The 2011 cycling season is behind us, and I guess I'd say I'm mostly relieved. There was a good deal of wonderful racing, the Tour and the Classics for starters, and the usual ups and downs, excitement and disappointment. It's hard to try to characterize it all without sounding like a pitiful greeting card, so I'll just throw out my three biggest takeaways from the season.
- Realignment continues at a breakneck pace, with Leopard-Trek fabricated out of whole cloth and ascending straight to the top, while HTC continues devouring wins, right til they leapt off a cliff. Next year's mergers and massive signings might make it the Year of the Oligarchy in the Pro Tour, but we can fret over that later.
- Doping cases failed to ruin the season. Not that there weren't problems, but as seasons go, this one didn't make me cringe much.
- Lastly and most importantly, I personally never moved past Wouter Weylandt's death. I know my fan experience means nothing compared to that of the people actually in his life. But as a fan, I gotta be honest, I lost a lot of joy after that. And don't ask me why that one cycling death had such an effect -- maybe because I was actually watching? -- compared to the others in recent years, including this year's tragic loss of Xavier Tondo in a training accident. Thank goodness Mauricio Soler came back to us after his own brush with tragedy. No matter how great the racing was after Weylandt's death, I think part of me has been waiting for 2011 to end since May.
We will do our usual job of slicing and dicing the 2011 season over the next week or so. And as we can see with the grand tour rollouts, 2012 is practically underway. Don't look for much of an offseason here.
Thanks to everyone here who reads and contributes to the site for another wonderful year! Thanks to the regulars and editors for picking things up when I couldn't. Special thanks to my co-editor Gavia for being so great to work with, and for bringing the vision and energy we so need. Onward!