Since Bamahoops requested this, here is an introductory post in cycling. With the Bama Spring football season in the books, and the baseball team doing...well, average, there is not much to talk about Bama related. Sure, the softball team is good, but I do not believe in being a bandwagon kind of guy.
Normally, Bama basketball fans would be talking about the off-season conditioning and the incoming Freshmen, since there would normally be on-campus sightings of these guys this time of year. Since the coaching staff stunk up the season as bad as they did, these two things have become the un-spoken subjects. Thanks, Coach Gottfried, our basketball team is officially irrelevant. Because of that, I am going to speak about my second fancy: professional cycling.
There are many reasons why I like cycling. It has history, with some cycling events such as Liege-Bastogne-Liege dating back to 1892. Most non-circuit events has an ever-changing scenery, with a rolling caravan of bicycles, camera crews on motorcycles, judges, and support vehicles. The events go through gorgeous coastal towns, scenic Alpine and Pyranean mountains, and the Belgian Ardennes forests. Also, it is the ultimate physically and mentally challenging sport. To get through a 3 week stage race, you need luck, skill, physical and mental toughness to crack 188 (22 teams x 9 riders per team) other riders. I got hooked with Greg Lemond and Andy Hampsten in the 80s and with the age on the internet, I can now watch live racing on the other side of the globe.
Anyway, the current event occuring now is the Giro d'Italia, or the Tour of Italy. Today was Stage 3, so there is essentially 2 and a half weeks remaining. For the stage maps and the mountain profile, click here Giro Profile
Cyclingnews.com also has live reports daily, beginning in the morning, since they are 6 hours ahead in Italy. I recycled this email from Alias, but essentially it is a scouting report for riders you can keep up with:
Here are the riders to look out for.
Paolo Savoldelli – Astana (plus his teammate, Eddy Mazzoleni, is good in the mountains for help)
Gilberto Simoni - Saunier Duval - Prodir (plus his teammates, Iban Mayo and Leonardo Piepoli, are both good in the mountains for help)
Damiano Cunego - Lampre – Fondital (plus his teammates, Paolo Tiralongo and Francisco Vila, are both good in the mountains for help)
Stefano Garzelli - Acqua & Sapone (possibility, and he is a previous winner, but is now on a much smaller team, so may not have much help)
Emanuele Sella - Ceramica Panaria - Navigare (decent rider, but is on a small team, may win a stage in the mountains)
Ivan Parra - Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone (decent rider, but is on a small team, may win a stage in the mountains)
Pietro Caucchioli - Crédit Agricole (plus his teammate, Patrice Halgand, is good in the mountains for help. They will also go for sprint stage wins with Hushovd.)
Yaroslav Popovych - Discovery Channel (plus his teammate, José Luis Rubiera, is good in the mountains for help)
Danilo Di Luca – Liquigas (plus his teammate, Franco Pellizotti, is good in the mountains for help)
Davide Rebellin – Gerolsteiner (good for maybe a stage win, but will not do well in the mountains)
Robbie McEwen - Predictor - Lotto (good for maybe a sprint stage win or four, but will not do well in the mountains)
CSC seems to have a team set up for stage wins only. Fabian Cancellara (time trial), David Zabriskie (time trial), and Juan José Haedo (sprinter) may win a stage or two between them
Alessandro Petacchi - Team Milram (his entire team is built around him for sprint stage wins)
Salvatore Commesso - Tinkoff Credit System (plus his teammate, Evgeni Petrov, is good in the mountains for help. They will also go for sprint stage wins with Mikhail Ignatiev.)
Paolo Bettini - Quick Step-Innergetic (Current World Champion. His entire team is built around him for sprint or slightly uphill stage wins)
As for Michael Rasmussen, he has already said he is testing his form for the Tour and will likely quit before the end. He broke his femur late last year and is struggling.
Regardless, it’s easy to be a fan of Zabriskie. The guy is a character, a very dry comedian that is funny.
The riders who I think have a legitimate chance to win it all are Savoldelli (won it twice), Simoni (won it 3 times), Cunego (won it once), Di Luca, Caucchioli, and maybe Piepoli.