It’s going to be a massive year for bicycles, and not just in Europe. The Mitten is on its way to becoming a premiere cycling destination world wide, and you can count on some huge surprises throughout the year. kolo t.c. has spent the past few days absolutely lost in thought about the year to come. The Tour, the Giro, the return of Cancellara to the Classics, Peter Sagan’s thighs, and Mark Cavendish’s new digs all come to mind. But what of the intrepid Jorden Wakeley (Einstein Racing), or the calm-under-fire Mike Anderson (BISSELL), or the unconquerable Mackenzie Woodring (Einstein Racing)? Big goals, and even bigger expectations.
Sink your teeth into these five certainties, and feel free to reference back to this article throughout the year. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
1. Bradley Wiggins WILL do the Giro-Tour double. Go back and read that again. He will. He’s making the right adjustments to his schedule, including choosing not to defend his Paris-Nice victory, in order to be in perfect shape for the Giro. After his dominant spring in 2012, the early campaign shouldn’t be too worrisome. Wiggo finds a Giro almost perfectly constructed to his liking, with fewer mountain top finishes and more time trial kilometers over the three week event. Even more promising his is stellar spring fitness, and the lack of dedicated challengers. Aside from Vicenzo Nibali, far Wiggins’ inferior in the TT, there aren’t an absolute ton of favorites with the race circled. No Contador, no Schlecks, no Gesink and with Joquim Rodriguez a long shot, he might be most happy if he can duck racing his teammate Chris Froome in May as well as July. He’ll be the first man to do the double since Marco Pantani in 1992. Count on it.
2. A Michigan Rider WILL win the Iceman Cometh. After such a great fall, this doesn’t seem nearly as bold as it should. Mike Anderson was just off the podium and Wakeley wasn’t far behind, plus Michigan has a number of other riders like Alex Vanias, Chris Fisher, John Cowan and Derek Graham that are capable of taking the win. And if Brian Matter were to slip away and win it again, we might have to reclaim him back from Wisconsin. The January money is on Anderson, but Wakeley will have an entire season devoted to XC this year heading into November. Don’t count anyone out.
3. The Spring Classics WILL feature ZERO repeat winners. 2012 was Tom Boonen’s year. The resurgent Belgian simply could do no wrong, and his efforts were paid off with a huge haul in April and March. His Flanders and Roubaix wins brought a sense of redemption from 2010, when he failed in both races to rein in a surging Fabian Cancellara. This year, Peter Sagan will target and win Milan-San Remo, while Boonen will bow to Cancellara at Flanders but win on the velodrome for Roubaix. The E3, Gent Wevelgem and other smaller races will go to sprinters and escape artists, because the big guns won’t reveal their hands with stunning attacks.
4. An American woman WILL be World Champion. Katie Compton will be the World Champion of cyclocross. Her dominance in Europe this season has only been tripped up in poor conditions, and the odds are favorable in Kentucky to stay dry and fast. Marianne Vos has had such amazing luck, punctuated with a death punch to the throat by being unbelievably strong, that she just seems due a poorly timed puncture or just a bad day. Saane van Paasen, Saane Cant and others will be tough, but Compton has proven herself perhaps the most consistent rider in the world. And, Georgia Gould will probably be there. Who knows?
5. Johanna Schmidt WILL win Mud, Sweat and Beers. It’s just what she does. The Queen Mum couldn’t draw up a better course for herself if she had a pencil and a piece of paper in front of her. Her dominance there is no surprise. Those are home trails and familiar twists and turns. If singletrack and technical sections are her weak point, then there’s nothing like racing on your training route. Her win over Susan Vigland set the tone for a great 2012 season last year, and with a stacked May and June this year, it will be even more important to start off the thickest stretch of racing off on the right foot.