These are the Hopeless Weeks for me… when winter is starting to really drag on, when I am becoming increasingly impatient with grit and salt on the roads and still-short daylight, but there doesn’t seem to be much hope of changing these circumstances anytime soon. April in Seattle can be nice but it’s not terribly likely to feel warm and lovely until May. I can’t jet off to Mexico or Hawaii right now and am besieged by social media contacts who can, and have.
Cycling, though, offers some hope. It’s nice somewhere in Europe, and in those places people are beginning to race their bikes. Or it might be nice, and then it might not, though even in the latter case I can enjoy watching them struggle against the conditions.
Every cyclist: Yeah, super awesome that we can entertain you with our misery.
That was sarcastic.
OK, OK, calm down! I mostly will be happy for you if the sun comes out.
Anyway, we are shifting gears in a big way this weekend. Don’t get me wrong, last weekend was super fun. We learned a few things about a few people, and hopefully we didn’t feel the need to get too carried away. This weekend… we will get carried away. The races are bigger and the rivalries are biggest. There is no reason to think anyone will bring something less than all they have. The season, one of the most promising ones anyone can remember (hopefully), is most definitely happening now.
Saturday the action will kick off with what was supposed to be the renewal of hostilities among the Giants of Cyclocross: Mathieu van der Poel, Wout Van Aert and Tom Pidcock. Van Aert, though, bailed to stay with his training following some interruptions from illness, and turns the mantle over to Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne winner Tiesj Benoot. That sounds like a bummer, but Benoot won the race in 2018 and was flying last weekend. Moreover, Jumbo was dominant in Van Aert’s absence, taking four podium places in two events, so consider the battle joined.
This should be a pretty fascinating edition even without the easy preview headline. Van der Poel’s form might be a bit of a mystery, seeing as how he hasn’t officially picked up his race bike yet this year. Two years ago when he was victorious here van der Poel had raced the UAE Tour and a couple other events (KBK, Le Samyn) to open up the legs….
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