Paris – Notes

The Race to the Sun wrapped up Sunday in the pouring rain. It was the second day of wet misery in a row, and it made for a pretty excellent race. I hate to hope for bad weather races. The boys in the peloton don’t come to my office in mid-winter, throw the windows open and eat chips while I type my daily missives with chattering fingers. Still, the technical element that bad weather adds to the racing, not to mention the way it draws the hard men out of the pack, I find completely thrilling.

Having said that, here are some impressions from Paris-Nice:

1) Tony Martin is a worthy winner. I wish I had more glowing praise to heap on the German. He’s so strong. I’m just sort of bored by guys who win races on the strength of their time trialling. It’s one thing to be a strong cyclist. It’s another to find ways to win out of the pack. The $1M questions is whether young Tony can become a Grand Tour rider, or whether he’s going to have to carve his career out of winning one week races.

2) Having said that, Thomas Voekler is a total stud. Two wins, from two breakaways. The way he dropped Diego Ulissi on the descent into Nice yesterday was all class. I also loved the way he bunny-hopped the water off his rims rather than tapping his brakes.

3) Was anyone else surprised/disappointed that RadioShack couldn’t muster any sort of attack on Martin on the last day? I never expected to see Klöden on the podium, so good for them, but they seemed to go out with a a whimper, rather than a bang.

4) Vacansoleil’s performances were solid gold all week. From de Gendt wearing the yellow jersey twice to Matteo Carrera bullying guys in the final breakaway (before breaking himself), the boys in blue were fun to watch. It made me sad they even bothered to sign Riccó and Mosquera.

5) Poor Sammy Sanchez. I really thought he was going to pull off something big yesterday, but it wasn’t to be. At least he tried. There are a few other teams in the peloton that might ask themselves if they gave enough to get a result.

6) I know I said I liked watching bad weather racing, but there was NOTHING  thrilling about seeing Robert Kiserlovski wedged under a truck by the side of the road. ‘Stomach turning’ is the phrase that comes to mind. That guy’s going to need some counseling before he rides a bike again.

Meanwhile, Tirreno-Adriatico has served up more great racing (my DVR is full of it), down in Italy. Stay tuned to see if Cadel Evans can close that one out, or if one of the Liquigas boys will push him off the top step.

Image: John Pierce, Photosport International

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  1. Robot

    I think if you were to combine Martin and Voekler on his current form, you’d have young Bernard Hinault. Completely insufferable, and yet thrilling to watch.

  2. Souleur

    poor sammy….yes, but why was he riding his brakes? Mis-shift, mind body split, what the…endorphin induced yada yada…yes. He was deserving, but didn’t pull it. Mistake, probably.

    DeGendt however was super
    Martin, a GC contender for real

    will make for a good July…if…Vacansoleil makes the break w/ASO

  3. Champs

    Not to minimize his work, but like his compatriot Andre Greipel in years past, the low hanging fruit has been there for the taking while the top of the class in sprinting/stage racing saves himself for other races.

    Martin didn’t show any quit in the latter stages, so I think he can take the next step. You’ll just have to convince grand tour organizers to bring back the second long time trial.

    Side note: I’m still waiting for Universal Sports on my cable provider (Comcast), so it’s up to YouTube highlights and sometimes-official video feeds. You’d think the merger with NBC would get us ONE channel of fairly decent cycling coverage. How expensive can it really be to get non-exclusive US broadcasting rights, edit for length, then record a Skype conference between Phil/Paul/Bob? Pricier than another “edgy” fishing show?

  4. michael

    for all that the riders are whinging about the radios….why aren’t they up in arms about road furniture? if a rider dies one day stuck under a parked car or truck radios won’t mean squat or have changed the outcome. I know it was a freak accident, but seriously the riders need to pick better battles and re-evaluate what a “closed” course is supposed to mean.

    1. Padraig

      Michael: You bring up a great point regarding road furniture; in terms of relative danger it is a constant and significant threat. The challenge, as I see it, is that the UCI, ASO, RCS, etc. are powerless over road furniture, roundabouts and the like. The UCI has direct control over radios and ASO, RCS et al have the power (as evidenced from history) to place uncomfortable pressure on the UCI. Really, ASO could simply say, “radios allowed” and there would be nothing the UCI could really do about it. However, I sincerely doubt that ASO could tell the French government to change the roads at all.

      Having ridden countless kilometers in France and Italy I can also add that attempting to re-route races over other roads deemed dangerous due to the amount of road furniture is generally not an option. Very often the peloton is on the biggest road available to the race and any substitute would almost certainly bring even greater hazard.

      Last point: Why race organizers aren’t demanding that local officials tow any vehicle parked on the course is beyond comprehension. That’s inexcusable. A parked vehicle is far worse than any amount of road furniture, in part because it doesn’t have to stay parked, which introduces a whole new threat: someone driving on the course.

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