Friday, July 29, 2011

Races to Kick-off August...

Two weeks on from the Tour, and all those riders will still be riding that wave of optimal fitness, and there are two big races on tap this weekend in which those riders can seek out a post-Tour victory. The first of these, run on Saturday, is the Clasica San Sebastian. The Clasica has been raced since 1981, and the riders standing atop its finish podium have been quite a diversely international bunch. Spanish riders have dominated recently, though, winning six of the past seven editions. Look for defending champion, Luis Leon Sanchez, and Samuel Sanchez to contest for victory. The Schleck brothers, Andy and Frank, Ivan Basso, and Philip Gilbert should be strong challengers as well.

Luis Leon Sanchez celebrates victory at the 2010 Clasica San Sebastian

The week-long Tour of Poland kicks off on Sunday. Though it is a short Tour, it has been steadily gaining in interest, if not status in the past few years. After being left off the Garmin-Cervelo squad at the Tour de France, defending champion Daniel Martin of Ireland, is my favorite to repeat. Martin will be backed by a strong support team including, Christophe Le Mevel, Heinrich Haussler, Martijn Maaskant, and Andrew Talansky. Liquigas-Cannondale will be there with Vincenzo Nibali and Peter Sagan in their ranks. Quick Step will be bringing Dario Cataldo, Kevin Seeldraeyers, Tom Boonen, among other strong riders. Those are the strongest teams as I see them, but don't discount the others, including AG2R La Mondiale, BMC, Euskaltel Euskadi, Katusha, Lampre-ISD, Leopard-Trek, Movistar, Omego Pharma-Lotto, Astana, Rabobank, Sky, HTC Highroad, Radioshack, and Saxo Bank SunGard. The Polish riders on those teams, as well as those on the two Polish wildcard teams will be racing for pride of country.

Daniel Martin celebrates with the podium girls at the 2010 Tour of Poland

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