Monday Musette – Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico

Fotoreporter Sirotti

 

Here’s this week’s Monday Musette:

1. It was an ironic yet predictable final weekend at Paris-Nice—ironic in that the usually warm and sunny end to the Race to the Sun was marred by cold and wet weather, and predictable in that pre-race favorite Tony Martin held on to his lead to take the first major win of his career.

2. For Martin, the win is confirmation of the young German’s incredible Grand Tour potential. One of the best two or three time trialists in the world, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in July should he continue to develop as a climber. Perhaps even more importantly, this weekend’s poor weather tested Martin’s mental toughness during two days in which many others could barely keep themselves upright. In my opinion, Tour winners need to be able to time trial, climb, and remain mentally tough during moments of adversity. Martin seems to be close to possessing all three.

3. Andreas Kloden gave Germany a 1-2 finish, taking second in a race he won back in 2000. Kloden was also the first of Radio Shack’s three top-10 finishers, a good sign as the team attempts to rebuild after the retirement of Lance Armstrong. Janez Brajkovic finished seventh, an especially positive sign as the 2010 Dauphiné winner continues his bid to lead the team at the this year’s Tour.

4. As for Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins, his third-place finish was the first good result we’ve seen from the Brit since his win in last year’s Giro Prologue. In yesterday’s Feed Zone, some criticized Wiggo for simply following wheels on his way to the podium. But let’s remember, last year he struggled just to do even that—and it’s not as if he attacked his way to a fourth-place finish in the 2009 Tour de France either. For the sake of himself and his team, let’s hope Wiggins has redefined himself as a rider able to contend in short stage races with long time trials.

5. Another rider who seems to be coming along quite nicely is Cofidis’ Rein Taaramae. While it might be a bit soon to label the Estonian a top-10 contender in a Grand Tour, he does appear to be someone able to challenge for victories in races such as the Tour of Romandie, Catalunya, and the Dauphiné. After all, he’s only 23 and has plenty of time to progress.

6. Rabobank’s Baukke Mollema—another youngster—took a well-deserved ninth-place overall, a continuing sign of the Dutchman’s development. Look for him and Gesink to form quite a formidable twosome over the next several years.

7. Tejay Van Garderen might want to think twice before he tweets.

8. Meanwhile, the rest of the peloton is racing in Italy; they contested three long stages at Tirreno-Adriatico since Saturday. In a race that has become a showcase for spring classic contenders, Michele Scarponi and Philippe Gilbert took wins Saturday and Sunday, while Cadel Evans (my prediction to win the GC) has the lead heading into tomorrow’s final ITT after an imposing win today in Macerata.

9. Gilbert’s victory Sunday begs the inevitable question: does the Belgian have the form necessary to disrupt the sprinters’ plans at Milan-San Remo? We’ll see soon enough, but the way he’s been riding, it’s going to be hard to bet against him. In fact, I’m starting to think a large, select group might suit him.

10. And what about the rest of the cobbled contenders? Boonen, Pozzato, Ballan, Hincapie, and Cancellara all appear to be right where they need to be for success during the first ten days in April.

11. As for Scarponi, he and Damiano Cunego seem to have quite a good thing going—Cunego appears to be especially strong heading into the classics and deserves mention as an outsider at Milan-San Remo.

12. Looking ahead to tomorrow’s ITT, Evans, Ivan Basso, Cunego, Scarponi, and Robert Gesink are all grouped within five seconds of one another. Of these five, Evans and Basso are the obvious favorites to take the overall victory, while Vincenzo Nibali, Marco Pinotti, and Tiago Machado—at :12, :27, and :32-back, respectively—deserve mention as well. I’m sticking by my earlier prediction—Evans gets the win after only his ninth day of racing. As for the stage win itself, look for Spartacus to take his first win for Leopard Trek with Edvald Boasson Hagen Pinotti right behind him in second.

Share your insights, picks, and 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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9 Responses to Monday Musette – Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico

  1. Andreas says:

    Edvald withdrew from the race yesterday due to achilles pains, so will be hard for him to take a second place in the ITT

  2. lieutenantmudd says:

    On Mollema, I think his time trial ability may be the bigger highlights of the week as far rider development goes. 13th and hanging around riders like Jani, Vino, and Lulu. That's pretty impressive given his climbing abilities.

    • Whit says:

      Absolutely, Lt. At this stage, he certainly shows more potential against the clock than Gesink. With Gesink, Langeveld, Boom, and Mollema, the future looks really bright for the Rabo!

      Thanks for the comment!

      W.

  3. michael says:

    you forgot to mention Thor in your list of classics contenders rounding into great form – his displays on lead out duty were very impressive. if Farrar can get over the climbs at MSR with the group Garmin-Cervelo will have quite the terrifying team to cover attacks. Small group up the road? Hello Heinrich. Farrar dropped? Here's looking at you Hushovd. Farrar makes it over and a bunch sprint? Haussler + Hushovd leadout = frightening proposition.

    As for today's T-A stage, that was quite the jostling on the climb, I haven't seen that many elbows thrown by pale skinny guys since a warehouse party ;)

    Outstanding finish to the stage. Image of the day – Ballan leading the group with 5 km to go and putting in a MONSTER turn to string it out on the run-in before blowing spectacularly. He is back to his old self this year, I can't wait to see what he does in a few weeks in Belgium.

  4. michael says:

    i'd also add that watching Tommy Voeckler tear it up thus far this year has been wonderful. if 90% of the riders in the peleton had 10% of the cojones he does, racing would be fantastic every single day.

  5. Mattio says:

    micheal, I'm with you. Voeckler's been incredible. But get this – what hasn't been incredible lately? Has anything disappointed? I think we're looking forward to an amazing spring classics season.

  6. Pappy says:

    I'm a Voeckler fan for sure, but watching the young Italian he rode with as a two-man break the final day just disappear behind in the final descent, it made me wonder if a deal had been made. T.V. himself looked pretty underwhelmed rolling up to the line. Or the Italian thought it was too dangerous to race the technical descent in the wet… but the Frenchman def. knows when conditions are right to attack .

  7. cthulhu says:

    Yes, Gilbert looks really good in shape. His only problem concerning MSR is that Greipel has injured himself. He would have been a much welcomed diversion and man for the opponents to watch. As I already wrote in comments on this site, Gilbert's victory at the Volta ao Algarve might have been a MSR test run. But now one has to see if he'll be able to start and if how fit he is and if he can help Gilbert at all or exploit the fact that everybody will be watching Gilbert.

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