Yesterday was Memorial Dayâ€”the unofficial first day of summerâ€”and I took advantage of a day-off from work to indulge–and ride. Hereâ€™s this weekâ€™s Musette.
1. Itâ€™s hard to believe this yearâ€™s Giro has come and goneâ€”but it has. Credit Ivan Basso for quickly one-upping Alexander Vinokourovâ€™s win in L-B-L with a grand tour win following his 2-year suspensionâ€”Iâ€™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 teamâ€™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 Iâ€™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 podiumâ€”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, itâ€™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 yearâ€™s Vuelta.
Were I running BMC, Iâ€™d send him to the DauphinÃ©â€”aside from a certain Spaniard, thereâ€™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 Vueltaâ€”a race he can win without Valverde taking partâ€”and Worlds in Australia.
Itâ€™s a pretty straightforward plan, but it hinges upon one minor concept: relinquishing the Tour dream. Cadelâ€™s still at the peak of his careerâ€”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 winâ€”maybe his time in the wind tunnel made a difference. I wonder if his winâ€”plus a possible second Belgian Championshipâ€”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 Armstrongâ€™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 moneyâ€™s on Frank Schleck, Andreas Kloden, and Giovanni Visconti to constitute the top-3.
6. Did you see that BMCâ€™s Alessandro Ballanâ€™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 Valverdeâ€™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 storyâ€”the conspiracy theory seems to be gaining momentum. Hereâ€™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, itâ€™s a spooky concept. I look forward to seeing what the UCI does to combat the threatâ€”I bet itâ€™s hilarious!
9. In related news, Iâ€™m pleased to announce that PavÃ© has become the official US importer for the Gruber Assist. (Thereâ€™s something about a goat with wings that I think will look swell on our next jersey.)
Enjoy your week!
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