1.20.2013

Tour Down Under Classic: power, skill and heart


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First race of the season. Watching a race. It isn't the same reading short tweets and trying to imagine, to give a color to your emotion, to give a face to the ridere you don't know. Watching you are all in your eyes, able to detect the mood, the moves, the underplots at the edge of the screan. When you are at a race is different: you have more and less at once. You are in the film, can't see it all, it's a messy experience of voices and bodies. Watching a race n tv is the best way to understand it, no doubt. The second one is reading a good article on paper the day after... but that was long time ago. 
First race of the season and Jens Voigt attacks 5 m from the start. First race of the season and André Greipel wins at the sprint on Matthew Goss. Timeless cycling dimension rules. 
Of course there is Voigt in a break-away, of course there is Greipel at the sprint, unless is Cavendish. But Cavendish is in Argentina. All so normal. Why is it so exciting?
Time is dilatated in a break-away: 30 laps to go round in that circuit, crowded barriers beside, green trees and skyscrapers. 
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Two riders: one is RSLT Jens Voigt, the oldest in the peloton, 'the animal', 'the warrior', the geo-catcher. Experienced, profesional, strong. 2012 has been a splendid, amazing season for him and he want to keep it going. For fun, for pride, for his team. The other is the young Australian Zakkari Dempster (Team NetApp - Endura.) They share the work: Voigt sets the pace, Dempster wins the sprints. They know their time will not last forever but try to enlarge the buble as much as possible.  
Time is 'clocked' in the chase, I mean measured by the clock, all-conscious. Lotto-Belisol leads and controls: Greipel sits confortably on his powerful train. It looks compact. Sprinters teams are still mixed amongh the colored peloton but waiting the moment, while the others wait the finish and a safe end. Andy Schleck's interview is the first one: he's the main star it seems even if it's wise to be prudent about his performace here. I guess he's proudently riding today. With a smile on his face probably, for his comingback and for the Jensi. They are absolute friends (quoting Le Carré).
The break's time is over 9 laps to go: Voigt and Dempster keep speeding up while the ordinately tumultuous sea swallows them. The chase's time is over too and a new time comes, of a completely different quality. It's the sprint building's time: scaring, fast and thrilling. You watch and think that really sprinters must be mad. Ask them and they'll say they are but it's a calculated madness. Riding at a crazy speed they fight furiously for the best position, fill unlikely gaps, jump from wheel to wheel. They own the perfect instictive awareness of the situation in terms of space and times. They force the move when you are already amazed the move itself is possible without a crash.
With two laps to go there is the time for many teams to try to place in front their man so the peloton is  streaked in colored trains: a yellow shoulder for Lotto-Belisol, a blue and white for Blanco, a green and white for ORICA and the SouthAfrican flag when Hunter dashed to the front with Goss on his wheel. And Green for Liquigas, and blue for Astana (Guardini is here), and a different blue for Garmin of Tayler Farrar and black for Sky and a bit of yellow again with the sun of Vacansoleil (Boy Van Poppel). Two laps is a very long time when you are riding at that speed and your heart is riding too. Ask them and it looked so short!
Finally it's the sprint's time. You need a photofinish to catch it. It's just a second. The sprinter knows he must believe in his last man and a great sprinter also knows when he mustn't. Today Henderson launched Greipel so well  he was 3th on the line: "Ledout at 70.5kph. The big gorrila hit 73.8. Always a fast sprint. Delivery speed is so important from 2k to go." Goss, using Greipel's train, managed to get the second spot on the podium. Classy sprint for both of them: the Gorilla confirmed last year win, Goss showed guts and skill in front of his supporters. 
But the Jensi showed again his big heart! what a man is that :)

RESULTS
1 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol 1:04:00 
2 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEdge
3 Gregory Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol
4 Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
5 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
6 Davide Cimoali (Ita) Lampre-Merida
7 Steele Von Hoff (Aus) Garmin Sharp
8 Jose Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar
9 Anthony Giacoppo (Aus) UniSA-Australia
10 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Ag2r La Mondiale

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