Despite their being much disruption still across Europe and beyond, we have had a cycling season to enjoy and 2021 has delivered.
There have been a number of highlights in the classics and one week stage races to date and before we get into the Giro D’Italia let’s cover our top 3…
3. Mark Cavendish in the Tour of Turkey
“Cav” has come a long way from his tearful farewell to 2020.
After release from Bahrain/McLaren he was late in finding a team, but when he did it was a key move in returning to the Quickstep set up where (Harrogate aside) he had enjoyed constant success.
It took a while to click. There were a couple of Belgian semi-classic near misses and a fall when he was in the mix at Nokere Koerse.
He arrived in Turkey though and finally got the win. And then he won again. And then he kept winning.
The field of sprinters wasn’t deep the whingers cried.
But Jasper Philipsen is a top tier rider who had beaten Cav earlier in the campaign, and Andrei Griepel was still motivated to succeed.
Where the great mans season goes from here who knows.
But as he has said in interviews since getting back from Turkey, he has proved what he wanted to prove and now anything else he gets is a bonus.
2. Paris Nice Last Day
Fendrien covered this a lot at the time. Cycling is full of unwritten rules and rituals. One of which Primoz Roglic broke on the penultimate day of the race when refusing to gift a stage to Gino Mader who had been out in the days breakaway.
There was no need for Roglic to sprint and overtake Mader in the final metres of the stage as he had dropped his rivals and had no need for the win and time bonuses. He had the yellow jersey and the race was all but over.
The final day of the race seemed destined for formality before Roglic managed to crash twice, the second time the peloton decided to take its own retribution for how he’d treated the youngster on the previous day and rode on without waiting.
Two days of racing and two broken rules with race leaders gifting stages and the peloton waiting for race leaders after crashes up in smoke as the riders headed south through France.
Despite a spirited pursuit and a real desire not to give in, Roglic lost the race to Max Schachmann.
He learned his lesson though and later in the spring hauled in Tadej Pogacar and Brandy McNulty on the last day of the Tour of the Basque Country. However as a thanks to David Gaudu for helping his daring escape succeed and win him the race overall, Roglic didn’t sprint for the stage and the Frenchman won.
- Mathieu Van de Poel in Italy
You will be groaning to see that I have managed to shoehorn a couple of moments of MvdP magic into one bullet point.
You could also throw in his below par Milan San Remo performance as evidence you shouldn’t generalise.
But… two performances from the man of the season so far cannot be split by this correspondent.
First off was his 1600+ watt attack in Strade Bianche. It was a moment that regular cycling watchers will continue to rewind and replay for decades to come.
The fact he managed two of these accelerations, the second of which on the streest of Siena was enough to win the race should never be forgotten.
He proved that quick sharp attacks weren’t the only thing in his locker by attacking to keep warm on a icy wet day in Tirreno-Adriatico.
Castelfidardo is a town that will be forever immortalised in cycling history after he rode the race off his wheel and despite misjudging the efforts impact on his legs hung on for the win.
So now we moved on to a new phase of the season and the first three week stage race of the season in the Giro. It will be scenic and packed with great stories and stages. But it will need to be good to beat the opening part of 2021, that is for sure!