So I watched Pais Vasco live today, streaming from Eurosport. It was a nasty little race course, with a profile resembling the EKG of a cardiac spasm. Debate seems to be raging over whether there were 12 or 13 categorized climbs, but either way, no fun. Sammy Sanchez took a very classy win, dropping the camera moto on the final descent to catch a doomed late break, before hopping away again with Alberto Contador, on a descent with just over 2k to go. Contador, who apparenlty sprints like a sick nun, tried a move at 400-300m, but never got more than a bike length, and Sanchez came by easily to win. Most of the favorites rattled in 2 seconds to a minute down, but Chris Horner (Davitamon) lost time due to a late flat (scroll down), while Rabobank “leader” (scroll down) Thomas Dekker got straight up shelled and limped home 11 minutes out (I think Boogerd (+:02 today) will be their new GC threat). Liberty Seguros’ Joseba Beloki, who had been hoping to show some form had a not-so-hot day, staying with the lead until the lower reaches of the penultimate climb before losing 5 minutes.
Today also marked the first stage of Circuit de la Sarthe, where Jan Ullrich wasn’t. Another German, Gerolsteiner’s Robert Forster, took the win, and threw up “The Nixon”; kind of curious, really, as his teammate Stefan Schumacher crashed with 150m to go and took out pretty much every other sprinter in the race. Saul Raisin (Credit Agricole) crashed even earlier, breaking a collarbone and putting his Giro in doubt. Another American out? Gerard Bisceglia, though no one seems to know why yet (I can hazard a guess…). Maybe VeloNews’ Patrick O’Grady would say it’s because Bisceglia failed to popularize the sport with Americans; certainly, that’s what I’d infer from this latest rant of his. Cycling.TV’s announcement that they will be carrying Parix-Roubaix, Fleche-Wallone and LBL, in addition to tomorrow’s Gent-Wevelgem (for which Tom Boonen is an unsurprising favorite) on their Premium channel should cheer Mad Dog up a touch. From that channel’s press release:
“Premium users only in North America can see all the action live this coming Sunday, April 9th on cycling.tv and we can also add to the list of Premium only races Liege-Bastogne-Liege 23rd and Fleche Wallonne 19th April. The time you see on cycling.tv is your local start time.”