It's winter in the northern hemisphere. And not necessarily the cool, festive part of winter, or the beautiful snowy part (that happened last weekend, and is over). Just the dreary part. Here is your indefinite forecast for Seattle:
This photo was taken shortly after noon today. We are in the midst of what's called an Atmospheric River, a constant flow of moisture off the Pacific that kind of looks like a river, all pointed straight at the Pacific Northwest.
We've had a few of these already this winter. We have so much water we could even
give sell some to Southern California, if they're really nice to us. In the meantime, I need a vacation.
OK, on to the sunny world of preseason professional cycling!
Racing! And Gorillas!
Andre Greipel opens his account with a win in Mallorca! Please use this to make snap judgments about your FSA DS team starting next week. Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) were the runners-up.
Is It 2017 Yet?
No? You might wonder, with news items about new team formations kicking into gear. Today we heard rumor of more possible involvement of F1 driver Fernando Alonso in the creation of a new team, though it sounds more like the smoldering embers of what once seemed like a viable entity.
Of a more viable sort is the alleged Bjarne Riis -- Lars Seier Christiansen project, reuniting the old Boss and his Saxo Bank backer. Seier Christiansen put a note up on Facebook announcing a press conference for February 25 for an announcement regarding the partnership, and presumably the formation of a team. This story has lots of speculation, but for another four weeks it's merely that.
Giant-Alpecin Reeling and Healing
The biggest story in the sport is the emergence of the athletes from Giant-Alpecin who were victims of a reckless driver in last weekend's horrible accident in Spain. The reactions range from Chad Haga telling jokes to Warren Barguil reliving what he thought might be his demise. Everyone has to do what they can to get past this. Personally I like Haga's approach.
I just stood up for the first time in 3 days, which means I'm either an average American or recovering well from being hit by a car.— Chad Haga (@ChadHaga) January 26, 2016
Ramon Sinkeldam was discovered to have a fracture in his scapula, which I'm not sure everyone knew about. Young German sprinter Max Walscheid is also months away from returning from injuries to his tibia and thumb. Apparently Walscheid had some next-big-thing potential brewing in camp, where he was taking sprints from John Degenkolb. He's still one of the next big things; we just might not witness this until summer or fall. Or 2017, if his training is messed up beyond repair for this year.
Thibaut Pinot got some new shoes today:
Dans 3 jours début d'une nouvelle saison avec le GP prix marseillaise/étoile de Besseges pic.twitter.com/p0YRw7ByDX— PINOT Thibaut (@ThibautPinot) January 28, 2016
I don't want to sound like the guy who says "back in my day we ate nails for breakfast and trained on wheels with no tires." [That's Holmovka's job.] But the extent people -- sponsors -- will go to get attention in today's hyper-media-ized cycling world is maybe not such a good thing.
Take these shoes. Now, to be clear, I am not slagging Pinot, whose Twitter post may merely be his way of saying thank you to a sponsor for the nice shoes, which is a good and polite thing to do. And as young riders go, I think he has shown a significant amount of character. But let's say you have two riders: one who is a lot like a certain emerging French star and who every day puts on a pair of shoes telling him how great he is, and another who is exactly like the first guy in all respects, except that when he gets up every morning, he puts on a pair of shoes inscribed with "You haven't accomplished anything yet." Who is better served?
To prove my point, I am changing my computer wallpaper to a black screen with the words "You haven't accomplished anything yet." I'll check back in a couple months and let you know how it's going.
TDU Gateway Drug?
Another Santos Tour Down Under is in the books, and it was a riveting battle between Richie Porte and eventual overall winner Simon Gerrans, who notched his fourth title with the victory. Orica-GreenEdge teammate Caleb Ewan won a pair of stages, and Australian cycling got its annual day in the sun. All of this is good news, as well as old news at this point.
Still the TDU suffers from its early place on the calendar. UCI President Brian Cookson expressed his dismay that Tour de France champion Chris Froome wasn't present for the TDU. Multiple stories like this one have Cookson admitting that a lot of riders with summer ambitions can't start their season too early, but then wonders why Froome couldn't just give in and come to the TDU. Frankly, the "puzzlement" reminds me of an old Onion story "Elvis Dead; Is Elvis Alive?" where one fan opines "They say Elvis died of a massive drug-induced coronary. They also said that huge amounts of heroin, demerol, codeine and alcohol were found in his system. Something just doesn't add up."
Perhaps not, and I'm still in the category of people who think maybe a World Tour designation is a bit much for a race which, however well run and well-deserved for fans, is still taking place when most Northern Hemispherians are just getting limbered up. But I did have a thought. This is the UCI's doing, right? Maybe, just maybe, the organization in charge of cycling is trying to demonstrate to the world that an international sport that really only serves one or two nationalities isn't such a terrible thing. Maybe we should be a little more inclusive about specialty events like the TDU. Maybe... just maybe... this is all a strategy to get Cyclocross accepted as an Olympic sport!
That would be so cool. Except unlike the TDU, where Australians just win the GC every year and half the stages, a cyclocross Olympic event slate would totally blow up in the face of the Belgians who are presumed ready to sweep all the medals. I can't decide if they'll completely bottom out (and watch the Netherlands take all the gold) or dominate like every medal in every category. For the sake of tgsgirl's health, I guess I'd root for the latter.
Heard on a podcast: Laurens ten Dam is a big fan of America, to the point where he considered taking a contract with a domestic American team before landing at Giant-Alpecin for the season. Among the attractions, apart from where he is in life as a father of young kids (young enough to still be mobile), LtD cited America's open spaces, hiking trails, and barbecue as the main influences on his attraction to temporarily moving here. LtD is a bona fide Friend of the Cafe! So with his best interests in mind, and with full knowledge that he's signed for Giant-Alpecin through this season, let's draft Laurens into an American adventure for his 2017 season!
Leave out the team; that's too rife with politics. But tell Laurens what American city best meets all his needs. My nomination? Hmmm... OK, Albuquerque, New Mexico! Excellent climbing, nice climate, beautiful hiking trails, wide open spaces, and an undeniably American atmosphere. [I totally love New Mexico, I'm pretty sure it's the least stressful US state.] I'm not sure New Mexico barbecue is a thing, but it's close enough to Texas that I'm sure it's not not a thing, and it sounds like LtD is the master of his own grill anyway. The Hatch chilis, roasted on an open flame, are not to be missed. The only downside is that ABQ falls a bit short on connections to the Rocky movie series, but other than that I think it has everything Laurens and his young family would need.
Got a better suggestion on where Laurens should live in the US? Make your case.