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Spring Classics Cycling Season

MartinMartin Member
edited April 5 in Main
The Spring Classics season is underway in Belgium. It kicked off with Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde and a win by Quick-Step's Italian sprinter Viviani on Wednesday, then rolled into E3 Harelbeke today.

E3 Harelbeke
E3 is usually a good indicator for Flanders, hitting a few of the classic hills like the Paterberg and Oude Kwaremont. After being held up by a train crossing, a major crash took out a lot of favourites like Sagan and Vanmarcke and saw QuickStep drop the hammer. At one point late in the race they had three riders up the road, but Lampaert was hit by a falling piano after trying to hold teammate Terpstra's wheel, and Gilbert was unable to bridge up to the leading duo. (Not sure what the team orders were from the car, but it sure looked like they were working to keep him off.)

Anyway, Gilbert fell back to a small group of strongmen that include his podium mates from last year, Naesen and GVA. While that group was unable to work together, Terpstra showed his class and ground out the win by some 20 seconds. His teammate Gilbert recovered from his earlier effort to take the sprint for second, followed by Greg Van Avaermet, who must have been exhausted from the eight seconds that he accidentally spent "in the wind" at the front of the group some 60 kilometers earlier. (Context: GVA almost never rides in front, content to draft off Sagan or whoever else might be considered a favourite.)

Gent-Wevelgem

Gent-Wevelgem, which adds another 50k or so of distance, is next on the calendar this Sunday. GVA won here last year, so will be looking to repeat, but I have a feeling that Gent comes down to a sprint - Cipo won this race once, so it's certainly possible for a pure sprinter to handle this course - and the teams have loaded up for it. Watch for Colbrelli (Bahrain), Viviani (QuickStep), Demare (FDJ), Kittel (Katusha), Matthews (Sunweb) or O'Doull (Sky), or a sneak attack from Moscon (Sky) (who looked good today) or Matteo Trentin (Mitchellton). It looks like Mark Cavendish is on the start list for Dimension Data, which just seems cruel after his MSR crash.
MattM_Waresimonsen77Tuck_n_Roll_Tad_MJennifer PostAaronWebsteyRash
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Comments

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    MattMatt Member, Administrator
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    RashRash Member
    QS rode it so smart as a team - that was not the case in recent years. BMC had some question marks at the end, however if they pull Terpstra back GVA was not the fastest sprinter in their chase group.

    I am not a QS fan, but found myself rooting for Terpstra to hang on that last 20k.

    I hope Sagan is still building his form and playing some mind games with his rivals but I worry perhaps this year might be the “baby weight” effect. San Remo wasn’t a surprise - I didn’t think he had a chance to get away since he would be so heavily marked. But yesterday it was a little surprising to see him dropped more than once.
    M_WareMartinMatt
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    MartinMartin Member
    This is going to be a helluva finish to G-W. All the favourites - Sagan, GVA, Viviani, Matthews, and a few other sprinters are in the lead group with 15k to go, chasing group with Kristoff at 45 seconds pushing 510 watts at 54km/h to close the gap... The front group should explode in the next 5-10 minutes, because Naesen, GVA, Vanmarcke have zero chance against the sprinters in that group...
    AaronWebsteyMattRash
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    MartinMartin Member
    edited March 25
    I did not expect that winner (Sagan) at all. Impressive last 3 km by that whole group, and sheer chaos in the last 1 km. Great, great finish. Heartbreak for the second place guy (Viviani) , who is literally in tears on the ground at the finish.

    Edited to add names, since I held off on spoilers earlier.
    AaronWebsteyMattJennifer PostTuck_n_Roll_Tad_MRash
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    MattMatt Member, Administrator
    My L'Équipe live feed was freezing every 30 seconds, so I had to rely on Twitter updates. Ugh. Will watch the replays.

    Onto Dwars
    MartinRash
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    RashRash Member
    Great race. Didn’t initially think he would be able to hold it when he hit out so early. QS is unreal - Sagan is going to have his hands full. GVA is going to have to figure out how to win as a marked man - not as easy as when you are simply the almost man. His comment the other week about how it’s easier for him when Sagan races made me laugh - he tried to couch it as having someone to work with but everyone knows GVA is not normally doing much work for others - especially Sagan (why would anyone).
    M_WareAaronWebsteyMartinTuck_n_Roll_Tad_M
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    MattMatt Member, Administrator
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    RashRash Member
    edited March 28
    Surprise - QS won a race! Wow - heck of a start to the season. Lets hope they get blanked on the monuments - just love the drama and alleged failure that will ensue (plus it means maybe Sagan won them)

    ETA - talking about today's Dwars door Vlaanderen. And another surprise, Sep Vanmarcke was close.
    MattMartin
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    MartinMartin Member
    Rash said:

    Surprise - QS won a race! Wow - heck of a start to the season.

    The odds against winning one of these Belgian races is so slim. To win the same race two years in a row is unbelievable. That was a supreme collective brain fart by the four other guys to let him get away, but I imagine by that point of a cold wet race, all they could think about were a big cone of fries and mayonnaise.
    RashAaronWebstey
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    RashRash Member
    Sep Vanmarcke was spent too after so many fruitless attacks early on. QS has their collective shit together so far and a team that has multiple, legit options to win, however I have to think PG throws any thought of racing for a teammate out the window at Flanders and PR.
    Martin
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    MartinMartin Member
    Rash said:

    ...I have to think PG throws any thought of racing for a teammate out the window at Flanders and PR.

    You mean, like a 50k solo breakaway and holding off GVA, Sagan and Naesen or something equally crazy?
    Rash
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    RashRash Member
    Martin said:

    Rash said:

    ...I have to think PG throws any thought of racing for a teammate out the window at Flanders and PR.

    You mean, like a 50k solo breakaway and holding off GVA, Sagan and Naesen or something equally crazy?
    Of course, it helps if an undercover QS team member throws a jacket over Sagan's handlebars taking out the chasers when they appeared to have a good shot at reeling him in!
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    MartinMartin Member
    Overheard at Quick Step team meeting this morning, before the Ronde:

    DS: "OK, so we're all clear - we'll keep it together for as long as possible, then we'll let Philippe do his thing, for the glory of Belgium."

    Phil Gilbert: "Boys, I'm honoured to go to battle with all of you. We will win, then share the spoils of victory."
    (Général chatt
    er of approval, etc)

    (FX: Toilet flushes in background)
    (Terpstra enters, drying hands.)

    Niki Terpstra: "Sorry, did I miss anything important?"

    M_WareMattJennifer PostAaronWebsteyRashKenElPescadoPelado
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    MattMatt Member, Administrator

    Niki Terpstra at 2014 Dwars door Vlaanderen: Solo win by 17sec.
    Niki Terpstra at 2014 Paris-Roubaix: Solo win by 20sec.
    Niki Terpstra at 2018 Le Samyn: Solo win by 24sec.
    Niki Terpstra at 2018 E3 Harelbeke: Solo win by 20sec.

    — Neal Rogers (@nealrogers) March 23, 2018
    Jennifer PostMartin
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    AaronWebsteyAaronWebstey Administrator, TRS/Baucco Team Member
    Martin said:

    Overheard at Quick Step team meeting this morning, before the Ronde:

    DS: "OK, so we're all clear - we'll keep it together for as long as possible, then we'll let Philippe do his thing, for the glory of Belgium."

    Phil Gilbert: "Boys, I'm honoured to go to battle with all of you. We will win, then share the spoils of victory."
    (Général chatt
    er of approval, etc)

    (FX: Toilet flushes in background)
    (Terpstra enters, drying hands.)

    Niki Terpstra: "Sorry, did I miss anything important?"

    I totally get it that's hilarious!
    Martin
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    AaronWebsteyAaronWebstey Administrator, TRS/Baucco Team Member
    April fool's I'm such a loser
    Martin
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    MartinMartin Member
    Paris-Roubaix this Sunday. Looks like a perfect day for racing - slightly overcast, no rain for two days before the race, and 15 to 25 km/h winds. While it may not be a muddy spectacle, with northern France littered with broken bikes and riders, the course is for the most part wide open, so the winds will require teams to be very well positioned. It's going to be a fight to lead into many of those narrow, country crossroads.

    So my list of probable winners: Terpstra, GVA, Moscon, Degenkolb, Oss, Hayman, Keukeleire, Stannard.

    You have to expect QuickStep to be a favourite here, with Gilbert, Stybar and Terpstra on the team. If Terpstra wins, he goes on a very short list of riders who have done the Flanders-Roubaix double, with Boonen and Cancellara being the most recent ones.

    GVA won last year, and BMC has a good team, but he's been just short a few times this year. Maybe he has timed his peak perfectly. Maybe he'll win the sprint for fourth

    Looking at the other teams, Sky looks monstrous, with Moscon, Rowe, Stannard supported by Knees and Doull. Also worth noting is that before GThomas turned into a one-week tour contender, he was a top 10 Belgian Classics finisher for about five years. This might be more than a scouting trip for him. (Remember that Nibali basically won the 2014 TdF on the cobbles, after C**** F**** dropped his inhaler crashed out, and they are back in the race this year.)

    Oliver Naesen is an outlier. He's a legit contender for this race, but I'm not sold on his knee having healed from a recent crash, and he's just had trouble staying upright this spring.

    Trek, Mitchelton-Scott, and Bora all have multiple possible winners (or past winners) on their rosters. I still don't think this is Sagan's race. He'll probably win tonnes again this year, but probably not this weekend.

    One last thing: I hope the organizers and DSs have all checked the train schedules.
    MattAaronWebsteyM_WareJennifer Post
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    Based on current form and recent results, I can see a 3 man break getting away on the 3km sector of pavé around 45km to go (Mons-en-pévèle). Quick step will be in there with Stybar or Lampaert along with a sleeper like Boasen-Hagen or Tony Martin, perhaps Chavanel since he's nearing the end of his cycling career and has the pride to duke it out in his homeland, and one other potential winner - I'll say Van Aert. They pull out a lead of 30 sec over that section, with it growing to 50 sec by the Carrefour de l'Arbe. The chase finally starts in earnest, led by Van Avermaet and Sagan, but one flats, the other crashes, taking out the rest of the contenders and QS takes it in a sprint.

    *Any of these names can be interchanged with someone else, as it's PR, and that's just what happens every year.
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    MartinMartin Member
    I should mention that I hope Hugo Houle, riding an Argon18 for Astana, is in the break of the day. But that's because I'm a Homer and am trawling for likes from @Matt.
    MattTuck_n_Roll_Tad_M
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    MartinMartin Member

    Boasen-Hagen or Tony Martin, perhaps Chavanel since he's nearing the end of his cycling career and has the pride to duke it out in his homeland, .

    Stijn Devolder is also riding if you are looking for near-seniors to cheer on.
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    MattMatt Member, Administrator
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    MattMatt Member, Administrator
    edited April 6
    Muddy Hell: Paris-Roubaix 2002, the last wet Hell of the North.

    The story of the last wet Paris-Roubaix, in the words of eight who survived


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    RashRash Member
    Based on all the rhetoric directed at Sagan, one thing I think is for sure is that he won't win. He has not really been good at PR in the past anyway, but he is a marked man and unless he can go from 40K or more out and still have the legs to drop whatever combination of QS riders catch a ride he has very little chance here. As a Sagan fanboy, I would love to see him win - but this is not the best course for him to begin with and now the QS mob has him in focus.

    As for who wins, no clue - this race is a toss up. Would love to see Oss get up the road and hold on, but have a feeling QS will be on the podium one way or another. Perhaps they all sell out for Gilbert with Stybar as a back up since Gilbert has been unreal in his support for Terpstra's two wins so far.
    Martin
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    IanLIanL Member
    Isn't that what we all say about Sagan at World's as well. He is a marked man and can't possibly win.
    MartinRashTuck_n_Roll_Tad_M
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    MartinMartin Member
    The video coverage is showing super slo mo video of the back wheel of riders from time to time. The lack of traction caused by the cobbles bouncing bikes around is crazy.
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    MattMatt Member, Administrator
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    MattMatt Member, Administrator
    Big crash with 47k to go and Tony Martin goes down with Alexander Kristoff. A seatpost snapped clean off!
    Martin
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    MartinMartin Member
    Any odds on Dillier riding for Bora next year?
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    MattMatt Member, Administrator
    This was amazing to see

    MartinM_WareKenElPescadoPelado
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    MartinMartin Member
    Matt said:

    This was amazing to see

    What, you don't adjust your own headset riding 46 kph beside a moving car?
    KenElPescadoPelado

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