Dissecting this season will require many posts covering the various angles, and with unlimited space on the SBN server as well as a nice long winter ahead, I fully intend to do just that... with your help of course. But as the bikes are packed up and returned to the sponsors (on their way to eBay), as the riders shake hands with teammates and gather up their families for a beach vacation and a spot in the buffet line, it's time at least for a quick goodbye to the season.
The season always ends on a grand note, with the Giro di Lombardia representing many of Cycling's finer points. There's more to the final chapter than complete exhaustion, thankfully. Yesterday was another all-star affair right up to the finale, which isn't completely synonymous with great racing, but then there's that adage about judging the quality of a victory by seeing who was second. Damiano Cunego's victory came at the hands of some of the year's biggest stars: Ricco, Sanchez, Rebellin, Schleck, Evans... and broke Paolo Bettini's winning streak (and will) in the process. Not a bad day for the Kid. I've long argued he should focus more on the Classics, where his closing speed matters more than, say, on an Alpine tour stage. He's already talking about the Worlds in Varese next year, so maybe we're on the same page.
Nobody is breathing a greater sigh of relief than whoever keeps the books at the UCI. Cadel Evans' sixth place was just enough to overtake Danilo DiLuca for the season's victory in the Pro Tour, negating any lawsuit DiLuca planned against the UCI for striking him from the Pro Tour rolls. DiLuca may still have a complaint against his home federation, being the ones who kept him out of Lombardia, but that's it.
The year will be remembered for scandals, because that's the easiest thing to do. But the racing was what mattered most, and it rarely disappointed. We'll go back and decide just how great it all was, but at a minimum we can say now that it was another fun year. On the road, that is.
Lastly, thanks to everyone here for making the blogging experience so worthwhile. Even with so many people reaching exhaustion by the end of the Tour de France (and I don't exclude myself here), it was still a remarkable season for the Podium Cafe. The goal all along has been to create a cafe-like forum for people to hang out and talk Cycling, particularly during races. At the peak of our season, the site operators were merely opening for business and serving up topics; the Cafe patrons did the rest. I cant' say enough about how cool this is. So well done all, and God Save the Internet.
Oh, and a special thanks to Clydesdale, whose efforts on the Virtual Directeur Sportif contribute so much to the Cafe. Can't say that enough either. Cheers!
[P.s. Let the 'Cross season/offseason begin!]