Saturday, February 23, 2013

Omloop het nieuwsblad

Stijn Vandenbergh
't Is terug koers! After all the drama with Lance Armstrong and doping (we all knew it), the real cycling is back. Living in California means that it is back to waking up at 5 o'clock to catch the Sporza broadcast live on the internet.

The spring cycling season has officially started in Belgium with Omloop het Nieuwsblad. After the riders enjoy a ramp up vacation in the sun, with the Tour Down Under, the Tour de San Luis in Argentina near my parents in law's house, or the Tour of Oman, it is now time for the real stuff: the spring classics.

Today's Omloop het Volk Nieuwsblad was like a blandly season appetizer. The big guns like Boonen, Flecha, Cancellara, Sagan aren't competing for the roses yet (or didn't participate). The young guns lack panache and strategic inside. That leaves us the older experienced guys, like Luca Paolini who won today in the sprint from Stijn Vandenbergh. Where is the new young talent?

A couple of observations of today's race:

  • It was too cold for a good race: the big temperature shock was too much for the sun bronzed riders. "My eyes were frozen over, I didn't see where I was going anymore", Jurgen Roelandts. 
  • More races should drop the radio communications with the riders. It will be it a more exciting tactical race, although today there was no sign of that. It was overall not a very exciting race. 
  • Van Avermaet has the right form, but lacks some luck and smarts. 
  • It was unfortunate Stijn Vandenbergh (2nd) didn't the play the game smarter with Paolini. He should have stopped cooperating earlier: the team still had Chavanel around, or let Paolini tire himself out more before the final sprint. 
Tomorrow Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. If the weather holds up and it doesn't snow in Belgium, I predict a sprint for Cavendish.