The Moment Paris-Roubaix Was Won

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Mathieu van der Poel goes solo with 60km to go. His moved looked telegraphed but there was nothing his rivals could do, because when they tried Alpecin-Deceuninck’s Gianni Vermeersch made sure they could not.

A fast start that saw Dries De Bondt (Decathlon-Ag2r La Mondiale) draft the lead car like a lead-out in order to get away as soon as the flag dropped. He would be reeled in soon but it set the tone. It took almost an hour for the right move to go. The seven clear were Kasper Asgreen (Soudal-Quickstep), the promising Per Strand Hagenes (Visma-LAB), Marco Haller (Bora-hansgrohe), Liam Slock (Lotto-Dstny), Gleb Syritsa (Astana), Kamil Małecki (Q36.5) and Rasmus Tiller (Uno-X).

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Kasper Asgreen looked like an outside danger but alas while EF had a special retro jersey for the Ronde last week, Quickstep’s kit evokes their better days. But like the Ronde last week at least they made the move. Many hadn’t but struggled to chase, the breakaway was an efficient team time trial. De Bondt and Dušan Rajović (Bahrain) chased and would get across but the effort cost them and they’d be dropped later.

Back in the bunch there was a big crash in Ham that felled several, including a slew of contenders. Some were out instantly, with others left chasing but it wasn’t their day, like Jonathan Milan and Tim Merlier. In a week where crashes have been the dominant news story, this proved to be the worst collective crash in the whole race.

With the race covering 54.7km in the first hour – for anecdotal purposes only: faster than Bradley Wiggins’ hour record – thanks to the tailwind and the strong group, Alpecin-Deceuninck and Lidl-Trek deployed Silvan Dillier and Tim Declerq to keep the breakaway in check. The “tight leash” policy didn’t even allow the breakaway two minutes and is why the romantic idea of the early breakaway making all the way to Roubaix is wilting. That said it provided options, for example Małecki would ride to 18th place in part thanks to hauling himself ahead of events.

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As soon as the cobbles began the mechanicals followed. Christophe Laporte punctured and from then on race radio was crackling with emergency news. As the course turned north-west after 100km it started to catch a stiff crosswind and splits appeared in the peloton. Paris-Roubaix became giant elimination race as one by one riders were undone, some by punctures and broken kit, and some by being out of position. There was little chance to get back, the second hour of racing averaged 52km/h.

Having crashed already in Ham, Laurenz Rex collided with a road sign. Sadly he did an “Offredo“, looking backwards rather than at the sign in his way but a decade on this object was padded so hopefully the injuries are mitigated. With 140km to go the breakaway was caught. Moments later Joshua Tarling got a bike change followed bye very “sticky bottle”, cycling’s euphemism for cheating by holding onto the team car. Live on TV and right in front of a moto regulateur, his expulsion was inevitable.

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The Arenberg forest’s chicane has to be mentioned, if only because it was a sizzling nothingburger. The addition of three corners to the course prompted a lot of noise during the week but the only crash came from a lot of pre-race hot takes falling into the bin. Nobody crashed and the Arenberg was raced like it usually is: the riders and pavé decide. It was at this same spot that a tribute to François Doulcier could be seen. The late President of the Amis de Paris-Roubaix, the charity that did so much under his guidance to not only preserve the pavé but promote it too. When the race revisits on a revised approach next year hopefully Doulcier gets the limelight instead.

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Exit Arenberg and Mathieu van der Poel was clear with team mate Jasper Philipsen, Mads Pedersen and Mick van Dijke. Too soon? You wondered if it was possible to press on but Philipsen punctured to leave a trio who thought better of it. Pedersen himself punctured next. More moves would come and go, including one from Nils Politt, Stefan Küng and Gianni Vermeersch that lasted 15km. Just like the Ronde, Vermeersch covered the breakaway where his presence allowed Van der Poel to sit tight and stay out of sight, despite his pristine rainbow jersey. Tim Wellens and Mads Pedersen made moves but they were closed down before you could say “Alpecin-Deceuninck”.

On the approach to the Orchies sector Alpecin-Deceuninck hit the front. Only there was nobody up the road to chase and Van der Poel was already in a good position. Were they setting up an attack? Sure enough Van der Poel launched on the pavé, and as he went clear Vermeersch was able to dip into his slipstream and deprive Mads Pedersen of the space, helping to create a gap that nobody could close.

It wasn’t all over. Ideally the chase would have kept Van der Poel at twenty seconds, stewing like a carbonade flamande while the group behind worked together, biding their time. They had the numbers, they had the power but not the collective will. So easier said than done. Within no time Pedersen sensed the lack of will. He sprinted clear but Vermeersch, him again, had the move covered. Each of the individual pursuit efforts were got neutralised by Van der Poel’s denim deputies. The gap kept growing and with it the sense that there was a race for second place.

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The final hour the race became a giant advert for Brustor and with it, the chance to go and learn that Louis Brustaert founded the company that makes blinds (stores in French) in 1965. Bru + store = Brustor. Probably all over France and beyond attention was turning to other things too. Tables were being cleared, toilets flushing, dogs bouncing excitedly as their owners headed for the door brandishing leads and so on. By now Van der Poel was so far ahead you could measure it not by seconds, but cobbled sectors. You could see it too, he carved corners that cut up the others, even Tom Pidcock was starting to look ragged behind.

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While he was getting handed up food from the team car, behind the chase split on the Mons-en-Pévèle cobbles as Nils Politt, Jasper Philipsen, Mads Pedersen and Groupama-FDJ tandem Stefan Küng and Laurence Pithie rode away with 45km to go. FDJ’s luck was running low, first Pithie crash hard on a corner, then Philipsen accelerated on the Gruson cobbles and Küng was dropped.

This left Politt, Pedersen and Philipsen as a trio hunting for the two podium spots. Politt doesn’t have the sprint but he couldn’t or wouldn’t move. Sure enough in the final Pedersen went one way around him, Philipsen the other and it was Philipsen who finished second. A 1-2 for Alpecin-Deceuninck like last year.

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The Verdict
A fine race with constant change and surprises, an outdoor elimination race… until the final 90 minutes where Van der Poel personally relegated the field. His attack was incisive and bold, he left them with 60km remaining. There was still a large group behind but his team had every move covered behind, especially Gianni Vermeersch. From here on the finish lacked suspense and even the race for second place wasn’t that lively, neither Küng nor Politt were able to put the sprinters under pressure. After a week dominated by reports of musculoskeletal trauma the consolation here was uninterrupted racing and a predictable outcome rather than crash carnage.

Van der Poel wins but Alpecin-Deceuninck were formidable all day, he’d do well to watch the video again and see just how his colleagues rode like prison guards to close down any escapees. While some teams have a flat hierarchy to the point where their riders are incentivised to go clear before a team mate does to get an option on the win, the Belgian team is much more traditional with an alpha leader supported by the rest of the group. Both options can work, the race missed Wout van Aert but also Lidl-Trek didn’t come with their full squad either.

The Amstel is next for Van der Poel, home soil but more awkward terrain. Then comes Liège-Bastogne-Liège, possibly out of his reach but he’s finished sixth before and might fancy his chances in a move that goes clear before La Redoute and La-Roche-aux-Faucons. He’ll have to play things very differently, he can’t count on his team in the same way. And Tadej Pogačar might have something to say about things too.

97 thoughts on “The Moment Paris-Roubaix Was Won”

  1. Say what you will about the lack of spectacle for 1st, but that attack was something else – going from 50 to 60kph+ seated in about 10 pedal strokes was quite a site. No one had an answer for him. Even had his teammates not been there I very much doubt anyone was his equal given his form this spring. Shades of Cancellera & Boonen’s equally impressive long hit outs. You know it’s coming and there is nothing you can do about it. Pure class in the stripes, chapeau.

      • Unfortunately no.
        I thought today was a but of a Paris-Roubaix in reverse. Usually the first couple of hours are steady away before it all kicks off on the Arenberg. Today the first couple of hours were an absolute mad house. By the time they got to Arenberg it had settled down, and afterwards Alpecin largely killed it off. The last hour was when you could get the chores done.

  2. Nice instant readout.

    One tiny correction – MvdP finished 6th rather than 7th in his one attempt at LBL. He’s left the door open to going there this year – will be interesting to see if he tries it. As you say, possibly out of his capabilities, particularly with Pogačar riding it again.

  3. Sounds emphatic. After 3-4 years of generational change the dust has largely settled now and, while this generation seems supernatural compared to the previous one, the outcomes of races have become paradoxically more predictable.

  4. Thank you for the round up.

    Possibly the easiest ‘moment the race was one ever’?

    As always with Roubaix lots to enjoy still – plus however predictable the result was, it felt more epic/awe inspiring than last weekend. One of the great rides tbh.

    Also feel I should be eating humble pie for getting bugged last weekend that other riders/teams did not try hard enough to break Alpecin/isolateMVDP pre100km out – now seeing both weekends I realise I wasn’t paying Alpecin enough respect, they have been outstanding these two weekends and it was more their brilliance than others tactical mistake/s that should be noted over the last fortnight.

    I do wonder though if they kept their true strength quiet up until when it really mattered or whether others bad luck preFlanders elevated them? Maybe both? As up until last weekend I had no idea they were going to be as strong.

    I’ve regularly thought previously that MVDP is good at keeping form underwraps till it matters so maybe his team took a leaf out of his book from a few years ago – hard to keep his status hidden these days though!

    The other note was both Flanders and Roubaix are the only races I’ve ever watched where from around 110-20km out, the race situation at that point led me to say ‘he’s already won barring incident’… despite being the favourite it’s quite absurd for a rider in these kind of chaotic races to be so strong that if you aren’t up the road and he’s at, or very near, the head of the race that far out you 99% already know the result. What a talent is all I can say.

    And still think he’s the best looking rider I’ve ever seen on a bike, a proper gazelle.

    AJ August finished for those keeping check, 30mins down. Impressive for a teen. Peloton already split pre Arenberg similar to recent years, so I think next year when they make the new turning into the forest more elegant as INRNG noted yesterday we’ll soon forget about it. Looking forward to more stories from further back in the race coming in and being posted here.

    Also big thanks to the post yesterday of the 1981 Roubaix, enjoyed watching with my breakfast today.

    • Its easy to keep your form under wraps when you hardly race. By the end of Liege – so May – he’ll have done what, 7 race days? Then he’ll spend a couple of months doing half hour mountain bike races and come back to win the Olympics and Worlds no doubt…!

      • How common is this sort of program in cycling? It seems really unusual, no? I do imagine that many riders would do better in individual races with fewer race days in their bodies, though I doubt it would necessarily help against van der Poel.

    • August officially finished outside the time limit, but his average speed was still higher than the winning rides from Sagan, Gilbert, and Colbrelli.

      • What was he doing there? a baptism of fire in hell. He’s more of a climber and GC guy. And as has been pointed out a teenager and he weighs 57 kilos compared to the top three finishers all 70-75 Kilos!

  5. The super talents are in danger of ruining the excitement of the sport. If only one of them are at the start there is basically no point in turning on the TV. Especially when their teams also are ludicrously dominant. This is usually my favourite week of cycling of the year, but this time it has been a total bore. Well, I can’t blame MvdP for being so good and wanting to win in style. I should probably be thankful for seeing such an absolute master at work, but alas, I’m not.

    • I always got the impression that Froome could have won two or three of his Tours by more than he did. I think he thought he was so unpopular it was better to do the minimum possible and stay out of trouble. I wonder how much liquid has to be thrown at MvdP before he has similar thoughts?!
      (I am not endorsing throwing liquid at anyone).

    • Super talent should be honored and revered, esp. when they make the rest look like child’s play. Sport isn’t about the spectators, it’s about the athletes. Oh sure, we’ve turned everything into entertainment, but some things remain pure, such as physical prowess in any sport. Did Merckx ruin it in his day?

  6. I don’t remember seeing a more dominant victory in a road race – the only person who looked like they could beat him was his own team’s sprinter and he was on team orders anyway.

    I’m a big MvdP fan boy – but it’s not as much fun without Wout.

    • I have a nagging feeling (even though I know it is unlikely the outcome would have changed) that the moment it was won was when MVDP was dangling off the front after his initial acceleration with a lead of around 10 seconds when all the power behind didn’t work together to either hold him there (and tire him out?!!) or close him down because, as is so often the case, they wouldn’t/couldn’t work together. For most of the closing kms, I watched Manchester United v Liverpool instead.

      • it feels to me like we’ve seen or are seeing these creeping gaps more regularly, where 5secs from a move appears to be salvageable only for it to soon grow until the race is over, Pog’s done it a few times also, so I was fairly certain even a 10 it was over but there was about ten minutes of will they/won’t they!

  7. 1. I don’t think other teams ganging up would have had any effect on the outcome here. If the race is hard enough and long enough, the strongest — barring bad luck — wins.

    2. This season seems to be defined as much by who doesn’t show up as who does. A bit skeptical that WvA would have had an answer either here or at Flanders, but he’d have made a race of it. Pog too, last week, and most likely Remco next, Vingo at the Tour etc etc. What a year for crashes.

    3. I quit following the sport for the umpteenth time after >that< TT last year, but it keeps sucking me back in, so I'm not exactly au courant with everything: I thought motos and support vehicles had to stay at least 10m behind and more than that in front. Has that changed? Because there were motos often right behind the lead riders and sometimes just a couple of bike lengths ahead.

  8. Well, “ce n’est pas pour chicaner”, but never such a thin peloton (except for massive crashes or rainy editions) arrived to Arenberg. You can therefore cannot consider the little detour of any experimental value, so the discussion continues.

    • Agreed – I couldn’t watch live so started the replay on the sector before Arenberg, I was wondering where the heck the rest of the riders were as there were only 30ish going into that chicane rather than the usual 100. Despite the reduced group they were pretty much in full on sprint lead out mode, so likely that it would have been chaos with a big peleton.

      Sounds like there will be a better solution to the chicane in place for 2025.

      • That for me was the most disappointing thing about the race. I’d been really looking forward to seeing carnage at the chicane so when Alpecin to dropped most of the field over 60km before it made it fall rather flat for me, much more so than Van der Poel winning solo as I’d been expecting that. We didn’t even get any shots of any groups other than the front one coming into that section to see if there were any bigger groups behind which could have had some jostling for position.

        • You’re sick and not truly a fan of the sport if you were hoping for “carnage”. Or was it just to prove you were right and Hansen and the CPA wrong? Go watch MMA.

          • You are not even funny. Everyone else could see the invisible “ironic quotation marks”.

            PS One of the great things about this blog – apart from everything that we can enjoy in the blog entries – has been that the comments section has been practically devoid of unnecessary hostility and artificial antagonism between comment writers. In other words, piss off!

          • Carnage as in everyone fighting each other like mad to get into position beforehand. Plenty of other people have commented that the fight to get into that sector is often one of the highlights of the race for them. I was equivocal beforehand as to whether the chicane would make it more or less interesting & entertaining so I was disappointed because we were denied the opportunity to see what would have happened with a near-full peloton tackling it.

          • The definition of carnage is slaughter, of animals or people. It does not mean ‘fighting for position’, so hardly surprising if some thought you were hoping for crashes and injuries.

          • @George Apologies, I will ensure I consult a dictionary before making any comments on here in the future. Though in a world where people say things like “I literally died” when they very clearly did not a certain amount of hyperbole in language should perhaps be allowed for & I have certainly come across instances of carnage being used to indicate a big mess rather than actual death. I thought it would be obvious I was using it in that sense, especially as my finally sentence ends with “jostling for position”, but evidently it wasn’t.

          • Apologies, the comment including the link above is mine.

            @Anonymous If you watch the video at the link I have posted, the person using the word “carnage” is presenter/journalist, not a professional cyclist. (I am trying to reply politely to you but your comments are quite unpleasant.)

          • To correct my previous message, I had assumed the presenter on the video was the journalist credited with the article but upon re-reading I find it is actually a former professional cyclist, Connor Dunne. I don’t know if that is significant to others or not. Are former professionals allowed to use the word “carnage” whereas fans are not?

  9. A brilliant performance by Alpecin-Deceuninck andMvdP in particular. They knew how this should be done and carried out the tactics to perfection. So much so managing even to have their fastest man riding right behind their best man covering the last attempts and pickin up the 2nd place.
    A tip of the hat to Pedersen for his valiant efforts. Only the 2nd time a dane has been on the podium, first time being 118 years ago at the very first PB.
    MP is still in his prime a few more years, he’ll get another shot, surely.
    Also Pollit has shown great form this spring. Like Pithie (a minor revelation), the results are bound to come if he can keep it up like that.
    I liked this edition though the result was more or less inevitable. Still, PB being PB, anything can happen – also to the best of the best though it didn’t, luckily.

  10. With hindsight it may have been a much better race without the clear favourite!

    TDK, funny I was also thinking of “that” tt last year, with a fresh round of thoughts along the lines of “no way”. Still, I wish the Anchovy a speedy recovery.

  11. Thought Spencer Martin on the Move podcast had some good analysis –

    He was wondering whether this era of the favourites teams (Alpecin these few weeks) riding hard from the start wasn’t just down to this generations absurd power outputs but also a tactical reaction to the Sagan era and the feeling that Sagan won less than he should have.

    His point was that Sagan was often marked out despite being the strongest and regularly left in unfavourable situations, forced to roll the dice maybe more than he should have – and whether seeing this, the teams with riders like MVDP have decided force the issue more and make the race faster/harder from the outset so it plays to strongest riders strengths and leaves them less vulnerable to tactical complications in the business end of the race, by allowing fewer riders up the road and keeping the faves near the head of affairs while knackering everyone else.

    Makes sense to me, and made me wonder whether Sagan’s success at the Worlds where teams without a sprinter/classics rider would often ride hard from the outset was what helped him being more successful there then he seemed to be in the Monuments despite having all the attributes to be.

    Also Adam Blythe’s commentary yesterday where he mentioned riding with Sagan with the sole request being ‘stay somewhere I can see you’ seemed to suggest Spencer was onto something – may explain why we’ve been seeing less tactical races in recent years and getting frustrated why other teams are seemingly struggling to have affect on the outcomes or pull a rabbit from the hat every so often.

    • I think this is exactly what’s happening. We’re seeing it over and over- get the strongest guy to the front of a tired peloton and off they go at 50, 60, 100km from the finish. It seems to be working.

      • QS were good at the “get numbers up the road” tactic as have Visma, so this “2 stage rocket” tactic of blasting your best guy up the road after going full gas from km 0, is akin to the old climbing trains but on the flat.
        Whether this is a result of Visma’s tactics, stronger teams or some new “rocket fuel” in the peloton, only time will tell.

      • Oh don’t worry I haven’t forgotten – wasn’t meant as a plug – just found it interesting and a good point – I find between here, there, cycling podcast and geraint podcasts, GCN and others it’s nice to get the full spread of analysis, but aware he’s a controversial figure.

  12. be great of someone could come up for a good name for this cycling era?

    the big six (Pog, MVDP, Wout, Roglic, Vin, Remco) doesn’t really feel good enough?
    it’s certainly turning into the most remarkable I’ve seen since the 80s.
    true that races where only one shows up seem to be over before they start but the excitement build up for when they truly collide is off the scale.

    I hope last year MSR ending in the Flanders masterpiece isn’t the highpoint when we look back, although it truly was special, I’d just like a few more…

  13. The constant mention on commentary of the speed, which when watching on tv never seems to come across because of moving camera’s. I wish they would use the occasional fixed camera then us sofa watchers could grasp it better. A moan I used to have about Grand Prix motorcycle racing back in the 80’s.

    • There is an awful lot wrong with television coverage. Someone commented that, in F1, if the leader is pulling away they concentrate on the battles further down the field. I turned over to the rugby once I realised that we would have endless side on shots of MVDP. For me it is also the helicopter shots of the front of the bunch, say 5-10 riders but they don’t pan back to see who else is there or, if they do, its for about a second so you can’t recognise anyone. It needs to be different to draw more people into the sport.

      • I was thinking about this, but then again there’s only so many cameras and they have to follow, unlike in F1 where they have set locations. You have to have one on MvDP/the leader all the time just in case, because what if he’d crashed or had a mechanical? There’d be howls of outrage it that wasn’t caught on camera.

      • The image director has their eyes on all the live camera footage and if they haven’t cut away from the lead racer or breakaway group it’s usually because there’s even less happening in the group behind. They will usually try to get the balance of what’s happening everywhere, noting that they can’t please everyone.

        I agree about the helicopter shots and wish I could personally see more of the full groups since it matters to me who *isn’t* in a certain group almost as much as who is, and you can only get that by seeing the whole group.

      • They seemed to show a lot of MVDP solo action when he was on the pave secteurs – I guess the only suspense to his victory was whether he’d crash/puncture and they wanted that to be live if it happened. Although of course once he had 2 mins and a team car behind he would probably have survived either scenario.

        • I think there is also the fact that Mathieu rides the pavé sectors in a way no one else can. It’s like watching him off the front in CX. Sure, there isn’t suspense but the skill level is off the charts.

  14. Chapeau indeed. MVDPs and his teams performance must be one of the most dominating and well executed performance’s ever – especially given that MVDP was the outstanding favourite.

    Some hard thinking required for the home nation teams. Pidcocks lowley 17th was the best for a deflated and poorly performing INEOS! Several other teams were noticeably missing in action. Where were Soudal?

    Great way to finish off the cobbled season, roll on the lumpy classics!

      • @ J Evans. The home nation and organizers are the French. The race takes place on their soil – Paris – Roubaix. Maybe I should have been clearer. Although Groupama placed two riders in the first seven, neither were French. I think the best placed French rider came in a lowly 30th, seven minutes behind the winner.

        It would be good for not only the sport in general, but the French in particular if they had some success in their own events. Success breeds success!

          • Who wasn´t?

            PS I don´t think J Evans was somehow under the impression that Roubaix is located in Belgium:-)

            PPS We all have our favourites among the riders who are not among the favourites and on Sunday it gave great pleasure to see Madis Mihkels (not yet 21) finish in the Top10 (with a little help from the commissaires, but all the same…).

  15. A great race although I would have enjoyed it all the more if MVDP had attacked at 20k instead of 60. Nevertheless, we are indeed privileged to witness the all-encompassing quality of this rider in 2024, truly honouring the Rainbow Jersey.

    • I think it both Flanders and PR it was probably MvDP’s thought to attack from 20k but instead his initial weaning attacks left him unusually by himself. I don’t think he wants to be soloing for that long. Must be boring.

      • Yes that makes sense. If VLAB and Trek had been at full strength he may have attacked at 60 to force the final selection, then attacked again at 20 for the win

  16. Really enjoyable summary – so many zingers here! My day is now officially much better.

    Thanks for emphasizing how much work Vermeersch and Philipsen did in blocking and shutting down any counter moves. The Phil and Bob commentary almost didn’t mention this even when the video showed the Denim Duo marking everything that moved. Teamwork was responsible for most of that 3’00” gap, otherwise it would have been much smaller.

    2nd paragraph, I think you mean Dries de Bont rather than van Bont.

    Superb writeup per usual!

  17. I had my first experience of riding a few sectors last week, something to tick off but not repeat too often! What I find amazing is the numbers of riders (winner included) who don’t use gloves. They obviously have tougher skin than a typical weekend warrior but impact of blisters must play a negative role in performance. At the very least, it knocks you out of training for a few days afterwards. I remember wincing at Lizzy Deignan’s bloody bars after her first win. Anyway, I’m hoping my own blisters fade quicker than the memories.

  18. The race was very exciting – until MVDP’s attack. And I know I’m repeating myself, but the only way to possibly beat these incredible riders is to work together. Once again, immediately after he went, MVDP’s opposition tried lone attacks instead of working together.

    Ten minutes later, the race was over, as he pulled away. Phillipsen was still there anyway, so in this instance it probably wouldn’t have helped them, but you have to try.

    This is the only way you can combat these superior riders – and working together is an age-old tactic… and yet so often, they don’t do it.

    Pollit, Kung, Pithie and Pedersen won’t catch MVDP individually, but working together, they might.

    • The Prisoner’s dilemma in action. It’s better to cooperate but only if everyone cooperates. One of the many fascinating things about bike racing.

      • But my imagination or do they not do this as well as they used to? Not once did I see those riders chasing VDP talk to each other or do the twirling-finger ‘let’s rotate and work together’ gesture.

    • I wrote and said the same after Roubaix with the slight difference being I was in favour of ganging up on Alpecin/MVDP earlier in an effort to break them/him and you’re looking for cohesion later to reel him in.

      But I think in truth we’re both behind the tactical curve on this one and showing a bit of naivety – as what Alpecin did (as someone above pointed out it’s similarity to Sky’s mountain train Rob MD) is designed to both nullify early attacks by riding so bloody fast no one’s gets up the road to create headaches further on, as well compromise chase cohesion later because everyone is knackered… and what looks like riders playing games is mostly pure fatigue. So I’m not sure either of our suggestions were viable at either Flanders or Roubaix given how excellent Alpecin/MVDP truly were.

      If you have the strongest rider and a team that’s capable this, it seems like a fairly simple ploy up the percentage chance of your win but it’s also such effective tactic it shows up Sagan’s management, and maybe Sagan’s slight contract greed leaving him with weaker teams, for not employing it themselves (a line I’m taking from Spencer Martin).

      I think for us older fans we may need to adapt and understand that this is a relatively new conundrum for current riders/teams and that full gas from gun>finish may need a different approach to what’s worked before in order to combat it… or we just have to wait for more riders on MVDP’s level and a return to the races we’re used to!

      Who knows. But I think our shared with others tactics are actually a mirage as what we’re seeing is something relatively new, at least in the last few decades.

    • Maybe one of those innocuous breakaway stages where the peloton rolls in 23 mins later, if they truly commit all their resources to it.

    • Mr Pidcock could easily have won ‘best mime performance during a 1.UWT race’ for this ‘twisting the motorcycle throttle’ – it was masterful.

      (Their time will come).

  19. Wout was sorely missed. Let’s not forget that 2023 P-R would have been a sprint between him and Van der Poel, had it not been for a puncture.
    I hope he returns in his best shape.

    • And Pogacar at Flanders. If we’d had a couple of showdowns, Pogacar v MvdP at Flanders and WVA c MvdP at Roubaix, we could be basking in the afterglow of a great cobbled classics season. Even if the results had turned out the same. As it turned out we aren’t.

  20. I was in awe of Laurenz Rex continuing on after his 1st crash missing most of his kit and road-rashed. True hard man. And then. Brutal. I could only imagine his determined mindset after the 1st taking a complete 180 after the 2nd, “nope. that’s it. I’m done”

    • Seeing that second (awful) crash did make me wonder if perhaps his judgement was impaired following the first… hope he makes a full recovery.

      Whoever tied that padding on is my pick for ‘hero of the day’: they deserve their own cobble from the organiser. Or at least a Wanty jersey.

  21. For those interested in the big crash debate

    Long chat on Cycling Podcast and quick section on GCN. No real answer but both interesting.

    Admittedly since the last few weeks it feels like almost everything under the sun has been blamed at some point!!

    – ASO and Flanderian races have better signage that other races are lacking.
    – riders looking at garmin/wahoos
    – helmets being the first safety measure that might have had the opposite effect of making riders ride closer and be more reckless, disc brakes being the latest
    – increased speeds
    – increased road furniture
    – younger riders lacking race craft…

    The list is seemingly endless but no one has firm data without statistical caveats to say there are more crashes now… and UCI relatively recent investigations seem to be saying rider errors/recklessness are actually the main cause.

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