Saturday, April 2, 2011
Ronde van Vlaanderen is here. Do I need to say any more? I love watching the Grands with their three week long battles fought in the mountains and on the plains. Ah, but there is nothing that can compare to the Classics. And, yes we can spend now until eternity and argue which is the best race, which is the hardest, but which one would you like to win most? To be a Grand Tour winner is at the pinnacle of our sport, but to win Flanders or Roubaix is Legendary. These Classics break men...in a single day. I personally would love to hoist the sett in the velodrome in Roubaix, but heart says the Ronde.
Why the Ronde, Why not? Yes Roubaix has its Arenberg and the famous sectors, but the Ronde has the hellingen. Paterberg 12.9%, Koppenberg 11.6%, Muur-Kapelmuur 9.3%, and the Bosberg 5.8% just to name a few. For me this is what sets the Ronde above Roubaix, the famous or should I say infamous short, steep cobbled climbs of the Ronde -just my opinion and yes it is debatable. This is how I envision my win at the Ronde. I would come across the line (solo of course), point to the sky and find the nearest Flag of Flanders to wrap myself in.
Cancellara won it last year in memoriable fasion, but Stijin Devolder did the same thing the year before. Yes he did -look it up. Devolder lit it up and looked to get stronger the closer he got to the finish. *Cancellara did break his chain on the Koppenberg.* Devolder won the Ronde back to back in '08 and then in '09. In '05-'06 Devolder's teammate at the time a Mr. Tom Boonen did the same thing, Back-to-Back wins at the Ronde. In between these wins a certain Alessandro Ballan (2009 World Champ) won in 2007. So where does that leave us here and now in 2011?
Take a quick look at the start list and you will see teams made up of the Rouleurs, the hardmen of the sport, this is not a place where you want to send your Grand Tour Chanpion. Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling a team based in Belgium, is holding some wildcards in Devolder, De Gendt, and Leukemans. I would be suprised if you did not hear at least one of these names Sunday afternoon. Leopard Trek has, oh who's that one guy, oh yeah Cancellara, and O'Grady. Joost Posthuma also rides for Leopard, but he is a workhorse -an awesome super domestique, but a workhorse nonetheless. Quickstep, another Belgian outfit, has some scary riders on their startlist. Boonen, Steegmans, Devenyns (worker), Van Impe (worker), and Mr. Rouge himself Sylvain Chavanel. Never, never count out Chavanel, former TT national champ of France, he is a formidable rider over the cobbles and in the Classics. The only problem with Chavanel, is he is French on a Belgian team -so look for him to be working for Tom and Gert, he is very loyal just watch how he controls the chase group when Tom went off in Roubaix in 2009.
Omega Phara-Lotto is fiercely Belgian, and they have Gilbert who in my book is one of the most animated cyclists right now. Philippe has Roelandts, Greipel (Cav's old teammate) and a good team surrounding him. Oh, man there are too many possible riders out there, as I scan the start list I see names like Flecha, Arvesen, Hoste, Pozzato, Nuyens, Cooke, Van Avermaet, Hincapie, Goss, Boom, Eisel, Cav, Boasso Hagen. and more.
Let's not forget the Super Classics team of Garm-elo, and yes I am being a little sarcastic due to their poor showing at E3 when fabian blew their doors off. Hushovd the current rainbow jersey wearer along with Farrrar (lives in Belgium), Hammond, Haussler, Klier, Lloyd, Vanmarcke and Matt Wilson. On paper this crew should own every Classic they enter. Who knows they just might start with the Ronde van Vlaanderen.
Tune in and watch this race and you might just understand why I love the Ronde. When you go to bed tonight say a little prayer that it will be raining, cool, and a little windy, basically perfect Belgian weather for a Classic.
Boonen or Gilbert? Love Gilbert's panache, but got to go with Tom. What you say? No Cancellara? That's right, don't want him to win it. It means more to the riders that have a (Bel) after their name.
Friday, April 1, 2011
First of all I want to thank both of you who read my blog. I've been checking my stats and realize that no one reads what I write, and with my racing, training and work this has become too much for me to keep up with. I have enjoyed posting on the blog but have come to realize that this is only for me since it does not reach anyone. The creative juices are not flowing and the well is dry. So for the two of you who actually read this, Thank you. See you out there on the road, stay safe.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Marty: How u doing??When I got home yesterday I had no intentions of getting on a bike, believe me I needed to. I was being lazy, no excuses no lies to tell. Most of the time when I "feel" tired, it is just lazy taking over and making me weak. When I got the texts I was thinking oh, great, this is the last thing I want to do right now. This couch feels so good, and it is going to take an act of god to get me off of it. Well, except maybe to get a beer out of the fridge, I haven't quite trained the dogs to fetch beers yet.
Marty: I'm fair
Me: It's nap time, I'm tired
Marty: U riding??
Me: Struggling, you?
Marty: A little...I'm tired today, and being a baby
Me: I can't seem to get off my ass.
Marty: Let's go ride...Easy & short...Then a guiness @ blue rose
Marty: What would boonen do
Me: What time?
Marty: WNR parking lot
Me: Ok I'm in.
Don't get me wrong, Marty is the essence of cool and is a deity in his own right, but it was the crowbar of DARE that got me off the couch. What would Boonen do? Yeah those are fighting words and the gauntlet was dropped. I'm no Tom Boonen, but if Marty is going to throw around that kind of wordy firepower -I only had one thing to do. Kit up.
If I were to pass on a Flandrian ride with no reason except for the comfort of central heating and a comfy couch, that would undoubtedly make me a waste of good air. What the heck, misery loves company, I've been called out and now I have company. Hat, base layer, arm warmers, wool socks, embro -plenty of embro, and I was out the door.
Twenty mins latter I rolled into an almost abandon WNR parkinglot with no other Tom's kits in sight. Oh, there is Paul's truck, leaving? He's been spotted and he knows it, now there are three. Marty rolls in and then Grant -four. Brownbear is late as usual and we wait for him to kit up. We roll out as a five man squad, it's us versus the wind and cold. Misery indeed loves company, and suffering with teammates builds character and forms bonds of facing a common enemy.
Marty and I left our companions at the end of the ride and went for a beer. The Blue Rose was packed. I ordered two, and we enjoyed one of the best post-ride beers I have had in a long time. Good ride, Good beer, Good company. Screw you!!! couch.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I'm sure you have heard by now that Cancellara is being tested for actually being human. It's true, he just might be a god or demi-god, is it a coincidence that we call him Spartacus? I don't think so. Garm-elo is sitting around the breakfast table wondering what the heck went wrong. Arguably the strongest Classics team on the face of the earth was systematically dismantled by Fabian in little than a few peddle strokes. The ten or so riders that he passed were later treated by the race doctor for third degree burns and bruised egos. Cancellara was even plagued by several tyre changes, he even needed to change to his back-up bike -but none of this could stop the one man Classics killer slayer of mortals.
Ok, deep down I kind of wanted Voeckler to stick it. I know how cool would it be? Thomas is on fire right now -check his wins from Paris-Nice, the final stage in the rain and cold was legend. QuickStep was forced to start and All-Star line-up for some WorldTour points or something made up by the UCI, kind of like bike inspections and magical frame $tickers. Anyway Tom wanted to race E3, but had to settle for winning Gent. Now that's something to cry about. I'll say it...I'm a Boonen fan thick or thin, winning or whining, Coke or Pepsi, I like his style. Sprinter, Classics, the tougher the better. You can love him or hate him, but you better respect, he has three cobbles hanging on his mantel. (that's a Paris-Roubaix reference).
This is a primer for Ronde de Vlaanderen, you have Super-Human Cancellara on form in the red corner, and Boonen who looks to be the white-lining Tom of a few years ago in the blue corner. Baring any unforeseen players coming out of no-where this is going to be all out war. We might see Thor in the mix, Haussler could throw his hat into the ring. I think Cavendish is a non-factor right now, but his form will come around and look for him to wear every points classification jersey in the Grands. Speaking of HTC Goss is a dark horse so don't leave him off the score sheets. The forever bridesmaid Bennati is going to have to get on the top step sometime this year. Farrar is always in there and you can almost bet he will podium when he is on. I like Boom, with his CX roots and his Dutch blood, he is an outside contender fo' sho'.
Last but not least, "I will race in 2012" George. He is a multi-national fan favorite from the Tifosi to the orange wearing Dutch in the Alps. Hincappie showed us that he still has what he has always had...legs and the brains to put them in the right place. Light a candle, say a prayer, send good thoughts, what ever you might do, do it for George this Classics season.
Monday, March 28, 2011
We always talk of Pro, being Pro, and Pro-ness. We try and emulate what we know, think and feel is Pro. Racing in adverse conditions is not Pro, Professional riders do it because it is their job, we do it because we see our heroes in long break-aways in the rain and cold. If they do it then by all means I need to do what they do.
Speaking of imitating Pros. At 200m to go yesterday I decided that I was Philippe Gilbert and went for the suicide attack while the sprinters were taking a nap. It worked brilliantly right up to about 20m when I was passed by five surging rocket blasts from the field. Racing is all about learning, and I learned a few things yesterday. First 200m is a little long for me to attack, but even with a good enough drop even someone with an anemic sprint like mine can create a decent gap. However short lived it might be. I also learned that when viewed from behind it seemed a stupid move, yes but if it had stuck would it have been stupid? Also, if I had it all over to do again, I would. I took the gamble, didn't have the horsepower to stick it, but I'm a little surprised I finished where I did considering the circumstances. I'm not Pro, I will never be Pro, but I have teammates that worked for me and made me feel Pro.
Again, I can't me more pleased with finishing this race. I flatted in this race last year and chased like mad to catch, to no avail. I was feeling good last year and had a top 10-15 in the legs. I have one more race with unfinished business, and then I will take some time off. I think the Mountain West is calling, of course with all the snow they have been getting it might be some time before I can get out that direction.