The Moment The Race Was Won: Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Sunday, 27 April 2014


Katusha’s Giampolo Caruso is the the last attacker of the day. He led into the final bend but a trio of Simon Gerrans, Alejandro Valverde and Michał Kwiatkowski storm past to sweep the podium. This was the moment the race was won.

It marked a thrilling finish but it was a moment that might have had rattled millions of television viewers out of their siesta after they’d fallen asleep during Sunday afternoon’s coverage.



The race was sent off by Philippe, King of the Belgians. Cycling isn’t a religion in Belgium but it attracts fervent support and the monarch was on duty in Liège while the abdicated Albert was on duty in the Vatican for the beatification ceremony. Priorities.

Two riders who didn’t get the royal wave were Chris Froome and Carlos Betancur. Sky said Froome had a cold and it was a shame the they couldn’t wrap in him thermals and get him to the start, if only for the waiting public.

Liege break

The early break had Pirmin Lang (IAM), Michel Koch (Cannondale), Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka), Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Pieter Jacobs (Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise) and Marco Minnard (Wanty-Gobert) and they rode clear with ease, taking over 15 minutes. Koch won the special €5,000 sprint in Bastogne, some bonus cash for his team. Behind OPQS, BMC, Movistar and Lotto-Belisol were visible chasing.

Uphill crash
The chase was tense, even if breakaway still had a double-digit lead in minutes the bunch was lined out on the descents and the climbs looked like sprints. Jan Bakelants (OPQS) managed to crash uphill. It wasn’t his fault, riders were fighting for position. Pierre Rolland had a go with 81km to go but was brought back. Ditto for Garmin-Sharp’s Ramunas Navardauskas. Two powerful riders weren’t being given any room despite such a long way to go.

Schleck DNF
Andy Schleck abandoned. It mattered because this has long been his preferred race and other disappointments were only setbacks on the way to his Ardennes rendez-vous but he’s missed his stated appointment. Schleck Junior wasn’t the only one down and out, Joaquim Rodriguez quit the race along with Rui Costa, presumably the pair didn’t share a seat in the broomwagon and the Spaniard will worry about his Giro hopes. Meanwhile Team Sky had vanished en masse. Only Nathan Earle would finish the race.

Redoute Redux
The climb of La Redoute looked like a carnival. Fans had painted PHIL 800 times on the road and there were an estimated 10,000 fans by the road. But if it looked like a carnival, the bunch went past like one giant floating procession. The break began to crack but behind the bunch was sticking together until Warren Barguil jumped clear, briefly joined by Trek’s Julián Arredondo and Bakelants. But behind a large group was chasing.

There was a chase but it wasn’t so fierce. It certainly allowed Bono to go solo Côte des Forges as Venter cracked and bored Twitter users to crack U2-themed jokes. Behind Alex Howes of Garmin-Sharp tried a move up the climb but was reeled in soon after. Still no attacks from the big riders, still none of the lesser names being allowed more than 10-15 seconds.

On to the Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons. A feared climb it was the place where the first big moves too shape. Trek Factory Racing’s Julián David Arredondo and Ag2r’s Domenico Pozzovivo took off, more sparrows than falcons. BMC’s Samuel Sanchez tried to chase and we got to see the main contenders in action. Roman Kreuziger led the chase with Damiano Cunego, Jacob Fuglsang and Vincenzo Nibali in the mix. Gilbert was noticeably absent as was Valverde… until he cruised across with the ease of a moto commissiare.

Arredondo and Pozzovivo were ahead for 10km until they got caught on the downhill run to Liège, their small statures – 1m64 and 1m65 respectively – a penalty on the descent. Movistar led the race around the factory buildings, a route seemingly designed to discourage visitors. Onto the Côte de Saint-Nicolas and IAM’s Stefan Denifl went clear but his escape was brief and over the top Katusha’s Giampaulo Caruso and Pozzovivo went away and crucially the peloton behind had fragmented. Belkin’s Bauke Mollema led the chase but, despite giving it everything with his head-twisting style, couldn’t close the gap.

Pozzovivo and Caruso had team mates behind so the others in the chasing group seemed reluctant to move, instead we got a series of individual moves each doomed to fail. Rolland. Vanendert. Nibali. Nordhaug. Nobody was getting away. But there was a small chase from BMC with Sanchez setting the pace.

The final climb uphill started and Pozzovivo and Caruso had around 10 seconds lead. Suddenly Dan Martin surged from the group. It wasn’t a fierce attack, more a sustained effort and you could see the gap increase. He passed Pozzovivo and had Caruso’s slipstream going into the famous last turn when suddenly he slid out and crashed hard. Kindly Martin slid out of the way to let Simon Gerrans open up his sprint, holding off Valverde and Michał Kwiatkowski, with the Pole having had to go wide around Martin to avoid crashing.

The Verdict
If the one hundredth edition of this race was a celebration of the past it probably left many viewers yearning for the golden age. Was there ever an era of endless attacks? Probably not but this year’s edition was notable for its caution, for 240km it was like watching the insurance clerk world championships. Not a single big name rider attacked before the 20km to go point, until then the likes of Pierre Rolland, Warren Barguil, Domenico Pozzovivo and Julián Arredondo had tried a few moves but nothing.

If you’d missed the race only to see the results the podium was predictable, but it was a cagey and defensive race to watch. Gerrans, despite his hi-viz Aussie champion’s kit was hardly visible during the race although team mates Pieter Weening and Simon Clarke were men at work. Gerrans’s invisibility isn’t a criticism, it’s a compliment. This is how “The Sniper” rides and exactly what was predicted in the preview, he’s got one bullet and he didn’t miss – not for him the energy-wasting mania of Pierre Rolland. Valverde’s been in top form all week and Kwiatkowski’s value is rising almost every day, still 23 but standing on the podium of a monument.

Note the impressive performances of Arredondo and Pozzovivo. The Colombian was riding this event for the first time while the latter was all over the race despite having just finished the gruelling Giro del Trentino, this bodes well for the Giro.

Could Martin have won?
This time last year he had a panda chasing him, now he got what the French call un coup de bambou. Dan Martin had the jump on Caruso and a slender lead on Gerrans et al so maybe. Given Caruso managed to hold on to fourth place Martin can legitimately imagine a podium place was there. But that’s speculation and he’ll have to deal with the fact that he rode into the final corner and saw only one slowing rider between him and the finish line. That’ll be hard to digest but the upcoming Giro offers an excellent way to take out any frustration.

Last finish in Ans?
The finish isn’t the most glorious place but the climb up to Ans has provided suspense over the years. I gather it’s the last time the race will visit. A flatter finish in downtown Liège is being planned for 2015.

Classics Done
The classics are done. It was a mixed collection, often the suspense came late in the races. Now for the stage races with the Giro less than two weeks away and the Tour de Romandie as an appetiser.

1 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica Greenedge 6:37:43
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team
3 Michał Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
4 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Team Katusha
5 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:03
6 Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Garmin Sharp
7 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo
8 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
9 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:05
10 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:06

BC April 27, 2014 at 6:27 pm

‘Like watching an insurance clerk world championship’ Spot on INRNG, although a little unfair on insurance clerks.

For yet another major event, where only the final few minutes bought any excitement. Before anyone ask why I bother to watch, the answer is, I really don’t know !

mendip5000 April 28, 2014 at 1:25 pm

I find Ironing is the perfect accompaniment to coverage of such events. As a mind numbing and ultimately futile task, it makes the brief moments when you can look up from it all the more exciting. Just remember to fill the iron with the water and to drink the beer, otherwise your shirts will smell like a brewery.

A flat finish will at least put it in the grasp of different types of rider. The duration and severity of the climbing over the day will still favour the strong. What would encourage a serious attack I wonder?

Another Dave April 29, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Cyclings about tough men not just sprinters Go Gero!!!! you bloody beauty

Joe April 27, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Great write-up. I don’t know if moving the finish line is such a great idea; will it revert back to the same old finish it used to have? The one in Ans at least offered a chance for last minute attackers.

Zinoviev Letter April 27, 2014 at 6:43 pm

You know it’s been a bad race when Gerrans wins, simply because he shouldn’t be at the pointy end of a good edition. A smart rider who has massively overachieved his talent. You can’t blame him for doing what he can to win races, but you could never him accuse him of knowingly providing the world with a moment’s entertainment.

The moment the race was won should really be Martin’s crash. That ended his chance if preempti g a sprint. And as an added bones effectively took Kwiatkowski out of the sprint.

Jason W April 27, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Was inclined to agree with Zinoviev Letter, until I realized that while this was for sure the crucial moment of the race, it was the moment the race was lost (for both Martin and Kwiatkowski)–not won.

STS April 27, 2014 at 7:35 pm

Gerrans rides like one has to ride in these times in order to be successful at this kind of races. I don’t see much of a difference between his style of racing those races compared to Valverde, Gilbert or Purito. They all wait for the final climb which has to be very close to the finish line. Gerrans can afford to wait even longer because he will beat nearly every one else in the dash to the line after a hilly race.
So I find you underestimate his talent. Try to do a sprint like this when you’re really done. I mean really done. Even really fast sprinters fail to win sprints against nominally much slower riders at the end of hard races because they are spent. So Gerrans repeatedly managing to win sprints in situations like today’s means that he’s up to the challenge even if the course has more than 260 ks and close to 5,000 meters of climbing. Chapeau!

Zinoviev Letter April 27, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Gerrans rides how you have to to be successful at these sort of races with his particular mix of talents. I actually agree that Valverde rides almost identically at the biggest races (although he can sometimes race more excitingly at smaller races). And Valverde is much more aggravating than Gerrans when he does so because he actually is capable of implementing other tactics. Gerrans really has no other option, no plan b. His only way to win an important race is to hide completely until the last 200m.

I admire Gerrans for achieving so much in spite of his limits. And I certainly do t expect him to give up winning so as to entertain me. If he does anything beyond cling on to the best climbers he is going to get dropped. But at the same time other than nationality based supporters and perhaps his family and friends, I can’t see how any cycling fan could find even a molecule of joy in his wins. We do after all watch to be entertained and Gerrans whole style is about avoiding being visible in any way.

It is of course true that hilly races are generally more conservatively raced these days, but there is still a spectrum and Gerrans and Valverde are hard over to one side of it.

george April 27, 2014 at 9:17 pm

Your right, and what was almost more aggravating than Valverde was Gilbert not doing ANYTHING in the final fiveish kilometers. The entire Sant Nicholas I was waiting for him to drop the hammer, but nothing. Then, i was like, “All right, he’s waiting for the final climb to Ans, and he’ll try to pull a Purito and go for it.” But still, NOTHING. Did he honestly think he could outsprint Valverde and Gerrans? It was very disappointing, for sure.

PT April 28, 2014 at 12:23 am

Can we assume that you are a big fan of Thomas Voeckler then?

george April 28, 2014 at 12:45 am

Absolutely. At least he livens the race up. But the thing is, no one expects Tommy to win. Gilbert should’ve made some sort of effort to win instead of just staying put. If we, the armchair experts, know he is going to probably be beat in a sprint by Valverde and Gerrans, shouldn’t he realize this as well and try to avoid that situation? But maybe he just didn’t have the legs, which would explain it, after all, 260+ km is a long way. But still, disappointed not to see an effort.

Goonie April 28, 2014 at 12:46 am

I agree that Gerrans races very conservatively in Monuments. As you say, it’s the right tactic for him.

He has ridden much more aggressively in smaller races, though. The 2012 national champs finished with Gerrans, Richie Porte and Matthew Lloyd escaping on the last lap of a hilly circuit, with Gerro unsurprisingly winning the three-up sprint.

RooBay April 28, 2014 at 6:22 am

Some strong words indeed. Worth taking pause to consider that Gerrans won in the 2009 Giro from a solo move, GP Ouest France (sprint from a small breakaway group) and 2008 TdF (solo win from a 4 man breakaway). Hardly the case of him avoiding being visible for the whole race and all of these wins eminently watchable. On your view of race quality, you’d have to argue that Cav’s sprint wins are equally lacking in the molecules of joy department. By my reckoning he has probable only ever ridden a handful of kms in the wind across his whole career.

Clearly Gerrans has made the most of his ability and may not be the strongest rider in the World Tour but as others have said many times on this blog, professional road racing is not a time trial. The chancers are equally important to the spectacle as the rolled-gold “strong men”.

I loved Gerrans win but agree with the assessment of the race in terms of overall spectacle.

gabriele April 28, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Actually, when commenting below, I forgot his Giro win (much more memorable thanks to the show offered by Froome on the last short and steep climb, indeed).
Anyway, I love this example because it shows how silly the “once-the-others-were-doping” argument to which I referred below can be: you can read people defending that Froome couldn’t climb… “because the others were doping”… but Gerrans, who won that day, didn’t win much “because the others were doping”. Oooookay :-)
I think that doping it’s a variable we should leave out of the picture, unless we have strong certainties and complete information about specific cases. Armstrong (maybe) aside, we can’t tell that about the big majority of riders in the last ten years or so.
And I’d like to stress that I wrote *complete* information.

RayG April 28, 2014 at 12:49 am

If racing was only about who was the strongest, all races would be time trials or FTP tests. How entertaining would that be?

The Inner Ring April 28, 2014 at 9:29 am

Or mountain time trials. I enjoy the tactical aspect the most. Gerrans doesn’t attack but he’s the one with a Liège-Bastogne-Liège trophy this morning. If everyone was like this the sport would be dull but having a few riders like this only puts the pressure on others to ditch them or suffer the consequence in the finish.

Gerrans has an amazing palmarès now, all that’s missing is a rainbow jersey. It also makes you wonder about the early years, how he won so little for so long. There seem to be many factors, from others doping to his relative inexperience although he took a tough stage win in the Tour de France in 2008. Team Sky must be kicking themselves that he left, that’s two monuments they crave.

Tricky Dicky April 28, 2014 at 11:32 am

It’s funny, people look back at Oscar Freire and say “wow, what a rider”. No doubt, Freire’s ability to win big races off the back of little preparation was also a part of the mystique but did he not win in a similar style to Gerrans?

Ben Swift and Michael Matthews may end up becoming similar kinds of riders. You know what you are in for if you haven’t got rid of them. Riders like Kreuziger, Fugslang, Nibali, Gilbert etc should have done much more much earlier.

gabriele April 28, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Freire was able to surge and win with a *finisseur* attack (his first WC), or to go up the road in a breakaway trying to get a mountain finish stage with long climbs.
He could even perform quite well on the pavé (I think he did well in some Harelbeke, not just in Gand-Wevelgem) and won like three Brabantse Pijl, the hybrid half-pavé half-côte semiclassic, but ultimately gave it up because of his sore back problem.
Despite his health problems, he was able to show much, much more continuity than Gerrans, who tends – or tended – to be a bit erratic.
Yeah, many time he won “in a similar style” to Gerrans, but when you say “what a rider” it’s because you feel the full potential of the rider.
Not to speak of the fact that Freire was able to ride like that mostly without a strong team support, which on the contrary was fundamental for Gerrans yesterday.
I won’t elaborate on the fact that when you say “what a rider” people also tend to consider the victories which that specific rider could achieve with his *style*, more or less similar to many other riders’ style, indeed.
And even if Gerrans’ palmarés is growing, I’m quite skeptical about his chances to get something vaguely comparable to Freire’s.

gabriele April 28, 2014 at 11:42 am

Personally, I find the “others were doping” argument to be always quite feeble when we need to explain why a rider has a relative late burst in his career (I don’t refer specifically to Gerrans; it’s quite common: for example, it was widely used when Hesjedal won the Giro… just to discover that precisely in his “early years”…).

Few are the cases in which we can be enough sure that the rider in question was *once upon a time* riding clean, and, above all, why should we be enough sure that those infamous “others” are not going on doping… now?

The Inner Ring April 28, 2014 at 12:02 pm

It’s only a factor and not universal, a grey area rather than black and white. Those who might still dope just can’t do the outrageous things of the past, the performance gap is smaller but again this is a sweeping statement, don’t ask for percentage comparisons.

gabriele April 28, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Or maybe different people got their *license* to do more or less outrageous things, and we’ll know something about that in ten years or so.
The area is so gray that I’d suggest not to lose time conjecturing much about that.
The excellent Weening indispensable for Gerrans’ victory rode all his previous career in the infamous team-doping Rabobank.
I really can’t see impressive turning points in performance along his career.

Mike April 28, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Being a doper in the past doesn’t rule out someone – relatively – gaining when the scope to cheat is severely curtailed. This assumes that a) nearly everyone else was doping, and b) the person in question didn’t get the same amount of improvement from doping as everyone else.

Equally, this means that just because someone is doing better (in terms of palmares) now the doping practices of the past are too hard to get away with, it doesn’t mean they were always riding clean.

Another Dave April 29, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Sad grapes my friend I thinks

Anonymous April 27, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Not the most exciting of editions. No rider did anything unbelievable, bring back Gewiss. (only joking)

The Inner Ring April 28, 2014 at 12:03 pm

You wonder for the “golden age” of Merckx, watching him win week after week must have been worse. At least we had uncertainty until 200m to go yesterday.

Mats April 27, 2014 at 7:15 pm

Poor Dan. He lost a win I’m quite sure about it. I hope the crash will make him stronger in the Giro.

Bundle April 27, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Very poor race. It felt like a bad San Remo. This winner can’t win otherwise so nothing against him, but if stronger rivals let him have his way in such poor fashion, they mus blame themselves. My conclusion: all 3 Ardennes classics need 40-50 kms more (and forget about UCI limits).

Bundle April 27, 2014 at 8:13 pm

I must add that it is this kind of un-epic racing that kills the sport, and puts audiences off. Who wants to invest time or money in this??

Steppings April 27, 2014 at 8:59 pm

I was channel hopping, trying to catch some of the Dominic Dale match. That’s how bad I found it!

BenW April 28, 2014 at 12:21 pm

More excitement in one of Dominic “Spaceman” Dale’s shoes than in that race.

STS April 27, 2014 at 7:21 pm

“Could Martin have won”. Yes, I have no doubt about that. He had just definitely decided that he would open the sprint. But still it was two seconds too soon. Because he managed to clip his pedal in that turn. Since nobody else fell in that turn I rewatched the recording in super slomo and saw his left foot touching the ground.
He’s quite fast in that kind of uphill sprint so I think he had enough of an advantage to the chasers and was in the perfect spot to overtake Caruso some 30 meters before the line.
Furthermore I think that given it was a finale decided by tactics where none of the favorites wanted to “risk” anything too soon Martin also deserved it because he was tactically the smartest guy much like last year when only at the very end he showed his real strength. Also today he already seemed to be out of contention riding at the very end of that big group with less than 2 km to go only to surge to the front within seconds.
If only he had practiced more with that bike and those pedals. He probably would have won on Speedplays.
But as cruel as it is he did not crash because of bad luck but because he made a mistake. I still feel very sorry for him.
With regards to the outcome of the race: I can’t wait for the radio ban to get applied to all races ’cause otherwise it doesn’t really make sense anymore to ride for nearly seven hours through the Ardennes when all is decided on the last climb year after year.

Tom April 27, 2014 at 8:01 pm

Definitely looks like he clipped a pedal in the turn.

TomH April 27, 2014 at 9:24 pm

In the pic, his bike’s crankarms seem extremely long, which increases risk of hitting a pedal. Anyone know what length he uses?

Vince April 28, 2014 at 9:10 am

If you look at other photos of Dan Martins left pedal, you can see his Garmin Vector pod below his pedal.

Anonymous April 28, 2014 at 10:18 pm

dan just posted on his facebook account that it was NOT his pedal clipping the road. the garmin team thinks he hit oil

StefanF April 27, 2014 at 7:32 pm

The problem the Ardennes classics have is in finding the right level of selectivity. As it stands they’re not selective enough to stop ca. 40 riders reaching the finale together, yet too selective to make attacking cycling possible or at least worth the risk. It’s a tough balance to get right; Flanders and Paris-Roubaix have it down to a tee, which is why they’re consistently the most exciting races of the year.

StefanF April 27, 2014 at 8:34 pm

And if I might suggest a solution: Cut out about 30% of the climbs, making the race more attractive for the likes of Cancellara and Sagan. The mix between the puncheurs, the climbers and the big beasts would spice things up no end – different types of rider riding to their own strengths and each with their own set of tactics. Anything’s better than the abysmal boredom we’ve had this week.

Bundle April 27, 2014 at 8:54 pm

Another possibility: bring back the World Cup, so than Sagan and Cancellara are encouraged to take part and perform.

george April 27, 2014 at 9:13 pm

Don’t they already have that, the ProTour? Or was the World Cup any different?

Bundle April 27, 2014 at 10:36 pm

It was only one-day races. Its leader wore a special jersey. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UCI_Road_World_Cup

The Inner Ring April 28, 2014 at 12:06 am

Do that and the risk is the likes of Nibali, Rodriguez, Froome, Kreuziger and others might stay at home. Today’s race was one of the race events where, on paper, we actually get stage race specialists and classics contenders in the same race, Gerrans vs Valverde, Gilbert and Nibali etc.

It’s a difficult call for the race. The riders say the lack of action is because there’s a lot of equality between the riders, nobody can go on the rampage these days. Plus today’s race saw a break get 15 minutes. Jelle Vanendert says he tried seven attacks but with a rider up the road ahead of him all the time it was awkward. Even if he or someone else had jumped clear on a climb they’d get tangled up with the riders in front etc.

StefanF April 28, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Fair enough, you have to get the balance just right, and no one’s pretending that’s easy.

But isn’t part of the problem the fact that the likes of Froome and Nibali are coming to LBL at far from 100% of their physical capacity, simply because they have more important fish to fry during the rest of the season. A fully fit and motivated Froome ought to make mincemeat of a Gerrans over a course like that; but ultimately, LBL is just a stepping stone for Froome on the way to the Tour. Compare with Flanders or Roubaix, which for someone like Cancellara, Boonen, Sagan or Vanmarcke are the absolute high point of the season, which they approach at the very peak of physical perfection.

So what we’ve ended up with right now is pretty catastrophic: a few puncheurs who are really interested in the race, but for whom it’s just too selective to make riding excitingly worthwhile (Gerrans, Gilbert…) and a number of grand tour riders for whom the course should be ideal, but who aren’t really all that interested in winning.

Birillo April 28, 2014 at 9:39 pm

Spot on.

This looked like one of the less interesting stages on a Grand Tour. It was not a Monument.

STS April 28, 2014 at 10:19 pm

How do you come to the conclusion that “a fully fit and motivated Froome ought to make mincemeat of a Gerrans over a course like that”? Do you mean if both ride the course indivdually as a time trial? Or the two start together but only those two and Froome takes off at the Côte de la Roche aux Facons and time trials to the finish? It must be one of those two scenarios that you are thinking of. Because otherwise I mean in a real road race I don’t see any proof for that claim. Oh wait, if LBL ended on top of a Cat 2 to HC climb that would also qualify as a scenario which might fulfill your prediction.
But apart from that dealing with the race that LBL really is I definitely don’t see Froome, Wiggins or Nibali – to just name a few – in their very best shape being able to have won yesterday’s race. Their abilities are too specialized in what is required to win a GT as Tony Martin’s abilities are too specialized in dominating ITTs. Like it or not but yesterday’s race was won by one of those guys who are specialized in contending for the win in classics as they are ridden today.
Probably Valverde and (to some lesser extent) Purito are the last two guys who are capable of both, going for the win in (mountaineous) GTs and classics alike.
Yesterday there were some 30 guys left in the front group tackling the last climb together but realistically only four or five really had a chance and knew how to win it. Gerrans was definitely one of them.

The Inner Ring April 28, 2014 at 10:21 pm

I think we’d see a good contest if Froome and others were to focus more but it takes experience and craft that exactly what Gerrans brought.

“The plan today is not to attack actually” 1m30s
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yAmAkRp758&feature=youtu.be

StefanF April 28, 2014 at 11:09 pm

Not Froome alone, that’s true, but I would suggest that a race over that parcours including on form and motivated climbers of the caliber of Froome, Nibali, Contador et al. would in most years simply be too competitive for Gerrans or the current version of Gilbert (though not for Valverde or the Gilbert of 2011). Sadly LBL as it stands is simply not prestigious enough to lure them away from possible grand tour glory – and I don’t see things getting better for the Ardennes classics in the near future.

Gerrans, by the way, did what he had to do and he did it well. He deserves praise not opprobrium.

george April 27, 2014 at 7:58 pm

Does anyone know what the profile will look like next year if the finish line moves back into liege? will the Sant Nicholas remain? How much distance will there be between the final climb and the finish? Just curious.

The Inner Ring April 27, 2014 at 11:21 pm

No idea yet but it’s likely St Nicolas is dropped, as is the grim “decaying factory tour” section before.

JJ McAnerney April 27, 2014 at 8:03 pm

Whether Martin would have won is up in the air, gerrans et al were closing but he had a gap and a good final kick if he still had the legs, we will never know.
This isn’t the first time that Martin has done this, remember lomardia last year when he was sprinting for third and he never came round the final corner. costly mistake but hopefully he can pick himself up for the giro. Can’t see past him for lombardia or liege next year if he has that form, looked like he had taken a step up since flèche and was clearly super strong and had attacked at the right moment to suit his capabilities, real pity that he fell. As an irishman i was screaming at the tv and almost broke down when he crashed, would have been a great double.

B.R. April 27, 2014 at 8:04 pm

I just lost 4 hours of my life watching absolutly nothing.

Next time, I’m gonna watch the gras grow in my backyard, should be more exciting

Bundle April 27, 2014 at 8:25 pm

I’m looking at the time gaps… the first 30 guys in the same half a minute…. What a disaster.

Larry T. April 27, 2014 at 10:03 pm

How can one not feel a bit sorry for the guy who fell off on the final corner? But I’m not so sure he had the race in the bag anyway, with The Sniper and Green Bullet both very close. The 100th running of La Doyenne won’t be added to the list of most-exciting races but I think it’s premature to redesign the route and whine a lot about it. Next year it could end up being the most exciting race of the season, that’s why they have ‘em. On to the next race!

KB April 27, 2014 at 10:05 pm

I agree with the general view that this was a very sleepy race – nice then of ASO to televise 168km live (yeah, I know, 100th edition…). I did actually doze off, and awoke for the last 3 minutes!

“The finish isn’t the most glorious place”

you mean, in the Pizza Hut parking lot? they’re not a sponsor, are they? :)

roll on the stage racing! thanks, INRNG, for great classics coverage – my Velogames fantasy team thanks you too (just missed the top 20!)

Anonymous April 27, 2014 at 11:10 pm

Your not the only one to doze off, I got a good 25min snooze in somehere around 90km to go. Did I miss much?

KB April 27, 2014 at 11:28 pm

you missed Purito getting dropped and abandoning, and then Rui Costa crashing out along with Lopez Garcia.

who was the AG2R rider who went down *hard* in what looked like some sort of incident with the team car? frightening stuff!

The Inner Ring April 28, 2014 at 12:08 am

I gather it was Sébastien Minard. He was sliding down the road and it looks like he could have lost a lot of skin.

Another Dave April 29, 2014 at 8:54 pm

Next time throw down a couple of short blacks and some no-dose and you might actually see something

Robin April 27, 2014 at 11:07 pm

I don’t understand the inference from a couple of people above that this is somehow a new finish…It’s finished there for quite a number of years. Ans is just a suburb of Liege.

Mike Burdon April 28, 2014 at 12:33 am

Men at work. Very good.

PT April 28, 2014 at 12:40 am

The bamboo/panda link was also pretty good. Although not as subtle.

Chris April 28, 2014 at 12:43 am

Arredondo is setting himself up to be Trek’s hilly classics man. Did some outstanding work today for his teammate Frank Schleck, who did not have the legs to contend for the win.

Also, it was bittersweet to watch an AG2R rider break away with Arredondo and for that rider to not be Betancur. Both are from the same small town, Ciudad Bolívar (pop. 28k) and it would have been amazing to see them work together for the win. On the other hand, Arredondo’s breakaway with Pozzovivo gave us perhaps the “shortest” two-man breakaway ever seen at a Monument. Great stuff

Marty McC April 28, 2014 at 1:08 am

Just as an aside, Rob Hatch commentating for British Eurosport name checked INRNG when discussing the climbs with Sean Kelly, stating that he agreed with your observation on Friday’s piece about La Redoubte being “the Walloon version of the Koppenberg or Kapelmuur”.

The Inner Ring April 28, 2014 at 9:23 am

Kind of him but it’s not an original thought on my part, I remember Gilbert once saying “it’s our version”, meaning he was a Walloon and the climb was a rallying point for fans in the race. Although it’s less of a national/regional thing, his brother was organising the festivities, it’s more a celebration of PHIL.

Andy April 28, 2014 at 9:33 am

Rob Hatch made a pretty good fist of what must have been a difficult race to commentate on. Clearly knows his stuff, even pronounces the names of riders of various nationalities respectably, and unlike Carlton Kirby (and any decent commentator needs to be unlike Carlton Kirby), doesn’t just keep banging on about his favourite riders and tipping them for victory when he spots them still in the peloton with 30 or 40 k to go.

Calypso_King April 28, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Agreed. I thought he did a sterling job and I think he mentioned something about doing the Giro which would be nice.

Anthony April 28, 2014 at 1:11 am

I’m another who fell asleep yet I’m Australian watching in the depths of the night. I agree the race was rather boring but I can’t agree Gerran wasn’t a worthy winner. That’s bike racing, sitting tight for as long as you possibly can, ‘licking your oppositions plate clean before starting your own’. Maybe the lack of wild attacks breaking the race apart is more to do with an absence or reduction in doping. Martin’s crash was unfortunate but a mistake never the less. Agree totally with getting rid of radios, that is a long overdue change.

Zinoviev Letter April 28, 2014 at 1:26 am

There’s a fine line between being annoyed that it was the kind of race Gerrans could win (a fair complaint) and being annoyed at Gerrans for taking advantage of others playing into his hands (an unreasonable complaint). If the others are stupid enough to allow Gerrans to contest the finish they deserve to get beaten by him. It isn’t as if he is impossible to shed over that sort of total climbing distance.

That doesn’t apply to Caruso, Pozzovivo, Martin and even Kreuziger. They all tried to ensure that they would be competing only with finishers they could beat. The rest, well, they didn’t, so it’s hard to have much sympathy with them.

ave April 28, 2014 at 1:23 am

Another easy monument for Gerrans. Doing nothing then bam, it’s a win. “The cavendish way.”
He is a clever rider, no question about that.

Abdu April 28, 2014 at 3:29 am

I think you’re talking complete bollocks ave & Zinoviev.

Gerrans published his power output when he won MSR, go look it up. It’s a massive wattage, hanging onto Fab’s wheel is easier said than done. Nibali couldn’t.

Look up “how to race” and “cycling tactics” while you’re at it. Gerro was in an absolutely perfect spot with Valverde, Martin’s crash didn’t even worry him.

If the others are so much better, why couldn’t they shell Gerro? There *are* plenty of climbs to do it on, intensity on them is the key. No one rates OGE as a team, so why couldn’t BMC, OPQS, etc. impose themselves on the race. What about the Death Star Team Sky…? The list of abandons and those tailing in way behind is impressive, he’s beaten a stellar cast, it’s not like the weather could be blamed either.

He puts himself in those positions by gut-busting efforts and good team support. You all might look out one eye for the French or Italian rider who spontaneously combusts like a junior club racer, but I find that boring. Might be something in the Aussie tradition of handicap racing in winter, where sitting in and being smart helps you win, mindless bursts like a Kamikazi moth just don’t pay off. At the same time, you need to be able to run with the big dogs though.

I’m sceptical about Martin having the sprint to win that even if he could stay upright. I’m pretty sure Gerro isn’t going to put up a “what if?” sign in his trophy cabinet. Credit to Dan Martin for his response, gallant and sporting, no whining.

Credit where it’s due.

PS. Talking of Cavendish, who’s “winning sh1t races” now huh? Enjoy Turkey Cav…

Abdu April 28, 2014 at 3:34 am
garuda April 28, 2014 at 6:19 am

Exactly the thought that came to mind when I found out Cav won at Turkey.

Zinoviev Letter April 28, 2014 at 6:30 am

Thanks for that burst of one-eyed nationalist gibberish. I certainly feel much the wiser for it.

Abdu April 28, 2014 at 9:41 am

Anytime champ.

You’re pretending to be a master strategist but really just having a swipe at him.

Change Kwiatkowski for Gerrans and let’s see the different reactions and backslapping.

Jason W April 29, 2014 at 1:19 am

have you actually read the posts zinoviev’s letter has written? because the strawman you’re combating has a widely different opinion on the subject to what ZL has written.

spicelab April 29, 2014 at 6:57 am

@Jason W, perhaps Abdu had reason to doubt ZV’s objectivity after delivering his highly charged opinions so emphatically:

“You know it’s been a bad race when Gerrans wins”…”I can’t see how any cycling fan could find even a molecule of joy in his wins”…”A smart rider who has massively overachieved his talent”

If ZV genuinely find Gerrans the most talentless, boring rider in the pro-peloton then it’s a safe bet there is more than a molecule of prejudice in his statements.

Which is a pity because without this glaring taint of bias his posts would have been illuminating and constructive.

Dave H April 28, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Firstly let me say that I was pleased to see Gerrans win and that he is a rider I have always liked so this comment is not clouded by dislike for the man.

Abdu, I think you are taking the comments about the race and Gerrans rather personally. I haven’t seen any comment here to suggest he wasn’t a worthy winner just that it is an indictment of the tactics of many of the other teams that he was able stay quietly there and nick the sprint.

A lone break may not be viable tactic anymore but the teams that had multiple contenders (such as Katusha, Astana and BMC) could have made a series of efforts to force the other teams to chase and generally shake the race up. In fairness AG2R did try this a bit but it needed more teams trying to animate it for the approach to work.

Whatever the rights and wrongs tactically, however, Gerrans deservedly won the race and deserves nothing but plaudits.

george April 28, 2014 at 1:51 am

I don’t know how easy it was. He still had to stay with everyone on all those climbs, and get into the perfect position. And I would hesitate to say racing 260 km and then getting every last drop of energy out of your legs for the sprint is easy.

PT April 28, 2014 at 3:32 am

I agree. He made something very difficult look easy.

Bundle April 28, 2014 at 9:31 am

Nobody says it’s easy. It’s not about Gerrans. He probably delivered a superb performance by some standards. But if guys like Nibali, Valverde, Gilbert, even Bardet, Kreuziger or Cunego…, guys who can contest a Lombardia, make it to the last kilometre of L-B-L together with guys like Reichenbach, Denifl, Molard, or Sörensen, with all due respect, they’ve got their race wrong, and it’s only natural that they get beaten by a sniper like Gerrans. God, I even missed Froome and Contador, perhaps they would have tried something more daring, and with more conviction than those half-backsided attacks we saw until Pozzovivo (who I wish had won) and Caruso (not exactly the new Bernard Hinault) decided to go all-out… and almost won.

Chris April 30, 2014 at 9:04 am

“ave”, the comment above “george” said it was easy.
“Another easy monument for Gerrans.”

Michal April 28, 2014 at 1:52 am

Chapeau Simon Gerrans, you’ve made my day!

Anonymous April 28, 2014 at 10:38 am

Yes well done Simon Gerrans and nobody will remember who came second this time next year.

gabriele April 28, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Many will remember, since he was Valverde, and so it will be remembered as “one podium more for Valverde”. Possibly, many people will say… “and Valverde got second again thanks to his *cunctator* style, to whom that time, ah yes, to Gerrans”.
:-)

CB April 28, 2014 at 3:24 am

Re: criticism of Gerro.
It strikes me as odd to criticise Gerro for riding smart and delivering the win. he is a professional and it is a massive achievement to win multiple Monuments.

It takes power and nous to ride Position when every other team and every other hopeful wants to be do the same, fighting for the same piece of road near the front of the peloton.
To manage breaks, stay out of trouble, have team mates left at the end, be well positioned and deliver the win in a hectic finale requires great racecraft and form. That, to me, is bike racing.

The strongest rider winning by riding away is so unlikely with a peloton of teams with resources to throw at a chase. To my mind, this only happens when the race has been super-selective and only the big guns are left. If 30 or 40 riders are going to the end, then a specialist such as Gerro finishes the job – and that takes skill. It is the other teams responsibility to get rid of him if they don’t want it to end in a sprint.

Bottom line for me is that it is racecraft and tactics that make racing exciting. I couldn’t really care less who puts out the most watts.

Abdu April 28, 2014 at 3:31 am

The same people criticise Roger Federer for his “monotonous wins”…

Michal April 28, 2014 at 4:40 am

+ 1

Michal April 28, 2014 at 4:41 am

+1 meant to go CB’s comment

STS April 28, 2014 at 12:36 pm

+1

VeloJon April 28, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Say what you will about Gerrans, the list of combined LBL/M-SR winners is very short and very elite: Merckx, Kelly, Bettini, De Vlaemink, Van Looy and De Bruyne. Not bad company.

BarkingOwl April 28, 2014 at 4:35 am

What this race is lacking is grand tour riders who don’t pack a sprint and therfore attack the climbs and split up the field. Think of Contador, Evans and A.Schleck at his peak. These guys break up the race and make it selective because they know that they can’t sprint. I remember Evans and Contador breaking up the field in 2010 and riders getting to the finish line in small echelons. The problem with Rodruigez and Valverde is that they fancy thier chances in a sprint and therefore wait for the final climb, while Gilbert and Gerrans have no other choice but to wait for the final climb. Hopefully in the future Froome rides this race and breaks it up.

Tovarishch April 28, 2014 at 8:46 am

It would be great if Wiggins tried for a Paris-Roubaix/LBL double next year. He demonstrated on Trentino that he can convert from a cobbles racer to a climber in the time between the two races. I think only Merckx has won them both in the same year and it would appeal to his sense of history.

Sam April 28, 2014 at 11:11 am

I’m with you on that. Would be a great objective.

PJ April 28, 2014 at 5:25 am

Gerrans is a canny, unflappable bike rider who has a real gift for reading race situations. These qualities have been major contributors to his increasingly impressive palmares. But he hasn’t drawn the short straw in a physiological sense, either. As Abdu points out – it’s not like the guy pedals squares instead of circles. He has always had a finisher’s withering burst of speed, and now in his 30’s can call on the endurance reserves of pro bike racer with many years of ‘miles in the legs’.

I agree that most of the race was a bit of a damp squib as far as a spectacle is concerned. There is no modern-day Eddy Merckx in the peloton who is either capable or willing to try and ride the entire L-B-L peloton off their wheel with 50k or more to go. So, for legitimate race contenders, animating the race ultimately boils down to an evaluation of risk versus reward. When there isn’t a vast difference in talent between the protagonists – the rider that effectively uses his smarts, his team and conserves energy is more likely to win.

garuda April 28, 2014 at 6:11 am

A more substantial hill/mountain somewhere within the last 40k would shift the dynamics as it would be the place to break up the peloton instead of a 40 riders arriving at the last 2k together. The large number of teammates was the factor that discouraged any attacks as surely Movistar, or Garmin, or Orica could just throw more people in the chase. My bias BTW is towards maintaining this as the stage racer’s Monument, that climber’s with a sprint can win, or punchy riders. We do not need more Sagan, Cancellarra, EBH (ha) rolleur fests.

IanPa April 28, 2014 at 6:22 am

Liege has been a let down for the past few years, its raced in the same style as the Tour Mountain stages, they are becoming one attack wonders – cleaner riders means the harder parcours are ridden more conservatively with riders only able to risk one major attack, in fact Flanders and Roubaix are going the same way, its just their ultra selective parcours means that less riders are at the pointy end of the race than Liege/ Amstel/ Fleche, where you have a lot more smaller/ climber rouleur riders able to get round. – A lot has been said about Gerran’s being invisible – did anyone see Dan Martin during the race? Not me. Dan had his one oppurtunity and was burning his candle quickly, we wont know what the outcome would have been but he raced to win in his style – exactly as Gerrans did – you cant blame riders for relying on their known ability.

Carn Soaks April 28, 2014 at 7:16 am

Team ride of the day, has to go to AG2RLM. I don’t want to think how god they could have gone if the “Little Hippie” Bentacur was in the squad today.
And There was a paragraph missing. Pieter Weening, rode the front from 2.5 to 1.2 Kms, putting the bunch in touch. They guy deserves some kudo’s, he could ride next to Vockler in any race, getting the coverage and the dollars, but he has happily done the team proud all week. Class act. Atleast there is one decent Dutchman.

JJ McAnerney April 28, 2014 at 8:11 am

Of course Gerrans was a worthy winner, its a 260km bike race with 10 incredibly hard climbs and god knows how many uncatagorised ones and Gerrans said himself he was going through difficult points with 30km to go and that he was hanging on by the skin of his teeth. Chapeau Simon Gerrans

Bundle April 28, 2014 at 9:36 am

And by the way, and sorry for intervening again. BMC letting Evans, Van Avermaet and TJVG rest for this day? Any of them could perfectly have been present, and catch a breakaway. With the attitudes we saw yesterday, they wouldn’t have been far from winning.

PT April 28, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Perhaps – but all the guys you list were busy elsewhere or had just finished races.

Bundle April 29, 2014 at 10:28 pm

Evans should have come, straight from Trentino, like Pozzovivo. Van Avermaet looked fine the week before, and last year he did Liège after having raced much more. TJVG has rested since Basque Country and could have done Liège before Romandie, like Kwiatkowski. Maybe Gilbert didn’t want such a strong team around…

The Inner Ring April 29, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Note GVA was going to have a holiday after Flanders but with his form the team agreed he’d do one more race, the Amstel.

AK April 28, 2014 at 9:44 am

This shows once again that if you let the finish be the decisive moment, the best finisher wins. There’s a few guys in the peleton that are good sprinters and can last for long. Kristoff, Degenkolb, Gerrans, Sagan when he finds his top form back. Most other riders can’t afford to arrive at the line with any of them in the group, but it’s not easy to leave them behind. The LBL course offers quite some opportunity to for pure climbers to shed these guys, but it means you have to risk a lot. It was obvious to me that if they’d arrive with that big group, Gerrans was by far the most likely to win. DS from other teams must have known that too, but I guess by the time they realized it was too late, Gerrans still had enough in his legs and excellent support in the form of Weening. Can’t blame OGE for playing this game, even if it makes for poor entertainment. Other teams should be blaming themselves for racing so conservatively that a 30 man group could arrive together.
I guess if you’re a good climber with a poor sprint the best tactic is to make the race hard from far out. Let your team set a crazy pace from something like the Stockeu on, thin out the bunch as much as possible and then try to jump clear on the Faucons or Nicolas. But that means you need both a strong team and very strong legs yourself. Blow up before the end and your teammates will be less motivated to burn themselves to the ground next time. I guess the teams care too much for those few points you get for seventh place to risk such an all-or-nothing strategy.

gabriele April 28, 2014 at 12:48 pm

+ 1
Valverde tried to do that, and that’s why his team was so weak in the finale (compare to the OGE, weaker on paper). They rode quite hard from -90kms to -50kms, and that hurts. The problem is that Valverde didn’t have the legs or more probably the courage to go on the attack before the last two short climbs. He rode defensively on the Roche, blocking attacks instead of fostering them. He maybe thought that Gerrans could be dropped in the last climbs (he won some tight sprint against him, too, sometime; just as he lost others).
He took the wrong kind of risk…

STS April 28, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Good point!
Do we agree that we have seen in recent years a clear development towards race scenarios like the one we witnessed yesterday?
There are some different factors contributing to this development: Lesser or at least less effective doping, more scientific and more professional training which applies to anyone in a team not only the marquee riders, advanced bicycle and equipment technology especially in terms of aerodynamics, race radios and team management using TV live coverage to have their riders react immediately to any development in the race.
Some of those factors diminish the differences between different riders’ abilities or the effect that those still existing differences have during a race. But there is one factor that has not been adapted to that development: The race courses especially those of the holy classics. During yesterday’s TV coverage there were some moments where you could see the (after more than 200 km) still big main group flying along on wide roads at speeds way beyond 60 kph. Even if those stretches were descents it shows that it doesn’t make sense even for the strongest riders to animate the race before the last climb. You can’t be so much stronger than the average professional in order to be able to keep any advantage you have created because of your superior strength on a climb. I would go as far as saying that on a descent with 3 to 5% slope on a wide road you will lose more time riding alone or in a small group compared to the big bunch than you could gain on any significant climb during the same time span.
There are some race courses which, incidentally or intentionally, take this into account and reward – or at least don’t punish – those who attack early. Strade Bianchi is one that prominently comes to my mind. I don’t remember a single edition of that young race that did not live up to the expectations in terms of entertainment for cycling fans. And it has also always had a “deserved” winner.
Designing a race course favoring an animated race does not take a master mind but certainly you have to avoid some mistakes. One of the biggest mistakes is implementing descents or flat stretches on wide roads especially in the final of a race. If you want to have wide roads being part of your course you should use them for the climbs since this opens the field for more attacks and makes it less important to fight for positions before the climb begins. Once the climb is crested the route should switch as soon as possible to a winding and rather small road where attackers will soon get out of sight of the peloton and the peloton can’t go much faster than the attackers.
And the closer you get to the finish the more important the course design becomes. While finishing a race in the center of a rather big town might seem (as opposed to be) a necessity for some organizers they should always prioritize designing the course with regards to the desired screenplay of the race. Because that’s what in this age of international broadcasting of sports events finally matters when it comes to the echo a race will receive and attention future editions will face. And attention is the currency which sponsors use to assess their investments.
In this respect LBL is a good example for a race course that hasn’t evolved much over its recent history and certainly not into a desirable direction. From my point of view it has many flaws but the stretch between the Côte de la Roche aux Faucons and the Côte du Saint Nicolas is an absolute No-Go for any race final but especially for a race of that caliber.

AK April 28, 2014 at 11:22 pm

Sounds like a good idea but it’s not as easy as it sounds. You have to do with the available roads. You can’t close down every road. Wide roads are usually not very steep, so they do not make great places for attacking if you use them as uphills.
And anyway it’s not that the coarse is not selective. The last few km of the Flanders coarse is a big wide road too.

BC April 28, 2014 at 10:00 am

Always good to hear the views of those ‘down under’. Of course Gerrans win was well deserved in the circumstances. Those who should know better played right into his hands – or legs ! The Aussies certainly have more to cheer about than SKY supporters !
It is the circumstances which raise the questions. Why have most of the classics become something of a non event, Roubaix and Flanders excepted. The outstanding feature about these two events are selective courses, where the strongest must fight to be near the head of affairs and where yelling instructions into race radios has little or no effect. What we have witnessed otherwise are courses which have not changed sufficiently to cater for rider and technological development over the last fifty years. Riders who are instructed not to adopt an attacking approach or attitude, which leaves us with the rather mind dumbing spectacle of watching a ‘club run’ for six or seven hours, capped by a few minutes of action at the end. There is not even the possibility to assess tactical possibilities, because there are non. In the circumstances maybe Gerrans win will be a wake up call to those well paid fools responsible for the current state of affairs.

Richard Pasco April 28, 2014 at 1:12 pm

Is it just as simple, as was said above, cleaner riders have less matches to burn and so save their legs for one push late on?

All the Gerrans bashing is stupid – if he can climb as well as you then sprint better, then you got beat by a better rider.

Sam April 28, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Quite right. As for his rivals, well, if they do nothing to shake up the race in the preceding 260km to try to stop it coming down to a sprint…what the heck do they expect?

Anyoldbike April 28, 2014 at 2:11 pm

The issue may be that the sport is more ‘scientific’ in it’s approach than it was in the good old days and the tactics of the various teams are matching up – they’re all riding fast, with strong teams. Adding climbs or deleting them doesn’t guarantee more exciting racing. I think whatever changes are introduced, the teams will adapt to and try to counter each other; that is the way of all other professional sports. A change that might have an impact, for a while, is some sort of elimination, with only a set number of riders past a sprint point or the top of a climb, being allowed to continue on. That might reduce team numbers, limiting capacity to chase etc. and possibly create more interest in getting riders in breakaways etc. It might tire some riders by putting in additional surges. Any changes have pros and cons but effecting team balance during the race might be worth thinking about.

Bundle April 28, 2014 at 2:40 pm

The main “scientific” point here is that, as speeds have increased due to technical improvements, drafting has become ever more advantageous compared to riding in the wind (thus discouraging offensive racing), and the overall effort needed to complete the race has decreased. Hence the need to increase mileage, significantly: to bring speeds back to a level where drafting is not so advantageous (chiefly), and also to restore the level of effort required, so that riders get to the end as exhausted as ever.

whaleoilbeefhooked April 28, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Apart from smart racing Gerrans was smart enough to leave Sky.

Larry T. April 28, 2014 at 3:09 pm

I wasn’t jumping for joy when The Sniper went past the Green Bullet, but happy in the “anyone BUT the Green Bullet!” mode as I think unrepentant cheaters ought to be kicked out of the sport. The Sniper reminds me of ol’ Oscar Freire in many ways – you don’t see much of him until it really counts. Basic racing tactics say it’s up to the racers without any sprint at the end to ditch the fast finishers before they have a chance to sprint while everyone knows the course layout and elevation profile well before the race begins. As usual (and I think that’s why they have these contests?) the best man won. And while hoping not to jinx things, the “You suck! No YOU suck!” commenters seem to have gone elsewhere, or are they getting edited? Either way, it’s great :-) This is the best cycling fan forum on the ‘net!!

Darren April 28, 2014 at 10:28 pm

totally agree as to 1st sentence and cause for happiness!
as we would say on south africa, the green bullet makes me want to ‘spit spiders’!

The Inner Ring April 28, 2014 at 10:33 pm

Fourth place Caruso’s no saint either. Busted in the Tour Down Under and storing blood with Fuentes again too.

gabriele April 30, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Storing blood with Fuentes?
I recall him being cleared from the accusations, which were related to Fuentes hinting at his stage classification in one of his many bugged phone calls. He repeatedly offered for a DNA match with the blood bags, but Torri (the prosecutor) always stood against this option (which he was ready to take advantage of in the cases of Basso and Valverde).
Apparently, the team didn’t want to pay Fuentes’ services in his case because “he wasn’t worth of”. But this is what the rider and the team say, obviously (anyway, we may recall that even in USPS people received or not “treatment” according to the team’s plans and some kind of attitude/performance “ranking”).

Is there somehing else about the bags? I’m asking seriously, since I stopped following the story when Caruso was finally acquitted.
For what I know, at least in OP Caruso is one of the riders who have paid for their (hypothetic) faults in a disproportionate way, comparing to the (very scarce) elements possibly relating to them. The Italian prosecutor (a dubious figure himself) was obsessed with him and maintained him in a two years limbo resorting to legal gimmick and political pressure.

gabriele April 30, 2014 at 12:34 pm

I tend to prefer unrepetant cheaters to uncaught cheaters.
But that’s very personal.
I read in the Merriam-Webster that “repent” means exactly to “feel or show” contrition. The problem about that *or* makes me deeply indifferent to the fact that a rider repents or not.

Anyway, since we have enough proofs to think that both the chance to dope significantly more (when you’re nearly free to do so) AND the various antidoping storms are correlated to political factors, the fact that Valverde was able to win – or, better said, *nearly* win :-) so steadily along so many years and in so many different political contexts, should lead us to think that he’s a rider who has a lot more in himself than doping.
That, or seeing with you own eyes that we’re speaking of a quite classy rider, because cycling is not just a power-output game.
Be it doping, doping less, not doping… he’s always delivering (at least in terms of performance, his “strategic” limits are another chapter).
The kind of rider who has more to lose from a widespread doping system, indeed.
(which doesn’t mean that it was less than totally correct that he had to pay, when he was caught; just as it would be correct, now, to suspect about him – or not – in the same way as you should with many other *uncaught* riders).

jaded May 1, 2014 at 7:06 am

Im just going to watch the Women’s races from now on .Of course it might be hard to find on on the tellie.. maybe Steephill will show another one this season. I watched them race in Australia before the T d Under . That was a good race.. These girls have to fight for their spot on any team but don’t get a fraction of the money .. same old story. I think because of that money imbalance it is probably a lot cleaner than mens racing.
Unrepentant and or uncaught . Think I would put them in the same boat . Most of those that have been caught plead innocence, bad meat, spiked drink mix etc. and then there are those that haven’t been caught yet . There are quite a few of them , if not nearly all the rest of them. Professional sports (with the amounts of money thrown around ) leaves little or no room for good guys…they can’t risk not “supplementing their performances” . GC contenders have to be all dirty , domestiques and water bottle boys probably can ride clean “pane y vino” nobody knows who they are / or remembers there names (been there done that)

Dave April 28, 2014 at 3:16 pm

I tend to agree that it was not the most liveliest of races.
Watching the Tour of Turkey beforehand I can tell you that my heart was in my mouth in the last 10 km!
As for my compatriot DM, one can only hope that he has now killed off his inner ‘Menchov’ ;)

Mike April 28, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Relatively new to all this Bike Racing stuff. Surrounded by cyclists so I think I get it. Very familiar with evolution and the idea of game theory (look it up) . So I say go the way of American Baseball and Football (yes I know they don’t use their feet) and let them all do what they want . Everyone want to see a 300 lb guy ran a 10.1 sec 100m in full gear. Everyone wants to see a popeye armed guy hit a ball across the fence and out of the neighbourhood. Cycle racing is for the most part predictable and boring. how many of you record and watch the last 5 kms? when it is convenient. Long gone are the days of getting up at 4.30 in the morning to watch the T d F live (even if it wasn’t really live ).
USA television ,for the most part, doesn’t show any cycling and don’t even think about trying to find a womens race!!!!!!. but there are 20 baseball games showing at any one time!!!
Radios, satellite mapping, $500,000 dollar TT bikes, wind tunnel testing, genetically engineered legs and arms to cut drag, micro doping , mega doping…. lets have it all . At least in the past there were a lot ” MORE” great attacks (we all know what I am referring to ). That look , That hill climb attack, that miraculous come back from bike problems up hill by themselves. .. Now that was fun to watch, even if it was a little suspect.
Cycling will have to go the way of all Spectator sports if it is to survive, it has to be a reality show (hee hee) real, spontaneous, ad libbed, unrehearsed, full of screw ups..and if that format doesn’t work then screenwrite the whole thing including who attacks whom, who wins, who crashes , which animal runs onto course … lets make it real folks….
spontaneous, ad libbed. real (he he )

Sam April 28, 2014 at 5:29 pm

Great spoof post

noel April 28, 2014 at 5:08 pm

‘…real, spontaneous, ad libbed, unrehearsed, full of screw ups….’
I think getting rid of race radios would help to regain some of that rather than drugging/killing our best young athletes

Anonymous April 28, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Nobody wants to see young riders sent down that road. I am an Aussie living in the States , so obviously I love to see” Gerro” win and was lucky to meet all the New Green Edge team (original group ) at the Tour Down Under a few years back. At the same time I have friends here whose teenage kids play Football here in the States who are pressured at a very dangerous time in there “growing years ” to” beef up” shall we say. Yes non professional high school kids because Coaches, sponsors , boosters all want to see winners….It has to change but how??
On another note:
When all the contenders in a big race make it to the last climb together they are doing exactly what they are meant to do. A good friend who is a women’s team coach said that the main idea in any race is to conserve as much of your energy as you can throughout the race with just enough left at the end when it counts. Why go out on an early break away as the team cars/ managers know exactly who is out there (and have told you via earpiece) told you exactly what speed you must maintain so you can catch them at the 1 km banner or wherever. who is fading as should be attacked, where we can give you extra food and drinks illegally with least chance of the TV cameras getting it on fiIt really is hard to take it seriously any more. Go to a kids High school Mountain Bike race for some real fun . Maybe the High School Cheerleaders/ Babd will turn up andliven things up a bunch. So get rid of all the radios, extra cars, make them fix there own flats, weld up there steel handle bars at the local farmers shed, dip their empty water bottle into a make shift water trough , stop for a baguette and some Chablis, some Fava beans and some nice Chianti
or a cold Pilsener just like the Old days…..

Evan April 28, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Definitely looks like Dan Martin dug his pedal on the turn. Oil slick my arse.

Steppings April 29, 2014 at 12:04 am

That’s what I thought too.

Darren April 29, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Not easy for DM to say it was the Garmin Vector pedal when they are the main sponsor!

Chrisman April 28, 2014 at 10:12 pm

On reflection, this race was perfect for Martin and I believe he had more than enough in the tank to fend off Gerrans and Valverde. This is, as some have said, the stage-racers monument. There was enough hard graft before the final to take most of the punch out of Gilbert’s legs. Martin’s attack was not so much an attack, more a holding of pace/form when others struggled. Martin doesn’t do big punches and the subtle 1-2 of the LBL finale suits him perfectly. It’s not the main hill he gets them on, it’s the next dig. He has a half-decent sprint, but it’s the grinding, slow building effort.

The race is hard enough early on, and ‘easy’ enough in the final to mean it’s tailor-made for Martin. I think the last 2 races will give him more confidence despite missing out badly. I think on finishes of 0-5km uphill, he is arguably the best out there. As long as it’s long enough to rule out Gilbert and short enough to rule out J-Rod/Contador/Froome, there is no-one better. There was a big group of favourites at the end on Sunday and he was the strongest.

One thing watching the classics has taught me this year – value and appreciate OPQS. I think the problem is that not enough teams truly value or more importantly, actually know how to ride the classics. Everything is GC-centric. Sky generally flounder despite having ‘Northern European’ talent that actually translates well. Movistar try. BMC always are protecting something. Belkin lack a plan. OPQS are the only team that regularly seems to know what they are doing.

Chrisman April 28, 2014 at 10:15 pm

I forgot to include – about 4km out, Dan Martin was the last man on the back of the pelo- snake as it approached the final. He had the race in the palm of his hand.

Darren April 28, 2014 at 10:41 pm

this article kept me more alert than the race itself STOP
normally love this race to bits STOP
problem…radio’s, radio’s, radio’s STOP
should only be radio contact between riders and commissaires STOP
anti-climaxes must STOP

Anonymous April 29, 2014 at 12:06 am

If Dan Martin had won, would all those be calling him a wheelsucker too.

PT April 29, 2014 at 5:08 am

Doubt it. It would be All Hail the dual champion!

By comparison……..Valverdes the villian, Gerro’s a thief…..its like a pantomime.

AV: “Where’s Gerro boys & girls?”

Audience: “Alejandro! He’s behind you!”

Another mous April 29, 2014 at 6:28 am

Spot on Anonymous.

Dan Martin sat in most of the way, with Nathan Haas riding for him.

Martin was only a few hundred metres different than Gerrans, but somehow he is ok while Gerrans stole it.

Not sure why no one else crashed on the same patch of oil Martin found, or why the UCI and or race organisers didn’t make a statement about it? Surely something so important would be noted. Unless of course he is just making sh1t up…?

Anonymous April 29, 2014 at 10:04 am

All this talk across the internet about Gerrans is nothing but BS.

Another Dave April 29, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Good call ! Racing is about tactics and teamwork and riding with your brains only then will the best rider have their arms in the air.

Bert April 29, 2014 at 11:39 am

I don’t get the Gerrans critique at all. The job of the cycling bodies and race organisers is to make the sport attractive. The individual rider would be ill advised, trying to perform attractively, at the expense of result chances. The best promotion for athlete and sponsors is winning, after all.

And apart from that, when at the end of a long tough race, Gerrans is the fastest of the hard ones in the front, one can really just pull his hat to that.

Another Dave April 29, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Well said Bert

Paul April 30, 2014 at 12:47 am

And after he won, he wore a CYCLING cap on the podium – no freakin’ baseball cap – that’s gotta count for something!

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