Any given week, there are oodles of cycling stories flying around in the news. So here’s a quick-hit summary of this week’s happenings, plus my own garbage opinions on each. Much like my gambling advice, these takes are for entertainment purposes only!
In an honest and revealing interview with Andrew Hood, Tejay van Garderen voiced his doubts in his abilities as a grand tour contender. Van Garderen has lost tons of time during the Giro d’Italia, where he entered as BMC’s man for the overall. Now, I know it’s easy to bag on Tejay, but I think the guy needs to cut himself a little slack. He was twice fifth at the Tour de France. Tour. Day. FRANCE. He’s won the Tour of California and the USA Pro Challenge. That’s a legit list of palmares. Plus, he’s 28, so conceivably, he has another three or four years before he truly peaks. I think Tejay should continue striving for GC greatness, even if this Giro is a wash. But if, for some reason, he does abandon grand tour GC ambitions, let me suggest a few alternative goals: RAAM (he likes TTs!), Grinduro (super-chill vibe might work for him), or perhaps he can just steal all of Phil Gaimon’s Strava KOMs.
If you watched the Giro’s stage 10 TT, you might have been a little confused when Victor Campenaerts finished. Why did the Belgian time trial champion sit up and unzip his skinsuit to reveal a message scrawled on his chest in black marker? It turns out he was asking a girl on a date. It worked, but it also got him a fine from the UCI. So that’s what it takes to get their attention — the UCI, that is, not girls. I guess we’ll see a lot more pros using this tactic to push for causes they believe in. Perhaps Owain Doull will scrawl “No disc brakes” on his chest. Or will one of Bardiani’s Italians shave their chest hair so “We’re innocent” will be more legible? Soon enough, the UCI will ban zippers from cycling kits.
Tom Dumoulin’s squinty dark eyes are fixed on one man at the Giro d’Italia: Thibaut Pinot. The Dutch leader says he thinks FDJ’s Frenchman is his biggest threat in the overall. Wow that is a flaming-hot, weapons-grade nuclear take. He didn’t mention the two-time defending champ who’s won all three grand tours (Nibali). He totally breezed by Quintana, the outright favorite and 2014 champ. Dumoulin twists the knife by picking Pinot as a “threat.” If Quintana attacks extra hard on Oropa, it’s because he’s welling up with fiery takes of his own.
There is no love lost between UnitedHealthcare and Boels-Dolmans after the Amgen Women’s Tour of California. Anna van der Breggen won the race overall for Boels, but UHC cried foul. Its riders said the Dutch team was riding in an unsportswoman-like manner to collect bonus seconds. I love drama as much as the next fan. Plus, the David-and-Golaith vibe of this whole episode is exquisite. But come on, Amgen Tour. Does it really make sense for a four-stage WorldTour race to be decided on bonus seconds? It’s asinine. Give the women an individual time trial around Sacramento on the final day and call it good.
Thursday was the Giro d’Italia’s longest stage, possibly its most boring too. Fortunately, those pranksters at Team Sunweb livened things up. They accidentally left Simon Geschke at the hotel before the start! Fortunately, they returned to pick him up in time to race. Was it an honest mistake? Maybe. Or, it could be some next-level gamesmanship from the team holding the pink jersey. They put off an outward appearance of disorganization to lull rivals into a false sense of confidence. Then… Bam! Hit Quintana or Pinot when they aren’t looking. If Dumoulin “forgets” his matching pink helmet on Saturday, we’ll know this ruse is in full effect.