Bored? Probably not. It's not like there's nothing to do this time of year. But if you want to limit this subject to watching road cycling, then you might need a little priming while we wait for Etoile de Besseges or GP La Marseillaise or whichever race will be the first to draw you in. [TDU, obviously, for those of you who are awake during Australian Time.]
Women's World Tour!
First up is this little teaser for what promises to be a groundbreaking season in women's cycling:
What is the Women's World Tour? You can probably guess, but the meaningful difference from the past is that the World Cup was a series of ten one-day races, whereas the WT format is inclusive of stage races (including the most prestigious ones on the planet) and creates a competition with a full 35 days. It continues a trend of uniting men's and women's racing -- viewed by many as a critical component in growing the sport, by taking advantage of ready systems and audiences. And it simply ups the message to the world that this is worthy of their attention. All good steps, even if they won't change everything overnight.
Watch Thereabouts 2, Today Only!
As to the dudes, here's a more exciting, and also much more urgent, recommendation... watch Thereabouts 2 on CyclingTips, and do it now while it's available for free and instant streaming. You can also go straight to Vimeo to watch. [I'd have embedded it but there's no time to go ask for permission.]
The film records a rambling journey undertaken by the Morton brothers (Gus and Lachlan), Cameron Wurf and Taylor Phinney as they ride from Boulder, Colorado to Moab, Utah. They ride in regular clothes and wool stocking caps. They run up hills, wash clay off their wheels in a river, and otherwise cruise the beautiful byways of the Rocky Mountains, stopping to mingle with locals and talk about all sorts of utterly fascinating subjects, as chatting with pro cyclists go. Down go the guards riders have to shield themselves with on behalf of teams and sponsors. Up goes the intelligence and sincerity of the discourse, as some dudes who ride bikes for a living go on a rather epic ride for something more like pure love of the bike.
My biggest regret in watching this is that I'm not free to hop on my bike and wander from town to town around the west... yet. I've done a little randonneur riding with friends and have developed an appreciation for just riding from one small town to another, and when time allows I plan to do a good deal more of this. Sure, I also hope to have acceptable weather (not a Washington specialty) and I'll be lucky to have anyone willing to follow me in a car, let alone former world class cyclist Davis Phinney, who makes a brief appearance to talk about his son. So there's the inspirational part. But even if you're not itching to ride across the face of the Earth, this film will be fun and fascinating to watch just as a fan of others riding their bikes.
CX Weekend! Superprestige Spa Francorchamps
It's off to Spa-Francorchamps, just south of Spa, which is just south of Liege in the heart of the Ardennes, where the CX peloton will assault a course based on the local Formula One course and the challenging landscape around it. Here's what I said about it in our fall CX preview:
What's it about? A new race, very weird, taking place in and around a Formula 1 course. There's a pretty long uphill drag to the line, plus a tunnel, some forest, and a long, leg-zapping run-up on a chunky, muddy hill. Seems a bit joyless to me, but Pauwels won last year. Not sure which way that cuts.
Last year was the first event there under the Superprestige banner, and it's back for another round, so I guess it went OK. Here's video:
The real story, of course, is the return to form of Mathieu van der Poel, reigning world champion, and what that means for Wout Van Aert, reigning leader in every other category for the current season. Van der Poel has a couple good weeks in his legs, and spent last weekend challenging Van Aert on Saturday til a mechanical dropped him back, then won alone in dominant fashion Sunday in Van Aert's absence. Before that, van der Poel was still searching for form after a long layoff from a training crash, but at last there are no lingering form questions and no more reason for the two wonderful young stars to avoid each other. Superprestige events should have video, so tune in Sunday!