Monday Musette – Vuelta, Canada, L’Avenir, Cyclocross, Etc.

Fotoreporter Sirotti

Here’s this week’s Monday Musette:

1. The 2011 Vuelta wrapped-up this weekend with Geox-TMC’s Juan José Cobo taking the overall title over Team Sky’s Christian Froome and Bradley Wiggins (now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d be typing). Cobo’s win was anything but expected—the 30-year-old professional has bounced around for several seasons, enjoying his fair share of victories and scandals (the best and worst of which came in 2007 and 2008 with Saunier Duval. A former 10th-place finished at the Vuelta, Cobo seems to have profited a from a race with a mixed bag of contenders—the majority of whom were riding their second grand tour of the season (the Vuelta was Cobo’s first).

Cobo’s win begs an obvious question: what happened to everyone else? With men like Joaquin Rodriguez, Vincenzo Nibali, Denis Menchov, and Igor Anton taking part, how did two domestiques finish the race in first and second-place overall?

Think about this, and look for a Discuss to follow soon.

2. Wiggo performed the best of the men riding the Vuelta as consolation for crashing out of the Tour de France. Behind him, Lotto’s Jurgen Van den Broeck finished eighth giving the Belgian top-10 finishes in all three grand tours. Radio Shack’s Janez Brajkovic was less fortunate—he could only manage a meager 22nd. Heading into 2012, Team Sky has to like its chances for a similar result at the Tour de France, as Wiggins appears to be—finally—the real deal.

3. Other impressive—perhaps auspicious—performances were recorded by Rabobank’s Bauek Mollema and Leopard-Trek’s Maxime Monfort. Mollema’s much younger, but Monfort has yet to be officially linked to Radio Shack-Nissan-Trek. His performance at the Vuelta should only add value to his signature.

4. Menchov won the battle of former winners, finishing fifth to Nibali’s seventh; while pre-race favorite Rodriguez was forced to settle for two stage wins on his way to a 19th-place finish.

5. For Geox-TMC, Cobo’s win added a bright spot to a season of controversy in which the team found itself on the outside looking in at the Tour de France. Was Cobo’s performance enough to earn the team an invitation in 2012?

6. We have a winner from Saturday’s Stage 20 Contest as Cthulu correctly picked Bennati for the win. His prognostication earns him a nice new hat from Laekhouse.

 7. Philippe Gilbert and Rui Costa took Canada by storm over the weekend, winning Friday’s GP Quebec and Sunday’s GP de Montreal respectively. Gilbert took over the World’s #1 ranking after his win Friday, and then defended it Sunday after overcoming a crash to finish third. Now the Belgian sets his sights on the World Road Race Championship in Copenhagen next week, where he will be the leader of a Tom Boonen-less Belgian squad.

8. In Belgium and France, Katusha’s Denis Galimzyanov took the biggest win of the season, edging out Yauheni Hutarovich and Anthony Ravard to win Paris-Brussels Saturday. The 24-year-old Russian is a trendy pick to win in Copenhagen. He’ll have an all-Katusha squad supporting him as well. At Sunday’s Grand Prix Fourmies, Guillaume Blot gave the small Bretagne-Schuller team its biggest win of the year, taking the field sprint ahead of Alexandre Kristoff and Stephen Van Dijk.

9. At the Tour of Britain, today’s was stage cancelled, giving Stage 1 winner Mark Cavendish an extra day to enjoy his gold jersey. For Cavendish, this week is his last chance to put the finishing touches on his form for Worlds. With Mark Renshaw and Bernie Eisel leading him out, this might also be our last chance to see Cav’s now-legendary lead-out train more or less “intact”.

10. Back to France, where Johan Chaves gave Colombia its second consecutive win at the Tour de l’Avenir Sunday, getting the better of Canada’s David Boily in the final stage in Alba. For Boily, the loss has to be heartbreaking, as he took the maillot jaune after Stage 3 and fought to defend up to the final day. For Chaves, the victory confirms the renewed depth and talent of Colombian cycling.

11. Apparently French DS Alain Gallopin has yet to learn if he will be joining the “new” Radio Shack-Nissan-Trek team for 2012. For both his sake and the team’s, I hope a deal can be reached as Gallo’s one of the most experienced men in the sport, and a valuable resource to all who have worked with and ridden for him. Yes, I’m biased, but what blogger isn’t nowadays?

12. Interbike starts this Wednesday and we don’t plan to overlook it. Erik is in Vegas as we speak, getting ready to provide daily reports, photo slideshows, and coverage of Wednesday’s CrossVegas—the first major race on the North American Calendar. Come back soon!

13. Speaking of cyclocross, hopefully you noticed last week’s rollout of our 2011-2012 ‘cross coverage, beginning with a Domestic/North American Season Preview and Pre-Season Power Ranking. We’ll be providing a constant stream of reports and commentary each week, led by our popular weekly Power Rankings. Look for an International Preview and Pre-Season Power Ranking this week as well. If you’re a racer, promoter, and/or fan, feel free to send us reports, photos, and press releases that might enhance and extend our coverage.

14. If you live in the Mid-Atlantic region and are looking for great autumn rides, consider the Univest Cyclosportif and Bicycling Magazine’s Fall Classic. Both rides feature distance to suit all fitness levels, courses through some of Pennsylvania’s most beautiful fall scenery, and a fully catered meal to all who take part. Univest also offers a tent along the race course for all participants to watch the UCI category 1.2 event, while Bicycling’s Fall Classic offers a nice-looking t-shirt to everyone who rides.

Have a great week!


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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