Digital Peloton <$BlogRSDUrl$>

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Open Thread

Or, why Drew is afraid to ride at the front.

Actually, here's a better topic. Check out, which today is running a series of articles which demonstrate (1) that it's a painfully slow news day, and (2) that they don't take cycling seriously. Lance is featured on the front page, but in the various top-this or that lists, no cycling feat is mentioned. Jerry Rice is considered for best athlete ever and Lance isn't? Gary Anderson's five yard end zone leap is one of the best athletic accomplishments and Lance's record climb up Alpe d'Huez is not? What-freaking-ever.

The only hope is, they are running a bracket of head-to-head, who's a better athlete. Lance is in the third round. Flood the voting!!! Click here, and select any matchup to start the applet voting.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Rebellin, Rebellin, Rebellin... WTF?

I haven't seen yesterday's L-B-L for myself yet, since we were out strolling by the Sound on a perfect spring day when the TV carried the race, and for some reason we still don't have TiVo yet. But I gather he won in a fashion similar to the past two wins, outlasting the various challengers, going one-on-one with an inferior sprinter, and coasting home.

This is becoming unbelievable. I mean, it's not shocking when Petacchi or Cipo wins a string of flat stages; the team just needs to keep the peloton together and set up the world's best sprinter to do his thing. But these spring classics are major selection races. If Rebellin is on the form of his life, so be it. Plenty of racers have shown they can stay at that level for a few weeks. But...

1) Why is he the only one on this kind of form? He's not Lance, whose top form will beat your top form every time. He's obviously a solid rider who can both sprint and climb, but is he putting in major accelerations that devastate a field? Nope. And even if he could, these races don't feature Alp climbs where you get 1:45 on somebody. You'd think a handful of other riders are also on top form, and would stand just as good a chance as Rebellin at victory. Over time, they might actually win. Yet this spring, Rebellin has won every time.

2) If others are on form... how long will it be before they start marking his wheel? You'd think after Amstel people would have watched him closely, and then after La Fleche, they's all be right on his case. Yet a group starts getting frisky, and the next thing you know Reb and some nobody are up the road. With 1km left.

I think the explanation has to do largely with repeated, across the board strategic failures of every team. Rebellin can be caught, right? Or surely we'd know more about his first 12 years in the pro peloton. Maybe the big clubs keep not taking him seriously, and he's on a Pats-like roll to the Super Bowl. Anyway, the whole thing has taken on bizarre proportions.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Tour of Georgia

Yeah, yeah, it's a mildly interesting race, but check out the flyer for the tour company that takes you along the race course just before the pros themselves do. This could be even cooler than a self-made camp in Tucson, although the timing wouldn't really work.


Most interesting sidebar of 2004 (so far): Leif Hoste is the immensely unpopular Lotto-Domo rider who chased down a fellow Belgian (Bruylandts) in the closing KM of the Tour of Flanders, which opened the door for a German to win. A week later, in Paris-Roubaix, Hoste was chugging away in a small break making its move when his wheel siezed up. Turns out someone had dropped a flag of Flanders and it got lodged in his wheel. End of race. Ouch.

Adios Postal!

Lance will need a new sponsor next year. Something tells me they won't have much trouble. I'll toss out NIKE as a likely choice. There's $ to be made by them in the cycling world.


I finally saw the re-broadcast, and noticed some important facts. First, Kirsten Gum is hot. Secondly, Phil was wildly off base in calling the race for Boogerd all the way up the Cauberg. Rebellin was sitting comfortably on his wheel, and although I watched with the benefit of hindsight, it still looked pretty obvious he wasn't beaten. If he was, he would've gotten gapped, not stuck right on Boogy's wheel. Knowing the outcome, I couldn't believe the call. Does Phil suffer from some eye ailment that prevents him from seeing anything in light blue and white? My guess is he's prejudiced against Italians. Anyway, Boogerd overestimated his strength, and Phil did too.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Rebellin Yell

Well, these races that finish on the top of a wicked climb are pretty redictable, right? With no less than 1,275 contenders on hand, the Peloton was sure to keep the breaks in sight to set up the Murr de Huy as the final selection hill. And so it was. Somehow it was two Italians, peaking in the Ardennes chill -- does the sun ever shine there? Would they cancel the race if it did? DiLuca led out on a suicide mission, though what the hell, he deserves a chance to try, but somehow nobody else followed when Rebellin grabbed his wheel. From there it was easy -- last weekend's winner at Amstel Gold waited for the inevitable implosion by DiLuca. Nobody sprints home for 2/3s of the Muur de Huy. So sure enough, with 100 meters to go, Di Luca started emitting a curious vapor from his thighs, and Rebellin squeezed by on his right, brushing the audience, en route to an easy finish. Di Luca didn't really attempt to follow. It was SO over.

Tyler was saving it for Saturday at L-B-L... or so Phil thinks.

The Double!

Di Luca drags Rebellin to the top, where Rebellin easily goes around him for the double win! What a week for the Italian from German Gerolsteiner! The Axis is back!

The Muur

They hit the wall... Axl starts up in the lead, with about 40 guys on his tail. Vino is 4th, having recovered from the break in which he didn't do anything. Rebellin wants the double.

Tyler is there. The riders are nearly falling over in trying to turn the cranks


Vino not keeno

Peloton reels in the mini break; Dekker still up there someplace, but with no chance of going home alone. It's all coming down to the Muur de Huy, in a few minutes.


We have an Axel Merckx sighting! Phil declares the next 72 riders "still very much in the race," imploring the American audience not to go to work yet.

La Fleche Live! and Dekkkker

The K-man heads up the 2.5 KM Muur d'alm in first, looking to claim his first decent win since his crash in La Primavera two long, whiny years ago.

Chechu is leading the postal charge behind.

UPDATE: A chase group forms led by Danilo DeLuca... and Vino is there, with a mate, instantly becoming the favorite. Somehow DiLuca still thinks it;s a good idea for him to do the work.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Classics Update

So when is a serious rider going to take one of these? Is the sport in trouble when its best-known victor is a fresh-off-the-where-are-they-now-file Oscar Freire? Are the favorites just marking each other into a stalemate? Maybe we should've seen this coming when the Belgians actually cancelled Het Volk because they didn't want to ride in bad weather. That's a clear sign something is amiss...

Sunday, April 04, 2004

German Superiority in Flanders

Watching Hoste and Bruylandts tire each other out in the final KM so Weseman could coast home is like... let's see. How about like having Manny and Johnny Damon slam into each other on a lazy fly ball ... by Derek Jeter... that then bounces to the wall and becomes the winning run. In Fenway, in the ALCS game 7.

Flanders is it in Belgium, so it's not surprising that when Weseman easily came around the two tired Belgians, all you could hear from the home crowd was someone coughing in the background. My guess is, they knew Weseman was the best sprinter, so somebody had to try something before they got too close to the line. And even if they're both Belgian, they're not on the same team, so Hoste has every right, maybe even a duty, to chase when Bruylandts launched the potential winning move. But I bet if he could do it over again, he'd let Weseman take up the chase. He wouldn't have lost anything, and his neighbors would probably not be putting out poison for his cat right now. Serious, this is all hindsight, and I don't fault them, but it just couldn't have worked out any worse for the Belgian fans, who haven't had much to cheer lately.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Shut Up Flanders

So... Van Petegem or Bettini? Or a mysterious third party, like the rejuvenated Bobby Julich? Hey, even Hincapie is on form.

Towk amongst ourselves.

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