Here’s this week’s Monday Musette:
1. Yesterday’s Paris-Tours provided an exciting finish to an event that’s proved difficult to predict. But after a season in which he consistently seemed to come-up short in important races (despite impressive rides), BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet took the biggest win of his career in what might have been his last opportunity to ride for himself in major races.
2. Speaking of Philippe Gilbert, he blamed his team for poorly supporting him—not a good idea considering the Tour of Lombardy this weekend—and much more suited to his talents. But why piss-off your teammates days before your last major race of the season? When you consider how crowded things will be at BMC next season, Gilbert can’t afford to burn any bridges heading into 2012.
3. In Italy, Acqua Sapone’s Carlos Betancur won Saturday’s Giro del Emilia, a prestigious semi-classic around Bologna that often serves as a predictor of who’s in-form for Lombardy. Betancur
dropped held-off Bauke Mollema (himself hoping to give Holland its third-consecutive win in the vent after Robert Gesink’s wins in 2009 and 2010) and compatriot Rigoberto Uran of Team Sky on the final climb, to take the biggest win of his professional career (he won the 2010 Baby Giro—now known as the GiroBio—while riding for the Colombian national team).
4. As Saturday’s result (two riders in the top-3) indicate, look for 2012 to be the first (second?) official year of the Colombian renaissance. We’ve already seen peeks of the talent possessed by youngsters such as Rigoberto Duran and Fabio Duarte. We can expect more fireworks as Sergio Henao (Team Sky), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), and Esteban Chaves (2011 Avenir winner) begin racing at the sport’s highest level.
5. Well, it took two days shy of 10 months, but Filippo Pozzato finally won a race this season by taking Sunday’s GP Beghelli. In my opinion, the classics are much more entertaining with a variety of protagonists—especially when one of them is Italian. Let’s hope Pippo’s change of scenery (he’s moving to Farnese-Vini next year) means he won’t have to wait until October to hit the top step of the podium.
6. This just in: the “Race of the Falling Leaves” is set to become the “Race of the Soon-To-Be-Falling Leaves” as the UCI has bumped the race forward to the end of September (beginning next year). While the UCI says the move is an attempt to allow riders to capitalize on their form from Worlds at Lombardy, I see it as a clear attempt to stack the starting line at what will now be the final event on the World Tour Calendar (and the last chance for riders to finish first in the rankings) the Tour of Beijing.
7. Speaking of Beijing, HTC’s Tony Martin won the newest World Tour event, putting himself inside the World Tour’s top-10 (he now sits in sixth). With a 2012 Tour de France that looks to be more “classic”—less mountains and more ITT’s—does Martin have what it takes for high finish next July?
8. And while I (somewhat) respect the UCI’s attempts to globalize the sport of cycling (despite making teams send riders and staff halfway around the world in mid-October), they might want to share their desire with the host nation next time. After all, it’s hard to increase the sport’s popularity in a country where fans aren’t even allowed to come out and enjoy it. I would love to hear Pat McQuaid explain why Beijing deserves a spot on the World Tour calendar while events in California and Colorado do not.
9. Last but not least, the cycling world mourns the passing of Pol Claeys, the founder of Flandria, a team that produced countless legends including Eddy Merckx, Rik Van Looy, Walter Goodefroot, Joop Zoetemelk, Peter Post, and Joseph Planckaert.
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