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What Are We Learning This Week?

3rd UAE Tour 2021 - Stage 3

Photo by Tim de Waele/ Getty Images

Some first-week records on how the season is unfolding

Five days into the 2021 Cycling season, can I just say … OMG we are five days into the cycling season! And simply one brush with catastrophe!

The “preseason”( aka FSA DS signup season) is behind us and shit has gone kinda sorta real, but my Belgiophilic brain can’t get past the importance of this weekend’s races as the affair that are actually signals the imminence of spring. And I’m not defending. Division of this has to do with scoots being in the Arab world, which seeks lovely and has arteries, and which is acceptable given the investments coming from there, if not athletes. If the UAE and Bahrain are for cycling, then I … er, well let’s not get into politics.[ Glass lives, after all .] But whatever that all is about, the fact is that hastens in the Arabian time zones do not work for west coast USA followers watching live act; CET is bumpy fairly. So penalty, peloton, run ride in the sunshine and pet some camels. Stretch out your legs. And come home safe.

So what has this week shown us? Let’s run through some brief take-home meanings from the UAE Tour, with apologetics for my absence of be made available to full hasten video, and a few other happenings as well.

The Pogacar Plan

Tadej Pogacar is probably in good shape? And this is probably OK? But I can’t assistant running the dampers on his performance so far. Pogacar is leading the scoot and all but specific to earn, avenging his defeat last year to the Wrong Yates, who he outsprinted on the central rise stagecoach Tuesday. He likewise vanquished Yates in the time trial, where there is no Right Yates, and is cruising residence to the win.

By home, I mean on the clay of his unit patronize, which suffices as a handy and pretty solid explainer as to why he is going so well. For a distant sponsor having its a few moments in the sunshine( ahem ), with a prevail Tour winner stopping by … I want, he absofuckinglutely “re going to have to” win, right? Literally nobody else is hastening this event with the same motivations. Pogacar has a package to deliver, and he will give it on time.

So then my question becomes, is this a good idea? Last-place year he was a bit less geared up for the UAE Tour, and then went on to win the Tour de France. In the interests of 2020, this is a worthless data point when answering the question, should a Tour de France contender have race-winning form in February? The 2019 UAE event was prevailed by Primoz Roglic, who then hastened the Giro three months later rather than the Tour a full five months hence. Emmanuel Buchmann finished fourth in the’ 19 UAE and is to continue to a solid fourth at the Tour that time, which is a good sign for this program. Also before the UAE Tour we had the much jug Tour of Oman, which Chris Froome prevailed twice during his prime Tour years, to no harm to his July intentions. Likely Pogs will downshift a little, and his calendar proves him going to Strade Bianche, Tirreno, the Basque Country Tour, the Ardennes, and the Dauphine as his Tour prep. In the end, I think he can safely run this errand for his sponsors without it detracting from his bigger goals.

Cycling’s Other Golden Age

We have talked a lot about entering into a new golden age of grand safarus GC clashes, but are we too entering into a new golden age of epoch trialling? Culling again from the UAE Tour, as well as some other sleuthing I’ve done over the past year or so watching some of the brand-new knack registering the WT level, and it’s pretty clearly getting interesting, fast. Or maybe not: Filippo Ganna is undefeated over his last year’s worth of cronos, including three at the Giro and the worlds. This week he again stamped his authority on the UAE time trial, earning the short incident by 14 ” over Stefan Bissegger.

3rd UAE Tour 2021 - Stage 2

Photo by Tim de Waele/ Getty Images

But if Ganna can be stopped, the listing of equestrians stringing up to stop him inclines exceedingly, very young. Ganna himself is 24, and among his closest pursuers at the UAE Tour — an early season test for crono consultants given that it comes with delicious, delicious World Tour sites — included Bissegger( 22 ), Mikkel Bjerg( 22 ), Pogacar( 22 ), Joao Almeida( 22… are you sensing a trend ?), Stefan De Bod( 24) and Dani Martinez( 24 ). The last male to beat Ganna, and I use “man” somewhat generously, is Remco Evenepoel, who is just now able to buy beer in the US. Another of Ganna’s closest pursuers at Worlds was the Belgian champion, Art Van something or other, a graying 26 -year-old who was not in the UAE this week. I know I am missing various more mentions of young strong teenagers evidencing up in these hastens. It’s impressive.

The greater relevance of all this is that if Ganna is something little than completely

Cycling: 15th Tour of Flanders 2018

Photo by Luc Claessen/ Getty Images

unstoppable, you can expect Tour de France rosters to be impacted by this heightened event. Not simply is an ITT win a neat scalp for your collection, it’s likewise a skill that carries well in the other dirty work a Tour team needs from its domestiques — plying strong pacing for your officer or the curious breakaway threat. The Tour peculiarities two meaty ITTs this year, which isn’t nothing. The Giro has a decent last-day one as well. And with Olympic ribbons on the line too, the entire subject is at DEFCON 1 for 2021.

Flanders Classics Steps Up for Women’s Cycling

On the women’s side, the calendar got a boost from my best friend at Flanders Classics, tyrannical overlords to almost every of the Cobbled Classics. I may not always want to like them( shouldn’t I be the despotic overlord of the Cobbled Classics ?), but the reality is that they are running a pretty smart program these days. As of 2021, there will be Women’s contests for all the races they race, leaving the E3 Prijs Binckbank Whatever classic as the lone sexist holdout. As of last year, FC had women’s happens everywhere but the Scheldeprijs, and in 2021 that basi will now be covered as well. Yay? The Scheldeprijs is the least watchable cobbled classic, but it’s still a hard race with worthy winners. And with the GP de Dottignies falling off the calendar 2 years ago, there is room for another women’s happening in the category of mid-week sprinters’ affairs.

The other modify of note at FC is that they plan to time the women’s episodes to finish some 60 -9 0 minutes after the men, which they believe — based on one data point and probably some other acceptable logic — will increase ratings for the girls. This will be the case on Saturday at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, when the Women are scheduled to finish 1:10 after the three men.

About That Giro Course …

Yesterday the Giro d’Italia at long last uncovered its track, which CyclingNews( who I cherish very much) called a “race for Egan Bernal, Thibaut Pinot and Vincenzo Nibali.” Did they release the 2016 Giro course? Maybe there is an institutional rule among all CN scribes to never, ever underestimate the Shark, under any circumstances. And I has not been able to blame them.

Their point stands, though, that the Giro is a climber’s race. And that ocean is wet. This year’s course, which doesn’t quite make it as far south as Napoli, is not worth a full dislocation at this time, but is worth a duo speedy statements which I think help shape the overall narrative.

103rd Giro d’Italia 2020 - Stage Twenty One

Photo by Tim de Waele/ Getty Images

First, as just about any announce on the subject will note, there is not that much time trialling involved: really two probably flat routes around Torino and Milano, the first and last stages of the hasten. The Torino ITT is 9km, so it will carry little meaning beyond the first few grants of the maglia rosa. The Milano event, nonetheless, is 29. 4km, and could see the scoot victory up for grabs once again. No disbelief the unadulterated climbers will want to go all out in the mountains with that final daylight looming over them.

Secondly, the first two weeks are more or less in line with service standards Giro course nowadays — an exciting gravel episode in Tuscany, a theoretically rousing( but probably anticlimactic) Appennine stage to Campo Felice, a wind-swept plain exactly above the Rocca di Cambio ski resort, which facets a bit of grease road at the end. Stage 6 to Ascoli Piceno, through the lovely Le Marche side of the Appennines, is my pick for some early excitement. The Campo Felice place appears more like a breakaway-fest, like so many L’Aquila places before, whereas the Ascoli Piceno finish might have some real gradient to it, and too comes early enough that the climbers will be spoiling for a fight. The major elevations come last-minute, and as usual feature lots of real major ridges, but that’s a topic for another day.

To me, this is a balanced course by Giro standards, missing immense early ascents but with enough of them to help shape the scoot, and with enough crono kms to keep the pure climbers on edge. I’ll take it.

Cycling: 101th Tour of Italy 2018 / Stage 9

Photo by Tim de Waele/ Getty Images

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