January 27, 2009 – So what did we learn from six days of racing in Australia? After six sunny stages in the land of no winter, Lance Armstrong seemed to get lost in the media fray, but there was a lot of evidence that this will be a terrific year for cycling. Here’s just a little of what I picked up:
1. Lance looked great! He had never said that this was anything more than a necessary training exercise, he could have pedaled with the peloton for all it mattered to his season, but the Texan tenacity gleamed off of the sun drenched pavement in every stage. He covered the big breaks, was often in the thick of the action, took risks on descents and kept his wheel in the front of the pack to stay out of trouble. There were no big climbs. No time trials. No long stages. This was never an Armstrong gig. And still he managed to distinguish himself as a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming season.
2. The TDU is first and foremost a sprinter’s race. Past champions include a number of great jersey wearers like Stuart O’Grady and Robbie McEwen. Success in this event has little to do with the Grand Tours, but it did give us an idea of who may steal the odd classic or even wear a Green Jersey for a day or two this summer. Look for both Allan Davis and Graham Brown from Rabobank to give the aging McEwen a run for his money in Europe this spring.
3. Excitement is back in Cycling. The record crowds at every event are a testimony to Lance’s enduring mystique and bode well for a season of exciting cycling. The big names will have a big stage to play on as the media circus expands its coverage and the crowds once again fill every switchback. Even Phil Liggett’s voice on the commentary was noticeably more passionate as he delivered his iconic play-by-play. As the true drama starts to unfold at this year’s Giro and Tour, it should reach a fever pitch.
This is going to be the most memorable season in the past 10 and I’m glad I’m a part of it.
Alpine Cycling Tours