Welcome to the latest edition of The Prologue, the weekly summary of news from the world of professional cycling by your friends at VeloNews.com.
If you haven’t tuned in to VeloNews.com since our last edition, you missed an impressive end to the Amgen Tour of California. As expected, the Astana team did a great job protecting Levi Leipheimer’s hold on the overall title, but that didn’t keep those in the hunt for stage wins from lighting up the competition over the final days of the TOC. Most remarkably, the day’s final – and rain-soaked – stage saw a 10-man break slip off the front 20 miles into the race and, despite the fact that escapees never held a large lead, they held off the peloton until the end, with George Hincapie taking Team High Road’s first win at the TOC.
Without skipping a beat, many of those who raced in California will be lining up on Saturday for the 63rd edition of the Omloop Het Volk, which marks the start of the northern classics in Belgium.
March also marks the start of the European stage racing season, with Paris-Nice (March 9-16). Given that it’s a race organized by ASO, this year’s Paris-Nice is not without controversy. The race has been at the center of the running battle between the UCI and Europe’s biggest race organizers. UCI president Pat McQuaid had asked teams to boycott the event, since it will occur without the governing body’s sanction. That call was rejected on Wednesday, with teams perhaps considering their chances to line up for ASO’s biggest effort, the Tour de France. [More]
While ASO’s recent decision to ban the Astana team of Tour champion Alberto Contador from all of its races this year continues to generate controversy, the firm has been courting some continental teams, offering slots to BMC, Slipstream and the rapidly improving Skil-Shimano squad. [More]
Meanwhile, Contador and his Astana teammates are doing what they can to salvage 2008, taking on events such as the Tour of Valencia Community, which began on Tuesday. That race is a traditional early season warm-up and has long attracted some of the peloton’s best. The presence of top riders, however, doesn’t always ensure smooth operation, as Thursday’s stage 3 finish might suggest. [More]
As you can tell, the season is in full-swing again and there will be plenty of racing news on VeloNews.com. Enjoy the warmer weather if you can, get out and put in some miles, but be sure to check in with VeloNews.com throughout the week for the latest in racing news.
Have a good week, and be sure to drop us a line if you have comments, complaints or suggestions on how we might improve what we’re doing on the new VeloNews.com
Senior Editor – VeloNews.com