Here’s the week’s Monday Musette:
1. BMC’s Cadel Evans won his second mid-major stage race of the year yesterday, overcoming a late-start and an eighth-place finish in Saturday’s time trial to win the Tour de Romandie over Astana’s Alexandre Vinokourov and HTC-High Road’s Tony Martin. All three men on the podium used Romandie as part of their Tour de France preparation, but for Evans, one can’t help wondering what the Australian could achieve were he to focus exclusively on one-week races and hilly classics. He’ll likely ride either the Dauphiné or the Tour de Suisse in June—could a victory in either (especially BMC’s “home” tour) prove more impressive and valuable than seventh-place in the Tour de France?
2. As for Martin, Romandie did not offer enough high mountains for us to get a true sense of just how improved the German’s climbing is, but the Paris-Nice winner’s consistency is nonetheless impressive. The Tour de Suisse will likely be his final pre-Tour test as well. And don’t rule out the Tour of California—a race the future star might very well win.
3. Of the men using Romandie to put the finishing touches on their fitness for the Giro d’Italia, HTC’s Marco Pinotti was the best in fourth place overall. The popular and articulate Italian is a good bet for a top-10 finish in Italy—if he can avoid coming undone by the mountainous parcours.
4. Looking down the rest of the top-10, Benat Intxausti made me look smart with a fifth-place finish for Movistar while American Andrew Talansky took ninth for Garmin-Cervelo—after losing nearly a minute due to a crash earlier in the race. Taylor Phinney might get all the press, but Talansky’s quickly proving to be the future of American stage racing.
5. As for Saturday’s time trial, David Zabriskie finished first on the day—a good result for the American and a win that has many wondering if the Garmin-Cervélo rider (and one of the most quirkily enigmatic men in the peloton) will finally win the Tour of California. Considering DZ’s track record in the mountains, I wouldn’t count on it.
6. And speaking of the Amgen Tour of California, I’ll be there for the first half of the race—drop me an email or hit me up on Twitter if you’ll be there too.
7. Moving to Germany, HTC-High Road’s John Degenkolb took the biggest win of his young career at the Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt (why don’t they just call it the GP Frankfurt?). His third win of the season, Degenkolb—one of Erik Zabel’s protégés—is clearly one of the sport’s hottest up-and-coming young sprinters and yet another reason why Mark Cavendish might find himself riding elsewhere beyond 2011.
8. Even more interesting is the budding rivalry between Degenkolb and Rabobank’s young sprinter, Australian Michael Matthews. After terrorizing the U23 ranks before signing World Tour contracts before the season began, Degenkolb and Matthews know one another well. As they progress, their game of “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better” should be exciting to watch.
9. In Turkey, the Presidential Tour of Turkey wrapped-up with Alexander Efimkin taking Team Type 1’s first win as a Professional Continental team. Efimkin’s victory is sure to boost the team’s confidence ahead of the Tour of California and the Tour de Suisse—especially when one considers what the squad has already overcome this season.
10. Farnese Vini’s Andrea Guardini won two stages in Turkey—the Italian’s quickly becoming one of the fastest sprinters in the peloton. Which begs the question: why isn’t he riding the Giro? I know throwing young talent into a Grand Tour is usually frowned upon, but Guardini’s a sprinter. I say let him ride the first week and then pull him before the climbing begins. After all, he’s by far the team’s best hope for a stage win.
11. Moving away from the races, last week’s biggest news surrounds what has quickly become a very public divorce of Omega Pharma-Lotto. While it’s still early in the process, rumors are already rampant as to the various possible destinations of both the sponsors and key riders involved.
A big question remains if one of the sponsors will end-up with Quick-Step to form what some are already calling the next Belgian “Super Team”. Lotto’s an interesting option; Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere worked with Lotto in the mid-2000’s. However, it seems as if the Belgian lottery is heading in a different direction—past co-sponsor Adecco has been mentioned frequently as the most likely partner.
As for the riders, not much is clear other than the fact that Omega Pharma wants to retain the services of Philippe Gilbert and Jurgen Van den Broeck. With Tom Boonen at the end of his contract and the lack of a true Tour de France GC contender, could we see an Omega Pharma-Quick-Step team headed by Gilbert and VDBeke in 2012?
One thing remains certain: the transfer season seems to start earlier with each passing season.
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