1. Some bad news broke last week when Caisse dâ€™Epargne announced it would no longer sponsor a professional cycling team following the 2010 season. Saxo Bank, Milram, Caisse dâ€™Epargneâ€”thatâ€™s 3 Pro Tour title sponsors. I said it once and Iâ€™ll say it again: this is not good. I know that we keep seeing new sponsors enter the sport, but when programs of such stature lose them, there are bound to unexpected side effects.
In this case, hereâ€™s one: I still think the reason Alberto Contador was willing to ride another year for Astana was because he knew he would have a safe landing place in the form of Caisse dâ€™Epargne in 2011. By thenâ€”assuming the Caisse were still aroundâ€”Valverde would have exhausted his teamâ€™s dwindling hopes for Tour de France success and a frustrated-by-playing-second-fiddle Luis Leon Sanchez might have left for greener pastures, paving the way for Contador to play messiah. No chance for that nowâ€”unless a new sponsor is foundâ€”quickly. Maybe this is just the excuse Fernando Alonso needs to take the plunge? Gosh knows, Unzue has the infrastructure necessary to run a team at the sportâ€™s highest levels. Why would Alonso start from scratch when he can buy his way in at the top?
And don’t forget Quick Step. How ironic would it be for Contador to have a bad year with Astana, no Spanish safety net, and end-up with Quick Step–riding an Eddy Merckx?
2. When I was in high school, I was obsessed with Chemistry class (at least as much one can be while still trying to get dates with mildly attractive girls). At the time I remember being incredibly impressed with the Periodic Table of Elementsâ€”how could such seemingly disparate elements fit together so neatly to form one tidy little diagram? It boggled me then and still does now.
Iâ€™m not sure if you read Cyclocosm (if you donâ€™t, you should), but this wowed me in a way that takes me right back to Mr. Reaâ€™s 10th grade Honors Chem. Class. Nice job, Cosmo. Although I do have some ideas…
3. Every once in a while, someone somewhere gets a little too â€œpoeticâ€ with a race recap. Case in point: VeloNewsâ€™ report on Saturdayâ€™s Stage 5 of the Tour Down Under. Here was my favorite over-the-top use of figurative langugae:
â€œ…his [Sanchezâ€™s] victorious right arm circling like a lasso and left hand beating the Caisse dâ€™Epargne logo on his chest like a monkey in heatâ€
Like a monkey in heat? Whatâ€™s that look like, VeloNews? Oh wait, weâ€™ll never knowâ€”because you deleted it.
4. And speaking of the Tour Down Under, the race ended yesterday with another circuit race victory for Team Sky. All in all it was a fantastic event for all who took part; inspired racing, great weather, and only a handful of abandons meant everyone is going home happyâ€”especially Andre Greipel, the first leader of the Pro Tour Ranking.
5. And how about Liquigasâ€™ new wunderkind: Peter Sagan? Was it me, or was he in just about every major breakaway? It will be interesting to see how he performs back on the Continentâ€”the European one, that is. The kidâ€™s got pedigree too: in 2008 he won the Junior World XC Mountain Bike Championship and took silver in cyclocross. Look for him to continue to impress come Classics-time. Liquigas is looking more and more like one of the most loaded teams in the peloton.
6. It was a good start for my prognosticating tooâ€”Andre Greipel was an easy pick for the overall, but even my dark horse got in the act when Chris Sutton won the final stage. Not too shabbyâ€”for January.
Thatâ€™s it for todayâ€™s Musette. Whatâ€™s on your minds as January closes and February beckons?