The Tour de France is one day off, but before we turn our heads entirely in the direction of Liege, let's take a moment to look at a rider who must be dreaming about his chances in the Grand Boucle someday... The 2012 Baby Giro winner, Joe Dombrowski (Bontrager Livestrong & USA), first came to our attention in 2011 when he won a stage and was second on GC in the Valle d’Aosta U23 stage race in Italy. Aosta, along with the Tour de l’Avenir and Baby Giro are the equivalent of eBay for the professional talent scouts - where quality goods can be picked up at good prices.
With the London Olympic Games creeping ever closer, Ed Hood recently caught up with a real medal prospect, Shane Archbold. The young track racer, currently racing and winning on the Belgian kermis circuit, has an eye on the newly included omnium event and looks to be a solid contender for the multi-discipline event.
Continuing our series of pre-Olympics interviews with riders who came from the ‘left field’ of the velodrome, we talk to Mike McCarthy, a man who didn’t quite come from nowhere to win the 1992 world professional pursuit championship but certainly shocked the world of the Euro Pros to take what was arguably then, the most prestigious of all the track titles.
You can't keep a man like Ed Hood away from the races. Every year, as the Belgian opening weekend approaches, the tickets are booked, and he's there, like clockwork. Let's take a look back at Ed's day chasing and watching the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, or Gent-Gent as the classicists prefer.
La Doyenne – ‘a woman who is the eldest or senior member of a group.’ The group in question being the Classics; and in particular the five ‘Monuments,’ specifically Milan–Sanremo, the Tour of Flanders, Paris–Roubaix, the Tour of Lombardy and Liege– Bastogne–Liege, the oldest of them all. In Flemish that’s ‘Luik–Bastenaken–Luik,’ but whichever language you chose this race was first held as a professional event in 1894; and that’s a long time ago.
In Italy the Classics have beautiful names; ‘Primavera’ and ‘Race of the Falling Leaves’ – in France they simply name them after places, Tours, Paris, Roubaix – in Belgium it’s newspapers and road numbers, Het Nieuwsblad and E3. But in Holland, its beer – you have to respect that. Amstel Gold gives its name to one of the youngest and trickiest of all the Classics – it used to be the last of the Spring Classics but declining interest in the race lead to a re-jig of the calendar and now it’s the opener of the three ‘Ardennes’ races.
Bar l'Ecluse, Ronse on a February Sunday afternoon and the tattooed guy is drinking beer and playing pool; just like last year. The big TV up in the corner tells as that there are 48 K of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne to go - that's an hour of racing but already we're saying; 'bunch sprint.'
It's the world's slowest sprint; Sebastian Langeveld and Juan Antonio Flecha are both wasted, small wonder, the Dutchman has been out front for the last quarter of the race on this foulest of days, and the man from Argentina has made a monstrous effort to bridge, over the concrete section and cobbles. They both look over geared as they lunge, swerve, rock and heave towards the line.
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