Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Paris-Nice Stage 2: Gorillas In The Mist

You know, when they're bunched up, out of the saddle, trying to catch up or get to the finish, rocking back and forth - there's a little gorilla in there, don't you think? And today at Paris-Nice it was once more through the mist and fog, and rain and wind. It wasn't quite as bad as the post-apocalyptic nightmare of yesterday, but not by too much. Once again we had dirty butts and rain capes and more games of name that rider through the watery lens.

Yesterday, when those two Silence-Lotto riders bridged up to the leading group with Frank Schleck, I thought one of them must be Yaroslav Popovych, but it was hard to see in the rain. I've been looking forward to seeing him this year, if they ever get to the sun this week, hopefully we'll see more of him! We're seeing plenty of Gert Steegmans, and amen to that, he's so loveable with that cherubic face on top of that massive power. It's always great to see lead-out men get their own chance to shine.

Today Gert and Thor Hushovd survived another brutal stage to give us a good show. From the intermediate sprint to the duel at the finish, they showed incredible power and fight. I love both these guys, and I love how they didn't let the elements get in the way of some awesome racing. I'm sorry so many other guys got banged up, I hope they can hang in there and have their day in the mountains.

Thor was part of another awesome moment today, one that nearly brought me to tears just by it's sheer beauty. It was caught by an aerial shot, the perfect perspective from which to see the magic of cycling teamwork. Thor was off the back, of course in yellow, and had one green teammate in front of him, pacing him back to the group. When they caught up they kept right on going, zooming up the side of the pack. As they went along, they picked up more greenies one by one. Each guy would be rolling along, then his head would jerk up, then he would jump right on the front of the green train with the yellow caboose and get instantly in sync. Before you knew it they were at the front of the pack in perfect formation. I use the word beauty a lot in these pages, perhaps too much, but how else to describe it? It was a simple thing, but breathtaking in it's precision and professionalism. Did I mention I love this sport?

Two others that loved this sport were lost on Sunday in a heartbreaking crash on a training ride. CyclingNews and VeloNews both have moving tributes. What can you say, losing such beautiful people much too early never makes a damn bit of sense. If you haven't checked out Dave Zabriskie's Yield To Life organization yet, now would be a fitting time for a donation.

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