Mar 26 2007
Well, looks like I’m 0-for-2 on the season. In my defense, as Chris points out, Oscar Freire was (in hindsight) an easy pick, and I’m not interested in cycling because it’s easy. If I wanted easy, I’d watch Olympic rifle – the event that doesn’t seem to realize it’s biathlon without the wind, cold, time pressure, elevated heart rate and – oh yeah – 5 to 50k of cross-country skiing.
But I digress. Even with the bunch sprint, MSR was not easy – a hot pace, long-lived breakaway (to the Cipressa!) and rough crashes seemed to keep the lid on attacks. Team CSC rode for O’Grady, elminating any number of breakaway threats, while even a few riders with no one to work for (Kim Kirchen, I’m looking at you) seemed content simply to pull the field back together.
That having been said, I never actually saw the race (grumble), but since I’m in a position of no accountability, I feel perfectly comfortable to declare losers anyway. Big Loser #1 – easily team Liquigas. Two of the top three from last year’s race on the start line, and neither figured all day. In fact, Paolini managed to get gapped, and Pozzatto came in even further back. Weak sauce.
Big Loser #2 – Erik Zabel. Even while leading out the sprint, the unflappable German took 6th, two spots ahead of teammate Ale-Jetlag. Despite his current inability to do, well, anything, it seems the Italo-Germanic squad is contracturally obligated to work for Petacchi. A note to Ete – as Richard Virenque and Bernard Hinault will tell you, a little backstabbing never hurt anyone.
While Zabel would never complain, Tom Boonen sure is picky. After Saturday’s event, Boonen commented he felt like an 85 year old man – not from the difficulty of the race, mind you, but from his crappy American bike. You’ll recall that in ’05, Boonen needed a beefier bike after his chain kept skipping. One wonders if less well-known riders like Stephane Auge and Wouter Weylandt (who won this weekend’s other races) would receive such treatment.