Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I've been thouroughly wiped the last few weeks from some serious stress and it has sapped my motivation in a big way. Luckily, the beer intake has been curbed to a certain extent and I've actually incorporated some semi-regular core work into my day so something has been going right. The last few weeks have seen a decent amount of tempo and LT action with some good solid dirt riding, so that's been good to take my mind off things. It's going to be interesting to see how Castlewood goes this weekend. It's been three years since I've gotten to race there and I've never done it as an expert. Still, it should be a great day and the forecast leading up to the race calls for pain. I think I'm somewhat prepared, but you never know until you go. Luckily the BMF Epic is rockstar and it will hopefully make up for some areas where I'm lacking...

This last Sunday was kick ass. I opted out of the wind tunnel circuit race at Carondelet, instead spending my energy on a trail work day at Creve Couer Park and two and a half hours of what can only be described as ultimate freeroad. The cross bike lit up the spectacular singletrack at Creve Couer and Bangert Island and I was left with a huge grin on my face. If only it had disc brakes... Seriously, do this ride. Ride (or drive) to CC park, rip the singletrack, ride Page extension and Katy to Bangert, rip some laps there and ride back to CC to finish off the day with some more singletrack. Unbelievable.

Big week coming up with Flight of the Conchords last nite, grand opening of the mega concept store tonight and tomorrow, Castlewood Sunday, Killers Monday and third row seats to the game on Wednesday. Even though the Lung isn't going to make it to the race Sunday, I think there's a lot to be excited about. Here we go...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Brief Flanders Wrap

Assuming everyone watched this or read the report, here goes...

Devolder's win was superb. He rode like an animal and his team displayed faultless tactics in getting him clear for the win.

Boonen and Pozzato cancelled each other out. With the form the two of them have, we should have seen them rip the field apart. Instead, we saw a few brief attacks followed by an unwillingness to cooperate and then they were caught. I would have liked to see these two lay a little more out there.

Chavannel rode a perfect team race.

Toward the end of the race, when Quick Step had three men in a six man break, they should have ridden to keep the gap to the pack. At this point they had dropped Haussler, Hincapie, all of Rabobank and Silence. Instead, they let Chavannel follow Quinziato and work with him, allowing a number of favorites back in the race. Pozzato may have been in the group, but with three men in the group, Quick Step could have made quick work of him and swept the podium. I see this as a mistake, but they won, so why get nit picky.

Haussler got second because of a seeming lack of interest from the pack. His face as he crossed the line staning up indicates he is not where he was two weeks agao, results notwithstanding. Regardless, excellent finish.

Why didn't Rabobank and Silence team up to organize some sort of chase rather than looking around for someone else to do it? Truly unprofessional. Still, kudos to Gilbert for cracking the podium.

It will be difficult for all the negative tactics to play out next week in Roubaix. so I look forward to a real battle of attrition. Bring it.

Finally, I'm not going out on a limb here, but I think it's going to be tough to
beat Cavendish at Ghent-Wevelgem tomorrow. Unless there's a bunch of wind, but I underestimated his ability at San Remo, so I won't do it again.

I love this week of racing. It's almost as good as cross...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Flanders Preview- My Thoughts

The first real cobbled classic of the year is on tap for Sunday and it seems as if this year is more up in the air than any edition in the previous years. Let's start with the favorites.

Tom Boonen- It is no secret that Boonen has continued to forgo a shot at San Remo so that he can be in peak form for his home races. He has proven that he is in imperious form, having been the most effective protagonist in the recent GP E3 and playing a key role in Kevin Van Impe's win at Dwaars Door Vlaandaren. The problem Boonen has had the last couple years is that he shows his hand too early. It's obviously important to be up front for the Koppenberg, but Boonen has ridden the field off his wheel on this climb multiple years running. This is far too early in the race for any kind of solo breakaway, so all Boonen is telling his competition is that no one should let him out of sight and no one should tow him to the line. His best hope is for a group of favorites to form under someone else's initiative somewhere in the last 25 km and wipe up the sprint.

Fillip Pozzato- Pozzato has added his name to the list of favorites through some very strong rides in the last week, most notably at the GP E3 where he played Boonen to perfection in forcing him to lead out the sprint. The issue that Pippo has is that he lacks initiative and rarely attacks on his own to force a selection. He is quite adept at following the right move and contibuting in the finale of a race, but he has yet to make an impact on his own. Additionally, with the loss of Gert Steegmans, Katusha is bringing a one man show to the race and Pozzato desperately needs a strong team to perform. His greatest win in 2006 at Milan San Remo was largely due to the strength of his then team and the aggression of Alessandro Ballan on the Pogio. However, he is in form and should not be given any leash by Quick Step.

Fabian Cancellara and Alessandro Ballan- Both of these highly skilled cobbled riders have had a very quiet season thus far. Ballan has helped his teammates to some early season wins in Italy and had a few respectable placings in his home races. Cancellara, on the other hand, showed he was coming along nicely by winning the Tour of California with a 103 degree fever. Unfortunately, a training crash at home has set him back quite a bit in his training and racing. It is likely that he will be far more of a factor next week in Paris-Roubaix. Missing Milan-San Remo was truly unfortunate for both of these riders.

George Hincapie- I have a hard time seeing Hincapie ever winning a major classic. He lacks the necessary aggression and luck. Perhaps he'll prove me wrong, but if he does, it will only be through following the right move.

Stijn Devolder- Devolder will be a factor in the race, he may not defend his title, but his fearsome pulls and boundless aggression will certainly serve to make the race extremely difficult for Quick Step's rivals.

I have left out a few riders that will definitely factor in the results for Sunday and I would like to address those riders in the context of their teams.

Silence-Lotto- Having their usual slow start to the season, Silence is once again the red head step child of Belgian cycling. They have a number of strong riders, but their collective ability falls short of rivals Quick Step. The trio of Phillipe Gilbert, Leif Hoste and Greg Van Aversment is a strong one, but it remains to be seen to what effect. Gilbert will likely go early, as is his way and Hoste will most likely try to stay with the group of favorites when the thick of the race gets going. He is an aggresive rider and has been known to take control of a race, but his string of second places in De Ronde has to be getting to his head. What will he do when he attacks and takes Boonen with him again? One thing is cetain, Quick Step cannot let Gilbert get in an early move because he has the strength and tenacity to attack from said group and make it stick. One needs only to look at his ride in last year's Het Volk for proof.

Rabobank- This team also has a trio of strong candidates in the form of Nick Nuyens, Juan Antonio Flecha and Sebastian Langeveld. The former two hace proven classics pedigree while the latter is often the sacrificial lamb who still manages to impress when given the chance. Despite their collective quality, one has to question their tactics as their lack of faith in Langeveld led to a team pursuit of his two man breakaway with Heinrich Haussler in this year's Het Nieusbald. Flecha always seems to attack too early and I believe Nuyen's best chance at this race would have been to remain with Quick Step and hope for some luck. Nonetheless, they will influence the race results.

Quick Step- By far the strongest team headining into the race, demonstrated to perfection with their ride at Dwaars Door Vlandarren. For me, it seems that Devolder should cover Hoste, Chavannel should cover Gilbert and Boonen should keep his eye on Rabobank. What seems to be the most likely situation would be a repeat of last year where a dummy attack from Devolder, Chavannel or Van Impe is used to take pressure off Boonen. This is, of course, in case there has been no real selection towards the finale, if there has been, Boonen has the form to win.

Final note- I can't believe Heinrich Haussler will still have his San Remo form. It just seems like he's been flying for way too long. I'm willing to be proven wrong, but it seems as if he peaked for the beginning of the year to get Cervelo off on a good foot. We'll see.

Ultimately, I'll pick Boonen. Honestly, I think someone from Quick Step will win and I hope it's Boonen. Whichever way the race shakes out, it's going to be one hell of a show.