This week has a common theme, sprinter type riders taking two stage victories. Ale-Jet Petacchi took two stages at Valencieana, JJ Haedo, George Hincapie, and Olaf Pollack like winning so much they did it twice.
Since Floyd Landis’ dominating Time Trial win on Wednesday the Tour of California was pretty much set for GC placings. The rest of the stages did not give much chance for the top contenders to mix up the overall as the stages each came down to a sprint.
In the sprints there were some familiar faces showing up on the podium. Juan Jose Haedo took two wins that were very important for his new team. The sprints were pretty much the only stages where smaller US teams could compete since the other power stages were won by guys who are much higher on GC. JJ Haedo looks to have great form so far, but can he keep this form going into the Tour of Georgia in two months time?
George Hincapie has great form for the early season classics. Last year Big George grabbed the first win in a long time starting off a year of phenomenal performances that culminated with a win in toughest mountain stage of the Tour de France. George has started his year in winning ways again, by taking the “power” stages. When the pure sprinters are dropped on the hills George is the next best.
Olaf Pollack got a few sprint wins for T-Mobile allowing the German team to get some attention in an American rider dominated Tour of California. T-Mobile has a great deal of interest in the US market and showing the Californian’s watch the Tour the Pink and White certainly helps their visibility.
Ale-Jet Petacchi won a few stages in the Vuelat Valencienna, not huge nes since he is in great form taking wins almost at will. The big news will be the showdowns he will have with Tom Boonen and other super sprinters. The two Lampre sprinters Napolitano and Bennati will be looking to better the Milram man. If one of these two can best Petacchi in a straight sprint that will be news. They have been successful getting wins where Petacchi was not competative or in other races. Look for these two to get some more mop up wins and have a breakthrough against Petacchi possibly on the Giro.