Archive | April, 2007

Was LBL that Great? More Puerto News.

30 Apr

Was the finish of this year’s Liege that good? Truth be told, I didn’t watch it live because 50 bucks (it was 36 or so last year – damn weak dollar) seemed a bit steep for two weekends’ worth of races. Pez seemed fairly psyched about the quality of the event, but post-race chatter and certainly a few of yesterday’s commenters thought otherwise. I’d like to believe Liege was somewhat harder fought, since you had riders like Horner and Schumi going all-in on unsuccessful attacks. Sure, there were late moves at Fleche, but they featured favorites who still podiumed, leading me to believe the effort might have been a bit couched.

Anyway, plenty of explanations are being floated for these suddenly crowded final kilometers. Some folks blame the weather, others are going back after it with banning the radios. I’m the sort that’ll chalk it up to the advent of the ProTour; it stocks the start line with more riders who are good enough to keep up, but not determined enough to attack, and forces the smaller squads out. Small name teams are willing to try crazy things for high-viz camera time, the hope of future invitations, and that one-in-a-million shot to win. Euskaltel, on the other hand, whose sponsors are 500 miles away, and who are guaranteed TV time at every big race of the year, could probably give a shake about how they do in Belgium.

Then there’s that most popular of explanations – drugs. Strangely, no one’s suggested it’s the reason for this less-than-selective racing – yet. But at the rate new doping allegations are coming out? Operation Puerto now has 107 riders involved in it. And is also 6000 pages long. And these new revelations come suspiciously close to the Giro for my taste, especially given that it’s the Gazetta dello Sport that’s releasing the latest news.

I mean, last week, Ivan Basso was a Giro contender – now he’s [been forced to] quit his team, while similarly accused riders on team Tinkoff remain unfettered by the recent developments. I’d be upset that all this political machination were molding the composition of the peloton, except that cases based off actual positive tests are similarly farcical.

DiLuca wins Killer LBL, Hinault, Eurosport

29 Apr

Now that’s how a one-day race is supposed to end. 30k of attacks while the creme de la creme try to whittle each other down. DiLuca and Schleck making the-all-or-nothing move at 4k; Valverde, stuck back in the group, trying to will the field back together; the daring jumps by DiLuca and Valverde as they realize their only chance of victory is solo; Frank Schleck, broken vertebrae and all, trying to churn through the lactate to fend off Valverde – sure beats the hell out of watching guys throw kid-glove attacks for 200k before having a mosh-and-weave contest up a 25% grade.
(more…)

Petacchi Back, Cunego Fit, Gibo Ready, Wiggins Angry.

27 Apr

Wooo! it’s Friday, 11:33pm, I just woke up from a nap and I’m starving…for some pro cycling madness! Begin with the racing, where Petacchi has returned to form in Germany. Well, returned to form kinda. Meanwhile, Damiano Cunego showed he’s fighting fit for next (¡OMG!) week’s Giro d’Italia with a GC win at Giro di Trentino. Next stop for Lampre’s little prince: dark horse instigator at Liege Bastogne Liege. Have you been reading the previews?
(more…)

Bjarne, Basso, and Bonehead Europeans

26 Apr

Ah, [inhales deeply] no racing today! (Ok, well, a little racing. But I’m gonna ignore it.) Nothing to fetter my otherwise irrepressible polemicism! I’ll begin with Bjarne Riis, who regrets nothing about the Ivan Basso affair. Bjarne, you bald-headed hypocrite, just a few months ago you were pining away like a jilted lover. You can’t be like “oh, I have regrets” one minute, then be like “I regret nothing!” the next. Sinatra would not approve. Furthermore, when you mumble about this “doubt hanging over the team”, are you forgetting about your old nickname? Or your earlier protege? Count yourself lucky there was no blood doping test when T-Ham rode for CSC.
(more…)

Fleche-Wal-*yawn*, More Euro Idiocy

25 Apr

Ah, La Fleche-Wallone, quite possibly my least favorite one-day race. Since 2004, it’s been decided by a moronic group sprint from the bottom of the at-least-entertainingly-steep Mur de Huy. The winner this year, as then, was Davide Rebellin. Score another major ’07 win for Gerolsteiner (and German teams in general), and another victory for predictable, stupid racing: the podium was filled out by the previous three years’ race winners.
(more…)

The Passion of the Floyd Continues

24 Apr

Ah, there’s nothing like struggling with the eccentricities of your local shop, assembling a new bike, changing banks, attempting to file a warranty claim with a defunct company, sending in ludicrous hard-copy forms after filing taxes on-line, correcting addresses (since the benefits and payroll offices at my “real” job can’t seem to compare records…) and doing boring, mind-numbing work to put you in a good mood, is there? Well, actually, there is – watching the anti-dope authorities attempt to prosecute offenders.
(more…)

My Selection Process, Saunier, Amstel Previews

19 Apr

You’ve probably wondered how I decide which races I’m gonna talk about here on Cyclocosm. Well, there’s a method to my madness; I call it the “HR Department Solution”. Obviously, at this point in the season, there are more races than I have time to cover, so when some race I’ve never heard of before, like Paris-Camembert, appears on my computer screen, this is my process:

  1. It’s sounds foreign, but not so foreign that it might be in Asia or Africa. So I’ll keep reading.
  2. “huh, isn’t Camembert a type of cheese?” Food names, like Amstel Gold or Classica Haribo, are good signs.
  3. Click the link and go immediately to results – What? A French podium sweep?
  4. Obivously, a good candidate for the circular file.

(more…)

End of the '07 Cobbles; LeFevere, Boonen

18 Apr

What a fantastic week to be a native Anglophone! First O’Grady takes Roubaix, then Mark Cavendish clips a whole bunch of big names to take the Scheldeprijs. I am officially putting Chris Horner on the top of my Amstel favorites list. Of course, T-Mobile hasn’t been doing poorly, either. Cavendish’s win marks their second in the past seven days as well. Maybe I should tip Patrick Sinkewitz for Amstel instead, though if I apply the formula perfectly, I’m stuck with the unlikely candidate of Michael Barry.
(more…)

Ugh, Misery

17 Apr

Do not worry, gentle reader! I have not forgotten you. But it’s been a long and brutal series of days. Stuck in New York, wandering around lost (relatively speaking) in Brooklyn at 4am. April Nor’easters. Oh, and my bike frame is broken, meaning I have a “G” of parts (not counting the parts I already have) sitting on the floor of my bedroom and depreciating rapidly. Awesome.

But I won’t let fate talk me down. No sir. Sometimes you just get screwed, like a Belgian at this weekend’s Roubaix. Can you imagine? Two decades of training in the worst, most miserable slop weather imaginable, on roads dominated by cobblestones and cow feces, surrounded by ugly, postwar buildings – and on the biggest race of the year it’s 70 degrees and sunny?! WTF! No wonder the race was taken by an Aussie and a Spaniard.
(more…)

Sarthe, Vasco, Roubaix Build-Up

12 Apr

Honestly, the only reason I even know the Circuit de Sarthe exists is because of that DVD, The Road To Paris. The 2001 Postal Squad is grumpy ’cause the haven’t won any races, and so, to remind everyone that the real goal is the TdF, Johann gives them a little pep talk.

Johann Bruyneel: Anyone one of you could win Circuit de Sarthe
Christian Vandevelde:(off-screen) Not Me!
Johann Bruyneel: Yes, Christian, even you

I guess Saul Raisin’s crash there grabbed a few headlines, too. Come to think of it, that same crash broke Tyler Ferrar’s collarbone – and yesterday, just over a year later, Ferrar brakes his knee. Man, what are the odds?
(more…)