Jun 11 2007
You know it’s slow when Nude Bike Day grabs headlines on Cyclingnews. Well, at least it was slow this weekend – now people can pretend they care about the Dauphine Libere. I mean, Brad Wiggins winning the Dauphine prologue – I am Cosmo’s complete lack of surprise. We all know the real action was over a second down (longer than it sounds in a sub-five minute race), as George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Andrey Kashechkin, and Alejandro Valverde, all considered potential TdF podium finishers (at one point), showed good form. Alexandre Vinokourov, who finished well outside the Top 10, not so much.
It’s a good thing Tom Boonen threw down an impressive run yesteday, as Heinrich Haussler of all people swiped the group sprint in Stage One. If this were the Tour, that’d be a big surprise, Haussler would have a sweet pay hike for the ’08 season, and Boonen would have to console himself with the Green Jersey (and Yellow, if the TdF time bonuses were factored in), but since it’s just the Dauphine, no one cares. Well, no one except Levi Leipheimer, who had his teammates pulling in the cold, crappy rain to try and set up his second consecutive win in what is essentially a toy race.
Granted, it’s a pretty cool toy, like a Wii or an Escalade Custom Power Wheels or something like that, and certainly more awesome than Gregory Rast’s or Tino Zaballo’s low-budget knockoffs. But you’ve still gotta keep in mind that from now until July, very few riders are putting it all on the table. Some hold back because they’re focused on staying fresh for the Tour, but perhaps others are letting the form slide because they realize the powers that be may be planning another pre-Tour de France purge. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few riders looking sluggish now end up with mandatory vacations come July.