The Jury Is Still Out On Tour of Flanders Changes
It's 24 hours later and people still aren't sure if they like or dislike Flanders.
photographs of the church steeple at the top of the Muur de Geraardsbergen. However, all things eventually change, worn away by the sands of time. There are even rumblings that the Cipressa and the Poggio climb of Milan-San Remo might be changed. And let's remember that Paris-Roubaix's course has changed over the years too.
But Neil, you say, the changes to Paris-Roubaix still kept the atmosphere of the race alive. True - but times are different now. In this case of Flanders it was the need to infuse some money into the race's coffers and this meant laps by VIP tents erected by paying customers. As someone who has snuck their way into many a VIP tent - there's money made in there. Catering, television services, wait staff - all this adds up to dollars and jobs.
As I have written in the past , I understand the need for the change. Yes, cycling is known as "the people's sport" but these are tough times and there needs to be a balance between marketing the event for funds and still keeping the race accessible to the fans. Having the course race by a paying VIP area could take the financial strain off an event. But I have to state once again, the VIP areas shouldn't push out the fans - there still needs to be suitable and affordable viewing for everyone.
Like I said in the beginning of the column the changes didn't award the race to an unworthy winner. On the Kwaremont, Ballan surged clear and Pozzato with Boonen bridged across.
Over the Paterberg their gap on the chasers grew and in the final kilometers it was a little over a minute.
Ballan, the worst sprinter out of the three, tried several attacks - each covered by Boonen. This left the BMC rider leading the trio into the final kilometer. From there it was a formality as Boonen came out from Ballan and wasn't really challenged by Pozzato.
While Omega Pharma-QuickStep was having a banner day in Belgium, their American general classification rider, Levi Leipheimer, was out on the Spanish roads getting in an easy ride before Monday's Vuelta al País Vasco when he was hit from behind by a car .
Thankfully it appears he's escaped any major injuries, but he's no longer lining up for Vuelta al País Vasco . Instead he's flying back to California. Hopefully this won't affect his preparation for the upcoming Amgen Tour of California. I've been waiting for months to see RadioShack's Chris Horner and Leipheimer battle it out in California.
STOP THE PRESSES!
Just as I was getting ready to wind this column entry up, the UCI announced that Saxo Bank is indeed going to keep their WorldTour license. Their recently suspended rider Alberto Contador accumulated 68% of the team's total points, which his name has now been power-scrubbed from. If Contador's points were to be eliminated they'd be forced to scramble for wild card invites - oh the horror!
This was a tricky situation for the UCI license commission. Sure Pistolero scored