Friday Group Ride #4

The peloton is coming! The peloton is coming! In the Land Down Under, Oz, the country formerly known as “Penal Colony,” hearty souls are already cranking their cranks in anger. The TDU is nigh. Rider itineraries are leaking out into the starved press. The softer among them are shivering in an unseasonably cold Spain. The harder are training in Belgium (Hello, Stijn Devolder!).

And you, our avid and ardent and aardvark-like readership, are spinning your rollers and braving your weathers and thinking about all the kilometers you hope to pass beneath your rubbery roundnesses over this 365 day period we call the “year.”

In other words, all is well and right in the cycling universe.

Given that we are in this nice, soft, clean spot in the calendar, the season stretching before us tabula rasa-styley, let’s take a moment to express wholly subjective opinions about the quality of the thing we are yet to see. Here is this weeks question:

In your (possibly) humble opinion, will the 2010 pro cycling season be better or worse than 2009? Why?

Image courtesy John Pierce, Photosport International

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  1. Trev

    Better. That guy from Texas is going to be in better shape than last year, and have an aruably better team. And while I don’t think Alberto will have nearly as strong team , I think this will make the fight a lot more even. We used to fear an angry Lance. I think it just might be an angry Alberto that will make this tour one of the best we have seen in years. thats the only race I really watch seriously ….the rest I just read about…….
    I also think Cavendish is not going to take everyone like he did in 09.

    1. Padraig

      In ’10, teams are going to have to choose between GC and stages. To go toe-to-toe with Cavendish, they won’t be able to keep a phalanx of climbers in reserve for the mountains. They are going to need to bring a train worthy of Union Pacific if they want to truly be competitive with HTC-Columbia. Of course, to support Cavendish and deliver the same results they got this year, HTC-Columbia shouldn’t harbor big dreams for the GC.

  2. Dan O

    2010 will be better – ’cause without a doubt, the “Lance Factor” reinstalls a cool element for most U.S. fans. I’m looking forward to see how Team Radioshack works out with Lance at the helm. It should be an interesting Tour.

    I think 2010 will also be another progressive step in cleaning up the sport doping wise. I hope so anyway.

  3. Adam

    Better, there’s so much young talent coming up that I think will tear the peleton to pieces in 2010. Boasson Hagen, Fuglsang, Lovkvist and Andy Schleck are all ready to have huge years.

  4. Sophrosune

    With any luck this year might bring the promise that the following year we will not have to be subjected to that insufferable jackass from Texas. So in that respect, I am at least hoping that 2010 will prove to be better than 2009.

  5. nathan

    Better. I think that Lance will again bring more viewers, but I hope that since this is his second year there will be less buzz about his epic return to cycling. I think that there will be more coverage about how the race is unfolding versus how Lance is doing on a second by second basis. Maybe that is wishful thinking on my part. I am excited to see how teams Sky and Radio shack change the landscape.

  6. Doug

    Better, immensely better.

    No inner team bickering of Lance vs. Alberto that steals the headlines day to day. Columbia’s dominance as the one day stage hunter team might fade a little bit as well with the loss of several big studs (although they will still be head and shoulders above the rest as far as sprints.)

    For me though, the number one best thing about 2010 will be the new teams. Radioshack is Postal 3.0, BMC has risen to super team levels, and it will be very interesting to see how well Sky can do (and what Garmin may do to thwart them.)…For all the glitz and glam sky has, I feel BMC’s roster is better, although I expect Boss Hog to win something very very big.

  7. Champs

    None of this year’s grand tours seem terribly suited to the traditional GC rider. With more climbing, fewer decisive time trials, and Contador on a weaker team, this year is the best shot that a Schleck brother has at winning the TdF.

    All of the tours are fairly similar this year, but most of the contenders have their sights set on July, for reasons I cannot understand. That may be where the most prestige is, but the Giro and Vuelta fields sound like they’ll be wide open.

  8. souleur

    Better, by far. On any given year, it should be easy to identify the ‘GC’ personality, the dominant rider qualified even before the Tour begins, like that of Indurain, Lance in the past, ‘the badger’. Before the Tour began, when they were there, they were Alpha. I am not sure we have that this year, which will make a better year dicing it all out.

    Lance, returns with a dominant psyche GC’r into the mix, with a respectable podium finish amidst questions about his ‘being fully fit’ after having to recover to some degree on the Tour. He is long in the tooth however. Now, barring injuries, he will have his fitness, his team and all his ducks in a row, but is that enough now?

    Contador, in my humblest of opinions, of all in the mix demonstrates GC’r qualities of anyone in the mix. But having support of Astana last year, to whatever degree, did help him, and now, with the vacuum sucking noise of everyone leaving Astana, what does he have left? He has some, don’t get me wrong, but it is a far stretch from the talent of last years team. Now, it will be his team (uh hummmm Vino?) without any distractions other Vino…in the background. BTW, Vino kinda put this team together, do we think it will be given from a Kazakistani to a Spaniard? Not sure, but this is sure, now, for once and for all, Contador will either lay it to rest that he is worthy the malliot juane, or eat the healthiest serving of humble pie served up in quite a long time.

    Team Sky, and Wigo, will bring a British quality team to the stage. I personally feel this will add as much excitement to the peloton and cyling fans as did the last years squabbles between Lance & Contador. Wiggins is going to have an interesting time handling the team, being the gc’r, and harnessing the power of his domestiques who can win any given stage given the talent on the team.

    The Schleck brothers, both formidible, neither dismissable, will add very strong considerations on each stage as they will be lurking, and if they break, it will have to be respected. Who do you spend your capital on??

    Cadel, and now HE will have support, and being currently donned in the ‘eternal 2nd’ jersey in the peloton, will now have a sporting chance. It will be interesting to see who pulls his butt up the mtns this time, and if it will be enough.

    And yet another, I really like Liquigas, the return of a silent Ivan Basso, and my personal fave, Pellozotti, who may just be ripe for a podium if he returns with form like he had in the mtns and spring of last year.

    And lastly, and not of least interest is Garmin, can you count out Christian VdV? Not in my mind. He has the experience needed, he is level headed, he knows what it will take, and he has been patient. He has had a quite a bit of sleep time, resting on the laurels of his past achievement, and yet the burning desire of not completing a task at hand, and to me that just seems to add a bit of sweetnes to the recipe we are looking for in 2010.

    WOW, what a question Robot!!

  9. Marco Placero

    Flyin’ on Sky w/Doug & Souleur. Personal: bumping the ceiling over ToC coming to my home roads. Il Giro has a lot to offer this year, passing right through my Italiano home area, might go over for the show. Tour cobbles always intrigue, sorting out the softies (get ready Pistolero).

    Hopes of fantastic classics shine out of Devolder, Tomeke, Gilbert, Hincapie, even Chavanel. Van Summeren takes Gehnt-Wevelgem or better? Would it be righteous if Cav won another classic? Hell yeah! this is going to be a better year. Not so much ’09 fault, I just getting revved for ’10!

  10. James

    Having suffered withdrawl symptoms since the Worlds and Lombardia finished, I can’t wait for the new season to begin. We have increased options for watching races from Europe so we can see many more races. Things seem to be getting cleaner in the peloton. Besides, new seasons are always better! I love this sport!!!

  11. velomonkey

    Hum, not sure if 2010 will be “better” than 2009, but it will have less drama. I’m all for panache, but the drama I can do without. As for 2010, April is still going to be great with Quick Step being strong, but CSC always packing a surprise and Thor trying to show everyone he is worthy rider at least as good as anyone with a “lion” in their title.

    Sky has already shown everyone that simple jersey is the best jersey. Quick step has done well in that area, too.

    Radio Shack will garner US headlines, but I predict Conti is still going to win the tour. BMC will replace Garmin and Columbia is going to be that much less of a US team.

    Let’s hope 2010 is the year the tweets go away.

  12. Henry

    I think it will be very similar to last season which was very entertaining. May be even more so this year as the young guns assert their supremacy and some new strong teams in the mix.

    Watching from the USA we will be subjected to the same 24/7 Lance media juggernaut. The trash talk has already started. I predict Lance will crush Contador on Twitter, Versus and in the media leading up to the Tour where AC will likely humiliate Lance in the mountains and in the TT. The fact that Armstrong has a great team and great GC and Contador has… ???should level the playing field a lot keeping it interesting. Looks like the perfect set up for Andy Schleck.

    I’m have my popcorn ready.

  13. Big Mikey

    Just like every year, there are some great storylines:

    Tons of young talent, some of it recently released from HTC-Columbia and free to take on Cavendish.

    New major teams (RS, BMC, Sky) will be interesting from the classics through the grand tours.

    World road champion nobody likes, Garmin vs HTC-Columbia vs Sky, Garmin vs Wiggins, the possibility of Cancellara deciding to tackle hillier races, there is a lot to like here.

    Can’t wait…..But not looking forward to the inevitable media non-stop coverage of LA vs AC. Assuming both are around at the TdF, LA is in danger of being embarrassed.

  14. Lachlan

    because it will be dominated by talk about performance more than only comeback and in-team fighting. (even if the performance debated and predicted includes lots on LA’s potential for the Tour, it will be more bike based than back biting politics, twitter-wars and pr hubris.)

    and maybe we get a zero-positive test tour :o)) haha, …. only joking, lots more doping fall out to come this year I am sure! Valverde decisions for exhibit no.1 to depress either way it gets resolved.

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