Monday, April 25, 2011


One of the good things about living in Australia is that European racing takes place during our evening. I can imagine that living in Europe would be very frustrating as work would get right in the way of races. In Australia, while you do have to put up with late nights, you can watch every race (as long as it's televised). The downside, of course, is that you are often tired at work. But this is clearly better than the alternative; fatigue is much less noticeable than complete absence.

Anyway, last night's race presented me with somewhat of a dilemma; I had tickets to see the reggae legends, Toots and the Maytals. I was hoping that they'd start on time, play a great, 2-hour gig and allow me home to watch the last hour of the race. This seemed like a fair compromise between my music-loving and bike-loving selves.

Like any good plan, though, it didn't work. Realising this, I had to quickly come up with plan B. With the help of my phone and the Cyclingnews live report, I followed the race and decided that I would leave at 30 kilometres to go, no matter what.

I couldn't quite hold it together though. While I was enjoying the gig, my bike-loving self was beginning to have a tantrum. So it was, when the live report reported this...
15:40 CEST 35km/222.5km
Gasparotto leads over the top of La Redoute. 47 seconds back to the bunch.
...that I just had to get out of there. It happened midway through the encore so I didn't miss too much. My music-loving self wasn't happy, but it didn't have a choice. I ran out of the venue, the three blocks to my bike and then raced home.

I landed on the couch with 18km to go, which was unfortunate as I'd just missed seeing the Schlecks and Gilbert get away from the peloton 2km earlier. Still, I was treated to seeing;
-them sweep up the escapees.
-Van Avermaet, who'd been out the front for 100km, go with them for a while, which was impressive to say the least.
-Gilbert attack on Saint-Nicholas and dislodging Andy for a bit.
-the Schlecks try several times to crack Gilbert.
-Gilbert doing his share of work with the brothers.
-Gilbert riding sandwiched between the brothers, as if in some sort of procession. For many, this seemed bizarre; why weren't the Schlecks attacking? Why were they leading him home? I think they gave their best and simply had nothing more to offer. They seem satisfied with their efforts which implies they played all their cards and left everything on the road. Gilbert was just too strong.

So, it's not since Davide Rebellin in 2004 that the Ardennes triple has been accomplished. As we've learnt, his feat was propped up with dope and now everyone is asking the same question regarding Gilbert. So, I'll ask the question; is Gilbert on dope?

My answer is "no". I don't know why, and maybe I'm naïve but my dope-detector says he's clean. And that's all I have to say about that.

It was a great race last night. L-B-L offered up an exciting and fair contest; the strongest guys were the only ones left at the end of the race to fight it out amongst themselves. And the strongest of them all was so very strong...

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