The season is well under way now, with the Tour Down Under already ticked off the list, and with races such as the Etoile de Besseges, the Tour of Qatar, Tour of the Med and Tour de Langkawi on the horizon.
It ended Down Under with a win for Switzerland's Martin Elmiger, keeping it in the Ag2r family after Simon Gerrans's win last year, just pinching it from under the nose of Australian Karl Menzies thanks to the seconds available on the finish line yesterday and in the intermediate sprints today. It's a cruel way to lose, but that's bike racing, and it made for a very exciting first bonus sprint on what would often be a relatively dull final-stage criterium.
Poor Samuel Dumoulin, after some intelligent riding on stages two and three to take the mountains jersey, had his intelligence let him down in today's stage, misjudging the lap on which he should have taken the points to make sure of the jersey, but he can console himself with teammate Elmiger's win.
So that's it from Australia, and a race that this time next year could even be the opening round of the ProTour, if the organisation gets its way. Let's hope the UCI don't judge it on the weather, though, which should normally be superb, but was pretty abysmal over the last three days of the race.
It's been superbly organised and I'll miss the relaxed attitude of the riders as their teams now knuckle down to a serious European season, the other relaxed early-season races of Langkawi, Qatar and the Tour of California â another candidate for ProTour status â excepted.
What I won't miss, however, is 'Wheels in Motion' or 'Feel the Rush' or whatever the Tour Down Under's official song is called, which is played incessantly every day. Apparently it's been the same song since the race started nine years ago, so it's a wonder any of the organisation is still even halfway sane.