Hereâ€™s this weekâ€™s Monday Musette:
1. The big news from this weekendâ€™s ENECO Tour was Edvald Boasson Hagenâ€™s 22-second defeat of Philippe Gilbert. (It says a lot about Gilbertâ€™s season when he makes more news by losing a race than he does by winning it.) But his victory in todayâ€™s Belgian time trial championship notwithstanding, a soft spot has been identified in Gilbertâ€™s armor.Â Unable to defend his GC lead after taking the win in Stage 3, Gilbert lost valuable seconds to Boasson Hagen in Fridayâ€™s time trial. And despite a final stage that looked to favor the Belgianâ€™s talents on a course that might closely resemble next yearâ€™s World Championships, Boasson Hagen more than held his own, winning the stage and the raceâ€”his second win in the Benelux event.
2. Along with EBH and Gilbert, encouraging performances were also recorded by Britainâ€™s David Millar and the young American Taylor Phinney. Phinney has admitted that he made some poor choices earlier in the season; he now looks ready for a standout autumn. The Vuelta is next on his program; itâ€™s his first grand tour.
3. Is it just me or might the Norwegian federation have a hard time identifying a leader in Copenhagen next month?Â
4. Meanwhile, some of the men hoping to succeed Spainâ€™s Samuel Sanchez as Olympic Champion went to London Sunday to compete in the London Surrey Classic, the latest in a series of test events in which â€œnationalâ€ selections in various event s can compete on the courses to be used in next yearâ€™s Olympic games.Â Â Great Britainâ€™s Mark Cavendish took the win in front of his home crowd, a result that is certain to have Team Sky rushing to the bank for more credit.
Then again, the race was only 140-kilometers long, a far cry from the distance to be tackled next summer. Still, the winâ€™s a boost for Cav, especially as it ended a week in which his top domestiqueâ€”Mark Renshawâ€”announced he has signed with Rabobank, initiating what quickly appears to be the dismantling of what might have been the most successful lead-out train in history. Get those wins while you can, Cav, you might find them harder to come by in the future.
5. At the Tour of Utah, Radio Shackâ€™s Levi Leipheimer successfully defended his 2010 title, employing to perfection his typical strategy of following wheels and time trialing to take the win. Levi should start a team sponsored by Glidden, Dutch Boy, MAB, or Sherwen Williams, because watching him win races is about as exciting as watching paint dry.
Yes, a win is a win and there were several riders who would have been happy to take his place atop the podium. And yes, great riders (especially older ones) know how to maximize their talents and minimize their deficiencies to win racesâ€”something Leipheimer does quite well. That said, we can be forgiven for feeling a bit underwhelmed by the ho-hum manner in which Leipheimer took his second stage race victory of the year. After all, thereâ€™s something to be said for panache. Letâ€™s hope next weekâ€™s USA Pro Cycling Challenge produces a more exciting winner.
6. Speaking of panache, in taking three stage wins and doing just about everything it could dethrone Leipheimer, letâ€™s give credit to Colombiaâ€™s Team Gobernacion de Antioquia for winning three stages, the Best Young Rider title, and the team classification. Race runner-up and double stage-winner Sergio Henao was by far the biggest revelation of the event, a fact confirmed by the announcement of the Colombianâ€™s 2-year deal with Team Sky. Weâ€™ll see more from Henao and his teammates at next weekâ€™s USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Will more winsâ€”and ProTour contractsâ€”result?
7. Radio Shackâ€™s Janez Brajkovic looked good while finishing third in Utah, he now heads to the Vuelta where he will finally get a chance to lead his team at a grand tour. Meanwhile, Garmin-Cerveloâ€™s Tom Danielson and Christian Vande Velde looked strong in their final race before the USAPCC. Danielsonâ€™s a master at peaking for late-August/early-September; heâ€™s my pick for the win in the inaugural Colorado event.
8. Last but no least, take a look at the recent mini-essay over at Rouleur about Roger De Vlaeminckâ€™s 1977 Roubaix-winning Gios. Itâ€™s an abstract from the upcoming issue 25; I canâ€™t wait to see it up close!
Thatâ€™s it for todayâ€”share your comments below!