The racing season is right around the corner and all the pro teams are counting the days till their specific race rendezvous. Taking a quick glance at the various team sites you can see where riders will be. In the case of Kenda p/b Geargrinders it’s the Tour de Taiwan in March. The Tour of Taiwan is a UCI ranked event, so snagging some early season points will make them an attractive selection for any of our domestic grand tours such as Tour of California (I actually heard that only one slot is still open for a team), Tour of Missouri (keeping my fingers crossed on that one) and of course the Tour of Utah (inside source told me they are going big in 2010). Beyond the American Continental teams is the Big Show – the teams who are assured a spot in our domestic races as well as the three European Grand Tours. Let’s not forget the Spring Classics.
For those stalking Garmin-Transitions (I’m talking about a certain group of #cyclingdivas) the team was polite enough to not only post their race schedule but also format it into an attractive calendar suitable for framing. I have mine pinned up next to my mounted talking bass. Both are great conversation starters. “Hey, what’s that? Is that a talking bass mounted next to the Garmin-Transitions racing schedule?” Yes…yes it is.
With a large squad Garmin-Transitions is splitting the squad into a Giro and Amgen Tour of California team. From a personal standpoint I’d like to see both Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie line up at the Amgen Tour of California. However, the Giro has been the traditional tune-up for potential Tour de France champions. Wiggins of Sky has already stated that he’s eying the Giro’s prologue and the time trial. If Zabriskie is going to have the break out year that Vaughters predicts then Italy may be where he’s headed in May. Vande Velde has contested the Giro these past two years and went on to strong finishes at the Tour, so I wouldn’t expect a change in his racing program.
One schedule that got me thinking was Team RadioShack’s race program posted on Johan Bruyneels’s Facebook page (never in a thousand years did I ever think I’d be writing that sentence). The month of May is missing the Giro and instead has the Tour of California followed by the Tour of Belgium. This is an interesting conundrum that Joe Lindsey pointed out in the Boulder Report. Armstrong had used the Giro for the high-intensity training to fine-tune the fitness. However the Tour of California has been Leipheimer’s race. There could be awkward moments around the dinner table in California if Armstrong wants to flex his racing muscle during the race and not be the super-domestic he was in 2009. And what about Kloden? It looks like scraps for him. With no Giro, the Tour of California is Leipheimer’s, the Tour is Armstrong’s – no matter what he said at the press conference, so what’s left? Maybe throw him a bone at Paris-Nice?
I have mixed feeling about the new British Sky team. They are the New York Yankees of the cycling world buying up any and all available (in the case of Wiggins – not so available) talent. The British side of me is rooting for them and I’m glad that in these uncertain times a huge corporation has stepped up and backed a team. The a-hole side of me will enjoy harassing my father who has become a big fan of them and I will be able to endlessly mock him when Sky doesn’t win. I am gambling with my inheritance because if I piss him off too badly he might remove me from the will. However the reality is that the Browne fortune is probably no more than several boxes of empty Lucky Lager bottles and my grandfather’s old prosthetic arm, so it’s not a big loss.
While not a Pro Continental team, BMC with Cadel Evans, George Hincapie and Alessandro Ballan are deserved of a wild card entry into all the races. Their season is starting off early with the Tour Down Under and then it’s a European campaign with Hincapie, Ballan and fresh meat John Murphy. I don’t think anyone would argue with me by saying that Murph is a guy who deserves this shot. I expect to see Hincapie, Ballan and Murphy to be at the Tour of California. Evans has already decided to race the Giro as prep for the Tour. He’s going to have to be a cagey rider to do well in the 2010 Tour.
With the new year just hours in front of us the speculation has begun. Will the Giro once again be just an event the Italians battle for and everyone else uses for Tour training? Can the Tour of California become THE race to attend as we hope for drier days? Will the new super budget Sky Team be more than just an over-expensive team filled with racers and their bloated egos? Will their failure to win any significant races cause my dad to have a rage-fueled stroke? Who knows, but I’m double checking the will. I think Lucky Lager beer bottles are collectables and might be worth some coin.