The cobbled classic season came to a close Sunday with a fittingly climactic finale at Paris-Roubaix. Eleven riders still in contention with six kilometres to go, an uncertain outcome to the last. The race provided a spectacle worthy of the hype, but what of the riders and teams? Al Hinds assesses the impact of the riders and teams that made this year’s Roubaix the race it was.
Sep Vanmarcke, Belkin, 4th
Belgium’s new cobbled contender? Vanmarcke had one of the rides of the day, falling short only through a lack of allies and lack of road. The Belkin man was insatiable on Mons-en-Pevele, and the Carrefour de l’Arbre, stringing his rivals out on the toughest sections of road, with few able to follow. It was a display worthy of the promise he’d foreshadowed in 2013 but as the race regrouped again and again and the chunks of cobbled road petered out Vanmarcke was left with little to do but watch in frustration as the race turned procession in the final five kilometres, as Terpstra rode clear to the win. Still, a near faultless performance capping a brilliant spring. There’s always next year.
It’s very rare a race lives up to its billing the way the Ronde van Vlaanderen did Sunday.
Sure, the 259km of tarmac, then cobbles, then hellingen, the history, from Merckx to Museeuw, the field, Sagan, Cancellara, Boonen, Belgian beer, the fans, the dreary, storm-beckoning sky. It all promised, but for it to come together, on one day?
Ahh, but this is Flanders. This is The Ronde.
Alberto Contador's recent resurgence marks a substantial departure from the struggling Spaniard of just six months ago, and promises much for this year's Tour de France, writes Al Hinds.
Of Alberto Contador's 2013 Tour there is one moment that sticks out - Embrun.
The Spaniard had ridden out of his skin to post the day's fastest time in Chorges, an average speed of 37.14km/h on a course that included two Category 2 summits. It hadn't been his Tour, he wasn't the invincible, uber-confident Contador that we'd come to know but here was a display that reminded us he wasn't done, he still had something to give.
Wait, who? Alexander Kristoff? But I thought… but you said… but wasn’t there… Wait. Are you sure? But are you sure that you’re sure? Hmm.
Twenty-six year old Alexander Kristoff did indeed enter the pantheon of San Remo winners on Sunday, when, after a 290 kilometre odd slog through Italy’s north punctuated by a couple of bumps, and boatloads of rain, he sprinted past Philippe Gilbert, then Sacha Modolo, and raised his arms in that all-too-familiar, ‘hey, look at me, I’m amazing’ salute.
Yes, Kristoff. You know. The Norwegian that won Stage 2 of the Tour of Oman? Perhaps not. Maybe you’re a bigger fan of his Classics back-catalog. Best of the rest at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. Bronze medallist at the London Olympic Games?
Two serious road accidents in three days have gone a long way to scaring me off my bike.
The first occurred in Brisbane, Friday afternoon.
A cyclist on their commute home was hit from behind shortly after moving away from a set of lights near Mount Gravatt. Though there is nothing to say the driver acted maliciously, the accident was entirely preventable.