By Steve Frothingham
Welcome to the latest edition of The Prologue, VeloNews.com’s regular summary of the news from the world of competitive cycling. This week I am filling in for your usual host, VeloNews.com Senior Editor Charles Pelkey. Charles is enjoying a well-earned vacation in Namibia.
Thankfully, given the recent news about doping and politics, the dominant story this week is: the sport of cycling, in particular the Paris-Nice stage race in France. After several days of competition in heavy rain – including one stage shortened because of near-hurricane winds and pelting rain – by week’s end the event lived up to its nickname, the Race to the Sun.
The athletes have put on an excellent show, despite the political harrumphing going on in the week prior. Prologue winner Thor Hushovd kept his leader’s jersey to the very limit of his abilities, even boldly attacking on a descent near the end of stage 2. There is always something thrilling about seeing the yellow jersey alone off the front, especially on a daring attack on rain-soaked roads.
On Wednesday’s first mountain stage, the husky sprinter stayed with the leaders over the first three rated climbs, then gracefully stepped aside as the climbers took over on the Croix de Chaubouret.
As we enter the weekend, young star Robert Gesink is in yellow after a spectacular ride up the rarely used north side of the legendary Mont Ventoux. And Hushovd is still wearing the green points leader’s jersey.
Also this week on VeloNews.Com, Jason Sumner launched a new regular column called The Coach(ed) Corner. Sumner is a freelance writer and Cat. 4 bike racer who is working with a cycling coach for the first time. Sumner’s 2008 goals include improving on his usual mid-pack finishes, not getting dropped on weekend group rides, and learning something along the way. He’ll be documenting his experiences for VeloNews.com in this twice-monthly column.
The first column compared Jason’s lab test results with those of pro athletes: an interesting, if sobering, comparison.
This week VeloNews Technical Editor Matt Pacocha reports on what may turn out to be one of the more important technical developments of the next few years – tubeless road tires. The tubeless system may be an overnight success that took four years to come about, as Matt reports. The system took its first major victory this month when Francaise des Jeux rider Phillippe Gilbert won the semi-classic Het Volk.
Finally, as week ends, VeloNews Senior Writer Neal Rogers delivers a critical piece of reporting on the companies providing independent monitoring of the athletes on several top professional teams. Neal’s story raises questions about the fairness of the entire system and sheds light on a somewhat incestuous relationship between some of the teams, the scientists and the lawyers.
Have fun and be safe out there.