La Doyenne wasn't an edge of your seat type of race, but the fallout afterwards made up for it.
win sown up. But was that a baby blue kit on the horizon getting closer? It was Maxim Iglinsky of Astana! Whaaat?
As we all saw, Iglinsky passed a suffering Nibali and that was that. But then in the sprint for third his teammate Enrico Gasparotto beats a group of 11 for the final podium spot! My buddy and columnist at Velo Magazine, Dan Wuori, asked me rhetorically if I ever thought Astana would have earned more UCI points than BMC, RadioShack and Sky by this time in the season. Honestly, no I would never have picked this Russian break away republic sponsored squad to have any more UCI points than the club I race for. But there you go - Astana no longer needs to worry about being booted out of the WorldTour like a wedding crasher. The boys in baby blue raced smart allowing others to do the work (cough, cough...BMC) and counter attacked when it mattered.
As expected the post-race analysis was all over the place with the Astana sandwich on the podium with Nibali as the meat. There was some innuendo that the win from a team that has had some scandals in the past, might be a bit suspicious.
Sure he wasn't anyone's pick for the win, but Iglinsky was second at the Strade Bianche in the beginning of the year followed by solid performances in Amstel Gold (11th) and Fleche Wallonne (13th). Nothing that lights the world on fire, but it shows he's a rider who could, on a good day, get it done. And let's not forget, Gasparotto won Amstel Gold the other week. I'm not willing to hastily cast the net of suspicion on them just because they had a great day. Isn't that why we tune in to watch sports? It's not always the favorites that win. There are so many variables that can determine an outcome: health, a crash, smart tactics, weather conditions ... So let's put down the torches and simmer down a bit before we start roasting people at the stake.
The other fallout from La Doyenne was the rift growing between the management of RadioShack-Nissan and their general classification hope Andy Schleck. According to the team, director Kim Andersen wasn't going to attend the Tour de France and instead Johan Bruyneel would be behind the wheel. This did not make the Schlecks happy as Andersen has been their wingman since the beginning. Bruyneel put on his boss man pants and replied in the media that Andersen is out and he's in because he's the boss.
I have to hand it to Bruyneel - that's a gutsy move. Not stepping up to be the boss he's supposed to be, that's actually what he's paid to do, but for consciously deciding that he's going to be the captain at the wheel when the USS RadioShack-Nissan runs aground.
Let's all take a hard look at the season so far: the Schlecks aren't going to win this year. Hell, maybe never! Everything is conspiring against the Luxembourg brothers. Not only did the A.S.O.