Friday Group Ride #97

If you were a pro cyclist, you’d probably have some mixed feelings about the holiday season. The late fall and early winter represent rest time. You can eat some food. You can leave the bike in the garage. You can see your family and friends. The holidays are the culmination of that well-earned rest.

What comes next is training camp.

The Tour Down Under is nigh. Oman and Qatar will follow. These are races that serve as showcases for new talent or simple opportunities for veterans to reaffirm their talent. Maybe they’re coming back from injury. Maybe they just want to remind everyone they haven’t retired yet.

The journalists will begin warming up again, too. You’ll start seeing stories about racers who had bad 2011s, and how they’re completely rejuvenated and ready to go for 2012. Reshuffled teams will all be on the press offensive, singing songs of harmony and united purpose. It’s all so glow-y and optimistic.

I have spent this “off season” (like much of cyclo-manity) sucked into cyclocross. There was a bandwagon. I hopped on. It was a fun ride.

But now I find my mind turning to the road season ahead. What can we expect from Mark Cavendish in the World Champion’s jersey? From Team Sky with Wiggins and Cavendish and Chris Froome and Flecha and Gerraint Thomas and Edvald Boasson-Hagen? How will the team chemistry play out at BMC with Hushovd and Gilbert and Evans all tugging at the reins? What of Radio Shack-Nissan-Trek-Leopard-Schleck? And then there’s the Belgian super squad Omega Pharma Quickstep, now with 100% more Leipheimer.

This week’s Group Ride shifts focus back to the road. What are you most looking forward to about the 2012 road season? What storyline are you most interested in? What surprises do we have in store?

Image: John Pierce, Photosport International

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  1. Paul

    As an expat Brit living in the USA, I will be watching Sky closely. Is Froome for real? Are they going to protect him at the Giro? How do they balance the competing agendas of Cav and Wiggins at the Tour? Also looking forward to seeing how it all plays out at BMC. And, of course, hoping for a successful season and continued sponsorship for everyone’s other favorite team, the Basques in bright orange.

  2. 68GT

    Will Johann Bruyneel do as he says and actually give a crap about a race other than the TdF now that he has a legit classics contender in his charge?

  3. DCinME

    Sky will be centered around Cav for the sprints which bodes ill for Wiggo, who needs a team that is 100% for him. They payed a fortune for Cav and will want to see a return on that investment. The Cav versus Goss battle should make for some crazy finishing gallups!!

    Bruyneel will be all Tour all the time trying to polish a Schleck into yellow. Cancellara will have support in the Classics but is likely to be marked out of contention as he was this year.

    As for Levi, he will be playing second fiddle in the Tour to Jurgen Van den Broeck who wants to redeem himself after this year’s disappointment and improve on his prior best 5th place.

    BMC will be a lot of fun to watch as they have the horsepower to field a fierce Classics squad, and a strong grand Tour team. I just hope we are not subjected to anymore Hushovd whining!

  4. Souleur

    there are many things, but the one thing I relish the most in is the HOPE that this years spring classics, especially Flanders and Paris-Roubaix will be badass nasty rain, sleet, snow, mud and HARDMEN will prevail in it!!!!!!

    will leave the drama on the back burner

  5. randomactsofcycling

    Wow, it’s a season to look forward to!
    I’m looking for the storyline that shouts “McQuaid busted for being a dope”. I’d love that.
    One story I dearly hope to see is a renaissance of sorts from Tom Boonen. So much talent but such little direction. I had hoped he would find somewhere else to ply his trade with a DS that could light a fire under his ass rather than keep kissing it.

  6. CaptainH

    Andy in yellow, Frank second, Basso in pink, Fabian at The Ronde, Johnny Hoogerland at Roubaix (on a really wet, cold day), Christian VdV in California, DZ wears the maillot jaune again, Jens Voigt wins Tour de Suisse, Big George in the stars and stripes, Sky is relegated due to e-mail hacking, Cav has permanent laryngitis, Thor has some cheese with his whine, Alberto and Bjarne sit together on the sidelines for 2 years and Lance is in prison stripes. That should do it.

  7. A Stray Velo

    +1 Souleur

    I’m looking forward to the classics again this year. Living in Europe near where all the classics take place makes it that much more interesting for me.

    The grand tours have become less and less interesting the last few years.

  8. Mary

    All true. Guess I’m looking forward to making a decision on what team to follow. Yes, I do need to. Helps with sanity and stuff. Thing is, my Highroaders are scattered far and yon now. The obvious is OP-QS but I’m not emotionally there, at least so far. There are some teams I definitely won’t follow – for a variety of reasons. Sky’s one of those. Also the Radio-Shack mega team. And Garmin. Those are not in the running. Meanwhile I need to make my brain (and heart) understand I don’t have to love all the riders to support a team wholeheartedly. So far it’s not buying that. Argh.

    OK. Meanwhile me. Cold, snow, sometimes cold rain. Confusing weather here in Maine. So the exercycle and dreaming are what I look forward to in the immediate future. Maybe also a new knee and less pain. We’ll see.

    Thanks for ‘listening.

  9. Doug Page

    I’m looking forward to the 10th Tour stage, July 11. The Col du Grand Colombier looks like a real bear! It’s not too far from Lyon where I’ll be staying, so I’ll be able to do recon rides as well as watch the Tour go over the summit.

  10. Faizel

    I will be paying more attention to Tour Down Under, Oman and Quatar this year, especially since I ignored Vuelta last year, and missed some great racing and sport drama.
    The classics will once again be very exciting to follow. I am very much a Cancellara fan, and will expect strong challenges from Gilbert, Hushovd and others.
    For the grand tours I hope to see Team Liquigas come to the fore.

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