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Nice win this weekend by Martin Elminger, who apparently learned last year with Phonak how to sweat out a razor-thin margin in a week-long stage race. Elminger grabbed a one-second lead the prior day and extended to a full three to snatch the Tour Down Under away from local boy Karl Menzies. Robbie McEwen pleased the locals by nabbing the final stage sprint for his first 2007 win, of many. Menzies' kind reaction shows why Cycling is cooler than, say, boxing:

"We gave it a shot but I was just beaten by a better rider. He is a great guy as well. I had a perfect leadout - he was on my wheel, and we both knew it was the tour right there - he beat me and I knew I lost then."

On the Pro Tour vs. Grand Tour front, where the words are somewhat less complimentary, CN has a frank and interesting interview with ASO prez Patrice Clerc. The article notes two important positions:

  • "The organisers has announced that they planned to have an automatic qualification for 16 teams as of 2008, with criteria based mainly on performances over the previous two seasons."

The distinction without the difference? ASO is basically expecting the top 16 teams, probably all Pro Tour teams, with another four Pro Tour squads in play... presumably smaller ones who might not actually want to ride Paris-Nice in the first place. So perhaps the squabbling is even more pointless than it appears?

  • "Another very interesting point about the new selection plans of the Grand Tour organisers is that they may decided not to grant certain riders or teams admission to their races if they consider these to harm the image of their race. In other words, some riders previously implicated in a doping case such as Operación Puerto may not be invited, even if they are allowed to race by the UCI."

Aha! Judge, jury and executioner. I caught shit last week when I insisted on mentioning that Contador was initially mentioned in Operacion Puerco, but I'm telling you... it matters! Not because he's guilty, and not because anyone should even question whether he's guilty, but because ASO is going to insist on retaining completely arbitrary authority to exclude anyone they don't like, under the veil of "suspicion." Given their uneven behavior in the past, anyone named in OP, even if they're absolutely 100% innocent, should be lawyering up. I don't think I'm being paranoid here.

  • Happier subjects: the peloton's most-published Anglo strikes again: Michael Barry inside his new squad, "die Mannschaft".