wondering why I am posting some five hours before the conclusion of domestic ToC coverage today, it’s because I got up at 6am EST (after heading to bed at 2:20am) to watch a friend of mine compete in the Women’s 4x6km Olympic Biathlon relay this morning. It was totally worth it, too, as she was the only American to snag any noticeable camera time. Now I’m exhausted, and I have eight hours of driving & brewery touring scheduled for tomorrow. I’ll have to put my faith in the VCR to catch ESPN 2’s Stage 4 action.