Here’s this week’s Musette—finally on the proper day too!
1. The renamed Criterium du Dauphiné kicked-off yesterday with a 6.8-kilometer Prologue in Evian-les-Bains. Alberto Contador won the event over young American Tejay Van Garderen and Radio Shack’s Janez Brajkovic. While Contador’s win was impressive, he was quick to play it down, bluntly stating he has no intention of defending the jersey.
Contador’s victory was hardly a shock, but several Prologue performances were, including David Millar and Denis Menchov losing 15 and 25 seconds respectively. While Ivan Basso illustrated at this year’s Giro that coming to a grand tour a bit under form can benefit a rider in a tough final week, it’s hard to see Menchov having such luck similar given his shaky track record in le Grand Boucle.
That said, there’s still a lot of racing left. With no true field sprinters and an aggressive parcours, we should see an exciting race for the yellow jersey as more than a few men stand a chance to wrestle it from Contador’s shoulders before the long time trial Wednesday. Stay tuned.
2. The Tour of Luxembourg finished yesterday with Vacansoleil’s Matteo Carrara taking a close win over Frank Schleck. Radio Shack’s Lance Armstrong finished third and promptly declared himself back on track for the Tour. Really Lance? You’ve missed about 10 days of racing, been sick, crashed on your face, and are currently facing the most serious doping accusations of your career. How do 5 days in Luxembourg suddenly put you back on track?
3. Speaking of on-track, HTC-Columbia’s Matthew Goss won yesterday’s TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship (the TDBPICC, for short). Interestingly, lost in the Cavendish-Greipel feud has been the quiet evolution of Goss into one of the world’s best up-and-coming field sprinters. He took a stage in the Giro last month and now hard-fought win in Philly. Goss should make it easier for HTC to let Greipel go this coming off-season; he gives HTC a second sprinter to bring wins in races Cavendish doesn’t attend. If Greipel can’t keep his mouth shut—which he won’t if he’s left home from the Tour again—look for Goss to get a Vuelta start in his place. Remember, this is an HTC-Columbia team that was rumored to have sat riders at the end of last season after they had reportedly signed deals elsewhere. Just sayin’.
4. It looks like Heinrich Haussler has put his knee troubles behind him. A good friend and I have long maintained a theory that the best homeopathic remedy—for anything—is crashing a car. Looks like Haussler might agree.
5. I’ll admit I was a bit shocked to read about Ivan Basso’s plans to attempt the Giro/Tour Double. Do you think he can do it? The last one to accomplish the feat was an Italian—Marco Pantani in 1998—but with Kreuziger, Nibali, and Basso in the mix, I can’t help but think Liquigas might have too many cooks and not enough pots to go around.
6. And last but not least, last week showed us all that it’s never too early to start talking about next year, with rumors on several possible transfers hitting the news.
Stijn Devolder seems to be a popular choice for many teams with Radio Shack and Vacansoleil looking to be the most likely destinations for the Belgian star. I’ve been predicting a Lance-Devolder reunion at the Shack since last summer—does Vacansoleil really have a deal made or is Devolder’s agent just trying to raise Radio Shack’s offer? And if Devolder does indeed land with the Dutch team, what does that mean for Bjorn Leukemans?
Another report has surfaced claiming Alberto Contador will be joining the Spanish Caisse d’Epargne team next season with a hefty 4-year contract. (Luis Leon Sanchez has to be going crazy by now.) That’s funny considering Caisse d’Epargne has yet to announce a new title sponsor. Will he bring Specialized with him—hard to see that happening as the team’s have been riding Pinnarello’s for as long as I can remember.
And finally, Fabian Cancellara’s rumored to be heading elsewhere too, given the lack of an official announcement from Bjarne Riis. I assume this is yet another ploy; it allows Bjarne Riis to pressure his potential suitors into closing the deal, lest they risk losing Cancellara to someone else.
Which transfer do you expect to make the most headlines over the coming weeks?
Share your comments below!