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Belgian Groundhog Day

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne

Another classics season approaches and so does another chance to put lessons learned back into use again. Only each time the riders return the scenarios change and if you tried to replay each race the results would vary. The varying conditions and the random elements are an essential part of what makes the cobbled classics so compelling.

If I knew then what I now know” is a maxim to experience and wisdom. It counts everywhere including sport and in particular in cycling where the top riders can often be in their late 20s and early 30s. Peter Sagan is the exception at 26 but still older than all the other high earners. At the last Olympic games the average age of endurance cyclists participating, whether on road or MTB, was significantly older at just above 30 than most other sports except for triathlon, shooting and equestrian sports.

Experience counts for plenty in the spring classics where there’s a lot to learn from technique to the lie of the land, knowing which side of the road to be on in order to get the best line into a crucial corner, which stretch of pavé has a smooth side and where to find shelter from buildings or woodland and the opposite, which stretches of road are wide open to a slight breeze. If this was a computer game you could start the level again but in cycling the Omloop, Ronde and Enfer du Nord are only once a year. Besides, make as many notes as you want from one year and you’ll return the next year to find the wind blowing from a different direction or the course has been changed. Valuable experience and knowledge can take years to acquire.

The Monte Carlo Groundhog
Imagine you wake up every day and find it’s Sunday 26 February 2015 again. A Belgian version of Groundhog Day where you find yourself in Gent and the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is about to start. It could be a dream for some or a cruel nightmare. You know you’re trapped in this loop but the rest of the world is oblivious. The sun rises, the riders assemble and the race starts but there’s no guarantee the race plays out the same. It’s like rolling dice, there’s a probability of some outcomes but each roll, each time is different. Statisticians talk of “Monte Carlo simulations” where a computer crunches every scenario in a model with a range of random outcomes. No computer can re-run the Omloop so use your imagination instead. For example on the second day you wake up Sep Vanmarcke deviates three millimetres to left of the Haaghoek cobbles and misses the object that made him puncture last year and it changes the outcome of the race. On the third day something else happens and so on, each time the race is different, each roll of the dice different. Of course the strongest riders will crowd out the weak ones but the results, outcome and story will vary each time. Compared to Groundhog Day the film, the sports version would deliver more varied scripts each time.

Of course ex post we can rationalise and create a story to explain how the winner won but we’re wise enough to know that however good they were their victory owed itself to a set of tactical circumstances too, which they of course exploited along the way. It’s this that makes watching the classics so compelling, the random elements mean that the strongest rider cannot just ride away. Run a Monte Carlo simulation of a mountain stage or, worse, a time trial and the outcomes would be much more predictable. A rider with a set power, a known weight and a fixed position on the bike will repeat performances. A mountain pass quickly refines the peloton and creates an instant hierarchy based on watts and kilos while a time trial removes the tactical interaction.

If this lucky aspect of the spring classics is cruel it’s what makes the viewing exciting, we don’t know what’s going to happen next. It’s not always unfair because if a rider loses out in this Saturday’s Omloop there’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday. There are races several times a week until Paris-Roubaix. So if a rider is strong but unfortunate they’ll get their chance soon enough. Up to them to seize it.

 

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Bill Hostile Monday, 22 February 2016, 12:53 pm

    Thanks for whetting the appetite. For slimeline riders that want to upgrade their arm warmer game as the spring classics commence, Prendas have an offer on Inrng xs/s ones: http://www.prendas.co.uk/inrng-super-roubaix-team-arm-warmers.html

    • John Monday, 22 February 2016, 7:55 pm

      Small extra small made by Italians? They’ll be like finger stalls.

  • MultiplexRant Monday, 22 February 2016, 1:04 pm

    Spring Classics season is my favourite part of the cycling year – largely for the reasons INRNG outlines. There are plenty of unlucky losers, but I don’t think there’s such a thing as a lucky winner in the classics. This is proper bloody racing – and it’s usually entertaining throughout.

    I’ve always maintained that P-R or RVV make a better introduction to road cycling than Le Tour, because (a) it’s a point-to-point straight-up race (so no confusion about why the winner of the stage isn’t wearing the yellow jersey, trying to explain how the mountains jersey works etc.), (b) it can’t essentially be boiled down to an equation of weight/power (OK, this is unfair, but you’d be forgiven for believing it if you follow cycling Twitter), and (c) they’re generally packed with incident and excitement.

  • David Monday, 22 February 2016, 1:11 pm

    As ever, a great piece to build excitement for what will surely be a great classics season.

    Some big names look in strong form already.

  • Larry T. Monday, 22 February 2016, 1:37 pm

    Thanks for the preview, nicely done. Then I check RAI Sport’s weekend TV listings and find out we get…nothing. We got the Tour of Moon..er…Mars…..OMAN (what a gawdawful landscape) but zero racing in a proper cycling country? Guess I’ll need to get out the HDMI cable and connect a laptop to see what kind of pirate stuff is floating around this weekend? I’m hoping for some epic Boonen vs Cancellara battles in what is likely the final season for both? C’mon RAI, you can do it!!!

    • Anonymous Monday, 22 February 2016, 1:39 pm

      “zero racing in a proper cycling country”

      Enough already Larry

      • Anonymous Monday, 22 February 2016, 1:54 pm

        Yes, enough Larry. What we want are more Anonymous posts dictating who is allowed to say what.

        • Anonymous Wednesday, 24 February 2016, 6:22 am

          Said Anonymous to Anonymous?

    • Ed H Monday, 22 February 2016, 11:04 pm

      I’ve not checked for this season but following Omloop and Kurne the next weekend you normally have Strada Bianchi and then Roma Maxima no? Both of those are proper races in a proper cycling country!

      • Will A Monday, 22 February 2016, 11:14 pm

        Roma Maxima is dead, I think. Strade Bianche is still on.

      • Larry T. Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 11:07 am

        You are correct about Strade Bianche Eroica Pro (how’s that for a mouthful?) and though I’m sure it’ll be on RAI (it’s been live for the past couple of years as I recall) we’ll be there in-person. Sadly Roma Maxima seems to be dead for now. They can close the streets of Rome for Gran Fondo Campagnolo and plenty of other stuff but politics seems to get in the way for Roma Maxima. My guess is Bike Channel/Eurosport got the rights to this weekend’s races so RAI’s left out. And since I’m a spoiled brat after living in a place that had both of those channels last year but now don’t get ’em – I’m whining about it – as you’d expect from a spoiled brat 🙂

    • Joel Monday, 22 February 2016, 11:30 pm

      It’s on BIKE channel (English) is you can get that. It will also be on cyclinghub.tv.

    • MD Monday, 22 February 2016, 11:50 pm

      Buy a flight or hitch hike, not an HDMI cable. “C’mon Larry, you can do it!!!”

      • Larry T. Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 11:08 am

        See above – I try to put my money where my (big) mouth is when possible.

    • J Evans Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 12:31 am

      I wonder if those who are so convinced that cycling desperately needs to be globalised – whether the people of those countries are interested or not – believe equally vociferously that camel racing has remained an Arab-centric sport for too long? Surely, all those who have joined the modern world can see the overwhelming need for at least two WorldCamelTour races in Western Europe?

      I actually think Oman – in purely sporting terms (ignoring ethical or financial considerations) – is an ok race. Although I can’t see any (sporting) reason for it to be WorldTour – it wasn’t as good as Andalucía – it’s much better than Qatar and infinitely better than Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 9:13 am

      HDMI? I thought you were more of a co-axial man? 😉

      • Larry T. Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 11:22 am

        Good one! 🙂 But I’m not against TECHNOLOGY in principle. It’s when the attitude starts to be “we can, so we must” without solid thought about what allowing these technologies might do to the sport. Out-of-control technology has destroyed a few sports I used to enjoy – F1 and MOTOGP. And it’s not just me, TV audiences are dwindling and event ticket sales are not that great either. Too many races are held in places where nobody gives a s__t about F1 or MOTOGP, but it’s where the money is. Grids are smaller because teams go bankrupt as costs spiral out-of-control. And guess who pretty much calls the shots in those sports? The huge corporations who make the machines (despite what the fans and riders/drivers would like) call the shots. Based on this it should be no surprise when I oppose the bike industry’s growing influence on pro cycling. I hate to see pro cycling end up in the terrible situation F1 and MOTOGP find themselves in at present, or maybe worse, turn into another North American style sports franchise league.

        • noel Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 11:59 am

          Larry – I think you should be true to your principles and watch all cycling in black and white….;-)

          • Larry T. Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 12:27 pm

            noel – Did I miss something in your attempt at humor? How has color TV broadcast technology negatively affected the sport vs black & white?

          • J Evans Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 12:50 pm

            This is the point that those who are pro-technology consistenly ignore.
            Being against a technology that does not improve racing does not make one against all technologies.
            Similarly, it does not mean that one believes that riders should be wearing wool jerseys, etc.
            The joke’s a bit tired, but its illogicality is what really frustrates.
            It’s a person on a bike. Those bits are essential. Everything else is optional.
            I don’t know for certain if racing would be better without, say, power meters, but I do know that they haven’t improved racing. So, if in doubt, get rid of them. Let the riders judge their strength themselves.

          • noel Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 1:14 pm

            relax Larry, it was just a (poor) joke… I’m with you mostly

          • Larry T. Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 4:21 pm

            Fair enough, just wanted to try to understand what you were getting at. See my response to Mr. Inrng’s quip about coaxial cable vs HDMI – that joke I got! 🙂
            Here’s (I promise) my last comment on the technology issue on this thread: If we let technology go uncontrolled, where does it stop? Seems lots of folks are happy where things are right now, but what if the bike industry started lobbying for recumbents, maybe even fully-faired ones at that? I think there’s no doubt the sport would be seriously changed as a result and there would be howls of derision thrown at the UCI. But why? In techno-speak fully-faired recumbents are as much of an evolution of the bicycle as is a motorcycle…but I doubt too many of us would tune in to watch ’em race around France in July.
            Some of us want to go backwards a bit, seeing things powered by batteries as a slippery slope challenging the “primacy of man over machine” as well as electronic gizmos like TV’s in the DS car, communication by radio earpiece, power meters and the like possibly having a negative effect on sporting values. I really don’t get much entertainment value from watching a guy racing up a hill while staring at some electronic gizmo that’s telling him exactly how fast he can go – I want confusion, doubt and split-second tactical decisions made by the participants rather than their directors…all that “fog of war” stuff. I fear uncontrolled technology threatens these things.

          • DMC Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 4:45 pm

            I agree – there’s a dangerous slippery slope that we’re riding beside right now. Bike racing is about the mechanics of the bike and the rider’s ability to make others suffer on that bike. There are too many parts on the bike that are battery powered and in my (not so) humble opinion, these batteries add no value to the sport itself.

            What’s wrong with Dura-Ace mechanical shifting? Is it not expensive enough for Shimano to sell?

            Plus, the obvious risk that if a battery exists on the bike, there’s the risk of confusing it with a battery-powered engine.

            As well, I’m not sure this new deal with Infront and Velon will do anything, or do any good. If you noted in the press release, there still is no actual revenue stream attached to this, they’re only proposing a partnership to attempt to sell rider data to organisers and existing media outlets.

          • noel Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 4:53 pm

            I’m ok with the radios (evidence on the effects either way seems hard to find), and TV’s in team cars? – well you can stream stuff to your mobile these days, so that is unstoppable anyway. I totally agree with banning power meters though – use them to train, sure, but banning them from racing could make a big positive difference in my mind. Electronic shifting I’m indifferent to also – I quite like the purity argument of just saying a bicycle is a mechanical thing powered by a human, so no electrics/batteries allowed.

          • Sam Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 6:00 pm

            Re the Velon-Infront deal: favourite comment so far from journo Simon Richardson ‘And if this new Velon agreement does do what it says, how are the French going to make up Froome’s power numbers on Ventoux?’

            He he

          • J Evans Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 6:37 pm

            The Velon-Infront deal is potentially another step down the path of the teams gaining more power in cycling and setting up a franchise-style system where their position in the sport is guaranteed.
            They have nothing to sell at the moment, but the UCI and possibly RCS seem to be siding with Velon.

          • DMC Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 6:48 pm

            Not sure I want Sepp Blatter’s nephew to have any influence over cycling (he’s the CEO of Infront).

            I’d take ASO over Sepp Blatter’s nephew anyday.

            Everytime UCI takes a lift a foot to take step forward they shoot the foot that’s still on the ground! They haven’t formally banned Femke yet, but they want to get in bed with a potentially shady organisation that doesn’t even have an income stream yet!

          • DMC Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 6:49 pm

            Inrng – sorry, I know this has nothing to do with your blog posting. I’ll stop commenting on this topic now!

    • MultiplexRant Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 9:26 am

      I quite like the Tour of Oman TBH.

      • Sam Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 5:54 pm

        Controversial 🙂

        (I dont mind it, myself)

  • Anonymous Monday, 22 February 2016, 1:38 pm

    Who is Peter Sagan older than? Sorry…

    Great post

    • Elliot Monday, 22 February 2016, 2:43 pm

      I reckon it’s a philosophical computer techie joke, the leading ‘\’ has been removed and it means that Peter is older than Space itself.

      • The Inner Ring Monday, 22 February 2016, 4:34 pm

        No, just a mangled sentence. He’s the young rider at 26 when many if not most of all the big earners in the sport (Contador, Froome, Gilbert, Nibali, Porte, Cavendish et al) are over 30.

        • Chris Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 12:29 am

          An exception to the rule (even more-so than Sagan) is Thijs Benoot.
          Looking for him to shine for Lotto-Soudal this year after last year getting quite deep into most of the races.

        • Elliot Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 12:44 pm

          Hope you didn’t I was being rude, just trying to be funny.

          But do you have any opinions (or one of your heroic stats analyses) on whether the big earners are getting older. Was just thinking of Boonen’s Ronde/Roubaix/Worlds at age 25ish – was that a freaky result for a relative youngster?

          • Elliot Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 12:45 pm

            *think* gah, this writing lark is pretty hard!

  • Sam G Monday, 22 February 2016, 2:10 pm

    Groundhog day – Monte Carlo simulations – The Multiverse. Call it what you will, at least Sep Vanmarcke and Greg van Avermaet would win at least one classic each at some point!

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 22 February 2016, 4:35 pm

      Might be a lot of replays. Van Avermaet is already off to his statistical quirk of regularly placing high but never managing to win.

      • Sam G Monday, 22 February 2016, 5:02 pm

        To begin with you would say maybe unlucky or a statistical quirk. But after a while of placing high but never winning you have to question his killer instinct. Some people just don’t have it.

        • Ferdi Monday, 22 February 2016, 8:39 pm

          I think Greg wins on Saturday. It’s not so cold this year, and the heat suits him.

          • Ecky Thump Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 11:07 am

            Heat?
            Forecast for Ghent is 5 to 6C, which will be a couple of degrees cooler with wind chill from a stiff N/Easterly.
            Dry though.

      • thesteve4761 Wednesday, 24 February 2016, 6:25 am

        Wonder if the bookmakers have GVA for fourth at better odds than GVA for the win?

  • Joe Saroni Monday, 22 February 2016, 3:07 pm

    That’s what makes this the best time of year. SVM and GVA both look like they should win, but winning one is enormous, multiple puts rider on a different stratosphere. That’s why this year is so special. It’s probably the last time we get to see Cancellara and Boonan go at it. It’s generational change time. Let’s see if these guys have what it takes to fill some enormous shoes. Today the grey northern sky’s shine bright, tomorrow it could be Leif Hosteville for them.

    • channel_zero Monday, 22 February 2016, 8:13 pm

      Will Stybar be granted a shot at the podium? Or, will we have another cyclocross world champion riding support during the classics?

      I hope the lower budget teams steal more one-day wins this year. Dwars door Vlaanderen was fantastic last year.

  • Peyresourde Monday, 22 February 2016, 7:49 pm

    The opportunity for sheer power, grit and desire, over power/weight and strength of team makes this my favourite part of the cycling calendar…..That is until the Giro, Tour and Vuelta start.

  • Andrew Monday, 22 February 2016, 8:14 pm

    For us on the States’ side of the pond, does anyone know if NBCSN will broadcast any of the Classics this spring? Or should one just watcho n the computer, e.g. cyclingnews or some other?

    Thanks, INNRG, for your commentary as always.

    • TDog Wednesday, 24 February 2016, 9:23 pm

      Andrew – looks like NBCSN isn’t broadcasting this weekend’s races. In fact, good luck finding a published 2016 schedule of its cycling programming. I have had to buy a three month subscription to Cycling.TV to see this weekend and a few other Spring races. Unfortunately the package doesn’t include RVV and P-R.

  • Michael B Monday, 22 February 2016, 8:24 pm

    I can’t find Omloop on any UK TV channels. Any ideas where it will be shown?

    • Anonymous Monday, 22 February 2016, 8:40 pm

      Will be shown on Sporza – very rarely shown on UK Eurosport – I think last year they had 30 min highlights

    • Chris E Dub Monday, 22 February 2016, 9:06 pm

      If you have Sky it’s live on the Bike Channel (464).

      • Michael B Monday, 22 February 2016, 10:06 pm

        Thanks Chris B – I do have Bike so will keep an eye out. Much obliged to you and Anon.

        • Michael B Monday, 22 February 2016, 10:07 pm

          Or rather Chris E Dub. I have fat fingers.

    • GTGTGT Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 1:22 pm

      Both of this weekend’s races are on Eurosport here in Australia.

      2.5/3 hours each night.

      As such I would have thought that the ‘whole Eurosport family’ (as Carlton likes to refer to it as) would be invited?

      • J Evans Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 1:28 pm

        Eurosport UK – seemingly arbitrarily – misses the odd race, so they don’t have the Omloop, but do have KBK (they’re currently advertising it with the words ‘Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne’ sung to the tune of ‘Disco Inferno’, a pun so resolutely appalling that I can only assume Kirby came up with it).

        • noel Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 1:33 pm

          it’s an odd choice as Omloop has the potential to be so much better to watch… scheduling I guess…

          • J Evans Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 2:15 pm

            Yes, there’s a lot of biathalon and skiing highlights to show – and to repeat in the evening. Particularly confusing as there was a British winner last year. Equally perplexing is Sky’s decision not to have Stannard start the race. Assuming he’s fit, with Thomas focusing on stage races, you’d have thought that Stannard was Sky’s primary cobble challenger. They keep talking about wanting to win one-day races, so I can’t understand this. Anyone?

          • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 2:16 pm

            TV deals are long term, broadcasters cannot pick up or drop races based on last year’s results.

          • Elliot Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 2:28 pm

            Maybe Sky are trying to avoid the Omloop curse and would rather Stannard was successful in the later races?

          • Sam Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 2:44 pm

            Elliott: Stannard talked about this before the start of the season. He wants to skip the opening weekend – just as Cancellara does (and I think Vanmarcke is electing to do also) – so that he is fresher for Flanders but especially P-R. He’s found in previous years that by riding every race from OHN onwards, he’s whacked by the time P-R comes around, so wants to give this a try.

          • Elliot Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 3:45 pm

            Sam: thanks for the info, much appreciated. I see he rode TDU, then in Algarve supporting Thomas, I guess that’s a well-paced start to the season with doubtless some good under-the-radar efforts, I wonder what other pre-PR races he’ll do.

          • noel Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 3:54 pm

            Luke Rowe’s time to step up maybe….. a few ‘promising top 10s…’

            (c’mon Inrng, get your piece out or we’ll start doing it for you!)

          • Martin Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 10:49 pm

            I love the song they are using to advertise KBK, didn’t realise it was disco inferno

  • PaulG Monday, 22 February 2016, 8:37 pm

    No mention of Geraint Thomas….Last year won one and so nearly won a second…..Tour of Algarve won…is he having his own Groundhog day/year?

    • DMC Monday, 22 February 2016, 8:42 pm

      Yeah, Geraint isn’t doing many Classics this year, he’s on the GC stage racing schedule.

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 22 February 2016, 8:43 pm

      It’s not a piece about individual riders, there’ll be a full preview of the Omloop and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne later this week.

  • Simon B Monday, 22 February 2016, 8:41 pm

    Thomas is only doing Ronde – focusing on stage races more this year

  • matt Monday, 22 February 2016, 10:02 pm

    I always give sport livezz a try or search around for other feeds if Eurosport is not covering races. I watched Le Samyn last year there and what a race that was. The final section of pave proved decisive and a great win by Kris Boeckmans. We are into greatest part of the pro cycling calendar again!

    • Michael B Monday, 22 February 2016, 10:08 pm

      Thanks Matt, will do if it doesn’t appear on Bike.

      • Joel Monday, 22 February 2016, 11:31 pm

        It is on BIKE from 1:15pm. Definite.

      • Marty McCann Monday, 22 February 2016, 11:40 pm

        I just checked the programme guide on Sky and the Bike channel doesn’t mention Omloop, but their Twitter feed has said that the EPG is wrong and that it will be shown live starting at 1:15pm.

  • Steppings Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 12:01 am

    Sadly, the great David Duffield will not be with us to watch this. RIP Duffers your style was never wasted on me.

  • Fourlegs Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 12:09 am

    Live on Sky. NZ that is – but at 2.15am. For some reason we get pretty good coverage on Sky here.

    • AJW Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 5:06 am

      And it’s one of the few Saturday races so we can at least record it and watch it at our leisure on Sunday – rather than having to try and cram it in before work on Monday morning or hoping that no NZer was involved in anything newsworthy so we can avoid hearing the result and watch it Monday evening! (Yes, for cycling to make the mainstream news here a NZer has to either win or crash in spectacular fashion).

      And no, I’m not sufficiently committed to get up at 2.15am to watch it live.

      • J Evans Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 12:21 pm

        You have my sympathies. I used to live in Malaysia and it was almost perfect – races finished around 11pm-midnight.
        I never have a problem avoiding results in Britain – I’d have to actively seek them out (Froome in TDF aside).

  • noel Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 10:00 am

    Inrng – just looking at the startlist for Omloop (will try not to preempt your review here…) and it has Tinkov first and Sagan as No 1… would that not go to Sky as Stannard won last year? (he appears not to be riding this year?). In general is there a convention for race numbering? and is it linked to team car positions? and how do they decide that for the first races of the year? thx

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 10:12 am

      There are rules for team cars but the numbers are up to the race, the convention is the number one goes to last year’s winner etc but it’s up to the race and they seem to want to make Sagan the star attraction for the day. The car order is based on the team rankings in the World Tour and showing up at the team managers meeting, ie a high ranked team that doesn’t send someone to the team manager’s meeting on the eve of the race goes to the back of the convoy.

      • noel Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 10:20 am

        ha! I never knew that about the wrist-slap for non attendance at the meeting… is there a good example of that happening and then having a bearing on a race (ie Boonen having to wait 2 minutes for a wheel or such like?).
        So Sagan has to be the number 1 as well as having the rainbow target on his back all year… no pressure Peter…

        • UHJ Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 11:13 am

          I cannot recall this causing any problems but it really is why the teams show up for the meetings.
          A team managers meeting is basically the organiser and the UCI-commissaire repeating themselves for the nth time seen from the teams’ perspective; they hear the same talk a lot and are generally quite bored. The order of team cars is the main attraction.
          For WT races the order is given but for minor races we draw lots and this is always great fun. The teams really knock a joke or two if a competitor is handed a high number – in the best of humours.
          If more teams don’t turn up, we relegate them to the back an draw lots for those too.

          • noel Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 11:56 am

            thanks UHJ… are teams allowed to trade places in the line-up? (ie …’I don’t rate our chances for this race, but you have a favourite, so let’s swap and reverse the favour when it matters to me…’)

          • UHJ Thursday, 25 February 2016, 2:22 pm

            No, basically they are not allowed but they often makes deals in between; say, I have a rider in an escape, if you go forward please take some supplies for my rider with you and I will remain in the back protecting your riders.
            There exists a codex between these cars, no doubt.
            But trading places, no. They get a number to pin on the car and that is the place they have to take. The order is drawn up and published in a communique so it is not possible to change places. Other teams wold be offended and it will ruin the codex.

          • noel Thursday, 25 February 2016, 2:32 pm

            thx UHJ, great info, all adds colour to the fabric making up the rich tapestry etc etc…

  • Kit Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 10:10 am

    Pity about the name change. Thought “Monte Carlo in Belgium” far superior. And it’s about probability, rather than just sleeping with a TV presenter.

  • Lionel Smart Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 10:43 am

    Does Eurosport show M-SR in UK? In Germany not

    We should all donate to Cyclinghub. They do a great job

    • J Evans Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 12:24 pm

      Yes.

  • Elliot Tuesday, 23 February 2016, 12:34 pm

    Thanks for repeating the top image, it is a brilliant piece of photography. If I remember correctly there was more of a story when you watch the footage before the split (Stannard got a bit forced onto the cobbles, rather than choosing that route?), which somewhat ruins the romance but the sight of a hardman doing the cobbles (and almost with a smile) when others have taken the easy path is superb.

    Bring on the Belgian Spring :o)