This week we have all been fortunate enough to be bombarded with a series of important races, flubs, performances, no shows, crashes and more and it’s all going to be summarized in this one epic post.
Saturday, March 27th – E3 Prijs Vlaanderen
The Flanders classic which ruled the weekend not matter what the organizers of the Gent – Wevelgem had up their sleeves. A dramatic finish and win for Fabian Cancellara who suddenly vaults himself into ‘favorite’ status for the upcoming epic Ronde van Vlaaneren. An amazing race with and amazing finish. Just get a load of the top three:
1. Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank)
2. Tom Boonen (Quickstep)
3. Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky)
Saturday, March 27th – Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali.
The Coppi e Bartali concluded on Saturday, with Ivan Santaromita winning the overall in the race. The 2010 edition of the Coppi e Bartali can be slotted under ‘flub’ as most of the riders from last years dramatic event (Cunego, Evans and Visconti) were not back. Not to take anything away from Ivan Santaromita, because he deservedly won and raced well, but the field was not as rich as in years past. Ricco-watch was on, and he finished fifth showing some signs of life and some signs of lack.
Final General Classification
1 Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 20:12:50
2 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Miche 0:01:43
3 Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Col) Androni Giocattoli 0:02:25
Sunday, March 28th – Critérium International.
One of the most talked about early races of the season, the two-day, three-stage Critérium International didn’t fail to live up to expectations, although Lance Armstrong and to a much lesser extent, Alberto Contador did just that.
If you’re not sick of the war of words yet, you will be soon, as all the attention was on the two past Tour de France champions while riders like Cadel Evans and Samuel Sanchez were the ones doing the walking err…riding, and not the talking. First, congrats goes out to Pierrick Fedrigo for winning the darn race, and then props to Sanchez and Evans for showing their form – strong at this stage, but with room to build.
As for the other ‘big heads’ Contador quite gracefully and honestly stated “No one is unbeatable” after losing over 1 minute on the day-1 L’Ospedale climb. Contador did quickly however, site allergies as a convenient excuse for his surprisingly average performance. On the other side of the insanity, Armstrong couldn’t keep the floodgates shut, rambling with all the time-appropriate cliches.
“If it was a provocation (against me), then it backfired. If it was a simple schedule change because this race suited him better then that was his prerogative,” said Armstrong. “I expected him to be super yesterday, I don’t know [Contador’s] problem, but it did not work out.” Armstrong then continued by saying “I think that he and I both would both prefer that the drama not exist,” Well, I got a suggestion for ya Lance, stopping the yakking, that might be the first step.
Either way you cut it, Alberto lost a surprising 1:13 on the climb and then answered his critics with a second place in the final TT just 2 seconds off the winning pace by David Millar. Lance lost 4:51 on the climb and a further 19 seconds, 17 behind Contador, in the TT. They will both build form to the Tour de France, so it’s true that these results mean little, but if I were Lance, I’d be doing more focused training with my legs than with my mouth at this point in time, cause 5 minutes back, in three short stages, isn’t even competitive.
Final General Classification
1 Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom________7:11:59
2 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team HTC-Columbia___________0:00:14
3 Tiago Machado (Por) Team RadioShack_____________0:00:15
4 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi____________0:00:19
5 David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Transitions
6 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team_______________0:00:22
15 Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana________________0:01:08
47 Lance Armstrong (USA) Team RadioShack________0:05:05
Sunday, March 28th – Volta Ciclista a Catalunya.
Ok, back to normality. A new spot on the schedule made for a invigorated Volta a Catalunya and the smallest pro-rider in Spain, Joaquin Rodriguez rode away with the honors. The seven day stage race had impressive showings from the top-three, Rodriguez, Tondo and Taaramae, but also from Jens Voigt, Luis Leon Sanchez, who finished fourth, Nicolas Roche and Canadian Ryder Hesjedal.
1 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha__________25:16:03
2 Xavier Tondo (Spa) Cervelo Test Team__________0:00:10
3 Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne____0:00:43
Sunday, March 28th – Trofeo Alfredo Binda.
Last, but certainly not least, was the opening race of the season on the Women’s world cup with Marianne Vos winning in convincing fashion for the second straight year. She was joined on the podium by compatriot Martine Brasagain and again this year by Swedish rider Emma Johannson, in third place.
1 Marianne Vos (Ned) Netherlands 3:27:37
2 Martine Bras (Ned) Gauss RDZ Ormu
3 Emma Johansson (Swe) Redsun Cycling Team