Last winter, I often struggled to find topics of interest to write about. The pro race scene was off-season and local ride activities were limited by weather and short days. Now, the days are long, I'm getting off the bike late and tired, things are hopping on every front and the challenge is to cover at least some the things that catch my attention.
Here are a few things that come to mind as worthy of mention:
Pro race scene:
The Tour of California was exciting and the move of the race from February to May was a good one. Lance Armstrong suffered two set-backs in as many days with Floyd Landis' detailed confessions and accusations of doping followed by a crash that caused Armstrong to withdraw from the race and get stitches to a large gash on his face. Some days, you're better off just staying in bed, Lance!
The Giro d'Italia was nothing short of spectacular! Ivan Basso is back at the top of the game with a roar and now must be considered a contender for the Tour de France. Vinkourov and Cadel Evans both seriously challenged and there were dramatic moments like Vino dropping his team in the TTT and Evans slapping another rider in a fit of frustration after a break was allowed to escape. I regret that the Giro didn't get more TV coverage. I was able to watch parts of some stages on http://www.cyclingfans.com/node?page=4 . Cycling fans is a great resource, but sometimes requires some imagination as, on at least one occasion, I had three screens up to follow the race: video with Italian commentators muted, an English language sound feed that was delayed by a minute or two, and the VeloNews "live update" text feed.
Lance hasn't shown much form and two of his top rivals from the good ol' days are back from doping suspensions and getting big results. The top Tour contenders looked to be Contador, Andy Schleck and Armstrong but right now if I had to bet the farm on a trifecta, I'd have to pick Contador, Basso and Vinokourov. If Contador felt threatened by a teammate last year in the form of Armstrong, he'd better be alert to Vino's intentions. I can't see Vinokourov passing on any opportunity to take a tour win should that opportunity arise. Lance was held in check not just by his form, but by his whole legacy picture. Vino is a warrior and already a hero at home, so dropping the Spaniard would not have quite the same PR repercussions for him. Astana is, after all, Vino's team and Contador has made it pretty clear that he will be gone after this season.
The UCI and WADA finally caught up to Alejandro Valverde and imposed a worldwide ban almost a year after he was excluded from the 2009 Tour due to his ban by Italian authorities from racing on Italian soil (a Tour stage passed into Italy). Valverde had several significant victories while the fight over his punishment raged on, including last year's Vuelta.
He is being allowed to keep some of those victories.
I just knew there had to be a reason for the large diameter tubing prevalent in modern bike design. I mean, the real reason, the claimed increases in stiffness aside. It's so they had a place to put the little secret motor! Yep, and a video has been widely circulating in the media suggesting that Fabian Cancellara did have a motor when he powered to big wins in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Here's the video that started the tempest:
While I thought Cancellara dropped Boonen as if he had a rocket up his ass, I dismiss the charges of motor doping. He's simply a monster on the bike. The UCI, of course, has taken up the business of looking into the allegations.