Feb 20 2006
Wow, Tour of California prologue – a week of hype for a mere 5 minutes of racing. And the American (I can’t imagine any foreign riders willing to go all out for a February tune-up race) who came out on top? Levi Leipheimer. He bested that lying dog Bobby Julich, who claimed just a week ago not to have good legs. Former Tour de France (you know, a race that actually matters?) prologue winner Fab Cancellara was the first foreigner in 6th. I know it seems like I’m speaking harshly of the ToC, but it’s not an attempt to belittle it so much as an attempt to keep it at the correct size. Taking a global view of the sport, the only February races that matter are Het Volk and KBK.
Speaking of those two Belgian season openers (pursued with ferocity by the current World and Olympic Champions if you doubt their gravity), they’ll be available live and free of charge on Cycling.TV, along with a whole host of other Spring races, including Amstel Gold. Plus there should be highlights of the ToC and the recently concluded Classic Haribo, in which a certain cocksure Norweigan was made to look the fool by a little-known Frenchman. In Portugal, the Volta ao Algarve continued today, no one really paid attention because, as I mentioned before, it’s a February stage race, and none of the big names are going all out yet.
And finally, in Olympic action today, the infamous Italian paramilitary police made what I believe to be their first non-cycling raid last night (it’s their first Olympic raid – maybe they’ve hit a soccer team or something), awakening the Austrian XC Ski Team in the wee hours. The article tells of the usual disturbances, plus bags of “medicines and needles” being tossed out the windows and a daring escape via minivan. No accusations have yet been made, though two Austrian biathletes were kicked off the Olympic team just after the raids were completed. The Austrian nordic skiers, meanwhile, rallied bravely to finish dead last in today’s Men’s 4x10k relay, while the Italian team, functioning on a full night’s rest, walked away with the gold.