For VDS purposes, this week of cycling is perhaps the most important for learning and guessing about the various riders vying for a place in our teams. For non-VDS purposes, it’s still pretty damn useful. Did we find out anything, though?
In a road race that turned thrilling as the race reached the final climb, Anna van der Breggen of the Netherlands lived up to her favorite billing and took the gold. Emma Johansson and Elisa Longo Borghini took silver and bronze with a disappointed Mara Abbott in fourth after having been caught in the final kilometer. The race was marred by a devastating crash by Annemiek van Vleuten on the final descent which the Dutchwoman was lucky to escape from with not too severe injuries.
In a two man sprint between the World Champs of the last two years Michal Kwiatkowski beat Peter Sagan in a convincing way to take the E3 Harelbeke. Ian Stannard won the sprint for third to complete a brilliant day for Team Sky who now have won this race two years in a row.
In a crazy turn of events Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne managed to become the more entertaining race in Flanders this weekend. Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) took his greatest win to date with a strong 15 kilometer solo attack that a furiously chasing peloton was unable to match. Kristoff took the sprint for second ahead of Nacer Bouhanni.
Have no fear, road-season is here! Time to once again make the annual trip to the supermarket to pick up a few bottles/cans of the finest Foster's beer you can find to celebrate the arrival of the first World Tour race of the year. New teams, new kit and new chances but a familiar race format awaits us in the coming week.
With the future of Europcar still unclear and apparently some big name moves waiting to happen, thereby releasing a domino effect of related moves, the transfer market is relatively slow still. Here's a place to discuss the moves as they happen.
After a long dry season plagued with injury and troubles getting back to form Marcel Kittel returned to his winning ways on stage 1 of the Tour of Poland. In a thrilling duel he beat young Caleb Ewan to th line to take his first win since September last year.
What's going on at the minute?
One of the more fun news out of the Tour de France was the announcement of the plans that ex-pro Thor Hushovd is planning to launch a Norwegian based World Tour team, perhaps as early as the 2017 season. Rumors are now swirling about developments that could turn this into the definite official favorite team of the Podiumcafe. The key ingredient: Salmon.
The attacks on all terrain had to end somewhere. We had crosswinds and rain, but unlike on Sunday no one of great importance to the General Classification lost any time, and despite crashes, German sprinter Greipel came out on top.
Echelons. Waaiers. Crosswinds. Bordures. We had them aplenty on stage two, and André Greipel sprinted to victory as Quintana and Nibali lost 87 seconds. If there's another stage like this, we're in for a treat. Carnage!