It’s settled then. Now it’s just a question for the teams to book their tickets for a trip to the Vuelta and more importantly; time to consider what type of tickets are most suited to their travel-ambitions. Because however tempting the idea of a little trip to Spain to bring some late season glory to the team and it’s sponsors there is just one small matter to consider…….......Those pesky World Championships in Switzerland that so many riders and the annoying fans seem to love so much despite that you can’t even use the national jerseys to market as much as a mobile-phone or a laminate floor.
So let’s take a look at the team’s bookings for their trip to Spain. Who has ambitions and who is simply passing Spain on their way to Mendrisio? :
The most obviously stacked roster in the race. Not only bringing A-names, many of them have been training hard with Basso specifically for a full on GC attack. Bennati, looking to salvage his season should spice up the sprints (and the hotitude-threads) if he stays healthy. Roman Kreutziger might be their one Worlds hopeful.
First Class (continued)
Alejandro "I can win a GT, I can, I can, I really really can" Valverde takes what might be his final shot at Vuelta-glory for a few years. Standing by him one last time is his trusty sidekick Joaquin Rodriguez and a team of very competent supportriders. You would think a guy with Valverdes characteristics would love a Worlds course like this years but between his GT-fetisch and the fear that the UCI once again will try to keep him from competing, 100% Vuelta focus makes sense I suppose.
Saving up all your energy for one brutal assault on the home(?)tour makes all the sense in the world for a small team with big ambitions. Their TdF adventures these last years haven’t brought them much glory so why not? Also, snatxing victory in
Smal TTs + big climbs = Txapela-course.
With Ezequiel Mosquera having a 5:th and a 4:th at the Vuelta already, it’s pretty clear Xacobeo mean business. Very competent backing as well. With Evil Bert at home Zeke might even get that stagewin this year too?
"We really tried to send a bland team but what can we do? We’ll probably dominate anyway."
No juggernaut in the form of Cav and his merry men but when the replacement is André Greipel , chances are you will look pretty impressive anyway. Greipel is probably cherishing the opportunity to finally get a shot at the Big Time, expect results especially since he gets some of the teams biggest engines to support him. On the GC side it’s once again slightly less spectacular but Kim Kirchen is another guy looking to salvage his season. Injury in the spring and a disappointing Tour brings him to
Vaughters is talking up the Minions of Evil, promising a more impressive performance than the one in the Tour even. Please tell me we are talking multiple stages for Farrar and a breakthrough for Dan Martin and not hopes of the Rise Of BubbleBoy? We’ve been down that road before. I suppose there might be some evil Canadians who fancy their Worlds-chances but on the whole these guys are here to
screw Big George over win.
JJ Cobo, are you still alive? If so, this is your chance. A gang of strong climbers and crafty stagehunters, some of who may still be looking for contracts for next year when the tweam breaks up. No way they walk away from this race without leaving a mark.
Focusing all your energy on a Top 10 spot for Tadej Valjavec, how inspiring is that? Presumably some stagehunting and Nocentini doing his best to convince Ballerini that he deserves a place in the azzuri squad. Color me unexcited..
Big guns Boonen, Allan Davis and Wouter Weylandt with strong support should assure QS of some wins. This actually looks like the most focused Lefevere effort since April. Devolder and Boonen will not go the distance but what they are hoping for in
Surely Gesink is going for the win on this perfect parcours? Surely they will support Freire in the sprints? Surely they will pull out all the stops to dominate the dutch stages? Surely Lars Boom will fulfil the promise?
Surely we know Rabobank well enough to know that none of the above will happen?
We got guys. We got likeable guys. We got guys that can ride hard. We just don’t really have a plan since Carlos apparently can’t do three GT’s per year anymore the big wuss.
Is this a French race? No? There you go then.
Well with hot youngsters like Rein Taaramae and Julien El Fares getting their GT debuts they might set the race on fire(ish) anyway.
Francaise de Jeux
Sending Sandy Casar out on yet another crazed hunt for second places. Trying desperately to get some kind of signs of life in Remý Di Gregorio. Gaining some publicity by blazenly trying to pass Sebastian Chavanel off as Sylvain Chavanel. Heck, half the world don’t know the difference anyway.
You know. Same old, same old.
Once again sending nine graduates from the Badger School of Attacking. Who knows, maybe they’ll win a stage by a nose? Fedrigo is clearly on form and is always a threat, making us all dream of France (Monty's inspired idea for next years TdF course (France as Pierrick Fedrigo’s sister wearing a gendarme’s kepi.)
In Transfer. Connecting flight to Mendrisio
Cadel has never been happier. Everything is great. The support is unwaivering. His lifelong dream is to win the Vuelta.
Ehhhh, No. Cadel, Gilbert and Lloyd are obviously focused on the World Championships, the token Belgians will do their usual Lottoing and has anyone told Wegelius he’s riding yet?
Man! Is this a stacked roster or what? How can they not dominate the whole farging thing? Well, the Schlecks will never again have as good a shot at the rainbow jersey. Cancellara needs to be at his best on homesoil. The whole team with the exception of Jacob Fuglsang and possibly Stuey will do whatever they need to do to get to Mendrisio in good shape. Even Riis has said that he thinks it’s about time they get the Arc en Ciel on the strongest team in the world. They might not even bother to unpack their bags in
When the DS says the main goal is to have his team deliver strong Azzurris to the national coach, that’s when you know there will be much softpedalling to be seen. The Vuelta Organizers couldn’t be happier, I’m sure.
This is where we find the wildcard teams who in no way have the quality to be here but have been invited to bring local flavour and excitement. Despite being well out of their league you can rest assured that at least one of them will make the race memorable.
Andalucia- Cajasur will be hoping Xavier Tondo is as impressive as he is in very minor Spanish stageraces. .
Contentpolis-Ampo will get their publicity by fervently denying any interest they might have had in bringing a, let’s say "poultry-related", ringer to get some mileage out of their Vuelta-selection.
Vacansoleil will be hoping Borut Bozic is as impressive as he is in very minor
Spanish polish stageraces. Their job is to get the crowds clapping in the first days of the race but they do bring a decent team, I'll give them that.
They say a team is larger than the sum of it’s parts. Looks like Astana will do their best to prove the opposite for the second GT in a row. That said, last time around they dominated completely and there’s no real reason to believe they won’t be impressive here as well. Just don’t ask me what their plan is if there is one. (See how I managed to write about Astana without mentioning Vino? Doh!)
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any insight into what the hell they are doing. Ciolek needs to get some wins to live up to the hype but does anyone think he will. Linus Gerdeman is probably aiming for the Worlds, or maybe not. Maybe he just wants to win some stages. Somehow. As for the rest of the roster I’m sure they have ….big….ehh…….plans?
My advice is. Do what your parents did! Get a job! The bums will always lose! You hear that Mr Lebowski?