Post cycling ‘Holy week’ slump

Maybe its the fact my bloodstream is 99% chocolate this week after Easter or maybe its the fact that the UK weather has been so shabby my running shoes have looked appealing (they take less time to dry than a bike and cycling shoes)…

Whatever the reason I am firmly in a post cycling Holy Week slump.

Motivation to ride my bike has been sorely diminshed with every fat juicy raindrop that has smashed the window.

Even watching cycling and following it has been slow going after the heights of the Oude Kwaremont and Carrefore D’Labre.

The Tour of Sicily has just annoyed me with its sun kissed beaches. I went to Skegness for the afternoon on Tuesdat (and it rained).

I am warming back up enough to consider entering the club 10 next Wednesday, and the Coupe de France always makes me reach for the ‘Gites des France’ app to plan future trips that may or may not happen.

What I really need is a classic race with all the big names. Something with a hilly finish through a town that has some wonderful kerbside restaurants and brilliant caves to explore.

Thank goodness for the Amstel Gold Race !

Crafty Kasper – A Flanders retrospective

1 ASGREEN KasperDeceuninck – Quick Step5002756:02:12
2 VAN DER POEL MathieuAlpecin-Fenix400200,,
3 VAN AVERMAET GregAG2R Citroën Team3251500:32
4 STUYVEN JasperTrek – Segafredo2751200:33
5 VANMARCKE SepIsrael Start-Up Nation2251000:47
6 VAN AERT WoutTeam Jumbo-Visma17590,,
7 VERMEERSCH GianniAlpecin-Fenix15080,,
8 TURGIS AnthonyTeam Total Direct Energie12570,,
9 SÉNÉCHAL FlorianDeceuninck – Quick Step10060,,
10 VAN BAARLE DylanINEOS Grenadiers8550,,

The big 3 favourites for all of the big 2021 races were outsmarted by the Danish Champion, Kasper Asgreen, in another epic edition of the Tour of Flanders on Easter Sunday.

(Click here for an excellent gallery from procyclingtips)

With the mornings suicidal breakaway managing to get close to a quarter of an hours lead, the finale of this race was always going to be fast and slightly ragged. At key points in the race, there was a real chance they would stay away.

As the race hit the finishing circuit and got into the meat of the climbs there was a merging of the main favourites and the break led by a Julian Alaphillippe attack.

From the front group, Paris-Nice revelation Stefan Bissegger of EF seemed the most capable of hanging on.

However the French world champion didn’t have the legs to see it through and when Asgreen went clear with Mathieu Van der Poel and Wout van Aert (although he was soon distanced) there was some head scratching from the experts.

That disbelief turned to open frustratin as after the last ascent of the Paterberg, Asgreen made no attempt to drop Van der Poel on the run in.

It was as if Quick-Step had conceded the race and MvdP was going to get back to back wins in the race without competition.

Still Asgreen took his turns and the two of them marched on towards Oudenaarde and the finish.

Greg Van Avermaet launched a desperate attack out of the chasers with just over 3km to go, but it was a move for the podium rather than the win.

The sprint for 1st place seemed to take an age to get going and Van der Poel got ahead of Asgreen before something quite remarkable happened.

Superman became human and the Dutchman sat back down as the Dane surged past him for the win.

Yes. Asgreen had been imperious in his cobbled classic wins over the last year or so, but that hadn’t been the level of the RVV. This was a real step up for him and a tactical masterclass by his team.

As the race watched Alaphillippe he kept himself to himself before only launching his attack when absolutely neccessary.

It’s a shame we didn’t get to see round 2 at Paris Roubaix last weekend, but fingers crossed there will be futher encounters between these guys across the summer so the pot is still boiling come the autumn and the re-scheduled Hell of the North.

Flanders ends the monument season on a high

Oude Kwaremont

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.

I suffer up the Paterberg

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 MathieuAlpecin-Fenix5002755:43:17
2 VAN AERT WoutTeam Jumbo-Visma400200,,
3 KRISTOFF AlexanderUAE-Team Emirates3251500:08
4 TURGIS AnthonyTeam Total Direct Energie275120,,
5 LAMPAERT YvesDeceuninck – Quick Step225100,,
6 CLAEYS DimitriCofidis, Solutions Crédits17590,,
7 NAESEN OliverAG2R La Mondiale15080,,
8 VAN BAARLE DylanINEOS Grenadiers12570,,
9 DEGENKOLB JohnLotto Soudal10060,,
10 BENOOT TiesjTeam Sunweb8550,,

Revised 1 day calendar offers some hope

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

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.


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!