The Old M(e)n Of the Mountain: yep, in an annual ritual of grievous crapitude, a whole wunk o' great riders are retiring this year--let alone the guys who're "retiring" because we love Euskaltel and like half the Pro Continental squads are folding--and I gotta say, Marco Pinotti, Juan Antonio Flecha, and the great Sandy Casar are (1) by far the most underrated and (2) the ones the peloton're gonna blow without the most. Why? Because Marco Pinotti is not only a great time trialist in his own right, he's also consistently voted (by me, so what?) as the Guy Least Likely to Be An !@#$hole About Being a Gregario. Because you've never, *ever*, seen Flecha not driving some insane daredevil breakaway, and, either he's a total wisenheimer, in which case we love 'im even more, or he's seriously threatening to become a pro surfer next season. Because Sandy Casar was basically the sole reason the entirety of French cycling didn't completely suck the last 15 years, and, unlike Philippe Gilbert (who we love anyway), he actually didn't interrupt his Tour de France to hunt down and scream at the clown who let his dog meander into the course and damn near kill 'im. Because they're not the megalomaniacal sprinters, the preening Grand Tour contenders, or even the skittish thoroughbred climbers who consistently get the press, the camera time, the hysterical lovesick fans, or the Ferraris-as-pocket-change contracts. Because they don't screw over their teammates, pimp themselves as saviors, or make the kind of sickening stupid excuses that only shame them. Most of all, because they make the whole damn sport tick, and because though you might not see them often, you know this place will be poorer for their absence. So grazie Marco, gracias Flecha, and merci Sandy--you were a blast to watch, and thank you!
Juan Antonio Flecha vole un drapeau américain - Buzz