Well, while December has hit us hard in Alberta with over a foot of snow on the ground, it’s a good time to sit back a bit and ponder on this last year of cycling and look forward to next year. I’ll break down the year in review by season.
I can’t help but replay Ryder’s Giro win in my head. I was watching everyday on Rogers’ SportsNet One channel and Ryder wasn’t appearing as the strongest rider, however, he was always there poking around the top GC guys. In retrospect, I think that the Giro was close this year because the guys were riding clean, some guys had good days then bad days, other days just hanging on. No one was dominating. Ryder was able to use his strengths of time trialing and climbing as a GC rider, not the best at each discipline but the best of the overall contenders. Plus, the Garmin Sharp team was there, helping as best they could but not en masse as we had seen Postal do in the past. Peter Stetina and Christian Van de Velde did their best at the front to make tempo but it was obvious that they could only do so much as normal humans.
The Tour had some interesting twists and turns but watching Team Sky with Wiggins and Froome was impressive. They certainly took a piece of the playbook from LA and co. on preparing for the Tour by targeting specific races (Paris-Nice and Dauphine) and targeting their training on what was needed to win – time trials and climbing. Focus on one race and do it really well.
Then came the Olympics and it was a shame that Canada didn’t send our best time trialist, Svein Tuft to try and win a medal. Instead, it was left up to Ryder coming back from his Tour crash to salvage some pride. As many ex-racers will tell you, it’s pretty much impossible to come off an injury and within a month without any racing in your legs to try and win. Too bad for Svein, politics took him out.
The fall of course brought the fall of Lance. This may surprise many of you, but this is the best thing to happen to bike racing as far as I’m concerned. It’s a shock to the community at large but this charade has gone on long enough. However, most people outside of the racing side of the sport don’t realize that the change has already begun to take place. The sport has taken real steps to change in the last 5 years and it’s already showing. Race times on the major climbs are slowing and the races are more competitive than ever. The movement to face this issue is now out in the open and has support from legitimate groups such as the Movement For Credible Cycling, Bike Pure, Change Cycling Now, and Cycling Canada’s Race Clean-Own Your Victory program. Change will come slowly but we will ‘cross the chasm’ – I’m convinced of that.
I believe that 2013 promises to be one of the most exciting years of racing that we’ve ever seen and I’ll be glued to my PVR watching as much of it as I can. Ryder’s proclaimed focus on his Giro defence will be very interesting as will the spring Tour preparation races, never mind the Tour de France itself. The pro racing season in Canada will culminate with a new event, UCI 2.1 Tour of Alberta and the Montreal and Quebec City World Cups. Lots to look forward to in a changing landscape, all for the better.
Personally, I’m training on my studded tire MTB all Winter to get ready for Cape-Epic in South Africa in March, I’ll have to be in the best shape of my life to keep up with my teammate, Tom Ritchey as we’re targeting the Grand Masters (over 50) category. Then a few gran fondos and off to Chambery, France for a week of riding and watching a few Tour stages with good friends. I’m helping with the Tour of Alberta in September so that will be a focus for the fall.
It’s going to be a great year – are you in?