Monday, May 14, 2012
Ryder Hesjedal rides into the pink jersey at the Giro thanks to a strong team time trial and decent climbing in the first hilly stages. Hesjedal and his team are talking up his chances of winning the overall. That said though, if he wins the Giro overall then I now predict that Eddy Merckx will return to competitive cycling in 2013.
Mark Cavendish gets his two stage wins in Italy but has not been close to dominant. The slow build-up to London continues . . .
The only other rider at the Giro d'Italia capable of taking on Cavendish in the sprints is Matt Goss. This is a rivalry that should provide excitment for about the next 10 years.
Thor Hushovd, Tyler Farrar, Daniele Bennati. All retired from the Giro. All looking far off their form of previous years. All struggling to salvage their 2012 season.
Ivan Basso actually seems to be improving by the day at the Giro. Maybe the veteran can give Scarponi a run for his money after all come the high mountains.
At the pre-Tour of California press conference, much was made of the fact the Levi Leipheimer decided to contest the 7th running of the race. Really, was anyone surprised? This is the race he lives for, plain and simple. Also, do any real cycling fans think he has any shot at the overall? He is coming back from a broken leg, and with the training and preparation that some of his rivals have made, he'll be hard-pressed to be a contender for the overall. Still, a strong showing is likely from the aging veteran.
Is Peter Sagan on a motorized bike? Despite mechanicals and crashes, the Slovakian has made winning look easy as he has romped to victory in the Tour's first two stages. He won't win the overall, but Peter Sagan may be the man everyone talks about in one week's time when the race finishes in SoCal. In fact, by the end of the week he could have as many as five stage wins.
Tom Boonen clearly is not keen on risking anything in the sprints. If he feels super good perhaps he'll take a stab at winning on stage six, but staying upright clearly is priority number one ahead of the Tour de France in July.
Chris Horner looks fit and ready to defend his title. His entire race hinges on how much he can limit his losses in the time trial in Bakersfield.
Unlike Horner, Vincenzo Nibali can use the time trial to distance all of his rivals. Expect him to ride a very strong TT and then defend the leader's jersey to the end.
Although Robbie McEwen is old and should retire, it is nice that he chooses the Amgen race as his last professional outing. Farewell "Pocket Rocket", and thanks for the thrills over the years.
That Fred Rodriguez finished third in a sprint finish at this year's Amgen tells you all you need to know about the quality of the field. Despite it's high profile, the Tour of Claifornia is still an American race, targeted by American racers.