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“Year of the Sprinter”, but get ready for the Classics!

For me last weekend’s Belgian semi-classics Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne are when the bike racing season really starts to get serious. There are really only two popular sports in Belgium soccer and cycling and if you win on the Flemish cobbles national hero status is awarded automatically!

No disrespect to races like the Tour Down Under, Qatar or Oman, but they simply don’t have the same reputation or tradition, although they still provided some good racing. It seems the racing season gets longer every year and although we are only just into March and we have already had two months of racing. So before getting to Flanders a quick recap of the season so far!

We had the usual merry-go-round of transfers, but with two new superteams Radioshack and Team Sky, plus BMC really gearing up there are a lot of riders in new colors this year and everyone extra motivated to get some results for their new teams.

There have been some surprising trends already this year.

Cycle Sport recently did an article on Cancellara, Cavendish and Contador saying they are pretty much unbeatable in their specialist disciplines – TT, sprints and stage races. We don’t have lot of races to judge these guys on yet. Contador has won the only stage race he has done, but Cancellara was beaten by Boasson-Hagen in the Oman TT, but what has surprised me are the sprints.

So far it has really been “the year of the sprinter”. Nearly all the sprinters have already won, with many of them Bennati, Boonen, Freire, Greipel and Petacchi having multiple wins, but ironically Cavendish has still not opened his account! Now I don’t think there is any major cause for concern here, he has been delayed by dental problems and his big targets are later in the year (Green Jersey and Worlds), but surprising still?

The other surprise for me is how quickly Edvald Boasson-Hagen is developing. He has been recognised as a great talent from an early age and has always won races, but I didn’t really see him as a specialist sprinter, more of an all rounder. This year he looks competitive with most of the other sprinters, ok we haven’t seen him go head to head with old team mates Cavendish or Greipel yet, who were clearly the best in 2009.

He was also very impressive in the Oman TT, beating Cancellara any time of year is tough! And all this apparently after a winter in Norway cross country skiing and riding in the snow!

How are the new teams doing? Team Sky generated a huge amount of publicity and also some controversy on the signings of Wiggins and Ben Swift, but are winning races. Apart from two stumbles in the Gulf they have looked very well organised for a new team.

Radioshack and BMC (effectively a new team) have looked solid, but both their targets will come later in the year!

Two established teams who have started really well are Lampre (boosted by the arrival of Petacchi) and Liquigas (Bennati and Chicchi), both these Italian teams have been posting up regular sprint wins.

Anyway, enough about the appetizers, it’s time for the main course! Check back for more on the Belgian season openers, shortly!

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2 Responses to ““Year of the Sprinter”, but get ready for the Classics!”

  1. Dental problems really can be the difference when you are talking about milliseconds. I think Greipel and his twin tree trunks will give Cavendish a run for his money, unless team politics get in the way, which they will.

    • I agree I would love to see these two go head to head, but HTC won’t let that happen, but when we get to the world Championships they put on their national jerseys and ride for opposing teams! Should be good!


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