La Vuelta ’22 – Roglic throws it away

One thing I would have been confident in writing last week was that a duel between stage-hunter Fred Wright and Primoz Roglic would not end up deciding the Vuelta’s general classification.

But we saw a bizarre stage 16 end the suspense as to whether or not Remco Evenepoel would win the Tour of Spain 2022.

We left the race in our last review at the final rest day with Remco starting to ship time every time the race went up hill.

Enric Mas but more importantly Roglic were taking time back. 10 seconds here, 25 seconds there and as we headed into the tough final week it looked a matter of time before the Jumbo/Visma man would take back the leaders red jersey.

However. Stage 16 bit back and caused drama in the way that only a Roglic capitulation could see.

The short uphill to the finish wasn’t too much of a gradient. This was shown by Mads Pedersen going on to win the stage.

But Roglic shot out of the pack like a rocket at the exact moment the red jersey was dropping back with a puncture.

It was inside 3km from the finish meaning the race jury would allocate the same time as the main peloton to Remco. But that would still mean a time loss as Rog powered up the finishing straight.

No-one truly knows if Rog had an inkling of the leaders woes when he attacked. But it soon became academic as he crashed into Wright in the final metres. Roglic bolted from one side of the road to the other and the two clashed handle bars before the Slovenian hit the deck.

His Vuelta was over and he has since pointed the finger of blame at Wright. Unfairly for me.

This left Mas the main challenger but over the next mountain stage, won heroically by Rigoberto Uran, he couldn’t get away.

The final true mountain stage ended up being won by Remco who put 2 more seconds into Mas and that was that.

Pedersen, Richard Carapaz and Juan Sebastian Molano won the remaining stages but it was the Belgian who ended his homelands long drought in three week grand tours.

Despite the anticlimactic last few stages it was a really decent race this and sets up next summer’s big races perfectly.

RnkPrev▼▲RiderTeamUCIPntTime
11 EVENEPOEL RemcoQuick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team85040016″80:26:59
22 MAS EnricMovistar Team68029023″2:02
33 AYUSO JuanUAE Team Emirates5752404″4:57
44 LÓPEZ Miguel ÁngelAstana Qazaqstan Team46022010″5:56
55 ALMEIDA JoãoUAE Team Emirates3802007:24
66 ARENSMAN ThymenTeam DSM32019016″7:45
77 RODRÍGUEZ CarlosINEOS Grenadiers2601807:57
88 O’CONNOR BenAG2R Citroën Team22017010:30
99 URÁN RigobertoEF Education-EasyPost18016022″11:04
1010 HINDLEY JaiBORA – hansgrohe14015012:01
from procyclingstats.com

A dawning realisation..

Since 2015 I have been racing and riding on a Cannondale Super 6 EVO.

Not top of the range, granted. But 105 Shimano throughout and with a Mavic Cosmic wheelset update.

That bike and I have been through a lot.

We rode the 2015 Ronde Van Vlaanderen Cyclo having had to leave sick family members at home. They were horrid conditions and I cried the last 10km into the finish.

We have had other trips to Belgium, ridden the Tour of Cambridgeshire a few times and been up and down a number of Alps.

But its time to part.

It’s not the bike its me. The sort of riding a full carbon road bike needs is not what I do anymore.

Thats the dawning realisation I have come to as I head to my 50s.

What I need from a bike isn’t what I needed in 2015, and it’s not likely to be the sort of thing I will ever need from a bike again.

Soften angles and fatter tyres will be way forward for me. Comfort as much as speed.

I have spent too much time stressing about wanting to be faster at cycling in my 30 years in the sport. Now with less miles ahead of me until I pack it all in than behind me, I want to savour the experience of riding a bike.

My winter bike is prepped and ready to roll tomorrow…

Was Scheldeprijs the best cobbled classic of 2022?

Alexander Kristoff produced a great escape from an elite group of sprinters and escape specialists to win this rainy classic.

There was a lot of pressure on Quickstep ahead of this one so it was surprising that they managed to miss the big crosswind split (it went near that tunnel you drive through on the way to Amsterdam!).

There was a bit of a chase but with some considerable distance to race there were some commitment issues in the group behind meaning Fabio Jakobsen was stranded and the mini Quickstep classics drought was set to go on.

Sam Bennett of Bora now looked a nailed on for the win but started to drift off the back as the cold and wet started to set in. His team mates tried to rally him but as with last years Gent-Wevelgem, when Bennett was tired, he was dropped.

The onus moved on to Alpecin who had managed to get both of their days sprinters, Jasper Philipsen and Tim Merlier in the move but with an attacking run in (maybe due to the riders wanting to get in from the cold!) it was Kristoff who made his acceleration stick.

There was a pursuit of sorts but the breakaway starting to fold in on their self and the Norwegian was away.

It was a brilliantly executed moment and his celebratory ride down the finishing straight was the Kristoff of old. It was brilliant.

So with all the new guard winning left, right and centre, this was a moment for us oldies.

Chapeau Alexander!

RnkRiderTeamUCIPntTime
1 KRISTOFF AlexanderIntermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux2001254:06:02
2 VAN POPPEL DannyBORA – hansgrohe150850:24
3 WELSFORD SamTeam DSM12560,,
4 VAN UDEN CasperTeam DSM100500:26
5 THEUNS EdwardTrek – Segafredo8545,,
6 VANBILSEN KennethCofidis70400:28
7 MCLAY DanielTeam Arkéa Samsic6035,,
8 PHILIPSEN JasperAlpecin-Fenix5030,,
9 MERLIER TimAlpecin-Fenix4026,,
10 MULLEN RyanBORA – hansgrohe3522,,

Tour of Flanders 2022 – The world vs Pogacar

With almost a week now to digest the race and craft my post, the first thing I want to say about RVV2022 was that it was a culturual triumph.

After what feels a lot longer than 3 disrupted seasons it was really emotional ( even watching on tv) to see packed kerbsides full of fans watching “their race” go by in a celebration of Flemish culture.

Its something that never leaves you as an experience. Its 6 years since I saw the race in the flesh but on Flanders Sunday I always wear my (now tatty) yellow lion socks for training.

It becomes part of you.

The race was one for the fans to savour. In my view the absence of Wout Van Aert through Covid 19 opened up the race and whilst the early breakaway always felt within catching distance the counter attack that was clear before the 2nd time up the Oude Kwaremont had enough quality in it to make you think.

Ben Turner was the Brit in pole position for a while, before the Paterberg saw Fred Wright power off the front. From a domestic point of view, this attacking kept us engaged as Tom Pidcock didn’t seem to be back to his best.

Tadej Pogacar made one decisive attack which managed to merge a group he created with that front group but on the climbs in the run in it was clear that he and Mathieu Van der Poel were head and shoulders above the rest.

They finally shook off the remaining breakaway riders on the final climb of the Kwaremont. The 2-up they rode up until the final kilometre was one us club riders dream of being able to sit on the back of!

In the final KM though their co-operation broke down with both freewheeling and neither wanting to open up the sprint.

This opened the door for Dylan Van Baarle and Valentin Madouas to zoom up to them and start the sprint. Pogacar wasn’t happy and waved his arms in disgust. Van der Poel concentrated on his sprting and landed his second win in some style and in a race with some finish.

RnkRiderTeamUCIPntTime
1 VAN DER POEL MathieuAlpecin-Fenix5002756:18:30
2 VAN BAARLE DylanINEOS Grenadiers400200,,
3 MADOUAS ValentinGroupama – FDJ325150,,
4 POGAČAR TadejUAE Team Emirates275120,,
5 KÜNG StefanGroupama – FDJ2251000:02
6 TEUNS DylanBahrain – Victorious17590,,
7 WRIGHT FredBahrain – Victorious150800:11
8 PEDERSEN MadsTrek – Segafredo125700:48
9 LAPORTE ChristopheJumbo-Visma10060,,
10 KRISTOFF AlexanderIntermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux8550

Build up to the Northern Classics wins me over

Le Samyn – Matteo Trentin

Nokere Koerse – Tim Merlier

GP Denain – Max Walscheid

Koksijde Classic – Pascal Ackermann

We will cover Milan San Remo when the dust about seat post droppers subsides a little, but as we head into the Flemish classic season proper the above preparation races have been superb this spring.

Every year I watch Le Samyn and as they pass that village green before the worst set of cobbles (underwater again this year) I promise myself I will make it to that beautiful old looking bar for a Bornem or similar one year.

Dour is the name of the finishing town and the weather generally reflects that. But the race is always excellent. Trentin was a worthy winner.

The Nokereberg is a set piece finish with those heavy cobbles offset with lovely restaurant frontage and ornate street lighting.

This one didn’t quite hit the heights of previous years but Tim Merlier, a growing force in Flanders racing, got to throw his hands in the air.

Although its in France, Denain had a spectacular finish. The field was strong as a result of the cobbles used being used in the Tour de France this July.

We saw Primoz Roglic and the Ineos team really take the race on and they were only caught in the last 3km after an epic chase. The Cofidis revival, as alluded to on this website (!) continued with Walscheid winning the sprint.

Koksijde finished this batch of racing at the end of last week with a sprint finish after an attacking run in.

You truly know the spring races have arrived when watching the peloton heading to the coast past the sand dunes with a right turn taking them alongside the tram route.

It generates emotion that the weather will be on the turn soon (hopefully!) and that the season proper is here. I associate this with fewer layers when going training and daffodils in the garden. Its engrained in the calendar.

2022 is shaping up to be a superb season of racing. I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Fenland Clarion Velogames league

Not sure if there is much interest in fantasy cycling games but I just joined the Velogames classics one. Really easy to join but hard to pick a pick within budget.

I am hoping this line up will get me from Strade to Liege without having to make transfers.

I have started a FCCC league so feel free to join in..

https://www.velogames.com/ < to register

League code to join is 140233727

Too much racing, can’t compute!

Last week it was 1/2 term for school kids down here in the Midlands of England.

We took the opportunity as the country unlocked to get away for a few days.

However with Ruta del Sol, Algarve, Tour of the Alps Maritime and other races going on I am now finding myself glued to GCN before work, lunch breaks and even on the turbo in the evening.

I have so much race viewing to cram in ahead of opening weekend that I wonder if I will still be in Portugal or watching the end of the cyclo cross season instead of Het Nieuwsblad?

Time will tell. But being a cycling fan since the 1980’s this is a much better way of watching and keeping up with the sport compared to the old format of waiting a month to read about it in “Winning” magazine.

And that is no reflection on that particular publication.

procycling stats has new cyclo cross site

Fendrien loves procyclingstats. It’s a brilliant website covering both the Womens and Mens pro pelotons with all the races, results, live updates, rankings and the predictor and procycling-game.

It really is the best cycling thing on the internet.

So to see their CX website launch has given me a great deal of joy and a website to check daily in the road off season!

https://cx.procyclingstats.com/index.php

Here is the link to bookmark.

Namur delivers

The Namur cyclo cross race yesterday delivered as it always does.

Despite there not being a British winner in Tom Pidcock the race was still box office from tape to flag.

Micheal Van Thourenhout was the semi-surprise winner keeping it wheel side down in a race that saw Pidcock and long time race leader Toon Aerts go over.

The course had that perfect mix of cobbled climbs, steep wooded downhills and deep slippy mud.

If this race doesn’t whet the appetite for the busy Christmas cyclo cross period then nothing will.