Highlights of 2011 – Part II

Five moments from 2011. They are a personal choice like any list sometimes you omit more than you include but I’ll explain each moment. They’re presented in no particular order.

What does it feel like to win a big race? Well the video clip above gives you a clue. It is the Tour of Flanders and Nick Nuyens wins for Saxo Bank. The race itself was great to watch, a battle that provide surprises all the way to the finish.

But one addition was the use of cameras inside the team cars. A small innovation, you’d think video footage of a man driving a car would be dull and normally you’d be right. But the cameras caught the action from the Saxo Bank team car with Bjarne Riis and Tristan Hoffman momentarily going beserk with joy.

Riis is sometimes a controversial figure and not to everyone’s taste but even the most sceptical fan should enjoy the moment above for the pure emotion. The Dane is famously stoic with a permanent poker face but everything changes here.

There’s context to the eruption of joy too. Bjarne Riis had managed a team with the Schleck brothers, Fabian Cancellara and others only to see a quiet mutiny during the previous season. His best riders walked out leaving him with a skeleton squad, albeit enough cash to land Alberto Contador. But they the say the loss was personal, with Riis losing his boys to the new Leopard squad. So to win one of the biggest one day races in the world would be joyous enough but to do this after many had written you off was even more emotional. And to trounce Cancellara even better.

As tales of revenge go, this isn’t quite Dumas’s Count of Monte Christo but the small moment encapsulates the joy of winning a race with plenty more.

11 thoughts on “Highlights of 2011 – Part II”

  1. My #1 favourite moment of the year. It’s not so much that it was Bjarne or Saxo Bank that won the race, it’s the context in which they won it.

    At this point many believed that Cancellara and the Schlecks had lplayed unfair to Riis by not sharing their plans to start a new team. Talking to riders behind his back and only coming forward at a point where there was no pieces left for Riis to save.

    I’m not saying Riis felt this way, but I can’t imagine a better way to win a race early on in the season, after you have been stabbed in the back by the riders you are now beating on the road.

    It was a shame that the rest of the season wasn’t any better for Leopard. They had a great time. Had they performed better, Becca wouldn’t have become impacient and cloned with RadioShack.

  2. Is that the Leopard Trek DS sounding off at the end of the video? Hadn’t seen that before! Theres also context there as they’d just seen Cancellara pipped in similar style at M-SR…

  3. Was Flanders where the cracks started to show in the Lay-O-pard Trek team car? The Schlecks built their super team, their new scarves and larger pay checks, but were they doomed to struggle without Riis?

  4. Ol’ Bjarne certainly got his perverted joy with the victory over his former stars and their new super-team. The most interesting bit of film regarding team cars beyond this one for me was the TV shots (geez, I don’t even remember what race it was now) of a team car servicing their rider while watching MOTOGP on the in-car TV. That image destroyed any last bit of the pro earpiece brigade’s claims of safety benefits as a reason to keep earpieces.

  5. One of the best moments of the year for me as well, I think the unbridled joy in the Saxo team car is brilliant and shows that the sport for all it’s cynicism does still retain some moments of joy. Riis’ pleasure in this win this after being stabbed in the back by “his boys” must have been overwhelming. Brilliant pick!

  6. This was my favourite race of the year. Note again how Cancellara doesn’t sprint in the drops? Not sure whether that cost him a place this time but it definitely did in the Worlds. Strange how such an amazing rider doesn’t follow one of the basic rules.

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