2013 is starting to take shape... as is 2014.
With two news items of note, and not a ton to say about either, let's go to the Notes format...
Raboblank Puts Sep Front and Center
Team El Blanco del Norte, or the Team Who Must Not Be Named Until They Get a Major Sponsor, rolled out its kit and a few of its stars for the press today next to a Spanish beach. The kit has been covered at the Cafe a bit (shorter, nasally review: "hated it"), so let's move on to some of the more meatier bits -- namely, the Classics. The club is rolling out Sep 3.0, as Sep Vanmarcke is now officially moving into a leadership role. The rider who burst onto the scene in 2010 as a Topsport Vlaanderen stagiare, then muddled through two years as a star-in-the-making at Garmin, has thrown his former "give me five years to mature" posture and assumed the mantle of leadership with De Blank.
I'm not seeing any quotes from Lars Boom about Sep, but that's maybe a good thing. Two years ago he bristled openly at the acquisition of Matti Breschel, but maybe that had more to do with personalities (Breschel is perhaps not so laid back) than roles. Or, two years later Boom still hasn't won a classic and Vanmarcke has. Wins have a certain STFU currency in cycling. Or even better... with the changes to De Ronde, maybe there's a clear split with Sep for Flanders and Boom for Paris-Roubaix. Ideally all your riders are great at everything, but there's probably some comfort in knowing that Boom is probably more of a P-R guy than anything, and Sep grew up riding the Flemish Ardennes. Both will go for it, but with something of a hierarchy going into each race.
Anyway, Sep seemed to outgrow Garmin faster than anyone expected, and the discomfort of him having to plead with his team to support him in a race he went out and dominated is happily a thing of the past.
Gesink: All In for the Giro
In another happy development, Robert Gesink has thrown down for the Giro d'Italia, saying his Tour de France ambitions are more along the lines of "let's see how I feel in June." Given Gesink's climbing nous and his difficulties lasting through the Tour, taking aim at a Giro podium makes some sense, and is a gift to his fans, few of whom would have liked his chances against Sky in July. This year's Giro is a horrifying array of climbs -- a Gavia - Stelvio double, a brutal couple days in the Alps ending up at the Galibier, and the usual last-day madness topping out at Tre Cime di Lavaredo -- meaning that the pure climbers will be the favorites. Well, Gesink is a "pure climber", and if not, he'll have Steven Kruijswijk and Wilco Kelderman to take over instead.
2014 Grand Depart to Yorkshire
The 2014 Tour de France will bring le Grand Boucle back to the United Kingdom for the first time in seven years, departing from Leeds and winding around the Yorkshire countryside for a couple days. Details will come out in January. Me, I know nothing of Yorkshire apart from their dogs (which are kind of cute -- and I'm a cat person). Apparently the terrain was determined to be ideal for racing, with Leeds having hosted events recently. The bid beat out Edinburgh, which sounded dreamy to me, and Florence, because Tuscany doesn't have enough bike races (sheesh).