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Daily Feedbag: Eneco Tour Kickoff!

Today's edition contains any crumbs of news I missed last night... plus a brief look at the Eneco Tour.

  • The event of the week will be the kickoff of the Eneco Tour, the former Tour of the Netherlands, a/k/a BeNeLux Tour, that has been dragged from the scrap heap and converted into a relatively high-profile Pro Tour event. I was being flip in calling it seven sprint stages, it's more like a rendezvous with April, with a few breather stages thrown in. The official flash site comes in French and Dutch, but it has some value in that parcours is an international word.

As for that, the event starts with Wednesday's prologue, then a flat stage, in Northern Holland. Stage 2 winds up in Limburg (Amstel Gold territory); stage 3 traverses over to Westmalle in northern Flanders; then the race does a ridiculous backtrack transfer to hold the stage 4 time trial in Landgraaf, back in Limburg. Stage 5 is a tour of Tom Boonen's native Balen province; stage 6 traverses down to Wallonia, and finally stage 7 is a miniaturized Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Not sure about stage details (such as which climbs are included).

The Zen Quest continues at Cycling Startlists. Signed up are defending champ Bobby Julich, a bevvy of Disco boys (Hincapie, Hoste, Eki, Popo) anxious to win something this year, plus Casar, Gilbert, Forster, Schumacher, Ballan, Bennati, Backstedt, Merckx, Boonen, Nuyens, T-Dekk, Flecha, Kessler, Klier, Pollack, Wesemann, Eeckhout, and Cooke.

More on the Eneco Tour later; mostly gossip on the flip:

  • Oh, and one final race report: amateur AJ Smith of Ft. Lauderdale has won the Race 2 Replace, a 25-mile circuit race on the Indy 500 track, and will now represent Discovery Channel as the protected rider in its Tour de France squad. Smith will attempt to become the first amateur to win the Tour de France in the modern era.
  • Wait, one last racing note: former perennial Maillot Pois Richard Virenque got a taste of amateur racing, and some serious pavement too. I never thought I'd sympathize with that guy, but for one day and one day only, I do.
  • CN makes it sound like Bobby J threw Floyd under the bus, but the source of the story, this ESPN column, sounds more like a shrug of the shoulders. I suppose there's some gratification in knowing that the pros find this all as hard to sort out as we do.