Deignan aims for first Tour de France

Philip Deignan celebrating after easily outsprinting Roman Kreuziger to win Stage 18 of the 2009 Vuelta a Espana.

Second up in the series of season preview posts is the Ulsterman Philip Deignan. He truly announced himself to the cycling world by winning Stage 18 of the Vuelta a Espana last September. It was Ireland’s first Grand Tour stage win since 1992 and first Vuelta stage win since 1988 when Seán Kelly won two stages on the way to winning the overall title. On top of this, Deignan also finished a fantastic 9th overall in the Spanish tour. This was the highest of any rider on his own team and higher than seasoned Grand Tour perfomers such as Juan José Cobo and Haimar Zubeldia. Last year he also rode the Giro d’Italia and acted as a domestique for team leader Carlos Sastre who won two stages and finished 3rd overall. His other notable performances last year were finishing 7th in the Vuelta Castilla y Leon, 10th in the Vuelta a Burgos and 12th in the Tour of Ireland. So how can Deignan improve on these results over the coming year?

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Nicolas Roche’s year to deliver

Nicolas Roche wearing the jersey of Irish National Road Race Champion

In the first of a series of season preview posts, today I’m taking a look at what 2010 may have in store for Nicolas Roche. Previously I suggested that 2010 is a very important year for Roche in terms of which direction his career will take. He has proven himself to be capable when sprinting and when pacing a team leader up mountains. Stephen Roche went as far as to suggest that Roche Jnr. could end up in the top five at the Tour in the next few years. But despite a strong year in 2009, he failed to notch up any victories, so will 2010 be any different?

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Green and Rainbow? A classic combo

List of points classification winners at the Tour de France for the last 20 years and the number of stage wins earned by the winning rider each year.

The season is under way and it’s the time of year when riders start revealing their goals for the season. Contador, Schleck and Armstrong will all want to take the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, Cancellara will want to finally win the Tour of Flanders, sprinters such as Greipel, Petacchi and Farrar will want to rack up as many stage wins as possible, while some riders will simply be hoping to make it to their first Grand Tour. One of the most interesting battles throughout last season was the one which took place between Hushovd and Cavendish for the Green Jersey at the Tour de France. Sure enough, both riders have announced that the Green jersey will be top priority again for 2010. But will Cavendish be up to the task of doing what he couldn’t do last year?

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Irish Peloton Predictions 2010

The Irish Peloton predictions for the major races in 2010

On the eve of the start of the Pro Tour, I think it’s time for me to make a few predictions on who will win what over the coming season. If for no other reason than to look back in October and see how right or wrong I was. Obviously it’s impossible to know who will ride in each race, and I’ll keep shtum about my reasons for the choices until closer to each race and no doubt I’ll change my mind on countless occasions along the way, but here goes, predictions for all the Pro Tour/Historical Calendar races 2010:

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Off to a good start Down Under

The Tour Down Under is almost upon us and with it the beginning of the 2010 cycling calendar. Traditionally the curtain raiser for the year was always Het Volk (now Het Niewusblad). However in recent years the season has been stretched across the calendar by new events which precede this traditional opener which doesn’t take place until the last week of February. The Tour Down Under and the Tours of Qatar and California are all new events which take place before Het Nieuwsblad (although the Californian Tour has since been moved to May). For a lot of riders January and February is too early to start top level racing and prefer to wait until later to start their season. The UCI seem to have developed a penchant for globalising this traditionally European sport, so perhaps it is no coincidence that these three events are in three separate corners of the globe, all outside Europe. So I ponder whether these new early season races are a good thing for the sport of cycling.

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One Hit Wonders of the Tour

There are many many musicians out there who practiced their instrument for years, slogged away in shady pubs playing in front of a dozen people hoping against hope that one day they’d hit the big time. One day they finally get lucky and a record executive happens upon them one night and likes what he hears. The musician is signed up to a major record label. The first album gets made and sells very little, the second album gets made and sells even less. Then an amazing thing happens, out of the blue, a hit single. The musician has a song on the top of the charts, it’s incredible, everything they ever wished for. They get recognised on the street, they sign autographs, they ride they wave of publicity and it feels great. Inevitably, the third album gets made, doesn’t sell. The record company grow impatient and give the musician one last chance. A fourth album. Still no luck. The musician fades away, consigned to the annals of history to be forever referred to as a one hit wonder.

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