Postcard From August

And then it was August.

I know. It’s hard to get excited about the Clasica San Sebastian, the Tour of Poland, and the Benelux Tour. You don’t know where Burgos is, and you certainly have no idea what “Vattenfall Cyclassics” means. But rather than moan and groan about all you can’t do during the month of August, here are some suggestions for passing the time.

Peak. August is a perfect time for a late season peak, particularly if you just couldn’t get it done this past July. When I raced in Belgium, August constituted the doldrums of what amounted to a long season. Fewer starters, slower fields, and less aggressive fans all meant a much more user-friendly (albeit still ungodly difficult) racing experience. You probably encounter somewhat of the same wherever you live and compete. Maybe there’s a big stage race in July for which everyone traditionally tries to peak. Maybe several riders in your category were training for Nationals. Regardless, no matter where you live—if you can play your cards right—August is a month for taking the win that might have eluded you earlier in the season.
Sound like a cheap way to score some upgrade points? I think not. Savvy is the rider who looks at entire the season as a race in and of itself, knowing when to attack, when to sit-in, and when to save it for another day. Do you think Alessandro Ballan felt his win the Tour de Pologne was a cheap way to get some UCI points? Did someone come up to Tyler Farrar after winning in Hamburg and say, “well, you still didn’t win a stage in the Tour”? No. These riders were simply excited to take a win at a time when many other riders were too tired or slow to do it themselves. Maybe it’s a good month for you to do it too. After all, a win’s a win.

Spread Rumors. The UCI prohibits any official transfer announcements until September 1st, but that never stops anyone, especially in the age of Twitter. As a result, August is the perfect time to spread rumors. There are fewer major races, thus fewer opportunities to confirm or deny the veracity of what’s being said. But, the teams are still getting their ducks in a row for the following year, making it impossible for cats not to be let out of bags. Case in point: Team Radio Shack. Rumors are flying as to which riders will join Lance at “The Shack” in 2010. While the core of his Astana posse seems to be following him, there are still grumblings that stranger things might be afoot—like Levi Leipheimer and George Hincapie signing with BMC. Another rumor to watch? Alberto Contador appears destined to be somewhere other than Astana in 2010, despite the fact that his contract—and Astana’s management—seem well-positioned to prevent it. Regardless, enjoy this time; once the truth arrives, it will be quick and somewhat anti-climactic. Rumor-mongering is always much more fun than the facts themselves.

For the rest of the story, head over to our friends at Embrocation. But come back here to share your thoughts!

About Whit

My experiences might easily fit many cycling fans' definitions of “living the dream.” Since getting hooked on the sport watching Lance Armstrong win the 1993 U.S. Pro Championship, I've raced as an amateur on Belgian cobbles, traveled Europe to help build a European pro team, and piloted that team from Malaysia to Mont Ventoux. As a former assistant director sportif with Mercury-Viatel, I've also seen the less dreamy side of the sport – the side rife with broken contracts, infighting, and positive dope tests. These days, I live with my lovely wife in Pennsylvania and share my experiences and views on the sport at Bicycling Magazine, the Embrocation Cycling Journal, and at my own site, Pavé.
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