A World Cup Of Contradiction

 

 

Reflections on Brazil 2014

It was a fitting end. This most South American of World Cups won by Europe. The very same Europe that appeared in the Death Notices two weeks prior. But that summed up Brazil 2014. It was a World Cup of contrast and contradiction. A spellbinding blend of wonder and whimsy.

It was billed as “The World Cup of a Lifetime”, as for many that will be true. From a football perspective it certainly was, of my lifetime at least. Never pure “Joga Bonito”, it was though an enthralling, rollercoaster of a month, as teams attacked with abandon in the group stage, caring not for reputation. And once the stakes were high and the caution took over in the knockout stage, we were treated to drama and tension. Like the Acts of a great Shakespearean tragedy.

The hosts themselves embodied the contradiction on and off these fields of dreams. Brazil. The spiritual home. The sepia tinged memories of our youth, yet in crisp high definition, the shirt looked the same, but the body therein? Imposters. Except the number ten. He could play. And talk. And unite a nation in joy and in total grief. The full range of the fragility of human emotion on show, channel through the life of a young man. A young man who carried the burden of two hundred million, and as it turned out, eleven men in yellow, who collapsed emotionally without him.

As the Selecao’s performances worsened, so your love for them, and desire for success grew. Your saw what it meant in the eyes of the people. Animated street corner conversation. Proudly wearing yellow on matchdays, non-matchdays, and any chance in between, The faces of the most improvished, perched high above Rio’s golden sands. Living in hope of better days, yet for ninety minutes, at one with the masses laid out beneath them. ootball the glue holding a broken society together, whilst at the same time, blowing it apart. The people deserved better. They still do.

 
 

The social divide is stark. Rich and poor. High and low. Yet it appeared that life carried on. For better or worse. From open sewers running through favelas a stones throw from the Maracana, to curious locals carrying on with life as it’s always been around the corner from drunk Aussies in Cuiaba. The question hangs heavy int he air though. Once the circus is gone, what will be left? Will the omnipresent police disappear and allow pre-World Cup life to return? Once the sirens that blare as the latest motorcade roars past curious onlookers on street corners fades away, those on the corners will still be there. What now for them?

In the new cathedrals of Brazilian football, we were treated to a magical collection of moments. Shocks, surprises, magic, misery and everything in between. Each moment lived through a fans eye. The Argentines in the Maracana against Bosnia, owning the stadium, the cries of “Brasil decieme….” echoing through the grand old lady’s corridors.

Colombians in disbelief and reduced to tears as James produced the goal of the tournament.

 
 

Costa Rica, Greece, Algeria. All underdogs having their day. Delighting as much as England, Spain and Italy disappointed.

Characters both good and bad. Herrera, Suarez, James, Cahill, Messi, Robben. Heroes and villains. Standing shoulder to shoulder. For our entertainment.

And moments. Oh the moments. Robin, Tim, James, Muller, David Luiz. Oh David Luiz….

But most of all it felt like the month that football finally gave back. From the Euro stuffed coffers of the Champions League to the Oil rich barons of England, and the sponsor driven superstars of La Liga, football’s soul had been misplaced. Maybe, just maybe, we found a little of it again.

 
 

Away from FIFA’s sponsor driven pleasure domes, the protests and corruption, it was the bit of green from whistle to whistle that provided sanctuary. Twenty Two men, playing for the shirt, a shirt bereft of the name of a Korean electronics company or a Chinese betting agency, giving their all for thousands in the steepling stands donning the colours all around them, and millions at home, sharing the nations blood.

So while the confetti slowly falls, and the memories begin the recede into the files of our football mind. Before other more frivolous pursuits attract the eye and bother the mind, take a moment to consider what played out in front of us. For we may not see it’s like again.

The World Cup. A Love Affair.

It all started with a single word.

“Linekkkkkeeeeeerrrr”

I may have seen some of the awful Portugal game or the dire Morocco draw, but it was Poland in Monterrey. A hat-trick from Gary. The cheers of Jimmy Greaves in the background. The cast on Lineker’s wrist. These were the gateway moments to the World Cup for an 8 year old from a suburban town in Southern England.

It would quickly move through a Paraguay romp, to a “High Noon” encounter with Argentina. The hand. The goal. The substitution. The comeback. The miss. The exit.

As swiftly as I was in. We were out. I watched the final, but lost interest and started playing in my Grans backyard, pretending to be Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, because he had a funny name. Kids eh.

If Mexico 86 was 1st base, then Italia 90 was a grandstand homer. From the opening match, on a school afternoon, through Schillaci, Lethal Lothar, Nessun Dorma, Roger Milla, Saint and Greavsie, and of course the rollercoaster of England. From dire, to daring. Lucky to lethal. The emergence of my hero in the number 19. Gazza. Tottenham’s Gazza.

Italia 90, for my generation was a right of passage. Looking back, a lot of it was turgid. But it will forever be a wonderful, sepia tinged celebration of football. Platty’s volley. The Cameroon comeback. The tears. Waddle hitting the post in Extra Time. Not being able to watch the pens. It was everything.

USA 94 didn’t carry the emotional baggage. I marvelled at the Romanians, and Batigol, and the bald guy who knocked Germany out (I know it was Lechkov). But it wasn’t quite the same. I was 16 and it was all about England. That would change. But not quite yet.

France 98. And a new era. The pub era. Engalnd games became blurry all day pub events. Singing Baddiel and Skinner, carrying people on my shoulders after the Colombia game. Lifting up a flower vase from the pubs shelf and pretending it was the World Cup. You get the picture.

From the shock of Becks red, the ecstacy of Michael Owen, disbelief that Sol had his goal disallowed to the inevitable gut wrenching exit. Quintissential England.

But once we were gone, you could marvel at the what was actually happening. The Bergkamp goal. Croatia emerging as a beautiful butterfly, and of course. Zizou. A master. More on him later. I didn’t realise at the time, but it would be my last World Cup, as a fan. And also my last at home.

By the time May 2002 came around I was in Seoul. In the press box for Papa Bouba Diop’s goal to sink the Champion. A first World Cup game. Decent start. I followed the French, whistling “Au revoir les bleus” after Denmark sent them home. The mixed zone post match was a riot. Thierry Henry ignoring everyone. French players bickering. Thoms Gravesen, an hour late to leave the dressing room, drunk off his arse. Memorable moments.

But it was just a beginning. Korea was everything. My first major overseas trip to a country I knew precious little about and a country where a 6 foot 5 blonde guy, kinda stands out.

I filmed the crowds in the rain in the centre of Seoul during the USA game. half a million people were told to turn and wave at us shivering TV folk on the roof. They duly obliged. Goosebumps.

But it was Daejeon where I finally discovered what the World Cup can do. Golden goal for Korea over Italy. And the noise. Never before. Never since. Unbelievable. Everyone left that stadium floating on air. Unless you were Italian.

I had my Be the Reds t-shirt and bandana, and drank Hite and sang “Arirang” in the streets after. Never before had I seen football provide so much joy to so many. It was, and still is, a treasured time. Moments you’ll never forget.

Korea 2002 took me to 6 cities, 13 games, lots of Irish fans, a gazillion Koreans and a multitude of memories. I also met my future other half there, so Busan will always have a place on my heart. But on to Germany….

Another World Cup of work, but a massive contrast. I watched every game, but from a TV studio. Charged with bringing the host coverage to the world, it was a strangly santised World Cup. And industrial estate in Munich doesn’t scream party, but it had it’s moments. England, of course, disappointed and exited in controversial and heartbreaking circumstances.

But like 2002 the hosts story captivated, and our German media volunteers were fantastic to watch, as they rode the wave of the “Neue National Mannschaft”.

A personal highlight? Watching the exact camera at the exact time Zidane planted head onto the Matrix. Time stood still for a second before I let forth my a Shakespearean uttering of “Bugger me he’ ‘eadbutted ‘im”. A poet. I know.

The most recent stop of the journey was South Africa. A World Cup of great enjoyment, personally, if you take away the 90 minutes of my life spent watching England v Algeria in Cape Town. Again, a common theme is the people. The joy South Africans took in their teams performance made the event. It was fleeting, but wonderful.

Filming for the 2nd group match versus France, myself and a colleague went to a fan fest in the Mother City, and were introduced on stage as a film crew from Australia. The crowd of a few thousand cheered us to the rafters, and again provided one of those “World Cup” moments.

There were more of those. David Villa’s celebration agaist Portugal about 15m away from me. Joining the Dutch hardcore ion their post match celebs after reachign the final, nearly an hour after the game, and being in Soccer City as Mandela, unexpectedly, did a pre game lap of the pitch. Again….goosebumps.

So now to Brazi;. A 4th World Cup on site. An 8th as a devotee. Whatever happens, however it’s viewed, for me the Coupe de Monde, Copa Mundiale, the World Cup will always, always be in my heart.

Levy Reaps the Rewards as Tottenham Rule the Roost

It’s 2001.  Tottenham are facing Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final.  New wealthy owners ENIC have installed club legend Glenn Hoddle as a new coach, replacing George Graham.  A populist, if somewhat, odd move.

The teams walk out at Old Trafford.  The atmosphere is raucous.  Expectation amongst the white half of North London, sky high.  Spurs take the lead.  Captain Campbell limps off.  Arsenal score twice and head to Cardiff.

The season rumbled on, Spurs finished mid table, Campbell never played for the club again, instead walking out the door and straight down the Seven Sisters Road.  The euphoria had well and truly died down.  A quick look at the team sheets that April day speaks volumes.  For Arsenal, Adams, Keown, Pires, Henry, Ljungberg.  Spurs?  Perry, Clemence, Doherty, Iversen.

Tottenham were well and truly in their place.  The task facing ENIC and Chief Executive at the time Daniel Levy, huge.

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Fast forward to 2013.  Spurs are basking in a third place spot, having beaten their rivals 2-1.  The teamsheets tell a story.  For Spurs Bale, Lennon, Lloris, Vertonghen.  Arsenal? Mertesacker, Ramsey and Giroud.  Times are a changing.

Arsenal’s longevity in the top echelon of English football is remarkable.  Arsene Wenger has presided over an era of success unmatched outside of Manchester.  He’s done it all whilst being financially responsible too.

But there is finally a sense of change in the North London air.  As bold and proactive as the Tottenham board has been, the counterparts in N5 are eyeing the bottom line rather than the league table.  Tottenham have been knocking on the door for a few seasons.  Now they look set to break it down.

Much of the credit lies with Levy.  He has made decisions.  Bold decisions.  Not always decisions that worked out, but he has been strong enough to make them.

Known as a ferocious negotiator, Levy has seen six managers come and go since he shook hands with George Graham.  He’s made errors. Santini wasn’t a fabulous idea.  And admitted his mistakes.  But when he’s decided on a course of action, he is all in. Dispensing with the popular Martin Jol was brave.  Saying no to Harry Redknapp’s demands, even braver.  But he’s done it his way.

Coaches have been given cash to spend, and licence to do things their way.  He’s ignored the press, and often his own supporters who have been vocal in their doubts.  And he is reaping the rewards.

baleChampions League qualification is no certainty this year.  There are many battles to come.  But this club is on a firm footing on and off the pitch regardless of how the remaining ten games pan out.

Tottenham have gone from a team renowned for underachieving and looking back on a glorious past, to team that may just have their best days in front of them.

Britain’s new Golden Girl dominates in Minsk

It was appropriate. The last woman standing after 5 days of relentless competition was Becky James. The girl from “The Land of My Father” could not have looked happier as the strains of “God Save the Queen” echoed around the Minsk Arena. The Welsh woman, just 21 years old, put all the pain of Olympic rejection behind her, to scoop 4 medals in Belarus, 2 of them gold.

The James smile became the signature sight on the last few days of competition, as Great Britain’s mix of old and new opened up the throttle and left their rivals for dead. James burst onto the scene as a medal winning teenager at the Dehli Com Games, and after injury and non-selection curtailed her progress, she has now firmly established herself as the new British sprint star following on from Victoria Pendleton. The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen. The watching Meares would of raised an eyebrow.

If James and the Union Jack dominated the latter part of the week, Michael Hepburn and Advance Australia Fair, headlined the opening days. Heppy was in a league of his own in the Individual Pursuit, retaining the title won on home timber 11 months ago. And he led a new look Pursuit quartet to gold over a similarly new look British team. 18 year old Alex Morgan made his senior debut, and walked away with a team gold and an individual 4th. Watch this kid.

Hepburn will now head to road, seemingly banishing the track to the past. But the way he approached the week in Minsk and the way he has matured as a person over the past six months, don’t be surprised if the Queenslander is in the skinsuit at the Rio Velodrome. He has the talent and the team to allow him to juggle commitments. If the desire is there, and the team to match, Hepburn will be there.

It was an uneven week for the Aussie team. The endurance athletes shone with the sprint squad, minus Anna Meares and Shane Perkins, struggling to keep up. There were encouraging displays from Matthew Glaetzer who took 5th in the Sprint and Andrew Taylor, who claimed a Keirin 4th in his Worlds debut. Steph Morton too, showed that she is not out of place at the top table and will only get better.

But Kaarle McCulloch will leave Minsk with regrets after failing to stamp her authority on the event in the wake of Meares “Gap Year”. McCulloch is super quick against the clock, but looked to struggle when she was joined on the track by others. Bunch races do not suit her, and a spell in the Japanese Keirin series may have come at the ideal time. Go away. Regroup. Change of environment. Start again. With Morton and Taylah Jennings in the wings and Meares set to return, theres no time to waste.

The two other stars of the show were Glenn O’Shea and Annette Edmondson. Both claimed bronze medals in the Omnium, both got team pursuit medals, and Nettie also grabbed an IP bronze. The workload undoubtedly took it’s toll, especially on O’Shea who relinquished his World title in the very last event. Edmondson can point to a crash in the elimination race that may have cost her a silver. However, the American Sarah Hammer was a class apart in that competition.

Edmondson and O’Shea are both at the top of their sport and look set to be there right to Rio. Nothing we saw here changed that.

Outside of the Aussies it was a meet that was unpredictable, and full of talking points. Francois Pervis was the sprinter is best form but only ended up with one title. The medals were spread far and wide as the post-Olympic blues seemed to hit. Jason Kenny, the most high profile male on show, rode like a drain. He bombed out in the Team Sprint, missed the medals in the individual, yet somehow claimed the Keirin crown, having squeezed into the final following Pervis disqualification. It was that sort of meet.

But the ride, or rides, of the week came from the Emerald Isle. Martyn Irvine buried himself to make the Pursuit final. The Irishman may have been the bunny to Hepburn’s greyhound but it was silver medal and a huge achievement. And then less than an Hour later, Irvine lined up for the Scratch race, went for it 10 laps from home and only bloody won the thing! Irelands first title since the 1890’s. It was a ride to revel in. A ride that was bad on the heart, but great for the soul.

Track cycling has it detractors, but the show put on by the likes of James and Irvine showed that it is alive and kicking.

The New Guard on Track for Rio

It’s a chilly, rainy Friday night in the south-west of Sydney. A few hundred spectators have turned up at a venue that housed legends 13 years ago, but now hosts few that could be called household names. It’s a far cry from Rio.

But it’s here at the Dunc Gray Velodrome, that a new wave of Australian track cyclists have taken the first step of a journey. A long and unpredictable journey. A journey that they hope ends in Olympic Gold. And also in redemption. Redemption for a sport that led the way for so many years, before being blown away by the British juggernaut.

The familiar names of the recent Aussie track programme are no around. Perkins, Meares, Bobridge, Dennis, Tomic, Meyer, Howard. The Road. Retirement. Rest. Now it’s the new breed. Morton, Bullen, Davison, O’Shea, Edmondson.

While there’s not quite a root and branch restructuring of the track programme going on, the plates are shifting. Michael Hepburn arrived for one last hurrah in the rainbows. In just his 5th track ride since London, he recorded the 5th fastest time in history in the 4000m Pursuit. Heppy was a key member of the Pursuit team that led the world for much of the last four years before falling in a heap in Olympic year. He may well go to Minsk for this months World’s but it will be a victory lap. The future of the pursuit squad lies in the South.

South Australia to be precise. SASI Super coach Tim Decker is taking control of the pursuit programme, and things will change. The focus on numbers, data, outputs will give way to a focus on the athlete as a person. South Australia have had a stunning Championship, with their mens quartet breaking four minutes. Decker arrives at the national team in a position of strength.

The sprint squad is set for an overhaul too, with the emergence of the NSW programme as a force. The team sprint victory over a strong SA unit raised an eyebrow. And on Friday night Mitch Bullen swept the highly fancied Matthew Glaetzer with a ride of audacity and brute strength. Bullen imposed himself on the race and found a gap through sheer presence. Dare I say it was Hoy-esque.

The women’s team is set for less dramatic changes, but the absence of Anna will allow the existing talent to shine. The spotlight will be turned elsewhere. And the first place will be Annette Edmondson.

Nettie is the next bona fide star of Australian cycling. Articulate, photogenic, and outrageously talented. World and Olympic medals in 2012. Two national titles so far in 2013, and surely favouritism for the Ominum in Minsk. And anything else she fancies. Nettie is the leader of a band of endurance riders that are the envy of the world. Add Melissa Hoskins, Amy Cure, Ash Ankudinoff. The Women’s pursuit squad will be the strongest group for years.

In the sprints, the gap year for Meares was the chance for Kaarle McCulloch to shine. But suddenly the gap left by Anna is being filled by two emerging sprinters with vastly different backgrounds. Steph Morton won Paralympic gold as a pilot last year. This week she claimed team and individual sprint gold, beating McCulloch in the process. Morton has arrived at the nationals leaner and meaner. On the bike she resembles Meares in style. A powerful diesel that hits the front and never looks like losing it.

The other challenger is Queensland teenager Taylah Jennings. Jennings dominated last years World Juniors in Invercargill, sweeping all six events in the Ominum, before switching to the sprints for her first senior year. She cuts a diminutive figure on the bike, with her build still more akin to a pursuiter, but she is dynamite. Bronze in the individual sprint was her initial reward from the nationals, but this is just the start. Her future is bright.

All of the riders I’ve spoken about are looking, not just at Minsk in 3 weeks, or Glasgow in 18 months, but toward Brazil. The boards of Rio and the Australian resurgence.

8 things we learnt after the Tour Down Under

1. Dutch Cycling may have another star on its hands

Tom Slagter won the Ochre Jersey, surprised many, and catapulted himself into cycling’s big league. After finishing the Willunga Stage a close second to Simon Gerrans, the Dutchman declared that the parcours of the whole race “was made for me. It’s perfect.” Slagter now joins teammates Bauke Mollema, Robert Gesink, Steven Kruiswijk and Wlico Keldermann as standard bearers for a newer,cleaner era of Dutch Cycling. Likened by some to Joaquin Rodriguez, the diminutive Slagter has the kind of explosive climb that will bring him much one day success.

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2. Blanco hit the ground running

Results in Adelaide have given Blanco more points in one week than they ammassed in 5 months as Rabobank in 2012. The entire team were superb, with aggressive, positive racing, strong results and a good team spirit. The Aussies on board, led by a rejuvenated Graeme Brown, did their bit too. David Tanner led out Slagter in Stirling, Mark Renshaw almost snatched victory from Andre Greipel on the final stage, and Jack Bobridge was active in the KOM competition. A great start for a team with money in the bank, for now, but no name on the shirtfront.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Greenedge are more comfortable in their own skin

Pressure? What pressure? The Orica-GreenEDGE team arrived with fanfare, and public expectation, but left with a stage win, some promising signs and a sense of calm amongst the team. Simon Gerrans delivered on Willunga but it wasnt a tour solely about results as it was 12 months ago. This year was about building. Building Matt Wilson as a DS. Building the Mouris/Impey/Goss train. Building Luke Durbridge into a real threat in week stage races. And I think they’ll be pretty pleased with the outcome. The confidence gained from Gerro’s win eased the angst felt after Stage 2 where Simon Clarke admitted that the team had “screwed up”, and now with a good start both here and in San Luis the team

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will head toward the European season in high spirits.

 

 

 

 

4. Lotto’s sprint may be unbeatable

The way Lotto handle the sprints is a thing of beauty. The power. The precision. The trust. The intelligence. They are making the High Road train look shabby. If Lotto deliver Greipel as they plan at 200m he is unbeatable. Andre is in the prime of his career and is blessed with a group of teammates with believe in him totally. And vice versa. Greg Henderson is in “world’s best lead out territory” and the battles throughout 2013 between Greipel and Cavendish will be epic.

5. Adam Hansen is Australia’s most underrated rider

Maybe not in the cycling fraternity, but in the wider sporting world. 3 Grand Tours completed in 2012. Pivotal member of the aforementioned Sprint Train, decent climber, hard man, good bloke, leader not a follower. Hansen is a class act.

6. Andy Schleck has a lot of work to do

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Pre-race Andy said that it was about just being on the bike and racing again. He also admitted that he was nervous. 7 days later, he’d lost 16 minutes on the Stirling stage, got dropped in the first 500m of Willunga’s first circuit, and abandoned the street circuit at halfway, before riding home and not making the teams presentation. Not the greatest return for the

2010 Tour champ. Jens Voigt said that “Andy needed a kick up the arse midway through the week, and after today (Sunday) he needs another one. Schleck is targetting being at full tilt in April for the Ardennes. On this showing that is highly unlikely. All’s not lost for Radioshack though. Their old guard may be failing, but in Hermans, Bennett and Machado, they have a talented group.

 

7. The Tour Down Under should stay in Adelaide

There have been more noises of the race going elsewhere but let’s be honest. Could it work elsewhere? The riders love it. Great weather, same hotel, short transfer, good racing. The race works in South Australia. Why change? That’s not to say we can’t have another UCI race around this time, and the great challenge is for the organisers to work with the new UCI Oceania President Tracey Gaudrey, and the men behind the Sun Tour in Victoria, to allow that race to complement the TDU.

8. We place way too much importance on the Tour Down Under

And I’ve done it myself! But it is the first race of the year. Every rider’s modus operandi is different. Every rider’s condition is different. We read so much into a performance or a result, but in the context of a 10 month season, what happens in Lobethal in January is forgotten by the time we get to Lyon in July. Let’s enjoy the Tour Down Under for what it is.

Gerrans Willunga Win a Classic Move

Rewind the clock twelve months.  Simon Gerrans was being cheered to the rafters as Tour Down Under Champion, just 2 weeks after taking away National glory.  GreenEDGE were under pressure to begin their debut season with a bang. With victories. With Glory. Gerro delivered.

 

He was on rare form.  The best rider in the world over the first three months of 2012.  Three months that culminated in those rarest of beasts.  An Australian on the top step at a classic.  And not just a classic. La Primervera.  Milan – SanRemo.  A Monument of the sport.

 

Gerro’s win surprised many, probably even himself.  But when the legs are that good…..

 

His target last year, as every year, was glory in the Ardennes in April.  And on the roads of France in July.  But the trouble with form is that it can be a fickle beast.  Gerrans was unable to hold it through to his pet events Amstel Gold and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.  He wasn’t bad by any means.  But he wasn’t in the mix.

 

Come July in France it was a similar tail.  Decent legs, breakaway attempts, punchy finishes, no no results.

 

The Bell Curve saw a resurgence in August in the one dayers, but overall it was strange paradox of a season.  Moments to be cherished.  Moments of regret.  

 

Now fast forward.  Willunga 2013.  The battleground that saw Valverde pip the national champ twelve months previous, was treated to another afternoon of drama.  But this time Gerrans, with no Ochre aspirations triumphed in front of an exultant home crowd.

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The pressures on the team leader this year are vastly different.  GreenEDGE had to win everything in January last year.  No excuses.  Start with a bang.  Gerro, you’re the man.  It’s a different environment this time around.  

 

The pressure is less.  Simon’s failure to conquer the Corkscrew on Stage 2, shut the door on defending the title.  But at the same time,  allowed him the freedom to do what he does best.  Assess the legs.  Assess the race.  Assess the parcours.  Assess the riders. And win the race.  He does it better than most.

 

Gerro’s form is good, perhaps not quite at last years level, but still very good, and with some careful management it can continue to grow and peak in mid-April, the roads of the Ardennes, the roads he cherishes the most.  The lessons of last year will be learnt.

 

There’s something magical about the races in the sport’s heartland.  The cobbled climbs.  The unpredictable weather.  The crowds, shouting themselves hoarse.  Their breath reeking of Leffe or Duval as the riders past by, inches away.  It’s a battleground for riders.  Riders like Gerrans.

 

The challenge ahead though, is daunting.  Philippe Gilbert has shown enough in Adelaide to suggest that his legs are good.  Cancellara and Boonan will be ready to battle.  Andy Schleck is targeting La Doyenne, with Nibali and Evans also sniffing around.  

 

Gerrans will be assisted by a team a year older and a year wiser.  Lieutenants like O’Grady, Langeveldt, Albasini and Mouris.  Strong men.  Hard men.  Men of the classics.

 

Gerrans is already assured of his place in Australian cycling history.  Wins in all three Grand Tours.  Natioanl Champipon.  Stage race winner.  Classic winner.

 

Claim victory in April, and not only will he be in the Australian Hall of Fame.  He will move into rarified air.  A two time Classics winner.  It’s what a rider of his ability deserves.