Thursday, February 23, 2012

Like Shooting Star on Tapestry

Each year, the building hype as the Spring Classics season approaches is joined by a growing list of calamities - self-imposed or otherwise - that befall teams and riders. What hath brought bad omen for the 2012 spring classics season? Will history remember it as it did the appearance of the Halley Comet in the midst of the 1066 spring classics season?

Apparition during the 1066 AD spring classics season as recorded on the Bayeaux Tapestry.

Here's a roundup of misfortunes that have left us face-palming only days before the Omloop begins.

To lose one's designated leader on the very first day of racing is perhaps the worst possible way to open a team's racing season. This is exactly what happened to Lotto-Belisol and their emerging leader Jurgen Roelandts. His injury brings heavy implications to the newly-revamped team and its pledge to focus on Belgian riders and Belgian races. It is now forced to rely on Dane Lars Bak and German Andre Greipel to bring in some points and results during Belgium's hottest racing season. What would manager Marc Sergeant say?

Luckless Filippo Pozzato and Farnese-Vini
After years in the wilderness and earning the Wrath of Tchmil, Filippo Pozzato has returned home to Bella Italia and joined second-division team Farnese-Vini as their designated leader for the spring classics. Pozzato has potential - after all, a win in Milano-Sanremo, two wins in the Omloop, and consistent following of Tom Boonen's wheel in the spring classics are evident enough - but perhaps he needed a little prodding to return to winning ways. The move to Farnese-Vini wasn't a bad choice, at least he stayed leader. And perhaps he'll earn the graces of Italian selector Paolo Bettini again. But a crash early in the season is certainly bad omen. He did bravely sign up for de Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, barely a week after breaking his collarbone. Could we be witnessing his return to winning ways? We may have to wait until the fall to find out. Pozzato may well have to abstain from sex for a long time, even if Mario Cipollini may disagree.

Sebastian Lageveld and the Men Down Under
The noise over Team BMC's top-heavy formation has been so deafening that we heard little from last year's winner of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Sebastian Langeveld. Perhaps we still wouldn't have heard much from him regardless, since his performance since them haven't been great, and he has joined new team GreenEdge. Plus, with crashes both at Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman, Langeveld and his men from Down Under must be wondering what it takes to stop the misfortune.

FdJ and Yoann Offredo's Preventable Misery
We watched France's rising one-day contenders very closely last year and we felt that this was to be their year to win a race or two. You can understand that we are very disappointed by Offredo's one-year suspension for ADAMS violations. We feel that the ban is fair, but it is entirely preventable. Perhaps we should say that French teams are not exactly known for their attention to detail. Basically, we agree with The Inner Ring's excellent post on this.

One other aspect that worries us is that we feel Offredo was "over-worked" last season. He had a lot of racing days despite his injury in Gent-Wevelgem. The latter half of the season showed him to be less energetic than he was in the first half. We hope that this suspension will not be a mortal blow to his competitiveness.

Avoiding Shooting Stars
Conversely, some teams seem to have avoided bad luck entirely. OmegaPharma-QuickStep seems to have done everything right as they approach a critical season. Team BMC had gone through a lot of media scrutiny, but otherwise have a complete and healthy squad. So has Garmin-Barracuda. The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad will tell whether they have the form to capitalize on their disaster-free start to the season.

What do think of the Luckness Teams and Riders? Did we miss anybody?

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