I am instituting a new column, the Mea Culpa Friday Report, where I apologize for any major screwups during the past week of blogging. In the interest of time, however, this will not be a comprehensive audit of the week's posts and comments; just a cherry-picked piece of buffoonery that needs correcting worse than anything else. If you were hoping for more, I am truly, truly sorry. As far as you know.
Anywho, today's Mea Culpa Friday will kick off the segment with a report on Vacansoleil. Recall, if you will, that three days ago I posted a summation of the transfer season and how the various moves have altered the makeup of certain teams. This post reviewed the fortune of ten teams, theoretically covering some 300 riders or so, an ideal situation for serious editorial mistakes -- and it did not disappoint. But there is only one mistake over which I have even a strand of regret: suggesting that Rabobank should lure Johnny Hoogerland to the squad. Hoogerland is a fixture at Vacansoleil, and as tedvdw pointed out he has some negative history with Rabobank, so the chance of him making this change are nil. Moreover, Vacansoleil were worthy of their own space in the post, and had I been on my game, that entry would have looked something like this:
v.2009: One of a handful of teams occupying the grey area between Pro Continental and Pro Tour status. Vacansoleil are formally the former, but as the second-best PCT squad they outkicked a handful of Pro Tour teams, and handled themselves well in numerous big races: the Vuelta, Lombardia, Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Paris-Tours. Johnny Hoogerland was seen pretty often in the climbs of the Vuelta as well as the business end of the worlds (14th) and Lombardia (5th). Borut Bozic won a Vuelta sprint stage and took several other high placings, along with third at Paris-Tours and four other victories. That said, most of their points were accumulated in races outside the Pro Tour or historic division, so I can't say I'm truly familiar with their better days. But their 5,118 points were nearly double that of Skil-Shimano, of Tour de France wildcard invite fame.
v.2010: The Netherlands has not had two teams firmly ensconsed in the top echelon of cycling in forever, but Vacansoleil are testing that limitation. They did not formally apply for a pro tour license, not yet anyway, so they appear content to continue as pro continental and muddle through with wildcard invites. However, that status belies some major changes in the lineup, and one big, fat, juicy goal on the horizon. Vacansoleil are surely angling for a Tour de France invite, and one would think they are odds-on favorites to get in. The Tour's start in Rotterdam means ASO will want to maximize Dutch participation, to the extent they can add quality. And Vacansoleil will bring the quality... with the right accent. Brice and Romain Feillu were somehow extracted from the ashes of Agritubel, giving Vacansoleil two French stars, and a nice balance of climbing talent (Hoogie, Brice F.) and flatland power and sprinting (Romain F., Bozic, Bjorn Leukemans). How can the Tour not show the love? Anyway, if they get in, this will become their focus, and Vacansoleil will fight like mad for an early stage win on home soil.
Holiday Wish List: The Nod. That's all they need. Everything will take care of itself from there.