Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sprinter's Year

All the hype last year about a battle in Le Tour between Alberto, Lance, and the Schleck boys, I believe, has played its course and this year will be the year of the sprinters. The media embellished rivalry of Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel will make some cycling headlines. The reigning world champion, Thor Husovd at Garmin-Cervelo will be battling Francesco Chicchi, Ton Boonen, Alessandro Petachi, Robbie McEwen, Matt Goss, Michael Matthews, Greg Henderson, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Tyler Farrar, Oscar Freire, for the finish line throughout the year. I think lead-out trains will be refined and tactical. The strong teams in the last 5-1k will make the difference for a lot of riders. Timing and patience will be key for these guys.

I'd like to keep those two factors in mind when I race this upcoming season. I need patience and timing. I am not sure if I am a "sprinter," but rather and opportunist. With the little racing experience I have, I know I can close gaps when I need to, catch and follow wheels, put time on the front, punch a powerful attack from far out, and sprint around riders for the win.  Sometimes I can get lucky with my timing and other times I surprise myself.

I think there is a lot that can be learned by watching the pros and their teams win races. Watching a solo victory or climbers duke it out for a win can be inspiring and a whole lot of fun to watch,
but seeing the teams work in the last few km for their sprinter against everyone else is what keeps the sport on it's toes.
I'm just babbling on at this point, but I hope to have some results like these guys. For a lot of them they know they wouldn't get to the line first without the hard of or their teammates. For others, they have the strength and awareness of the races to scrap or a win when their teammates will sometimes have other responsibilities or have already given their all. In professional cycling, when a sprinter takes it, they will rarely have done it alone.

At the domestic and certainly lower level races, teammates may not always be there to sacrifice themselves. Not to say I haven't had riders work for me, teammates or not. I must say I do recognize their hard work and sacrifice for me. It is a pretty amazing feeling to come up with a great result after seeing how yourself and teammates have worked for it. I want to get the results and have myself work for teammates to get wins now and the rest of my career. 

This year's Tour Down Under (Starting 1/18/2011... my bday!) will be a big showcase of the sprinter for the year. I want to see blood and glory. These guys will be hungry to prove themselves and put up some wins for their teams in this big year for cycling.

Speaking of my career, I am in the job hunt for life after my undergrad. I would love to be lucky enough to keep cycling part of it all. We'll see. My ride today was terribly short, but fun seeing as it was my first outside ride of the year. It is frustrating to not know of any great places to ride in Virginia, but I will be also looking to join a team if I move back to Northern Virginia after I graduate. I want a team that has experience, travels to race all sorts of races, and one that will have strength and the ability to keep me developing as a racer, teammate, and leader.

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