The Manxman man cometh, the Fastvakian already here.
Yes, Mark Cavendish, the second fastest sprinter in the world after Marcel Kittel, heads to California to take on Peter Sagan at the Tour of California. This should prove one of the big highlights of the Cali show.
Sagan practically owns California with a whopping ten stage victories while Cavendish can only brag about one win back in 2010, a sprint into Sacramento. In fact, if memory serves, that was the same stage where Tom Boonen crashed hard and took a break from “cowboy” sprints.
So we’re anxious to see these two go head to head. What’s more, there’s the potential for plenty of fireworks with John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) breaking up the party.
Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Thor Hushovd (BMC) also make the guest list. Not sure those two are really motivated with Boonen coming off the cobbled classics and Hushovd just generally slowing down. Then again who knows.
Even Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) might get lucky — after all, he won a stage eight in California back in 2011. We remember chatting with the amiable Aussie in the parking lot in Thousands Oaks and at the time Goss looked like a go for the big time, having also won Milan-San Remo. He’s had a slow start so far this season but perhaps the bright California sun will shine on him. In truth, he could use a win.
Rounding out what could be a pretty entertaining and competitive sprint competition is reigning U.S. road champion Freddie Rodriguez (Jelly Belly-Maxxis). Fast Freddie isn’t quite ready to slow down and he still has enough fast twitch fibers — and experience — to give it a go. Can’t count him out and it’s a jelly bean shower from the podium if he wins.
Ohh, afterthought, we’re assuming Tyler Farrar is lining up for the Giro but maybe he’ll end up in California where he picked up a stage won last year. Well, nope, Farrar now confirmed for Italy.
On the GC side, it’s really hard to figure who is actually planning on winning. The injured Chris Horner sure isn’t coming and neither is defending champion Tejay van Garderen who will be training in Europe instead.
Look at the top WorldTour squads and BMC has Peter Stetina for the overall. Well, alrighty then. Not saying it can’t be done but bridge too far comes to mind. Trek has … uh, the brothers Schleck. Dramatic sigh, even assuming they make the trip. Belkin is relying on Laurens Ten Dam and that podium isn’t going to happen.
Then there’s Leopold König (Netapp-Endura) who won last year’s queen stage up Mount Diablo. That same exact climb will break open the race on stage three. The latest update has König off the roster for California with a lingering injury. Bad news for him, more good new for Wiggo.
Really, it sounds like only Garmin-Sharp will provide some competition for Sky’s Bradley Wiggins who plans to attack the race with gusto even though he might still be a little heavy from his successful Paris-Roubaix adventure. He’s down in LA right now doing one of those pricey Hollywood diets and drinking kale smoothies.
Garmin won’t have the services of Andrew Talanky who will be training up in the Lake Tahoe area, so the roles pass to Tom Danielson, Rohan Dennis, Phil The Thrill Gaimon and last years’s third place on GC, Colombian climber Janier Acevedo. Will Garmin cut the race open with hydra-headed kamikaze attacks like they did in Colorado two years ago when Vande Velde won the overall?
Crazy things might happen. Sky’s young climber Joe Dombrowski jumps in a break and wins the whole shebang. Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan would get a kick out of that.
We’ll be at the entire Tour of California next week so expect some up close and personal.