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This Week in Pro Cycling – April 7, 2008

Dear Readers, Welcome to the latest edition of The Prologue, VeloNews.com's weekly summary of news from the world of competitive cycling. The season is in full swing this week with racing underway both here in the U.S. and in Europe.

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Dear Readers,

Welcome to the latest edition of The Prologue, VeloNews.com’s weekly summary of news from the world of competitive cycling.

The season is in full swing this week with racing underway both here in the U.S. and in Europe.

Sunday’s Tour of Flanders proved to be a big win for Quick Step, but maybe not exactly the way the team had expected as 200 riders lined up for the start of the 264 kilometer Belgian classic. With two-time winner Tom Boonen in the field, the Quick Step team expected to put Belgium’s most popular cyclist across the line for a third time. Indeed, Boonen looked to be in prime position when he appeared in a strong 24-man group headed toward the finish. The Quick Steps tried to further winnow down the lead group, sending Belgian national champion Stijn Devolder off the front in what appeared to be a testing probe. But the former Discovery rider managed to stay out front for the duration, crossing the line 15 seconds ahead of his closest pursuer, Nick Nuyens, and 21 seconds ahead of the rest, including Boonen.

In the women’s event, which follows much of the final 100 kilometers of the men’s route, German Judith Arndt (High Road) outsprinted American Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo Lifeforce) to take the fourth World Cup win of her career. The two women managed to escape seven kilometers from the finish and crossed the line a solid 21 seconds ahead of the field. While disappointed with second, the result is Armstrong’s best-ever finish in a World Cup event.

Here in the U.S., the Redlands Bicycle Classic saw a terrific battle for supremacy in the women’s race, with Alex Wrubleski grabbing the overall title by one second over High Road’s Mara Abbott, a result that came down to the final sprint into the California city of Redlands. [More]

Rock Racing’s Santiago Botero had a much more comfortable lead going into Sunday’s final, needing only to stay with the front group to preserve his hold on the men’s title at Redlands.

Out on the dirt, Georgia Gould (Luna) and Geoff Kabush (Maxxis) dominated the cross-country finale to claim the stage-race titles in round two of the National Mountain Bike Series, run on a fast, technical, desert course at McDowell Mountain Regional Park near Fountain Hills, Arizona.

Those more inclined to ride longer distances – okay, much, longer distances – may be interested in the results from this year’s Absa Cape Epic mountain bike stage race in South Africa. In the women’s division, 41-year-old Alison Sydor teamed up with Pia Sundstedt to win the overall title for their Rocky Mountain team, while the Bulls duo of Germans Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm earned the men’s title. We also had the privilege of reading first-hand reports from American Rebecca Rusch, whose experience at the race turned out to be a little more interesting than she had expected. Her diaries are well worth a look.

As long-time readers already know, we’ve had something of a tradition at VeloNews, starting the month of April with things a bit skewed from the normal. In the past, on April 1st, we’ve fired Patrick O’Grady, revealed the development of new mag-lev wheel bearings, declared Dick Pound to be head of the UCI (with Hein Verbruggen taking the helm of WADA) and scorched the French countryside with fatally flawed sunflowers that perfectly match the color of the Maillot Jaune. Of course, we maintained that tradition with a new set of less-than-truthful stories. As usual, some of you loved ’em, others hated ’em, while still others thought we should leave the comedy writing to The Onion. We’ll leave it to you to decide, but we promise no more faux news for the next year or so.

As we said, the season is in full swing and there is quite a bit of racing ahead, including Wednesday’s Ghent-Wevelgem, the final warm-up before the “Hell of the North,” Paris-Roubaix. Be sure to check in with VeloNews.com for full reports, photos and results, as well as Live updates on Sunday from Paris-Roubaix.

Have a good week and try to get some miles in yourself, if time and weather permit.

Charles Pelkey
Senior Online Editor, VeloNews.com
CPelkey@insideinc.com