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Tuesday, April 16

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Cycling Thu Jun 05 2008

In Pink

Now just a couple days after the finish of the Giro d'Italia, it's clear that general classification winner Albert Contador, who reportedly was on the beach sunning himself prior to entry as opposed to training, was the biggest surprise. His team, Astana, a sort of amalgamation of the disbanded Discovery and the controversial Astana of '07, is banned from this year's Tour de France for the sins of last year.

But besides all that (which has been fodder for all manner of armchair cyclists on the Internet), there was another success story: Christian Vande Velde, of the Slipstream/Chipotle H30 team, and originally of Lemont, Illinois, was the first American to wear the pink Maglia Rosa since Andy Hampsten won with it in the 1988 iteration of the Giro.

While Vande Velde only wore the jersey for a short time, the achievement is impressive, seeing as how he's a son of Chicago. His team, now famous for the breadth of talent on its roster, and its strict anti-doping policy, is one of the rising stars of cycling, having secured entry into this year's Tour de France. And their glories this year have not just been in the Giro, but Vande Velde's 3rd place in the Tour of California, and teammate David Millar's 2nd, have shown that this scrappy team still in search of a title sponsor will likely earn some accolades through the rest of the year and hopefully in years to come.

With the Beijing Olympics coming up, along with the Tour and Vuelta a Espana (the Spanish grand tour), keep an eye out for these riders and coverage and discussion here. Because if it's anything that professional cycling needs more, is a team that features a hard line against doping and athletes who actually place well while completely clean.

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