2009 - Off to a Rocket Start!

by Jack  

The new 2009 season is upon us and already we have massive amounts of action and speculation for what's to come for the rest of this season. Of course, the majority of the news comes from The Boss himself, Lance Armstrong (Astana) and his comeback but there are plenty of other news makers to talk about as well.

As VeloNews so well put it, this is the year of the comeback. Besides Armstrong, we have none other than the fine Mennonite himself, Floyd Landis (Team OUCH) as well as Mr. "I did it, but I didn't do it" ala "I smoked but didn't inhale", Ivan Basso (Liquigas). While Armstrong and Basso have already started their season, Landis will debut at the upcoming Amgen Tour of California. There, he will face defending champion Levi Leipheimer (Astana), his teammate Armstrong and a slew of other top contenders.

Landis returns after serving a 2 year ban for performance enhancing drugs during the 2006 Tour de France. While there can and will still be debates on whether he's really guilty, cycling must move forward. Floyd has paid his dues (if he was guilty) and is ready and motivated to launch a successful return. He will ride for Team OUCH, a team backed by his good friend and doctor, Brent Kay as well as the makers of Landis' artificial hip. Team OUCH essentially took over for the former HealthNet team and includes other top domestic performers such as Rory Sutherland, Tim Johnson, Patrick McCarthy and Karl Menzies. Unlike Armstrong and Basso, Landis will ride a non-European schedule clearly still showing signs of distrust towards the cycling governing bodies across the pond.

Ivan Basso's return would have been the biggest news if it weren't for his former rivals' unexpected return too. Basso signed with the Italian Liquigas team late last year and will be on a collision course with Armstrong at this year's Giro d'Italia. Basso is currently riding in South America at the Tour de Saint Luis and has already shown glimmers of his old self by finishing 6th, 11 seconds back, on the Tour's hardest mountain top finish on stage 5. May just can't come much sooner, can it? The Giro will be one heck of a race!

Of course, we can't forget about Armstrong. He's on 2 collision courses. One is with Ivan Basso at the Giro and the other is with his own teammate, Alberto Contador, in July at the Tour de France. Both Armstrong and Contador are playing diplomats at this time by being nice, but rest assured, for all of us fans, if a LeMond/Hinault scenerio develops, it will be one of the best Tours in history. The 2009 Tour could possibly rival both the 1986 Tour the 1989 LeMond/Fignon battle in terms of excitement.

But through all of the excitement generated by Armstrong's battles with his own teammate, we can't forget about his "other" teammate, poor Levi Leipheimer. If you read my previous post, you will know that Leipheimer has taken it right in the ass thanks to the successes of Contador and of the return of Armstrong. Seemingly content with being second fiddle at the Grand Tours, Leipheimer might have a more difficult time this year thanks to the addition of the new teammate. If you did read my post, you'll know that I am a big supporter of Levi. I understand that he's had his best seasons under Johan Bruyneel and that he has indeed been given his opportunities, but when will he be allowed to go for a run at the yellow jersey as the sole leader?

So enough about Armstrong, Landis, Basso or Leipheimer, specifically. Here's what I want to see happen this year:

1. Landis wins the Tour of California after pointing his finger at Lance, ala Brasstown Bald a few years back.
2. Tom Boonen (Quickstep) goes winless in the Spring, Summer and Fall.
3. Sylvan Chavenal (Quickstep) picks up where he left behind last year and continues to fulfill the promise he's shown earlier in his career.
4. Big George Hincapie (Team Columbia) wins his beloved Paris Roubaix, finally!
5. Lance wins the Tour of Flanders unless Michael Boogerd comes out of retirement to beat him in a sprint similar to the '99 Amstel Gold Race.
6. An exciting Giro d'Italia. While I can't predict who will win, I can predict Danilo DiLuca (LPR Brakes) will not be anywhere near the top 10. Clearly, his 2007 Giro win was a fluke thanks to lack of competition.
7. A dominating performance by Team Astana at the Tour. First place: Levi Leipheimer. Second place: who cares?
8. Samuel Sanchez (Euskatel-Euskadi) finally winning a Grand Tour (the Vuelta).
9. An American winning a rainbow jersey at the World Championships.
10. Last, but not least, no drug scandals. I'm crossing my fingers.

Enjoy the season!

PS. I forgot to add somewhere, a smooth cycling.tv as well.

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Comment from: kelvin newman [Visitor]
kelvin newman

it’s shaping up for a great season, can’t wait to see lance in full swing

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