No matter how many times I write it this spring, I’ll never tire of typing the name Klöden and the word ‘WIN’ in the same sentence! Team RadioShack‘s 35-year old German wonder bested another field of quality contenders in the opening 13.4-kilometer Time Trial of the Giro del Trentino today, clocking 15:24 on the course and just beating Lampre’s Adriano Malori (ITA) by one second. That makes four wins for Andreas so far this year, who himself is starting to admit – what the rest of us have been saying for some time now – that this is a banner year for him.
The setting for the TT in Riva del Garda was so beautiful it’s almost beyond description. If you’ve never been to this charming lakefront, mountainously delightful locale, you have to put it on your personal 1001 places to see before you pedal your last. It’s really that spectacular. And it’s cycling paradise. Rent a bike if you don’t bring your own (they have some seriously good equipment for hire) and go mountain climbing up some of the prettiest, challenging trails you’ll find anywhere on the planet. You can also stay out of the steep Dolomites and flatland with a road bike on some of the best-paved bike paths Italy has to offer. Too bad the racers don’t have much time to sightsee.
Andreas Klöden said he was a bit tired coming into today’s TT. If that’s true, I think Johan may need to amp up this man’s training. He’s having the best spring of his already long and impressive career. One wants to immediately make the mistake of looking ahead to the next competition and start wondering can he hold this form coming into July – but, as they say – focus where you’re at, worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. He has a real shot at winning right here, right now. The Tour de France is more than 2 months away. Worry about that when the time comes. However, you can rest assured that TdF hopefuls are already counting Klöden as a major rival.
AND, to add to RadioShack’s list of weapons at this 4-Stage Race Giro del Trentino which ends on Friday’s monster, off-category climb up the Madonna Di Campiglio, Tiago Machado (POR) came in third, just 8 seconds back, with another powerful time trial performance. AND, did I forget to mention that Yaroslav Popovych came in 10th, just 25 seconds back! It’s getting pretty hard to keep up with all of the performances coming out of this team of late – but we’ll keep trying.
Tiago, and Yaroslav know how to dig deep up the mountains, so does Ivan Rovny (RUS) and the rest of the team: Ben King (USA), Jason McCartney (USA), Bjorn Selander (USA), and Robert Hunter (RSA). If I had money on this race, I’d worry if I hadn’t put on this team, to place very highly in the standings before it’s all over. Sure, the race’s just begun, there’s 184 kilometers tomorrow with a lot of up and downs, a tortuous 170 kilometers of really steeply categorized up and downs on Thursday, and then Friday’s climb into the clouds at the finish, so much can happen, and will. But Team RadioShack could not be positioned better to contest it all.
Will be a pleasure watching Klöden in the leader’s jersey in an important race once again tomorrow. Will also be a bit of a pain, frankly, trying to follow the other big race right in my own backyard in Belgium, the one-day classic you may have heard of, La Fléche Wallonne. RadioShack has a big line up here; Brajkovic, Busche, Deignan, Hermans, Irizar, Oliviera, Paulinho, and Zubeldia. They’ll be racing against the likes of; Contador, Martin, Gesink, Hesjedal, the Schlecks, Cunego, Gerrans, Basso, Sanchez, Westra, Vinokourov, oh, and another guy who is having a pretty good spring – Gilbert. I’ll have to find a live TV feed for one race, while I’m watching the boys fly by in person on the other. Darn, this is gonna be hard work!
If you like this sport, you’ve got to agree with me…it just doesn’t get much better than this!
See you at the races.
By George Hurst, staff writer