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Date Posted: 09:32:33 03/01/03 Sat
Author Host/IP: 220.127.116.11
Subject: Quickstep, whoah
We've been going on about how strong Quickstep was looking earlier on here, and having watched or followed Het Volk you can only say that even the boldest expectations have come true! It's ofocurse of no use to be judging after one race only, which after all is also a bit earlier in the season than most big races, but still. I can't imagine the Quickstep boys all being ready way too early though, and keeping in account that VdB will prolly only improve in form(as he doesn't need much competition to get in shape) they will certainly not weaken much when it comes to it.
So, the question is, who will stop quickstep now mapei don't exist anymore? Last year Domo was also dominating in most classics, but got beaten by Mapei in Liege and at the RVV. Now Mapei doesn't exist anymore, AND Quickstep hauled in the winner of LBL. Let's see at other contenders then:
Lotto-Domo got a nice team, but the only real "winners" they have are Van Petegem and Mcewen, and that only for the Belgian races and sprints. For the Ardens classics however they do not have real contenders it seems, they have Merckx, but he only gets close mostly,seldom wins, and verbrugghe, but he will be focusing on the GT's. It seems that they will be getting points from the "smaller" classics again. Maybe baguet gets a good year though. Tchmil's retirement leaves a gaping emptyness, he was always good for a classic a season.
Then there's US postal,who got Big george, but other than that? Van Heeswijk has a very erratic form, and can be a huge asset but just as well a deadweight the next day. And then there's the void, no one really interested in classics apart from P-R. It seems to me that young promising american cyclists should be taught more about other classics and semi-classics than P-R, so that there will sprout more riders to stand by George. The comment i regularly read from european riders in American service and even George himself is that most american riders "don't care for anything much but P-R and the TdF". While in Europe e.g. RVV is widely regarded as nearly almost as valuable a victory, and to some ppl as even more valuable cos of P-R's very specific nature. Just saying that USPS will never be able to build a good team around george for the classics composed of american riders, if there aren't any motivated enough to ride them, it's not so much an issue of laying the focus on the TdF as some ppl assume.
Rabobank without Dekker will be an all-Boogerd and Freire show, but again, Boogerd is one of them "almost but not quite" riders. Great rider, but so few victories. Freire being the exact opposite, much victories with few trouble, but it's still the question how he will react to his first "real" year riding the northern classics, as a contender. And the team every year again seems to miss the decisive flights in the big races, no wonder he gets angry sometimes. (Boogerd)
We'll have to wait and see what Landbouwkrediet will bring...with half the team, and the strongest half, being struck by the flu at Het Volk it wouldn't be fair to judge them over that race.
Fassa Bortolo..am i the only one to think that they score so few important victories with a team of that calibre? Last year only Amstel gold, and apart from that not even close on most classics. They seem to have a "new" Bartoli in Pozzato, let's hope he will be given all chances.
Zabel seems to be getting stronger and slower every year...and he's well surrounded by ppl like Wesemann, Kessler, Klier, Aerts, so i reckon that he may be force to reckon with this classical season, and Telekom as a whole. They look as one of the most complete teams to me, especially in the classics. Even if they haven't shown much at Het Volk.
Saeco may be in for a good year when they focus on Pieri, if he's in shape. He's one of the strongest cobble-riders in the peleton, so we could use him as a contender.
Then there are tons of smaller Belgian and Italian teams who are lucky enough to get hold of wildcards and such, with riders which can surprise but i don't think can constantly keep up the form. I mean teams like Marlux, Sidermex, etc., and riders like Vainstains, Bruylandts, Rodriguez and such. Damn, i've put down a serious rant by now i see...the question to you being: Who do you see as contenders for Quicktep this classical season, and would you say Quickstep looks frightingly strong (as i do?)
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