This season, I’m following Classics and time trial specialist Fabian Cancellara, near-to-retirement sprinter Robbie McEwen and track star and soon-to-be road racing force to be reckoned with, Geraint Thomas. Here’s a quick summary on how they’ve started their seasons.
Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Nissan)
Races: Tour of Qatar, Tour of Oman.
Results: 7th overall in Qatar. 10th overall in Oman.
Cancellara’s season began in the desert in February, riding as team leader in the Tour of Qatar and second to Andy Schleck at the Tour of Oman. His best stage result was in stage four in Qatar, contesting the sprint with Tom Boonen. Unfortunately, Spartacus couldn’t match Boonen and finished third that day. His final GC standing was seventh, with an equally respectable GC result of tenth in Oman. With a bright and shiny Boonen this year, the Classics season is looking mouthwateringly exciting already!
His next race will be Tirreno-Adriatico in early March, then he starts coming into the sharp end of the spring Classics. Cancellara is looking to get some big wins under that gladiatorial belt of his, after last year’s disappointments. He told VeloNews.com:
I go to the races to win, that’s what counts. I was satisfied with the spring Classics last year, because I gave 100 percent. Sometimes you do not win and winning is what everyone remembers.
Robbie McEwen (GreenEDGE)
Races: Tour Down Under, Tour of Qatar.
Results: One fifth place and 120th overall in Tour Down Under. 62nd overall in Qatar.
McEwen’s role in the new Australian national team GreenEDGE is more as experienced leader than main sprinter. Sure he’ll take the chance when he sees it to cross the line first, but his focus is now on getting his new team embedded and working together to deliver the wins and not drown in their own hype. McEwen has already announced that he will be retiring from the road before the Tour de France this year, to take on more of a mentoring role with the team. He certainly was instrumental in ensuring that Simon Gerrans reached the top of the podium steps in the Tour Down Under in January. He finished a solid 62nd at the Tour of Qatar and is heading out east for the OCBC Cycle Singapore criteriums in early March. In an interview on bettor.com, he said:
An important part of my role in the team is not only to be a rider and now and again try and win the sprint, but to organise and coach the younger guys and mentor them. Going into my 17th season of racing I think I can share my experience with the guys and get them up to speed.
Geraint Thomas (Sky)
Races: Tour Down Under, Track Cycling World Cup.
Results: 46th overall in Tour Down Under. Silver medal in team pursuit at Track Cycling World Cup.
I’m starting to regret picking Geraint Thomas as one of my riders to watch for the simple reason that I really have absolutely no interest in track cycling. None whatsoever. I reckon I’d actually rather watch some sort of Nordic shooting and skiing competition than track cycling – that’s how uninterested I am. Of course, I hadn’t realised that Thomas was going to concentrate so much on track this year – d’oh! of course he’s going to, it’s the London Olympics! – I wanted to see what he was going to do on the road.
So it’s been a bit sketchy with Thomas in the first two months of the season. He’s ridden the Tour Down Under as a training event before getting ready for the Track Cycling World Cup where he won silver in the team pursuit in front of a very vocal home crowd. However, once the craziness dies down in August, he’ll be back on the road. He he told walesonline.com:
This Olympics could be the end of my time on the track. Four years is a long time in sport and for a year or so after London I will be totally on the road. I will probably ride the Tour of Spain two weeks after the Olympic final, so it will be straight back to the day job. You should never say never, but track cycling is so specific now. It’s pretty impossible to combine the two over a long period.