Without even touching on the Giro D’Italia starting this weekend saw the best racing of 2020 by far.
After a stop start race with a missed day and re-route thanks to the new Netherlands Covid protocol, Mads Pedersen looked to be in a good place to win the Binck-Bank Tour.
However with 2 full and 1 partial ascent of the fearsome Muur to go (see my attempt below!) Mathieu Van der Poel took flight.
The Dutch champion was a bit more rapid over the 17% cobbles than I was and soloed away.
A select group of chasers formed behind but still VdP pressed on getting all of the maximum bonus seconds in the golden kilometer, an innovation that this race has stuck with over the years.
Soren Kragh Andersen got himself in prime position to win the race overall but only if Van der Poel was caught.
As the race headed in Geraardsbergen for the final time and a finish just above the market square it was clear that wasn’t going to happen and the boy wonder hung on for the final metres and took the overall race win along with the stage.
It was a really exciting finish and shows that wind, rain and cobbles makes for the best racing. Full Stop.
After Marc Hirschi winning Fleche Walloone in the week the man of the summer (c) was part of the key break in Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
So much happened though that I had to make notes and here they are showing my disbelief as the race unfolded.
- Not too far after halfway a crash takes out Greg Van Avermaet, he looks badly injured. Maybe no Flanders? The likes of Sep Vanmarkce and GvA won’t ever win it.
- La Redoute is the big climb of the race but its fairly neutral with Quick Step setting the pace.
- Julian Alaphillippe crashes.
- Alaphillippe attacks on the Roche aux Faucons climb. Only Michal Kwiatkowski, Hircshi, Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogacar can go with him.
- Van der Poel is leading the chase behind… he couldn’t get across could he?
- Kwiatkowski is dropped.
- Into the last KM and they are playing a few games with each other. Matej Mohoric is flying across from the group behind.
- Mohoric goes past and opens up the sprint. Alaphillippe and Hirschi collide and the Swiss pulls his foot out ending his chances.
- Alaphillippe throws his hands in the air but Roglic goes past him to win!!!
- Van der Poel wins the bunch sprint for 5th.
First up, I am sure some of you will be surprised that there are notes written ahead of blog posts!
Secondly, it was a terrible mistake by Alaphillippe in sight of the line but with him relegated for his wonky sprint into Hirschi it didn’t affect the outcome of the race as Roglic would have won anyway.
Thirdly, after the manner of his defeat in the Tour de France, no-one could begrudge Primoz his win in this race and I have to admit that despite having nothing against Alaphillippe I did punch the air and cheer when it was clear the Slovenian had got the win.
Right Flemish semi classics this coming week… beat that!