Friday, February 25, 2011

I'm sooooo not Pro

This is going to be a little series this weekend on Team Tom's Bicycles' road trip to Mineral Wells, Texas for a USAC stage race.  Look for other posts this weekend and a wrap up on Monday, or Tuesday or whenever I find the time.  We have several first time racers, a couple of Cat IIIs, IVs, and a group of us 35+ racers in a 4/5 race.  And best of all (best for last) we have some ladies racing this weekend.  Stay tuned.

I'm getting packed for the road trip, trying not to forget anything, packing too much so that I won't have to scrounge if the weather changes.  Every time I think about racing this weekend I get nervous, wonder if any Pros get pre-race jitters?  Hope I can take this nervous energy and put it into the crankarms and squeeze some watts out of this silly emotion.  I think I have all of my cycling kit covered, probably will forget to pack off-the-bike clothes, toothbrush, underwear, but I have an extra pair of socks in case it rains.

Have some last min chores around the house and then some errands to run.  Don't forget to pick up some tubes at the shop, the wife's clothes at the tailor, do I have my shoes?  Am I excited or is it really nerves?  Focus.  This is fun, I am not getting paid -I am paying to do this.  Spending money to travel, stay and race, last time I checked my license, it did not say UCI PRO.

This is just a road trip where we will get to ride our bikes.  (don't tell anyone, but I would rather be riding my mtb on a road trip -but it is called a ROAD trip not MTB trip)  I will be racing a Crit tomorrow around noon and then turn around and then do a 7.2mile hilly Time Trial about two hours later.  I will not lie -I'm feeling good (other than the nerves) and can't wait to get the first lap of the crit in to settle down.  I want to drill the TT for a good overall position and then work the road race to the team's advantage.  If we play our cards right we could grab enough points to win the team competition.  I have some really good team mates riding with me this weekend and hope we can "work together and move up".

Thanks for all the "well wishes", and "good lucks" from the Team.  Wish everyone was suiting up with us, you will be missed.

Caio for now

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Het Volk

I know that Het Volk was purchased by Het Nieuwsblad and the Omloop was renamed Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, but I'll be honest Het Volk is easier for my Americanized tongue.  Plus, Het Volk just sounds cool.  Alright, let's get down to it.  Nieuwsblad is the first of the Flanders Classics, and wait for it.... IT IS THIS WEEKEND!!! Feb. 26th. Try for where and when to watch.

This is the first crack at a Classic that all the major players have this season.  Flecha took it last year and is on the start list for Sky this year flanked by Kurt-Asle Arvesen, who is a workhorse that could win it on his own.  Edvald Boasson Hagen will also be there for Flecha or as a co-captain. 

Here is a list of guys to watch, pay no attention to their country of origin.  Well I'm being a little slanted toward the home country, but this race has been won by a Belgian 53 times since its inception in 1945.  So, I'm playing the odds.  The next most wins:  Italy/Netherlands with 3.  You do the math.

Thor Hushovd (Garmin) *won it in 2009
Johan Van Summeren (Garmin)
Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil)
Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil)
Tom Boonen (QuickStep) *never won this one
Sylvain Chavanel (QuickStep)
Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma) *won twice, only three riders have won it 3 times
Bernhard Eisel (HTC)
Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) *won it in 2007
Leif Hoste (Katusha)
Lars Boom (Rababonk)
Maarten Wynants (Rababonk)

I think Gilbert might be eyeing that number 3.  Tom needs to add this to the list, but says it is not a priority.  There are a lot of riders with (Bel) listed on the start list, and I know they will be hungry for a win in front of their countrymen.  Win a race like this in Belgium, and they write drinking songs about you that children will sing at school, and this is not one of the "big" ones.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

'those aren't two pillows'

Ok, I don't have a picture of what happened today, but if you bear with me I will try and explain.  I was on my way to meet Marty and Bryan when I see Marty headed my direction, but Bryan was opposite.  Marty motioned for me to head in Bryan's direction and then he joined me.  There was a flat involved, no big deal.  Sew-up involved, and the fix-a-flat just blew out the hole.  Now we have a big deal.  We were trying to limp Bryan back either to a shop or to home.  After no joy with airing up the tire and subsequently having it go flat in about 1k we figured this was not going to work.  Bryan was going to have to walk.  I looked at Marty and jokingly said "have you ever seen that picture of Horner?"  Marty said that he would let Bryan ride if I carried the bike.  Deal.  Bryan sat on Marty's saddle and I pushed the flatted bike. 

About 1.5-2miles, several off color jokes about sexuality, and multiple fits of laughter we made it back to the house. 

Bryan and Marty are registered at Macy's, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Home Depot.

Volta ao Algarve stage 5

Photo credit © João Dias

The Volta ended with a 17.2k TT that Tony Martin (HTC) decided to destroy.  Must feel good to go out and crush a final stage TT and end up with the overall.  Martin, the German national TT champ is a pretty good TT man and the only one close was Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) 5sec off the pace.  Tiago Machado of RadioShack put down an impressive TT in front of his home country in 3rd 26sec off of Martin's time.  Tejay Van Garderen (HTC) and  Andreas Kloden of RadioShack were both 30sec down, but Tejay's GC position before the stage was good enough for 2nd overall. HTC did well for themselves racking up the top two spots on the podium.

The more I think about it, and the more I talk about it, the sicker I get.  I know there is nothing I can do about it other than gripe and complain.  Contador.  As if his pistolero salute was not obnoxious enough, now I have to deal with him back in cycling.  He was given a hall pass by the Spanish Federation of Sport.  Yes, I know why they did it and I don't blame them -ok I do blame them, why would they sideline their own especial golden goose.  Keep him in the mix and keep the money train right on schedule.  We can't blame the Spanish, blame the Euro/Dollar.  It's all about money.

That being said, I am excited to note that Contador slipped out of the third and last podium spot and had to settle for fourth.  I know I am childish, but it did make me smile a little.

1 Tony Martin (Ger) HTC-Highroad 0:20:53
2 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:00:05
3 Tiago Machado (Por) Team RadioShack 0:00:26
4 Jesse Sergent (NZl) Team RadioShack 0:00:27
5 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team RadioShack 0:00:30
6 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-Highroad
7 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team
8 Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Team RadioShack 0:00:31
9 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:00:39
10 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:00:42

Overall GC
1 Tony Martin (Ger) HTC-Highroad 18:48:45
2 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-Highroad 0:00:32
3 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:00:39
4 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:00:41
5 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team RadioShack 0:00:46
6 Tiago Machado (Por) Team RadioShack 0:00:47
7 Stephen Cummings (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:53
8 Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 0:00:59
9 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:01:04
10 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:01:05

Tour of Oman stage 6

Can I say I am a fan of Cav?  Can I say that he is one of the best sprinters right now, if not all time?  I can say whatever I want, and I say Cav is one tough $@b.  He has donated more flesh to the tarmac this season than most cyclists do in a lifetime.  Did you see the TDU crash where he had to get stitches above his eye?  Or the one in Qatar in the prologue?  Love him, hate him, love to hate him, or you can respect him for what he does on the bike.  Forget what he says when he has a camera on him, and remember what it is to speak with your legs.  I will say that, he always thanks his team, and that is where I judge a rider.  This is after all a team sport won by an individual.  -wrap your head around that you stick and ball types

1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Highroad 3:39:58
2 Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) Katusha Team
3 Andrea Guardini (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli
4 Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Geox-TMC
5 Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Quickstep Cycling Team
6 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Team Garmin-Cervelo
7 Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly
8 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ
9 Stijn Neirynck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
10 Theo Bos (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team

Rabobank had a great week in Oman, getting four stage wins from Theo Bos and Robert Gesink.  Theo proves that you really can come home, he looks comfortable with his old team, and Gesink is on track for a good tour.  If you ever listen to cycling legends, then you should know that Eddy Merckx said that Gesink is the 'next' tour winner.  If anyone knows I would have to say Eddy knows.  "Bo don't know cycling." -(Nike circa '89) We'll see, that is too far off to talk about.  Now, the Classics that is what I am talking about.  The guys are all getting tuned up for the Classics and it is going to be all out war.  Bring it.

Final GC
1 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 20:24:36
2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 0:01:13
3 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli 0:01:19
4 Michael Albasini (Swi) HTC-Highroad 0:01:52
5 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:02:04
6 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Leopard Trek 0:02:11
7 Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:02:13
8 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard Trek 0:02:19
9 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli 0:02:51
10 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Sky Procycling 0:03:03

Monday, February 21, 2011

Volta ao Algarve stage 4

Photo credit © João Dias

Firsts are always good, it is especially good when it is a W in the win column.  Greipel signed with Omega Pharma after living in the shadow of Mark Cavendish.  He has not had the break-out year that he had hoped, and getting one under the belt feels good.  Notching his first win must be a big weight lifted, now it is time to get down to business.  Andre took the win from the upstart Michael Matthews who is the U-23 World Champ and has been on fire this early season.  Tyler Farrar (Garmin) is looking pretty consistent in the sprints and found his way into the 4 spot.  Continental Pro team United Healthcare was able to break the top 10 with Boy Van Poppel.  United Healthcare is in its first year with a Continental Pro license, and this is their first foray into the European racing scene.  They have crushed the domestic races and are now getting their feet wet in their journey across the pond.

1 André Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto 3:56:55
2 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team
3 Anthony Ravard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
4 Tyler Farrar (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo
5 Allan Davis (Aus) Pro Team Astana
6 John Degenkolb (Ger) HTC-Highroad
7 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Quickstep Cycling Team
8 Boy Van Poppel (Ned) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
9 Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
10 Baden Cooke (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard

Tour of Oman stage 5

1 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:29:21

2 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli 0:00:16
3 Marco Pinotti (Ita) HTC-Highroad 0:00:24
4 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Leopard Trek 0:00:27
5 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 0:00:29
6 Adriano Malori (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:00:36
7 Michael Albasini (Swi) HTC-Highroad 0:00:37
8 Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:43
9 Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ 0:00:59
10 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:01:01

Not much to say when it comes down to the race against the clock.  You can talk about the weather, wind, rain, etc... but it all comes down to the fastest man on a bike.  After such a great day of racing Gesink kept the emotions flowing and notched the best time of the day in a hilly out and back TT.  Cancellara is no surprise in the top ten, but it was not a classical time-trialers course and he still banged out a fourth place.  Lars Boom showed his skill in the Qatar prologue and continues to exhibit the same ability in the TT in Oman.  Vicsonti the Italian national road race champ showed some skill against the clock with 16sec off the pace in 2nd place.