Sunday, March 9, 2008

Paris-Nice Prologue: The Thunder Rolls

A brief, soggy day at Paris-Nice, so just a few thoughts on the weekend.

I hope the Monte Paschi Eroica gets some video coverage next year, it sounds like a fun race and seems to be catching on well. Congrats to Fabian Cancellara on his victory, it seems he was turning his pedals in more than a little anger. CafePress will surely have his "big piece of…" line on T-shirts within the week.

As VeloNews recognized, Paris-Nice was remarkably business as usual in the prologue. Whatever was going on inside buses and hotels and press rooms, the guys got on their bikes and rode. On the one hand, it points to the simplicity of it all - in the end, it's just about guys riding their bikes. But on the other hand, getting each one of those riders safely through a slippery and curvy course, and certifying times and winners and proper bikes, and presenting flowers and lions and the rest - that all doesn't happen by itself. So as much as we'd like to push the UCI and ASO aside and just let them race, there isn't a race without organization. So they have to work it out one way or another.

It's poetic that gentle giant Thor Hushovd won the prologue. How can you punish a sweetheart like him, one of the good guys of the peloton? Not that I have any basis for such hope, but I hope cooler heads prevail in the purported post-race meeting between all concerned parties. It wasn't a great day of racing, with the short distance and so many riders being cautious. But it was racing - the top guys gave their all, and the post-race talk was of who was banged up and who wants to do well in which stage - just as it should be. Ride on.

Riding off into the sunset this evening was one of the greatest television series of all time, The Wire (HBO). Nowhere else (except preceding projects by these folks) will you find such a textured and varied cast, and such a searing yet loving look at our nation's urban struggles. For the past fifteen years, from Homicide: LOTS to The Corner to The Wire, David Simon has made me know and care more about Baltimore than any place I've actually lived. As he so unflinchingly portrays, the problems go on, and so to I hope will he. On a lighter note, a few sly references along the way and the fleeting appearance of the ubiquitous Det. John Munch in a recent episode ensure that The Wire takes up residence, along with 90% of all television, inside Tommy Westphall's head. God bless Tom Fontana.

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