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Big days ahead, tension builds, nerves become frayed. Welcome to the UCI Pro Tour!

  • Today's queen stage of the Tour de Suisse may have lacked the mano-a-mano fireworks we all expected and craved, but Vlad Gusev's commanding stage victory will be one to remember. Also, can we start awarding bonus seconds to stage winners who are willing to throw a pratfall just over the line? I'm waiting for the pictures to come in over at CN. I guess for now we'll have to be satisfied with recognizing the more dignified side of his efforts today. Respect to Chris Horner for his own heroic effort and runner-up finish; like Goose, he powered away solo after being in the breakaway, missing only Gusev's winning attack. Vlad Efimkin dropped 7 seconds to Kim Kirchen, who moved up to second when Jose Angel Gomez Marchante fell out of podium contention, but the rest of the gang finished more or less together.
  • In the CN Notes, Susan Westemayer has a great description of yesterday's dramatic hailstorm. Broken windshields? Smashed bikes?
  • The Pro Tour's least appreciated race runs Sunday. Yep, it's the Eindhoven B-List Team Time Trial! The 23 teams include Wiesenhof, Skil, and Tinkoff, plus the 20 Pro Tour invitees. DZI insists this is a really cool event, and hopefully the Tour de France will include more TTTs in the future, to entice the Pro Tour teams to bring their top squads. But coming two weeks before kickoff, the most interesting teams will probably never want to tip their hand here.
  • It's kind of B-list, but the Route du Sud is kicking around the Pyrenees this week. Oscar Sevilla won today after JP Nazon took yesterday's sprint stage. They head up to St. Lary-Soulon tomorrow and wrap up on Sunday.
"Stop the rumors! If I train in a black jersey it's only on the Cote d'Azur, where I live, and it's because I want to be avoided be recognized by cycling tourists," an angry Vinokourov said. "It's not ideal to train for the Tour when I have 20 riders on my wheel for hours at a time. I'm not the only one who does it. Bettini doesn't train in his rainbow jersey."

I don't know what's worse, the threat of another scandal or the horrible Will Smith reference embedded here. While Vino has a right to be annoyed, he should be realistic: his prior DS was caught fleeing with cash and bloodbags. That doesn't make Vino guilty, but it does justify some scrutiny, just in case. By the same token, the UCI (cue circus music) needs to be proactive and forthcoming about the suspects who turn out to be riding on lettuce and mineral water.

  • Straight from the mouth of Vuelta race director Victor Cordero, Relax-Gam didn't make the cut for the Spanish Tour because of suspected ties to Operacion Puerto its failure to accept the ethics code:
The decision of not inviting Professional Continental Relax-GAM was taken because it did not give us total guarantees on its acceptance of the Code of Ethics. Relax sent us a preliminary list in which there was no cyclist supposedly involved in Operación Puerto but we had to remind them that we also needed a commitment in writing to the Code of Ethics.
  • Pez does Portland! Dave Aldersebaes takes a tour, with photos, of my favorite biking city. Seattle has great riding once you get out a bit, but in Portland you can have every experience you want just in the city limits. Dave, if you're reading, I'm sure we can round up a 60cm bike for you up here.