Friday, June 29, 2007

Words to live by...

This is stolen by me from Bicycle Retailer, who stole it from the movie Almost Famous;

These are words to live by, not just for rock, but for cycling as well.

Quote of the Day

JUNE 29, 2007 -- "You CANNOT make friends with the rock stars. That's what's important. If you're a rock journalist--first, you will never get paid much. But you will get free records from the record company. And they'll buy you drinks, you'll meet girls, they'll try to fly you places for free, offer you drugs... I know. It sounds great. But they are not your friends. These are people who want you to write sanctimonious stories about the genius of the rock stars, and they will ruin rock and roll and strangle everything we love about it.

-Lester Bangs from "Almost Famous"

Don't get me wrong, I love the sport and the riders and I am happy to be close to the riders I am close to. It's the cycling press that sometimes forgets these things... sometimes, a little distance from the subject gives you a little better clarity of judgment.

I'm just saying...


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Happy Birthday Harpoon!

I just found out through the grapevine that today is Rich Harper's 30th birthday! Happy Birthday $RICH$!

Here's to a great year... you big goofball!

Happy birthday buddy. I promise, at the next team camp, I'll help you with your sprint. Promise.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Paging Radio Freddy...

This post is dedicated to Radio Freddy of Belgium Knee Warmers.

"Freddy", if that is his actual name, gets me thinking on a fairly regular basis with the stuff on his blog. He's an old school road dork like me, so a lot of the stuff that spills on to his keyboard and posts to his blog is something I would write, have written or simply have to nod my head to. If you've never been to his place... I highly recommend it.

So, Freddy, just for you;

Well seasoned, well cured, reliable tubies...

Dig the sweet old rims too... epic!

And, project PRO is a go with fresh white tape and neo-retro red hoods (remember the colored hoods of the late 80's).

Hope these meet the Belgium Knee Warmers standards!


Monday, June 25, 2007

Tour of Ohio, more and etcetera...

To borrow from my father, I've been "busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest" as of late. SO much has been going on lately that it has been impossible for me to keep up with it all. I've been in it deep... really deep.

I spent nearly the entire week last week locked away in an empty office, sitting in the near dark with my iPod earphones jammed deep into my head, away from my desk and phone so that I could finish writing all of the catalog copy for the next edition of the Masi catalog. It is my hope that we will end up with an even better product than we had last year (this year), which was universally received as our best yet. God/ Budha/ Alah/ Wood Fairy Princess willing... this one will be better. I know I feel damned good about the new products coming (seriously people, you have NO idea how good this stuff is going to be), so I hope that the energy and passion and all around Masi love comes through in the catalog.

On top of the catalog, we also wrapped up a killer new ad that will be coming out in VeloNews soon, so keep your eyes open for that. Hint; it is supposed to be located on the inside back cover... It is a great ad and I am super happy with how it came out, especially considering the short amount of time it got done in. Like, a couple days... thanks Rick!

Speaking of Rick... he's the poor schmoe who has been stuck with doing all of my ads as well as the Masi graphics and catalog. I'm sure he's rethinking his employment with us right now. Anyway, he and I have been wrapping up the last lingering bits of this and that on the Masi graphics for the new bikes as well. Needless to say, after lots of hard work, things are looking mighty, mighty good. I'm pretty darned stoked...

And speaking of stoked... the Tour of Ohio wrapped up over the weekend and the boys came up with the goods again- big time. Marco Aledia won the final stage, bookending his ToO with stage wins. He also took the green sprinter's jersey for the second year in a row. Mark Hekman maintained his control over the race and came out with the overall win and one stage win. Josh "Chunder" Englund got away with 3rd overall and a stage win as well. Timmy Swain held on to his KOM jersey also. This means that the team took 4 of the 6 stages, three of the classification jerseys and the overall win. Not too freakin' shabby. Way to go guys- the Masiguy is super proud of you all!

*Special accolades to Jimmy MacDonald- "Jimmy Mac"- who was involved in a nasty looking crash during the final stage of the race. Things looked pretty bad when he went down, but he says he's feeling fine and that, "girls are lovin all the facial road rash"... AWESOME! Here's the kicker... the poor boy just graduated high school and is only 18 years old and was racing the entire week in a major regional stage race. I mean... damn!

Blair Fraley took a bunch more great photos (many of which will likely be seen in the new catalog, on the corporate website and who knows where else) and a few of'em are here for you viewing pleasure....
Marco Aledia and Jimmy Mac.

Jimmy Mac railing a turn.

This is SUCH a catalog shot; Hekman leading the pack, Marco on his wheel and Ryan Rish sitting on.

All three jerseys in the pack! Nice!

There's more, but I gotta save something for later...

Last but not least (ok, kinda least), the Tour DAY France is starting in just a few weeks. That means that the yearly ritual of me trying to cover each stage with my own spin on things is ready to start again. This also means that I'll be flailing about trying to make it happen and stay on top of things. It won't be easy, but I'm gonna give it a go. This year, I'm trying to cover all three Grand Tours, so I've got the TdF and then Vuelta a Espana to go. Last year, I had the help of my lovely assistant Jessi- Bitch Kittie- Pacetti. The Cub Reporter was in France during the race and provided daily insights from behind the wall of media hacks and rabid tifosi. This year... I'm not sure what I'm doing. I haven't even talked to the Kittie yet to see if she wants to play again this year. Maybe she will, maybe she won't... but, something will be happening. Actually, if you're gonna already be in France for the race and want to be a guest commentator with me, drop me a line and let me know- tjackson(at)masibikes(dot)com. There's a pair of socks in it for you... especially if you can send good photos.

So that's it for tonight my friends. I need to let the grey matter cool down to a simmer, rather than slow boil. Tomorrow is a new day... and I still have a boatload of work ahead of me. C'est la vie!


Thursday, June 21, 2007

A&F at Tour of Ohio

The Tour of Ohio is going on right now and MY team is beating the buh-jeebus out of the other teams- including teams like Priority Health, Colavita, Time Development, Kelly Benefits, so the competition is pretty good. And still my guys are killing them!

Jerseys held by team;

Yes, they're doing great! For a team whose admitted focus is on crit racing and the US crit series, they are showing they can control a race when the roads are open too. I think I'm gonna cry a little...

Team roster for the race;
Mark Hekman (race leader and current leader of US NRC crit series and winner of Athens Twilight)
Marco Aledia (Sprint competition leader)
Tim Swain (KOM leader)
Ryan Gamm
Jimmy McDonald (who raced on the junior development team last year)
Bennet van der Genugten
Andy Applegate (current US Masters National Champion in the time trial)
Brandon Gavic
Josh Englund (killer from New Zealand and winner of stage 2)
Ryan Rish (team DS and relatively new father and working on Phd... )

The photos below are all courtesy of Blair Fraley (you rock, dude!)...

Marco Aledia

Tim Swain in KOM jersey.

Marco and Jimmy Mac

Jimmy Mac

Hekman in the Sprinter's jersey.

Josh Englund

Bennet van der Genugten ("bonus" picture/s has been promised!)

The train lining up for...

... this

... and this!



Check this out! Pretty cool...



Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hooray for kindergarten!

I am a talentless hack compared to this guy...

Emil is a parent (Ren's dad) in my daughter's kindergarten class. I'm also damned sure that he and I know each other or have met each other long before sharing a kindergarten class with our kids and one of these days we'll figure it out (or somebody smarter than us will point it all out for us).

Anyway, Emil put together this awesome video tribute to the class and their teacher Morgan Weir. It's awesome and as anybody who reads this blog knows... I'm a softy, so the little video really hit home.

Thanks again Emil (and Morgan, if you happen upon this).


Monday, June 18, 2007

I love these guys...

Tonight, I got this text message;

First and second on GC and leading the sprint comp at Tour Ohio. Met the local Masi dealer.

On the same day that I get my copy of ROAD, which has race coverage from Athens Twilight (which the tall redhead here won) and an interview (page 52) with Cap'n Badass himself- Mark Hekman. Standing next to Red is Marco Aledia, who's not too shabby a sprinter himself and is in the Sprinter's jersey at the Tour. It looks like the boys are already ripping it up!

Good job fellas!


My team is better than your team!

I love my guys...

Scroll down to the leader boards. That's what I'm talkin' about!


Saturday, June 16, 2007


My daughter went to a birthday party for a classmate today. One of the other fathers came up to me, knowing that I'm a "bike guy" and asked me, "so is it true that all the pro riders are on dope?"



Friday, June 15, 2007

New Jersey cyclists unite!

If you live in the state of New Jersey, this is important to you;

The state legislature is trying to pass a new bill that would essentially make it illegal to sell a bicycle in the state with a front quick release. Thanks to frivolous lawsuits across the country where consumers have been injured by incorrect use of their quick release equipped bicycles, the sale of bicycles with a front quick release is now in serious danger.

If you live in the state of New Jersey or own a bike shop in the state, I highly recommend that you call your local assembly person and tell them that you do not support this bill.

The bill is #2686 and is sponsored by Paul Moriarty of District 4 (Camden & Gloucester), David Mayer of District 4 and Joan Voss of District 38 (Bergen).

Voice your opinion on this matter or lose the front quick release on your next bike!


Thursday, June 14, 2007

He's here!

I'd like to take a moment to introduce you all to Gianluca;

Gianluca Rosengrant is the newest Masinephew! At 6lbs 12ozs, he's built more like a climber than a sprinter... for now. I took the same path- skinny as a rail until I was about 23 years old- so he's got time to fill out and become a sprinter like his uncle.

Mom and Dad are both doing fine- seen here a few days ago at one of my other nephew's birthday party;
My sister Sara and brother-in-law Harry are both very excited about this first child, as we all are. He's kinda cute, so I think we'll keep him.

Speaking of nephews though, today is also the 1st birthday of my other sister's son;

Jackson- "Jack"- Carter is one year old today, on the day his newest cousin is born! How cool is that? Both sisters had their first children on June 14th! That's pretty freakin' cool, if you ask me!

Jack is a great boy and is almost always smiling.

With the arrival of Gianluca today, I now have 4 nephews! My brother's wife is now pregnant with their third child too... so I'll either have a 5th nephew (they have two boys already- Orion and Nolan) or my first niece (on my side of the family).

Here's Orion and Nolan with my sister-in-law Cheryl, during my sister Sara's baby shower a while back.

So as you can see, I'm working on a great team of future stars here. All are getting measured for custom frames so that they can begin training soon- leg shaving lessons will begin shortly. (Can you see why I'm called the "crazy uncle"?)


Monday, June 11, 2007

Rainbow Bear Update!

He was in her bed the whole time!

She woke up and came out while Daddy was making her lunch- as predicted- and flopped out on the couch... clutching her very best friend in the world.

Daddy feels like a total knob for having a meltdown... but I'm elated that Rainbow Bear has been reunited with the Princess.

Neither I nor my wife have a clue how he made it into her bed without us knowing. It's a Christmas miracle in June!

(Happy Monday!)

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Today marks one of the saddest days of my entire life. To some, this will seem silly and trivial, but to all the Daddys with little girls that they love... it'll make total sense.

My daughter's lifelong companion, Rainbow Bear (seen here clutched under Katie's arm on her recent birthday) has been lost. Rainbow Bear has been at my daughter's side since she was born and has never left her side for more than a school day. I honestly do not think that Katie has ever slept a night without him/ her/ it- at least none that I am aware of. This bear was nearly lost during last summer's trip to Italy, but he made it all the way there and back, against totally improbable odds. Rainbow Bear has been left in many places where he/ she/ it should have been gone forever, but somehow made it back... each and every time, until today.

Rainbow has made a number of appearances here on the blog. Many Daily Drive photos have Rainbow clutched under his/ her best friend's arm. Never far away from her.

Rainbow traveled all over the place with Katie, even making several bike trips with her and Daddy. Here he/ she/ it is on our most recent spin around the harbor- as always, tucked under an arm and pressed close against his/ her ever-loving friend.

Several months ago, Rainbow was left behind in my car and I dutifully made sure that I took good care of him/ her/ it and buckled him/ her/ it into Katie's booster seat... to be safe.

Now, after 6 years of totally faithful and loving companionship, Rainbow Bear is gone. We went grocery shopping this afternoon and Rainbow Bear, as always was in the cart with Katie. At the checkout, Katie wanted out of the cart and was helped out of the cart by Daddy. Rainbow Bear sat patiently, waiting to rejoin her. At the other end of the belt, the bagger was loading a different cart with the groceries, while Katie skipped and frolicked and sang songs to Daddy as the groceries were loaded into the different cart. We grabbed the full cart and headed to the car to go home. Once home, Katie ate her dinner and then headed off to bed... looking for her ever-faithful friend Rainbow Bear, who was now nowhere to be seen. Upon realizing what had happened, I left Katie at home with my wife and sped off back to the grocery store for the inevitable frantic search for Rainbow Bear. I searched every cart in the store, outside of the store, around the store and spoke to the manager and the original checker and bagger we checked out with... to no avail. Of course, I left my phone number and asked them to call if a white-ish bear showed up somewhere in the store... ever... and left the store with the biggest knot in my stomach and watering eyes. Tomorrow morning, when my daughter awakes and comes out to the kitchen where I'll be making her school lunch, she will be expecting Daddy to hand her Rainbow Bear.

And Daddy will look into those sad brown eyes and have to say that Rainbow Bear is gone. Probably even gone forever. To those brown eyes. Mind you, this child, the Princess, has countless stuffed animals. Tons of them. But nothing has ever replaced Rainbow Bear for more than a few hours. Never. In her whole life. I know that I'm making way too much out of a stuffed animal that my daughter will eventually forget all about. But as a Daddy, I am not ashamed to say that my eyes water at the thought of it and that the realization that Rainbow Bear is gone makes me far sadder than I ever feared it would. I've lost sleep, literally, over the thought of her losing Rainbow Bear (the trip to Italy was fraught with peril for Rainbow Bear). Now, that nightmare is beginning to unfold.

How do you tell a six year old girl that her most loved possession in the world is gone? This Daddy is a big softy, a total pushover and an emotional wreck at the moment. Today is one of the saddest days of my life because of the loss of a hospital waiting room gift shop stuffed animal given to my daughter the day she was born. It's a sad day.


Friday, June 08, 2007

More awesome than anything... ever!

THIS might just be the single greatest example of journalistic excellence ever known to mankind.

I laughed, I cried... it was more moving than a Tolstoi novel.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Bike Doosh?

Are you a Bike Doosh?

So let us see if you qualify for the specific category of bike doosh. (Masiguy answers in bold red.)

1) Do you race:
a – road (yes)
b – cross (I'm gonna)
c – mtb
d – track (yes)


2) Do you have an “A” bike and a “B” bike?
a – no, just one bike
b – yes (yes)
c – both “A” bike and “B” bikes are carbon (yes)
d – with Campy Record (one of'em)


3) Do you use a cycling computer?
a – no (no)
b – yes
c – Power Tap
d – Power Tap on your track bike


4) Do you carry a mobile phone with you when you ride?
a – no
b – yes (yes)
c – Smartphone
d – iPhone


5) Do you:
a – match cycling socks to shoes (yes)
b – match shoes to jersey (yes)
c – match jersey to helmet (yes)
d – have multiple matching outfits, shoes and helmets (yes)


6) Is your handlebar tape:
a – black (yes)
b – white (yes)
c – some other color (yes)
d – installed fresh each month


7) Do you: (no to all)
a – follow a training plan
b – keep a training log
c – an online training log
d – and pay someone to review it


8) VO2 Max Test
a – never had one
b – once
c – more than once (yes... it was bad news)
d – every year


9) Campy versus Shimano
a – who cares (who cares if it works)
b – Shimano
c – Campy
d – SRAM


10) Helmet and sunglasses
a – you buy whatever from the team sponsor (yes... well, I get'em free)

b – Lazer and Tifosi
c – Bell and Rudy Project (yes)
d – Giro and Oakley (yes)


11) Do you:
a – ride your bike to the race (sometimes)
b – carpool with pals (yes)
c – drive alone in your Audi A6 sedan with the bike in the trunk
d – refuse to let Smithers use your lug nut tool at Sogn Valley last year (score 5 bonus dick head points!)


12) Triathlon
a – no thanks (no thanks)
b – once, never again
c – sometimes
d – live for them


13) On the training ride you:
a – are in there for a while but eventually get dropped
b – are in the group the whole ride feeling good
c – sit in and wait for the end of the hard stuff and then go to the front and ride hard (yep... but I suffer through the hills and wait for all the sprint points)
d – skip it because it is not hard enough for you


14) On the training ride you talk about:
a – art, music, politics (yes)
b – girls/boys (yes)
c – the latest pro bike race on Vs. (yes)
d – last weeks training ride (yes)


15) The purpose of the training ride is to:
a – work on your weakness (yes)
b – develop fitness (yes)
c – put the hurt on everyone else (yes)
d – show off your new bike (yes)


16) The racing season is:
a – too long
b – too short
c – not enough of the races you like to do (why can't the entire season just be Keirin races?)
d – full of stupid races that you think suck even though you have never promoted a race


17) Relationship
a – In one, it’s great (I hope... I'm SO in trouble... prolly)
b – looking and hoping
c – just broke up, they didn’t understand your desire to train and race
d – no time, you have to train and race

0pts (maybe)

18) When on a date you talk about: (add 5 points for being total nerd)
a – your date
b – yourself
c – the latest pro bike race on Vs.
d – Campy versus Shimano


19) Your significant other comes to a race:
a – you drop out early to spend more time with them
b – try to make yourself look totally pro by being at the front (yes... until I blow apart and blame it on cramping)
c – ignore them
d – castigate them for not handing up the correct bottle on the correct lap (score 5 more bonus dick head points!)


20) Following the race you:
a – leave the bike in the garage and spend time with the family (yes... sometimes)
b – help make dinner and talk about the race (yes... usually)
c – sort out all your bike crap until past midnight
d – go for a recovery ride


Bonus Question
21) Are you:
Smithers? If so subtract all points and score yourself an automatic total of zero. The ability to recognize bike dooshery eliminates any possibility of personal dooshness.

For every “a” score o points, for every “b” score 1 points, for every “c” score 5 points, for every “d’ score 10 points.

0 points: You are so totally not a bike doosh, you are the coolest MF that ever walked the surface of the planet
1 – 20 points: You are not a bike doosh.
21 – 100 points: You mean well, there is hope, resist the temptation to join the dooshocracy
101 – 150 points: You are kind of a bike doosh, try harder el-doosh.
151 – 200 points: You are a total bike doosh, get a life bike doosh.

Masiguy scores... 130 points! Woo-hoo!

And you?


Work with the Masiguy!

Here is perfect opportunity for the right boy or girl... the dream job of dream jobs...

Haro Bikes is looking for a motivated Inside Salesperson specializing in BMX/Freestyle but with a solid understanding of other cycling categories such as Mountain and Road. Excellent communication skills to provide customer service to both outside sales force and dealers a must. Position requires strong computer skills and 2-3 years of customer service experience either at retail or wholesale.

Please e-mail résumé’s to: dcerri(at)harobikes(dot)com or fax to: (760) 599-1237 attn: Sales Position.

No, I don't know what the pay is. You have to talk to Doug about that... not me. However, this is your chance to work with me, the Masiguy, and learn all the kernels of wisdom that have gotten me so far in the cycling industry... things like... well... I'm sure there's something.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Who is this girl?

If you know who this girl is, please let me know or get her in touch with me; I want to get her some Masi socks to say thanks for rocking the Speciale Fixed at the recent North American Cycle Courier Championships in San Francisco.

Please send her to tjackson (at) masibikes (dot) com...


Check out the really great photo album by Seng Chen... great pictures of the event.

Random is me...

Warning; Whine about to begin...

So, yes, I've been "hella" busy for as long as I can remember. I was trying to do more posting with substance and whatnot, but it's been damned hard. Things in the office are so busy that posting from work has become totally impossible. For about a year now, it seems, I've been saying "things are really busy"... well, I guess "busy" now has a new definition.

The good news to all of this, is that there are a lot of really cool things happening. The future of Masi and the product is really exciting. I won't give everything away right now, but there are cool products coming that I am more than a little confident you will dig... a lot... and some stuff that you wouldn't exactly expect from Masi (in a good way). Suffice it to say, I'm damned weary, but also damned excited.

Here are a couple things I can share with you right now... the Speciale Fixed;

Now there will be two colors of the bike that has been a runaway hit this year- Orange (like the current model, but with the decal colors reversed) and the all-new Shamrock green (a gorgeous green that has a gold metal flake base coat). Both bikes will now come with a new steel fork that uses a lugged flat crown and lugged dropouts. It's a really beautiful fork. Please keep in mind that images are just for color and decal approval, so this isn't the exact bike you'll see on the floor... but it's darned close. For example, the Shamrock Green has a beige/ creme colored fill in the large panels and the bar tape is a really cool marbled brown that looks like a cross between wood grain and cork... it's really nice looking. The actual bikes, like the current version, will not have a sloping top tube like these images. Other than that... man are they gonna be pretty...

Since I'm in a giving mood, I'll share one more with you, to keep you salivating...

Here's the next version of the Coltello track racing frameset. This sideview does NO justice to the actual paint- trust me, I got the tube sample today... this is going to be another truly beautiful frame (yes, Squirrel, I know you want one when they come in). On the framset front... the CXR cross bike will actually be available as a frameset and the 3VC carbon frame will be available in a super cool Team Issue version with special graphics... so sexy it'll make you cry. I promise.

Speaking of the team... I've been a terrible cheerleader. On May 25th, Rich Harper of the A&F team rode a stellar race at the Raleigh Downtown Crit.

Stolen from photo by Robert Harvey (the team bought the rights to this... I hope...)

This was another NRC event packed with all-star US pro riders. Rich worked his ass off and got into the winning break that lapped the field and held on for third place (his first podium appearance in an NRC event) in front of his friends and family in his hometown. "Harpoon" is a certifiable nut... I mean, he's got papers to prove it, I'm sure. That said, he's one of my favorite riders on the team, even if he is a time trialist trying to pass himself off as a real sprinter (HA!).

Much to my disappointment, he got rid of the hair...

Not only did Rich rock the team kit, but at the podium interview, he even gave a big thanks to Masi. He also managed to lay down the law; the interviewer made a comment roughly to the effect that the team was the dominant amateur team of the year and he quickly corrected him with, "who you callin' amateur?" I love this wacko.

On top of that, Mark Hekman, winner of Athens Twilight and the Southeast Crit Series overall, has continued to ride strongly and still occupies the #1 bib number in the NRC series. Mark is riding strong with the excellent support of the team and they are truly proving their worth in the races along with all of the "pro" teams. These guys are riding with such amazing heart, it makes me proud to be associated with racing again. With all the dope in the peloton, it's great to see these guys racing clean and winning with heart, passion and straight up determination. Keep an eye on these guys as they keep racking up the wins and continue to be dominant.

Nice work guys!

Ok, now I have to get back to staring at spreadsheets and writing a new catalog. Joy of joys...


Sunday, June 03, 2007

Giro d'Italia 2007- Wrap up

I don't even remember what stage I left off on, but I think it was on Petecchi's 4th stage win after the race exited the mountains. Since then, DiLuca held off a series of challenges to his lead and managed to retain the maglia rosa all the way to Milano for the biggest win of his career and the one that many had predicted for him many years ago. Danilo withstood challenges of all sorts, including a merciless onslaught from the Saunier-Duval team, full of aggressive climbers like Simoni, Pieopoli and Ricco. All those who though Danilo would fail, assumed it would be in the mountains... but that never happened. Saturday's time trial was his final test and he passed it with flying colors and even enjoyed the moment enough to begin celebrating a little bit a day before the finish today, pumping his fists in sheer joy as he finished his time trial. Paolo Salvodelli managed to win that final time trial and salvage a bit of pride in the race. Still, Paolo echoed the comments of most on the race this year and admitted that DiLuca was simply the best rider of this year's race and a worthy winner. Even Simoni, who's not known for his gracious nature, admitted that DiLuca could not be beaten by their hardest efforts. Danilo simply rode smarter and with more drive than any other rider this year and his win is the product of that drive and desire- great job Danilo!

The race provided a great look at Andy Schleck as well. Schleck, in his first ever grand tour, managed to finish on the podium, in second place. Not a bad way to start your grand tour career. It's a fairly sure sign that the lanky youngster is bound for a great career in the 3 week races. It will be very interesting to see just how far this gifted rider can go.

This Giro also saw the return to dominance of Alessandro Petacchi. Ale Jet crashed in the Giro last year and broke his knee cap. His recovery and return to racing since then has been fraught with setbacks and disillusion. 5 stage wins will get you feeling a bit better though. Today, in the final stage of the Giro, Petacchi managed that fifth win in fine form. True, he didn't have too many other sprinters to deal with, but it shows his improving form and strong determination that he even finished the race at all. It will interesting to see if he's able to rest enough to take a win or more at the Tour de France next month.

There were other highlights of the race, like the amazing climbing talent of Piepoli this year, or the two gutsy wins by Garzelli... or even the constant aggression of the Tinkoff team (I still wish they'd gotten a stage win). But, for me, the sheer passion with which the race took place was all I needed. In the wake of so many terrible drug scandals, it was more than a little welcome to see some great racing and a very deserving winner. Cycling is still, for me, the most wonderful sporting spectacle- the pain, the beauty, the tactics, the battle of wits and brawn over 3 weeks in a grand tour... it's poetry of human spirit. I am still in a funk when it comes to European professional racing, but my love for the sport and the racing itself is still as strong as ever.

Just a few more weeks until the Tour!