Amstel Gold - Another classic, but not classic racing
The Amstel Gold Race reveals who might be bouncing back into form and who is being bounced out of contention.
latitude to jump back to the Schlecks. I'm not completely in the camp believing that Andy Schleck will be completely shellacked in July. Sure there's 100 kilometers total of time trialing in this year's race, a discipline that is not his forte, but for The Big Show I think he'll find that form. I'm confident RadioShack-Nissan manager Johan Bruyneel will make sure of that... (awkward silence - and now changing topic)
Like I mentioned earlier, Liquigas-Cannondale's Peter Sagan was my favorite in Amstel Gold Race. He came so close to making me look super knowledgeable rather than the grumpy armchair quarterback that friends and family know me as. While he's hanging up his C'dale until the Amgen Tour of California, it is just a matter of time until he's on the top step of the podium. Let's take a quick look at his results just this season: Several top five placings in the Tour of Qatar and Oman, stage win at Tirreno-Adriatico, fourth in Milan-San Remo, second in Gent-Wevelgem, stage win in Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde, and fifth at Tour of Flanders. Yeah, it's going to happen. I suspect that his next stage win isn't that far away - say stage 6 of the Amgen Tour of California, which incidentally finishes in Big Bear. Did I mention he's won in Big Bear before?
On a random note; the official Amgen Tour of California poster is a gritty photo of Mario Cipollini. This was a bit of a head scratcher as the photo was taken when he was a part of Rock Racing - a team the race organizers did everything in their power to make sure weren't part of the stage race. You might remember that the Rock Racing squad was allowed to race, but not until team owner Michael Ball coughed up some sponsorship money to make it happen. Oh those Rock Racing days, they were crazy times...
Another young rider that impressed was Garmin-Barracuda's Alex Howe. The 24 year-old was part of the original break and then when that started to fall apart, he went away with Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale). Hands in the drops, Howe looked motivated. I'm sure we'll see more of him in the future.
In the end Howe was caught on the second to last climb of the day, but still finished in 30th position. Sláinte, young man.
Finally, I saw this interesting article from the London Evening Standard - an interview with Eddy Merckx. Widely considered the greatest bike racer to throw a leg over a top tube, he won an amazing 30% of all bike races he entered. He's quoted in the paper as saying that he believes that the peloton today is 95% clean. Merkcx himself was popped three times for doping, but like many other riders, he tells the Standard he was clean.
Fortunately for Merckx we can't go back and retest samples or chase paper trails of donations to a sport's governing body. We're going on his statements that he was wronged due to incompetence of the testers. These sentences are not