Thoughts on the Giro, thus far

So, the Giro is well over a week old, and I'm just not getting around to having something to say about it...
1. Alessandro Petacchi - What has happened?!? He finally won a stage Monday, but this Giro has been a struggle so far. In his defence, his team did take themselves out on one stage, and there haven't been that many sprints, but still...
2. Paolo Bettini - I saw the move to the left that forced Baden Cooke into a somersault against the barriers, and I'd say the race officials were correct in relegating Bettini for an illegal line change. I've always liked Bettini, but that was quite a move, and he didn't make many friends with his denials and temper tantrum afterward...
3. Danilo Di Luca - What can one say? He's been amazing, and his struggle to stay in contact and keep the pink jersey today was almost as good as Thomas Voekler's last year in the Tour
4. Robbie McEwen - As much as I'd rather have Petacchi winning all the time, I like McEwen, because he's always brash and has great quotes, whether he wins or loses. Then again, that's true of pretty much all the Australians, so I like 'em all.
5. Dave Zabriski - Quite a time trial on Sunday. 'Nuff said.
6. Ivan Basso - Also quite a time trial on Sunday. I'd say he's spent a lot of time working on that this winter, and Lance should be afraid. Especially after today's mountain stage (see below).

So, with the first mountain stage on today, I sucked it up and purchased the OLN streaming video package. I was overjoyed (literally jumping around my apartment, albeit half-asleep, at 6:30am) when I got it going, along with the free streaming audio from Eurosport, and discovered that it's pretty much as good as watching it on TV!!! The only drawbacks are no Phil and Paul, and a slightly blurry picture, but that's nothing compared to being able to watch all the drama unfold! I had it full screen on my laptop and I moved it around as necessary whilst getting ready for work (ah, wireless internet). Today's stage was pretty exciting, with Basso and Salvodelli (and Simoni, in fairness) pretty much decimating the field. I was really disappointed in this actually, because now the race is basically down to Basso and Salvodelli, and maybe Di Luca, but Cunego, Garzelli, Cioni, they're all out of the picture. It's bad when that happens, because it's more interesting when there are more challengers. It always goes like this though - at the beginning there are so many people who can win, and the day when all those options go away is kind of depressing. But, I have faith that Cunego will still do something spectacular this Giro. Or maybe he's waiting for the Tour?!?

Tomorrow seems to be a stage potentially for the sprinters. Fingers crossed. I'll be up early to watch...


Danilo di Luca, and other thoughts

Danilo di Luca, fresh off a spectacular victory in Sunday's Amstel Gold Race, has added La Fleche Wallonne to his palmares. I've always liked him, though he seemed to have fallen by the wayside the last couple of years. That said, I wish him lots of luck in Sunday's Liege-Bastogne-Liege; if he wins there, he'll repeat the triple David Rebellin won last year.

The Tour of Georgia is off and running, albeit slowly. I was pulling for Andrea Tafi today, who, in one of his last races, was in a long solo breakaway for most of the stage, only to get pulled back in the last few kilometers. That's always sad, and more so when those opportunities are running out. Cyclingnews.com is doing a great job with their live updates; it's really strange to be keeping track of it at work, instead of having to wake up at 6:00 when things get going in Europe...

Ivan Basso is hoping to win the Giro and the Tour. Well, what he really said was, "I hope to go well in both," but we all know what that really means...

Lance's impending retirement seems to have given his rivals extra impetus for the Tour this year, since everyone wants to be the one who won while Lance was still riding. I guess that makes sense, he's been so dominant that without him there it will feel like the competition has gone down a notch. In my opinion that will be a good thing, at least things will be more interesting...


A Letter from Tyler




Time for a new beginning?

Well, Tyler is quilty and Lance is retiring...such a sad day, and on Monday no less : (
Guess it's time to bring in the new guard of American cycling.



ProTour Teams May Boycott the Giro/Vuelta?!?!

From Cyclingnews:
The 20 ProTour teams (AIGCP) are maintaining their threat to boycott the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a EspaƱa, unless their participation money is increased. After the AIGCP met in Maastricht on Saturday, a communique signed by president Patrick Lefevere was issued as follows:
"The 20 ProTour teams have decided, in total unity with the AIGCP, to keep their position vis-a-vis the Giro and the Vuelta, not to participate in the Giro and in the Vuelta if we do not come to an agreement on the participation expenses for 2005. Nevertheless, we will continue to negotiate with RCS in the hope that cycling will win. The two parties will probably meet next Monday in Brussels if an agreement is not."

Well, this could be an utter disaster. But, I'm sure it'll get worked out. It will be a death knell for both the grand tours and the ProTour if it doesn't...


The Early Spring Season

So, as a preliminary post, I guess this might be a bit of a long one. But, here go my thoughts on the cycling season so far.
1. Alessandro Petacchi. Wins the "Fastest Legs" award. He's won 13 races to date, and it's only mid-April. And he took some time off after finally obtaining his dream of winning Milan-San Remo. Something tells me he'll be running out of fingers to count the stages he wins in the Giro next month.
2. Bobby Julich. Wins the "best comeback season" award. He became the first American to win Paris-Nice, and then went on to win the Criterium International by dominating the final stage time trial.
3. George Hincapie. Aka "big Georgie Hincapie," got ever closer to winning Paris-Roubaix last Sunday, but, yet again, he didn't. Thus, he wins the "almost by not quite" award. Although, at least this time he was there in the finale, and was beaten by an incredible bunch of track tactics and a great sprint by Tom Boonen. But, I have to say that I'm getting a bit sick of all the hype about Hincapie. The way he (and the team, I suppose) missed the move in the Tour of Flanders was unforgivable.
4. Bjarne Riis. The "super motivator" award. I think anyone having motivational issues should get to spend a week at a CSC boot camp and rediscover the latent superstar with in. Case in point, Bobby Julich. Previous case in point, Ivan Basso. Other cases in point, Jorg Jackse, Carlos Sastre, et al.
5. Tyler Hamilton. Winner of the "blood, what blood?" award. Well, it's not looking so good. When the powers that be take this long to decide if your positive doping tests are indeed positive, or even if the tests are valid, things don't seem overly likely to work out. But, it was a good run while it lasted, and I'll remain a fan until I'm convinced he cheated.
6. OLN Cyclysm Sundays. The "we'll take what we can get" award. Better than the nothing we were fearing, and actually has been pretty good so far, covering the races I wanted to see, mostly on the same day or the next. But, I can't believe they aren't showing the Giro every day. I'm really thinking about getting RAI for May just to watch it, and learn Italian in the process. I figure I could get the gist...
7. The Pro Tour. I'm really not sure I get it. It seems that the points earned are a bit strange, in that you only get one point for a stage win, and 25 for a classic win. 25 sounds fair, but one seems a bit measley. And yes, I think I probably think this because I would like to see Petacchi get more points for trouncing everyone in every stage race sprint he attempts...
8. Neutral service mechanics. That guy standing on top of the car during Paris-Roubaix, fixing someone's bike, was incredible. Around turns and everything. Give that man a raise. And the inaugural "that's insane" award for bravery and valor in the line of duty.
9. Lance. The "will he or won't he" award. Although already committed to riding the Tour DAY France this July, Lance now has everyone on their toes about when he'll retire, and we all eagerly await his press conference next week (well, really I'm not eagerly awaiting it, but I get the sense most people are).
10. Can anyone wait to see the battles ensuing between Ivan Basso and Damiano Cunego in the Giro? And between Cunego and Alejandro Valverde in any race they both enter? The "my, the podiums are looking appealing this year" award. Praise the rise of the young ones, although it is a bit distressing that they're younger than I am!