Bettini Starts Strong at T-A, Landis Leads at P-N

Mar 9 2006

Yeah, now this is what pro cycling needs, a little T & A. I mean, Daily Distractions is one thing, but a whole race dedicated to…oh. It’s just Tirreno-Adriatico. Ah well, at least the stage was interesting, with Quick.Step’s Paolo Bettini (who most definitely did not “defer” to Petacchi at last year’s Worlds) taking the win over the most recent wearer and the most frequent wearer of the TdF’s Green Jersey; in doing so, Il Grillo fulfills his previously stated aim of a T-A victory. And Filippo Simeoni provided some early animation, perhaps to celebrate the fact that his libel case against Lance Armstrong has finally gone to trial. Meanwhile, at Paris-Nice, Stage 3 saw Lampre’s Basque polyglot Patxi Vila and Phonak’s Floyd Landis slip away from the field over the day’s six categorized climbs. Vila took the win and Landis got the GC Lead, a nine-second cushion over his breakaway companion. The man he supplanted, Tom Boonen, finished a mere 7 minutes back, coming in 36th out of 144 finishers, on a day when many of the other fast men (Robert Hunter, Graeme Brown) missed out on the time cut entirely.

So what can we infer from today’s racing action? #1)Tom Boonen certainly is going well (I’ll stop short of blatantly jinxing him like Jeff Jones does here; apparently Cyclingnews forgets that Oscar Freire had a strong start in the Rainbow Jersey last year, then got a weird butt injury that forced him to miss half the season, inlcuding a once-in-lifetime opportunity to win a record 4th World Road Title, on a course custom made for him, in his home country). #2) Paolo Bettini is also on form. #3) They both ride for the same team, and are targeting the same race at the end of this month. Why do I feel that’s not going to work out (search “Hinault”)? #4) Bobby Julich is taking a relaxed (scroll down) approach to the early season so he can be stronger later; it sort of makes me wonder why Floyd Landis isn’t (That would be #5, but it’s not really an inference, and at any rate, it would be awkward to insert the “#5” thing mid-sentence like that).

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