With two early season stage races under our belts, our collective appetite is thoroughly whetted as we await the next couple of weeks. In fact, these next few weeks rival a certain three week period in July.
For me, the season starts in Milan. No offense to the folks in California and Paris but Milan-San Remo starts the Classics. This is when the hard men of cycling’s spring season come out and play. Milan-San Remo has become a sprinter’s paradise in recent years as the Poggio and Cipressa do not force as much of a selection as in the past. The real challenge in La Classicissima is it’s length. At almost 300 kilometers, you never know what condition your legs will be in at the finish on the Via Roma.
I am especially excited for this year’s edition. It seems that Alessandro Petacchi is at the end of his career. Sprinters generally do not fade away, they go out as quickly as they raced. Expect him to realize this and be motivated to take his second title. Tom Boonen is missing this notch on his belt. I expect him to underplay the importance of this race when compared to his hometown race in Flanders. I don’t believe it. I do expect a little internal conflict as reigning World Champion Paolo Bettini has his own designs on victory.
Then there is the new kid. Luca Paolini. What Italian thoroughbred does not want to take this race. To take it from the aging Petacchi would put the icing on the cake. In fact, in two years, things would come full circle as Petacchi took the crown from an aging Lion King.
Then there is J.J. Haedo. This man has shown a scary turn of speed. Now it is time to go up against the big boys. Will J.J. be up to the challange? Is he as good as he looked in California?
So expect the teams of CSC, Liquigas, Milram, and Quick Step to guarantee a grupo compatto towards the end. Then it will be a battle of the leadout trains. From there, it will be mano a mano a mano a mano.
I have renewed my Cycling.tv subscription, cleared off my couch, charged my lapotp. I can’t wait.