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My return comes just in time to see one of the greats hang up his bike forever. Often criticized for off-season indolence and questionable tactics, Jan Ullrich’s legacy seems already cast as soft-bellied foil to his hard-nosed nemesis, Lance Armstrong. Though we at Cyclocosm regret the departure of one of our favorite pincushions, we hope that his disgraceful railroading serves to open the eyes of the anti-doping world to its excesses, particularly in Ullrich’s home country.
Of course, the loss of cycling’s most curiously purple lips was not the event that precipitated my return. It was, rather, the glorious Belgian season opener Het Volk. Philippe Gilbert returns to defend his ’06 title, but after a lackluster season, seems hardly a favorite. Perennial short-odds man Tom Boonen has been hot so far, but so have his teammates, both former and current. The premilinary start list can be printed from here, and I suggest slapping it on a dart board to pick the winner. Just be sure to cross Hincapie off first.