The Week That Was...
Ian comments on the happenings in the world of cycling.
After all the excitement of the past few months, the World Cup has gone on vacation. Pushed to one side as riders begin their final preparation for both the Giro d?Italia and then the Grand Boucle itself, Le Tour. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
The World Cup has certainly provided us with much entertainment so far this year. First Oscar Freire (Rabobank) pipped Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) in Milan-San Remo. Next came victories for Steffen Wesemann (T-Mobile), winning from a break of four in the Tour of Flanders, and then Magnus Backstedt (Alessio-Bianchi) sprinted home on the velodrome in Roubaix to win the Hell of the North, Paris-Roubaix. Most recently, Italian rider Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) won on consecutive weekends in the Amstel Gold race and then Liege-Bastonge-Liege. Going in to the summer break, Rebellin leads the World Cup competition by 54 points over Michael Boogerd. Completing the trio of victories for Rebellin, coming between his two World Cup wins, was the semi-classic Fleche Wallone. Looking back at his amazing winning streak, Rebellin summed up his success as, ?liberation, confirmation and realisation.? He went on to add that, ?in fact it was incredible, unbelievable that three races that I have dreamed of since I was a child. Three races that up until now I had only finished with podium places. I came again to the north to try and win one. Now I?ve won all three in a week. It?s completely incredible!?
One rider not so happy to see Rebellin?s successful streak continue has been World Champion Igor Astarloa, formerly of the Cofidis team and now riding for the Italian Lampre squad. ?It?s been hard to watch Rebellin?s triumphs from my living room chair. The spring classics were my main objectives and have faded because of non-cycling reasons,? that would be the Cofidis scandal you?re referring to then Igor? The ink can?t even have been dry on his new contract before Cofidis released a statement announcing that it would return to competition on 5th May at the Four Days of Dunkerque, having previously voluntarily ceased all competition after 9th April in the wake of doping allegations within the team.
Thankfully, there are a few other happy people in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
they?ve so far demonstrated that they?re able to this spring, we?ll again be seeing them climb up to the top step of the podium before too long.
The coming weeks will provide an opportunity for all the Tour stars to hone their training before their forthcoming stage race objectives. One rider accustomed to question marks over his condition more than most others is Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile). When, quizzed over his lack-lustre early season performances, the German said that he ?probably underestimated the fact that I?m another year