I guess Iâ€™m still a bit jet-lagged from my trip out west. Hereâ€™s the weekâ€™s Musette:
1. The Giro has blown wide openâ€”sort of. Monte Zoncolan and the Plan de Corones have started the reshuffling of the general classification, but thereâ€™s still some ground to be made up if the men favored to win the race are to assume their places at the top of the classification. Caisse dâ€™Epargneâ€™s David Arroyo has proven to be a stubborn maglia rosa, fighting valiantly to maintain his lead. Donâ€™t forget: Arroyo finished 10th-overall last year, and only needs to react to maintain his placing. If he takes the race one day at a time between now and Sunday, following attacks and riding within himself to limit his losses if dropped, we might have a surprise winner come Sunday.
Ivan Basso and Cadel Evans appear to be the biggest threats to Arroyoâ€™s lead; they sit 2:27 and 3:09 behind the Spaniard. That said neither of the two seem willing or able to take the race by the horns, so to speak. Evans lost some time Sunday, but regained it yesterday in the mountain ITT. This might come all the way down to Sundayâ€”an ITT that favors Evans; or it could come down to the rider with the strongest teamâ€”Basso and Liquigas. And while weâ€™re at it, letâ€™s credit Richie Porte for a fantastic ride. He sits in 3rd-place at the moment; should he make it through Saturday without losing too much time we could see him use Sundayâ€™s ITT to score a final placing inside the top-5.
As for Italy, the nationâ€™s hopes lie with Basso and his talented Liquigas team. Theyâ€™ve turned things around since Pozzatoâ€™s stage win, taking 3 impressive wins in the mountains. That said, with Basso hitting his top form at the right time, anything less than an overall title will be a disappointment.
2. Heading West, we got the Tour of California we thought we would, with Michael Rogers taking a close win over David Zabriskie and Levi Leipheimer. The race proved to be more animated than expected, making it ideal training for several stars looking for a good Tour de France this July. I was in California for the first few days of the raceâ€”look for a bit of a report sometime soon.
3. Did you hear that Denis Menchov dropped-out of todayâ€™s first stage of the Tour of Belgium? Talk about feast or famine. When Menchovâ€™s on, heâ€™s really on; but when heâ€™s off, itâ€™s almost embarrassing. If we donâ€™t see anything by the end of the DauphinÃ© I think itâ€™s safe to write him off as a threat in this yearâ€™s Tour.
4. And speaking of the Tour of Belgium, Philippe Gilbert won the rainy and windy Stage 1. Looks like heâ€™s picking up right where he left off in April. I smell a new jersey in his future as Champion of Belgium.
5. From racing to doping: Iâ€™m still trying to wrap my head around the Landis accusations. Joe Lindseyâ€™s done his usual fine job of putting some thoughts down over at the Boulder Report. It looks like this is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better. The Feds are involved now, and theyâ€™re talking about fraudâ€”a word thatâ€™s not thrown around unless someoneâ€™s taking Landisâ€™ story very seriously.
As for me, I was a Floyd supporter when he tested positive in the 2006 Tour. I knew him well at Mercury-Viatel in 2001 and found him to be a clean, honorable guy. My colleagues and I silently wondered what his move to US Postal would do for his career. I had hoped his preparation wouldnâ€™t changeâ€”clearly I was wrong. Itâ€™s a shame he didnâ€™t have the courage in 2006 to say what he said last week; he might have been spared the skepticism heâ€™s currently facing.
6. From blood to motors: read this; then watch this. Are you thinking what Iâ€™m thinking?
7. And take a look at this video. Does anyone else wonder if Lance is playing it up for the camera? Can he really be this insecure? Notice the photographer grabbing the WSJ money-shot right as Lance scrapes himself off the deck.
8. Last but not least, Iâ€™m thinking of getting a new bike. Any suggestions?
Share your comments, insights, and feedback below. Who is your pick for Giro? What did you think of this yearâ€™s ATOC? And what are we to make of Landis and Armstrong?
Nice post! The Giro has been one of the most exciting grand tours in a while. I give a lot of credit to Universal Sports for showing it on TV here so people can see that races outside of the Tour de France are worth following. As far as a new bike goes, right now I am really jonesing for a BMC. I have Team Machine taste, but unfortunately Road Racer money. Hopefully I'll be landing one soon…Thanks as always for writing this Blog, I always look forward to checking it out. Any chance we might see more Pave merch again?
New bike: Cervelo's coming out with a sub 650 gram frame. 10,000 bucks. Guru's Photon is around 700 grams for half the price. Parlee Z5, a bit heaveier for around 5K.
Edge has some low profile carbon beauts that weigh in at 900 gr. Killer for the mtns. Gruppo? Can't go wrong with any of the top offerings by the elite 3, but I'd be tempted to try one of Rotor's Q-rings with whatever I went with. Throw in a carbon saddle and compact bars and you'd have on smokin' hot 12 lb. race rocket.
Giro pick: none. it's too good a race, uncallable.
This year's ATOC: paled in comparison to the Giro. The Giro is so good I found myself actively not caring about the ATOC.
Landis-Armstrong: I like Floyd, but he's mental to do what he's doing. Armstrong? Gotta expect he'll defend himself.
Any one besides me hate when the term "doping" is used for anything other than drugs? Blood doping used to be called blood boosting, which is more accurate.
"Motorized Doping" isn't doping; it is just plain motorized or motor assisted. If this sport ever wants to get over the dope stigma, WE need to start using proper terminology.
Thanks for the great comments, everyone–and the recommendations.
T-R, here's an article from the NY Times that seems to get the terminology right. Seems like "old school's" the new "new school".
Thanks for reading everyone!
Oops! Forgot the link:
Giro is great at the moment compelling viewing, and typically it has that old school Giro feel with a daft break going and favourites desperately tring to wrestle it back, typical of the 50's and 60's, just brilliant.
I'm genuinely delighted that Federal Agencies are now involved in the Flandis/Armstrong thing.
I rather suspect that it's going to get really really horribly messy for procycling. I think it's neeeded though the UCI have had an eternity to sort things out and have just done far too little far too late about it all. No matter what the truth is about the Armstrong donations, it shows either a an absurd level of naievity or a degree of arrogance that's just unheralded either way it's not an appropriate position for a governing body to be in. Although it's easy to see how Money is such a huge factor for the UCI as riders suspensions seem to be linked to the degree of fine they can pay or the lawyesr they can muster see the two young poles who've behaved no worse than may other riders and have been handed two and four year bans. If I remember correctly wasn't Pat McQuaid a shoe in by Hein Verbruggen?
I foresee incredibly dark times, but if pressed properly by the US legal system it could be the dawning of a new not only clean but honest and decent governing body that's respected, rather than mocked
Great Musette Whit! That "motorized doping" vid was freaky…new bike? Wow, where to begin? That Pinarello Dogma sure looks nice…what about a Ridley Noah or a Cervelo S3? $$$$$$$$$$
I have not seen ANY of the Giro this year which sucks considering it has been so exciting. The minute that sucker comes out on DVD I'll buy it.
Landis and Big Tex? Where to begin. I think Landis has lost his marbles but also think that "where there is smoke, there is fire". Armstrong has simply had waaay too many former teammates get busted or come forward admitting doping for him to somehow not be involved in one way, shape or form. No doubt he is an exceptional athlete but coming back in 2009 off the couch to take 3rd in the TDF? I dunno. No proof of any wrong doing,but… I can only imagine the carnage if Armstrong ever admits any guilt in doping or is caught…talk about destruction of the sport.
Whit I will be riding a Cannondale SuperSix Hi-Mod for a few weeks, i'll gladly provide some feedback on that bad boy when I am all done with it, should be putting about 1000 km's or so on it for the time I have it. I have never ridden C-Dale before so very much looking forward to discovering something new.
As for the Giro, it will always be and ever remain my favourite stage race on the calendar. Drama drama drama thus far, just like I like it. After that crazy Strade stage that many (including myself) considered one of the finest stages in living memory (well the last 30k anyways) I did not think we would witness it's immediate successor for best stage thus far just a couple of days later with that crazy 56 rider split/break!
Michael, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the Super Six! Two of my friends have them and love them. I'll be eager to see what you think.
Giro pick – Ivan Basso
ATOC – Boring
Armstrong – guilty
Oh yes and this years Giro has been the most entertaining grand tour I can remember. So many classic stages!
Expect to see a full review of the Giro from me at some point next week.