Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tour de Georgia 2008 Stage 7/Liege-Bastogne-Liege: All In The Family

As I have said many times, one of the things I love most about cycling is the team aspect. The sacrifices and hard work and tender care that teammates give to one another are heartwarming and inspiring. How touching it was this week to see on display the "brotherhood" of Ian MacGregor and Timmy Duggan, and to see the riders on Slipstream-Chipotle burying themselves for the TTT victory and to keep Trent Lowe on the podium. So imagine my delight this morning, watching actual brothers Frank and Andy Schleck working in beautiful tandem at Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

They didn't get the win, but it was a great effort and wonderful to watch. Andy powered up the road, and only a select few were able to follow, including brother Frank. The moment when the chase bridged up to Andy was priceless, Andy seeing Frank then hopping right on front and powering some more. As they went along, there were a few moments of literally putting their heads together to work out the strategy. I couldn't help but think of them as kids, probably racing around the neighborhood, and now here they were, in a grand old Classic, zooming off the front. I have to say, got me a bit misty-eyed. After their brief time together, Andy took off again, keeping pressure on the "other two" - Alejandro Valverde and Davide Rebellin, and allowing Frank to sit on and save as much energy as he could. When they caught him again on the last climb, Frank did his best to pull away, but he just didn't have enough. He hung in for third, and Andy followed soon after in fourth. Not the best they hoped for, but still pretty amazing. And a great result for young Andy, his best in a classic. The brothers had a warm embrace at the finish, and Frank had many kind words for Andy. Can't wait to see their next collaboration!

Moving on to Georgia, we have Papa - as in George Hincapie. Face it George, if ever there was a Papa Bear, you are it, so it's going to stick whether you like it or not! This week had me thinking of a new jersey - MVP. Like we need another jersey, I know, but still. George Hincapie was hands-down the MVP in Georgia. He played key roles in all of their victories - the stage wins, the points jersey, the overall. We heard from Greg Henderson about how Hincapie shepherded him through the early stages, placing him to be up in all the sprints, especially the one he took. And then in the TTT, Hincapie's wealth of experience and super engine kept them close, which of course came in handy when the seconds were counted on Brasstown Bald. (Had to get a "super" in there, George's favorite adjective.)

He missed out on the Stage 5 win, but more than made up for that by spending the evening tutoring Kanstantin Sivtsov on just how to play Brasstown. As Sivtsov breathlessly explained after the finish, he did just what George said and it worked to perfection. Finally, there was Big George today, watching over both the blue and yellow jerseys, making sure no one messed with High Road. He led the way over the Finish line on almost every lap of the circuit, and could be seen directing his charges at other points in the race. Henderson came through again, a great cap to a fantastic week for Team High Road. Great leadership, great performances, and one big happy family.

Slipstream-Chipotle has plenty to be happy about as well. A great finish for Trent Lowe, margin be damned, and a great performance by the team. They worked hard and worked well together, very positive signs going into the Giro and Tour. And Timmy Duggan is coming along on his recovery, able to post again at the team website today, a very welcome sight.

Coverage and injuries aside, all in all a fine week of racing. Now to catch up on life and sleep before the Giro starts!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Tour de Georgia 2008 Stage 6: Tunnel Vision

Well, it was tunnel vision of one kind or another, still awaiting post-race interviews to see whether it was that of passing out with exhaustion, or that of forgetting to read the top 10 on GC. The latter would be pretty frustrating, but I guess it's as legitimate as the first. That's bike racing, you've got to keep body and mind engaged. I would just feel bad if someone was screaming in Trent Lowe's ear to stay with Levi Leipheimer, but I have to think if he really had the gas, he would've gone with Kanstantin Sivtsov. Or gone earlier on Levi, if nothing else to get more time on him, even if he was clueless about Sivtsov.

It's tough for Slipstream-Chipotle, though. They've played it so well up to now, and have the sentimental factor going for them. And even today, when it seemed they played it all wrong, even according to their Twitter updates, it looked at first like they had survived on top after all. So if they lost it in the end due to inattention, that would be a crying shame. But, valuable lesson learned I suppose. And still a great race for Trent, to be in the final selection on the big climb, I don't mean to take that for granted!

Meantime, hats off to Team High Road, the hits just keep on comin'! Slipstream gets all the press, even though High Road has been winning things left and right, so it is kind of a chuckle to see them slip right under the shadow of the Slipstream/Astana showdown and grab the stage and the lead. Tomorrow could be a wild one, if there's any chance of really doing something, but Sivtsov will have George Hincapie looking after him, and as we know, Papa Georgio is the best. Sounds like Sivtsov is a sweetheart, good for him!

I hope Levi is properly humble to his teammates this time. They executed to perfection, and he couldn't take it home. If you can't, you can't, but it's ironic after his post-TTT comments.

Tommy Danielson - well, I'll wait and see what he has to say for himself, maybe he just had to work too hard because of the team's earlier gamble. I really hope he comes good in the Giro.

WCSN - you are dead to me. Well, until tomorrow when I will be a beggar unable to be a chooser, and sit through your misery for one more day. Unbelievable. Really, I was in shock for several minutes. And this is the thing - not only does not being able to see the race really suck, but having the coverage be an issue in and of itself, distracting from the race, is annoying beyond measure. It looked like Moto 2 was a camera phone sometimes, but I didn't care, I was glad they improvised better than yesterday and kept the coverage going. And when it broke up so much on Brasstown, that was aggravating, but I hung in there. But to miss the attack by Lowe, and to miss he and Levi crossing the line, unforgivable. They had some bizarre stationary camera at the finish, that was coming across in black-and-white, but that would've been delightful compared to no image at all! I still can't believe they didn't show it. Please tell me Versus had a camera of its own and we might get to see it whenever the heck it is they deign to show coverage. Or Steephill might have some home video of it, there were a lot of people there, one can only hope. The only redeeming thing WCSN had to offer today was that shot of Barbie on the moto. Having just seen Lars and the Real Girl, it gave me a good laugh. Excellent movie, by the way, Ryan Gosling is a gift. Steve Schlanger, not so much. (I know, but it occurred to me that if I never used his actual name, he wouldn't get a Google Blog Alert from this place, and he would lose out on all the, ahem, constructive criticism I have for him.)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Tour de Georgia 2008 Stage 5: My Kingdom for a Moto

More good news on Timmy Duggan, they were able to do surgery today on the collarbone. Ian MacGregor has been great about posting updates, those two are a great story of friendship. It was great to see pictures today of the "Just Go Harder" seatposts on the Slipstream bikes, and hear Tom Danielson talk about how they motivated the team during the TTT.

As for today's stage, it was a tough one, wish we'd seen more of it! The break certainly got its money's worth, with only one working moto, they got all the air time! Couldn't they stick the other camera guy in a car with a sunroof or something? Just to get some pictures from the peloton? It made for very strange viewing. We got the word from CyclingNews that all four in the break were certified Nice Guys, and they provided some animated moments. But seeing the main pack gives a better sense of the course, where it breaks people up, and how guys are going. The lack of audio for a long time was generally recognized as a bonus by the viewing public, but I do like to hear the race sounds.

Thank goodness for CyclingNews. Their live race reports are the best around, always with great details, background, context and humor. So I used them to provide the commentary to the silent images, and learned all sorts of fun things, like how the Health Net car crashed and they duct-taped the deployed air bags to the steering wheel so they could keep driving. And how the peloton was bathed in manure fumes due to an errant truck. Oh, what these boys have to endure.

Wild little finish, I almost can't blame the remaining moto for having a hard time keeping track of it. It was so funny to see the catch, not having seen the pack for the entire day - there you are, I thought you were still in this race! Great day for the domestic squads, making up the break and taking the win with Bissell's Richard England. I did feel bad for George Hincapie, though, he was going for the win but misjudged it.

Great to see Slipstream-Chipotle's Trent Lowe in yellow, I hope they keep the argyle rockin' right up Brasstown Bald. Levi "Man on Fire" Leipheimer was a lot of fun in the Tour of California, but I find myself not so much rooting for him here. His comments yesterday were kind of pissy and didn't have that team spirit so evident with guys on, say, Slipstream and High Road. I always try to cut guys slack for post-race comments, they're spent and in the moment and stuff just tumbles out of their mouth. I'm just saying it doesn't inspire much cheerleading.

As sketchy as the video of the actual race has been, the stuff at VeloNews TV has been outstanding as always. England's lengthy comments about today's win, Christian Vande Velde's breezy chat at the start, Danielson's straight-from-the-heart talk about the crash, Slipstream chiropractor Kevin Reichlin's engaging conversation about Timmy, Bobby Julich's voice of experience. Each great nuggets on their own, and together, a veritable treasure chest for the rabid fan to eat up daily. Oh, whatever will I do next week. I'll have to talk about things like Ivan Basso signing with Liquigas, joy.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tour de Georgia 2008 Stage 4: Argyle Smile

The news on Timmy Duggan continues to be encouraging, what a relief. And the day just got better from there, as Slipstream-Chipotle pulled off a most excellent win in the TTT. They burned all their booster rockets, just four guys left crossing the line, but all the key players were there. Duggan wasn't able to help in the way Jonathan Vaughters originally planned for today, but he still played a key role, giving the rest of the guys that extra inspiration to lay it all out there. (Okay, I'm going to stop linking to Slipstream, but while you're there, check out Vaughter's piece on the dangers of cycling, very nice.)

Tom Danielson drilling it before the nasty hill, Dave Zabriskie and Christian Vande Velde powering through like old pros, great effort by the whole team. Speaking of great efforts, there's nothing prettier than Papa George Hincapie in a TTT. (Yeah, that name is sticking, hope he likes it!) [Uh oh, just watched the videos at VeloNews, great as always, and he doesn't want it to stick! Sorry George, you might lose this one!] On a blood bath of a day when every team was shedding riders left and right, Team High Road was very impressive, keeping most of the team intact. Not only did they not lose sprinter Greg Henderson, he led them across the line, keeping himself in yellow for one more day.

This TTT on a race track was one wacky idea, but it sure made for intriguing viewing. That steep hill was wild - guys losing chains, losing contact, losing their lunch. I loved the race official on the moto, wagging his finger at the Jittery Joe's team car, that was hilarious. And it was just such a random setting, but great for attracting the crowds!

Radio Guy made my head explode a couple of times - "cycling is, at its core, an individual sport, [so how in the heck do they handle this crazy team concept on special days like today]?" "Slipstream is down to seven riders, they’ve dropped one…" Yes dear, that would be the one in the ICU. Then, when Slipstream was actually losing riders, he was giggling like a school girl, making an awful comment on the Basinger/Baldwin divorce, and then a lame joke about all his favorite actresses buying all the towns in the area. Seriously, dude, get a grip. (I do know his name, but he's Radio Guy until he earns something otherwise.) I will say, he almost gets a Steve for being all over the Ivan Dominguez question.

WCSN totally redeemed itself today, though, with a visit by Danielson and Vande Velde to the booth. They were a hoot, obviously pumped after such a great ride. Astana was riding while they were there, perfect, the trash talk was flying. Nothing nasty, just lots of healthy swagger. And a little post-race amnesia on Tommy's part, seemed to forget they dropped a few guys too! Classic CVV - I'm sure JV was giving us lots of great info, but I took my radio out before the start. It was great to see them so happy, I hope they and the rest of the Argyle boys have a great evening and are able to share it in some way with Timmy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tour de Georgia 2008 Stage 3: The Hardest Part

I'm with JV, this is not what I want to be writing about. There are those crashes where you groan and wince in commiseration with the downed riders. And then there are those that stop you in your tracks and make you hold your breath. We didn't see this one as it happened, but when the camera went to a seriously down Timmy Duggan, this one instantly became the latter. Seeing bikes broken in two, Corey Collier leaning on the bridge, having a hard time shaking it off, and the ominous huddle around Duggan, it was a hard scene to watch.

And then waiting - waiting to hear who it was. I don't know why that matters so much, I guess you just want to know who to be thinking about. Waiting to hear any updates, any tidbit on what the injury is, because it did not look good. Hearing the ambulance, what must the boys be thinking as it goes past. Trying to catch any glimpse of Slipstream-Chipotle riders, how do they look, what are they hearing. It was one of those stages, after that, the break established and just miles to go before you race. So it was probably a combination of that and worrying about Duggan, but I had a feeling of suspended animation until the finishing circuits.

At last, some details from CyclingNews - I wondered if he was convulsing, I was having flashbacks to that horrible downhill skiing accident earlier this year. I hope "keeping him overnight" implies that it's just overnight, and he should be okay, relatively speaking. And nice note about George Hincapie and Levi Leipheimer acting as patrons, how our boys have grown.

CSC made good on their word, helping out on front today to make up for yesterday. First it was just a token guy, but as things got closer, they stepped up. But it was Toyota-United's job most of the day, only to see Ivan Dominguez crumple in the closing circuits. I admit, it was kind of a curious sight, but WCSN spent way too much time showing him back there! Especially when the picture kept breaking up - we get it, he cracked, show us the guys still going!

Some nice fliers on the circuits, but it all came together for a tight sprint. Greg Henderson finally got his win, on a banner day for High Road. The announcers thought he was a Type-1 guy, even going so far as to say he would get flack for falsely celebrating the win. Hey, you don't show us the podiums, but even I knew that looked like the points jersey. I mean, honest mistake in the moment, but when you hear it's Henderson, try to connect the dots. Tyler Farrar came in a very nice third, and took the young rider's jersey, both will be a good boost for the Slipstream-Chipotle camp on such a difficult day.

VeloNews has some wonderful quotes on the High Road lead-out, particularly about George Hincapie - classy start to finish today, no surprise there. Papa Georgio, I love it!

I appreciate the WCSN coverage, really, but I wish they could show us at least one replay of the finish, and stick around for those podiums! And the picture seems to have a knack for breaking up just at the most crucial moments. While I'm at it, the commentating could use some tightening up. They get very ramble-y - I know, it's not a hugely dynamic stage, but that's all the more reason to make the most of things that do happen. I had to laugh early in today's stage, the guy with the radio voice is rambling on about something, and a rider in a fledgling break suddenly drops like a lead balloon, right off the back and way over to the side of the road. Well, Radio Guy, seeming almost mildly annoyed, says something like "oh, I guess he has a mechanical, anyway, as I was saying," like, before I was so rudely interrupted by the actual race! Too funny. I know it's not an easy job, but at least stay with what's happening on the road. On the upside, looks like all three stages so far are available for on-demand viewing, can't complain about that.

More on that banner day for High Road - Kim Kirchen took a soggy thriller at Fleche Wallonne. I just caught a few glimpses of the race, on a blurry feed made only blurrier by the rain, but it seemed pretty exciting to me! Cadel Evans was looking good on the nasty final climb, but then Kirchen surged past him for the win. He was so happy, very sweet to see him after the finish, completely soaked and muddy, endlessly embracing what I assume to be his wife.

Speaking of embracing and banner days, Luke and Noah finally kissed again on ATWT! I know, way random, but seriously, it's about time. (Yes, I'm one of those middle-aged straight women rooting for the young lovebirds, so be it.)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tour de Georgia 2008 Stage 1: What A Finish!

By which I mean, of course, the women's race at today's Boston Marathon. I would say it about today's opening stage in Georgia, if WCSN hadn't lost the picture a few hundred meters from the finish! It was sketchy coverage all day long, so to not even get the payoff of seeing anyone cross the line was pretty sad. I hope it was opening-day glitches, because I'll be a lot more agitated if it's like this for the TTT or Brasstown Bald. They didn't have a lot to work with, I'll give them that, but the commentary was kind of a snooze too. Nathan O'Neill is a great bike rider, and that was a very sweet story about meeting his wife, but let's hear about the race at hand! In the bits we did get to see, it was great to see Chris Horner in that little break, and Dave Zabriskie leading the charge through another section.

Similar problems with Amstel Gold on Sunday.'s free coverage was at such a low bitrate you couldn't tell who was who, it was hardly worth it. Then Eurosport came on, which had lovely video, though it froze occasionally and the audio was choppy. So, I got to see it, but never got enough in the rhythm to get a good sense of the day. I get spoiled by those days when there's clear live video for the whole race, I want it every time! I repeat my praise for Sean Kelly though, love his commentary. Phil & Paul are in the hall of fame, to be sure, but Phil is getting dotty and they're both a little too excitable, and the competition between them gets in the way sometimes. (I know, sacrilege to criticize such icons, but it is done with all due respect and affection.)

I'll give in to the relentless Versus marketing machine and mention Lance in the Marathon. Thankfully they didn't show much of him during the elite race, keeping the focus correctly on the actual contenders. But of course when that was over we got full-on Lance-cam until he finished. And why does he get his own banner? First guy named Lance Armstrong to cross the line? At least he seemed appropriately confused by it. And appeared to be without entourage during the race, getting his own water this time. I mean, if you're gonna do it, do it like everyone else, right? Al Trautwig was his usual fawning self, trying to spin Lance's time so it seemed better than it was (not that it was bad to begin with, which kind of made it even more embarrassing). Heaven help me, but he needs to have a beer with Murphy and Dugard some time.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Paris-Roubaix 2008: Beauty and The Beast

Mud is dramatic and all, but I have to say I was happy for the riders to see blue skies and sun at today's Paris-Roubaix - the cobbles are torture enough! Likewise for the home viewer - we've already got shaking cameras from the cobbles, it's nice to not have to look through raindrops as well. The gorgeous weather made for spectacular viewing and a great race. Of course there was that one rain cloud, hovering over George Hincapie forevermore. Clearly, the earth will stop revolving on its axis if Hincapie ever wins this thing.

Teamwork is one of my favorite things about cycling, and is as strong at P-R as anywhere. So much can happen, you really have to look out for your guy. Quick Step and CSC both put on an excellent show in that category. They kept a strong presence at the front, and each got two strong guys in the final break from the peloton. They were able to play their cards perfectly, ready for the win with whichever pair made it away. I especially love to see Hincapie taken care of, and High Road did a nice job of it for a while. There was Bernhard Eisel, snagging a bottle and offering it to George before he took it for himself. And Servais Knaven anchored to Filippo Pozatto's wheel as he came back, covering all the bases.

But then, as we've come to dread, suddenly Hincapie was gone. With so much going on, we didn't see what happened. It appeared to be a mechanical, as George was waving his arms frantically while trying to catch back on. (Just read over at VeloNews that he flatted twice, argh.) High Road lost big in the team car order lottery, second to last. However true it is that you make your own luck out on the road, this is one piece of bad luck George had no control over. What a shame if it cost him a chance at the podium. Watching him weave through the team cars on the narrow road to get back on - yeah, I didn't need those years off my life! Holy guacamole, that was dicey. And then, along with the rest of the peloton, he was out of sight out of mind. Such are the cold, hard facts of staying where the action is. Once upon a time Hincapie would've been thrilled with a "Top Ten" finish in ninth, but today it must've been a bitter pill.

Speaking of being thrilled with a Top Ten Five finish, can we get a little Captain & Tennille, please? I'm talkin' Maaskant Love. Following up on his strong finish last week at Flanders, Martijn Maaskant of Slipstream Chipotle continued to impress. To be in the final big break, with all the strongmen of the race, well done. He appeared to sit on quite a bit, so I wonder how well his attack at the end to snag fourth sat with the other guys, especially Leif Hoste, who wasn't getting any help from Stijn Devolder or Stuart O'Grady as it was. [CyclingNews reports that Stuey and Stijn were getting cagey with each other, so I guess no qualms there, good on the kid for going for it!] But it sure was fun to see a solo Slipstream rider in the velo. I know they had big hopes for this race, and given how it went, they have to be thrilled with fourth. Especially with Maaskant, strength for the future!

Watching Fabian Cancellara, Tom Boonen, and Alessandro Ballan zoom along at the front, I thought the wheels in their minds must be spinning as fast as those on their bikes, thinking of how to play it in the velo. My heart broke for George, but with the sun, the other favorites out front, the massive fans, it was a beautiful sight. They had plenty of time, so it was a relief to see a lack of big games as they got close.

When Cancellara started stretching his legs in the final kilometers, I hoped he was just working out the cobbled kinks for a strong finish. But alas, it was cramps, and when Boonen went for the line he could not follow. Nice win for Tom, you knew he was smarting after last week, teammate or no. That cobblestone trophy always gives me the willies, especially when small children are on the podium as well (as Julia Hincapie was a few years ago). Thankfully Boonen didn't even try to hold it by the base - smart racer, smart trophy-lifter.

I really have to learn Danish, I love the tone and rhythm of the Sputnik commentators. Given Eurosport's late and choppy audio entry on the race, I didn't even bother listening to them. It's not like I couldn't tell what was happening at that point! And Sputnik had a lovely post-race show. Again, couldn't understand much, but good video and some of the post-race interviews were in English, bonus! And now it's on to Davis Cup, can Andy Roddick hold off the Frenchies? And the Masters - I am so not a golf fan whatsoever, but even I want to see if the kids can hold off the big guns again today. Great day to be a sports fan.

A couple of notes I didn't get to post earlier in the week:

I was greatly saddened to hear of Randy Van Zee's death in a cycling accident last weekend. I don't generally follow RAAM, but there was a fantastic documentary on the 2004 race, by Stephen Auerbach. Whatever you think about ultra-marathon racing, the video is compelling and beautifully done. Randy is one of the more endearing subjects in the video, so gentle and good-humored, even as he goes through agony. His neck muscles gave out, so he had to wear a contraption to keep his head up. Then he crashed and "hurt his hip," and couldn't swing his leg over the bike. He had to have someone slide it up between his legs. But he kept on going, and finished. With a broken pelvis. He had a great attitude and spirit, and I'm glad we all got to know him just a little bit.

In an odd twist of fate, there was a hauntingly similar image on Friday's stage 5 of the Vuelta al PaĆ­s Vasco that left me clutching my heart. I had the live video streaming on my computer, about the only way we get to see Astana this year, not to mention Alberto Contador battling Cadel Evans and the like. The weather was brutal, pouring rain and cold, as a small leading group came into the final kilometers. There was a very nasty right turn, I just knew someone would go down. Through the rain on the camera, I could see that someone did, but then they had to follow Contador and Damiano Cunego battling it out for the win. When the camera went back, there was David Herrero, clearly in a great deal of pain, trying to get back on his bike, but seemingly unable to move his right leg. But he was fourth on GC, and leading the points classification, so nothing was going to keep him down. Two guys had to lift him up and slide him onto the seat, it was difficult to watch. One of the guys then ran alongside him, pushing and/or steadying, for some distance, until he got too winded and had to drop off. Herrero made it to the line, crying and pedaling only with his left foot, his right leg hanging uselessly on the other side, completely heart-wrenching. He crossed the line alone, and I was yelling at the crowd monitor guy to reach out and help him, I was so afraid he was going to flop over on that right side. No broken bones, but he was unable to start the final stage on Saturday, what a disappointment.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Flanders: That's Why They Call It A Classic

It's been great racing all spring, and Flanders continued that trend and then some today. Just what you love to see in a spring race - snow, hail, rain, guys caked with mud head-to-toe, breath visible in the cold air as they struggle up the cobbles, and drama aplenty.

I'm really glad I got up to watch it live, seeing now how it was mercilessly sliced and diced for the Versus broadcast. And there was the added bonus of Sean Kelly commentating on Eurosport. All due respect to P&P, but Mr. Kelly does a lovely, understated job of it. The UK video stream was a bit dicey, so I switched to another country, with the UK audio going. They were out of sync then, with the audio a minute or so ahead. It worked out, though, because I was helpfully alerted to keep an eye out for notable visuals about to unfold.

It seems cruel somehow to love watching the riders suffer on the climbs, but it's just so epic. To know how strong these guys are, and to see them giving maximum effort to make it up, or get off and walk, you know how tough it must be, and I love them all for getting through it.

It's a real shame Versus skipped Leif Hoste's mechanical, that was quite the moment. There he was a big favorite, standing like a spectator on the side of the road as he had to wait interminably for the team car to make it to him. He looked the calm professional, but his insides must have been churning. And Oscar Freire's attack was a nice move while it lasted, a bit of a disservice to just show him getting caught.

George Hincapie was in fine form, making all the important moves, except of course that last one. But it was great to see him in the break, muddy face and grinding away. A well-earned fifth place for Big George, here's hoping it sets him up well for next week.

When the sun finally came out, and guys were peeling off layers left and right, it was kind of like Superman - as the dirty garments were discarded, the fresh bright colors of clean jerseys underneath were revealed. Stijn Devolder certainly took that to heart, deciding he would be the one to fly away from the field.

Watching him barrel along, earpiece dangling uselessly, I thought of one of the April Fool's jokes at VeloNews this week. I'm not big on April Fool's, but this was a fun satirical look at today's riders going without radios. Devolder's comments after the race could've been straight out of the faux piece, something along the lines of not having any idea what the gap was and just riding as fast as he could.

That was a crazy stretch after Devolder flew, motorcycles were everywhere, it was like the chasers had accidentally stumbled upon a pack of Hells Angels. As the chase went along, there were those frustrating tactical games. It seems crazy that some combination of guys couldn't put it together to bridge the gap, Devolder was so close. I get that if they pulled Tom Boonen up, they had very little chance of winning, but still, isn't little chance better than no chance? And if you're resigned to losing anyway, isn't a podium place better than nothing? Oh well, after what those guys went through today, who am I to question them.

I had to be happy for the robust Belgian fans. They didn't let the weather dampen their spirits all day long, what a great reward to see their national champion take the win in fantastic style. And Devolder was delightful after the finish, that huge grin and happily bewildered look in his eyes, still trying to take in what he'd just done. Aside from that little "rest" in the break, he worked like a dog all day long and it was a well-deserved win on a great day of racing.