Races of the week:
Week 15 saw us finishing up the lull in quality of racing that happened post Ardennes/Romandie (with the obvious one big exception of the Giro that a certain set of riders were pointing towards all year). Riders can’t be on the top of their form all year. They need down time and the end of April through May is the first such period. Thus the last couple of weeks featured riders who are at the end of their World Tour teams’ benches and fewer World Tour teams participating period with pro conty teams being a major and sometime only factor in races. This is highlighted by three races:
- The Tour of Luxembourg. Time was that this race was sort of like the Tour of California: a pre pre preview for some teams and riders aiming for the big Tour. But with enough races and not enough clout no World Tour teams participated and thus it was dropped from the FSA-DS calendar of races all together.
- And 3. The two Hammer races. We covered hammer Stavanger last week and this week it was Hammer Limburg. Its been kinda fun seeing people’s reactions to this race and not being sure if they want to devote one or two brain cells to these races as it seems likely to me that part of the future of pro cycling will include Velon and what it has done with these races One innovation made it easy to watch with dozens of viewing choices around the world as opposed to geo-restricted coverage which is the present norm. For that alone we should all be applauding. Another is to shape the races that they are about two hours each which is a recognition that expecting fans to watch 4-6 hours of a race in any appreciable numbers is just insanely unrealistic these days. A third is to make the races interesting at their beginning and middle parts. One effect of these races is that it hurt the startlists of the more traditional races because the 10 World Tour teams that co-own Velon put their riders in the Velon races. Sorry Luxembourg. Sorry Belgium. As Flanders Classics understands and ASO understands: innovate or die. The world does not stay the same. Ever.
Yeah I can hear your negative reaction to what I just wrote. You are not the prime audience that the leading race owners are concerned about. I hope that’s obvious. For the race owners they need to balance innovation with tradition and by definition they will be stepping on the toes of traditionalists. (See what ASO has planned for the uber short stage 17 or what ASO is doing in general with the Vuelta’s short stages.) Anyways, the races for this week past were:
- Boucles de la Mayenne. French SSR Stage race
- Hammer Sportzone Limburg More team fun!
- GP Città di Lugano Last Italian...ish SSR before their summer/fall races commence. (Yeah, technically its a Swiss race but look at the startlist and tell me its not Italian.
- Critérium du Dauphiné, 6.6 km prologue
Team of the week:
For this week I am not putting down any specific riders. I can't see that making sense really as whatever was done this week just paled too much in comparison to the Giro or cobbled classics riders’ performances. We’ll be back next week.
- Mathieu Van Der Poel. Won Boucles de la Mayenne. Attaboy!
- Hermann Pernsteiner. Won Lugano. Attaboy!
Team of the Week- Quickstep
On the back of their Hammer Limburg performance that Quickstep were the team of the week. They were solid all weekend and held off the MTS boys who won Stavanger the week before. (MTS’s downfall was due to not enough climby presence on day one that put them too much in a hole.) Quickstep has won the coveted team of the week honor six of the 14 times this year. Only Sky is the other team with two such honors.
FSA DS Team of the week
Gruppettissimo ds’ed by papyrus one of only two teams to clear 400 points this week (told you it was a slow week). They got points from GVA, Colbrelli, Lampaert, Ewan, Mexzgec, Hayman, and Oomen- all at Hammer Limburg plus Van der Poel’s points for winning Boucles de la Mayenne.
Previewing the week to come-
Things start to heat up.
- Critérium du Dauphiné- the rest of it. Its also the only race scheduled until Thursday.
- GP Kanton Aargau-Gippingen- a tasty little race with six World Tour teams and a nice bunch of pro contys.
- Tour de Suisse- first two days. I like the startlist of this race more than the Dauphine’s this year.
- Rund um Köln- three WT teams and a whole t of continental teams; kind of a weak field compared to the other races here. I wonder if this race should be scheduled at another date? Kittel vs Sam Bennett is the big attraction.