Yesterday may have brought down the curtain on Vlaamse Wieler Week, one big party from Aalst to Zottegem, but the rest of the Cycling World goes into deeply reverential mode now, as one of the two greatest weeks of the year unfolds.
Arguably, this is it. As compared to Holy Week #2 (Amstel-La Fleche-Liege), this one's absolutely packed with action at all levels. The cobble champions are being crowned at de Ronde, Gent-Wevelgem on Wednesday, and the Queen of the Classics, Paris-Roubaix. Meanwhile, with Amstel-Liege week looming, the Ardennes contenders are honing their form in Euskadi all week, maybe stopping by the Klasika Primavera on Sunday. And if that's not enough, there's today's Rund um Köln, a race that predates the Titanic.
Stacey isn't feeling well, so I'm home trapped under a pile of children, which means all help with the subjects of today will be welcomed. But before my hands get full again, a few notes:
- Today is Juan Jose Day across Europe. First, Juan Jose Cobo held off the bigger names (Sevilla (!), Gomez Marchante, Valverde) to win stage 1 of the Pais Vasco. Around the same time, Juan Jose Haedo slipped around Alessandro Petacchi et al for his first European win at the 92nd Rund um Köln.
- Looks like Alessandro Ballan picked up a few more votes for the Tour of Flanders in our poll. One of my favorite aspects of this site is how people vote after the race is over. Nice to know people are paying attention.
- For all the crashing yesterday, only Erik Zabel (nursing a few bad bruises) will miss any time. Heinrich Haussler added another chapter to the Gerolsteiner tough-guy legend... Two weeks ago David Kopp stunned viewers by completing Dwars door Vlaanderen with a smashed-in face from his Milan-San Remo exploits days earlier. This time, Haussler went down hard again yesterday when his steerer tube snapped, a la Hincapie, only to get off the deck and finish 107th. Va fa Napoli appreciates the half-point!