Welcome to this week's edition of the Wednesday Session, which sometimes publishes on Wednesday, but not all that often.
This week, it's a compendium of curiosities and cycling oddities including a strange tale of Italians bringing bike racing to America. Will there be Pinarellos? Here at the Sesh, we know how to ask the important questions. But please, do come on in and stay a while. I promise, this won't hurt a bit.
We begin today in Italy, where something must surely be in the water. Or, maybe it was the grappa. According to an interview run in Wednesday’s Gazzetta dello Sport, the Giro d’Italia wants to come to America, and in particular, to Washington D.C. Oh Zomes, is this the best you can do? A helmet troll has more subtlety. Zomegnan explained that the Giro has long wanted to do a start in American and claimed that he has talked to the mayor of Washington D.C. and Mr. Mayor is enthusiastic about the possibility. When not mayoring, the mayor of Washington D.C. is a triathlete, which pretty much explains everything right there.
Okay, I’ll bite. What if Zomes is serious about this Washington D.C. plan? First off, I can’t think of a less Italian city than Washington D.C. Omaha, maybe. And we’re talking easily seven hours in a plane and a hefty six hour time difference. That sounds fun. Pity the poor ink-stained wretches who have to interview a bunch of jet-lagged bike racers and fight their circadian rhythms to file their stories on time. Not that I would know anything about that, the on-time part I mean. And pity the bike racers, who have to fly back to Italy after this American holiday and race the real Giro. You know, the one with ginormous mountains and such. Twitter would certainly crash under the flood of complaints about late-night meals, missed massages, and sleepless nights. Does anyone really want to listen to that? Zomes, please, spare us this suffering. If the bike racers don’t pull at your heart strings, how about the mechs and staffers, who somehow have to keep the bikes wrenched, the kits cleaned, and the musette bags filled? They so do not deserve a trans-atlantic grand tour.
Still, I’m sticking with my original view that Zomes is headline-whoring. He knows that he has to compete with the Armstrong-headlined Tour of California for the attention of the American tifosi. Really, he under-estimates us. We are perfectly capable of watching two races at once. Sponsors, take note. Of course, Zomes did achieve a measure of success with his little gambit. He commandeered the headlines in two of the most important English-language cycling news sites, including the Journal of Competitive Cycling. Footnotes also sold separately. More importantly, he made the Sesh, a goal many strive for, but few achieve.
A nasty virus is sweeping the peloton, a virus that turns every rider into a Tour de France hopeful. Samuel Sánchez is the latest victim. Second place behind Alejandro Valverde at this year’s Vuelta a España, Sánchez told El País this week that his season will be "the Tour and nothing but the Tour." The Olympic road race champion hopes to reach the podium in Paris and pick off a stage win along the way. A boy can hope, anyway. Fränk Schleck has also caught the Tour bug and is hoping to finish on the podium. I’m not quite sure what he intends to do with his brother Andy Schleck, who actually has finished on the Tour podium. Arsenic in the water bottles, maybe. This Tour podium, it begins to look a bit crowded. Little wonder Zomes felt the need to troll up a few headlines.
In other Schleck-related news, the women of Luxembourg have gone into deep mourning today after Fränk Schleck asked his girlfriend Martine to marry him. Apparently, she said yes. Fränk picked a poolside venue in Caracao for the occasion and managed to avoid falling in, a good omen if ever there was one. The dolphins were not available for comment.
Philippe Gilbert, so not a joiner. The Belgian, who raced 97 days this season for a total of 15,987 kilometers, confided to Sporza this week that he would very likely skip the Tour next season, as it offers him too few opportunities. He also dismissed the Giro as too difficult. Instead, Gilbert will devote his season to winning as many classics as possible and to chasing the Rainbow Jersey in Melbourne at next year’s World Championship road race. The OmegaPharma-Lotto rider will take the start of the Vuelta a España, but only as prep for the Worlds. Gilbert explained that the departure of Cadel Evans from the team increased the pressure on him to achieve results, and he intends to put all his focus on the one day races where he has the best chance of success.
The UCI tells us today that Alberto Fernandez de la Puebla Ramos has tested positive in an out-of-competition test. The offending substance was EPO and the test resulted from abnormalities in Alberto’s bio-passport. You didn’t think I was actually going to type that name more than once, did you? Anyway, the Fuji-Servetto rider is provisionally suspended pending b-sample and whatnot. Over at TAS, meanwhile, the Court held an eight hour hearing on the case of Stefan Schumacher, currently suspended for a positive CERA test. The TAS decision is due in mid-December. Doping, bah.
In more news about Names of Unusual Length, Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni Androni Giocattoli is changing its name next season. I really can’t imagine why. The team will race as Androni Giocattoli, which might actually fit on the front of their jerseys.
Andalucia-Cajasur has picked up José Angel Gómez Marchante, who passed an anonymous season at Cervélo TestTeam. The Spanish team also hired Manuel Vázquez from Contentpolis-Ampo. Andalucia-Cajasur rode pretty much every breakaway at this year’s Vuelta a España and are hoping that the addition of Gómez Marchante will boost their chances of a big result at the home tour. Of course, the team also dreams of a wildcard invite to the Tour de France. But so does everyone else on the planet. In other transfer news, Footon-Servetto has signed 26 year old Danish rider Martin Pedersen. Pedersen last year won the Rond um Köln and is a past winner of the U23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Footon-Servetto has also signed neo-pro Fabio Fellini, who at 19 years old is the youngest rider on a pro tour team.
BMC Racing should have no difficulty with the wildcard invites. The team announced this week that they team will begin their season at the Tour Down Under. World Champion Cadel Evans will attend the festivities. The team does not have a pro tour license and will need wild cards to start the big races. I doubt anyone is losing sleep over this, as the Rainbow Shirt does have a tendency to open the gates. Evans’ former team, meanwhile, was taken completely by surprise by his transfer. In a moment of snark, OmegaPharma guy Marc Coucke said of Evans, "when he came to us, he was Mr. Nobody." And how are those grapes tasting, hmm?
Lampre-Vini Farnese now considers Damiano Cunego a rider for the one-day classics. Nice to see that they’ve finally caught up with the rest of us. Saronni explained in an interview with Tuttosport that the team expects his results next season to come from the one-day races. The 2004 Giro is in the past: "In relation to the Cunego of 2004, who won the Giro d’Italia, there is nothing more to be said." Despite a season that proved less successful than he’d hoped, Cunego still accounted for five of Lampre’s 15 victories, never mind that Columbia-HTC wins that many races in a week. Saronni is psyching over the transfer of Alessandro Petacchi and confided that he has wanted to hire the sprinter since 2004. Petacchi is in with a chance at the next two editions of the World Championship road race, Saronni believes, because they look to favor the sprinters. Saronni also has hopes for Francesco Gavazzi, who has picked off a few results in the sprints over the last year. The team will be "very different from the past," but the team management hopes the riders will be "more competitive." Translation: Dear Race Win Fairy, Please bring us some victories. Anything will do. Love, Lampre.
Last, but not least, Team Sky will make yet another annoucement concerning their team roster for next week. I've lost count as to just how many of these announcements it has taken to fill out the roster. The announcement is scheduled for tomorrow. Bradley Wiggins? Your guess is as good as mine. I'm just the writer chick.
And that, my friends, is that. Come back for more next week. One day, the Session will appear.