August 9, 2016

Nice Guys Finish First: Sammy Sanchez

Two days before Liège-Bastogne-Liège, I took to the course to enjoy the day’s cycling challenge, ready to absorb the atmosphere and dynamics of the professional teams amidst the perfect summer-like weather.  One of the most beautiful sections of the course is the descent from the village of Francorchamps to the sharp right turn that begins the four kilometer climb of the Côte du Rosier.  Every image of what defines the Belgian Ardennes can be seen in this stretch.  And while there are plenty of physical descriptions that define cycling, there is a pureness in its sound; the humming of the wheels, the whirring of the well lubricated chains wrapping around sparkling cassettes.  The orchestra of bikes within a team formation seems to perform this in a melodic hum, hypnotic if not for the low level chatter and occasional laughter that spikes the air.  This, to me, is reason enough to expand the effort to maintain contact with such a moving piece of music.  After enjoying this with the Saxo Bank-Sungaard team, I was awakened from my trance a kilometer into the climb with an elbow that put me off the road courtesy of some aggressive riding from a few locals.  I would have found this more amusing than annoying if I wasn’t so tired and hadn’t extended myself to be in this obviously enviable position.  As I regained my momentum, I looked behind to see the unmistakable shimmering of orange that defines Basque cycling, the Euskaltel-Euskadi squad.  I stepped up my pace in anticipation of their arrival, and prepared myself to sift to the back of their bunch.  To my surprise, as the first two riders approached, they rode along side, greeted me, and we continued, three abreast.  Glancing at their bikes, I was struck by the blandness of the matte black frames, considering the color schemes that could be used to match their glowing kit.  I did, however, notice one rider with a sparkling white bike with gold accents, gold cable housing and gold bar wrap.  For a moment it struck me as odd that a rider would be singled out like this, and before I could even finish my thought I realized it was Olympic champion Sammy Sánchez.  Read Article Here



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