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19/08/2010 // INFO 1 Comment

Procycling roundup – The “what” Tour?

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The Eneco Tour ain’t the most high profile in the UCI Pro-Tour calendar. It’s probably not surprising that an event that follows the Tour de France and is held the week before the Vuelta D’Espana does not get too many people over excited.

However, yesterday’s prologue (only 5.2kms long) caught my imagination. It was a 6 minute burst through the rain soaked streets of Steenwijk in the Netherlands that was won by a little heralded Canadian called Svein Tuft. The margins were slight but the Canadian roared to an unexpected victory. It was, in fact, so unexpected that the host broadcasters did not cover him whilst on the course and the Eurosport commentators were caught with egg on their faces when they realised that the eventual winner had crossed the line without the briefest of commentary.

Tuft’s ride was magnificent but I was more interested in the performance of my friend Gatis Smukulis, who I have written about before as a young rider from Latvia racing for the French cycle team AG2R La Mondiale.

As previously mentioned Smukulis has endured an injury plagued season and I was pleased to see him put in a strong showing to finish in 85th position, only 28 seconds behind the leader. A strong performance and one which he followed up today on Stage 1 by finishing in the pack. We shall continue to follow his performance throughout the rest of the Enoco Tour and hope to see more encouraging performances.

In other, less encouraging news, Mark Cavendish took part in his first race in Italy since Milan-San Remo in March and his first event since the Tour. His pre-Vuelta and World Championships preparation did not go to plan and he was one of a vast swathe of riders who did not complete the course. In fact, only 62 riders completed the 199km. The Manx Missile will have to rediscover his form if he is to win the Worlds in September. Not least because the UCI have awarded the Great Britain team only three places.

The elite cycling nations are allowed to enter nine riders and this will prove to be a major disadvantage to Cavendish. However, Cavendish overcame adversity on the Tour this year and we remain confident of his chances down-under.

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