With the cobbles done and dusted for another year, a quick retrospective on some of the new names who emerged during the season.
A big Danish rider who seems to be able to ride all day and finished second in the Tour of Flanders? It could be Mads Pedersen from last year, now it’s Kasper Asgreen of Deceuninck-Quickstep. A late substitution in the Belgian team’s squad for De Ronde, Asgreen was working away on the front of the bunch for much of the early to middle phase of the race only he was there in the end too and managed to escape the front group to get second place behind Alberto Bettiol. It was a strong ride just to have the energy to do this and impressive. Pedersen is the cautionary tale, for the Trek-Segafredo rider impressed last year and duly had a weight of expectation on him only to have a quieter time.
Dries Van Gestel didn’t have a star role but he did make the front group of the Tour of Flanders too and in finishing 13th, got the best ever result in the race for the Sportvlaanderen-Baloise team and he had a solid spring too, in the attack the E3 for example. The squad is a development team that exists to bring on young riders, a staging post between the U23 ranks and the World Tour and Van Gestel is likely to join the likes of Tim Declercq, Jelle Wallays, Oliver Naesen and many more in a bigger team soon.
Team Sky had a poor classics campaign, very similar to last year when they got a podium in the Omloop thanks to Łukasz Wiśniowski and then another at the end of the campaign with Chris Lawless in the Scheldeprijs. This time Owain Doull at least got things off to a good start thanks to a strong ride in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and then a podium in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne before Lawless got another podium in the Scheldeprijs. Doull’s shown gradual improvement, his first cobbled classics season in 2017 didn’t seem crack the top-100, 2018 was stronger and for 2020 he could stake his claim to be a peer of Luke Rowe, with whom he shares a similar parth, from near neighbours in Wales to Olympic success on the track and now the classics.
Is Mathieu van der Poel a revelation? Loyal readers will know this blog’s been tipping his road racing skills since 2013, he’s the current Dutch national champion and has won plenty of professional road races so he’s no new name. But this was his first time in the cobbled classics so let’s include him among the cobbled classics revelations. His ride in the Tour of Flanders was huge, down but never out and he took fourth place. His father Adrie, a crafty rider in his time, says he tried passing on advice about positioning and energy saving but the message didn’t get through and more importantly Mathieu has a different concept of racing, he wants to enjoy it and “play” rather than see it as work and about winning, or worse, UCI points. So far it’s working and the spring classics were just a game for him, a diversion between cyclo-cross, which has already made him a millionaire, and the personal goal of the mountain bike race in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and he’s also signed a long term deal with his Correndon-Circus team, underpinned by Canyon bikes. It’s possible we see a Wout van Aert scenario where he’s bought out of the contract but equally he doesn’t seem in rush. He is exciting to watch but remember that he’s 24 and that at the same age Peter Sagan – who solely focussed on the road – had won classics, the green jersey in the Tour de France and more. Still “MvdP” has started later but won plenty.
Last year Tanguy Turgis was the last rider in Paris-Roubaix, now he’s retired after a heart condition was detected. The Turgis are a big cycling family, brother Jimmy is a pro with Vital Concept and the parents help run one of the Parisian region’s largest clubs. 24 year Anthony Turgis had a great season with second place in Dwars door Vlaanderen to MvdP, one of those results where coming second is still a good line on the CV and he beat some big names like Bob Jungels too. Niki Terpstra crashed out of the classics but the surprise signing still delivered two podium finishes and crucially passed on experience and raised the team’s ambitions with Turgis rising to the occasion. So much that Cofidis manager Cédric Vasseur blasted his team staff about riders like Turgis leaving their team and improving once they’ve left. He won the French season opener the GP La Marseillaise and rode the Tour de France last year, reportedly with a 55T chainring.
Cees Bol won the Nokere Koerse and got Team Sunweb’s first win of the year, a much needed result given they were the last of the World Tour squads to get a win this year. Bol delivered a powerful spring and joins the club of first year pros to win a race. A tall and powerful rider, Bol was a good U23 rider but more consistent than prolific and we’ll see if he becomes a winner, a classics contender or a lead-out expert in the coming years.
Bol was joined on the podium by UAE-Emirates Jasper Philipsen who had a quietly strong debut. Thrust into the limelight after his Tour Down Under stage win, he rode most of the classics and had two top-10s.
Team Sunweb’s Marc Hirschi gets a mention too, 10th in the E3 BinckBank Classic but crucially he was in the early breakaway and when they were duly caught he had the energy and stamina to stay with the breakaway and hang out with the likes of Oliver Naesen and Matteo Trentin, impressive for a 20 year old rider. But he’s got pedigree, he’s the reigning U23 European and World champion. He’s from Ittingen, the same part of Bern as Fabian Cancellara but is far from the same rider, he’s at ease on the climbs too.
— the Inner Ring (@inrng) April 6, 2019
Finally a few more names, it’s not quite a cobbled classic but Vital Concept-B&B Hotel’s Patrick Müller won the Volta Limburg classic with a photofinish on the cobbled finishing straight ahead of Justin Jules, a strong result for a non-sprinter over a sprinter. Cofidis’s Hugo Hoffstetter has some strong moments culminating in fourth place in the Scheldeprijs.
Any more names impressed you? Share in the comments below…