We have great racing and more cycling drama
What a week of racing with the UCI stirring up the drama.
This was a powerful weekend of racing. Saturday was the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad - a tantalizing tease of the cobblestone classics that will populate the April calendar. While Garmin-Barracuda's Sep Vanmarcke was the winner, no one had picked him as a favorite before the start. Yet team manager Jonathan Vaughters disclosed in an interview late last year that the young Belgian was a man to look for in the future. I just didn't realize it was that soon.
What was expected was the throw down on the Taaienberg that started the elimination process. With 30 kilometers remaining, Vanmarcke's acceleration reduced the group to himself, Tom Boonen and Juan Antonio Flecha. In the final 500 meters the Garmin-Barracuda rider positioned himself perfectly to take the sprint from Boonen.
Curiously BMC - a team that, on paper, has the strongest classics squad - was not a factor. Philippe Gilbert punctured, which then placed him in a bad position on the Taaienberg. Speaking to dhnet.be Gilbert said he just didn't have the legs and complained about the lack of race radios as the riders didn't know his teammate Thor Hushovd had been dropped from the breakaway group.
At the end of the day BMC scrambled for a fifth place with Greg Van Avermaet. Not the result they were looking for, but they did manage to make lemonade out of lemons. And to be fair to BMC it's only February - still a lot of 2012 season in front of us.
The following day Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne ended like we all thought it would - with a bunch sprint. What was really remarkable was that Team Sky started their leadout for reigning world champion Mark Cavendish about 40 kilometers from the finish line. Now, that's confidence.
Even more interesting, in a post-race team press release Cavendish said "I was ill all day and kept vomiting, but I was always kept at the front by the whole team. Then when the split went on the Oude-Kwaremont it was perfect as we had three in the front while the other guys stayed with me and we didn't have to do any chasing."
And for those who were watching the live Sporza feed, Cav was classic Cav by casually dropping an F-bomb into his post-race interview. I can't wait for the Tour de France where he's almost guaranteed stage wins followed by the post-stage presser. I recommend that networks who are sensitive to that type of language have the delay at the ready.
Of course what's a week in review without mentioning the UCI at least once? As I write this the governing body had a sit down meeting with Saxo Bank team manager Bjarne Riis regarding what's going to happen to his team's points accumulated from the now suspended Alberto Contador. As you know, Contador had his 2010 Tour de France and Giro titles stripped from him. And with that there goes his points, which help qualify his Saxo Bank team for the WorldTour. So does Saxo Bank get to keep the points or will they be removed, pushing the