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Thursday, March 24, 2011

2011 Update on the Pros

I am way behind. The pro's have raced away in the 2011 spring season with me still sitting on the couch.

With my focus and energies trained on running this marathon, my off season cross training effectively upstaged my first love.

Paris - Nice and Tirreno - Adriatico are now history and the Tour of Flanders and Paris - Roubaix are just around the corner. Cadel Evans of BMC took top honors at Tirreno - Adriatico, sharing the glory on the final day with Fabian Cancellara of Leopard Trek who showed that his TT prowess hasn't waned over the last winter of another decade.

Who am I watching this year? Well, basically the same players from last year.

Lance Armstrong has said goodbye to the big races, so the USA is down 1 hero. I suspect he will not be altogether absent, though.

George Hincapie from BMC will always be a paragon to me, though any realistic hopes of fantastic wins are fading fast. Along with George on Team BMC is the colorful Cadel Evans, who I watch for the same reason that I watch a ship push through a strong current - they leave an impressive wake.

Of course like the rest of the world, we watch and wait to see what the newly formed Leopard - Trek boys have to offer the 2011 cycling season. This is Saxo Bank cleaned up, dusted off, and energized. The Schleck brothers have every reason to be optimistic about this year's Tour de France, and with team mates like Fabian Cancellara and Jens Voigt - anything is possible.

Speaking of Jens Voigt, he has come out strongly against this year's amplified controversy - the banning of team radios on some high profile races. See this article in Cycling News. I'll possibly have an opinion on this in the future, though for now I'm just weighing the arguments. (As if my opinion mattered at all)

I'm also watching a few new US riders that show potential.

Ben King is a fresh new pro who joined with Lance and the Radio Shack crew this year. I first learned of this rider as I followed him virtually, reading the race report as he won the Pro Championship in my home town of Greenville, SC. It was exciting just following the "as it happens" report.

Then there's Taylor Phinney of BMC, no stranger to cycling with both parents former pros, and also brand new to the professional peloton.

I hope both of these young men prove to be great, and give US professional cycling a much needed boost.

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