What a race!
Prior to the Tour of Flanders I wrote above five things to look for, in particular Gilbert seemed to run out of luck, puncturing at a bad time and team-wise, BMC were collectively strong but it was Quick Step’s Chavanel-Boonen tandem that seemed the strongest, although that failed to deliver what they wanted. Plus Stijn Devolder once again stood out for his “interesting” positioning, once minute off the back, the next minute barging off the front.
Now after the race, a few things to reflect on after the race…
- It was Cancellara vs. The Race for an hour. A solo effort with Chavanel glued to his wheel got a minute’s lead but in the end the open roads on the way to Geraardsbergen allowed a chase to take place, especially since groups behind reformed into one larger bunch and a chase was led BMC. If anything, Cancellara believed in himself too much, trying to repeat the long range attack. But he still had the force to make the late move that decided the winner.
- Congratulations to Nick Nuyens. Always near to a result, his lack of big wins meant he was falling off the radar. He won the U-23 Ronde as an amateur and was second in the race proper in 2008. He showed plenty of power in the final and allied this skilful tactics, exploiting the moves. He only put his nose in the wind twice, one in a short move after the Bosberg and then another time when he came off Cancellara’s wheel to take the win.
- You can’t read too much into one race but Garmin-Cervélo need to upload a new roadmap onto their sat-nav devices. All the talk of superteam isn’t quite working. Roger Hammond was visible in the break and Tyler Farrar swept up the bunch sprint but it was an off day for Hushovd and Haussler. I suppose Ryder Hesjedal is an option for the Amstel and Liège–Bastogne–Liège but Paris-Roubaix is a last chance for the team to shine.
- A mixed day for Quick Step. Sylvain Chavanel was very strong but kept on a close leash thanks to team tactics. But I don’t think they could have done much more, Chavanel could not have ridden many off his wheel and he’s not got a sprint you would bank on, especially given Tom Boonen seems in good shape.
- By contrast Bjarne Riis wins again. The Dane can never be ignored and he will have loved getting one over Cancellara, the man who broke his contract to leave for Leopard-Trek. The in-car video used by the TV broadcaster showed the eruption of joy when Nuyens won.
Overall the racing so far this season has been exceptional with suspense lasting right until the finish line, the scenarios change, scripts get ripped up and it’s been fascinating stuff. This Sunday sees Paris-Roubaix, long may the good racing continue…