OK, back in town now... and first off, many thanks to Señor de la P for doing a fabulous job running the show here. And thanks to our regulars who were web-accessible for the weekend's excellent racing, and who made it fun for me to catch up. We spent the weekend in a cabin in the Methow swimming, watching rodeos, and hoping the wildfires didn't get any closer. And yes, I have now pulled the rare triple: going out of town for all three grand tours in a single season.
I have to say I totally love this Vuelta parcours and the way the race is developing. It's kind of an oreo cookie design: hard and substantive on the first and last weeks, sandwiched around the sweet, creamy middle of this week. Sure, Saturday's time trial around Cuenca will matter a good deal, but 32km on flat roads shouldn't kill anyone.
The race itself has been pretty amusing too. Second coming Alejandro Valverde has maneuvered himself (or been maneuvered) into gold, which isn't quite as difficult to defend as the maillot jaune but his rather capable team will be tired by the next rest day, after a succession of stages where they can only lose. The Kazakh uprising has been impressive, and I'm sure there is no shortage of sympathy for the Free Men, finally freed to ride. As we saw today, even their lame ducks are kicking ass. Discovery's season of indecision continues, and seems to have bitten them in the ass after Danielson, in his words, gave away two minutes defending the fool's gold of Janez Brajkovich. Bruyneel makes mistakes too, I guess.
Anyway, let's do a brief roundup of non-crocodile hunter :( news...
- For today's lively stage, check out Pez or the more history-minded Cycling Revealed. Or even a little preliminary crowing over at the Paceline.
- Disco aren't the only team still falling over itself these days; T-Mobile's season hasn't improved much lately either, with Bernhard Kohl crashing hard out of the Vuelta. At least their website, which carries an update on his condition, is still fabulous.
- Typical of this most bizarre season was Sunday's US Pro road race, and who better to capture the absurdity than Pez? Even the use of gi-normous, my least favorite "word" ever, doesn't detract (much) from a great writeup. Also, interesting post-race quotes from the CN game story, and some more crowing at the Paceline. Dave Z's 32-second win over Chris Baldwin in the ITT is covered well at VeloNews.
- Busy Pro Tour week: the Tour of Poland is two stages underway, with Daniele Bennati scoring one for Lampre's U-27 duo. I hadn't had time to think about this race at all, but of course it would be folly to forget Poland. Anyway, it looks like a long five-day preamble, followed by some serious climbing on stage 6 and stage 7. Generic preview here.
- As if things can't get any weirder this year, here is a conversation about shortening the Tour de France.
- Finally, if you didn't get the translation from Danish, Bjarne Riis updates the Basso deal in English.