Pro Cycling News – ProTour: Too Hard?, Bettini's Cobblestone Dreams

Oct 18 2005

First off, I’d just like to apologize for yesterday’s technichal difficulties. We’re working on moving the page over to (screw this bush-league blospot business), but there’ve been a few technical hurdles. No doubt it’s also a little digital karma after I ripped on Daily Peloton for being offline for a few days. They’re back, by the way, and have report from the half-a-month-old Interbike Outdoor Demo (not only that, but the report ends in “to be continued…”). They’ve also got word that Gibo Simoni might find himself out of the ProTour, on Murilo Fisher’s Naturino-whatevertheheckitis continental squad. I don’t think I’d notice, honestly, as, other than his suberb win on Mont-Faron at this year’s Paris-Nice, Simoni hasn’t done much outside of Italy this season.

But heck, who wants in the ProTour these days, anyway? Well, I guess Liquigas, who signed Danilo DiLuca, the only rider to win the ProTour, and a definite favorite in years to come for, two more seasons. But the team formerly known as Kelme has put forth a resounding “hells no” to the possibility of joining the ProTour next season. And now, the riders’ union is yelping (scroll to “ENECO”) about how the Benelux Tour, as well as the Tours of Germany and Poland, are too long, and have finishing circuits that are too scary. ASO, who owns just about every French race you can name, has been having a field day with the shortcomings of ENECO, which the UCI threw together to prove the ASO wasn’t the only race organizer in town (the two acronyms have had beef for some time). I just wonder what Henri Desgrange would say about the Tour organizers delighting in the whines of riders. Of course, this wouldn’t have happened a decade ago; in 1998, Laurent Jalabert was criticized for complaining that police were breaking into his hotel at 3am and stealing his blood. Nowadays, you ask the race to go around an acute angle inside the final 5k and you don’t stop hearing about it for a week. Must be that too many of the hard men are gone.

Speaking of hard men, Paolo Bettini (don’t worry, I’ll correct that contradiction in a moment) says he wants to win Tour of Flanders (scroll down). No, I am serious. Apparently, he said that. The 5’6″, 127 lb. Olympic Champion is looking to win a race conquered recently by 6’3″, 176 lbs of Tom Boonen, the 5’8″, 161lb Steffen Wesemann, Peter Van Petegem at 5’9″, 161lbs, and 6’1″ Andrea Tafi, who weighs 163lbs. It’s not that Bettini can’t ride the cobbles or that he can’t handle the steep climbs; it’s just that together they pose a challenge for lighter riders, and the shoulder-to-shoulder fight for position at the base of each climb doesn’t help. To be fair, the Italian admits he has a much better shot at taking a race like Amstel Gold, and for once, I agree with him.

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