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The Spring Classics Revelations

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It’s always fun to muse over the new names and faces from the cobbled classics with a view to seeing them again in the coming years. Here’s a selection of riders who made a name for themselves…

Arnaud De Lie was one of this blog’s “riders to watch” and has got off to a great start. An early win in Majorca and then he won the GP Monsére still aged 19. For his 20th birthday he had a third place in the Nokere Koerse and then won the Volta Limburg race. The “Bull of Lescheret” still finds time to help on the family farm and to have time out from his day job. He is more than a sprinter as his win in Limburg showed, he followed the decisive attack of Tom Dumoulin and this was athletically impressive but his race craft’s as good, his positioning and tactics show early wisdom and while he comes across as polite and modest in interviews, he’s not afraid to use his bulk to hold the right wheel. It’s made him Lotto-Soudal’s top points scorer this so far this season which says plenty about him, but also the squad’s struggles. As ever in Belgium the linguistic divide is never too far and a lot of Walloon hopes are pinned on him but his favourite races are the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Roubaix rather than Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He spent part of the early season in the company of Victor Camepenaerts for Dutch language lessons, something he’s tentatively deployed in victorious interviews with Sporza.

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I’m on that the neo-pros to watch list, took early season win in Spain, turned 20 and then won a race in Belgium? Who am I?” Not just De Lie but also Magnus Sheffield at Ineos. He took a stage of the Ruta del Sol with a late attack and this impressed with the power on tap late into the race. The junior 3,000m pursuit world record holder seems to be able to deliver this kind of power hours into a race. He won the the Brabantse Pijl with more of this, a long pull on the front and he was away and stayed clear. He’s keen on the classics but looks versatile enough to be able to do the same all year.

Staying with Ineos brings us to “Big” Ben Turner. No wins but seemingly an ever-present force in the cobbled classics, in part thanks to being one of the tallest riders but also because he was often in the kopgroep. He was part of Dylan van Baarle’s Paris-Roubaix win, when Kwiatkowski and Rowe decided to split the peloton early in the race Turner was helping with the damage… and late finished 11th in Roubaix, impressive for a 22 year old neo-pro. A former cyclo-cross rider, he’s relatively slender and could spend summers in the future as a helper, and it’ll also be interesting to see what he can do in time trials.

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Now for Tadej Pogačar. Yes, yes, he’s hardly a new name to introduce but all the same he rode the Ronde for the first time and was arguably the strongest rider in the race and should have at least finished second and this was part-revelation, part confirmation. There was a win in the Strade Bianche too of course but remember Sanremo? That required more finesse. As long as he wins the UAE Tour and the Tour de France every year to satisfy his sponsors he can probably pick the rest of his calendar as he pleases. Finishing fourth in Flanders was probably the best result as it showed him he could win so he’ll be back for more. If he’d won he might opt for something else.

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Biniam Girmay has been touted as a big talent for some time. One of the rare juniors who can say they beat Remco Evenepoel, he was placed with the Delko team for a gentle start but the team folded and he joined the Intermarché-Wanty team mid-season last year where he landed his first win, and finished second in the U23 Worlds. He was with the leaders in the E3 but inexperience showed as he tried to follow Wout van Aert and Christophe Laporte up the Paterberg, the two team mates stuck to the smooth gutter but Ghirmay tried to power up the pavé and this surely cost him, he couldn’t sustain the pace and the gap grew. He won Gent-Wevelgem soon after and to borrow Antoine Blondin’s line of “tell me who you beat and I’ll tell you who you are“, he smoked Laporte, Dries van Gestel and Jasper Stuyven with a long sprint. It’s the sprint that’s interesting and he can both make the winning move and tidy up.

Peter who? Dries van Gestel has been Total Energies’ best rider so far, and their top UCI points scorer. He won the Ronde van Drenthe. But he’s no spring classics chicken, he’s 27 and in his seventh season as pro after an long spell with Sportvlaanderen and now in his third season chez Total Energies. A podium in Gent-Wevelgem and top-10s in Le Samyn and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne means he’s had a good time.

Speaking of Sportvlaanderen-Baloise, they usually have some riders who catch the eye but it’s been harder this year. Kamiel Bonneu though could be won to watch, although he’s less off a cobble-smashing flahute, he’s handy on the climbs of the Ardennes too with a slight build and made the same winning move as De Lie in the Limburg classic.

Arkéa-Samsic have had a great spring, we’ll see if they can do as well this summer. Mathis Louvel didn’t créver l’écran as they say in French, he didn’t “shatter the TV screeen” but look at his results and the 22 year old was Monsieur Consistent, almost always in between 10th-20th place including Flanders and Roubaix. Solid but not spectacular for a third year pro. Team mate Kévin Vauquelin’s looked useful too, especially as a neo-pro with a top-10 in Drenthe.

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Dylan Van Baarle often attacks in the same place during the Ronde van Vlaanderen, just after the Paterberg is done and it’s where everyone needs a breather but he can push on. This year Fred Wright went with him and ended up spending plenty of time in the wind in the final 50 kilometres of the race before finishing seventh. He didn’t get many other results but this was in part because he was on team duties. In his third season he was one of Rod Ellingworth’s British imports at Bahrain.

Valentin Madouas got a podium finish in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, plus seventh in the E3. A neo-pro in 2018 he won Paris-Bourges in his first year but struggled to build on this. The longer a race, the stronger he seemed but had problems with the final phase and didn’t win again until last year. He has the makings of a French version of Van Baarle but this is also his problem, he can pull for hours but converting this into wins is hard… until the big day comes at the end of a seven hour race of course.

BikeExchange-Jayco have had such a tough time this spring that even kit has been hard to spot. But Kelland O’Brien is worth a shout. Part of the Aussie track team pursuit squad for Tokyo, he had a seventh place in Dwars door Vlaanderen but the manner was impressive as he’d been in the early breakaway for hours – accidentally as it happens, he wasn’t really supposed to go up the road – and then he managed to hitch a lift with an all-star move that swept past with 40km to go, racing alongside the likes of Mathieu van der Poel, Tom Pidcock, Victor Campenaerts, Stefan Küng and Nils Politt while the rest of the early breakaway was ejected. As a rough rule if you can hold on when the big move comes past then you can probably join it when it forms next year.

Lastly mentioning O’Brien brings us to another Tokyo team mate, Sam Welsford who was on the podium in the Scheldeprijs, and got Team DSM their first win of the year in the Tour of Turkey. He looks to have huge amounts of sprinting power and can supply this for a relatively long period period too, a touch of Marcel Kittel even but this comparison is probably unfair as it’s not to raise expectations, just a question of style for now.

Any more riders caught the eye? Please share below…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • oldDAVE Thursday, 28 April 2022, 11:37 am

    This was the post I was waiting for!!!
    Thank you – exactly what I’ve been after…

    • oldDAVE Thursday, 28 April 2022, 12:18 pm

      Glad you included Pogacar – nice to have a sprinkling of star power in a list of smaller names (even if some might not be for long) and it’s hard to argue he’s been even more of a revelation this year despite already having won multiple GTs and one day races…

      It’s been a genuine joy to watch a era-defining Grand Tour winner jump across to classics outside of LBL and be a true contender, for the first time it made you appreciate what Merckx/Hinault managed and how much more enjoyment is possible as a cycling fan were the peloton to have more riders capable of racing across the calendar… I feel like Wiggins/Geraint/Nibali gave us a taste of this but what Pog did took it to a new level and has made me extremely excited for next years Flanders in a way I usually reserve for Roubaix (over Flanders).

      I don’t think I could like Pog anymore than I do – he’s just a marvel.

      I guess the trade off is currently the TDF feels like even more of a done deal than when Froome/Ineos were at their height, with no change in the foreseeable unless Pog crashes or Rodiguez Cano is as good as he currently seems in the coming years.

      For me, the interest in this years TDF will be the smaller stories, but I’m also quite looking forward to seeing who Ineos take in their team for the first time in a long time?

      It feels like there are the old stagers who I like but it’s hard to deny would be the boring picks: Thomas, Yates, Rowe, Porte, Amador, Castrov etc and then there are the newer talents who might not be in it to win it (although I cannot see either Thomas, Yates or Martinez genuinely challenging Pog/LottoJ) but who I would love to see given a chance for us to enjoy/see what they’re capable of – if this were the Ineos TDF team I’d be over the moon: Martinez, RodriguezCano, Thomas, Ganna, Van Baarle, Hayter, Turner and the last place between Bernal/Kwiato/Pidcock/Sheffield (even if that’s unlikely given his youth whereas Bernal/Pidcock would need to show for making it more likely Kwiato or Porte get the nod)…

      I’m also interested to see who they bring in next season: Girmay, Fred Wright and Michael Storer would be exciting additions.

      Forgive me for the Ineos monologue, given their classics form though I guess it’s not as standard as it might usually seem for a British cycling fan… I’m also hoping Bardet, Dumoulin, Pinot have excellent second halves of the season and they all seem like decent people who’s talent deserves a few more wins before they time is over and given the talent of the younger generation that window is closing fast.

      • gabriele Thursday, 28 April 2022, 1:56 pm

        Agreed about Pogi and the Classics, although I’d rather say that Wiggo and G were, if anything, very impressive pistards then made into ITT men (with a sidenote for G) then made into GC men… but neither came even close to Nibali in terms of road versatility.

        Wiggo’s Roubaix attempts (9th and 18th), albeit both surely notable thanks to his huge engine, were pretty much his only acceptable results *ever* in one-day racing, not only in Monuments. I don’t know if he even has any other top-20 result in Classics in his *whole* palmarés. It’s a bit like when he went rowing 😉 (just joking)
        You could easily say that, when you take into account his handling and positioning woes, those at Roubaix were miracles of sort for a rider consistently underperforming in one-day racing.

        G’s case is admittedly quite much different, because he always showed a real talent for cobbled one-day racing, where he collected ten top-10 placings or so between Classics and semi-Classics.
        The very curious thing is that precisely when he started climbing on podia in serious stage races, he stopped altogether having decent results in one-day racing.
        He surely reduced his programme, and some seasons he didn’t race any one-day race at all, of course, yet he was still competing in several of them in 2016, 2018, 2019, 2021, and this year, too – he just became close to irrelevant, struggling to make *any top-10* and sometimes even to finish.
        In 2015 he got his last decent one-day performances, podiuming at Gent-Wevelgem and winning E3, but we should note that he *never* had had *any* serious GC results in stage racing until that moment. In June 2015 he first podiumed in a WT stage race, the Tour de Suisse, and from then on he was able to podium up to 7 times in different prestigious stage race’s GC.
        It’s a typical case of Sky mutation – riders just do… change, as old times Jaja. Of course, you tilt your athletic focus, but how do you lose a serious, notable part of your supposed talent to gain another? Hyper-specialisation, excessive focus on predictability of race performance and its merely athletic aspects, perhaps? I can’t delve further into it.

        That said, Nibali is a whole different thing. He always looked strong both in stage racing and in Classics. When compared to Wiggo or G, in his case you have to focus directly on how many times he climbs a podium, and at top-level, not on how many times he makes a top-10 in a huge lot of semi-Classics of sort (he’s got tens of those, 30 or so). In fact, just looking at Monuments, he’s got three podia besides his three wins, and covering three Monuments. Similarly, he’s been 14 times on the podium of WT stage races. All that, pretty much during the same years, just more frequently when he was at his peak and less so when he was a youngster or now close to retirement. Logical. Nibali’s case in Classics is even more notable given that he packed no sprint at all, so he always had to grab the moment or go from far in order to win, and even podia are hard if a reduced group approaches the line and you aren’t fast.

        Of course, G (not to speak of Wiggo) sit well below Nibali, probably too much to make a comparison reasonable, and the “peculiar” development of their careers also raises questions when speaking of *real* verstatility.

        As I remembered elsewhere, there’s been a decent series of *actually* versatile riders across one-day racing / stage racing before, in very recent times, most of whom indeed shined at Liège, as you say, but not just there – one-day racing can’t be reduced to Monuments only.

        Vinokourov also won an Amstel, the Olympics, and was runner-up at San Sebastián, plus several semi-Classics podia. Evans (another rider who lacked a serious sprint) won the Worlds and a Flèche, Cunego not only packs three Lombardia (easier said than done) and an Amstel, but also podia in Belgian and in Spanish Classics and a huge lot of one-day victories on home soil. Di Luca not only won the Liège but also Lombardia, and then the Flèche and Amstel, Milano-Torino, Emilia, Tre Valli… you can’t even start counting podia because it becomes too much, across Belgium, Spain, France, the Netherlands (*he* was a faster man and it’s easy to notice). Not to speak of Valverde or Purito.
        The only rider I happened to name on this subject which come close to your description and whom, in a sense, is hence comparable to G or Wiggo result-wise is Andy Schleck. Maybe one could also think about Pinot or Chaves, although their stage race results were a bit poorer.

        OTOH, Pogi looks to me on another level, again, even compared to Nibali. And, of course, what’s really interesting is that he really shines through different GTs (waiting for the Giro) and stage races, but also very different types of Classics, it’s not merely a GT-Liège thing as during the Armstrong era, but he’s not assuming either any divide between cobbles and côtes. Which, on turn, was true for pretty much anyone else among the riders named here, Nibali and Valverde being the only two who had shown on the road some “interdisciplinary” potential in that sense which wasn’t ever exploited because of their whole race programme (unlike Pogi, both also face the pressure to race a decent home calendar). You really need to go back to Bugno… or Hinault.

        • J Evans Friday, 29 April 2022, 1:49 pm

          Vinokourov ‘won’ the Olympics.

          • gabriele Friday, 29 April 2022, 2:21 pm

            Some traditions are so important in cycling that they are a *legitimate* ^__^ part of the sport.

            No, I’m not speaking of that “podium girls” thing which finally looks gone for good.

            However, it was a very well-deserved victory, and – unlike other similar situations – what surrounds it just remains an undetermined… affair.

          • J Evans Friday, 29 April 2022, 2:39 pm

            Undetermined? Only if Rigoberto Uran has no peripheral vision.

          • gabriele Friday, 29 April 2022, 2:43 pm

            “Only if Rigoberto Uran has no peripheral vision.”
            How’s that J Evans…? Rigo was simply looking the other way ^___^

          • gabriele Friday, 29 April 2022, 2:56 pm

            After all, a serious contender for the title of “best Worlds ever” was the 1973 Barcelona race, and it’s not just because four of the strongest cyclists ever ended up fighting for it, but also because of the plots and drama behind the scenes, several money offers included (oh, the times when you had to pay good money out of your own pockets to your national teammates in order to have them working for you…! And it didn’t work that much, either).

          • J Evans Friday, 29 April 2022, 3:36 pm

            There is just no way that that sprint from Uran is genuine. Uran stares in the wrong direction (away from Vino) for a long time, for no reason (there are no riders nearby behind anyway, so there is nothing for him to look at), then he moves far away from Vino, again for no reason, and then once Vino goes Uran ‘doesn’t notice’ for a conveniently absurd length of time. If Uran has peripheral vision, he can see that Vino has attacked many seconds before he reacts (slowly). Frankly an embarrassment for both.

          • Anonymous Friday, 29 April 2022, 3:36 pm

            Watch from 1.45 if you’re in any doubt.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhhGJ3I4p9k&t=267s

          • J Evans Friday, 29 April 2022, 3:37 pm

            I also disagree with you that bribery adds intrigue. It’s just rigging the result, ruining it for the spectator – I’ll watch wrestling if that’s what I want.

          • oldDAVE Saturday, 30 April 2022, 12:57 pm

            impressed there’s still so much passion behind this!

            I’ve moved on from this a while ago even if I’d have preferred Rigo to win…

            I seem to have moved on from most my older gripes – used to dislike Valverde for never publicly coming clean about doping but seeing his ageless late career and how much the younger riders seem to like him has made me reconsider.

            Found Roglic’s Valverde-esq tactics (which he’s entitled to do, they’re just boring for viewers) a bit drab to start with but again have seen what a decent guy he is and really like him now, also to lose the TDF the way he did was incredible.

            Find Remco a bit arrogant but have realised he’s going to have a hard time living up to Belgian expectations so decided to cut him some slack! He’s in for a tough few years.

            I even got over the Lance dislike and do find his podcast vaguely fun (even if obviously The Cycling Podcast is by far the best podcast out there).

            Oh – and GCN, a few years ago they almost felt like kids TV and could be extremely annoying – but now they’re an empire and just so impressive in everything they do, is it Dan Lloyd who’s the brains behind it all? What an incredible job someone has done there. (*would love an INRNG post on the GCN growth one day!)

            It feels to me like we’re living in a perfect cycling moment, incredible coverage, journalism, riders, bike design (I hated the sloping top tube era, and love the return to aero straight top tubes)… all we need now is someone to sort out diversity and the calendar… but that will take a lot longer is pretty unlikely!!

          • J Evans Saturday, 30 April 2022, 1:29 pm

            My only gripe about Valverde (I’m pretty blasé about his doping: in his generation, they almost all did it and few admitted it even when caught) is that Movistar seems to been run almost entirely for his benefit over the years. Quite a few very good riders have been stymied at that team, most notably Quintana – and the most notable example of that was the 2015 TdF where Froome was visibly weakening towards the end of the race and Quintana might have been able to overtake him. However, rather than focusing their efforts on that, Movistar chose to ensure that Valverde got a podium.
            That’s nationalism for you: another example of this being Roglic at Jumbo-Visma. As Inner Ring has pointed out, he might have won the 2020 TdF had J-V focused on putting time into his rivals on that flat stage where they split the peloton and Pogacar was behind. And this year, they’re trying to get WVA into Green. If you want to win the TdF it’s far better to make that your team’s sole focus – and let’s face it, if Roglic was Dutch or Belgian (e.g. Dumoulin), that’s what J-V would be doing. To beat Pogacar, he needs the entire team working for him (although I think Pogacar will be far harder to drop on flat stages nowadays – he has more experience and strength, and a better team than back then).

      • gabriele Thursday, 28 April 2022, 2:13 pm

        A marginal cultural note, given that you’re quite much interested in INEOS and hence in hugely promising Carlos Rodríguez Cano: he is usually referred to by Spaniards as “Carlos Rodríguez”, pretty much always including his first name because Rodríguez is obviously too common a surname.
        It’s absolutely true that the second surname is often used in Spain when the first one is, as in this case, ‘too common’: think of ex premier Zapatero, whose full name was “José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero”.
        However, for some unknown reason, this isn’t happening with many cycling Rodríguez: Joaquim ‘Purito’ Rodríguez Oliver was called… “Purito”; while the official first name is usually made explicit in TV or press commentaries when speaking of “Óscar Rodríguez” (Garaicoechea), now at Movistar, or “Cristián Rodríguez” (Martín), at Total Energies. So, “Carlos Rodríguez”. Sometimes they refer to him through his birthplace “el de Almuñécar”, “the man from Almuñécar”, waiting for an appropriate nickname (I’ve heard “el águila de Almuñécar”, “the eagle” but it really didn’t stick for now).

        • The Inner Ring Thursday, 28 April 2022, 2:33 pm

          I thought Rodríguez was “El León de Almuñécar”?

          If he keeps on track it’ll soon be Don Carlos.

          • gabriele Thursday, 28 April 2022, 2:51 pm

            You’re right! The Lion looked more prominent an option this early season, especially when chasing Pogi at Strade Bianche!

          • oldDAVE Thursday, 28 April 2022, 3:13 pm

            ha… I think I’m trying to get the Cano bit going as an army of one without sufficient to respect to cultural difference…! You’re right.

            The reason being everyone I’ve spoken to Carlos Rodríguez about constantly forgets who he is because the name is so ubiquitous so I’ve taken to going with Cano as it’s more unique/memorable name for a non-Spanish speaker, but that doesn’t mean it’s right/appropriate!

            I will make the switch to Carlos Rodríguez and hope a nickname catches on soon 🙂 Admittedly if he starts winning repeatedly he’ll become the one and only Carlos Rodriquez quickly.

            On Ineos – yeah, I’ve not been overly interested in their selections for a number of years, as a British fan I will always root for some Brit riders, but until this classics season I have been more interested in Pogacar’s rise and the riders coming behind him (McNulty, Almeida etc) and Bahrain’s seemingly assortment of young talent (I’m also very happy to see Mohoric realise his potential) and finally I’ve got my fingers crossed for Pinot, firmly believe he should have won the 2019 TDF so would like him to retire with at least one GT. Although had he won Colombia wouldn’t have a TDF victory and that would be quite sad as it’s been fantastic to see a newer pro-cycling nation joining the big hitters in the last decade, I hope Carapaz can be the start of the next level for Ecuador now and likewise Girmay for Eritrea despite their questionable government situation.

          • Ecky Thump Thursday, 28 April 2022, 7:33 pm

            Steady on IR, there’s only one Don Carlos.
            And the man has apparently just released his first album in 10 years –
            https://www.6amgroup.com/italian-deep-house-maestro-don-carlos-delivers-first-album-in-10-years/

          • The Inner Ring Thursday, 28 April 2022, 10:58 pm

            I’ll see your DJ Carlos and raise you with the Verdi opera

      • CA Friday, 29 April 2022, 2:19 pm

        Agreed about Pogacar. He genuinely seems to love racing his bike and even if privately he focuses on numbers, in the public he talks about the joy of the race. I love that he is still only 22 or something. No pressure on him but I pray he can keep this going.

  • Gargatouf Thursday, 28 April 2022, 1:36 pm

    I was really impressed with Olivier Le Gac, more in a domestique role than leader, but he was always there towards the sharp end of the classics, working for Kung and Madouas. He often finished in the first main group, behind the winners.

    There’s a decent Classics squad now at Groupama-FDJ, with Kung and Madouas as leaders, Le Gac and Geniets, who was also pretty impressive I thought as another important domestique. Askey seems to have great potential and with Stewart back next year, there’s hopefully the potential of a big win for Kung, a rider I really like and who had a very consistent campaign.

    • gabriele Thursday, 28 April 2022, 1:57 pm

      Agreed and well spot!

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 28 April 2022, 2:35 pm

      A giant ride by Le Gac in Roubaix, it looked forlorn but helped put Küng on the podium. Already curious to see what Groupama-FDJ do next year, they had a solid spring and just repeating this won’t be easy. Küng seems to have been around for a long time but he’s just 28, a year younger than van Baarle and both have plenty of time ahead.

    • Cascarinho Thursday, 28 April 2022, 11:15 pm

      I was about to speak about Askey too who really impressed me at Roubaix. He seemed so at ease on the pavé, even with his cutted and bleeding knee.

      • Tovarishch Friday, 29 April 2022, 12:38 pm

        Askey is another one to graduate from cyclo-cross and a winner of junior Paris-Roubaix

  • ZKelly Thursday, 28 April 2022, 6:47 pm

    We knew Magnus Sheffield would be someone to watch since 2019 Junior Worlds in Yorkshire. He did a ton of work on that miserable day to help Quinn Simmons win the Rainbow jersey.
    Brabantse Pijll was an interesting race this year.
    One thing I noticed is Sheffield goes up a cobbled climb just like Boonen. His upper body rocks, not side to side, but up and down w every rev. If it works like mountain bike, when you pull up on the bars to pull your upper body down, it sort of mashes the rear tire down for more traction.
    That guy is gonna be somebody.

    • Allegedly_Anthony Monday, 2 May 2022, 4:27 pm

      Yup, I have to agree with you – TBH, I thought Sheffield put in a bigger ride than Quinn Simmons, and Skineos’ choice to sign him looked like the better decision, although Simmons has done better than I expected, so what do I know? Anyhoo, I can’t see Sheffield failing to progress significantly in the next couple of years.

  • TDK Thursday, 28 April 2022, 9:48 pm

    Less fancied riders that caught the eye? Max Walscheid, came roaring into the Spring classics season super hot, a win at Denain-Hainault, second at Nokere Koerske, followed that with a 4th at Brugge-de Panne, then … got hit by a car in training two days before MSR. No broken bones, but that was his Spring season gone.

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 28 April 2022, 11:02 pm

      A strong ride and nice to see someone joining Cofidis and improving… but a difficult revelation as he’s long been a big talent. Early on the Giant-Alpecin/Sunweb team saw him as their successor to Kittel because he could sprint fast but also turn on the watts for a long time (which brings to mind Welsford mentioned above) but he seems to be not quite fast enough for the sprints but not quite a victorious rider. Which should mean he’s an invaluable leadout. The car crash sounded bad at the time, hope he be back soon and deliver more, him and Coquard should make for a good tandem in something like the 4 Days of Dunkerque soon.

  • brent sword Thursday, 28 April 2022, 11:19 pm

    Sam welsford caught me by surprise. He seemed to have been around on the local Australian scene for a long time. I was surprised at the jump across to a world tour win. He is also a bit younger than i thought so he had a few years left in him. Better than i thought he was which must be partly explained by the fact that when i saw him racing local he must have been quite young.

  • 150 Watts Friday, 29 April 2022, 1:09 am

    What about Kooij … I think he scored a win somewhere.

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 29 April 2022, 8:49 am

      …just not in the spring classics. One to watch as well though.

      • 150 Watts Sunday, 1 May 2022, 11:25 am

        Ayuso is interesting for a 19 year old.

  • Richard S Friday, 29 April 2022, 9:59 am

    I think the most interesting thing to emerge from the spring classics was a clearer picture of what kind of rider Evenepoel is going to be. He showed an explosion of power that we haven’t really seen from him before which allied to his already well known abilities as a breakaway/time trial rider will make him dangerous in any one day race where there isn’t a massive premium on positioning and bike handling. His win at Liege was quite retro in the location of his attack and it’s style. It was a bit Vandenbroucke or Bartoli. It’ll be interesting to see if he does end up focusing on hilly one day races, first week GT leaders jerseys and world championships. And if he does if there is space for him and Alaphilippe in the same team.

    • 150 Watts Friday, 29 April 2022, 10:27 am

      +1 … I thought Evenepoel looked really good on the bike. From memory he is not rated all the high as a descender but he really looked the goods at LBL.

      • Sausage baby Friday, 29 April 2022, 1:08 pm

        My guess is that he’s really focused on his descending over the winter – in the same way that Froome did a few years back.

        • gabriele Friday, 29 April 2022, 2:24 pm

          Pinot was able to achieve that, too.

          However, Remco was on home roads, which surely helps. Hopefully, we’ll have more occasions to test that in the future.

    • Ecky Thump Friday, 29 April 2022, 9:59 pm

      Just looking at the leading cast in the Tour de Romandie and you could imagine Evenepoel in amongst them, so far anyway.
      One other thing that strikes me with Evenepoel is that for all his undoubted talent, there still seems to be considerable room for improvement.
      I don’t mean that unkindly, but things like bike handling, descending, climbing strength.
      You look at Pogacar and wonder if he can get any better or if he’ll plateau, whereas I could see Evenepoel following a more traditional upward curve to reach his peak in his later 20s.

      • oldDAVE Saturday, 30 April 2022, 12:45 pm

        the plateau for Pog if this is it is pretty unbelievably high!

        best climber, near-best time trialist, tactically astute, great bike handling, decent sprint, strong on cobbles… that’s a plateau I think most would take!

        • J Evans Saturday, 30 April 2022, 1:18 pm

          Yes, I don’t see Pog improving further much, it’s more a question of whether or not he can keep this form going for a decade. If he does, he’ll be a legend.

  • Anonymous Friday, 29 April 2022, 10:05 am

    At about 5 Tour wins, a rider turns into a diesel engined heavy weight boxer, slugging away and something of a curiosity. I hope it doesn’t happen to Tadej!

  • Anonymous Friday, 29 April 2022, 12:14 pm

    Victor Campenaerts and Stefan Küng (mentioned in the article) surely need to work on their tactics.
    Campenaerts attacks at odd times, works too hard and wears himself out before the final – he should learn to make one big attack at the correct moment.
    Speaking of which, Küng also gets himself into good positions, the commentators then inevitably point out that he needs to attack before the line, but that attack almost never comes.

    • J Evans Friday, 29 April 2022, 12:14 pm

      me

      • oldDAVE Saturday, 30 April 2022, 12:42 pm

        is that a tiny bit harsh? as in both were really establishing themselves as top level classic riders this season and both are more traditional diesels riders which makes it much harder to win whatever your tactics.

        I sometimes think with a diesel you can get it wrong tactically again and again and again until the one day you get it right and everyone says you’re a genius – StannardvsQS and Hayman come to mind…

        Although I’m not necessarily disagreeing – Campenaerts has never seemed the most astute rider to me and I’d be very surprised to see him start winning regularly. Kung is a bit like Vanmarcke or Nils ‘The Teeth’ Politt in that he’ll likely only ever get one chance to win a big race and he’ll have to take it – similar to Hayman or Bettiol (although Bettiol might have a few more weapons if he ever regains those climbing legs).

        I generally feel for those kind of riders that the tactic should always be the same at every big race: get ahead of the race somewhere and be ready to latch on when the big attacks happen, or if you’re lucky with a crash you can be ahead of the game and profit… Van Baarle, Gilbert, Van Summeren have all won previously with those tactics.

        I also think Sagan would have won more MSR’s had he stuck with his tactics the year he lost to Kwiato – he made the perfect attack then and ninetimesoutoften would have won that race with exactly the same tactics.

  • Wipperman_15 Friday, 29 April 2022, 1:59 pm

    I’m not sure I’d class Ben Turner as a ‘former Cyclocross rider’ – he still is, and rode the last season, including the Worlds, where he finished 14th. Pretty good for a rider who is more ‘diesel’ like than explosive which is usually required in CX.