A little housekeeping to kick off what promises to be a fun week, leading up to my personal favorite race.
Racing this week consists of Dreidaagse de Panne and the GP Miguel Indurain. The former is part of Vlaamse Wieler Week, features a lineup reminiscent of E3 Prijs (Boonen, Hoste, Ballan, et al), and should involve classic Belgian racing: all out struggle over long, windy stages. Not many hills though, and the biggest names tend to back off before Thursday's closing time trial. I think of this race as ideal prep for Gent-Wevelgem next Wednesday... but the Tour of Flanders riders use it to stay loose. We'll have a full preview ASAP, though I'll be happy if someone else gets to that task before I do.
The GP Miguel Indurain will obviously be won by Alberto Contador, now that he's the successor to big Mig. Actually, he won't be there, but the race is a nice diversion for the non-Flanders riders (being in Spain, the day before), and unlike Dreidaagse it's on the VDS calendar too. Valverde is the headliner but it's more a race for the rouleurs.
Here at the Cafe, we'll be doing much of the usual thing, tracking races live and generating talking points for de Ronde, but IMHO the biggest races often make for the most boring content, at least at the news sites. The nuts and bolts of this race have been reported to death, and while we'll still link to that info, it'll be a lot more fun to talk about race history, or people's opinions about who to watch (besides Boonen), or personal experiences with cobbles or de Ronde itself. This is an ideal time for me to remind people to use the diaries at will. If you've been over there for Flanders-Roubaix week, your experiences would be fun to read about.
Also, I'll be gone from this evening til tomorrow night on travel, so my trusty lieutenants will be in charge. If anything breaks, blame them.