Friday Group Ride #78

HTC is pulling out of pro racing, mergers promise to reduce the number of ProTour teams surviving into 2011, Alberto Contador continues to ride with a CAS-sized question mark over his head, and Lance Armstrong, the ghost of cycling past, waits to find out whether he’ll be indicted by the US government. But screw it, it’s always darkest before the dawn. You’ve got to stay on the sunny side. Accentuate the positive. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. Etc. Etc.

This has been a GREAT year for racing, beginning with the Spring Classics, continuing through the Giro and culminating with the just finished Tour de France. If you have not enjoyed this season, it is likely you don’t care for bike racing. You should take up the harp or explore your interest in paragliding.

Having just won the Tour, Cadel Evans is a strong candidate for rider of the year. He dazzled last season, while wearing the rainbow stripes of World Champion, and that gave him a measure of popularity he hadn’t enjoyed previously. He won Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of Romandie before claiming his first maillot jaune at 34.

Thor Hushovd started slowly, and though his marking of Fabian Cancellara clearly led to Johan van Summeren’s big win at Paris-Roubaix, the norseman was vocally upset that Garmin-Cervelo wasn’t planning more races around his burgeoning talent. As this year’s wearer of the rainbow stripes however, Hushovd absolutely lit up the first week of the Tour, spending eight days in the yellow jersey and generally getting to display his class on the very biggest stage cycling offers.

Of course, any discussion of 2011 has to include Philippe Gilbert. To wit, Gilbert has won: Ster-Elektrotour, the Tour of Belgium, the Belgian road championship, Liége-Bastogne-Liége, Amstel Gold, La Fléche Wallonne, Montepaschi Strade Bianchi, Brabantse Pijl, stages at the Tour de France, Tirreno-Adriatico, and the Tour of the Algarve, and stood third on the podium at Milan-San Remo. Dude. Wins. Everything.

And, now that you’ve read this far, you’re probably thinking I’m going to ask who the rider of the season has been up to this point. Wrong. Gilbert wins it going away (as usual). No. The question is, who has anything left for the end of the year? Evans can certainly be competitive in those Fall Classics that have, over the last few years, been the meat and potatoes of Gilbert’s palmares. Hushovd will surely notch some more wins before the leaves drop.

The question is: Which of these three will win more this year? Where? And why?

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  1. Adam

    Gilbert, because he’s openly stated that he wants points to finish as world number 1. It’s nice to see riders making this a priority.
    Unless of course, you count a single repeat win in the Worlds by Thor as trumping any number of further wins PG collects.

  2. Jonathan

    you left San Sebastian off the list for Gilbert.

    oh, and a few of those post tour Crits, but those don’t really count. 😉

    I say Gilbert keeps winning (anyone want to bet against him at Lombardy?) Thor has a shot at back to back Worlds, but that’s about it.

  3. Souleur

    well, since everyone else has said Gilbert, i have to take someone else.

    And Cadel has peaked, and good for Cadel.

    so…I’ll take Spartacus, just because I love him and he’s packing more heat in his legs than Dirty Harry any day, and he keeps his guns cleaner than Dirty Harry to boot.

    Dark horses:
    Danielson for colorado
    Sagan…just because he’s young and a ton of talent

  4. James

    I agree, Gilbert is a winning machine (maybe I shouldn’t say that after all of the BS with Cancellara last year!). You have to admit Gilbert is fun to watch. He was a joy during the Tour…always mixing it up!

  5. Doug P

    Gilbert is the most motivated rider, wanting to top the Euro Tour standings ahead of Voeckler. Cav could put his stamp on some of the races that remain, and I would like to see Pierre Rolland get a couple of wins too! It has been a banner year for racing. We had Gilbert, Thor, and Sagan to spice up the mix. Even “ol Cadel was there when and where I wanted him to be. Excepting those few expulsions and the ghosts of the past that hang around, there has not been too much drug talk. Amgen announcing two more years of the Tour of California really warmed the cockles of this Cal boy’s heart. Let’s hope other sponsors come out of the woodwork. Greenedge looks promising as well. The big question is where will Cav end up? If he’s smart, he’ll go with Mark Renshaw.

  6. randomactsofcycling

    As you’ve said it must be of these three then it has to be Hushovd.
    Evans is only racing once more this year, in the U.S.A., then he’s taking a rest.
    Gilbert….wow, I’d love to see him win some more, because he does it in great style and is a credit to”True Racing” in a way that Leopard/Schleck have not been this year. I just can’t see anyone in the current peloton winning ALL year.
    That leaves Thor, who in reality kept his powder dry through the Spring Classics and hopefully has some left in the tank for Lombardy/Paris Tours/Worlds.

  7. Phil

    I’m going to go with my absolute favourite rider, Philippe Gilbert. I predict that he’ll take one stage in the Eneco Tour, he’ll ride the Vuelta as training for Lombardy and the Worlds, and will win a in it. Then he’ll win Lombardy for the 3rd time, and place 3rd in the Worlds with Sagan winning it and Hushovd coming in second.

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