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The Moment The Race Was Won: Paris-Roubaix

John Degenkolb wins the sprint in the Roubaix velodrome. As captions go “Degenkolb wins sprint” is predictable, he won Milan-Sanremo three weeks ago in this manner. But this time it was the art and the manner of Degenkolb’s win that was so different and impressive. He rode across to the breakaway of Yves Lampaert and Greg Van Avermaet, helped tow them to Roubaix and then saw off others who’d joined this group to win by a several bike lengths.

Arenberg Roubaix

The early break took 34km to form, it’s often one of the early phase fights to get in the move and today it make even more sense. With a tailwind and without Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara plus Team Sky promising not to hit the front too early it was ideal for a group to try their luck. It worked with Aleksejs Saramotins finishing 13th and Ag2r’s neo-pro Alexis Gougeard making more of a name for himself.

Some races get going at an arbitrary point, maybe a team decides to pick up the reins and chase the breakaway but Paris-Roubaix’s first cobbled sector makes everyone nervous and you could see the bunch elongate. There was damage on the early sectors but nothing severe. This was to become a theme where relatively little happened on the cobbles, even the five star sections weren’t ruinous, no big names were stranded in the Arenberg Forest or excluded in the Mons-en-Pévèle and Carrefour de l’Arbre sectors.

Paris Roubaix level crossing

Several riders did risk being ejected by the commissaires through. The race met the closing gates on a level crossing and several riders scrambled under the barriers, risking disqualification:

As you can see the rules are strict and if the UCI could identify the riders they’d be in trouble. But the race was approaching the crossing at 50km/h and race director Thierry Gouvenou said the UCI commissaires were too far back to identify the riders. The President of the Jury decided not to disqualify the riders but neutralise the race briefly so that those who did wait were able to get back without being penalised for doing the right thing. It the cold light of day it’s a poor decision given the awful signal it sends to riders to try their luck even if a 320km/h TGV is approaching. But in reality the commissaires could not act instantly because they weren’t able to identify the riders. The UCI could still follow up with video evidence. Don’t hold your breath.

Trains are a big worry for race director Gouvenou and his team at ASO. They spend hours poring over rail timetables especially as the race crosses the same railway line five times within a short space. The best plans can go wrong and the tailwind sped the race way ahead of schedule exposing it to the risk of a level crossing closure. Even a ten minute delay to the start to compensate for the tailwind wasn’t enough.

Paris Roubaix

With 70km to go Etixx-Quickstep sensed or maybe just got radioed about the crosswinds and they moved to the front and split the front group. A bold move from far out and initially it caught several riders by surprise, notably Alexander Kristoff, Greg Van Avermaet and Bradley Wiggins who wasn’t looking his usual smooth self on the bike. But it all came back together which just prompted more moves with André Greipel visible once again.

Just as they quit the tough Mons-en-Pévèle sector Stijn Vandenberg took a flyer. It looked like what Bradley Wiggins needed to do: go clear and turn the race into a time trial and leave the others looking at each other. Maybe Wiggins realised it too because he took off at the end of the Templeuve pavé. He bridged across to Vandenbergh and was joined by Jens Debusschere and then Zdeněk Štybar came across. With 30km it was the right time for Wiggins to try a a solo move but he had two Etixx-Quick Step riders on his wheel. The effort was showing while behind Wanty-Groupe Gobert were chasing and cutting the gap until Katusha took over and reeled in the move.

By now it was time for the big names to show themselves but a sizeable peloton was countering any attacks. With 22km to go Niki Terpstra was visible on the front for the first time and then Sep Vanmarcke had a go. But nobody was going anywhere. Jurgen Roelandts tried a move with Borut Božič which began to take time but again was reeled in.

With 12.5km to go Yves Lampaert took off. He’s a promising rider but this looked like a classic Etixx-Quick Step move: send a rider up the road and force others to respond, to exploit the asymmetry between attack and defence. Only Greg Van Avermaet chased in person and in no time the peloton was blown into pieces. Giant-Alpecin got to work with Bert de Backer pacing John Degenkolb until the team captain went solo in pursuit. Degenkolb had been looking fresh all day and with Kristoff clearly struggling, the German was the best bet for the sprint but preferred to shape the result himself. It was high risk, more so since Lampaert and GVA cut their efforts once Degenkolb joined them. With Lampaert sitting in Štybar  bridged across, a crucial factor in Degenkolb’s success because it put Lampaert back to work in the group. Lampaert’s pace wasn’t enough to stop a small group joining them just before they entered the velodrome with Lars Boom, Martin Elmiger, and Jens Keukeleire adding to the nervous finish.

Come the sprint and the result was inevitable as Degenkolb was perfectly positioned seeing off a late surge by Lars Boom on the final bend to finish comfortably ahead of Štybar and Van Avermaet. Behind Alexander Kristoff was beaten by Jens Debusschere in the bunch sprint.

John Degenkolb Roubaix

The Verdict: The five star cobbled sections didn’t wreak their usual damage and a sizeable peloton approached the finish but the action was saved for late with a thrilling final 10km. John Degenkolb won in style, this wasn’t the story of sprinter who sat tight, instead he, with the help of his team, bridged across to the lead breakaway, helped tow them to Roubaix and only then did he use his sprint to win by several lengths. As he told TV after the race “I was not afraid to fail and that was the key”. Kristoff did this last week too.

“Dege” gets his place in history as the second German winner of the race since Josef Fischer won the inaugural race in 1896 and he’s also the third rider to win Paris-Roubaix and Milan-Sanremo in the same year after Cyrille Van Hauwaert in 1909 and Sean Kelly in 1986. Anecdotal? Doch as they say in Germany because the sport is on the rise again in Europe’s largest consumer market, there are even secret plans to resurrect the Deutschland Tour and having a figurehead like this can only help bost things further. Marcel Kittel’s success – and apparently a long chat – has been enough to convince TV channel ARD to go back to the Tour de France, now Degenkolb’s success builds on this.

For the others yet another podium for Greg Van Avermaet and once again he too took risks to get this. What can he do to win? It’s hard to see the scenario where he wins because Degenkolb was always going to be faster. Štybar came close but again what could he do about Degenkolb? After second place in the E3 Harelbeke and a win in the Strade Bianche he’s been the equal of Niki Terpsta but it means many podium places and no big win. As good as they are, Etixx-Quick Step have been beaten fairly again and again.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Merino Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:21 pm

    Having MSR in the bag must have helped shape Degs choice to risk loosing it in order to try for a win. I applaud that ethic and hope that he and Kristoff develop a classics rivalry that can live up to Can v Bon of recent times

    • Stretch Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:31 pm

      Was thinking the same , if Kristoff is the new Boonen, does that make Degenkolb the new Cancellara ?

      In a classic sense

      • J Evans Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:39 pm

        Neither have shown the ability to attack alone from long range that Cancellara and Boonen have, but they do have the sprint and so look like they could win many.
        Sagan and Van Avermaet look like they might never win a Monument: Sagan is looking like EBH, whilst GVA doesn’t have enough of either of the attributes I mention above.
        I still have the suspicion that Sagan is one of those riders who although very good can’t quite handle the Monument distance.

        • Angela Sunday, 12 April 2015, 11:52 pm

          In Monument terms, Sagz is still an extremely young rider. Most people don’t start winning monuments until they’re 26 or so, simply because of the stamina and race nous you need to accumulate in order to know how to win.

          • J Evans Monday, 13 April 2015, 12:59 am

            Good point – although I doubt Sagan will ever have anything approaching nous.

          • Anonymous Monday, 13 April 2015, 8:08 am

            Sagan’s tactics this spring only really failed him in the MSR, otherwise it’s been the legs, so maybe he’s improving on the nous part.

            Probably would have been beaten by Dege in the sprint had he been there, but would have deserved a chance at least.

          • Tovarish Monday, 13 April 2015, 8:41 am

            He is a an extremely experienceв Classics rider, though бcompeting in nearly all of them for the last 5 years.

          • Tovarish Monday, 13 April 2015, 8:49 am

            Sorry for the random Cyrillic letters – I’ve got a new automatic keyboard and it has a mind of its own!

          • ArgyllFlyer Monday, 13 April 2015, 10:48 pm

            Sagan’s physical condition is worsening with the seasons, not improving.

    • Andrew E Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:46 pm

      I think we may have found our top rivalry of the future on the cobbles.

  • Andrew E Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:24 pm

    Very, very happy for Degenkolb. Won it the right way, grabbing it by the scruff of the neck and, as he said on TV, being unafraid to lose. I have really warmed to him a lot with this win.

    As for Wiggo (yes, I must mention him) he did what you would expect for a man of his record in one day races, he gave a good account of himself but didn’t trouble the scorers. Luke Rowe has now finished higher in Roubaix than he did.

    The question I’m left with after this cobbled season, though, is who is better: Kristoff or Degenkolb?

    • Anonymous Monday, 13 April 2015, 2:36 am

      You should get your own blog…

      • Andrew E Monday, 13 April 2015, 12:10 pm

        No need now. Wiggo is yesterday’s news.

        • The Inner Ring Monday, 13 April 2015, 12:19 pm

          Please keep it civil, too many rude comments to other readers and you’ll comments get flagged up as spam. Wiggins has only stopped with Team Sky and will surely be in the news again and again in the coming weeks and days.

  • Anonymous Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:27 pm

    “Behind Alexander Kristoff was beaten by Jens Debusschere in the bunch sprint.”

    Kristoff won the bunch sprint, but Luke Rowe and Jens Debusschere were ahead of the bunch.

  • Marc Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:32 pm

    “Behind Alexander Kristoff was beaten by Jens Debusschere in the bunch sprint.”

    That’s not exactly true. Luke Rowe outsprinted Debusschere for 8th, and there was a small gap between them and the Kristoff-led bunch.

    • Mike Monday, 13 April 2015, 9:30 am

      Rowe was saying after the race that he and Debusschere gapped the others a couple of kilometres out and worked together to stay ahead.

      They’ve both had quite promising classics seasons for 25 year olds, I wouldn’t be that surprised if they’re sprinting against each other for a win in the future.

      • Tovarishch Monday, 13 April 2015, 2:19 pm

        My feed froze just as they came onto the velodrome but I caught Rowe taking a high line round the banking to dive over Debusschere in classic track riding style. I doubt if he would have been anywhere near him in a flat sprint.

        • Mike Tuesday, 14 April 2015, 12:32 am

          As the latest article reminds us, Rowe also beat Debusschere in the minor placings sprint at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. A sprint after 200km is not a normal sprint.

  • J Evans Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:32 pm

    Great to see bravery winning a race – especially a sprinter working hard – and who has a bad word to say about Dege?
    If they were able – and that’s a big if – someone from the group with him should have attacked, but you can say that about a couple of dozen riders (and all with an if).

  • Beno Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:33 pm

    Thank you inrng. Your analysis of Lampaert’s move and the response to it is spot on I think. A shame to see Sagan struggling with a mechanical as he really seemed to be conducting affairs at the front well after 200km, which was positive to see after the last few weeks.

    • J Evans Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:39 pm

      Sagan’s race looked over before the mechanical.

      • Anonymous Sunday, 12 April 2015, 8:50 pm

        J Evans… absolute rubbish, he was on the front @ carrefour, and he was marking moves and still strong – he was riding in and around Dege and Styby just before they took off… his untimely mechanical probably robbed him of the chance to go with them.

        • J Evans Sunday, 12 April 2015, 9:48 pm

          Nothing he has done for a very long time suggests that this is the case.

      • AK Sunday, 12 April 2015, 10:37 pm

        He was struggling with his gears for a while before he got the bike change, according to Sporza commentary, which was why he was at the back. Before that he looked OK.

        • Anonymous Monday, 13 April 2015, 12:55 am

          This is true – you can see him whacking his left shifter repeatedly on several occasions after coming off the pave

  • Augie March Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:33 pm

    Another tactical misstep for EQS? Lampaert is said to be quite the sprinter, but he was put to work driving the pace for Stybar. Again Etixx seemed happy to work with much faster finishers in small moves. Phillipe Gilbert and Simon Gerrans must be looking forward to the Ardenes races even more than they were before, secure in the knowledge that there will always be an obliging EQS rider happy to give them a lift to the line.

    And while history will show Wiggins failed to make the top 10, he actually rode a pretty good race, staying with almost all of the splits and even putting in some serious attacks. The loss of Thomas may have hurt Sky, but none the less it was a classy exit for a sometimes controversial figure in the sport.

    • Andrew E Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:42 pm

      I, for one, now regard Etixx as complete tactical idiots. They may put a brave face on it but they are always there with multiple riders and consistently fail to land the top step as much as their chances determine they should. I have no excuses for them.

      • Tom Sunday, 12 April 2015, 8:31 pm

        EQS: Providing Leadouts for Champions since 2015!

    • J Evans Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:45 pm

      I thought the same, but then Lampaert completely faded in the velodrome, so perhaps EQS knew that he was knackered. They badly need someone with a sprint finish, otherwise they’re tactically stymied.

      • Augie March Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:49 pm

        He was probably knackered because of the huge effort he’d put in over the previous few kilometres, he should have sat on Degenkolb’s wheel (I know, I know, wisdom of the sofa). GVA always seems to end up on the lower two steps of the podium after usually racing by himself, but as Andrew E points out, EQS manage the same trick even though they always seem to have multiple options.

        • J Evans Sunday, 12 April 2015, 8:19 pm

          Yup, I agree with you: I was just presenting a possible mitigation. I was watching it saying (I like to talk to the riders) ‘There’s no point in an EQS rider pulling at the front at this point’.

        • channel_zero Sunday, 12 April 2015, 8:37 pm

          Boom finally made it without tragedy to the velodrome!!!! He’s got the stuff to win this race. He has had the skills for years.

          All the parts are there but for the difficulty winning….

          • channel_zero Sunday, 12 April 2015, 8:38 pm

            This wasn’t supposed to be a reply to Augie…

    • SeeingElvis Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:51 pm

      Very good point on EQS, Augie, and entertainingly expressed.

      Nevertheless, a classy win by JD taking the bull by the horns. Seems like a good guy, to boot.

      I was sorry to see Sagan suffer the mechanical, because he seemed pretty engaged, although perhaps not protecting his shelter enough. I was impressed that he got back on at all; must have been a huge effort that likely cooked him for the k’s to follow.

      I was amazed at the size of the bunch so late into the race.

      • Augie March Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:57 pm

        Cheers.

        Wiggins called the race “a bit soft”, referring to the lack of huge forcing by the ultra-strong, perhaps a consequence of both Boonen and Cancellara missing in action?

        JD rode a flawless race for sure, my only real complaint about him is his ratty moustache….

        • Andrew E Sunday, 12 April 2015, 8:03 pm

          There is an argument that says that if either Kristoff or Degenkolb make the final then the race was too soft. When there were 20 odd riders closing in on the finish I did wonder how hard the race had actually been. But I’m starting to think that Kristoff and Dege are just hard b*******.

          • SPR Sunday, 12 April 2015, 8:54 pm

            Degenkolb was second last year, and when it kicked off last year, he was in the leading group of five with Cancellara, Vanmarcke, Sagan and Stybar. Today, he was pretty much at the front whenever anything happened.

        • J Evans Sunday, 12 April 2015, 8:27 pm

          Two words: ‘Gary’ and ‘Neville’.

        • SeeingElvis Sunday, 12 April 2015, 11:48 pm

          Hah!

          I was watching the race with guests who ride but never raced and I was explaining the tactics as we watched, including a few “Why the hell would he/they…” and at end when JD was cleaning up, my friend asked if that was a mustache or residual dirt on his lip!
          He has earned the right to rock a handlebar ‘stache if he wants with 2 monuments in a season.
          Chapeau.

          Regulars to this site know (and are perhaps nauseated by) my unalloyed affection for Boonen and Cancellara. They have provided so much great racing over the years. I hope for their sake and ours that they can see one more classics season in good health and in fighting form.

        • george Monday, 13 April 2015, 1:46 am

          You could see everyone marking each other to death on the cobbles. As INRNG pointed out, almost none of the cobbled sectors were decisive, except for who was dropped. I think so many teams thought they had a shot that they all wanted to stifle the race and marked everything that moved. Chapeau to Degenkolb though, he was consistently at the front and shut down or followed every move.

        • Tovarish Monday, 13 April 2015, 9:32 am

          I think he borrowed it off Luke Rowe

    • J Evans Sunday, 12 April 2015, 8:25 pm

      Thankfully, Kwiatkowski has not yet fallen into this way of riding – and they don’t have the same strength in depth in the Ardennes.

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 12 April 2015, 8:35 pm

      Lampaert is good but still young and was probably stuffed after 250km.

  • Larry T. Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:36 pm

    “I was not afraid to fail and that was the key” made for a deserving win. When he started his chase I remembered the recent interview and thought this guy will turn himself inside-out to get up there, can he make it? Once he joined the group it was all over and I think all of them knew it. I guess we can now admit the bike touted as a “game-changer” was nothing of the sort?

    • J Evans Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:40 pm

      Never believed the marketing hype anyway. It’s going to take more than a spring under your bottom for Sky to win a Monument.

    • Stretch Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:43 pm

      I’m sure someone once wrote “its not about the bike”
      Can’t remember who .

      • LDR99 Sunday, 12 April 2015, 9:39 pm

        Mars Blackmon: “Gotta be da shoes, Michael!”

    • Andrew E Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:51 pm

      I’m pretty sure didn’t think all you have to do is design the Uber bike and a win is assured. Didn’t do Luke Rowe any harm though.

  • Anonymous Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:40 pm

    Pouring over railway timetables or poring?

    Great article though.

  • Insider Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:41 pm

    I think for some reason, Degenkolb has been tagged a “Sprinter” by all the media, which is certainly wrong.
    Look at his past:
    He was 2nd at the Junior World Time Trial Championships (behind Taylor Phinney) and 5th in the road race the same year (behind 3 Italians (1-3) and Sagen (4th) on a difficult course in Aguascalientes/ Mexico.
    During his U23 years, he was up there in the most challenging road races (Tour de l´Avenir etc) together with Dominik Nerz (long time BMC, now Bora-Argon), who was a slightly better climber, but Dege had the better finish..
    So he is so much more than “a sprinter”, which he showed with class and style today. Always perfectly positioned, tactically astute, never in trouble.
    Hats off to his style of winning and his interview: “I was not afraid of failing, that was the key”.
    You are a true champion, Dege!

    (and thanks for NOT taking your kid on the podium!!)

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 12 April 2015, 8:33 pm

      He’s been a very good amateur, and a team mate of Kittel in Thuringia, which helps explain how they ride well together today. Just one thing on judging a rider’s past, the amateur riding is different, I’ve cited the example before of Tom Boonen on the podium of the U23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège on here before: if a rider has the big aerobic capacity to feature like this they’ll still have become a specialist when they turn pro.

      • J Evans Sunday, 12 April 2015, 9:54 pm

        Are we – in these days of increased specialisation – ever going to see a rider win all five Monuments again?
        GVM or Kwiatkowski would seem the most likely candidates, perhaps, but not all that likely.
        Sagan and EBH once seemed possibilities.
        Can anyone think of others? Stybar? Gilbert?

        • J Evans Sunday, 12 April 2015, 9:54 pm

          Oh and I think potentially Nibali if he focused on that.

          • Samuel G Sunday, 12 April 2015, 10:47 pm

            Thomas

        • Merino Sunday, 12 April 2015, 10:49 pm

          From what i have seen recently it seems the bigger/strongmen riders are more likley to adapt to a hillier terrain than the smaller stature riders being successful at a MSR or PR. Not to harp on about Wiggins but that surely is a fantastic adaption process he has achieved through his career that many others cannot/would not achieve and has allowed him to recieve plaudits from all corners.

          I think another reason it would be difficult, is the rider/team would have to agree to make it a goal. As it is such a long term goal i can only see riders that achieve early success in a couple of the monuments, quite possibly the ones he is least physically attributed to win in order to allow a team to organise and prepare for assaults at the remaining monuments. With sponsors and UCI points a possible distraction only a few riders will ever be in a position to realistically go for 5 regardless of physical ability.

          People may scoff but Geraint Thomas is one of the few riders I can think of that would have the physical abilities and possibly the teams backing of such a broad goal. But already i have contradicted myself because he has no monuments won. Sagan come to mind as does Stybar but they to have no wins. I like Kwiat as a rider but I think PR is out of reach.

          A larger rider that wins MSR and PR early in their career and then drops 8 kilos and targets the other monuments with a large team that shares the goal?

          J. Dege…

        • maximflyer Monday, 13 April 2015, 7:24 am

          Those days are gone.
          Gilbert will never have a chance in Paris-Roubaix, although he came close in the Ronde few years ago. As for GVM, he is more of jack of all trades.
          The five monuments can be split into two groups: MSR, RvV, P-R and L-B-L, Lombardia. Recent winners won in one or the other group, like Cancellara, Boonen, Degenkolb, Kristoff, Gilbert and Martin.

          • irungo txuletak Monday, 13 April 2015, 4:45 pm

            Gilbert still has to win 3 of them (the 3 of the first group indeed).
            He had good placings in MSR and RvV, so why not those 2 if he has one or two super years again. However, he has almost no experience of P-R, it seems difficult.
            And the most important, he is already too old to try something like this, I think.

      • Anonymous Tuesday, 14 April 2015, 10:32 pm

        funny that the majority of german pro-cyclist seem to come from the eastern part (former gdr) martin, kittel degenkolb, greipel, voigt, ullrich, … is there more cycling tradition there?

        • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 14 April 2015, 10:58 pm

          Many are still from the generation who were able to benefit from the Sportschule (“sports school”) system which seems to have helped. But Degenkolb has moved around the country.

    • KB Sunday, 12 April 2015, 9:39 pm

      I was just re-watching P-R 2011 (Vansummeren, Cancellara, Tjallingii podium), and Strong John was there at the sharp end of the race, then riding for HTC-Columbia. Commenting on his rather robust posture, Michel Wuyts said “Look at him, he’s a ram…you could break the Berlin Wall [with that body].” Kittel was also in that race (for Skil-Shimano) and so was Cav (EQS could have used him in several finishes this Spring).

      In addition to the late shifting problem, Sagan had an earlier issue that saw him deliberately, and literally, go in a ditch (replacing the ‘f’ in ‘shifting’ with a ‘t’).

  • EightyEight Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:42 pm

    Great ride by Rowe, he worked hard earlier on to bring back the breaks and still had some left for a top 10 finish. He’s been doing some good work for Geraint the past few weeks too, usually the only Sky rider still there towards the end to help out.

  • DJ Sunday, 12 April 2015, 7:43 pm

    Great win from Degenkolb, totally deserved. He was always in the right spot today and took the bull by the horns when he had to. Some notes:
    – too bad Vanmarcke punctured yet again after making a move – just as he did in Het Nieuwsblad…
    – incomprehensible that both Vandenbergh and Stybar did not want their move with Wiggins to succeed, with neither of them working Wiggins stopped his efforts as well, whereas they could have tried to make the move stick and then play out their numerical advantage (admittedly not an EQS strength this spring).

    • STS Sunday, 12 April 2015, 10:20 pm

      Thought the same when I saw it: Why does Stybar himself go after Wiggo and his own team mate only to then simply sit on the wheel? Doesn’t make any sense to me at all. They should have tried to make the best out of it and use Wiggo’s capability for their own success since it was obvious that he would never beat Stybar.

      • Shawn Monday, 13 April 2015, 12:04 am

        I believe that once Stybar bridged the main group was very close behind and it was more like wasted energy on his part (not that saving that ‘match’ would have helped him in the finale).

    • Vanilla_Thrilla Monday, 13 April 2015, 7:17 am

      Hindsight is 20:20 but in retrospect if you’re Quickstep and you find yourself with 2 riders in a four man break with Wiggins and one of them is Stybar and you’ve got a group behind with Degenkolb and Kristoff chasing… I wonder if they had their time over if they’d choose to sit up again.

      Personally I’m glad to see Degenkolb rewarded for his aggression and risk taking, and EQS failing with their conservative approach.

    • weeclarky Monday, 13 April 2015, 7:28 am

      it seemed crazy to me too – stybar+wiggo could have been a winning move.

  • J Evans Sunday, 12 April 2015, 8:14 pm

    The UCI never upholds its own rules.

    • Ronin Monday, 13 April 2015, 12:21 am

      In this case, that’s a good thing, no? They’d have ruined the race if they tried to strictly enforce that rule.

      But, it’s not too late. The UCI can still uphold its commitment to the end the rule was intended to achieve by publicly explaining why it did not attempt to enforce the rule mid-race, as the rule suggests, and by sanctioning riders after the fact with serious fines or suspensions (if that’s possible . . .under the rules.) Further, the UCI can assist law enforcement to identify the riders who crossed illegally and make public whatever legal sanctions might come down on those riders. And, the UCI and race organizers should consult with law enforcement about procedures that might be employed to more effectively stop riders from crossing even when a peloton is caught mid-transit in an active crossing.

      • J Evans Monday, 13 April 2015, 12:53 am

        Agree. But then they should not have rules that they don’t adhere to.

        • J Evans Monday, 13 April 2015, 12:56 am

          With your first paragraph, I mean.
          Seems the best way might be to have a rule where they guarantee a neutralisation after any train-related stoppage.

          • Nick Monday, 13 April 2015, 12:20 pm

            Combination of the two would be sensible, especially these days where the presence of things like TGVs adds to the danger of jumping the crossing (it simply can’t stop in time):

            1. Do not cross a level crossing when the barriers are down.
            2. If you do, you’ll be disqualified and fined, and we will check the video to identify you.
            3. The race will be neutralised until the group is back together, so there’s no advantage in ducking the barriers anyway.

          • The Inner Ring Monday, 13 April 2015, 12:23 pm

            More on the rules at http://inrng.com/2011/03/races-railway-lines/ with an example from 2011. The French police have been asked to investigate now, they have a duty to prosecute if there’s been a breach of the law. I wonder if the UCI’s failure to act or follow up on its own rules will encourage the police to go where the UCI wouldn’t, to ensure there’s a penalty for it.

  • Finn Sunday, 12 April 2015, 8:31 pm

    Sad for Sagan he seemed to be going well before the mechanical

    • Tom Monday, 13 April 2015, 12:02 am

      Mechanical or Electrical?

      Di2: Di Harder!

  • BC Sunday, 12 April 2015, 8:38 pm

    A deserving winner who did everything required of him and a bit more. It was interesting to note his team were unobtrusive but did all that was required. We have seen some great ‘cobbled’ races over the last month and some very deserving winners. Hope we are served up with the same in the ‘hilly’ classics.

    A word of thanks to Inrng for his comprehensive and in depth coverage of these events. It makes everything just that more enjoyable.

    • Andrew E Sunday, 12 April 2015, 9:06 pm

      +1

      Never less than interesting and informative.

    • Mike Hensen Sunday, 12 April 2015, 11:09 pm

      +1

  • lucian Sunday, 12 April 2015, 8:42 pm

    Would be great if you could elaborate just a tiny little bit on this: ”With Lampaert sitting in Štybar bridged across, a crucial factor in Degenkolb’s success because it put Lampaert back to work in the group.” Why did this move put Lampaert back to work? Thank you!

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 12 April 2015, 9:40 pm

      Once Štybar came across Lampaert started working because he and his team had an interest to get Štybar to the velodrome. If Štybar hadn’t joined then Lampaert might have sat tight and Degenkolb would have been forced to work more and maybe not even have been able to stay away.

      • lucian Sunday, 12 April 2015, 10:38 pm

        thanks a lot, sorry, forgot they’re on the same team…

  • balkou Sunday, 12 April 2015, 9:12 pm

    I am wondering with anyone hitting on Etixx’s tactics, especially when this goes down to the sprint in the velodrome. Having 2 guys doesn’t mean you’re gonna win the sprint. The claim that they lead Dege out, is an exaggeration. Let’s suppose they followed his lead, what it would have happened? Maybe a deja-vu of the sprint between Kristoff and Terpstra last Synday? Considering the velodrome, you must be superior in maximum speed to overtake from the outside lane. The only (tiny) chance anyone from this front group had, was to take the internal lane on the virage, so to force Dege to cover the extra length. But as I said this chance was minimal against him, especially for the riders that bridged late on (less time to recover from their effort)
    I also cannot blame GvA. He followed Lampaert, and even if they were two, they couldn’t avoid the German bridging to them. He didn’t show that he was stronger, so to escape solo, quite the opposite.

  • jkeltgv Sunday, 12 April 2015, 9:28 pm

    I don’t add this to be nitpicky or anything….just as a point if interest from a train nerd…

    ….but in places where TGVs run at full speed only bridges & tunnels are in place….level crossings aren’t aloud. So max speed possible perhaps 180kph. Still fast enough to make mess of one of those carbon fibre bikes. Steel in the other hand ….;-)

    But isn’t our sport great that not only weather, luck, local roads, motorbikes and neutral service vehicles come into play but even trains.

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 12 April 2015, 9:36 pm

      Fair point, the train didn’t look to be going too fast either but still, it’s not going to stop.

      • Brian Sunday, 12 April 2015, 10:31 pm

        Perhaps the train driver had already slowed down considerably because he had seen riders crossing the line ahead of him.

        • Nick Monday, 13 April 2015, 12:23 pm

          More likely he’s slowed because they always slow for the crossing. He wouldn’t have time to react to anything he’d seen.

  • jkeltgv Sunday, 12 April 2015, 9:30 pm

    Aloud? Quite quiet….obviously allowed.

  • barry Sunday, 12 April 2015, 9:43 pm

    Did EQS make effort to get one of their strong riders in the break ala van summeren in 2011?

    Is just the big hair or does Sagan look heavier this year? In farniess to him mechanical and little team around him at business end.

    IMHO sky have preordained plan most of the time and don’t just react on the ground . later by attack by BW with break swallowed up would have been better option.

    BTW..
    Thought Degenkolb thoroughly deserved his win ..

  • Beno Sunday, 12 April 2015, 9:46 pm

    Amazing to see Kristoff finish top 10 even on an off day. It was, for me, refreshing that he didn’t feature after his recent results.

  • DREX Sunday, 12 April 2015, 9:55 pm

    Are there any specifics about the nature of Sagan’s mechanical? Commentators talked about him having trouble with the left Brifter… left usually works the front chainring and by the looks of it he was on the big ring. With less then 8 km, only 300 m of pavé and a sprint for the line left a bike change does not make sense.

    • 88dawes Sunday, 12 April 2015, 10:22 pm

      Sean Kelly said he was stuck on the small ring and his cadence did look a bit fast

      • jkeltgv Sunday, 12 April 2015, 11:10 pm

        i wonder what they are running here – obviously not a 50/34 and perhaps not even 52/39. Maybe 52/42 and so not such a big difference to the eye, but for sure a big difference if someone were to attack.

        • STS Sunday, 12 April 2015, 11:12 pm

          53 (or 54)/44 usually

        • SeeingElvis Sunday, 12 April 2015, 11:57 pm

          52 is for dear Grandmother:)

          • Othersteve Monday, 13 April 2015, 12:55 am

            Elvis you have such a young Grandmother.

      • Anonymous Monday, 13 April 2015, 1:04 am

        Thx. Just caught the re-run on Eurosport and saw that he was stuck on the INNER RING (may be a subtle fan-message to this webside ;-)). Hard to tell the difference when they are running such a large inner ring. So DI2 is now also failing on the front ring :-D.

  • keith.warmington Sunday, 12 April 2015, 10:54 pm

    No one else has said it so I will , Bradley Wiggins bowed out of his international road racing career in a fine way today, ok top twenty only but he attacked , rode classily, gave it his best, and leaves a glittering pal mares. Maybe he’s a bit quirky , maybe not the easiest to interview ,but he’s been a fabulous athlete and given Britain our first ever TDF winner plus all the rest of his victories.

    • Eddie Merks Monday, 13 April 2015, 11:11 am

      I agree. And as far as the British public are aware, Brad, Chris Hoy and Cav are the faces of British men’s cycling. Even though both Brad and Cavendish can, like you say, be difficult to interview; they both offer a refreshing departure from the usual drivel we hear from the footballers. Brad’s success on the track, at the Olympics and at Le Tour has been a real boost for British cycling and it will be a shame to see him go. He did well yesterday, and can hold his head high.

    • Nick Monday, 13 April 2015, 12:29 pm

      I suspect Nicole Cooke would like you to substitute the word “male” for “ever”.

      • Tovarishch Monday, 13 April 2015, 1:02 pm

        I’m sure Nicole Cooke wouldn’t claim that a 5 stage race (Grande Boucle Féminine Internationale 2006) was anywhere near the equivalent of the Tour.

        • Nick Monday, 13 April 2015, 5:17 pm

          Having read her autobiography, I suspect she’d describe it as the equivalent available to her at the time. She certainly had very clear views on British Cycling “overlooking” her achievements to focus on the men (and also on the trackies).

          • gabriele Monday, 13 April 2015, 7:14 pm

            @ Nick
            Totally supporting your view, and your answer; I agree about Cooke’s attitude, too (which, anecdotally, I see as very legitimate). Do we stop considering TDFs those editions in which they didn’t race every day since they rested one out of two? *That* was *their* TDF back then. Same can be said about those Roubaix in which the pavé had nearly disappeared. And so on. Debate is open when discussing those specific races or comparing them with the present, but when we’re speaking in absolute terms, a strong degree of adjustment is always implied. Hence, why not here?
            That said, I’d suggest, as a footnote, that the TDF equivalent in female cycling’s terms is the Girodonne. Relative importance of the Italian and the French races is here reversed.
            All the same, Cooke had won that even before, in 2004.

          • J Evans Monday, 13 April 2015, 8:12 pm

            Take gender out of the equation and there’s no way you can regard a 10-stage, 953km stage race (Giro donne) and a 21-stage 3,663km stage race (TDF) as equivalent.
            Why would I be impressed by or interested in watching someone winning the Giro donne? If that was the case, then why not watch amateur male races as much as World Tour races?
            I’m not interested in the gender of the cyclists, I’m interested in the quality of the racing.

          • gabriele Monday, 13 April 2015, 8:58 pm

            Take gender out of the equation and this whole discussion wouldn’t make sense (read again Nick’s first post).
            That said, I’m not even sure most viewers would distinguish a male race from a female one, on a sufficiently blurred TV – just as they’ve got no idea about the speed the riders race at on a first glance (in this case, so don’t I). Hence, it’s all about the narrative through which you decide to look onto the one and the other.

          • J Evans Monday, 13 April 2015, 9:17 pm

            For me, the big difference – in the very few women’s races I’ve seen – is the lack of tactics in the women’s races.
            Taking gender out of the equation does make sense: then you’re just judging the spectacle and the achievement – and, for me, the women’s races are inferior in those regards.
            Hence, I wouldn’t agree that Cooke’s achievements equal Wiggins’s, nor would I agree that the women’s races are the equivalent of the men’s races.

          • gabriele Monday, 13 April 2015, 9:45 pm

            In terms of “spectacle and achievement” (both very hard to define) few races are comparable, especially – but not only – along time. Is Degenkolb’s Paris-Roubaix comparable to Fischer’s? They just ended in the same place. Probably way less than a contemporary male and female race. Why do we say that John was “the second German ever” and so? Why is it so important to stress that Wiggins is “the first ever” to win the TDF if what matters was “spectacle and achievement”? Millar’s fourth place against the likes of Fignon, Hinault and LeMond was much more of an achievement and way more spectacular.
            I’m not defending that “there’s no difference” between male and female cycling, I’m just underlining that we are so much more sensitive to some kind of difference than others. Gender is one of them.
            Thus, being it all a matter of labels, if I think that the importance given to Wiggins’ achievement (favoured my many factors, not all of them related to cycling) – in this case – is unfairly obscuring the achievements of a fundamental British rider not acknowledged as such. Which undoubtedly happened also because of her brave stance towards the establishment in the Brit fed.
            Enough on that for me (as usual, I won’t restrain from reading more, I’ll just [try to] not to follow up with further comments).

          • J Evans Monday, 13 April 2015, 10:06 pm

            True, it’s all subjective and it’s only my opinion.
            I’m comparing racing now with racing now (I’m sure you’re right about Millar’s 4th place and would love to have seen it) – and I’m only interested in the top racing (that goes for lower levels of men’s racing too – e.g. Tour of Britain bores me).
            For me, gender doesn’t matter at all, so I’m not more sensitive to that difference.
            And Wiggins’s TDF victory being the first by a Briton meant nothing to me (the hype is irritating, but not his fault).
            Also, as an achievement, for me, it ranks lowly in TDF victories due to the paucity of quality opposition. And as for spectacle, I’ve never seen a more tedious grand tour – and I’ve been watching since the late 80s.
            Got to go now too.

          • Nick Tuesday, 14 April 2015, 6:53 pm

            Her autobiography would be *very* different if you took gender out of the equation.

  • AK Sunday, 12 April 2015, 10:58 pm

    Fully deserved win by Degenkolb. Always in the front rows in the final 50k and impressive how he bridged to the two Belgians solo. With power to spare for the sprint, too.
    Vanmarcke looked very strong before his tire problem, that move may have stuck if it wasn’t for the puncture.
    You can talk all day about tactical shortcomings of EQS but the only way they can win a classic with a flat finish at the moment is by a solo escape, there’s just to many riders who can sprint faster.

  • STS Sunday, 12 April 2015, 11:02 pm

    “The sooner Tinkov grows tired of not being able to buy victory and gets out of the sport the better.”

    +1000

    There are many … controversial guys in this sport which is completely normal but OT is just a complete miscast and a nightmare come true.

    • J Evans Sunday, 12 April 2015, 11:12 pm

      And yet that comment was removed… has he got to inrng?
      It was completely uncontroversial, I thought.

      • The Inner Ring Sunday, 12 April 2015, 11:42 pm

        It’s the spam filter. Labelling others as “moronic” is not very civil. Please imagine a conversation in a café here and we’re all talking to each other.

        • J Evans Monday, 13 April 2015, 12:12 am

          Sorry, didn’t think it would count if it was about Tinkov. Also, it was his reaction rather than him that I was describing (caveat: if I remember correctly).
          But I can be far more unkind to Tinkov by simply repeating his quote on what is wrong with Sagan:
          “It’s hard to say, that’s what we were discussing now. He doesn’t know and I don’t know. We have coaches and that’s up to them to decide what’s wrong. Bobby Julich, I think it’s his responsibility or his fault, and it’s up to him to sort the problem,” Tinkov said when asked what they needed to do.
          “We will see. It’s a sport, you never know. I hope that he will learn from this. I don’t know, he should probably be training or something like this.”
          Seems like he has arbitrarily decided to blame Julich. As for his last sentence, he’s right, Sagan ‘should probably be training or something like this’ – I’m surprised that, as a professional cyclist, he isn’t.

          • GB Monday, 13 April 2015, 7:41 am

            Oy, you’d think he’d be able to give a clearer answer than ‘probably’! And if he isn’t training then why not? You can’t buy talented riders and coaches then just throw them into races and expect them to magically win when every other big name is busting their guts. Invest a little in your investment, sheeeeeeesh.

            I barely remember ever seeing Sagan and a teammate (TS or Cannondale) in close proximity at any given time. Contador often winds up in other team’s trains, too. Maybe what’s needed is more attention on the smaller names and intra-team tactics. Brave words from my couch, I know.

          • irungo txuletak Monday, 13 April 2015, 4:53 pm

            Sagan seems to me fatter than other years. I don’t know whether it is really so, but I had the same about Gilbert the year he was world champion and he just won 1 race in the whole year.

          • gabriele Monday, 13 April 2015, 7:02 pm

            @irungo txuletak ( 😉 )
            He had a very late form building, indeed, maybe because some teeth problem, too, if I remember well (or was it another year?). Though, he looked to be nearly there in the Ardennes Classics, just a couple of step below the desired level, especially in the less demanding ones. In fact, a bit like Sagan on the cobbles and in MSR this time aroud.
            But in the Vuelta you could already see that he had worked really well towards the Worlds: I think that he won a couple of stages (I was there in BCN…), and, anyway, he was impressive, demolishing Purito and Valverde both in top form on their favourite terrain.

          • irungo txuletak Monday, 13 April 2015, 8:00 pm

            Hope for Sagan that he will end up winning the Worlds!
            But frankly speaking, in the last 2 seasons, I see him getting a bit worse every year. It’s not that he’s beeing dropped where he was not before, but it seems like he is further and further from winning.
            The opposite happens to GVA. He is always closer and closer but desesperately doesn’t win at the end! Really thought for one moment he would when he was in the break with lampaert, but eventually…

  • AK Sunday, 12 April 2015, 11:12 pm

    And on the train incident: since the barriers came down literally in the midst of the peleton a neutralization seems a lot more fair than dq’ing 30 riders. Ad who should be dq’d? The rule says ‘when the barriers are down’, but does that mean you cannot cross as soon as they start going down? Or can you cross until they are both fully down? Seems like the rules need a bit more clarification, and I think the solution that was used today was a good one. But if Arnaud Demare ever starts complaining about rider safety in a race I don’t think he’ll be taken seriously from now on.

    • Andrew E Sunday, 12 April 2015, 11:36 pm

      Who should be dq’d? Anyone who crossed when the barriers were down. That would deal with about 20 people. It was stupid and reckless.

      Elmiger waited for the train and finished 5th.

      • J Evans Monday, 13 April 2015, 12:17 am

        It was. But where would you judge them as being ‘down’? All the way down? As soon as they’ve moved? 45 degrees? It’d be a pretty grey area as to who gets DQ’d and who doesn’t.

        Perhaps the rule could be ‘If you can get under the barrier, it’s fine’. That way, we could be entertained by limbo-ing riders. And people hammering into them like Demare.

        Clearly, the best rule would be ‘stop the train’. I think we can all agree that the race is more important.

        • Anonymous Monday, 13 April 2015, 12:32 am

          There was no doubt a red light, before the barriers came down, meaning that crossing was forbidden, to all traffic purposes, and this should be legally considered the equivalent of barriers being “down”.

          • J Evans Monday, 13 April 2015, 12:46 am

            As long as that red light coming on was caught on camera. Otherwise, how would you judge who should be DQ’d? And people could argue that they couldn’t stop in time, if they were going at 45kph. Etc. and so on.
            It just wasn’t that big a deal.
            Riders take much bigger risks than that and people are responsible for their own actions.

          • AK Monday, 13 April 2015, 1:28 am

            There’s no yellow light before the red lights start. So if you were 2 cm before the start of the crossing (assuming that ‘start’ is defined so precisely) when the light came on, should you be disqualified? If you’re in the middle of the peleton and you see the lights coming on 10 meters in front of you should you slam on the brakes and risk a massive fall in the middle of the railway?
            In my opinion it’s best that the members of a peleton/group that arrives at a crossing together should be forced to wait for each other, whether before or after the crossing. This means riders can make a decision to cross or not purely based on their personal safety without the pressure of the race result.

          • Andrew E Monday, 13 April 2015, 12:17 pm

            I think J Evans is being a little silly. No car driver would get a pass “because he was going to fast to stop”. All road users know the rules on level crossings. Cyclists have NO excuses. I would have gone back over the tape if I were a commissaire and dq’d every single one I could identify as crossing when a red light was on or the barriers were moving down. NO excuses.

          • J Evans Monday, 13 April 2015, 4:12 pm

            As I say above, the simple answer to this is:
            ‘… to have a rule where they guarantee a neutralisation after any train-related stoppage.’
            Barriers that completely block the road are another obvious solution – generally – to people crossing railway lines.
            But it really wasn’t that dangerous: you just look up the tracks. I’m surprised that with all the hand-wringing from some people on here no-one’s said ‘What if children were watching them do that?’

          • J Evans Monday, 13 April 2015, 8:33 pm

            Bjorn Leukemans:
            “The peloton arrived at 50kph, the barriers went down and I didn’t hear any bells. You can’t see red lights at such a moment.”
            “It is very difficult to determine who exactly kept riding. You must also put yourselves in our place. We are fully concentrated on the race. In addition, we know that there are no clear rules or procedures in such a situation. ”
            “You don’t know what the jury will decide, if you stop you let that group go. Secondly, if you slam on the brakes, a bunch of riders might crash behind you and some of them will be on the tracks. I don’t know what’s safest.”

        • ave Monday, 13 April 2015, 3:30 pm

          >I think we can all agree that the race is more important.
          You forgot the smiley.

          • J Evans Monday, 13 April 2015, 4:13 pm

            Nope.

    • disgruntledgoat Monday, 13 April 2015, 8:51 am

      ee ‘eck. If you can’t drive across it in a car, you can’t go across it on a bike. If the red light is on and the bell is ringing and or the barriers are down then you stop.

      You’d think not getting hit by a 20 carriarge TGV weighing approx 250 tonnes would be sufficient disincentive, eh?

    • Tovarish Monday, 13 April 2015, 9:13 am

      Not sure what the French equivalent of the Highway Code says but the UK states:

      Crossings without traffic lights. Vehicles should stop and wait at the barrier or gate when it begins to close and not cross until the barrier or gate opens.

      Seems sensible to me.

  • Anonymous Sunday, 12 April 2015, 11:34 pm

    just think its worth looking into what happens to degenkolb next year. rumor is he goes to quickstep which means theyd dump cavendish’s salary for him.

    i say its the best move they can make. kristoff and degenkolb are the best one day riders now and could be for another 3-4 years.

    • STS Monday, 13 April 2015, 12:06 am

      Do you have any quotable source for this “rumor”?
      I think (at least I hope) he’s smart enough not to follow that call. EQS is, especially with regards to classics, a very Belgium-centric team. Partly because of their tradition (team management), partly because of their sponsors which have their main interest in that market. Whenever the team management would see a chance that a Belgian team member could win they would favor him. At his current team there is no lack of support, training methodology and he is the outright, well-supported and undisputed captain for that kind of races. EQS displayed not only this year some lack of team racing strategy and cohesion which cost them dearly.
      And while the interest in cycling in Germany is slightly growing again I’m sure they will also find the money to make it financially interesting for him to stay where he is.

      • The Inner Ring Monday, 13 April 2015, 12:24 am

        Have a listen to The Cycling Podcast, it’s been mentioned there, the idea is that Giant-Alpecin have Degenkolb under contract until the end of 2016 but they might not have the spare cash to pay him all the win bonuses so a deal could be done to let him switch teams. Then again the team might have budgeted wins for Kittel this year which haven’t happened.

      • J Evans Monday, 13 April 2015, 12:31 am

        He would undoubtedly be better off remaining where he is – apart from financially, which is usually what counts.

        • Anonymous Monday, 13 April 2015, 2:07 am

          Go away

  • Larrick Monday, 13 April 2015, 2:54 am

    DQing the riders who crossed whilst the booms were down has a bit of a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ feel about it but for the race director to use the excuse that the commissars couldn’t pick out who the riders were (tv pictures available through all good retailers) is a bit of a joke. Unless of course the Commissars were Liggett and Sherwin…..

    • PT Monday, 13 April 2015, 6:27 am

      Harsh but not completely unfair. I did think they tried harder to pick-up individual riders yesterday – but still not in Magnus Backstedts league on that count.

      Well done everyone, especially Freddy Mercury.

      • Simon Tuesday, 14 April 2015, 12:21 pm

        Not to mention the great ride by Tafi.

        • PT Wednesday, 15 April 2015, 1:21 pm

          Yes, that was somewhat of a surprise. Didn’t feature in the final though.

  • Steve Monday, 13 April 2015, 7:23 am

    Cannondale’s best result was No. 72….

    What is going on with that team??

    • Augie March Monday, 13 April 2015, 8:39 am

      The injection of a number of younger Italians after the Cannondale merger last year and the loss of some of their stronger classics riders has meant they’re not really a team for this sort of event. They have still won two races this year to Lotto NL Jubo’s zero though which counts for something.

      • gabriele Monday, 13 April 2015, 1:08 pm

        Very true, Augie March: they’re not a team for these races. Though, IMHO what you observe is not relevant, here.

        Besides the number of young Italians being “4”, out of a roster of 27, last year the team did just a little better in the cobbled classics (essentially a couple of top ten by Farrar and a lot of 30th place or something like that): this year they got a top ten with Bauer and something good with Van Baarle, but they weren’t even invited (or didn’t ask for it) in a lot of “lesser” – not WT – races. The likes of Nuyens and Vansummeren haven’t long been a factor in “their” races, and I think that Vaughters was just happy to kick them out.

        Nevertheless, I think it’s fair to assume that they *do have* some problem – or have made some specific risky decision – about form building, just like Lotto Jumbo (or, as you say, surely better when compared with the Yellow Team!).
        It’s not as if till now there aren’t other races cobbles apart, and they’ve won considerably less than last year.
        Maybe that has more to do with other components imported through the Cannondale merger… or it just depends on a combination of other factors, part random, part even external.

  • Richard S Monday, 13 April 2015, 9:04 am

    I was very disappointed when Lampaert sat up after Degenkolb joined him and GVA. I know he would never have beaten Degenkolb in a sprint but Ettix have done the whole ‘oh we don’t need to ride we’ve got loads of riders coming up behind’ act in every single classic this year bar MSR and it hasn’t worked once. I just thought they may have learnt something from that! Plus it’s not like Stybar would beat Degenkolb in a sprint either, and Degs had just ridden like a mad man to catch up, maybe Lampaert would have been better off with an instant counter attack while his legs were still burning?
    Still, very impressed with Degenkolb. He and Kristoff deserve their success for being willing to lay it on the line. As they say, you have to risk losing if you want to win. I hope Giant let him have a crack at the Green Jersey in July.

    • noel Monday, 13 April 2015, 9:24 am

      as I saw it Lampaert did try a counter attack quite soon after Stybar bridged, but Dege was glued to his wheel and wasn’t being denied.

      • Richard S Monday, 13 April 2015, 12:38 pm

        The critical part of that being ‘after Stybar had bridged’. Degenkolb had a few secs to catch his breath. Ettix have hedged their bets all spring waiting for people to bridge, and got nothing for it.

        • gabriele Monday, 13 April 2015, 1:13 pm

          Well, in Flanders they’ve been furiously attacked for… not waiting people to bridge. And all the same they got their nth second place this year ^____^

          • steve Monday, 13 April 2015, 1:35 pm

            Is it just me, or should Sytbar have attacked as soon as degenkolb brought Lampaert back. There was a lot of pain on Dege’s face and im not sure he could have closed it again

    • Anonymous Monday, 13 April 2015, 1:33 pm

      Maybe he’s just too young to have the legs for another jump after 240kms, or too young to feel brave enough to “ignore” team orders and have a go?

  • PR2015 Monday, 13 April 2015, 10:53 am

    (typo in opening sentence of post: “predictabl”)

    Awesome article!

  • Tovarishch Monday, 13 April 2015, 1:35 pm

    I noticed that the magic spanner is back in evidence. That clamp down from the UCI didn’t last long.

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 13 April 2015, 1:56 pm

      They did give hefty fines to two teams for mechanics leaning out of the cars. Seems the money isn’t dissuading.

      • PT Wednesday, 15 April 2015, 1:24 pm

        Brakes can be tricky things, often need a tickle at key points of a race….

  • Al__S Monday, 13 April 2015, 8:33 pm

    sigh… another site over egging the potential speed of the train. It was on a “classic line”, not an LGV- there are no level crossings on LGV. Though if the rules are anything like the UK, it could still be approaching a crossing like that at 160km/h

  • Anonymous Monday, 13 April 2015, 8:52 pm

    I love watching Giant Alpecin’s tactics for the classics and sprint stages. They have mastered when to show their hand and when to hide. They are a very tactically astute team.

    • gabriele Monday, 13 April 2015, 9:58 pm

      In that sense, the two men decisive attack was especially good. First, they launched De Backer, whom the others supposedly let go since it didn’t represent a direct menace. Then it was Degenkolb’s turn: he could take full advantage of his acceleration, obviously impossible to match for most other riders; if his teammate hadn’t yet been ahead, John couldn’t have attacked with such force, at least if he was to keep a helper with him. But there it was De Backer from his previous move, so he could grant a sustained effort to build and maintain the gap. Very well done.

  • Hugh Monday, 13 April 2015, 11:12 pm

    Great article Inrng, and well done for not jumping on the ‘another tactical disaster for EQS’ band-wagon.

    My takeaway from this year’s classics is that it’s actually very tough to beat the strongest rider on the day, even if you have the numbers. It’s fine to say in theory that ‘X should have attacked when Y’, but most of us probably know what lactic acid and exhaustion feel like, and that sometimes, with the best will in the world, attacking just isn’t an option. Pro-cycling isn’t chess on wheels.

    BTW, if any of your readers are thinking about catching the finish in Roubaix next year – do it. Best spectator experience in our sport that I know of.

    • Larry T. Tuesday, 14 April 2015, 12:24 pm

      I’ll second your last bit Hugh! Before you die try to see as many of these events live, in-person as you can. Your view of cycling will change forever. My only regret as I approach 60 trips around the sun and L-B-L to complete my personal 5 monuments goal is that I didn’t see them sooner!!!