The Moment The Race Was Won: The Tour of Flanders

Cancellara Paterberg

Fabian Cancellara accelerates on the Paterberg and Peter Sagan tries to match him. But the Slovak’s exposed to the stiff breeze and struggling to follow. A gap opens up between the two riders. One metre, two metres and by the time they reach the top the Swiss rider has distanced his arch-rival by a few seconds. This was the moment the race was won.

With temperatures around zero the riders soon warmed up given they covered 48.5km in the first hour. The race didn’t just start with a bang but an earthquake as Tom Boonen fell to the ground after 19km and left the race in an ambulance. The medical bulletin suggests he’s bruised and battered but nothing is broken. Short of racing miles I’m not sure if he’d have been in the finish. In a strange way it might have been the best way to leave the race. His classics campaign has not worked as planned and rather than disappoint the fans with a mediocre ride, crashing out left people wondering what could have been.

Back on the road an early move went but was brought back, another group went but behind the race was on as even with 150km to go riders were leaving the road to find every way to move up ahead of the Taaienberg.

André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) sprinted up the Molenberg, taking Michał Kwiatkowski (OPQS), Martin Tjallingii (Blanco) and two Europcar riders in a move to bridge up to the leading group of early escapees. It showed us Lotto-Belisol and Europcar wanted to soften up the race. Behind Radioshack-Leopard led the chase – a rare sight to see the squad as a visible unit – and the gap fell to 10 seconds but over the Valkenberg the move slimmed down to Greipel, Sieberg, Kwiatkowski, Tjallingii with early escapees Jetse Bol (Blanco) and Laurens De Vreese (Topsport) briefly hitching a ride and their lead went back out to 90 seconds as they approached the finishing circuits around Oudenaarde.

Cobbled chaos
Each climb and cobbled section did its damage. Often it’s via the backdoor, and the TV producers know this, posting a moto cam to monitor the mishaps. The Koppenberg did the most damage, chaos theory in action where the flap of one rider forced another to stall and in no time many riders were walking up. Mechanicals got the better of others, for example Juan-Antonio Flecha. Whilst a crash on a normal section of the road saw Geraint Thomas fall. He got back up, he got back on but got no more.

Offredo’s not afraid
It was with 32km to go that FDJ’s Yoann Offredo launched his second attack of the day, going away with Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol), Seb Turgot (Europcar) and Seb Hinault (IAM). Offredo has worked with a psychologist to calm his nerves and stop him attacking from too far. But there’s clearly more work to be done because the Frenchman had already been away solo earlier, using up energy in a solo move that could never stick. This time it was the right move because with Sagan and Cancellara behind, going up the road was a way to reserve a place at the front of the race during the final 20km.

As the race headed towards the final Oude Kwaremont-Paterberg combo Twitter crackled with complaints about the race. Indeed at times it looked like the peloton had collectively forgot to change the clocks overnight and they were riding like there was 90 minutes left instead of 30 minutes left to grab one of the biggest wins of the year.F or sure the new route and its laps lend a repetitive aspect but few races see frantic attacks from 25km out. Anyone in the bunch going clear risked being hauled back by Radioshack and there was a headwind too. You only had to look at the riders, their faces were tired, it was hard work just being there.

Gunfight on the O.K. Cobbles
The leaders hit the Oude Kwaremont and immediately Jurgen Roelandts rode away from his breakaway companions. It looked risky but he was making an advance booking for the final of the race, getting as much of a lead as possible.

Behind Fabian Cancellara led with Peter Sagan and then Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) but the Norwegian champion, like the rest of the bunch, could not match the firepower of Cancellara and Sagan. In the space of a kilometre the race was distilled from a large group of contenders into a duel between Cancellara vs Sagan. The Swiss rider looked stronger as they hit another steep ramp towards the top of the Kwaremont and opened up a gap of one metre, two metres. But the pair regrouped with Roelandts hitching a ride.

Paterberg, the Daddy
On to the final showdown on the Paterberg and Sagan was spinning a low gear and looking down at his legs. Was it cramp? Or just fatigue? We’d seen Sagan miss a bottle handed up from the road and he said after the race he was low on energy. The 20% slopes are merciless, a crowbar to prise apart the smallest of differences and Roelandts was the first to pop. Then as they approached the higher parts of the cloud, where Swiss flags were taming the Flemish lions, Cancellara was pulling away. Sagan was out of the saddle at one point to close the gap but there was a gap. By the time they reached the top and the cobbles gave way to the velvety tarmac Cancellara was gone.

In the short descent alone Cancellara took 12 seconds but kept going. A TV moto suggested 50km/h but that wasn’t counting the headwind. Behind Sagan and Roelandts looked like they’d be caught but in turned out nobody in the bunch wanted to chase. They were riding hard but not fast enough to capture the two in their sights. At one point Oscar Gatto punctured but was able to claw his way back up to the bunch, a clue that the pace was not fierce.

Cancellara Ronde Van Vlaanderen 2013

By now Cancellara was celebrating, punching their air with delight to finish with the largest winning margin in 30 years. Unable to pull a stunt at the finish line, Sagan made the podium and grabbed more than the limelight. Probably a stunt too far.

Roelandts meanwhile probably grabs his biggest result even if it’s not a win. His team spent much of the day in his service, with no less than André Greipel launching the first big attack of the day and Lotto-Belisol deserved their place on the podium.

The Verdict
It wasn’t a thrilling race until late in the day for the TV viewer. Yet the finish and the results left no doubt about the strongest rider and should have left spectators satisfied. Cancellara rode away and this was impressive to watch him in full flight. He knew there was only one way to beat Sagan, to outpower him on the cobbled climbs and he timed his accelerations like a Swiss watch.

Now we can see the only way to beat Sagan and Cancellara is to anticipate their moves, to ride away and build up a time buffer with the hope of jumping on their wheels as they speed past in the race. Easier said than done but we can expect teams to send solid riders in early breakaways in Paris-Roubaix.

Once again the big teams were denied a result. Some are saying Team Sky’s Tenerife training isn’t working but neither is BMC’s Belgian basecamp nor OPQS either, although Kwiatkowski did a great ride. But such is cycling and perhaps it’s just the fluo tones but I recall seeing Vini Fantini a lot more than some of the big budget World Tour squads.

Vos Gets Her First Win
Finally we might think Marianne Vos wins everything but until today she’d never won the Tour of Flanders. She rectified this obvious omission today but did not have it easy and had to sprint rather than solo for the win.
Marianne Vos

112 thoughts on “The Moment The Race Was Won: The Tour of Flanders”

  1. I’m sure people will say it wasn’t a vintage edition but wow, what a display of power from Fabian on the Paterberg. Watching him solo away was a reminder of just how strong he is – interesting that Sagan looked defeated and was riding from second from that point on. He has so much strength and speed but perhaps he’s not a master time trialler yet? I haven’t seen his results in TTs – Inrng do you know how he’s done in TTs?

    Other than that Team Sky once again looked short on power at the end – Geraint has an excuse after crashing but EBH was near the front on the O.K but then falling back. Still, Chapeau Fabian. I loved that.

    • I wrote in my preview that the most probably scenario was that Cancellara would attack and the race would be decided if Sagan could follow or not. We saw exactly this.

      Sagan has won time trials before but prologues where explosive power and handling skills count for a lot. He’s only young and has time to work on his TT skills, something that many riders need years to learn.

  2. Impressive in that everyone knew that was how/where he’d go and he did it.

    Interesting from a sky point of view, with only 1 big cobble race to go (I think their Ardennes team will get results), is that many of their big contenders have fallen somewhere when it starts to get hairy. Certainly today and at MSR. I recall another too…Could it be that their special training camps having them “hit the numbers” leave them a little unprepared for riding in a bunch, matching accelerations, getting position at strategic points etc that *racing* in Tirreno-Adriatico/Paris Nice might have?

    • That’s all possible but they can simulate that with training and more. Plus they’re all experience riders. The most obvious explanation is that as good as EBH, Thomas and Stannard are, they’re not podium regulars in the classics. There’s a big cast of contenders from Flecha to Chavanel to Hushovd, Van Avermaet, Paolini, Pozzato and many more who are top riders but rarely win big. We’ll see next Sunday… the greatest lottery of the year and maybe it would be ironic if Sky got a lucky break.

      • What is interesting about Sky’s performance at the Classics thus far is that it goes somewhat against the received wisdom prevailing at the start of the year. The standard view beforehand was that Sky’s approach would have the riders in peak physical condition but that their approach is too mechanical and wouldn’t cope with the unpredictability of the classics.

        It is interesting, therefore, that they had their best race at the most unpredictable of the events – Milan San Remo. Stannard’s ride there was superb and clearly not part of a plan. This weekendm on the other hand, the race couldn’t really have been more predictable yet Thomas and Boasson Hagen were physically unable to respond. I think the conclusion that their riders simply aren’t quite good enough is hard to avoid.

    • I’m not so sure about Sky as a classics team. The Ardennes classics are built for guys like Joaqim Rodriquez, Phillipe Gilbert, Alejandro Valverde.. guys who can hit those short, steep climbs and put in a huge amount of power over a short space. Team Sky is more built, in my opinion, for the stage races and for the longer climbs where sustained output is reward over quick bursts. I don’t think Sky gets any results in the classics but will once again be a force in the grand tours

  3. I’m quite tired of comments regarding Team Sky where Thomas’ clumsiness today is excuseable wheras explanations regarding Boasson Hagen tends to be interpreted in his disfavor. Boasson Hagen made a fair attempt to go with Sagan and Cancellara, not quite getting there is still a respectable attempt. He did not recieve much support from his team in the final either, and as not many have pointed out, when Thomas did destroy his chances, he did not offer much support to Boasson Hagen…that’s some team spirit there.

    • You’re taking your life in your hands criticizing Team Sky here. You will be accused of all sorts of bad things. Better bring documented evidence……

      There is something up with EBH this year, for sure. Seems like he is not in favour with Sky management, and for sure he is not riding like he was last year. Would be interesting to know if those two things are related.

      • Think you’re on to something here.
        My guess is the jersey.
        Last season his Norwegian Champion jersey was very minimal and in keeping with the design theme. Not this season. Nice old school look using the entire jersey. Not subtle.
        My theory.
        He made a big stink about the lame-o jersey he had to wear last season. Breaking ranks with the branding theme is obviously something you don’t do with the media machines image people. After that it’s all down hill. He could win Roubaix get another Norwegian jersey and be looking for a new contract at the end of the season.
        Rider contracts meeting:
        – What about EBH? He did win Roubaix.
        * Meh, he’s gone and won another champs jersey.
        – Right, he’ll want another Scandinavian billboard then.
        * And more money.
        – Indeed.
        * Having trouble with the jersey.
        – He’ll want red shorts next.
        * Cut.
        – Indeed.

        It’s a fickle business.

        • Fascinating analysis … Been pondering this since I read your post this morning.
          Wouldn’t be surprised if this or a very similar scenario panned out.
          Another of the Team Sky bridesmaids and I can’t wait to watch his future unfold.

      • When Thomas got back to the Peleton after his crach, there where many km to go before last time up Oude Kwaremont, he knew then he’d lost his chances in the effort of getting back in the race but still choose to hide in the back of the group when Boasson Hagen had to fight for possision in the front.

        • That strikes me as a very negative take on the situation. The way I saw it Thomas expended so much energy getting back on that he didn’t have enough left to be of help to Boasson Hagen.

          I do agree, however, that Geraint has been let off lightly regarding his falls. To fall on a flat straight road in one monument may be regarded as a misfortune; to do it twice in a matter of weeks looks like carelessness.

          • Er, Wat? He fell on a corner during a wet descent in MSR. And in Flanders, it looked like he got taken out by riders swerving to get across to the soigneurs handing out bottles.

            Fab went down in the feed zone last year. Shit happens in a hectic bike race.

  4. Riders were dropping off at the back at a very high rate and the Koppenberg was chaos, and yet still I looked to me like Radioshack and Cannondale had no trouble controlling the race with just a few riders. To me this edition of De Ronde looked like one that was too much directed from the cars of the managers.

  5. Interesting to see Lotto send a few big guns up the road today. Looks like a change in strategy that will likely be adopted by more teams in the coming races. We might see some superstar breaks up the road.

    • I don’t think any superstars will be allowed to get into any breaks up the road. Probably the reason why they covered 48.5km in the first hour.

  6. That was my first Tour of Flanders (via Eurosport) and I loved it. Just out of interest, could anybody tell me who was the woman Cancellara embraced right after the finish line? After such a god-like performance it seemed like a really genuine human touch.

  7. An outstanding final 30 minutes of this race. I am a big Spartacus fan and was eagerly anticipating his move, and when it came it was not disappointing. I’m also watching Sagan very closely. Without question a very talented young rider who is going to have a stellar career, no doubt. However, it is satisfying to see one of the older guard smack down the young pretender a little. Sagan will learn, and soon he will be the one winning over Cancellara, but all things in their time. For now, this is Cancellara’s time and Paris Roubaix will potentially be a second weekend of victory for him!

  8. Team SKY are going backwards and so is Brailsford’s master plan. They are a stage race team where everything can be computed and planned, throw a few cobbles in and see what happens. just like PR last year, clueless.

    • Very well put. Their star riders and overall game plan is suited to stage racing, where they will continue to be a force to be reckoned with. The cobbled classics are too physically rough, technical and most of all just plain unpredictable to be “managed” in their style. No disrespect to the current crop of guys they have for these races, but none of them are proven classics stars with a history of big wins.

    • Yep, they’re uniquely useless in the classics and Brailsford’s ignorance of cycling beggars belief. If they’d only hand over sure-fire winners such as Thomas and EBH to BMC, OPQS, or one of the other minnows, the imposters Sagan and Spartacus would exposed as the frauds they are.

    • Agree 100%. Team Sky is a great stage race team as the team is built around sustained output over long distances. They will always struggle on short, steep, quick climbs were bursts of power are required. They will not do well in the Ardennes classics either and I seriously doubt that Paris-Roubaix will be any different for Team Sky. Know what you’re good at and stick to it

      • “Know what you’re good at and stick to it”

        After Sky’s first stab at the Tour in 2010 the critics were saying the same thing with reference to track cycling. There is no doubt that Sky have not had much to shout about at the Classics thus far but the failures have been nothing to do with the races being unpredictable. As far as I can see Thomas and Boasson Hagen simply haven’t been strong enough to compete with Cancellara and Sagan – no shame in that.

        Surely any team with the resources of Sky should set their goals as high as possible. Let’s be honest, they can’t win with many cycling fans – say they want to win Classics they are arrogant; focus exclusively on Stage Races and they would be accused of disrespecting cycling traditions.

        Personally I am glad they haven’t dominated the classics as they did the Tour and week long stage races but I am also glad that they are trying.

  9. Good to see Cancellara back in form. Very strong & deliberate attack to take control of the race and make it his. The guy is a beast, but very modest and a gracious winner. A class act.
    Feel kind of bad for Boonen and have to agree with Inring’s comment in the blog about this maybe being a better way to leave the race than being mired in the pack due to lack of form. I do hope however he gets back to normal in time for summer. He’s still brings a lot to the table in the tours.
    One guy I would have liked to see finish higher, and have been rooting for all season, is Chavanel. True he rarely gets the big win, but I thought that maybe he would ride that wave of form today and pull one out. Definitely an exciting rider to watch and knows how to animate a race.
    Sagan is super-talented, super-gifted and definitely a good bet for the future but he still has some maturing to do; both on the bike and off. While his facial expression in the podium photo is hilarious…. Come on man, you’re on national TV; show some professionalism. You represent your team & your country. Is that ego so big that he has to snatch a piece of the limelight even after a beat down by Cance?

    • Having crashed out of races before, let me assure you that it is NEVER better to crash out of a race, regardless of form or fitness. Hitting the ground sucks! Big time!

  10. As one star remains at its zenith, another is in the ascendency. Expect Sagan to clean up over the next 5 years. He was 30m short of staying with Cancellara today. Next year shall be vastly different. Although for now, well done Fabian. An incredible ride

  11. Another great race, what a ride from Spartacus!
    Disappointing to see Sagan’s ass-grab on the podium. Appeared it was an attempt to deflect attention from the man of the moment.
    I guess he is still young and yet to mature but Sagan has to learn its not all about him.
    RE Sky. Bring on next Sunday with Boasson-Hagen on the top of the podium !

    • Don’t see it frankly. He was dropped on MSR, and although he has had a couple of so-so results he just doesn’t seem to have the legs. Servais Knaven talked about illness in the camp (Eisel and Hayden) which certainly doesn’t help your chances and there was also talk about illness after Tenerife. Teach them to sack their doctor!

      G needs to fit an uprated set of stabilisers before Roubaix.

      • What is it with G’s falling off? I would have thought as a long time trackie he would have pretty good bike handling skills but falling twice on innocuous stretches of road in as many weeks, can’t just be coincidence.

          • Fair enough. Just a coincidence that it happened twice in a couple of weeks.

            Sky seem to divide opinion in a way that BMC don’t which is odd given that most of what people seem to dislike about Sky equally applies to both teams – hoarding talent, huge budget. I guess BMC haven’t had the success to get people hoping for them to fail.

  12. Sagan’s antics are going to be bouncing around in the news for a while, I think. First, let’s call it for what it is: what you saw there is plain and simple Sexual Harassment. That woman was at work, doing her job, and he can’t keep his hands off her.

    Here’s what I want to see: Sagan DQ’d by UCI, fired or at least put on probation by Cannondale, and let’s have the Tour of Flanders organization, on behalf of their employee, file suit against Sagan and his employer, Cannondale. Sagan humiliated the woman, humiliated the entire Tour of Flanders organization, was incredibly disrespectful to Cancellara (again), and made fools of professional cycling.

    That was totally unacceptable behavior and need to be sanctioned hard. What a bloody disgrace.

    • If the woman wants to sue him, she’s certainly got grounds, or at least that’s what can be guessed not knowing the Belgian applicable laws. But it’s entirely up to her.

    • Sagan has no excuse for his offensive behaviour on the podium and his leering to the camera was just too much. He was outclassed by Cancellara but no doubt will prevail in the future due to his prodigious talent. I don’t understand why we have to have these “gorgeous” women on the podium at all. It is insulting to a lot of us, and not only women I might add. I for one would just like to see a simple presentation with an appropriate official and let those on the podium take all the attention.

      • Sagan overstepped the mark by a mile, but in doing so unintentionally demonstrated just what an anachronism podium girls are.

        Get former champions of the sport to present the trophies.

    • Can Cancellara sue the podium girls for kissing him in front of his wife? Did he ask to be kissed? This also sounds like potential sexual harassment in the workplace.

          • I expect Cancellera could decline to be kissed. The woman on the podium didn’t have the choice not to have her ass grabbed by Sagan. It’s pretty obvious.

            It’s pigs like you, Tom, what inspire pigs like Sagan, who is a great rider, but has a lot to learn about how to treat other people.

      • Note that in many parts of Europe, including Belgium, kissing on the cheek (well, an air-kiss) is a normal form of greeting between members of the opposite sex. So I doubt it could be viewed as sexual harassment (whatever you think of the practice being part of the culture).

    • I know I’m going to be crucified for saying this but, please, get off your holier-than-thou soapbox and put things into perspective. He pinched her arse. It was dumb and not the most politically-correct thing to do but that’s it; he pinched her arse. Why is this news?

      • No crucifying but I’ll throw some answers out there.
        This is news because…
        1. This occurred on one of the biggest stages in professional cycling.
        2. It is_Professional_cycling.?
        3. The act was disrespectful a. of the woman b. of the podium ceremony c. of the winner who was receiving his award.
        4. He is already known for youthful antics.
        5. He was one of the two race favorites.
        6. When the rest of us are at the workplace that type of behavior is unacceptable.
        7. Celebrities/athletes behaving inappropriately is always news.

        • It wasn’t pretty and inappropriate in many ways but…..does it change things that Sagan and “Maya” appear to be friends – possibly even closer?
          Its a nonsense incident which Sagan should learn from but it also does appear to have more to it than is immediately obvious.

          • Good question.

            If they are friends and it’s no biggie between them does the rest of Belgium and the cycling fans across the world know? Doubtful. So still inappropriate.

            Sagan is at work on the podium and should conduct himself in a professional manner. Sexist jerk or ignorant attention seeker that’s the reality. He can wear tacky shirts and make fart jokes all day long but when you’ve placed and been asked to receive your award it’s time to settle down and be an adult for a half an hour. That’s a major part of the big paycheck.

            This kid is obviously not so smart about the ladies. Less creepy antics, more possibility of quality time with hot podium girl/s. Der.

    • Sagan’s behaviour was unacceptable but I can’t help but feel you are overreacting here. DQ? Fired by his team? Really? The appropriate sanction should be a fine from his team (I won’t hold my breath) and him issuing an apology (as he has). The guy is clearly more than a little juvenile (not exactly news) and really needs a PR advisor to take him in hand and explain what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour.

  13. Too nice “cobbles gave way to the velvety tarmac” and with swiss precision the world champion time-triller was off all alone to his destiny.

    It was sweet and poetic, he systematically did what he said he was going to do…and how many just watched with lungs and legs burning…

    • It was close, Sagan was only a couple of seconds off the pace on the Paterberg. Afterwards though the gap opened up but Roelandts was cooked so the pair could not close the gap.

      Still Cancellara was doing 50km/h into a headwind for the last 10 minutes.

      • Can’t believe Spartacus’ engine , imagine the lactic screaming in his legs as he powered away, all I was thinking was Jens (shut up legs) as I watched just pure Symphony on two wheels

  14. “In a strange way it might have been the best way to leave the race.”

    Yes, because crashing hard enough to miss the two major races of your season is always better than riding them out and seeing what happens. In an otherwise excellent recap, I can’t help but think that this comes off as a haplessly naive statement. Who on earth could this have possibly been best for besides maybe Cancellara? The record books will not write Boonen’s history any more favorably because he failed to race. A true competitor (as Boonen surely is) will always want to be where the action is, because for the strong there is always a chance. Ask Devolder or Van Summeren.

    • It’s more that he’s been short of form all year with injuries and accidents causing problems, he had to make an emergency start in De Panne to help. Not finishing Flanders means missing out on the kilometres so Roubaix would be even harder. He was surely never going to get a result in either race.

      But note the conditional tense used, I’m only suggesting a theory. We’ll probably find the relentless Belgian media turn their fire on Gilbert who is also playing catch-up with form.

      • Conditional tense, hypothetical thought, speculative comment, it doesn’t matter. It is NEVER better to hit the ground then finish the race. No rider would prefer an ambulance ride to the heat from the media.

  15. Well done Fabian, you snapped the elastic at just the very best moment. Who else wouldn’t want to solo to victory like that. As for the antics on the podium, the girl should have firmly slapped Sagan across the face. The immature fool has some growing up to do and you can bet its going to be done in public.

      • It is sad to see that some of you see Sagan’s unacceptable behaviour as joke or minor thing. If someone is one of the worlds best cyclist, it should not give him freedom to do what he pleases and get away with it. On the contrary as he is seen as model for many young cyclists, he should act accordingly. Think of it this way: If that woman had been your wife, would you just relax and joke about it?

        • If that girl would have been my wife, I’d have no real problem with it. I mean she was there because of her “sexual image”. Why else dress like that in near zero degrees?
          If my wife bottom was pinched by his boss in her office, then I would not be relaxed at all!
          I see some difference between the two.

          Nevertheless, I think it’s wrong, he was stupid, he shouldn’t have done it.
          Also it got him quite many haters, so obviously wasn’t worth it either.

  16. Come on guys, lighten up. Yes, Sagan was innapropriate, but he is a KID. I am glad he is like that and not a corporate, sell out… Also, I disagree he was trying to steal the limelight from Spartacus. On the contrary, seconds earlier in the podium, he was pointing to Cancellara, in a clear expression “He Is The Man”!!! He was being a FAN and the one that just got SO LUCKY, that he is actually side by side with one of the greatest ever in one of the most historical races there is! It was a Dream come true for him.. Yes, he was happy for the second place. That shows true humility! He is a boy who just got schooled by one of his inspirations and was happy for that! That is what I saw!
    Great race, great folks, cycling is BEAUTIFUL!

  17. It’s interesting to see the range of opinions about Sagan, probably better than indifference.

    I’ve been meaning to do a piece about sexism and machismo in cycling because for all the pink jerseys and oiled legs it’s probably one of the toughest sports going where toughness is celebrated and competitors can try to put their rivals in the ditch if they don’t move out of the way. But let’s see if the Sagan story calms down a bit first.

  18. Cancellara’s acceleration on the Paterberg was no doubt the winning move, but the important moment that led to the winning attack was when Cancellara convinced Sagan to pull through between the OK and the Paterberg (at least 2x that I saw). Sagan could have sat on and Cancellara’s best move would still have been to pull the 3 to the Paterberg. Or, if Cancellara and Sagan both sit up, they still dominate everyone else on the Paterberg and Sagan has a better chance to stay with him over the top.

    • Good point, especially because Sagan was looking the weaker of the two on the Kwaremont. But perhaps it was a bluff to say “I am as strong as you” so that Cancellara did not attack him on the Paterberg? Probably not though.

      • My take on it is that PS reads the press about him, and internalized the pressure to do more than sit on. Youthful enthusiasm or being headstrong, it looks like he wanted to win on equal terms.
        Next time he might be so willing to share in the work.

    • this is exactly what i tought,Cancellara as been going in Sagan’s head ever since the strade bianche ,where in my oppinion Sagan was working for Moser and would not take pull for Spartacus
      still he is so young ,can’t wait to see what is next.

    • I thought the same thing about Sagan pulling through before the final Paterberg climb — huge mistake! He didn’t do it at the first two elbow flicks, but finally he was guilted into it (or Cancellara slowed a bit??) Perhaps Sagan was feeling smug and Cancellara has now learned from his prior experiences (i.e., towing Gerrans to the line in San Remo, towing Nuyens to the line in Oudenarde 2011, towing Sagan to the line in Saraing at the TdF, etc.) that you have to let others pull through at least once or you are just riding for the lower podium spots.

      On the other end of the spectrum, a canny ride from Roelandts getting himself into position after the last ascent of the OK. It was great when he looked back and saw only Sagan and Cancellara charging up the road. He promptly sat up and stopped pedalling to conserve energy for the final tow up over the Paterberg. He knew he wouldn’t keep contact over the top, but figured he would hang on long enough and maybe even catch/trade pulls with the #2 guy to get the line with a podium spot — exactly how it panned out. Nice ride.

  19. What size tyres were most of them riding, Cancellera’s look like maybe 28mm? If they all did the 48.5km in the first hour I might take it as proof that fat tyres don’t slow you down if you’ve got the legs…

      • So the marking 25 is NOT the width? Didn’t have a caliper in hand when I was there, so couldn’t measure, though I did take a squeeze (no, not THAT kind!) of a front tire just to see how much air pressure was in there – more than I expected given the 65 PSI supposedly used by Boonen last year at Roubaix.

        • Larry
          The 65 PSI tires from last year were 30c Dugasts which are rated to 65PSI only. Hushovd had some too and came down after hopping a curb. They may have been FMBs but the size indicates a similar pressure. They must have been using cx casings with road tread because the standard Dugast Roubaix measures 29 on the rim but you can get a decent road pressure out of it. When you go to the 30c casing the pressure is limited.
          I fielded many questions on this for the Battenkill race at the last shop, a Dugast dealer. Many folks were interested in the Pipistrellos for the size and minimal tread.

  20. Did anyone notice the not 1, but 2 motorcycles that cut between Sagan and Cancellara right at the critical point of the race on the Paterberg?

    If they didn’t physically interfere with Sagan, I can imagine they could have caused a break in concentration or effort.

    Difference maker? Probably not, he was starting to crack, and Cancellara was unreal. But I think it could have been cleaner on the 2 moto drivers’ part.

    • This was one of the first things I noticed while watching the highlights. While you don’t hear much complaining about it, it’s impossible to say that the ubiquitous motored vehicles definitely do not make a difference. The race caravans have not only been getting larger in the past few years, but more noticeable either at critical moments or through critical driving errors – Roelandts was hit by a race vehicle only a week ago. There was no need for that maneuver in between Sagan and Cance this week; a moto had the move covered from in front. Clearly Sagan didn’t have anything left to follow with, but if he did his move would have had to wait.

      It broke my heart the other day to read that Hoogerland is now wrapped up in a costly, time-consuming lawsuit to get compensation for his TdF tragedy a couple years ago, especially when it was so painfully obvious that the driver was acting negligently. I shudder to think what it will take to reign in the expanding moto-cavalcade.

    • I think Sagan was cooked by then but it was not right to cross, if anything the vehicle could have given him a small draft to help him. But motorbikes should not be squeezing into such small places.

      • Watching the first stage of the Tour of the Basque Country and watching the motorbike getting in the way of the breakaway riders screaming down the descent – at one point it looked as though Contador would go into the back of him – I have to agree that this problem is getting worse. We all love great TV coverage but not at the expense of safety or drafting the riders inappropriately. If one of these guys drops the motorbike on a corner, it could have really serious consequences.

        • It’s happened before and riders are just so faster downhill than a motorbike, especially one with a passenger, a TV camera and the microwave broadcast equipment mounted too. But it’s the problem of live TV, the motorbike rider has to look ahead but also keep the right distance from the race, hard when you have to go into a corner but also look in the mirrors. Often the cameraman is feeding the driver instructions.

  21. : Humourless Puritans – ignorant knee-jerks since the 15th Century.

    Sagan and the girl know each other. They know each other well. It’s an incident between 2 friends. It’s a private joke. It’s a man pinching his girlfriends butt at an amusingly inappropriate juncture. It’s a joke. It’s actually pretty funny if you have access to a sense of perspective, reason and humour. It is NOT Sexual Harrasment so please shut up and stop making yourself look stupid by claiming it is. Go and flagellate yourself somewhere and leave the rest of us to enjoy life, unhindered by your Puritanical madness

    • I think you’ll find the reason people do not see this as a joke is not because they have a puritanical beliefs, but rather they have problem of the lack of consent and objectification. Regardless if they were dating, objectifying anyone in front of a global audience like that is crass, disrespectful and displays a lack of maturity.

      Chrisman, maybe once you have developed personally, you’d care to join us in the 21st Century.

      There are reports that state though Maja recognised what was going on and was not comfortable with it, but did not react as she was attempting to remain professional on TV in front of millions, something Sagan obviously had no intention of being.

  22. There is also photos of Sagan on the podium at E3 Harelbeke looking to “pat” the podium girl’s backside. See or I’m sure other sources.

    As Sagan is a representative of Cannondale, and these actions are clearly taken in the Cannondale kit, I am very curious about the apology in just a plain white T-shirt. While the company, I hope, wants to distance itself from these actions, distancing itself from the apology seems to only add fuel to that fire.

    I do apologize for adding to a tangential discussion that may distract from yet another good piece, inner ring.

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