Sunday, May 31, 2009

Monday Musings - Giro Wrap-up, Boycotts, and More!

Lots to talk about today. Let's jump right in!

1. Better late than never for Phillipe Gilbert. We tagged him for Stage 4. He waited until Stage 20. It was a well-deserved win for a rider who's been in the thick of it since the season started. While other Classics stars were getting rested or arrested, he decided to contest a Grand Tour. If he rode for me, he wouldn't race until the Belgian Championship, then he'd be off to the Tour for another try at a Grand Tour stage win!

2. You heard it hear first: Thomas Voeckler will win the French Championship and a stage at the Tour.

3. We've already covered Danny Pate's near-miss in Stage 18, but in doing so we failed to mention the gaffe by Saxo Bank riders Bak and McCartney. Not sure what they were thinking (maybe Van Poppel switched teams for the day), but in the final sprint they made absolutely no attempt at teamwork whatsoever. (In case you missed it, you can see the video of the finish here.) Check-out how they began the sprint on opposite sides of the road!?! No lead-out, no attack-counter-attack strategy. Just two riders from the same team efficiently spoiling their numerical advantage. Well done, boys!

4. And speaking about tactical gaffes, let's return to Serge Pauwels, the victim of an error we discussed last week. While all of Belgium is a-twitter (no pun intended) with Kevin Seeldraeyers and his quest for the maglia blanca, Pauwels quietly finished with or near the leaders on the final 3 summit finishes culminating with 8th place on Vesuvius and 21st place on GC. While we're not getting too carried away, it's interesting to note, particularly given Sastre's success during the past week. If the Belgian Championships were next week, he and Gilbert would be my favorites. Maybe he wins a stage in the Tour de Suisse?

5. Let it be known: I'm officially boycotting the media boycott of Lance's media boycott. Actually, I had planned to say something, but I couldn't limit it to 140 characters. Seriously though if you want proof of my earlier claim that any bashing of Lance is like pulling the veil off Santa Claus, then please check here for several cases in point. And if you want more than that, check-out Bicycling's Boulder Report here and here. They've pretty much got the whole darn thing covered. Is that more than 140? Anyone else miss the days when the only number riders had to worry about exceeding was 50?

6. That said, it goes without saying that Lance has to be considered a favorite for this year's Tour. I still think the years he spent drinking beer and training for marathons will hurt him when it counts most, but he certainly has to included in the conversation. In case you're wondering, that conversation has started here and here. Don't know about you, but Contador can't be happy to read that Bruyneel is essentially going to wait and see who the leader will be once the race begins.

7. And speaking of Astana, I wonder if the soigneur/handler's hat in this photo following Stage 17 might provide a clue as to whom might become a major sponsor of the "new" Astana:

8. Not sure if you read Outside Magazine, but it’s worth thumbing-through periodically for the coverage they grant cycling. This month’s issue contains two bits of reading we found interesting. The first is an essay by Jason Gay in which he proposes that the extinction of the curmudgeonly bike mechanic is a bad thing for the industry. I’m glad to see someone’s got my back. As the article says, without grumpy wrench-monkeys, who will protect the world from this?

The second piece is an article from Bucky McMahon detailing his experiences at the 127-mile L’Eroica sportif event. It's a great chronicle of a legendary event.

Unfortunately, you'll need to grab a copy yourself, as the articles aren't available yet online.

9. Moving away from racing, Rapha has recently published an excerpt from the soon-to-be published second volume of their "Great Road Climbs" series. The topic: Mont Ventoux, the focal point of this year's L'Etape du Tour. As always, the feature highlights some fine writing and photography by Graeme Fife. With Mercury-Viatel in the 2001 Dauphiné the riders climbed Ventoux from the backside and descended mid-race into Bedouin. I remember the ascent as being very slow--after all I was in the second car. Sprinters (Jimmy Casper really hangs in my mind) and dropped rouleurs clung to the sides of my car like flies. They would hang-on until a commissaire came back and waved them off, only to grab another pull once the moto rounded the next bend ahead of my lumbering Mondeo. The weather went from sunny and hot at the bottom to cold and windy at the summit. The descent to Bedouin was one of the most terrifying of my life. Ventoux truly is site to behold.

10. The Rouleur website published a feature on Fausto Coppi's 1952 Bianchi. Wow.

11. Taylor Phinney won the U23 Paris-Roubaix yesterday. I'm trolling for videos as we speak, so rest assured that as soon as I find something I'll post it. Needless to say, the kid's a stud. I'm curious as to whom will line-up to secure his services over the next few years. Will he stick with Lance and Trek? Extra kudos too to his DS, none other than Axel Merckx, one of the nicest and most deserving guys in the sport.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Giro Stage 19 - Is Ivan Basso the Classiest Man in Cycling?

I don't know about you, but I'm starting to think Ivan Basso is currently the classiest man in professional cycling. Not only did he admit and atone for the sins of his past, but today he demonstrated the humility of a true champion.

Having broken away at the base of Mount Vesuvius with Stefano Garzelli (whom he promptly dropped), Basso was soon joined by Carlos Sastre (who went on to the win the stage). Dropped by Sastre with about 5 km to go, Basso rode at his own pace and then practically put a foot down to wait for his surging teammate Franco Pellizotti. And as the video clearly illustrates, this was no token; he waited, even turning his head at one point to look back down the road for his teammate.

For a domestique, it would have been nothing more than a textbook piece of teamwork. But for a rider who came into the Giro with something to prove as well as GC aspirations of his own, it was truly a sight to behold. For me, the event proves that Basso has indeed put his past behind him and in doing so has demonstrated not only the ability to ride with the sport's greatest riders, but also the class of a true champion. In a day and age where we seem to be more concerned with what certain riders are saying (or not saying), Basso's actions speak the loudest of all.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Giro Stage 18 - Another Garmin Near-miss

Poor Danny Pate. In case you missed today's final kilometer, the American with the penchant for near-misses narrowly missed another big win. At first, I thought he went too soon, but on a second look at the film, notice how he keeps looking down at his cassette. The sprint was on a bricked/stoned boulevard that might have led to some chain slippage. Was he not in the proper gear? His cadence seems a bit high, and Scarponi rides away from him seemingly at ease. I find it hard to believe he mis-timed it or was surprised by the grade--especially since they rode through the line on the lap before.

Regardless, it's yet another in a long line of Garmin "close but no cigar's". I really hate to say this, but I'm starting to think Cavendish had a point. Maybe Jon Vaughters is the Billy Beane of professional cycling and the rest of us just don't understand the method behind his apparent roster-building madness. Maybe this is exactly the point he's trying to prove in fielding what is often claimed to be the world's cleanest team. For now though, it just reaffirms my long-held belief that a team of rouleurs and time-trialists is great for sitting at the front of races, but not the best for winning them.

And don't give me that "what about stages in Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico?" stuff. Unless your team is French, at this point in the year these wins are rendered almost moot. Without looking it up or mentioning the overall winner, can you name one stage winner from the 2008 editions of these races? Okay, I'm sure some of you might, but for the rest of us, these races are merely indicators of--hopefully--bigger things to come.

Maybe Garmin will reward us come July. I, for one, am pulling for them; but I'm getting impatient.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Giro Rest Day #2 - Cervelo Passes, then Fails, then Passes the Test

No, not that kind of test…

Not sure if you saw it, but with about 10 km to go in Sunday’s Stage 15 of the Giro, Cervelo’s director, Jean-Paul Van Poppel made a questionable call. Serge Pauwels was in a two-up breakaway with Leonardo Bertagnolli. The 2 had a time gap of about 2:30 on the chase group including the maglia rosa and various other favorites—including Pauwels' team leader, Carlos Sastre. The problem was that pesky Ivan Basso who had broken away on the previous climb Stefano Garzelli. The two were clinging to a lead of about 25 seconds that out Sastre’s 5th place on GC in danger.

Universal's coverage clearly shows Pauwels conferencing with his DS and promptly hitting the brakes to go back (more than 2 minutes back, mind you) and help Sastre defend his 5th place. (A decision the commentators clearly find reasonable.)

Unfortunately for Pauwels, as soon as he loses contact with Bertagnolli, Basso and Garzelli sit-up and return to the group with Menchov and Sastre.

What was Van Poppel thinking? Maybe he didn’t read the road book and see that the run-in to the finish was mostly downhill. Maybe he forgot the remaining 3 summit finishes? Maybe he forgot that Sastre’s using this race for training? Maybe he thought—oh heck, I’m not sure what he thought!

The icing on the cake? Pauwels blowing the doors off his 3 competitors in the sprint for 2nd.

After the race, here's Van Poppel: "It was bad timing for us. It's not easy for a small team like ours to try and put a rider on the final podium in the Giro. Sacrifices have to be made to make that happen, but everybody agreed that was our goal at the start."

A "small" team? Is he serious?

Of course, after yesterday’s win by Sastre, everyone (at Cervelo) seems to think Van Poppel’s gaffe was a masterstroke of genius and foresight. I’m not buying it. Had Pauwels dropped back to Sastre’s group, pulled him back to Basso, and then shielded him to the finish maybe I would I change my tune. But for now, it just seems like Sastre saved his DS from some more embarrassing questions.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Infant in the Room

Oops! Should I have said "elephant"?

For several weeks now, Pavé has struggled with formulating an appropriate tone with which discuss one Monsieur Armstrong. On Wednesday's Rapha Continental Centre Ramble, Ben Lieberson and I shared a moment chatting (while I could still talk) about Lance-tiquette and how it seems that in many circles, any remark even slightly throwing criticism in Lance's direction is the social equivalent of saying "there's no such thing as Santa Claus" at a Sunday School Christmas party.

As a result, and to not alienate any readers, I've made a concerted effort to refrain from any comment or post that could be construed as Lance-bashing. It seems much of the media was doing the same.

But now, things have changed. The Service Course has done a wonderful job documenting the "scandal" surrounding Lance's recent media silence. In a nutshell, it appears Lance has been offended by the media's "insensitive" coverage of his role in the protest during the Giro's stage in downtown Milan last Sunday. He's apparently resorted to posting his comments via Twitter tweets and videos on his Livestrong webpage. (Even Cyclingnews can't get to Lance.)

But the media has proven once again that the pen is mightier than the s-word.

A media boycott of Lance's Twitter has ensued--oh the drama! Whatever will we do to hear Lance's daily musings, learn about his meals, and share in various other bits of Lance-minutia?

Thank heavens for the New York Times! No boycott from them! (The picture on the web edition is Menchov, but the picture in the print edition was Big Tex.) Unfortunately for them, they've been forced to rely on lesser English-speaking stars like Michael Barry, Danny Pate, and Levi Leipheimer for quotes during the Lance-cuum. Here's my favorite line:

"Levi Leipheimer, a teammate of Lance Armstrong’s on the Astana squad..."

At what point will the world wake to realize that there's an entire team of riders wearing matching helmets and riding bikes with the same paint job? Levi's in 3rd-freaking-place and has a chance to win America's first Grand Tour since--

We hear all the time about how cycling needs to overcome its past in order to truly embrace a cleaner, more media-friendly present. At some point, we're going to need to realize that yesterday's champions are from yesterday; today's need room to breath. What's going to happen at the Tour? Will Contador ride himself into yellow only to be overshadowed by the scrum of media covering Lance's latest temper tantrum?

I'm sorry if this offends you. If it does, feel free to boycott my Twitter.

But please keep reading my blog.

We're still allowed to have opinions on those, right?

(BTW: We'll be posting a link to buy Brett Favre Minnesota Vikings jerseys as soon as they become available.)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Rapha Continental - Mini-Report

Well, the Rapha Continental Centre Ramble has come and gone and I'm still sifting through the conversations and images flooding my mind. In short, I'm stupefied by what Daniel and his team have undertaken. (You can read the ride reports and look at pictures and videos at the Conti's Road Journal.)

But for now, here's a taste: on Monday in Western Maryland, the team did a 130-mile ride with 16,000 feet of climbing. After a rare rest/travel day Tuesday, yesterday we took them on about 80 miles of some of Central PA's finest roads and dirt climbs. Then they packed the van and rolled down to D.C. for another 120-miler today. Tomorrow's the Gentleman's Ride in White's Ferry, and then Sunday brings a 125-mile Gentleman's Race in New Paltz, New York.

And that's the end of the Mid-Atlantic portion (which began earlier last week). But don't worry, there's still the Midwest, the Rockies, and the Northern Rockies left to conquer. I can't wait to see the stats at the conclusion of the project.

Daniel hasn't seen his family in over 3 weeks; he and the van have already logged over 8500 miles. There's enough film to shoot a World War and too many stories for the guys to have recollected during our 24 hours together.

Thanks to Daniel for the opportunity; James for helping scout the ride, creating the spoke card, and driving the van; Graeme and Ben for pulling my energy-depleted, skinny butt around yesterday; and the team for being terrific guests and an overall swell group of riders.

And Dave, get better soon. We're all happy you're not too worse for wear. (Read all about what happened here.)

Of course, more will follow as we get our wits about us. Photos too!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wheels - Fit to be Tied

All photos from Handspun's Flickr

Brief posts this week as I've entered the final countdown for the Rapha Centre Ramble tomorrow. After a doctor's appointment this morning I'll make a beeline for State College and the Rapha Conti crew.

For now, a question remains, one that perplexes many a rider about to embark on a long ride in adverse conditions: wheels. What should ride? The Ramble has some serious climbing, so an argument can be made for lightweight (Shimano Dura-Ace Scandium); but there's also roughly 25 miles of dirt roads that make a case for durability and comfort (Mavic Classics Pro SSC's).

Both sets are some of the best wheels I've ever ridden, and both are more than worthy of making the trip.

It all gets me thinking: is there anything more classic than a nice set of wheels? Recently, I discovered that Competitive Cyclist has been offering sets of tied and soldered wheels. Talk about one of cycling's lost arts!

They're made by Handspun and boy are they beautiful! Handspun also made a set of classics wheels for Embrocation's Jeremy Dunn before he left for his week at Flanders, Gent, and Roubaix. Here are some photos from their Flickr photostream:

Nice choices, Jeremy.

Handspun offers several classic versions to suit your needs. As time passes, we plan to include reviews and articles about various classic and neo-classic wheel and tire options from Shimano, Mavic, Handspun, Challenge and more. But for now, you'll have to be content with just drooling over these samples.

What's your favorite set of wheels for the pavé?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Il Pavé Piace a Siutsou...

And you thought pavé was only found in France and Belgium...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Crush the Commonwealth - Report

Photo by fxdwhl

Several of you shared my interest in this year's Crush the Commonwealth. For a terrific blow-by-blow report, head over to Lockring.not.included where Fxdwhl is in the midst of sharing his experiences.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It's coming...

Here's the spoke card James made for next week's Centre Ramble. Will the Rapha Continental enjoy what we have in store? Will my legs come along for the ride?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday Musings - Boonen Etc...

As I’m sure you’ve heard, Boonen’s tested positive—again—for cocaine—again. For now he’s been suspended indefinitely by Quick Step and will most likely miss his second consecutive Tour. Of course, we here at Pave hope for the best in this case, but it’s tough to see how he’s going to talk his way out of it this time. First time, shame on you Tommeke; second time, shame on…um…Quick Step? The UCI? Us? And the third time? Hopefully Tom has a good team of advisors to help him through this both publically and privately. April won’t be the same without him, but he’s running out of second (and third and fourth) chances.

Here's what else is on our minds as the week begins:

1. Alejandro Valverde has been given a 2-year suspension by an Italian tribunal for his alleged role in Operation Puerto. Is anyone else confused? This seems to me like the state of Massachusetts banning Alex Rodriguez from playing baseball within state lines, no? For Valverde, it means no racing in Italy—which means no Tour de France since it passes through. If anyone could offer a clear explanation of the different jurisdictions of the different agencies and countries I’m sure we would all be very appreciative. I can't make heads or tails of this one.

2. Hopefully you’ve been enjoying the Rapha Continental’s Road Journal as much as I have. This is quite a comprehensive and inspirational project that Daniel and Slate have put together, and it’s wonderful to follow them along their journey. Next week’s my chance to lead them on a foray around Central Pennsylvania. Ridelugged’s James and I have mapped the route, checked it twice, and are ready for our turn. On Saturday I logged 90 miles to get my legs ready for the guys—they’ve effectively been riding 10-day blocks of rides averaging 100+ miles. Hopefully I’ll have the stamina to at least make it sporting. When the photos are released, I’ll be the guy at the back hanging onto the car.

3. For your own chance to ride with the Continental posse, you can sign-up for a Gentleman’s Ride they’re hosting in the DC-area on Friday, May 22nd. If you can take the day off, it will certainly be worth your while. $125 gets you a ticket to ride, food (and drink), and some sweet Rapha gear. Learn more here.

4. The Giro began this past weekend, and it looks to be quite an exciting race. For me, the biggest excitement has come from the developing rivalry between Columbia and Garmin. Before the Stage 1 TTT, Marky-Mark Cavendish once again proved that his sprint prowress is matched only by his ability to run his mouth, saying that Garmin disrespects the Giro by focusing “only” on the TTT. I think we all expected the drama to end with Garmin romping to the win the next day and sticking it to Cavvie by donning the pink jersey. But darn it if the little sprint pixie didn’t put his team’s money where his mouth was. Apparently Garmin was so disappointed that they didn’t even stick around for the end of the stage or to talk to the press (not that there was really any reason too).

Sunday’s stage saw Garmin at the front of the race in the final few kilometers, obviously hoping to help Tyler Farrar beat Cavendish at his own game. Petacchi had something to say about it though. Maybe next year we’ll see more riders on the start line at the Scheldeprijs hoping to hone their sprint form for the Giro.

But here's my question for Cavendish: does he disrespect races by abandoning as soon as the road gets steep? Hmmm...

5. And speaking of the Giro, we’re not ignoring it. We’re just taking the piano, piano approach and slowly building our way into form.

But I'll leave you with a Giro prediction: a classics rider will win tomorrow's Stage 4, and I think it will be Philipe Gilbert.

Enjoy your day!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Crush the Commonwealth - Preview

Photo by fxdwhl at lockringnotincluded.

Tomorrow at 5am, riding bikes in many forms, a select group of cyclists will congregate at the Point State Park Fountain in downtown Pittsburgh to begin a 400 mile unsupported "contest" across the state. Part race, part ride, part test of one's ability to suffer, the Crush the Commonwealth is epic in it's scope, yet simple in it's concept: get from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. With no help. From anyone.

Last year, 10 riders embarked on the westerly route; 3 finished thanks to constant wind and rain. This year the contest heads east across the state; hopefully the change of direction will bring a bit of tailwind with it.

To learn more about this awesome event, head to the Crush the Commonwealth website/blog.

For more depth, and insight into the mind of one of the event's veterans, head to lockring.not.included. Fxdwhl has been documenting his preparation from racking to packing to bike choice (he's torn between geared and fixed). You'll have to check his blog to see what he chose.

You can also find some great photos and reports here.

And yes, there will be dirt.

When Fxdwhl finishes--and he will again--we'll see if we can get a Pavé exclusive interview.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Paris-Roubaix - 2009 Junior Race Video

If you haven't stumbled upon it yet, be sure to check-out the website of the VC Roubaix Cycling Team and Club. VC Roubaix offers lots of opportunities in the Roubaix region for riders and fans of all levels. In fact, next year they'll be running another Paris-Roubaix Cyclosportif event in early June. Road trip!

Today I thought I'd share with you a video from the site documenting this year's Paris-Roubaix for Juniors. Run on the same day as the pros, the race takes in about 120km and 29km of pavé.

The video's in French, but it showcases some great amateur and behind-the-scenes camera work. I especially love the footage filmed while driving through the crowds lining the roadside.

Could one of these young men be atop the podium a decade from now? Only time will tell.


Monday, May 4, 2009

Spring Statistical Analysis - Nations Ranking

Here's the third and final installment in our statistical analysis of the best teams, riders, and countries of the Spring. Last week we covered teams and riders; here's the breakdown by country:

1. Belgium 1353pts.
2. Italy 1096pts.
3. Spain 947pts.
4. Germany 759pts.
5. Norway 525pts.
6. Netherlands 497pts.
7. Luxembourg 410pts.
8. France 274pts.
9. Australia 270pts.
10. Great Britain 265pts.
11. Russia 236pts.
12. Sweden 128pts.
13. Belorussia 118pts.
14. USA 94pts.
15. Austria 84pts.
16. Czech 79pts.
17. Switzerland 65pts.
18. Kazakhstan 63pts.
19. Canada 56pts.
20. Denmark 30pts.
21. New Zealand 18pts.
22. Slovakia 15pts.

1. Again, no surprises at the top of rankings. Belgium wins the title thanks to it’s over-abundance of one-day specialists. Spain’s stage racing abilities launched the nation to third in our ranking. Italy took second thanks to strong showings pretty much everywhere (with surprisingly few wins relative to its storied past). Can you believe Italy didn't win a single monument this year? (Rebellin's Fleche tops the nation's palmares, but can we still count it?)

2. Interesting to see Norway up so high. Hushovd and Boassen Hagen should be proud.

3. AUSTRALIA wins the battle of English-speakers DESPITE Marky Mark’s win in San Remo. (Apologies to my Australian readers for the original oversight.)

4. Hard to imagine Norway, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands before France—but it’s true.

5. One final note as well from our individual rankings posted last week: what ever happened to Greg Van Avermaet? Here’s a six-word memoir that sums it up pretty well: “21 points. No podium. Big disappointment.”

Friday, May 1, 2009

Spring Statistical Analysis - Individual Riders

Yesterday I published the method I felt should be used when attempting to statistically analyze the performances on teams and riders during the Spring Classics. I included a list of which races should be scored, how they should be weighed, and point system borrowed from Competitive Cyclist. I concluded with the final scores and a ranking by team. You can read all about it here. (Or just scroll down.)

Today I'm posting scores and rankings of individual riders. I've included the top-25--the full list is a bit unwieldy.

Here's the run-down:

1. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 400 pts.
2. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team 351 pts.
3. Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 310 pts.
4. Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo Test Team 298 pts.
5. Davide Rebellin (Ita) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni 285 pts.
6. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha 280 pts.
7. Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step 227 pts.
8. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – Highroad 212.5 pts.
9. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana 208 pts.
10. Luis-Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 193 pts.
11. Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha) 190 pts.
12. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Columbia-Highroad 174 pts.
13. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Silence-Lotto 172 pts.
14. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni 165 pts.
15. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - N.G.C. 148 pts.
16. Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank 142.5 pts.
17. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step 134 pts.
18. (tie) Joaquím Rodríguez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 130 pts.
Frederik Willems (Bel) Liquigas 130 pts.
20. Antonio Colom (Spa) Team Katusha 129 pts.
21. Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Team Columbia – Highroad 128 pts.
22. Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team Saxo Bank 126 pts.
23. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 117 pts.
24. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini 115 pts.
25. (tie) Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 100 pts.
Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Liquigas 100 pts.

1. No real surprises here. The best riders on the best teams from yesterday's ranking top the charts. Furthermore, it looks like riders who peaked for March and early-April scored more points than those peaking later. Wonder what adding Romandie to the mix would do to the standings?

2. Gilbert’s the first rider on the list to have not won one of the races used for the calculation.

3. Kuschynski makes the list due only to his 2nd place in Ghent-Wevelgem.

Several riders not making the top-25 jumped-out at me for one reason or another:
1. Rabobank’s Tom Leezer scored 87 pts. via 5th in Kuurne, 3rd in DePanne, and 8th in Ghent-Wevelgem. A rider to watch?

2. AG2R’s Martin Elmiger seems to like rough roads after scoring 42 pts. via his 3rd place in L’Eroica and 9th in the Ronde.

3. Matti Breschel flew the cobbled flag for Saxo Bank in Cancellara’s absence, scoring 30 pts. with a 5th place in the Ronde and 10th in Roubaix. Not bad! His teammate Matthew Goss kept the top-10 streak alive in between with 3rd in Ghent-Wevelgem. One can only imagine what Cancellara could have done (had he been healthy) with teammates such as these.

4. By now you’ve already read something extolling the virtues of Simon Gerrans. He scored 53 pts. with his top-10’s in Amstel, Fleche, and Liege. Looks like Cervelo scored big with this kid!

5. The biggest rider to have missed the top-25? It has to be Alejandro Valverde. He really has no excuses for a mere 16 pts. for his 7th place in Fleche.

Your thoughts?