Het Volk, KBK, Tour of California Wrap-Ups

Feb 27 2006

So I spent all weekend up in Burlington, after a brief-but-disorienting brewery tour of Vermont. Unfortunately, the display on my iBook broke (again) leaving me unable to post, or to feast on live internet coverage of the weekend’s much-anticipated Belgian smorgasbord. This is a shame, as it seems the racing was pretty good. At Het Volk, Philippe Gilbert of FdJ erased the memory of losing the last classic of 2005 by taking the first classic of 2006. He attacked ferociously and broke clear with 7k to go, never to be seen again – apparently Eurosport considers this “going the distance”. Largely absent from the final shake-outs at The People’s Race was the Quick.Step superteam, but, as so often happens, the next morning’s race from Kuurne to Brussels and back proved an ideal do-over. In 2004, Stephen DeJongh used KBK to make up for Het Volk being snowed out; in 2005, George Hincapie won KBK, absolving Disco for failing to capitolize on haivng three riders in a break of eight with 20k to go; and on Sunday, Nick Nuyens, with a little help from his friends, atoned for Saturday’s mistakes. The biggest loser of the weekend in Flanders? Eh, let’s go with CSC, who still have yet to take a win this season, and who were really looking for something positive. It never came together (scroll to “CSC miss out”).

Over in Cali, though, with solid performances and two riders in the top 3, things went much better for the Danish marketing juggernaut. After the buying gluts CSC spawned in compact cranksets, Cervelos, Dura-Ace-styled SRMs and Zipp wheelsets, could chopper bikes be next? Hey, if Jens Voight rides it, who am I to pass it up? As far as racing went, Olaf Pollack restored some honor to the visiting Europeans, snatching up the final two stages, along with a surfboard. However, another European, Gilberto Simoni, found himself wilting in the California sunshine. The two-time Giro winner decried the race as “too hard”, calling it “an American world championship”, comments that are completely at odds with Cyclingnews’ assertion that race race (see the link under “stages” above) received a constant “thumbs up…from riders to directors to fans”. Gibo’s complaint that the Americans were really whipping things up also doesn’t jive with Bobby Julich’s statement that many American riders and teams didn’t “bring their A-Game”. So who are gonna believe? Well, the race owner, like certain anonymous commenters won’t consider the race a success until it’s as big as the Tour de France (again, the link under “stages”), so I’m willing to bet he doesn’t put much credence into Simoni’s assessment the the ToC is currently “too hard”.

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