While I admit that we didnâ€™t spend much time covering them, there were other races this weekend besides the Belgian Opening Weekend.Â Hereâ€™s a quick run-down of what you might have missed:
1. Lampreâ€™s Michele Scarponi took the final stage and Liquigasâ€™ Peter Sagan the overall title of the Giro di Sardegna Saturday after a 174-kilometer stage that finished atop a 5-kilometer dirt climb in Gesturi. For both riders, their impressive wins bode well for the next events on their programs. Sagan goes to Paris-Nice as an overwhelming favorite for the winâ€”he took two stages in last seasonâ€™s editionâ€”while Scarponi heads to Italyâ€™s Tirreno-Adriatico to avenge last yearâ€™s narrow loss to Stefano Garzelli. Scarponiâ€™s win his first for Lampre, who took another important victory thanks to Damiano Cunegoâ€™s win in Stage 2. Cunego finished third Saturday and third overall as well, an indication that he might be back to his former, classic-winning self.
2. From Sardinia, the majority of the field went to Cagliari, Italy for Sundayâ€™s Classica Sarda, where Sardegna-winner Sagan was forced to third on the day by Katushaâ€™s Pavel Bruttâ€”the first win of the season for the Russian squad. The final selection was a veritable whoâ€™s who of early-season stars including Sagan and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale), Robert Kiserlovski (Astana), Cunego and Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre-ISD), Emanuele Sella and Robert Ferrari (Androni Giocattoli), Oscar Gatto and Elia Favilli (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli), and Geraint Thomas (Team Sky). An aggressive finale ultimately produced a worthy-winner in Brutt, who took a 2-second win over Sella.
3. Meanwhile, in Switzerland, Saturdayâ€™s Gran Premio Regio Insubrica produced another candidate for the overall win in Tirreno as Italian National Champion Giovanni Visconti emerged victorious for Farnese Vini. Team Type 1â€™s Jure Kocjan was secondâ€”the young Slovenianâ€™s fifth top-10 result of the season.
4. At the GP Lugano the next day, Liquigasâ€™ Ivan Basso took his first win of the year, beating Geox-TMCâ€™s Fabio Duarte. Visconti once again beat Kocjan to take the sprint for third. The victory has some people wondering if Bassoâ€™s a favorite for Tirreno, especially with an ITT closing out the race.
5. But any disappointment at Geox following Duarteâ€™s loss was quickly consoled by Italian neo-pro Matteo Pelucchi, who won the field sprint at the Clasica de Almeria. It was the restructured teamâ€™s first win after a much-troubled off-seasonâ€”and given the fact that Pelucchi was one of Italyâ€™s most successful U23â€™s in 2010, expect more of the same from the talented, young speedster.
6. And last but not least, many were lucky enough to attend this past weekendâ€™s 7th edition of NAHBS, the North American Handmade Bicycle Show. There was apparently much to seeâ€”for a terrific and thorough overview, head over to John Prollyâ€™s Flickr page for photos and slideshows of pretty much everything that mattered. Thanks for your time and effort, John. From what Iâ€™ve seen so far, my personal favorites are Ritcheyâ€™s Swiss Cross and P-29er, Cieloâ€™s CX Racer, and anything by Nick Crumpton.
That about does it for this weekâ€™s Monday Musette. Come back later this week for the final two teams in our 2011 Season Preview, a seasonâ€™s worth of International Cyclocross Awards, Valentin Scherzâ€™s latest Letter from Abroad, and a few new features weâ€™re sure youâ€™ll enjoy.
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