Mathieu van der Poel leads by three seconds as he starts the descent down the Poggio. He’s counter-attacked Tadej Pogačar and left Filippo Ganna and Wout van Aert to chase. This was the moment the race was won.
The start in Abbiategrasso lacked the grandezza of Milan’s Castello Sforzesco or the Piazza del Duomo but the sporting aspect was the same. The neutral start was paused at chilometro zero to allow some riders back to the peloton, including Tadej Pogačar who was getting dirt wiped off his shoulder, it looked like he’d crashed but not even pride was wounded as he posed for selfies.
The early break was never allowed to get more than three minutes. Orphaned by Michael Matthew’s Covid withdrawal, Jayco-Al Ula sent Alexandre Balmer and Jan Maas up road with Aleksandr Riabushenko (Astana) and wildcard invitees Alessandro Tonelli and Samuele Zoccarato (Green Project-Bardiani-CSF-Faizané), Mirco Maestri and Samuele Rivi (Eolo-Kometa), Alois Charrin (Tudor Pro Cycling) and Negasi Haylu (Q36.5). This must be crushing for the riders as they couldn’t even spend the next few hours daydreaming about a win and were reduced to rolling billboards for their sponsors at best thanks to the relentless work of the likes of Jos van Emden and Jacopo Mosca for Jumbo-Visma and Trek-Segafredo.
One of the themes of this year’s race was just how uneventful if was, calm skies and the best part of 300km with relatively few incidents along the way. Come the Passo Turchino and Julian Alaphilippe crashed towards the top but got back on, it probably cost him a bit of mental energy but not much more. Down to the coast and the three capi came and went without any major incidents; sure some sprinters were dropped and Alex Aranburu crashed but little else. Soon after Sam Bennett was among those felled by some unmarked street furniture. The crash of Michał Kwiatkowski and Jan Tratnik seemed the most significant in the moment as they’re lynchpins for their leaders but with hindsight it’s claim to say this altered the result.
This year’s vintage was a Derny race, all the team leaders and lieutenants sat tight in the slipstream for as long as possible. Sure the Cipressa saw more sprinters dropped especially when UAE took up the pace and once again nobody could or would attack here. The descent was without incident although Mathieu van der Poel and Søren Kragh Andersen surged towards the front so they could follow UAE’s Matteo Trentin down and the trio opened up a small gap on the way down.
It all came down to the Poggio, the crucible where the race reaches boiling point. Bahrain barged into the lead to start the climb. Try as they might they couldn’t keep the pace up, or rather UAE came around with Tim Wellens hitting the front and winding up the pace as best as he could, his head shaking from side to side as if he was having an argument with his legs. This was more than a lead-out, Wellens’ wanton pace dragged a group clear while several wheels behind Matteo Trentin sat up to leave a gap which had the effect of a drawbridge being lifted and leaving those behind stranded. For the first time since Abbiategrasso the peloton was split. We knew what was coming next but if Pogačar’s attack was telegraphed that didn’t make it any easier to follow. It was like a storm warning, rivals could plan and prepare but when it came they were on their own.
The Poggio just isn’t steep enough for Pogačar, as much as he can attack, a handful of rivals can get on his wheel as long as they’re close enough to react. This was arguably where the only tactical finesse occurred as Søren Kragh Andersen gave chase with Filippo Ganna, then Wout van Aert. Mads Pedersen and Matej Mohorič were just metres away but could only watch as the race slipped away. This was the moment Mathieu van der Poel came past them and latched onto the winning move, just as “SKA” cracked, his job done. This left us with a golden quartet of Pogačar, Ganna, Van der Poel and Van Aert.
The Poggio is never steep but it flattens out over the top and with Pogačar’s gravity advantage over now, like some Zwift rider with a feather power-up expiring, Mathieu van der Poel surged just as they came to the Poggio town sign. Pogačar, Ganna and Van Aert were chasing but there was a gap, clean air.
Passing the legendary phone box that marks the start of the descent, Van der Poel led by three seconds, a gap no bigger than the time it took you to read this sentence. Yet it was a gap, a break and Van der Poel was away. His descent was workman-like, and each of hairpin exit saw him sprinting for the win and this time the RAI camera motos were far away, most of the descent was filmed by helicopter and it wasn’t until after the final bend that the moto shots resumed. Wout van Aert led the chase, how many times in his life has he done this? Onto the flat and Ganna was wincing, possibly bluffing but it looked like he couldn’t do much. By now Van der Poel had 11 seconds and that was it, there was time to sit up and celebrate.
An exciting finale that brings a satisfying result. Some riders have taken the win in Sanremo like cat burglars creeping into a bank and unpicking the safe with skeleton keys to take the trophy before rivals could react. Today Mathieu van der Poel walked in the front door, blew the doors off the race on the Poggio and took an emphatic solo win. This was more than a one-shot attack, bridging across to Pogačar’s move when others were floundering was one giant effort. Then another as he countered Tadej Pogačar and no less than Filippo Ganna and Wout van Aert couldn’t help Pogačar bring back the Dutchman. The result feels incontestable – even genetic given his grandfather won here in 1961 – so unless the script was ripped up and some wildly different scenarios were played out, who else could have won. As the sun sets over the Ligurian coast this evening nobody is talking about a seatpost or a chainring but a champion’s triumph instead.
And yet if there’s no doubting the outcome, the final 15 minutes of Sanremo supplied tension but not the head-spinning delirium of recent years where the result was uncertain until the last metres. Pogačar launched where everyone expected, the surprise was Van der Poel countering but once he took three seconds, the more settled things began to look.
Indeed for post-race analysis there’s much less to decrypt and decode with the benefit of hindsight. None of the top four could have any regrets, indeed Filippo Ganna’s forceful sprint showed a new side, an extra weapon in his armoury. Pogačar might feel short-changed for missing out on the podium after making the decisive move but because he made the decisive move he got countered. For all their struggles to get a win until recently, Alpecin-Deceuninck played their cards perfectly with Van der Poel as the star but Søren Kragh Andersen as a catalyst. This was a close, tight edition with 44 riders within one minute, the last of these being Peter Sagan.
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Love the nod to The Italian Job
Was it the Italian Job or Gatto winning MSR some years ago?
Brilliant last 40K. Just brilliant and with a worthy winner and podium.
Thanks for the write up.
I had my doubts beforehand that MvdP would be able to do it – but he did it – and in grand style.
Quite a reposte to people feeling he’s past his peak.
There were a lot of bad hot takes in the preview’s comments on MvDP. Only maybe if Alaphilippe was 100% today could there have been a classier field to beat. Chapeau Mathieu.
I think Pidcock may have had a say.
Surely in the future, for now he’s nearly up there, but I think that when “they” (those very few very top guys) really get to the very last turn of the screw, he seems to still lack a bit. Same in CX with the above figure of rivals reduced to 2, he sometimes justified the “big 3” tagline, but not 100% when you look at it as a whole. His (huge) Strade Bianche still had a slightly different flavour from Pogi’s or MvdP’s – in a good sense, too, that is, it was more of a complex victory. However, all the above makes me suspect he wouldn’t have made *the* cut yesterday and he’d find himself in no man’s land. He perhaps could get back to the chase descending, but that’s not sure, either (as pointed out by others, the chase was chased by some other great descenders whoput in their good show).
He’s still shockingly young and clearly in a pattern of manifest positive evolution.
I’m thinking the same re Tom Pidcock. He might have made the last selection, quite possibly, but could he have powered the descent out of those hairpins stronger than the champion yesterday?
I think Pidcock is overrated by a certain group. He’s never really had a signature win against top competition and SB was good, but more lacked top end challenges. The same in cx. I get that he’s likable with his descending videos and his tail whips but I don’t think he’s there just yet with the other top guys. He was getting dropped and beat in uphill sprints by the likes of Cort just weeks ago. I could see a future where he can beat top fields in something like LBL or maybe Lombardia, but the team may have to look to Ganna instead in other classics.
I am not convinced about the hype around pidcock. Sure he won strade bianche, but that’s the race that most closely fits his skill set. Isn’t he the same age as remco and a year younger than pog so he’ll be competing against them for his entire career.
Re: victories. Don’t forget Pidcock won Brabantse Pijl over serious competition and even more significant crossed the line first at Amstel against an impressive field, pretty much as strong as it could possibly get (one or two rivals always end up not being at the start). Plus, as a multi-discipline athlete you can’t forget that he’s only had two (2) seasons on the road at pro level. You simply can’t compare him with Remco or Pogi because of their different overall profile – it wouldn’t make sense that he even came close on the road *in terms of victories* at a similar age. Although of course I get the point about having *those* strong rivals to face your whole career, but, hey, as we were commenting these days, if Gimondi could steal a fine deal of wins against Merckx and De Vlaeminck…
Re: his field of action. Heck, the guy podiumed at both Waregem and Kuurne when he still was what you would once call a “neo pro”.
Note that I expressed my doubts about his current chances in a race like yesterday’s – better said “precisely yesterday” (if he had been well, of course). And, of course, he’s sometimes being overrated for obvious reasons in his national context (as Gaudu in France etc., Aru in Italy or whatever). And some insider said he isn’t the humblest and finest character in person.
But we shouldn’t underrate him as an athlete by any possible means, either.
Of course we won’t know pidcock standing until his career is over and we are at the moment just expressing subjective opinions. It seems to me that pidcock will fall between two stools:unable to overpower pog and remco, and unable to outsprint wva, mvdp and probably in the future arnaud de lie.
I think we have to consider the size of Pidcock. For sure he *could* win MSR if he could get to the top of climb with a bit of gap but I think he will always struggle on climbs like the Pog against the power houses. He is almost 10kg lighter than Pogacar (58 vs 66) and then significantly lighter than MvDP (75) and WVA (70+). The last four winners of the race have all been 70kg +. There was a small run of lighter riders winning it from Kwiatkowski, Nibali and then Alaphalippe was probably the lightest rider in the last 10 years to win it but generally it has been won by heavier riders. I’d still love to Pidcock win it and hopefully he will win some more races this spring!
Wow, are people actually thinking he’s past peak form? I’m not a rabid pro road fan at this point, but I’d say the guy has a solid five more years of being a major player in almost every one-day race. His talents seem so diverse that I’m sure he’ll continue to win in ways we haven’t seen yet. His power from CX, his handling from mtb. and his genes from Grandpa…
Trentin’s sitting-up, breaking the string of riders behind the leading 7 or 8 was a smart move for Pogacar.
A smart move and an accepted trick of the trade, but to me it is somehow unsporting, like grabbing a striker´s shirt or pretending that you’ve been tripped in football. But I must admit this is so only because I’ve never raced – and I do know there’s a difference between a race and a gran fondo!
That said, I cannot imagine that the winner or indeed the top four would have looked any different withoust Trentin’s little help in breaking up the bunch.
PS The small but perhaps not insignifiant detail in the finale was in my opinion the apparent coolness which allowed Matthieu van der Poel to let Wout van Aert do the work in closing the gap when Pogacar attacked and Ganna followed.
No, it’s ok, it’s not like physically blocking the road. You spend a load of energies to be there, part of your gregario work, and it’s not like the rest of guys don’t know you’re Pog’s team. They’d have to fight for position previously, or they take the risk. Sometimes they might even think it’s a good wheel to sit on. Part of the game is betting on what Trentin might be doing, or not, even as a gregario, and those conjectures are part of the strategy, just as right positioning. Plus, Trentin stopping is also “sacrifice”, a piece less which instead might have been useful if things, you never know, played out (very) differently from then on, which further legitimates the move. Chess game at over 500 watts.
Pretty much bike racing 101, no? Your leader goes off the front, you back off/sit up, etc. to slow down his chasers..what do you do otherwise? Keep dragging them along in pursuit of your leader? As they say, it ain’t rocket-surgery! If you watched Trofeo Binda you could see Trek doing this kind of thing for many kilometers as their leader rode away. Nobody’s jamming a frame pump in anyone’s wheel ala Breaking Away but once your team gets you up there, it’s just as much their job to help you get/stay away to win.
Of course it is bike racing 101 (as you ‘Mericans love to put it)!
I thought it obvious what I was describing were my ambivalent feelings about it – and I myself found it quite amusing that I felt that way in spite of recognizing it as an accepted trick of the trade and admitting that what the riders think is fair in racing is what is relevant here.
As gabriele pointed out, it is an essential racing skill to know how to read the situation and to anticipate what may happen at any instant – and to know, for eample, what to do if the rider whose wheel you’re sitting on slows down at a crucial moment, be it for purely tactical reasons or because the tank is completely empty.
But I cannot help feeling there is a dfference between not helping the chasers and slowing them down, even it is for a short moment…
TBH, my reading of Trentin’s move was a little more nuanced. Normally, in these strings of riders, the gaps form when riders blow. Here, Trentin was at the end of his capability, but eased off slowly rather than just sitting up. This meant that the gap opened slightly less noticeably so that the following riders didn’t see what he was up to for a fraction longer. Normally, they would have tried to jump again to close the gap, but as it was a little bigger now they couldn’t. Racecraft, and very impressive when you are cross-eyed with effort.
“But I cannot help feeling there is a dfference between not helping the chasers and slowing them down, even it is for a short moment…”
I guess you like the chrono stages then when it’s every man for him/herself? I prefer to see racing racer vs racer rather than against the watch. Tactics like you describe your mixed feelings about are what make the sport interesting IMHO.
When one is quick and eager to guess what others think and one tends to be pretty sure that one’s guesses are on the spot, it can happen that one never gets what others actually think.
In my world there is a vast multitude of different kinds of tactical moves in road cycling and only about two that give me mixed feelings 🙂
PS The only racing against the watch that I find thrilling takes place in cross-country skiing. (Alas, interval starts are all to rare nowadays, because the powers that be have ddecided that mass start races make better TV…)
It was Magnus Cort who was on Trentin’s wheel and he told that when he noticed there was a gap, it was already too wide for him to close.
(NB He wasn’t complaining or hinting anything, he quite openly admitted that he didn’t have the power in his legs.)
“But I cannot help feeling there is a dfference between not helping the chasers and slowing them down, even it is for a short moment…”
I’m trying to understand why it is that you feel that way and in the end all I can think is it’s because (as you wrote) you’ve never raced in an actual bike race and especially as a teammate for another rider. Seems to me if you had, you’d feel that slowing down those who are chasing your leader is part of the game…if they don’t like it, it’s up to them to come around..or maybe not be behind you in the first place?
IMHO it’s like those who deride a sprinter for sitting-on rather than pulling one of the strong (but with no kick for the finish) guys along in a break. “Wheel-sucker!” they like to scream but they ignore the facts: one guy has the kick, the other doesn’t. So the guy without needs to somehow distance the guy who does so he doesn’t just come around him as they race for the finish line. If he can’t and the sprinter dusts him…whose fault is that? Was the sprinter supposed to drag his adversary along in the break, possibly dulling his superior sprint in the process? No sprinter worth his salt would do that, but they get reviled for not doing it time after time. And what about a lead-out train? Are those guys somehow obliged to keep charging to the line after their work is done, possibly aiding a competitor rather than sitting-up and maybe getting in the way of their competitors? “Bike Racing 101” no?
When I raced we used to call that “shake n’ bake”.
Curiously enough, I never had any difficulty in accepting – at any level – that a sprinter sits on in order to utilize his particular strengths and to maximize his chances of winning. Neither have I felt there was anything somehow unsporting in a lead-out rider pulling out and in the process getting in the way of other teams’ riders.
And if I’d seen Trentin sit up when his captain attacked in a break of, say, seven riders or in a similarly sized group of what’s left of the peloton, I wouldn’t have had mixed feelings about it. In other words, for some reason there was something in this particular situation that made me feel differently and that made me mull over why I didn’t quite like Trentin’s move. Or why indeed I thought the difference between not accelerating and following the wheel he was sitting on and sitting up and slowing down was significant in this particular case.
(The best explanation that I could come up with was that I had too many experiences of gran fondi where someone a few bikes ahead had let a gap open and hadn’t even bothered to shout “Gap!” and I then had to go in the red in order to close it…)
PS I remember a discussion about the way some riders intentionally lose minutes in a stage with the purpose of gaining freedom to go in a break and to win a stage later in a race. To someone new to watching road cycling that could seem not quite cricket or a stage win achieved by such a strategy could be seen as a somehow lesser victory. But to someone steeped in road cycling who has immersed its ethics on the road such feelings can be hard to understand…
“The best explanation that I could come up with was that I had too many experiences of gran fondi where someone a few bikes ahead had let a gap open and hadn’t even bothered to shout “Gap!” and I then had to go in the red in order to close it…)”
Thanks for this – explains your view pretty well. The difference of course is a gran fondo is not a monument..or even IMHO an actual race. Not having done many mass rides (other than bici d’epoca where ethics and attitudes are very, very different) since the term “gran fondo” was applied to what back-in-the-day were usually called “century rides” I was clueless about the idea of someone calling out “GAP!”..back then you might have heard “FLAT!” or “GLASS!” but that’s it. Do they really call-out GAP? Is it expected every time you lose the wheel of the rider in front of you if there’s someone on your wheel? At best back then you’d move over and motion those behind you to come past.
Agreed on MvdP’s moves, he tends to win mind games and play super smart while at the pointy end of racing, which is peculiar in a sense because he looks (marginally) less of a cold and calculating and steady character out and around the very moment of being racing; rather emotional, impulsive, stubborn, sometimes not totally focussed (heck, that fatal wooden plank story at the Olympics!). He looks like that sometimes even in race themselves, barring the finales. Very good combination of traits for the fun of fans, anyway!
SKA’s presence was also paramount. Alpecin growing into the season.
MVDP is racing a lot more smartly recently. His Flanders win for example is less about brutal force than jump at right moment. Pog acts more like him a few years back, trying to roll over everyone.
It was very smart for him to let WVA do the chasing. However, I guess it was as much out of necessity as cold calculus. He didn’t intentionally leave a gap then lure WVA to chase in order to tire him out. He probably thought his race was over at that moment and presently find WVA acted as the yellow knight coming to his rescue. He then gambled at the top. In this kind of situation, chase is always difficult as everyone in that group would be weary of doing the chase for the other two. Ganna being not as good a descender compounded the issue.
Though I was surprised that Pog decided to stay behind Ganna’s wheel. I guess it is difficult to over take on a descent and Pog likely still cooked after his attack earlier.
I doubt he ever *thought* his race was over, he clearly had the power to get back, and would do so (have a look at the 2021 race, for example). He’s always watching what happens and when WVA jumps he gets his wheel with much ease, he keeps very glued, even half-wheeling at times. He just leaves WVA go all the way. What if Wout had blown? MvdP would jump and get to the front – the three of them would probably get to the line, or the two in case they left Ganna back along the descent. In any case, it looks that van der Poel would get this all the same. He both had (slightly) more in the tank *and* spent it quite better than the rest.
Ganna arguably spent it as well. But he is objectively lacking in terms of race craft. That said, even if he went with MVDP on that moment, the likelihood hood of him shaking or out sprinting the latter is almost zero. We will get the same race with Ganna ended up in different groups.
I agree with your final note, Sunday. Van Aert was close to the back of the 8 man split when Pogacar jumped. He actually came around Van der Poel to close the gap, which took a lot of effort and, seemingly, an age. Meanwhile VdP sat on, a « free » ride.
Van Aert often appears to do too much in the final of these races. I’m not sure if it’s a crosser’s mentality or he lacks sang froid when he’s at his limit. However, I don’t doubt that VdP could have jumped that gap quickly, possibly without Van Aert on his wheel, and still made his attack to win.
Agreed that Wout seems to lack that sang froid in the finale when needed. Yesterday in the last 40k he was repeatedly in the wind at or near the front, and had to battle back near the foot of the Poggio. MvdP was cruising tucked in.
It should be no real surprise who have the extra gear when it came to it.
Don’t agree with that characterisation of Trentin’s move. For me, it’s more like having a decoy/dummy runner in rugby, so the defenders don’t know who you’re going to pass to. If they target the wrong man – as the riders on Trentin’s wheel effectively did – then the actual target gets a clear run.
Smart bike riding is not “unsporting”
Sitting up is not ‘unsporting, like grabbing a striker´s shirt or pretending that you’ve been tripped in football’ because the riders behind Trentin had plenty of space to go around him. They chose to sit on his wheel (for whatever reason).
It’s not Trentin’s job to tow them back to his leader – precisely the opposite.
He didn’t block anyone or do anything unsporting: he simply slowed down. And they chose to follow him rather than go round.
I suppose I have posted a number of comments that I could or should have left unposted, but I never imagined my first comment here would make me think I should’vet thought twice before posting it 🙁
But your “It’s not Trentin’s job to tow them back to his leader” – now that must be the silliest strawman I’ve read here!
I think we all agree and understand that his job at that point was not to tow anyone – but he could’ve done it by pulling aside and letting the rider on his wheel do the work, couldn’t he? 🙂
But that would have meant that Cort would have been wise to the situation a second sooner – and the point and purpose of Trentin’s move was to make the gap as wide as possible,..
For the record, I didn’t equate Trentin’s move with those tricks familiar to anyone who has watched foorball. The last mentioned may be common on a football pitch, but I don’t think they are universally accepted and I dare believe I’m not the only one who finds them “somehow unsporting”.
But enough of flogging a dead horse, yes? It was nice to see first Landa and then Chaves try something and quite thrilling to see Ciccone steal the win in Catalunya.
I guess that the outrage, partly not justified at all with armies of straw men and so, yet partly fostered by legitimate surprise, is actually due to the fact that most reader perceive that not only Trentin’s move is adequate, but it’s also a great piece of cycling technique, hence the surprise and reactions.
Let me have a last attempt at the dead horse 😉
Space occupation in cycling is not any variable, it’s not just placing. It costs hugely precious energies, especially uphill and in frantic phases of racing, and you – by yourself or through collective work – normally have spent a good deal of time moving around the peloton to achieve a given position. Once you’re there, you “spend” it as you please, assuming that you don’t put others at risk, of course. The three-men sprint in Catalunya yesterday wasn’t only about legs, it was about positioning as well…
Besides, choosing the right wheel is a basic skill in cycling. It’s not UAE’s or Trentin’s business to make rivals wiser in advance about what’s going to happen, quite the contrary I’d say. Full general and strategic information (whose Trentin riding for…) was available to the rivals, and a vast range of options was equally available, of course in different moments of time, and of course at a different cost (the later, the higher). Place better. Stay further ahead. Choose a different wheel. Jump before. Jump stronger. As a team, provide support to your key rider (if you have the resources). That’s this sport, not just a watts contest. And that’s Sanremo’s finale, split seconds to make small decisions which turn out to be hugely decisive. What’s not to like 😉
PS Someone pointed out before that Cort’s problem is that he isn’t that good in complicated bunch finales with lost of things going on all around him. Well, we had a good example here of what’s needed to properly surg wheels in a finale like this.
Well, I was the one who pointed out Cort’s Achilles heel would not be so much the distance but his positioning…
Let me just say that I don’t think the comments I’ve received have been without merit and that I have had no reason whatsoever to feel offended or slighted in any way.
If I had been clearer in the very beginning, no one would have felt a need to come in Trentin’s defence. I understand now that my comment was read as if I had accused him for a lack of sportmanship – when my sole target was the way I felt about it despite the fact that I recognized it as a smart move and an accepted trick of the trade,
But we’ve had worse and way less rewarding discussions than this, haven’t we? 🙂
PS Watching the last half an hour of today’s stage wasn’t a waste of time!
@Wednesday, at least this was 100% about cycling ^___^
There is no ‘strawman’ point being made. I said, ‘It’s not Trentin’s job to tow them back to his leader – precisely the opposite’ in order to show a mirror to how nonsensical your idea is that what Trentin is in any way ‘unsporting’.
You say, ‘I didn’t equate Trentin’s move with those tricks familiar to anyone who has watched foorball’, but, in fact, in your original comment you said, ‘to me it is somehow unsporting, like grabbing a striker´s shirt or pretending that you’ve been tripped in football’.
Put as simply as possible:
Trentin is allowed to slow down.
Trentin does not have to pull out of the way of others.
Trentin blocked no-one
The other riders had ample room to come around Trentin.
If you ‘feel’ that somehow this is unfair, or whatever, that’s precisely all it is – your feelings. And your feelings – like everyone else’s – have no bearing on reality.
“If you ‘feel’ that somehow this is unfair, or whatever, that’s precisely all it is – your feelings.”
I’m glad and relieved that you finally got what I thought I had written in the first place.
As I’ve already said that, I thought I had made it perfectly clear by bookending the bit about my feelings with “A smart move and an accepted trick of the trade” and “But I must admit this is so only because I’ve never raced – and I do know there’s a difference between a race and a gran fondo”.
“Showing a mirror” is a nice way of putting it, but since it wasn’t a case of the cat being either alive or dead, it was as silly as guessing that I must like chrono stages, and the sole point of the exercise was to win an argument against a shadow opponent.
But that was, of course, only my reading of it, You may well have intended to help me grasp something you thought I hadn’t been able to see and understand.
Nothing of what you’ve written here is anything to do with me. My only point was that what Trentin did was good tactics and nothing more.
Other people writing about supposed ‘outrage’ or whether or not you must like chrono stages: nothing to do with me.
@J Evan: Good grief! Nothing I said was about you – why would I bother and what would be the point? – and everything was about what you wrote in your reply. I’m quite astounded and for the first time in this drawn-out discussion I’m a little bit offended: did you really want to say that I cannot tell you and Larry T apart?! 🙂 Or that I obviously cannot even remember what was written by J Evan and what was written by someone else?!
PS This isn’t about me, either. The first thing I believe I learned about being a fan of a particuar sport or a sportsman is not letting your passion make you too serious about yourself.
Trentin’s move was smart and commonly accepted. Things I would not say about that childish change of moniker depending on current weekdays.
But maybe these are just my “feelings”
Is there something in the air or in the drinking water?!
Of course it is childish – and downright silly – and we all have different ideas when it is acceptable for adults to be a little childish, Fortunately neither of us demands others to conform to our own idea.
PS In case you are interested, the other trick of the trade that I – as an outsider to racing and a latecomer to road cycling as a fan – still have mixed feelings about is when there is a small group of chasers and one rider not only doesn’t want to work but tries to actively sabotage the chase by taking a place in the chaingang and then sitting up when it is his turn.
I, too, can see the rationale for doing that: he has a team mate who has good chances of winning, if the chasers don’t catch him (or the small group he is in).
But again, I cannot help feeling that is “somehow unsporting”, no matter how smart or accepted not only by his fans and supporters but by the entire peloton.
If you don’t find this the least bit amusing or interesting as an example of what makes road cycling so special, I’m sorry.
Tight, as you say, as even some “bunch” sprints in the past have had less riders within a minute (nevertheless, don’t forget that 60% of the editions of the last decade had more athletes than today within the minute mark).
However, MvdP’s 15 seconds final difference on the line against the closest chase was the biggest since Furlan 1994. Nearly three decades ago. He destroyed the competition, which was more or less the strongest we can actually imagine.
It mirrors a race which wasn’t extremely selective until the Poggio itself, which on turn was absolutely explosive.
Not that the Cipressa had been tackled slowly at all: on the one hand, UAE missed Formolo, no doubt, yet OTOH at 9’45” it still was one of the three fastest times in the XXI century.
Favourable wind may raise a break’s options, once it’s away on the front with a decent gap, but it also makes life easier for the peloton, with less selection from the back and less sapped legs.
By the way, it was an ongoing debate if the record on the Poggio was Furlan’s reported 5’45” (stopwatch courtesy of Dr. Ferrari himself, yet quite different from other solid sources) or Jalabert’s and Fondriest’s at 5’46” the following year. No need to further browse old VHS – MvdP is now the new record holder at 5’40”, with Pogacar, WVA and Ganna tracking him on the road and in history at 5’43”.
Great market picks: SKA for key at Alpecin and also brought home a valuable 5th place himself. Wellens has been a great launchpad for Pogacar during this winter’s pre-season, and he was again today.
Not a new athlete at UAE, but how to forget Trentin’s mastery when he made the “buco” which helped the definitive fragmentation of the bunch, Once more one feels that he was a big loss for UAE’s last Tour team. An applause for Laporte, too – without him, bad positioning at the base of the Poggio might have cost WVA any podium option.
Despite what we still feel, and rightly so, as an era of youngsters ruling, and despite an apparently simple development of this year’s race which should have favoured fresh and explosive energies over experience… very few athletes under 25 y/o could keep their delay significantly below the minute. Pogacar, obviously; unnnoticed but still impressive Magnus Sheffield at 20; Girmay still so young at 22 (he didn’t look at all at ease, but time is still on his side); Attila Valter, great recruiting at Jumbo; and Lotto’s home product Maxim Van Gils.
Ganna and Powless both at 26 looked on the verge of a possible evolution in their racing range and quality of road performance. Ganna had a remarkable race, he probably could have had a shot at following MvdP wheel over the Poggio, although he’d have lost him in the descent. Then he was the one chasing with a margin, as we saw in the very finale, when rather then “sprinting” he launched a sort of finisseur attack, or something in-between – whatever it was, it left absolutely dumbstruck that couple of extraordinary gentlemen who had accompanied him until there.
Fantastic last hour of the race, tension ratcheted up and once again I was shouting at the TV. MvdP going clear with his searing attack was fantastic to watch, to muster that effort after chasing Pogacar up the Poggio, jeez!!
Ganna probably impressed me the most though, as mentioned above it was some sort of hybrid seated attack/sprint. I’d already relegated him from the podium in my head, so to see him beat the other two so emphatically was amazing!
I totally agree with your second paragraph. When I saw the group form of Pogacar, Van Aert & Ganna I though the best Ganna was going to get was 4th. I was both very surprised & very impressed he managed to get 2nd, given the other two on paper are much better at sprinting.
If he had that power left for that attack for second place, he surely could have done a couple of massive turns at the entrance to the city, to try and contest the victory. Instead of going “no, no, I can’t, you just tow me”. He didn’t race like a champion, and didn’t earn any respect.
Did VdP also not “race like a champion” when he left WvA to do the work closing the gap to Pogacar & (the disrespectful) Ganna at the top of the Poggio? If Ganna had buried himself to give WvA or Pogacar the win, would that have been “racing like a champion”?? I think the only flaw in Ganna’s performance was his descending, but I doubt that was a deciding factor in the outcome
Agreed, the race was gone for him. And on the road he’s obviously not on the level of the others, he himself clearly admitted that he felt sort of afraid and worried not knowing how to play it all out. Experience and perceived level are part of the game in cycling, and the Hayman’s example, although for different reasons, is much appropriate. Re: descending, obviously agreed, too, but we were seeing him side to side with a visual benchmark which made him look even worse – both WVA and Pogi are great descenders, albeit not in the Mohoric, Alaph, Pidcock etc. category.
I’m pretty sure Ganna couldn’t beat the others if the three rode for the win. A WvA or a Pogi couldn’t care less if they’re second or forth in this race, they come to win.
Ganna beat the others precisely because they rode for the win 😉
That is, they knew that to start with, they had to bring Mathieu back, and rode hard (failing) to accomplish such a hard task.
What if… they were the three leading an imaginary race? Well, much would depend on how had they played their cards before, and how close was the chase, and so on.
Bottom line in this case is that Ganna feeling unexperienced and that any result would be good for him, might even have an advantage of sort. Of course, maybe if he felt that victory was more of a *real* possibility, he’d ride “worse”, too.
No doubt that the other two are more valuable and accomplished Classics riders, which means that in general terms it’s clearly more probable for them to win over Ganna – yet, part of the beauty of cycling is precisely that advantage can turn into disadvantage and the other way around (again, the Hayman case above… you’re a lesser rider, but, even more important, you’re there after a long breakaway, and *that’s* what makes you entitled to legitimately avoid working, thus allowing a situation in which the rest does *not* just attack you until they leave you back, as it normally would happen with not-legit “free-riders”).
I too was impressed with Pippo Ganna, his descending was not quite at the same level as the other three but he out rode both Tadej Pogacer and Wout van Aert over the last 500m, difficult to say if it would have been the same outcome if racing for the win, but very impressive nonetheless. I know he has mentioned Paris – Roubaix as a goal and on this showing he must be a real contender. Clearly more to him than TTs.
Ganna is sometimes compared to Fabian Cancellara as the big TT ace who is now aiming for Roubaix… but for all the power Cancellara had on tap, he was often undone when it came to sprints although perhaps this also had to do with his rivals, for example good luck beating Tom Boonen in the Roubaix velodrome. Still, he showed something extra today and you could see his bike twisting and wheels lifting as he went for the line, if I do a preview with him in it next he might get an extra chainring because of that kind of finish, he doesn’t have to go solo and this will worry rivals too.
Boonen… Matthew hayman🙂…
Anyway did Ganna fake it when he looked cooked after poggio descent?
I thought so. Playing for the podium and think he would have been dropped on the descent by MVDP even if he’d some how responded and been caught back anyway. Wout lacked a pilot fish on the Poggio and cooked himself moving up and then bridging to Pog. Commanding win by Mathieu who was the strongest in any case.
Laporte buried himself bringing Wout back, but even with such a “leadout”, it’s the kind of effort which you eventually pay for.
Either Carapaze did an acting workshop before his departure or Ineos did a workshop of “how not to fake” based on his failures. At least Ganna managed to fool WVA & Pog.
Gotta be there to “fake it”, and you cannot fake that.
Look up footage of the descent. Ganna had to close a gap every time they came out of a corner. That cooked him for a minute I suppose. But he recovered nonetheless. Quite impressive.
It seems to be all or nothing with MVdP … a punter’s nightmare.
Thanks for the write-up. I thought it would end in a sprint of a large group, but did not expect 4 riders to beat the fastest time up the Poggio (one of whom was Ganna!) and the last three years races are in the top 5 fastest races ever. Equipment, diet, nutrition, tailwind, more money etc etc but … ever …
The infamous “Tour of Renewal” was faster then ever (won by a certain Texan) and cyclists are complaining to a newspaper about Thyroid medications. Plus ca change.
“As the sun sets over the Ligurian coast this evening nobody is talking about a seatpost or a chainring but a champion’s triumph instead.” 🙂 CHAPEAU!
Ganna claimed he had the legs to stay with MVdP but was afraid. I think that fear’s gone now, so look out for him…but if MVdP is still short of top-form (though he implied things had improved since T-A) his rivals are gonna lose some sleep!
Watching Lulu chase back on the descent of the Turchino was very entertaining – the Italian commentators on Eurosport must have said “funambolo” (acrobat) a dozen times.
I think if Ganna had gone over the top with MVdP then he would’ve been dropped on the descent and Pog/WvA would’ve caught him, so doubt the outcome would’ve changed. Still, great to see Ganna start living up to his promise in this race
I read somewhere MVdP said he took the descent at “only” 8/10ths so who knows what the two might have done if they were together? But once it was 3 with MVdP up-the-road nobody wanted to tow the others too much and end up 4th, so that was that.
MvdP said on Dutch television he didn’t want to take full risks on the descent because he figured it wasn’t worth the risk, he still had a decent chance when it came to the sprint. But he didn’t mention a percentage in the interview I saw. 8/10 seems too leisurely for the situation, I think it was closer to 95%.
Does 80 or 95% really matter? I could try to find the quote but who cares? Bottom line was as you noted, he didn’t do a full-gas descent, thinking he could still be a factor if caught with a sprint finish but would have been hero-to-zero had he thrown it all away like Mohoric almost did last year.
Post race interviews had several riders saying the last two climbs had a strong tailwind. Maybe an absolute time up the Poggio is meaningless.
What it did show is absolute power to be at the front as drafting becomes less important. Then Trentin let the gap go after a turn into the wind.
Pogacar will try again.
Another report that I read suggested that MVdP had a tailwind to carry him home as well.
Wind was a factor, but it always was, historically, in a way or another. We’re speaking of a record which was nearly three decades old. That absolute time has intrinsic meaning, although of course many aspects must be taken into consideration (during other editions, for example, the attackers moved before on the same Poggio and spent less time towed full gas by “gregari” like… Wellens!).
Anyway, there’s a clear *trend* of impressive climbing times in recent years, after the 2002-2016 “parenthesis” (Manie included): probably the result of a generation of monstre “scattisti” giving it all on the Poggio (besides the most recent examples, remember what Sagan or Alaphilippe did!), with slightly slower Cipressa (always as a general trend: the last couple of them were fast enough).
It’s also the result of a collective attitude: when you know that somebody will attack and might really go to the line, it grows increasingly interesting to get in that sort of action rather than keeping tight around your sprinter, even more so when you don’t have such a sprinting star.
Maybe in this specific case, aero also actually matters, too. The energy gain over such a race can be significant.
..road surface, width, camber; all these environmental factors have changed too. Oh and there’s the bikes with all the improvements there, especially in fit / ergonomics. And the athletes.
In the end it doesn’t matter how fast or slow, it’s about how the race is ridden against / with each other on the day and we heard how weather played its part.
Or are you one of those time-trial types who only wants a ‘fast course’ along a downhill main road because the times are better;-) ?
“…bikes with all the improvements there, especially in fit / ergonomics.” is an interesting idea, especially now that (unless you are a really big star and they either make or let you ride a made-to-measure bike) bikes come in t-shirt sizes only and everyone and his fratello calls himself a “bike-fitter”.
In a world where bikes seem to be too big, too small or close-enough we see plenty of crazy-length stems and flagpole seatposts which makes me wonder about “improvements” vs back-in-the-day when most of the big players had their own “men of trust” who brazed-up frames to their exact specs which were then painted in the team/sponsor livery.
“Maybe an absolute time up the Poggio is meaningless.” IMHO no maybe about it. It’s like those meaningless statistics they like to put on the screen, I guess to give the graphics staff something to do? What matters is who crosses the finish line first, the rest of it is blah, blah, blah.
The time does count, it tells us how fast or slow the crucial phase of the race was ridden, whether people could attack or not. This time it was ridden like a sprint with teams setting the pace on the way up. Now the exact time less so, there’s the wind, air pressure etc, we have to see it the context of conditions.
I also think the way it was ridden shows this is a clear winning method for the big teams, they know if they drive the pace up the Cipressa and all the way to the Poggio and then to the Madonna belvedere past half way up, then their leaders can make the attacks on the 8% ramp and a handful of riders can contest the win in Sanremo having ejected all the rest.
Can we agree the time only matters in retrospect for those who like their numbers to be ‘faster’, and only in relative measure with all the times that came before?
For those four riders to be the only ones able to launch from the earlier pace shows us how it must have been high, or everyone would have come to a bunch sprint.. ?
And to be there, they had to ride 290km first, in the day’s conditions, coping with all the racing that came before this selection forced by everyone who wants to make the effort worthwhile. Of course teams will drive it on, but they can only max out with the base of earlier efforts to do the distance. If there was a tailwind, the stress of making absolute speed is reduced at the climb, but also on the whole day. This year’s breakaway was only ever given 3mins, the weather was benign, the spread of favourites was pretty wide and so the conditions definitely helped.
But this says nothing about the quality of the race. A track stand in the finish straight, or a lone survivor from the break is drama, just like our top 4 on this day and it has nothing to do with absolute speed; it’s all about the racing.
UAE had 5 men at the front on the Cipressa and it was “full gas” from there. Which makes Ganna’s time up the Poggio even more impressive. (Also the second fastest ever Milan-SanRemo (1990 was faster) with hours 5 & 6 at 50 km/h average.)
The only draw back with this tactic is blowing up your own team leader – was this why Pogacar & van Aert could not drop the others?
I think inrng explained quite well above why the time matters. Plus, a record time in nearly 30 years of a yearly event – what is more qualified by a modest range of possibilities – essentially forces you to relativise the rest of variables. It’s an absolute performance, as a starting point. Then, of course, we can speak of the rest.
Here we have a good example.
“…was this why Pogacar & van Aert could not drop the others?”.
No. All these guys beat the record time on the Poggio, which means they were able to produce an absolutely superhuman effort. They hadn’t been “blown” at all by the pace during the rest of the race. Only, a single guy was marginally stronger and or smarter than them.
We should also take into account that on the Poggio only one athlete among the four kept the front for the greatest part of his effort, that is, Pogacar. As underlined by others, van der Poel played on WVA’s moves until his definitive “fucilata”. It’s not by pure chance that the only rival who could think in that moment to possibiy go and follow him was Ganna, despite being the athlete among them who, all other factors being equal, should have suffered relatively “more” the Cipressa pace.
Pogacar blew himself up once to keep the pace high despite the athletes on his wheel, obviously a good move because if the four had come together to the bottom of the Poggio, he’d have had a way greater chance than with more rivals (more than proportionally so, I think). Then he blew himself again trying to get back to MvdP on the flat. WVA blew himself in order to jump on the front train when it was slipping away from him (probably even before on Laporte’s wheel), and then again on the final run-in.
Well, this is only a clear winning method for the big teams if their leader has the power to make a decisive attack on the steep part. In this case, the teams that drove up the pace on the Cipressa and Poggio (UAE, Bahrein) didn’t even end up on the podium. It’s like the Sky train tactic: it only works if your leader is the strongest, otherwise the one who is strongest will benefit from it.
It’s rather about maximising your winning or podiuming chances… which can all the same stay well below 100%.
UAE did a perfect job.
Bahrain had numbers and tried a fast but steady pace for Mohoric to prevent others from taking the initiative, and they eventually didn’t succeed. As a strategy focussed on Mohoric as the previous winner, it could make sense, but perhaps as a team they’d better be served by a strong attack on the Cipressa, which could also be seen as a bluff that finally favoured the same Mohoric all the same. However, it’s always difficult to figure out a strategy when your leader(s) can only win in the narrowest of scenarios.
Re: Bahrain, I was wondering how Bilbao would do as a great descender, too. Without much expectation, anyway, as it was his first Sanremo. At the end of the day, I confirmed one of my ideas about him, that is, that he perhaps suffers from some “Ulissi’s syndrome”, a relative drop in performance when distance goes much above 200 km (GT stages can be a partial exception as they aren’t always ridden with the same intensity of Classics).
Pogacar said after the race, that he attacked once and last year four times, and it was a new tactic that did not work.
After Flanders last year and now Milan-SanRemo, has van der Poel becomes Pogacar’s nemesis? The man that spooks Pogacar ? Flanders could be interesting this year.
I think that it was pretty manifest that this year’s tactics by Pogi worked better than last year’s…
Re: MvdP, it’s not only about Pogi, Van der Poel has a tendence to beat the best. For example, his Strade, Amstel and Barbantes Pijl came against 2019 and 2021 vintage Alaphilippe, seasons when we probably saw the best versions ever of Julian, probably then the strongest Classics man around by far (though I dream him back soon at the top). And, besides Pogacar, a certain Wout seems to suffer Mathieu’s presence in a finale.
“Now the exact time less so, there’s the wind, air pressure etc, we have to see it the context of conditions.” My point. Exactly. It’s a statistic, not a result.
Did anybody else think Van Aert spent far too much time on the front on the coast road? At least a couple of times he was right at the front and Laporte had to come round him to give him shelter. He seems relatively incapable of just sitting in and being unseen until it matters, like say Sagan or Philippe Gilbert were absolute masters of. Seen as his monument count is probably sub par compared to what it could be, maybe thats part of the reason why.
Also, and this is more a general cycling point that puzzles me… at places like the Turchino you get teams upping the pace. Its always explained as ‘they’re racing for position in case there’s a split’. Which translates to me as ‘they’re making an effort so they don’t have to make an effort’. It doesn’t make any sense. How about make no effort unless you absolutely need to. Anyway.
You couldn’t really have asked for 4 better riders coming over the top together. ‘Vingygo’ might win the Tour but he’ll never be the champion Pogacar is if he never even turns up for races like this. Roll on Flanders.
I thought Ganna looked strongest going up the Poggio, perhaps could have gone with MVDP?? One of those you have to lose a (few) podium to win one situations for him I think. First time on that sort of situation. Go Pippo!
It’s funny the talk MVDP not being there before the race his lead outs in Tirreno were pretty useful, I get the feeling that he’s reached a stage where he’s worked out what he needs to do to win rather than just going for it.
It’s a pretty good 2023 for someone past his peak CX worlds and the first monument of the season.
Would genuinely love to see him on the MTB this summer.
Curious if you think he reached that stage(where he’s worked out what he needs to do to win) in the last week, or last year where he had a very long drought after stage 1 of the Giro? Last year he raced more days on the road than he ever has (47 race days, vs an average of about 33 the three previous years) and yet had fewer wins and about the same number of ‘big’ wins. I think you could make the case that last year’s relatively fallow stretch from May through October taught him something, and that could turn out to be the case, we’ll need to see more this season than a single win, no matter how epic.
I think that such a statistic (which is a clear distortion, since mid-September he was performing at a very high level and preparing the Worlds, and in the Giro he often didn’t win only because of exceptional opposition by, a-hem, a super Yates and Girmay, not because he lacked anything in terms of his own form – just consider he was 3rd in the final ITT!) depends as much on the season calendar as on MvdP’s plans.
It’s not like the calendar offers a lot of meaningful races in the time span you highlighted: especially if you’re burnt, better to slowly build up towards the big days at the end of the season.
And what’s sure is that if you want to tackle two GTs you’d better don’t start each and every stage battling it out as hell from km 0, as MvdP more or less did in that Giro.
At the Tour he looked totally cooked, the sort of body shock you sometimes don’t even come back from in a single season.
What’s interesting, instead, is how he successfully used the Tirreno to “fare la gamba” in a very traditional way.
That said, I’m not sure that being so high on form now he’ll be able to bring it all the way to Roubaix, Wout might have his revenge there, if not already at the Ronde (where I seriously want Pogi to win, ah ah ah, although he’ll be one stretching form, too, given that he was already impressive mid-February).
Wout looks to be after a more traditional Boonen-style peak (who would say that, with their recent polemics…) in order to pick some cobble double, perhaps even the Big One.
Anyone else see the record descent times on the Poggio they put on the TV.
2021 – Simon Clarke 3.11
2020 – Jasper Stuyven – 3.18
2022 – Matej Mohorič – 3.32
2018 – Vincenzo Nibali – 3.43
Who would have guessed at them?
I wonder how yesterday’s times compare?
I’ve ridden behind Simon Clarke on a fast descent on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria once. It’s fair to say that I didn’t hold his wheel for long…..
Something doesn’t feel right with these figures. A full 21 seconds faster than Mohoric doesn’t pass the sniff test given how small the scope is for marginal gains at this stage of the race’s history.
Are you sure those times are right?
Stuyven’s time must be much slower as they were almost sitting up and spread across the road in his year, nobody really wanted to lead the way down with Ewan there and that was partly why Stuyven went, he didn’t need to ace the descent, he just attacked on the last ramp that leads off it as the others huddled.
That is Clarke’s time for the following segment on strava:
Mohorič ‘s time for the same segment last year was 3:30
It was Stuyven… the year before he won 😉
I think I read MvdP was reportedly 4″ slower than Mohoric. However, it’s easier to go faster when you’re in the 2nd or 3rd group because you priorise giving it all, whereas when you’re near the front you don’t want to work for the rest of rivals… Plus, if you’re near the front you probably had more of a deep effort on the Poggio, and took some more wind there, too.
All the above matters a lot because this is a “sprinting” descent rather than a “driving” one.
Looks about right.
Clarke had the best technique for speed of those four descents, hands down. Pointing in the correct direction early = earlier acceleration and pulling time all the way until the next braking zone.
Stuyven is pretty similar, shows that the Clarke/Stuyven method is the correct one.
Mohoric ships time all the way between each corner from his late (slow) exits and only gains on the entry to corners. Spectacular, but not really effective.
Nibali had the smoothest technique, which worked well for his strategy of doing an economical descent that would leave him with more in the tank for the final. But his 2017 Giro stage win after descending from Umbrail/Stelvio showed that he could also do a maximum energy descent extremely well when that was what the day’s race required.
MvdP’s MSR record goes 13th, 5th, 3rd, 1st.
Seems like he learned a little each year!
Was it last year or 2yrs ago when he was super active in Tirreno, but seemed to blow himself out for subsequent races. Watch out Flanders and Roubaix…
Yes, it was 2 years ago; he was in super form after winning Strade, and kept it in Tirreno, but he went far too deep, especially in that cold/wet stage where he attacked about 40-50km out…..
He was never the same afterwards, despite some decent results…Most people would be pleased with 2nd at Flanders, but he was missing that top performance.
Enjoying the Cycling News article today saying E3 predicts Flanders.
Realise their point is more nuanced but still.
In last 21years E3 winners have won Flanders 6 times.
Around a quarter so basically a better indicator of who won’t win Flanders.
Also of that quarter, 4 wins came from Boonen and Cancellara who would always be Flanders favourites whether or not they won E3 so pretty much tells you absolutely nothing aside from who’s going okay.
The other two were Terpstra and Asgreen.
I always thought De Panne was good for that when it was a 3 day race in the week leading up to Flanders. I can remember particularly Gilbert and Kristoff looking good in the run up to their wins. I think its a crime that race was made into a one day race and moved. The edition yesterday was admittedly good but that was more as a result of the weather. I suppose Dwars Door is the best for prediction now depending on who enters it.
It would be an interesting exercise, definitely amongst TV viewers, what people would say are the differences between Omloop, E3 and Dwars Door. Other than Omloop being earlier and sometimes a bit colder they end up to me as being the same race ran on 3 different days. Maybe with the old Flanders finish Omloop is a bit more of a variation than the other two.
I was on-the-road so missed whatever happened Thursday/Friday but there were a couple of races just before that seemed kind of like the same race on different days? To the point they raced past some scenery (I use that word loosely in this case) that made me think I’d screwed up the Eurosport and was watching a race I’d already seen! But no, just another race over what seemed to be a fairly long section of a route used in a race I watched a day or two before. I kind of wondered what was the point, but they don’t do ’em for me so…
“I suppose Dwars Door is the best for prediction now depending on who enters it.”
Pogacar has dropped out of it so it’ll be E3 then Flanders for him (unless there’s more changes!)