Monday, April 30, 2007

Spring Classics All Wrapped Up

Well Race Fans it was a very fun and interesting time during for the Spring Classics in Europe this year. Already the 2007 Bike Race season is done with its first quarter if you will. The early season classic rides are usually marked by bad weather and chaos, this year it was marked by high temperatures and very fast speeds. I've enjoyed watching the races on VS. this season. Gives me something to do while I iron a week's worth of shirts and pants. Hanging out with Paul, Phil and Bob is a good way to spend a weekend afternoon.

Quick Recap:
Spring Classic Winners:
Milan-San Remo (March 24): Oscar Freire (Sp) Rabobank
Tour of Flandres (April 8): Alessandro Ballan (I), Lampre
Ghent-Wevelgem (April 11): Marcus Burghardt (G), T-Mobile
Paris-Roubaix (April 15): Stuart O'Grady (Aus), CSC
Amstel Gold Race (April 22): Stefan Schumacher (G) Gerolsteiner
Fleche Wallonne (April 25): Davide Rebellin (I) Gerolsteiner
Liege-Bastogne-Liege (April 29): Danilo Di Luca (I), Liquigas

ProTour Leaders:
1. Davide Rebellin (I), Gerlosteiner, 157 pts
2. Alejandro Valverde (Sp), Caisse d'Epargne, 107
3. Danilo Di Luca (I), Liquigas, 100
4. Oscar Freire (Sp), Rabobank, 82
5. Stuart O'Grady (Aus), CSC, 79

During this time the Discovery Channel team tore up some of the other early season stage races. They put Levi on top in the Tour of California, Jani Brajkovic on top in the Tour of Georgia, which saw Levi win the time trial and the monster hill stage to Brasstown, and Alberto Contador had early season wins in Paris Nice and a Castilla y Leon. Yaroslav Popovych was aggressive in many races, winning a stage in Paris Nice and was aggressive in the ultra tough Milan San Remo race.

Of all the races my favorite win was Stuart O'Grady. I love to see athletes emotional at the finish line. It's a true sign of the passion for the sport and how inside out ohysically and emotionally racing wil do to you. Most of the time you can see they barely have enough strength to sit up and do a victory salute. After crossing the finish line they just collapse. For me it is inspiring to see individuals achieve goals like this. It reminds me that nothing worth achieving is every easy. Another rider that just continue to impress me are Paolo Bettini. If I had one wish for someone to ride like...

The Milan San Remo race was just intense. The longest ride of the classics and the speeds were just insane. I was so impressed by Popo flying off the front and giving it a dig. Truly amazing.

The downer news of the season was more news around doping in cycling. Jan Ullrich's DNA tests were tied to the Operation Puerto case in Spain that caused so many cyclists to be held out of last year's Tour. Ivan Basso was recalled to Italy to testify and his DNA will be tested. He was suspended as was protocol and now how volunteeringly requested to be released. I think this is a gentleman move, and I hope he is innocent. On Flyod Landis' case his trial/hearing starts May 14th and I'm still as confused as ever. I believe in Flyod but at this point I have a negative feeling about him getting a fair shake.

An upside of doping is that Tyler Hamilton is back in Europe racing after a 2 year ban. He's been linked to Puerto as well, but just knowing that is he is competing is refreshing. I wish him luck.

The Tour de Romandie is this week and it's a tune-up for the 3 week Giro d' Italia. I wish we could watch coverage each day, but VS will only do weekend recaps I fear. With Tivos and other DVRs you think they would take a chance and broadcast it. Oh well. I'll try to do another recap after the Giro. By then we may know more about Puerto and what climbing champion wins it all in Italy. Easy predictions are hard for me as I'm not sure who will be there. I'm hopeful to see Tyler ride well. My money would have been on Basso but he won't be there it appears. Di Luca looks good and Simoni seems to channel the energy of the early Roman gods during this race. Rebellin is on form but I'm not sure he'll be there. I hope to see my favorite sprinter Robbie McEwen tear it up in the sprints. More predictions after Romandie.

On your left,
Jeff

Read more about the races here:
Milan-San Remo (March 24): Oscar Freire (Sp) Rabobank
http://www.velonews.com/race/int/articles/11929.0.html
Tour of Flandres (April 8): Alessandro Ballan (I), Lampre
http://www.velonews.com/race/int/articles/12008.0.html
Ghent-Wevelgem (April 11): Marcus Burghardt (G), T-Mobile
http://www.velonews.com/race/int/articles/12040.0.html
Paris-Roubaix (April 15): Stuart O'Grady (Aus), CSC
http://www.velonews.com/race/int/articles/12067.0.html
Amstel Gold Race (April 22): Stefan Schumacher (G) Gerolsteiner
http://www.velonews.com/race/int/articles/12098.0.html
Fleche Wallonne (April 25): Davide Rebellin (I) Gerolsteiner
http://www.velonews.com/race/int/articles/12113.0.html
Liege-Bastogne-Liege (April 29): Danilo Di Luca (I), Liquigas
http://www.velonews.com/race/int/articles/12135.0.html

Paris Nice
http://www.velonews.com/race/int/articles/11902.0.html

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