Today's finish in Paris-Nice was for the old dogs, the grunters, the weekend warriors who dream of hitting a finish line first.
It started a couple K from the final summit when a octet of known names hit the gas for the final time and summited the Cat 1 Andreas Kloden.; a nasty little gift, with pitches of 12%, the organizers threw in a dozen kilometers from the finish after six previous categorized climbs. Ripping down a wickedly fast descent the group opened an 18 second gap and all looked set for Olympic champion Sammy Sanchez to take the stage. Radioshack had the young legs of Janez Brajkovic and the wisdom of old guy
Then a beautiful thing happened. Brajkovic launched with Kloden on his wheel. Watching Kloden gritting and wincing the final few meters was like watch a sprint in slow motion. With a lunge his front wheel clipped the line a spokes turn ahead of equally suffering Sanchez.
For those of you who have never or only passingly noticed this race for the sun forget any idea that this is just a bridesmaid event until the Giro and Tour come around. One look at today's Paris-Nice stage profile and anyone who has donned a pair of Sidis can feel the pain.
As for Andreas, chances are today was like watching a rare sunset, you savor the moment, burn it into your memory, and cherish into the future - after 13 years in the Pros you know how to savor, you know what it's worth. Congrats Kloden, you richly deserve it!