Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sugar Pie

My very first Sugar Pie!



Today's hectic, Carolle's busy on the sewing machine, Steve the repairman is in fixing a leaky hot water pipe and I'm pacing thinking of the Tour of Flanders... so I've decided to make my very first sugar pie.

Carolle's here to coach me, but I'm game for something sweet to go along with my early wake up call for Sunday's Tour of Flanders. There should be live streaming starting around 3:00 PDT.  I'm aiming for around four-ish, not so bright eye and no bushy tail, but with the help of plenty of coffee and sugar pie I'll be enjoying this impending battle.

This delicious sugar pie is from Carolle's Quebecoise Aunt Aurore...

Crust:

1 C. White Flour (you can substitute 1/2 C each of White & Whole Wheat)
1/4 C Cold Butter
pinch Salt
2 T. Brown Sugar
1/4 C. Cold Water

Combine ingredients, don't over mix, the secret here is just to break the butter into the crust mixture. Form into a ball place in a bowl into the freezer.

Mixture:

1 Can Evaporated Milk
1 1/2 C. Brown Sugar (make sure it's packed well)
2  Eggs
2  T. White Flour

Mix ingredients well so that the brown sugar dissolves in the milk. Set aside.


Take your crust mixture out of freezer. Have a rolling pin at the ready. I use a sheet of parchment paper placed on a wooden cutting board sprinkled with plenty of white flour so the crust mixture doesn't stick. This is an art: gently roll out dough from the center outwards and it must be larger than your pie shell (1"- 2"overhang). Gently place crust mixture over the pie plate pinch in so it forms the plate, fill with Mixture. Pinch in sides to finish. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 F, then an extra 35 minutes at 350 F.
Allow to cool, you won't be able to taste it right away because it's very hot! I sometimes, have some vanilla ice cream with this before or after a ride, either way a tasty pie from Aunt Aurore... Enjoy!


GreenEDGE  Tour of Flanders previews Sebastian Langeveld.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Tour of Flanders: The Holy Place

Suffering devotees on the Koppenberg, 1978.
Photo: Marcel Deschamps


The Holy Week of Belgian cycling will start on Sunday with the Tour of Flanders then Easter Sunday,  the hellish, Paris-Roubaix.

Without a doubt, I am a devout religious follower, this is the time I do go to the cobble temple of worship.

The Tour of Flanders will offer a route change... many devotees are saying blasphemy! The emblematic Muur van Gerardsbergen and Bosberg are out. A near spiritual experience for fans as they see their favorites climb the heavy cobbles of the Kappelmuur. Cycling fans held a mock funeral to mourn the loss.

I love the Muur as the holier than thou climb, where there was a shrine like atmosphere to meet the riders. It will be missed.

In it's place is; the Oude Kwaremont and the Pateberg, both to be climbed three times making this 255km race even harder. Certainly a race for the strong men with an equally strong support team.

What to make of the favorites?

The duel between Boonen and Cancellara is the obvious first choice. Look to Chavanel (De Panne winner & last year's Flanders runner-up), Steegmans and Terpstra as the other cards in a stacked OPQS deck.

What is a mystery is how super classic team BMC will play out. Can Flanders be the coming out party for them? Only Gilbert (will he finally awake?), Hushovd, Ballan, Van Avermaet will know. Sky will have Boasson Hagen and Flecha to ride. Flecha has said he's using this race as a warm up for his ultimate goal of Roubaix. A Flanders win for the Norwegian Eddy B would cement his amazing talent.

And, Fillipo Pozzato is getting stronger with every cobble race. Having come back from a fractured collarbone he is a threat especially with his strong Farnese Vini team. Another that has an equal chance of Flemish glory is Matti Breschel (3rd Ghent-Wevelgem).

One of my favorite teams: GreenEDGE will bring heavy classic riders to make a mark on their early season success; Goss, Tuft, O'Grady and Langeveld. I've picked Heinrich Haussler as a possible star but I think he doesn't have the holding power to win. But, Garmin has Sep Vanmarcke as the man that can do it.

One man capable of winning this contest of wills is 22 year old, Peter Sagan. His confident stage 1 win at De Panne is a very good precursor to his Flanders goal. He can do almost everything and is capable to stay with the likes of Boonen and Cancellara.

Sunday's church will be open ...for a monumental religious experience!


Le Flandrien all right!
Allez Chavanel!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tuft De Panne


Stepping on the gas!
via GreenEDGE



"How sketchy was that?" said Svein Tuft to GreenEDGE DS, Matt White after coming in third on the 14.7km TT at The Three Days of De Panne.

Watching this excellent GreenEDGE backstage pass report says it all... frustration that the pre-favorite Tuft was slowed down around the apex of a corner, by a ...VIP car. He definitely would have finished onto the podium,  more deserving than his fourth overall.

I'm enjoying the backstage pass coverage by GreenEDGE, an entertaining collection of videos (you really have to watch their fun videos ie bike riders can't cook and I won't back down).

In fact, GreenEDGE is rare to be transparent, not editing out their videos but allowing the truth to their viewers. Matt White was justified in his actions at how unprofessional a professional race can be. He shouldn't apologize. Why was that VIP car allowed to follow the race in the first place?

Svein Tuft finished 17 seconds behind the powerful winning ride by Sylvain Chavanel.

"I felt good, it was one of those days, you always hope to feel good on an important time trial day, and it was a good ride. I am familiar with the course, I've ridden it a few times, so I had good memorization of the course, and it's a course that suits me. I had a little trouble: I caught a guy in one of the 180-dgree turnarounds, and the follow car was stuck in between us, so I lost a little time there, and I was concerned that with caliber of riders here, it was going to be very close. You don't want that to hold you up, and I was fortunate to get through, but it bobbled my momentum a bit."


Stage 3b results: 1. Sylvain Chavanel (17:49)   2. Lieuwe Westra (0:04)  3. Svein Tuft (0:17) 4. Niki Terpstra (0:18)  5. Maciej Bodnar (0:19).

Overall:  1. Sylvain Chavanel (12:05:44)  2. Lieuwe Westra (0:04)  3. Maciej Bodnar (0:14)  4. Svein Tuft (0:17)  5. Niki Terpstra (0:18)



This episode of Backstage Pass...
Matt White, doesn't hold back, goes bananas!

All Pave Leads to Roubaix






Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Back to working in Hell

Guesdon leading in L'Enfer du Nord 2011 (finishing 11th)...
"I hope everything will go well for my last appearance on the pavé"



A grand return awaits for riders; Juan Antonio Flecha and Frederic Guesdon for the upcoming Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

Both riders had injuries that had the hint of curtailing their Monument goals.

I'm surprised and elated that both riders could return so quickly from their injuries. After suffering a fracture hand in a training ride, Flecha will be lining up at both races. Although he says that he won't be at his peak condition for Flanders he's targeting Roubaix.

Flecha is on strong classic form with third in February's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. His Paris-Roubaix palmares are equally stunning: second, third (twice), fourth, sixth and ninth.

While eyes are on heavy favorites Boonen and Cancellara, a certain arrow is getting ready to fly in Hell.


The Arrow is set to fly.


Another rider that loves Roubaix is forty year old, Frederic Guesdon. He suffered a hip fracture at this year's Tour Down Under and seemed that his fate was sealed in not finishing his career in his beloved Roubaix. He's now recovered and he'll be there fighting on the famous pave.

He won in 1997, sprinting past favorites Jo Planckaert, Johan Museeuw and Andrei Tchmil and remains France's last Roubaix winner.

A certain hellish destiny is waiting for these two great Roubaix riders, Flecha will try to win and Guesdon will want to retire ...both not wanting to miss their time in Hell.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Julian Dean: Not Down & Out

A plate & eight screws...



Thirty-seven year old, Julien Dean looked highly unlikely to come back this season after breaking his leg, last week during the third stage of the Volta a Catalunya. All hopes looked bleak for the star kiwi sprinter to ride the Tour and the Olympics.

Now, he's out of hospital with plates inserted into his leg, the kiwi hardman is happy the operation went well... and hasn't giving up hope.

He broke his shoulder last December and Catalunya was his first ride back in his new GreenEDGE team.

His words are more optimistic than ever...

"I've got six to eight weeks where I can't walk on it, but I can get back on the bike before that time. I'm trying to stay focused on progressing through the rehabilitation process and that's working well at this stage. It's difficult to know and a lot of it is going to depend on how successful the surgery has been."


"The Olympics and Tour de France are not out by any means."


For now, GreenEDGE will miss one of the world's great lead out men... I'd love to see him line up at this year's Tour!




A humorous look at Dean, the K Way, 2010 TdF...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ghent-Wevelgem: Torpedo Sprint

Torpedo away!
Sagan brilliantly in second.
via Twitter



Tom Boonen sprinted to his third Ghent-Wevelgem beating Sagan (2nd) and a resurgence Breschel (3rd), Friere (4th) and Bosson Hagen (5th).

The final sprint was fierce and included some high speed shenanigans. With Cavendish quite out of the pictiure, Boasson Hagen managed to place himself in the right position for the final sprint until he uncharacteristically lashed out at a Vacansoleil rider. He and Goss later complained of the messy sprint. Then, Rojas and Tossato touched wheels bringing them down impeding Van Avermaet. But, there seems no stopping Boonen as his sites are firmly on Flanders and Roubaix.

Matti Breshel is back on good form coming back from a knee injury and had to set out in 2011's classic season. He looks ready for Flanders.

Brilliant result for the young Sagan, a rider to watch as he will ride the Three Days of De Panne then go for Flanders, his goal of this season.





Boasson Hagen lashes out!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

What a Ride Contest

One lucky viewer can win this!



Want to win this book, What a Ride by Rupert Guinness?

It's simple, watch stage 3 3b's podcast for all the details!

Enjoy the podcast and good luck everyone!


A Classic Wild Weekend

King of Pain...
Powering up the Taaienberg
Photo: Bettini



Tom Boonen is on fire finishing off with a devastating and well timed sprint to beat Oscar Friere for a record fifth victory of the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - Harelbeke.

David Millar was one of the many riders who fell and DNF. I read on his twitter that he had the operation done on his broken collarbone. His last tweet humorously read...


"I can see why Howard Hughes got into his morphine shit. Makes a particularly average day really quite excellent."


Fabian Cancellara looked his all powerful self until he fell victim getting smacked from behind by Carlos Barredo, waiting for a front wheel change. It was not his day. For Oscar The Cat Freire, he just lost out finishing second citing that he started his sprint too late.

It was exciting and full marks go to the classy, Sep Vanmarcke for his gritty ride (5th) and now he will rest and lead the Garmin's in the Tour of Flanders and Roubaix.

Tomorrow is the famous 234km Ghent-Wevelgem and Boonen is a front favorite along with Cancellara. The Kemmelberg (riders will ride it twice) will be a good battle ground ie mayhem on the cobbles & twisty descent.

Look for Farrar, Sagan, Pozzato and The Cat to be super challenging in the final sprint.


Snake like and dangerous.

Friday, March 23, 2012

SpiderTech Training on the Kasseien

Feelin' the burn!



Canadian SpiderTech team training on the Kwaremont as DS Steve Bauer narrates. This is the day before the Dwars door Vlaanderen.

You can almost imagine what it would feel like to ride on the famous kasseien!

Next race for the Spiders is Three Days of De Panne Mar. 27-29. Good luck to them!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

The E3: Catch Me If You Can?

The Emperor: 
Rik Van Looy won three,
1964-1966.


The wonderfully named classic, E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - Harelbeke begins tomorrow.

Now, upgraded to World Tour status it's moved to Friday, giving a day rest before the big Gent-Wevelgem, on Sunday.

Why the codename ...E3?

It's name from the E3 motorway built in the mid-sixties. And, it's far from flat with 13 hills, many with pavé and cobblestone sections just to make sure it's pure Flanders. Oh and don't forget the crosswinds, cool temps and sometimes rain that makes it more tantalizingly Flemish.


Fabian...
fine like wine, 2011 E3


Defending two-time champ, Fabian 'Catch Me If You Can' Cancellara will be the favorite coming off his win in the Strade Bianche and near win in Milan SanRemo. In last year's E3 he came back from mechanicals and literally rode off the backs of all the favorites to win an intimidating victory (remember his bike change - formula 1 style).

Also, the rest of the field looks formidable as most of the teams are bringing plenty of heavy artillery.

A long list of riders are ready and chopping at the bit; Tom Boonen (looking for his fourth win), Svein Tuft, Sebastian Langeveld, Phillippe Gilbert, Thor Hushovd, Sep Vanmarcke, Heinrich Haussler, Dominque Rollin, Greg Van Avermaet, Peter Sagan, Eddy Boasson Hagen, Fillippo Pozzato, Oscar Gatto and Sylvain Chavanel (rode a tremendous Dwars).

Of course, to win one has to be on his 'A' game, have an exceptional team and plenty luck. Can Spartacus slay a third victory?


My pick: Peter The Terminator Sagan.
Photo: Sirotti

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Flemish Cycling Week

Kasseien Time!
Photo: TvanG



The tradition starts tomorrow, the start of the Vlaamse Wielerweek (Flemish cycling week) with the 67th Dwars door Vlaanderen, E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - Harelbeke (Mar 23), Ghent-Wevelgem (Mar 25), Three Days De Panne (Mar 27-29), into April; Ronde van Vlaanderen (Apr 1), Scheldeprijs (Apr 4), Paris-Roubaix (Apr 8) 7 Brabantse Pijl (Apr 11).

A staple in the diet for the classic lover of all things cobbles and Belgian racing. The fans will be in a frenzy and ready to cheer on their heroes with plenty of beer and frites.

I'll concentrate on Dwars door Vlaanderen, 201km, 13 Hellingen (hills), 3 Kasseien (cobble sections). Good race for a rider that can endure the kasseien (like that word) and climb.

If the weather runs afoul it will be extra dramatic, I can't think of anything more dangerous than a slippery kasseien.

I always like a dark horse to win and if (I wish) the weather turns ugly, the Pro Conti teams are always eager to prove they belong. I like the progress of sprinter, Guillaume Boivin of SpiderTech and his superb 2nd Ronde van Drenth & 4th Handzame Classic.

Sylvain Chavanel will look to better his 8th place in Paris-Nice, he won Dwars back in 2008. Flippo Pozzato on the Pro Conti Farnese Vini team and although he finished 5th in MSR he wants to get back as a classic winning specialist.

Time soon for a Chimay!


Allez Sylvain!



Monday, March 19, 2012

Team NetApp: Gung Ho!

Gung Ho for the big races!



German Pro Conti Team NetApp will be back for Paris-Roubaix.

ASO gave the team a wildcard for this year's classic. They're also invited to the Giro and the Tour of Flanders.

Here's the classic driven and excellent documentary, Surviving the Pavé  by Markus Neuert showcasing their maiden voyage in the 2011 Hell of the North.

Good luck to this talented team!









Sunday, March 18, 2012

Quality & Determination

The Early Break...
(l to r): Suarez, Ji, Grudev, Mørkøv.



Worthy mentions, from yesterday's exciting Milan SanRemo race, is the first Chinese rider to ride la Primavera. His name is Cheng Ji riding for the Dutch 1t4i team.

Ji stayed out in front, for the first 240 km, with a group of nine riders. Also, part of that
attacking group,was Juan Pablo Suarez of the Colombia-Coldesportes team, both young riders new to la Classicissima. We can be thankful in knowing Carlos Quintero's crash, initially horrific from the helicopter pictures, wasn't life threatening. He went down on the descent of Le Màrnie and I couldn't help thinking of the late Wouter Weylandt's death in the Giro. He's in hospital awaiting a second CAT scan, clearing that he can leave with no serious damage; fracture cheekbone, collarbone and bruised lung. Vladimir Gusev (Katusha) was another unlucky rider, crashing on the Cipressa with fractured ribs.


The Green...EDGE
Simon Gerrans


The Poggio is the tipping point of this great race where the big move formed on the descent. Nibali attacked bringing along Gerrans and Cancellara, wanting badly to win on his birthday. Cancellara looked like a human locomotive doing the majority of the load and like a kamikaze on the downhills.

"He was going like a motorbike," said Gerrans.

Cancellara was the strongest rider but the strongest rider doesn't always win.

Gerrans was the smartest and what a glorious monument win for Gerrans and a perfect start of the season for GreenEDGE. Their team looks formidable and built tough for the classics and will want to keep on winning. For Cancellara, with the upcoming Belgian classics, he's certainly licking his pave chops.

I firmly believe if the Liquigas roles were reverse, Sagan (4th) would've taken the sprint. The Italian squadra may have to re-jig their tactics.

My team revelation has to go with the successful 1T4i team, they were part of the initial break (Ji) and at the end, excellent finish for John Degenkolb (5th), Simon Geschke (13th) and Koen de Kort (19th).


Simon Gerrans wins his biggest of his career...

"This is an amazing feeling to win. I have to say that it's better than I could have hoped for!"

  





Get ready for the squeals!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Supporting Cast: la Primavera

Making it count, on the descent of the Poggio...
Spartacus leads Goss, Offredo & Nibali. 2011 MSR



Disappointing news, one of my favorites for this Saturday's Milan-San Remo - Thor Hushovd is out with fever.

For the God of Thunder will have to wait until 2013 to throw his lightning bolts on la Primavera. His history with this great race was good and looking better; podium during the 2005 and 2009 editions. Now, the gauntlet is thrown down to his BMC teammates; Gilbert (who doesn't look on form, yet), Van Avermaet (sore heel) and possible winner Allesandro Ballan, fourth in the Strade Bianche.





One factor, if it's true, the riders must contend with is the forecast for rain. The race could end with a solo victory, an advantage for the likes of Vincenzo Nibali. The Shark (winner of Tirreno-Adriatico) would do well.

I think of the support riders, had not for them, their stars wouldn't have a hope in winning. If everything goes right for SKY, Boasson Hagen and Eisel will lead out Cavendish. If it goes the other way, SKY has another card to play, Boasson Hagen is good enough to win.

Svein Tuft is a support rider with a huge motor. Showing his strength on stage 2 Tirreno-Adriatico riding out front for 200km! Tuft will be a welcome GreenEDGE dragster to aid Goss. Heinrich Haussler will have the services of his Garmin-Barracuda blue machine; Le Mevel, Fischer, Millar and Farrar.

I know I've left out many riders that gets my nod and appreciation for supporting cast (the full list)... la Primavera cannot start early enough!



The God of Thunder will be back!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Professeur

The Professeur vs the Badger, 1984 TdF



Here's a wonderful time capsule of the career of the late and great, Laurent Fignon from France3. In case you don't recognize him, that's Vincent Barteau former teammate and wearer of the yellow jersey for 12 days in the 1984 Tour. Also, former teammate, Jean-René Bernadeau (Europcar DS) is interviewed.

Enjoy this video concentrating on the Professeur's 1984 season!




Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tirreno-Adriatico: Riders with Grinta!

The Shark Attacks!
Photo: Graham Watson



The Shark took his bite, a huge one, to win Tirreno-Adriatico.

Vincenzo Nibali is an excellent tactician and rider. Since winning into Prati di Tivo, he positioned himself cleverly and gained huge time to third on the GC (20s bonus) and six in bonuses in Offida.



Card Shark...
In the end, the Shark had the winning hand!


His ride, in a way, eclipsed World TT Champion, Cancellara's TT winning ride. The Shark cleverly gain time, as in the past two days, put 20 seconds on Chris Horner to win the overall. I thought, perhaps, Horner could win it. He was a new rider since falling with concussion and abandoning the 2011 Tour. Many months later the 40-year old returned with a strong comeback ride for 2nd place on GC.

Cameron Meyer rode an amazing TT for 3rd, along with teammate, Svein Tuft (4th) showing that he's enjoying his new WorldTour GreenEDGE team. Stage 2 winner, Mark Cavendish (via Twitter) said, "Ride of the day.. No, make that ride of the millennium, goes to GreenEDGE's Svein Tuft, 200km ALONE controlling the peloton! Respect!"


Now, I wonder if Horner's words will ring true... will Sagan, now, buy Nibali that Mercedes?





Tuft rode with Grinta!
Photo: Cor Vos


Chris Horner,
"I'm coming out of here in one direction,
and that's very optimistic about the races to come."
Photo: Graham Watson


Monday, March 12, 2012

Chris Horner said...


Horner holds onto the Maglia Azzura
 over Kreuziger  (5s) & Nibali (6s)
Photos: Bettini Photo


Quote of the day...


"I made no mistakes. The tactics were dictated by the race. Kreuziger is the big threat I believe and we'll see tomorrow if I'm correct. Today Peter Sagan was phenomenal on the last climb and up to finish. If Nibali wins, he owes Sagan a car or something."


Chris Horner, after the sixth stage Tirreno-Adriatico, holding onto a slim lead going into the final TT stage Tuesday. It's going to be an exciting finish!



Congratulations are in order...
Purito Rodriquez fired a Katusha rocket
winning today's stage!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tick Tock

Time's on his side.
Photo: Sirotti



I must admit I woke up late, one of those rare times I forgot to move my clock ahead for the Spring jump.

Waking up completely discombobulated, I switched on my computer to only enjoy watching The Shark Nibali ride off in the last 3 kms of Tirenno-Adriatico. I couldn't find the feed to Paris-Nice and the final stage TT. I was looking forward to watching this classic Col d'Eze TT, wondering if Wiggins would become the second Briton to win the prestigious race.

Hastily drinking a cup of coffee, I realized to my horror the error of waking late. In fact, it was 7:30 and not 6:30 as my bedside clock read. But, as you can pretty much find on time race info online, I discovered  Bradley Wiggins had won the TT stage and the overall victory over the very competitive Lieuwe Westra (the Mende stage winner).

I wasn't so surprised that Wiggins won ...but how he did it.

In the prologue he was just one second off the winner, Gustav Larsson. Then, along with his strong SKY team, he took over looking pretty calm and the strongest rider throughout the entire race. Wiggins kept his composure never panicking, riding so well that he beat Westra by a scant two seconds. He also won the Green Points Jersey and becomes the second Brit after Tom Simpson (1967) to win PN. Frenchman, Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2R) put in a great ride placing third (33s behind).

Wiggins wins a huge race as his direction leans towards July where an even bigger goal awaits.

For me, I've already adjusted my clocks and my goal is to watch tomorrow's Tirenno stage...

Excuse me while I go check the time... just to make sure!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hard to stop a train

Going up!
Take the A train!



A bullet train is how I describe Peter Sagan's ride up towards the steep uphill finish in Chieti.

This was the longest stage at 252 km, but perhaps not the hardest. Organizers omitted the Passo Lanciano due to snow and ice and replaced it with the less steep Valico della Forcella.

On the final hectic straight, Sagan played the Liquigas card and zoomed past teammate Nibali (3rd), Kreuziger (2nd), Di Luca (4th), Horner (5th) and Hoogerland (6th) firing on all cylinders to have enough time to thump his chest in victory.

Forty year old Chris Horner is the new Maglia Azzura, 7s from Roman Kreuziger and 13s from Cameron Meyer. The Sagan train is only 21s behind and ...lies in wait.




Friday, March 9, 2012

March Madness; Espresso & Sprinters

Today, Eddy Boasson-Hagen
stands his ground.



Looking outside this morning, the rain was back with a vengence.

Yesterday, Guy and I rode to the top of Burnaby Mountain. A pleasant dry day on top of the mountain with a welcome double espresso courtesy from Guy. He rode his Orbea and I, my trusty Marinoni having nothing to concern us except for time. Even time was on hold for us.

la pavoni,
 la practical espresso machine, Italian made of course.



Our cafe conversation turned to this year's Tirreno-Adriatico as the precursor to the classic Milan-SanRemo. We mulled over our favorites to win. I know Guy likes Peter Sagan as surprise winner. He's been up there challenging for the sprints, today finishing third in Terni. Boasson Hagen is one of my dark horses for MSR. But, he has the tough position of supporting Cavendish, today he was allow to win. Friere, Modolo, Haussler, Greipel, Hushovd & Goss... head my list of riders that have that chance to win.

One of the comforts of the ride was the other hot topic... the noble espresso. It spurs one to desire it, and having it spurs you on your ride. I fancy a machine, I would be happy just having double shots of espresso daily. But, during this early March, a sort of March madness descends with MSR in the near distance.




Thoughts turn to March 17.



Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Cat Almost Came Back

Cavendish showed his extra gear,
The Cat (left) pounced too late!




With many of the world's top sprinters at Tirreno-Adriatico, stage 2 was a good prep for the upcoming classic, Milan-San Remo (March 17).

San Vincenzo to Indicatore, 230 km stage meant for the sprinters. I read online that the road to the finish was only 20 feet wide, and you have to wonder how the sprinters can funnel through that small space?

In the end, came the dramatic conclusion to a long day as Robbie Hunter was the pilot fish to Tyler Farrar (winning here last year) leading him out for a repeat win. Edvald Boasson Hagen pulled for Mark Cavendish. As Farrar started his gallop, Cavendish pulled to the right and sprinted past Farrar for the win. The Oscar the Cat Friere was too late to pounce on the Manx Missile finishing a good second. Farrar was third, a lunging Peter Sagan in fourth and a feisty Sacha Modolo in fifth.

Peter Sagan is a favorite and looks forward to MSR and hopes to put that feather in his cap. One other sprinter that I believe is a dark horse is Sacha Modolo, fourth in 2010.

For 36 year Cat Friere, a close fight most importantly, working on his form for MSR. He's a three-time MSR champion (2004, 2007, 2010) and could he be sensing a fourth win?

He's sharpening his claws!




The Cat Came Back!


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

GreenEdge: Corsa dei Due Mari

GreenEdge smokin'!
Svein Tuft in white/red Canadian national jersey.



GreenEdge got the edge on the rest of the competition and won today's opening TTT in Tirreno-Adriatico known as La Corsa dei Due Mari. A majority of GreenEdge riders are track based and rode perfectly for the kill today.

They put the hammer down and nailed it winning the 16.9km TTT  in 18:41, 17 seconds faster than the Cancellara led RadioShack-Nissan and Farrar led Garmin-Barracuda. Cadel Evans BMC was further behind (58s) having to cast off a struggling Philippe Gilbert.

Matt Goss gets to wear the leaders jersey and Svein Tuft is second overall.

Veteran Stuart O'Grady is in fourth overall and here's a fun interview with Eddy Merckx on nutrition. Merckx may surprise  with his nutrition back in his days...




Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Race of Seconds

Pou Pou on hand to present Wiggins 2nd Yellow Jersey!



After stage 3 of another cold day, Bradley Wiggins warmly accepted the leaders jersey by two-time Paris-Nice ('72-'73) French great Raymond Poulidor.

Bradley Wiggins is riding very well staying out of trouble keeping the yellow jersey by six seconds by Levi Leipheimer. But, the race is far from over, Movistar took over as the road began to rise towards the finish setting up Alejandro Valverde to win the uphill sprint over a fast charging Simon Gerrans.

Valverde, backed from his doping ban, won his fourth race of this early season picked up a 10-second time bonus and lurks 20 seconds behind Wiggins. The Race to the Sun is becoming the Race of seconds!


Monday, March 5, 2012

Paris-Nice: The Boonen Bus

All aboard the renew Boonen bus,
difficult to catch! 
John Degenkolb (it4i)  and Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) tried.



Tom Boonen won his 100th UCI race of his career today, sprinting fabulously to win stage 2 to Orleans of Paris-Nice. Crosswinds, sleet, a little sunshine and cold was the menu of the day as the contenders tried to keep safe. 

Bradley Wiggins rode extremely well and kept up with the charging and at times frantic pace of the 21 man break taking over the yellow jersey. He'll have to watch out for hungry contenders Levi Leipheimer (6secs) and Tejay Van Garderen (11secs).

For Boonen, he looks like his old killer self and he's working towards his first goal, Milan SanRemo...

All aboard the Boonen Bus!




If you thought the crosswinds and cold were a problem
the 1937 race had this challenge...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Paris Nice: Race in the Rain

TT specialist, Gustav Larsson avoids the rain & fires the first shot!
(Robert Bettini)



The 'Race to the Sun' is full on attracting some heavy Grand Tour contenders (minus Cadel Evans) who are looking to win the 70th edition of France's second biggest stage race. Ironically, the weather often is the case and lacking like today's rainy time trail won by Gustav Larsson.


Tejay Van Garderen is the Best Young Rider 
looking for Yellow.
(via bmc-racing)


Bradley Wiggins looks onward hoping to win it and put a stamp on this early season building towards the Tour. His fabulous smooth ride in a downpour showed he's in form knocking away many contenders some with disastrous results; Martin (25secs), Brajkovic (40s), Menchov (42s), F.Schleck (54s), Voeckler (58s), A.Schleck (1:01).

Levi Leipheimer (4s) and Tejay Van Garderen (9s) rode very well and have solid teams to back them up. I like Van Garderen making a good mark with a solid ride and leader of BMC. Thor Hushovd (17s) is here to support him win a stage building his form for his major goal; the upcoming classics namely Paris-Roubaix.

Tomorrow is stage 2 of this great race, it's 185km and relatively flat with the top contenders concentrating on riding safe fighting the crosswinds, minus the rain and ...hopefully in sunshine.



Solid form in the rain,
second and holding second overall
for Bradley Wiggins.
(EPA)



Saturday, March 3, 2012

Cancellara's Strade Bianche Time Trial

No one close,
Cancellara decides to blow everyone away to win his second Strade Bianche!



With 12km left of the Montepaschi Strade Bianche classic, Fabian 'I'm back and stronger' Cancellara attacked on the final section of strade bianche bulldozing his way past a helpless Greg Van Avermaet. Cancellara motored away looking like a different gladiator than last year and more like the winning Spartacus of old. I wondered if Hushovd and Boonen were tuning in and paying attention to a real threat when Milan SanRemo, Flanders and Roubaix come.




He just turned on the afterburners and went time trial mode and never looked back. At onne point he was chronoing so hard he was close to smacking the rear of an official's car.

Luckily for the car, he swerved and blew by it. During the last 10kms, the gaps grew between Cancellara and the chasing group of five; Gatto, Inglinsky, Ballan, Van Avermaet and Kreuziger.

He finished in Siena 43 seconds ahead of Maxim Inglinsky (2010 winner) and a very good Oscar Gatto, effectively riding a time trial and showing he's back, a gladiator to watch in the upcoming classics... he has his mojo back!







Thursday, March 1, 2012

Montepaschi Strade Bianche: Grinta over the Sterrati

Will it be BMC time?



What's that I hear? That's my Italian heart beating a mile a minute because this Saturday is the glorious, tifosi loving ( I feel I belong to that tribe because I ride an Italian bike), Montepaschi Strade Bianche.

It may be the only Italian professional race with roots from an amateur race; the l'Eroica gran fondo where people ride steel bikes 1987 (toe straps please) and earlier and wear very cool retro wool jerseys.

The riders have plenty of grinta for this war on Italian sterrati roads (8 bone shaking gravel sections of white gravel road worth) of the Tuscany wine region. This will be the 6th edition but it already feels like it's been around for ages, almost as long as Italian racing. One of the races that I enjoy watching because it's epic. The 57km of strade bianche when dry covers the riders and bikes like a baptism of dust. When it's wet, like in the epic Giro 2010 stage where Cadel Evans caked in mud from the strade bianche went through glorious suffering to win.

There will be many who are capable to suffer over the narrow, dusty roads and sharp climbs that will look heavenward if they survive. The mighty BMC squad will be there led by favorite Gilbert with enough firepower, (Ballan and Van Avermaet) to scare the hell out of the sterrati. There are others to challenge: Hesjedal, Sagan, Visconti, Nibali, Cancellara, Pozzato and Kreuziger. I'm happy to see the Colombia-Coldeportes team invited.

If an Italian wins, then it would be the first and there will joyous rapture from the tifosi and from above. But first, there is 190km to contend with.

A unique Italian race is approaching... my heart is already pounding with anticipation!

Merckx In 1967

The man who would be King, 1967.



I don't know what jersey he's wearing in this image, for the confident looking 22 year old Eddy Merckx, his palmares are already looking golden.

In 1967, his third year as a Pro, he won his second Milan-San Remo, Ghent-Wevelgem, Fleche-Wallonne crowning the year winning the World Championship Road Race.

That year he rode his first major stage race, the Giro, and finished 9th. He said...


"I was very satisfied with my ninth place in the final classification. It was gradually dawning on me that I probably had a future in stage races too."


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