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!


Nikki said...

You just rick Julie! I've been watching for your post today!

How about the Schlecklets!!! I just loved it!! I adore Andy and he is so young ew have YEARS to continue watching him. And it't not like Frank is old either so bring on the brother hit team!!!

TdG coverage today was so bad. I got up and walked away several times. Grrrrrr on them for messing that up so bad. Can't wait to see what VS does with that next week.

Julie said...

LOL, had to get that grocery shopping done!

The Schlecks are great, how sweet is that photo on the team site?