Weâ€™ve got a lot to get to todayâ€”letâ€™s dive right in! First, a brief recap of the weekendâ€™s events:
1. While I didnâ€™t come right out and say he would win, give me some credit for indicating that Frantisek Rabon was someone to watch for. Yes, there were bigger names behind him, but at this point in the season, Rabon had to be considered a threat. Aside from Rabon, Bradley Wiggins seems to be building quite nicely for April and May. Iâ€™m eager to see how well he fares at Paris-Roubaix and the Giro. As for Lance, Bruyneelâ€™s apparently decided that Radio Shack needs more racing, an uncharacteristic admission from a team usually known to have all its Iâ€™s dotted and Tâ€™s crossed.
2. In Lâ€™Eroicaâ€”I mean, the Montepaschi Strade Biancheâ€”Astanaâ€™s successful start to the season continued with Maxim Iglinsky taking the win following an aggressive ride in the final 10km. Pippo Pozatto, a man who seems to be simmering just in time for Flanders and Roubaix finished 4th. Garminâ€™s Ryder Hesjedal was 5th on the white roads; Lâ€™Eroicaâ€™s quickly becoming for him what Roubaix is for George Hincapie.
3. And speaking of Lâ€™Eroica, many of us were dismayed at the lack of live coverage available. Clearly this race has yet to warrant the kind of large-scale publicity we all know it deserves. For a good video overview though, Iâ€™ve found 2 sources on YouTubeâ€”one in 5 parts, the other in 2 parts. Hereâ€™s a link to 1 of 5; and hereâ€™s a link to 1 of 2. Enjoy!
4. And finally, the weekend closed with an exciting 8km time trial to open Paris-Nice. For those in the know, Lars Boomâ€™s win was anything but a surprise; if he can continues to ride this well he must considered a favorite for the overall. Iâ€™m particularly eager to see how he handles the hills later in the week, as I have a hunch he might turn-out to be better suited to the Ardennes than the cobbled classics.
While all of the favorites were grouped toward the top of the standings after yesterday, things got more interesting today when wind and crashes caused some problems at the end of the stage. Greg Henderson took the win while pre-race favorites such as Alberto Contador, Samuel Sanchez, and Levi Leipheimer lost time, as a small group (including Boom) slipped-away to finish 17 seconds ahead of the next group. While everyoneâ€™s still sitting relatively near the top, Boomâ€™s a rider that cannot afford to be ignoredâ€”these lost seconds might prove tough to win back. There are still several hard stages left, but Boom looks to have the brains and the brawn necessary to win.
5. If like me, you sometimes have a hard time watching these races live (for training, work, or family reasons); Iâ€™ve found something you might find helpful: YouTubeâ€™s World Cycling Channel 2 seems to have videos of just about event soon after itâ€™s happened. Itâ€™s not live, but itâ€™s worth-it just the sameâ€”especially if you can only watch your races in small doses due to other commitments.
Did you miss the final stage in the Vuelta Murcia? WCC2 has it. Did you want to see the Prologue from Paris-Nice but had a ride in the morning and a family dinner in the evening? Donâ€™t worry, itâ€™s there. What about the GP Lillers? Oui, they have that too. Sorry you missed the 3-Days of West Flanders? Normally itâ€™s there directly, as the Belgians say. Check it out!
6. If these videos are too long though, consider Cosmoâ€™s â€œHow the Race Was Wonâ€ series over at Cyclocosm. Cosmo gets all the highlights and commentary into one short, digestible segmentâ€”perfect for a coffee break or bus ride. Even better, heâ€™s given me permission to embed them here at PavÃ©, further expanding the content we have to offer. Why not get started nowâ€”hereâ€™s Het Nieuwsblad:
7. Iâ€™m starting to worry a little bit about BMC. A team thatâ€™s so stacked really needs to have more of a presence at the front of spring racesâ€”especially since the squadâ€™s chances become much longer at the end of April. Now theyâ€™ve been uninvited to Dwars door Vlaanderen, an important yet expendable semi-classic run the Wednesday before the E3 Prijs and Ghent-Wevelgem. I understand taking the â€œslow and steadyâ€ approach to building your form, but at some point weâ€™ll need to know for certain whether Ballan, Hincapie, and Burghardt have what it takes to be protagonists this spring or not.
Good luck to Xacobeo, by the way. Have fun in Flanders.
8. Itâ€™s spring, and that means time for embrocation. One of the sportâ€™s fastest growing trends is the homemade, all-natural embro market, with Mad Alchemy setting the bar for performance, price, and quality. At NAHBS, I had the pleasure of meeting both Mad Alchemyâ€™s Peter Smith, as well as Brad Ford, the owner of Classic Cycling Essentials, a local guy and the new kid on the block in the embrocation market. Both were happy to donate some samples that Iâ€™m looking forward to trying soon. Stop-by both sites and sample their waresâ€”Mad Alchemy has a wonderful chamois cream, while CCE makes Mustache Waxâ€”for the hipster you love.
9. And if youâ€™re in the Mid-Atlantic region and looking for a reason to buy some embrocation, consider these two rides: the Hell of Hunterdon and the Foolâ€™s Classic. Both feature some of Buckâ€™s Countyâ€™s finest roads, and both offer few conflicts with other eventsâ€”domestic and abroad. And if you attend, you might even get a free PavÃ© sticker. If thatâ€™s not reason enough of a reason to come then what is? Pre-registration for Hell ends on March 28th and for the Foolâ€™s Classic on April 18th. Hope to see you there!
10. And last but not least, if you havenâ€™t yet added Michael Barryâ€™s blog, Le MÃ©tier, to your RSS reader you need to. Heâ€™s without a doubt the most talented English-speaking writer/rider on the professional scene, and offers a glimpse into the pro life that few can match. His â€œClassicsâ€ post is just a taste of what he has to offer. Photos too!
Thatâ€™s it for todayâ€”come back tomorrow for a Tirreno-Adriatico Preview.
And as always, share your comments below.