Nothing portends change and urgency like the approach of Labor Day, or however summer winds down in your country. In the US, Labor Day is the relative stillness before the oncoming hurricane. In France people scramble madly to squeeze in a third month of vacation. In Sweden people shop for pleasant, disposable furniture and children's clothing adorned with unkind statements about the Norwegian education system. In Australia people start trickling back home from countries with summer vacations, in time for Australian summer.
In the world of the Virtual Directeur Sportif, it's put up or shut up time. All year long you've been saying "I can still score big in the Vuelta." Well, can you? Have you socked away enough points already to make up for your lack of Italian classics guys? Or are you anxiously watching JRod's every Vuelta performance and cursing Nibali and his damnable support team?
Personally, I can't get my mind around the Big Game, having dropped out more or less for good during Ardennes Week. It seems like current leader Cyclemania JH has put the hammer down, and with JRod and the sudden explosion in Edvald Boasson Hagen's legs s/he looks primed to finish this off. Not that the closer pursuers can't threaten C-JH, since most of them have GIlbert and we know his work isn't done. But you have to like the remaining potential in the current leaders.
Over on the Editors' League side, things are getting ugly. Monty has ridden Gilbert -- and only Gilbert -- into a slim lead, with Jens in hot pursuit, led by Thomas Lofkvist (and I suppose Cancellara). Sui Juris is in third place, but sits high and dry on the VDS sandbar known as Alberto Contador. Tedvdw will almost certainly retake the third podium place, thanks to his stable of young Dutchmen and the remnants of the 2004 T-Mobile squad. Ursula wears the black and white jersey, awarded to the best team named after a cat. Pigeons has the Lanterne Rouge in a headlock, still waiting for Marianne Vos to start scoring points.
None of the top guys are looking in their rearview mirror, for if they did, they would be gripped by terror. For, at long last, coming up on the outside rail is a team not heard from much until recent weeks. My Team. At this point it's all about realizing untapped potential, and no team has it like mine. Boasson Hagen is a mortal lock for the next Rainbow Jersey. Dan Martin is gonna break out like a teenager's forehead at the Vuelta. Even Zombie Denis Menchov climbed with the favorites today, a performance that would make his remaining living flesh proud. If one or both of those guys wins the Vuelta and Boasson Hagen (or Denis Galimzyanov or Michael Van Staeyen) wins the worlds, well, I haven't done the math but I don't need to to know that I'm gonna win.