Meanwhile over at the Tour of Austria (or Osterreich-Rundfahrt Tour) they've finally gotten underway with stage one today where our old friend Paolo Bettini won in a mini-Ardennes type of stage: there were 23 riders contesting the finish but the prior hills had selected out the pure sprinter types leaving power guys & climbers-all for Bettini to to abuse in his 1st win of the year. Seems like these stages are all the rage this summer!
If you haven't looked at the startlists and the stage descriptions of this week-long Tour yet, let me show you around. First the startlists which has a fair number of big names, many of whom are Giro warriors, all of whom are NOT earning you diddly in the VDS competition:
Quickstep- Bettini, Boonen, and Al Efimkin
Astana- Gusev and Brajkovic.
*Lotto- Van Den Broeck and Matty Lloyd
CSC- CA Sorenson, McGee, Kolobnev, Larsson, Jason McCartney
Columbia- Greipel, Henderson, Barry, and Boasson Hagen
Milram - zzzzzzzzzzz
Tinkoff- Brutt and Serov
Now the course.
Its interesting. The hilly parts, including one HC finish (tomorrow) are the early stages and the flat sprinter stages happen at the end.
Stage one is, as I said, Ardennes-like:
Stage 2 is the Queen Stage:
Stage 3 completes the hills with a couple more climbs:
Stages 4,5 and 7 are flat stages while 6 is a 26km ITT.
Should be fun. Will Boonen join Astana in a revenge romp? Can a Vlad win anything this year? Will CSC's numbers game dominate? Can Savoldelli give the locals some downhilling thrills? Will Tin Tin show that he still has form for the rest of the year? Is Van Den Broeck for real? Gesink- Is he now the future of Rabobank?
Too bad I won't see any of it.