Thursday, April 3, 2008


Okay, okay. Since LIFE has prevented me from writing or riding much lately, here is a brief recap of some of the more interesting events of the last few weeks and my admittedly feeble take on them.

In no particular order…


I swear that I had a premonition of Cancellara winning Milan-Sanremo. Unfortunately I had already given my brother a podium prediction that did not include the Switzerlander so I have no formal proof, but I woke up that Sunday almost certain that Fab-Can was going to take the win. With the additional flat kilometers prior to the finish, I just kept thinking that if a small group got to the bottom of the final descent together, the race would be won by a late attack rather than a sprint.

It makes perfect sense when you think about it. If there is a small group going into the finale, the sprinters who made the selection will have maybe one teammate with them if they are lucky. And the chances that those teammates will be on the verge of cracking is pretty high. The team leaders (Pozzato, Freire etc) are not going to chase any moves at that point because they will be thinking about the sprint. So, beside the teammates that leaves maybe a couple guys who don’t have strong kicks to take the responsibility of chasing down a late attack with the slim hopes that they can bridge and get away solo by themselves. Not bloody likely. It was the perfect scenario for a late move and Cancellara made it look easy.

When Landaluze took off out of the final group, there was only Pellizotti, a Barloworld rider (Baden Cooke?) and a freewheeling Rebellin on the front. No one wanted to go with Landaluze because there was no chance in hell that he would win, so when Cancellara easily followed his wheel there was nobody else around them that was ready to go. When he decided to attack at that point, the race was over immediately.

The video of F-Can looking back and realizing that he had gotten a gap without even trying was priceless. He coasts up to the hapless Landaluze, glances over his left shoulder, sees that Pellizotti and the Barloworld guy are fried and was out of the saddle in full attack mode by the time he looked forward again. There are few times when bike racers look “athletic” and this was one of those occasions. Graceful. After nearly 200 miles on the road, The Can Man caught them at the perfect time and made it a race for second place in an instant. Again, he made it look easy and I feel stupid for not having recognized that he would do this earlier. Oh well.

Bike racing is strange in that it is usually very easy to determine how someone wins and successful tactics are often quite obvious after the fact. It’s easy to forget just how many infinitesimal events lead up to the finish though. It is obviously foolish to think that Cancellara’s victory in Sanremo was a given but he sure made it seem like a foregone conclusion despite the difficulty of the event. After all, in the words of Chuck Norris’ brother Jens Voigt, “The first thing to get blown up in a race is your race plan.”

Would you be surprised if Cancellara won either Flanders or Roubaix this year? Or both? I didn’t think so.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that Fillipo Pozatto had his hair done in corn-rows before the race. I don't have a joke for this because that sentence itself was funny enough. Again, Pozatto...corn-rows. Seriously, there are pictures and everything.

I know I heckled the Velo Fros earlier but I didn't anticipate this kind of statement from Pippo. He looked like Kevin Federline without the crappy facial hair. I am convinced this played a part in his loss to the bushy haired Cancellara.

San Dimas:

Is anyone else curious what the vibe was like in the bus after Rock Racing dropped the BALL on the final day of the San Dimas Stage Race? I suspect there were a few F-Bombs launched in the post-race meeting. Maybe something to the effect of “Who is Cameron F---ing Evans?” after realizing that Oscar Sevilla had just lost the overall to the Symmetrics rider by one second.

I don’t want to be too critical of the Rock Squad for a number of reasons but it is rare to see a Stage Race get decided by one second after a break in a final day criterium. Besides, I think the team probably feels bad enough and Len Pettyjohn’s disparaging comments after the race were probably sufficient for everyone. I don’t think the veteran TUP Director was terribly pleased with RR’s tactics and wasn’t exactly praising their effort in San Dimas. Do I smell a rivalry brewing? I hope so.

I don’t care how good the racing is…San Dimas will always be known as the hometown of Bill and Ted in my book. It seems that Oscar Sevilla certainly could have used their Phone Booth Time Machine last weekend. “Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.”

CU Bikes and Bunnies:

Quick question - Who generally shows up for your early season business park criteriums promoted by a local university?

If your answer to this question is “Half of the Toyota United Pro Cycling Team, a couple of HealthNet, Jelly Belly and Bissell pros in addition to Tom Danielson, Jonathan Baker and a handful of THF Realty guys including a fiercely motivated Stefano Barbieri” then you must live in Colorado and have attended the CU Bikes and Bunnies Criterium on Easter in Boulder.

The Pro/1/2 race was won by none other than Boulder’s Aussie transplant Sir Henk Vogels, after the Toyota Hit Men ended up putting 4 riders in a breakaway of 6 about midway through the event. With the winning break containing Vogels, Justin England, Ivan Stevic (All TUP) Frank Pipp (HealthNet) and Michael Cody (Jelly Belly) and being joined by a flying Ben Day (TUP as well) with a dozen laps to go, the race was Toyota-United’s to lose from early on. But with the ever-intimidating Sir Vogels regulating and barking orders at his breakaway companions, the chances of failure were significantly reduced and the team took care of business as usual.

With the leaders gaining a maximum time advantage of about 30 seconds over the surprisingly large and strung out peloton, TUP riders Chris Baldwin and Jonny Clarke were always near the front of the main field and diligently marked the efforts of Bissell’s Tom Zirbel, Slipstream-Chipotle’s Tom Danielson and THF Realty’s Stefano Barbieri. Despite valiant efforts by both Zirbel and Barbieri to reclaim the break in the final laps, Vogels and Company held their advantage and the big Aussie was able to cruise across the line easily while his family watched from the sidelines.

Cool Fact: Henk Vogels’ eldest son is named Jet. How rad is that? I wish my name was Jet. Sorry Mom and Dad but Jet is way cooler.

Criterium International:

What else needs to be said about the latest performance by my favorite non-American rider of all time? After his fourth victory they may as well rename the event “Jens Voigt’s House.” It's only a matter of time before the German starts doing jean ads and starring in a crime-drama-comedy based in the Southwest.

So, in conclusion…Fabian Cancellara is quite strong, Rock Racing needs a better watch sponsor, it’s a tough life being a Cat. 2 in Boulder and Jens Voigt eats pieces of sh*t like the Criterium International for breakfast. Any questions?

P.S. - Podium for Tour of Flanders*:

1) Sylvain Chavanel
2) Lief Hoste
3) Ned

*April Fools :(


Anonymous said...

Holy hell, what were they thinking when they let Voigt form a two-man breakaway on that first stage? "Nah, he's not really a breakaway specialist, and this isn't a race he's particularly suited to anyway, so we can probably reel him back in time for a bunch sprint." It's true that "successful tactics are often quite obvious after the fact," but it's not that hard to figure out in advance that two and two will make something like four.

By the way, that Tour of America guy should start funnelling his cash toward Milan-San-Dimas instead. Greenland, like the Cipressa, should reduce the odds of a mass-sprint by about 5% or so.

CaliRado Cyclist said...

Yeah, one would think they know who Voigt is at this point.

That stage was crazy though. Up and down the entire time. Not much benefit to being in the group on a course like that.

I think a 6 continent tour of 2-3 weeks each would be rad. Have the overall times carry over to the next event. The Tour of America guy is a bit of a question mark though.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there something called the "Tour of the Americas" back in the day -- some kind of pan-Carribean race?

Also, props to Devolder yesterday, but man, when are Flecha or Hincapie finally gonna win a monument?

Anonymous said...

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