A sad inevitability…

As the week has worn on, the whole world has been edging nearer and nearer a period of shutdown.

Despite taking place, Paris Nice has ended a day early to allow riders to get home before their respective nations shut down for a couple of weeks or so.

The race itself was pretty exciting with lots of wind, rain and one of my favourite words of the spring, Echelons.

Lovely.

But all through the week there was an impending sense of doom that became reality Thursday into Friday when a number of teams pulled out.

And that it would appear is that in terms of bike racing for the foreseeable future. No Giro, very little chance of the Flemish classics and a growing sense of feeling despite all of ASOs posturing, the Tour de France will be next.

I might be one of the last up the Muur for a while…

But as my post earlier in the week stated, public health must come first and this period where a lot of the things we take for granted are taken away, we will grow to appreciate them on their return.

Stay safe.

Tour of Flanders – Preview

A new route but the same finale is the Tour of Flanders news for 2017.

The organisers had to find a way to accommodate the Muur in Geraardsbergen after a lengthy absence. It looks too far out to influence the finish but as the Classics showed last year, the favourites will take a gamble from further out. Paris-Roubaix being the prime example. 

This weeks racing has seen a number of favourites coming to the fore and some outside bets emerge as contenders. 

In true Classic preview style here are some of the favourites based on the standard five star rating…

Peter Sagan ***** Reigning champion and has been in a rich vein of form this season. Has been there or thereabouts in all of the big races.

Greg Van Avermaet ***** Never won the Ronde and crashed out dramatically last season before the race really got going. This season he has smashed through the glass ceiling to start regularly winning the big races. It would be a bit of a surprise if he wasn’t on the podium.

Oliver Naesen **** A rider who came in under the radar until the end of last summer when IAM were closing down and he suddenly starting winning. He has been building his form nicely and was a factor in Gent-Wevelgem last weekend His inexperience a the top level might catch him out. 

Philippe Gilbert **** There we were expecting him to be strong later in April for the Ardennes when he bursts on the Flemish scene and then backs up his classic form by winning 3 Days of de Panne. He might have left too much on the road in winning that race to be honest, but it would be interesting to see a Walloon contenting for this race. 

Alexander Kristoff *** He won in the grand manner two years ago, but has struggled to win either sprints or classics ever since. The way he dominated Niki Terpstra in his 2015 breakaway might now be seen as the best moment of his career. I don’t see him winning but I think he might win the first group sprint. 

Sep Vanmarcke *** Looked like he was going to be in the form of his life back in the opening weekend of the Belgian classics. He has been ill since and then to compound it all, crashed into the BMC team car the other day. Has he been blufffing and is this a Cannondale master plan?? … um no.

Luke Durbridge *** He would have been the outside of outsiders a month ago but having seen Mat Hayman win in Roubaix last season, its clear that Orica have form in winning these races. He was strong in the semi-classics and would have been close to the overall in de Panne but for getting the wrong side of a split. 

All of the others are ** . 

Let’s see how my predictions go eh! 

RVV2016

Just a few words from the 100th Tour of Flanders. 

What a race it was. There was action more or less from the start and in Peter Sagan and Lizzie Armistead we had worthy winners and world champions for both events. 

The course is cruel and demanding, shown especially in the way that the legs of Sep Vanmarcke folded beneath him on the last possible metres of the Paterberg. 

It was there he lost the race. 

What a classy touch by Sep, though, to let Fabian Cancellara cross the line alone on his final appearance in the race. Let’s hope that’s a favour that can be repaid somewhere along the roads this season as Vanmarcke is long overdue a big win. 

One negative element was the crashes which didn’t seem more prevalent than usual, just more severe. Greg Van Avermaert and Tom Boonen denied starring roles by falls a long way out. 

We move on to Paris Roubaix this weekend and the podcast tomorrow will preview that in more depth along with a bit more on the Tour of Flanders.