Friday Group Ride #148

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It feels strange to even speak of it after so long, but you know what? Professional road racing is about to start happening again. Rising up from the ashes of the Lancepocalypse, spindly legged racers are due to crawl out from under their off-season rocks, emerging into the blinking light of the 2013 season.

What’s gonna happen?

The Classics, perhaps the least dope-tarnished races of the calendar, will once again give us the Boonen v. Cancellara races we all want to see, assuming Fabian Cancellara has killed whatever chicken he needed to to dispel the voodoo curse that ruined his 2012. We should also see the return of Thor Hushovd to the rutted cart paths of Northern Europe and find out just how serious Peter Sagan is about mixing it up with these infernal cobblers.

The first question of this week’s Group Ride is who will be this year’s Classics star? Can Boonen thrive with Cancellara in the mix, or will someone else rise to the challenge?

Stage racing, if we’re honest, is more of a shit show. TdF champ Bradley Wiggins is talking about skipping the July race in favor of the seemingly more favorable Giro, which puts Chris Froome in the captain’s seat for Sky. Alberto Contador is back in full swing. Purito Rodriguez showed his class last season, but will his team even make the races? And what of the Schlecks? The younger is coming back from an injury-blighted 2012, and the older will probably be suspended.

The second question for this week’s Group Ride mirrors the first. Who will be this year’s Grand Tour star? Can Ryder Hesjedal repeat his Giro heroics? Can any of 2012′s bit part players, Thomas de Gendt, Alejandro Valverde or Vincenzo Nibali, take another step up the podium?

It feels odd to me to be talking about these things. It feels as though some great schism occurred at the end of 2012, and that the future can’t be quite like the past. All I know how to do, at this point, is to look at what’s happened and wonder what will be, and hopefully, in the process, it will all be as fascinating as ever, if only that little bit better.

 

Image: Fotoreporter Sirotti

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10 comments

  1. Nelson

    What I want: Cancellara to drop our jaws as he leaves the pelaton behind, and to see, not a no name, but newer riders making a name for themselves in the grand tours.

    What will happen?: Who know’s…But it’s going to be fun!!

    Just hope that the “black cloud” of doping move away for the 2013 season.

  2. grolby

    I think we’re going to see Sagan come into his own as a major Classics contender, and Gilbert will be back to his more typical self. Which should lead to an epic showdown between them, as they are suited for many of the same races, albeit with Sagan being more of a sprinter and Gilbert more of an attacker. It should be fun to watch. I also expect Boonen to be up there again, after last season he seems to have out his struggles behind him and is going to be a force to be reckoned with. He’s going to say things like “I am not thinking of the Paris-Roubaix rec

  3. grolby

    Nuts. He’s going to say he’s not thinking of setting the all-time record for P-R wins, but I think he’s got a very good chance of doing it, and it has to be on his mind. And of course, Cancellara will be back to put a word in about that. It’s going to be a great spring.

  4. DavidA

    I think if the progression stays the same. Sagan is the man of the future for sprint finishes and classics. He will be fighting Cav and Boonen for wins.

  5. Bill

    At this point I think I would prefer to NOT see any jaw dropping performances. They all make me wonder these days. A large group staying intact, arriving at the velodrome together would be more exciting. This years Tour may have seemed boring to some, devoid of extraterrestrial performances, but isn’t normal what we are hoping to get back to? Those are the kinds of races I’m looking forward to seeing next year.

  6. Souleur

    in many ways, 2012 leaves us melancholy, but in reality, so have other years. Its just that this one, has been so well defined by the prosecution, and most of us said ‘its about time’ and now that its behind, we are a bit sad.

    so, dawns a new year. the sun rises, and hope is before us, and youth

    I’m with Grolby, Sagan is untouchable when he is on…and Cav is not around. Sagan will hopefully mature into more of a rounded rider, taking classics, and a step to a GC man in the future.

    Spartacus, hopefully will be less marked

    I think Rogers will be one to look for, outside of the givens in the peloton

    and yes, DeGendt, because he is a stud rider who rides defiantly (remember Stelvio) and he believes

  7. Eto

    Great questions.

    I have aways been a fan of the classics. The men who contend and win these races typically lay low during the long tours. There are always the exceptions like Cancellara and I guess Boonen to a degree. With all that we have been privy to in this last year, i.e. insights into the methods and methodologies of cheating, I do not enter the 2013 season without my suspicions or doubts.

    Historically, why haven’t the classics suffered the same embarrassments as the long tours? They have produced some similiarly spectacular performances, albeit all in one day, as the long tours. For me Boonen’s race(s) of last year and Cancellara’s of the previous stand out. They remind me of rides “champions” like Museeuw and Bettini did during the height of the suspect years.

    I hope to see more believable rides like Hesjedal’s Giro or Phinney’s prologue of the same race. We have a great sport. I want to enjoy following it because I can relate to it not suspect it.

  8. Carter

    I feel there is less (documented) doping in the classics because there is no need to recover and race again the next morning. Doping provides a big advantage when a cyclist is racing 20 out of 22 days; drugs enable miraculous over-night recoveries that are not part of the equation in single day races.

    I can’t wait to see if Sagan makes his way into the elite classics riders. He seems to have the right build, and right amount of agressiveness to make it possible.

  9. LD

    looking forward to seeing Sagan emerge as the new Classics’ star. looking forward to seeing Contador show his unassailable class once again in the Grand Tours. As a Canadian it would be nice to see Ryder repeat but I think the stars of last year (Hesjedal, Wiggins and Froome and maybe Purito) won’t be up to last years standard. a rejuvenated Boonen along with Hushovd, Cancellara should be make it an awesome year.

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