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Happy New Cycling Year!

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Digging out after another killer holiday, and by that I mean another holiday that almost killed me. OK, maybe not literally, although at one point I hooked an XC ski and did a face plant that Mrs. PdC said looked like I'd been shot. But I have kids, and two weeks off from school is two weeks of counting on their parents for entertainment. It was fun, and now I need a vacation.

But you can forget that, because... the cycling season is upon us! Years of allowing Australians prominent positions in cycling means that now our collective chickens have come home to roost, in the form of a season that pretty much never ends. On the plus side, Australia (and the rest of the southern hemisphere) is a really nice place to be right now, so nice that they and their hemispheric neighbors are holding a series of national championships this Sunday, which lead into a couple notable stage races occurring a week or so later.

The Australian road championships are once again in Ballarat, where the peloton will graze the edge of Mount Buninyong before heading toward a possible sprint finish. Probably not a massive bunch, if the last few Men's Elite results are any guide, as small groups have managed to get away to contest the title. But it's not a course for the mountain goats, who tend not to be Australian, so there you go. Anyway, the crit champs are Wednesday, ITT Thursday and road races Saturday and Sunday. Thursday's Elite men's ITT might be the race of the week, with Rohan Dennis, Jack Bobridge and Luke Durbridge all candidates to dethrone Richie Porte. No startlist yet, so I am assuming they'll be in attendance. Check back here Tuesday for info. In New Zealand, a hillier course in the vicinity of Napier, on the North Island, awaits the field. Competitions start Friday with the ITTs over the weekend with the road races.

Speaking of hitting the ground running, look for our previews of several national cyclocross championships, also happening this weekend, as the mud season reaches its climax. World champs take place the weekend of January 30-31. And the plot thickened plenty over the Kerstperiode, with Mathieu van der Poel looking like his old self and throwing down the gauntlet in Wout Van Aert's direction.

Back here in the Cafe, I will likely be opening our Voler store this week, to commence the official Podium Cafe Kit buying experience! Stay tuned... any day now. And spreadsheets are beginning to get passed around among the FSA Directeur Sportif managers... spreadsheets of pricing information. We hope to hit our usual February 1 game opening without a hitch. Stay tuned!

As you can see, we've flipped the calendar on 2015 and are gearing up to make 2016 another memorable campaign here in our cozy confines. Cheers!