Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Can It *Get* Any Better?

Bettini's already taken a stage, Sastre's won the maillot oro, Thor Hushovd's still in gold (after some controversy over whether Maggy Backstedt actually rightly took him in a sprint in which case presumably with time bonuses it might've gone to Maggy instead--they should at least fix that for the record books if true, since they can't undo who wore it the other day), Stewie O'Grady who suffered so valiantly with a cracked vertebra in the Tour is placing well in the sprints, and best of all, with poor Petacchi still on the mend, the Milram boys were sent to lead out ageless workhorse we love Erik Zabel yesterday who handsomely took the stage. I don't know when he's going out, but if it's soon and certainly I hope it's not, I'm delighted it's with at least one brand-spankin'-new Grand Tour stage under him. Hooray Zabel!

Meanwhile, the Relax boys are presumably delighting their sponsor with camera-friendly endless solo breaks, and Euskaltel sent one of theirs out in the flats yesterday in a continuation of their surprising new strategy--I'm hoping that not only does it eventually succeed, but that it doesn't draw their focus off their gorgeous prowess in the mountains. Which, finally, start today with a hell of a bang up la Covatilla. Now let's let the mountain goats out to play, and let the real action begin!

And, in pleasing news about the Americans, usually fairly quiet in the Vuelta, I note that the versatile Chris Horner is doing a fine lead out for his boy in the flats, and as he can also power up the mountains quite nicely and still manage to shake up the field on the Champs-Elysees in the Tour, I imagine he'll be of similar help the whole way and I hope get a chance to make a run for it himself. Fast Freddy Rodriguez is riding well also and is looking forward to supporting Horner at the Worlds. What is it about American riders in particular that they seem to peak so beautifully as they get older?

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