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Countdown to the Cobbles: Aches and Pains Edition

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One more week of prelude (if that's a polite description of Milano-Sanremo) and it's back to the cobbles! No great hurry, I have been checking the weather every day and haven't seen a high in Gent over 43 degrees fahrenheit. Maybe another week and the tulips will start coming up... The Way of the Cross Cycling Classics

3. Patellar Barbie

2009 Milano-Sanremo runner up Heinrich Haussler is looking like a no-show at La Primavera this weekend, and his spring could be in jeopardy thanks to knee pain from his crash in stage 1 of Paris-Nice. Reports in Sporza say that Haussler had to bail on a training run after a mere 15 minutes and can't push a heavy gear. The article even uses the word "surgery" in a (so far) hypothetical sense.

Cervélo Test Team aren't sinking into panic just yet -- in the short term they still have Thor Hushovd on hand for MSR and wherever else he can get a result. But, I dunno, it just won't be the same for the Knights of é without Haussler's aggression and strong riding.

2. Take Me For a Ride in Your Car, Car

Jurgen Roelandts checked out of the Race to the Sun with a back issue. The culprit is supposedly a long transfer by car and the team is calling it "precautionary." They also don't seem too bothered by the small hernia afflicting Leif H\o/ste. Apparently it only bothers him when he's bent over. Like, you know, during a bike race. The whole race.

1. No Making Benefit for Glorious Nation

Not sure if the pain has set in over at Astana, given that Sunday was one of their better days in a while. But the same organization, ASO, that crowned Alberto Contador champion of the Race to the Sun was just putting the finishing touches on the Paris-Roubaix team invitations that didn't include, uh, Astana. The Kazakh outfit was the only Pro Tour team left out of the lineup. Backstory? I haven't heard one yet, so for now I will accept the simplest one, where in the eyes of the French hosts the Kazakhs can't be trusted to find their way around Hell. Frankly, I don't blame them. There isn't a single rider on the current Astana roster who has any history worth noting at the Queen of the Classics. The three Astana riders in the top 100 last year have all moved on. It's not personal, for once -- ASO just doesn't feel overly excited about a team led by Bolat Raimbekov.

Teams getting wildcards: BMC (Hincapie and Ballan), Saur-Sojasun (French guys), Acqua e Sapone (Paolini), Androni Giocatoli (no fricking clue), Cervélo Test Team (Thor), Skil Shimano (KVH?), and Vacansoleil (Feillus, Bozic, etc.).

Cuddles' Corner!

Cuddles_the_cobble_small_medium"On Friday I announced the Way of the Cross contest, where you were asked to mimic the Andrea Tafi quote in useful and informative ways. The three finalists are:

WillJ: Only the Spanish, Germans, Italians, Americans, Brits, Belgies, Dutch, Khazaks, Czech’s, etc can do well at the Tour de France. For the French, it’s the Way of the Cross

Tenchu: Only Fabian Cancellara can crack walnuts using his arsecheeks. For everyone else, it is the Way of the Cross.

Majope: Only even-tempered cyclists can treat their bikes with respect after a mechanical. For Dave Millar, it’s the Way of the Toss.

Who wins? Take the poll: