In years past, anything less than a Lance Armstrong win in his Ride for the Roses criterium would have been considered a disappointment.
But things change when youre the reigning Tour de France champ.
Armstrong rode, but didnt contest the 90-minute BMC Austin Criterium on April 8. And that was just fine for all parties, most of all Armstrongs nervous team managers, who didnt want to see his Tour training disrupted by a crash.
With no less than the likes of five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain and the legendary Eddy Merckx looking on, Mercurys sprinter Gord Fraser calmly dispatched the field for a clear win in front of 5,000 cheering fans.
Fraser recently returned from Europe, where he won a stage of the Coupe de France race. Armstrong never hit the front, content to pedal smoothly mid-pack and stay upright and healthy amid the mad dash for $150 primes.
A brief scare hit at the finish line when a few riders fell, and no Lance to be seen. Had he crashed?
"No, no, I'm fine. It was cool. It was a fast race this year, much faster than in years past. This course, too, is new, and not conducive to a breakaway I'm glad to get through it. The weekend's been huge, every year it gets bigger," Armstrong said after the race.
The Ride for the Roses weekend attracted over 5,000, and is expected to raise over a $750,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to assisting people diagnosed with cancer (www.laf.org).
BMC Ride for the Roses Criterium April 8
name, (country), team
1. Gord Fraser (Can) Mercury
2. Todd Littlehales (USA) Navigators
3. Graeme Miller (NZl) Shaklee
4. Jonas Carney (USA) Shaklee
5. Vasilly Davidenko (Rus) Navigators
6. Ivan Dominguez (USA)
7. Antonio Cruz (USA) Saturn
8. Kevin Monohan (USA) Mercury
9. Robbie Ventura (USA) Saturn
10. Steve Cates (USA) Mercury
name, (country), team
1. Nicole Reinhart (USA) Saturn
2. Clara Hughes (Can) Saturn
3. Karen Dunne (USA) Elita
4. Annie Gariepy (Can) Elita
5. Tracey Gaudry (Aus) Timex
6. Laura Van Guilder (USA) Charles Schwab
7. Dede Demet-Barry (USA) Saturn
8. Tine Mayolo (USA) Autotrader.com
9. Janny Eyerman (USA) Jane Cosmetics
10. Sara Ulmer (NZl) Elita
Round Australia attempt
Perry Stone already owns the round-Australia riding record, but it wont stop the eccentric Canadian long distance rider from trying to beat his time of 41 days, 22 hours and 15 minutes.
Riding counterclockwise on a conservative by his standards schedule since his start from Fremantle in early April, Stone plans to cover about 480K (288 miles) per day on his ride around the perimeter of the Land Down Under, pausing to rest now and then for a few hours of sleep.
His schedule would get him around in 30 days covering 14,500km (8,700 miles) along the way.
In the United States (12,092 perimeter miles), the Perimeter Bicycling Association of America (www.pbaa.com) logs records for rides around lakes, cities, states, and countries.
Insurance for your steed
In the United States, bike theft is a 1 billion dollar business.
Small wonder since it takes a good thief only seven seconds, on average, to steal a locked bicycle.
The National Bike Registry, recently partnered with bicyclelink.com, offers nationwide anti-theft registration for your bike.
With less than 3% of unregistered stolen bikes returned to owners, insurance sounds better every day.
1. Ten years individual coverage (one bike): $10
2. Lifetime (30 years; transferable): $25
3. Family (Up to 5 bikes per family for 10 years): $25
Lion of Flanders to retire?
Enigmatic Paris-Roubaix winner Johan Museeuw (Mapei) says hell decide in May if he will retire at the end of the year, or whether hell switch teams next year.
Museeuw is known for his waffling: just before he won the world championships in 1996 he openly considered retirement to spend more time with his family.
"First I will decide whether I will continue or not, and if it is a yes I will decide in which team. If I leave Mapei, Patrick Lefevre and I will stay friends", Museeuw said.
Museeuw also could be chafing with the large number of teammates on the powerhouse Mapei team.
Italian Andrea Tafi has openly complained about Museeuw and the Belgian half of the teams unwillingness to work for him.
"I had everybody against me, but that was expected. That's the role for the favorites, said Tafi after Paris-Roubiax, in which he finished tenth. Museeuw's attack with Andreu was not planned or agreed. He just grabbed the initiative, Tafi added.
Tafi backpedaled slightly by adding: But it was important that our team won. The squad really has worked hard, and we showed anyone who doubted us. I would have managed a better placing if I hadn't punctured towards the end. I will be back in 2001 from tomorrow onwards it is already the eve of the next Paris-Roubaix," he vowed.
As for American George Hincapie, US Postal Service team director Johan Bruyneel had no doubts as to his chances, were it not for a flat tire 10km from the end:
"There is no doubt about it, this is his race. He was pumped up. His behavior in the race pushed the team to a higher level the same like Lance (Armstrong) at last year's Tour de France, said Bruyneel.
During the race, I have never seen him so confident. We went up to him a few times in the car and asked him how he was feeling, and for him to say he was flying ... well, if you know George, that is usually not George's way of talking."
And from hard-luck Frankie Andreu (US Postal Service), who initiated the winning move, and then was dropped from Museeuws winning wheel on one of the cobbled sections:
My first thought was "What the hell is he doing here?" Andreu said.
I knew later on that if Johan decided to give full stick over a section of cobbles, I was going to be in trouble Johan jumped on the cobbles, caught a little bit behind the motorcycles and was gone. I tried to chase for a bit but I was suffering.
Andreu worked hard for teammate Hincapie, who was the teams leader, after the chase caught him.