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Last Minute Musings on Falling Leaves...

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Lombardia_mediumThe cycling season ends in a slow grind for us part-time bloggers, just as it seems to for any number of cyclists. But the genius of the sport (example #21,658) is in having such a gala finish to the year, to keep us and them truly engaged right until the curtain comes down. I know, if something is even remotely Italian, people (particularly the Italians) start throwing around the word "beautiful" like free watery drinks in the high-roller section of the Bellagio. But... this race really is beautiful! If you don't believe me, stop by Pez and check out the work of cyclist/photog Jered Gruber. Yes, the webby is awash in lovely Lombardia pics right now, but nothing beats a course pre-ride.

Anyway, it's my last chance of the year to carry on aimlessly about a forthcoming race (assuming I can put off my Ronde van Vlaanderen preview to Jan. 1 at the earliest), so while Gavia covered all the important angles, I do still want to toss out a few final, not-too-chewed-up bits.

  • My favorite to win is Vincenzo Nibali, thanks to Gavia's convincing description of the descent off the Sormano. Heck, maybe Sammy Sanchez gets involved too. And I can't shake the feeling that Dan Martin is primed. Or that Philippe Gilbert might not like the length of the ascents. Oh, and the San Fermo della Battaglia will matter if you've got a selection of climbers, particularly if one of the guys in the selection is a cracking downhiller.
  • Positive vibe department: live tv in the US! No internet required!
  • Weather forecast: pretty much an October day in Seattle. Personally I like my cycling-watching weather a bit on the brooding side, at least in spring and fall.
  • One task for the morning is spotting the rainbow jersey. DS Little Bear is somewhat fixated on the subject of world champions, to the extent that I have had to explain several times that I have no rainbow jerseys in my palmares. He's pretty familiar with Evans and Cancellara, and tomorrow will be his first chance to see a new occupant in the famous kit. And once more, to be clear, it isn't me.
  • In no particular order, my three five strongest teams (coming in, at least) are Saxo Bank (Schleck, Fuglsang, Porte, etc), Katusha (J-Rod, Kolobnez, Gusev, Pippo), Liquigas (Nibs, Szmyd, and their domestiques have been fantastic all season), BMC (Evans, Santambrogio, Kroon, Ballan) and Androni Bladyblah (Scarponi, three Berts, Serpa). The Shack are just off the list. As is Omega Pharma now that it appears Jurgen Van Den Broeck isn't around.
  • Condolences to: Pippo and Ballan. Two great stars of Italian classics work, and both are guys you can't quite forget about in Lombardia when the course has its normal makeup. Yeah, I know, laugh away, but both riders have top twenty finishes here, and, well, the riders make the race. But the Colma di Sormano is likely to weed out the lowland classics dudes a bit more decisively than the standard course does.
  • This year he looks too gassed, but sometime very soon you can start marking down the name Peter Velits in Lombardia. Srsly.