Monday Musette – Giro, Belgium, Motors, Etc…

Yesterday was Memorial Day—the unofficial first day of summer—and I took advantage of a day-off from work to indulge–and ride. Here’s this week’s Musette.

1. It’s hard to believe this year’s Giro has come and gone—but it has. Credit Ivan Basso for quickly one-upping Alexander Vinokourov’s win in L-B-L with a grand tour win following his 2-year suspension—I’ll admit I was surprised. Before the race, things looked a bit dire for Liquigas. Franco Pellizotti was suspended, Nibali was a last-minute addition, and Basso was admittedly a bit behind in his preparation. In hindsight, everything worked-out perfectly for the men in green: Nibali was a perfect lieutenant, and Basso was able to ride himself into winning-form by the time the race entered its final, difficult week. Even better, he was able to do so confident in the knowledge that he was his team’s undisputed leader.

Now the big question for Liquigas is Vincenzo Nibali. Will he recover from his 3rd-place in time for another top performance in the Tour; or will his efforts have relegated him to uber-lieutenant to Roman Kreuziger. Time will tell, but I’m hopeful Nibali can rebound in time to give Italy a legitimate podium contender in July.

As for David Arroyo, he did everything he needed to in order to defend his spot on the final podium—too bad the achievement was overshadowed by the suspension of his teammate.

2. Cadel Evans once again fell short of winning a grand tour. While I thought he had the confidence and the fitness to win the race, it’s now obvious that Evans is more suited to one-day classics and short stage races. Still, I think he might have one last chance for grand tour glory at this year’s Vuelta.

Were I running BMC, I’d send him to the Dauphiné—aside from a certain Spaniard, there’s a relatively weak field competing and he Evans take an important victory. Then I would rest him during the Tour or send him only for training and stage wins. Following a post-Tour vacation, he can then build for the Vuelta—a race he can win without Valverde taking part—and Worlds in Australia.

It’s a pretty straightforward plan, but it hinges upon one minor concept: relinquishing the Tour dream. Cadel’s still at the peak of his career—how long can he continue to waste time chasing races he has virtually no shot of winning?

3. In other national tour news, bad weather and a puncture kept Philippe Gilbert from winning the Tour of Belgium. Imagine that! Bad weather and punctures in Belgium? 

4. Speaking of the ToB, Stijn Devolder took the overall win—maybe his time in the wind tunnel made a difference. I wonder if his win—plus a possible second Belgian Championship—will be enough for him to keep his spot with Quick Step. Then again, does he even want a spot with Quick Step?

5. In other racing news, the Tour of Luxembourg begins tomorrow, marking Lance Armstrong’s return to racing following his (un)timely crash in the Tour of California. Lance is quickly running out of time for peak Tour fitness. Luxembourg and Switzerland are his last two dates before July. My money’s on Frank Schleck, Andreas Kloden, and Giovanni Visconti to constitute the top-3.

6. Did you see that BMC’s Alessandro Ballan’s snuck onto the early start list for the Tour of Switzerland? Did I miss something?

7. I sometimes have a tough time explaining the difference between irony and coincidence to high school students. So I leave this one up to you: was the timing of Valverde’s suspension announcement ironic or coincidental? Discuss.

8. And by the way, I was only kidding when I hinted about it last week, but apparently some have taken the ball and started running with the motorized doping/boosting/cheating story—the conspiracy theory seems to be gaining momentum. Here’s a handy video that explains everything you need to know:

Would Davide Cassani have been so quick to throw stones had Pozzato won a cobbled monument? Regardless, it’s a spooky concept. I look forward to seeing what the UCI does to combat the threat—I bet it’s hilarious!

9. In related news, I’m pleased to announce that Pavé has become the official US importer for the Gruber Assist. (There’s something about a goat with wings that I think will look swell on our next jersey.)

Enjoy your week!

Share your comments below.

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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11 Responses to Monday Musette – Giro, Belgium, Motors, Etc…

  1. Uli says:

    BMC closed its internal Ballan investigation (that's how they call it themselves) last week.

    Cheers
    Uli
    http://www.passista.it

  2. WSY says:

    Thanks Uli! Appreciate the info! For the rest of us, here's a link:

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iqUQcGd5MKUurAK1-LKejTSq1oAAD9FVTDQ80

    Not sure how I missed that one…

  3. Anonymous says:

    It will be hard for Cadel to win the Vuelta when the race isn't even on BMC's calendar.

  4. WSY says:

    Thanks, Anon. for reiterating my point more clearly than I did. BMC indeed isn't riding the Vuelta, but perhaps should be if it wants Evans to get a grand tour win.

  5. stanley says:

    Were I Devolder, would I even want to be in the same room as Lefevere? I'd be part surprised, part disappointed if he stayed on. The question would be where next? He had a shot at Discovery and that went so-so, at Lotto he would be second fiddle again (speaking of Lotto – will Gilbert stay on?), perhaps Devolder's fortune lies somewhere else? He would surely benefit from new environs, and is a great addition to almost all teams.

    the Shack? BMC? SKY?

  6. Big Mikey says:

    Basso was amazing. I remember earlier this year, he was not riding so great. Apparently he got it together.

    I hope I'm not talking out of school here, but does Scarponi's near podium at the Giro surprise anyone? The hardest GT in recent memory, and he finishes only down 2 minutes and change?

    Great thoughts on Evans. He will never win the TdF, and he could win a ton of one-day races and shorter tours. He's got a legitimate shot to be an absolute force in the peleton the rest of the year, as he's already shown this year.

  7. Eos says:

    As per the Devolder situation for next year. I think Pave discussed him potentially going to the Shack last year given his cozy relationship with Bruyneel, Demol and Lance, but did anyone see the last stage of the tour of Belgium Sunday? Devolder playing nice in the sandbox and allowing Ben Hermans (a belgian from Radioshack) to win the stage while he won the overal….I bet he was hoping Johan and Lance were watchning….

  8. Smack says:

    Time to open up a can of worms? Vino comes back and wins LBL and is vilified…concerns raised about his disrespect to the peloton and the sport, and questions about whether he is actually clean. Basso wins the Giro and is vindicated, Basso love fest begins :) Seriously though, thoughts? Personally, I really dislike Vino but just wondering if you guys feel there is a bit of a double standard out there…I could be outta line but wanted to open this up for discussion…

  9. Stanley says:

    Oh dude, I'd pick Vino over Basso anytime.

    Why? Vino is just so much more fun to watch. Basso was a boring rider at CSC and he has not changed much. Vino animates races right from the gun, and in my book gung-ho is more entertaining than stalemate.

    Ethics? At the Giro?! Pffft.

  10. Touriste-Routier says:

    Smack, you nailed it! There are loads of double standards out there. I think many of them are based upon nationality (we protect our own) but even more so, the "Cult of Personality". Some riders are more likable than others, and hence are better received.

  11. WSY says:

    Great comments, everyone! Yes, double-standards do exist, but in the Vino-Basso case, I think Basso gets the love because he was much more contrite than Vino. Basso admitted his mistakes (well, almost), served his time, and was humble in his return. Vino still hasn't really admitted anything, and was a complete jerk when he came back last fall.

    My two cents…but T-R, put it best: Basso's just a more likably guy.

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