If there is one person that I am constantly re-twittering it ‘s Dan Wuori aka @dwuori. In a span of 140 words he delivers a cycling punchline that leaves you LOLing . If you are on Twitter immediately start following this very funny guy! So after much begging and pleading @dwuori agreed to write something for my blog. With the Santos Tour Down Under starting on Tuesday Dan wrote this preview of the first UCI race of the year. As usual he’s spot on with his analysis.
I’ll be writing a daily Tour Down Under pieces for Versus and I think I can convince him to contribute to that as well. I love outsourcing.
The Santos Tour Down Under: A Preview by Dan Wuori
After a seemingly endless lull, it’s time for the first race of the UCI ProTour’s 2011 calendar: Australia’s Santos Tour Down Under. This year 18 of cycling’s best teams – and Astana – will all ride the six-stage race in pursuit of the TDU’s prized ochre leader’s jersey (best known for its uniquely Australian front pouch). As the season heats up Down Under, here are a few things worth watching:
Cav vs. Greipel
The 2010 TDU was dominated by HTC-Columbia’s Andre Greipel, widely regarded as the sport’s fastest Gran Fondo rider as the result of an unfortunate intra-team rivalry with fellow sprinter Mark Cavendish. Unwilling to share the spotlight with the talented German, Cavendish not only left his teammate scrounging for table scraps all throughout 2010, but mocked him for accumulating mostly small wins in small races. (In a stinging retort, Greipel crushed the field at the 2010 Presidential Tour of Turkey.)
With Cav in attendance and Greipel now leading Omega Pharma-Lotto it’s safe to say that the 2011 TDU will be a sprinters’ delight. Will the chip on Greipel’s shoulder propel him into ochre or will the Manx Missile simply fulfill his promise to “bump it up to 85%” in the event that an actual sprint breaks out? And will either notice that the guy in the knockoff Sky jersey and oddly-tinted Oakleys is actually a carefully camouflaged Tyler Farrar out to poach the race for Garmin-Cervelo?
Armstrong Takes a Bow
This year’s TDU also marks Lance Armstrong’s fourth annual, “final race on foreign soil.” While many speculate that the 7x TdF champ has been drawn by a reported $2M appearance fee, one cannot overlook the location’s special symbolism. It is equally likely that Armstrong chose Australia because he – like the kookaburra – is known to produce 5-7 offspring each year.
Regardless of motive, look for Lance to put on a show that will remain unmatched until Comeback 3.0.
Finally, keep a watchful eye on Australia’s homegrown heroes. Oz is home to a number of cycling’s most prominent riders, and while BMC’s Cadel Evans is sitting the week out (after receiving a credible threat that someone intends to stand on his dog), HTC-Highroad’s Mark Renshaw and Radio Shack’s Robbie McEwen will be amongst a gaggle of Aussie riders looking to capitalize on their knowledge of the TDU’s idiosyncratic rules. (Riders should be reminded that in Australia roundabouts flush counterclockwise.)
(Queensland Australia was recently devastated by flooding. As of this writing at least 16 are dead with dozens more missing. The cycling community has embraced this worthy cause, with each of the TDU teams announcing plans to auction a signed team jersey. To bid, visit ebay.com.au starting Sunday, January 16. Donations can also be made directly to the Queensland Flood Relief Appeal at http://www.qld.gov.au/floods/donate.html )