I am not sure if I am just so grateful to have bike racing at all, that I am enjoying all it at the moment.
The RVV last Sunday was a case in point with drama and brilliant racing well into the last 50 metres of the event.
But before the big 3 favourites became the big 2 and slugged it out on the overpass running into Oudenaarde there was lots to admire.
The days early break were as strong and committed as you would want for a race of this stature. They went quite deep into the race which meant a full peloton behind them had to be mindful and aware of where they were on the course.
There were plenty of crashes which you don’t like to see, of course, leading to Sep Vanmarcke having to produce one of the rides of the day to get back on before the start of the finishing circuit.
As has been the case far too often over the years for Sep he was producing his best work behind the race rather than using that effort to go off the front and yet again it was a story of what might have been.
When the race winning move did go it was driven by the world champion Julian Alaphillippe who put the hammer down. Wout van Aert and Mathieu Van der Poel were alert to the danger and with Elegant/Quickstep and Jumbo/Visma the two big teams having riders in the move that was day done for the majority of riders.
There was one big twist to come with Alaphillippe riding into the back of a slowing race motorcycle before landing hard on those unforgiving Belgian roads.
We had a big debate in our house about the crash. The bike did slow but Alaphillippe wasn’t looking where he was going. He’d been scrolling through his Garmin a number of times looking for data and information and whilst the bike shouldn’t have been travelling at that speed as the breakaway caught it, you do have a level of responsibility to be looking where you are going.
This left the former ‘cyclo cross dominating duo’ alone together again for the final bergs.
After marking each other out of Gent Wevelgem last weekend they were always going to collaborate to make sure they go to the finish of this one and that they did.
The sprint was neck and neck with Van der Poel just getting the drop of his rival for a win full of emotion and drama.
Let’s hope that we only have to wait until April for the next edition.
|1||VAN DER POEL Mathieu||Alpecin-Fenix||500||275||5:43:17|
|2||VAN AERT Wout||Team Jumbo-Visma||400||200||,,|
|3||KRISTOFF Alexander||UAE-Team Emirates||325||150||0:08|
|4||TURGIS Anthony||Team Total Direct Energie||275||120||,,|
|5||LAMPAERT Yves||Deceuninck – Quick Step||225||100||,,|
|6||CLAEYS Dimitri||Cofidis, Solutions Crédits||175||90||,,|
|7||NAESEN Oliver||AG2R La Mondiale||150||80||,,|
|8||VAN BAARLE Dylan||INEOS Grenadiers||125||70||,,|
|9||DEGENKOLB John||Lotto Soudal||100||60||,,|
|10||BENOOT Tiesj||Team Sunweb||85||50||,,|
After the announcement last week that there could be a late August Tour de France, Cyclingnews is reporting a revised single day classics calendar that is with the teams.
This is due to start on August 1st with Strade Bianche.
Of course this is subject to all manner of peaks of infection and travel restrictions being lifted but on a day where the sun is shining outside but my mood is pretty grey, this is a positive.
So let’s hope and pray we get to see some racing.
Provisional continuing 2020 men’s UCI calendar according to RTBF
August 1: Strade Bianche
August 8: Milan-San Remo
Second week of August: Critérium du Dauphiné (four days)
August 22-23: National championships events
August 29-September 20: Tour de France
September 20-27: UCI Road World Championships
September 30: Flèche Wallonne
October 4: Liège-Bastogne-Liège
October 3-25: Giro d’Italia
October 10: Amstel Gold Race
October 11: Gent-Wevelgem
October 18: Tour of Flanders
October 25: Paris-Roubaix
October 31: Il Lombardia
From November 1: Vuelta a España
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.
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.
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.
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!
This weeks show is all about Flanders. We talk the Ronde this weekend analysing who has been going well in the recent warm up races.
We also talk culturally and how this race defines a nation within a nation.
This weeks show has plenty of news and views. Please enjoy and share.
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.