Not in a decade or more have the Spring Classics looked such a wide open
affair - and so far, writes Anthony
Tan, it's been absolutely brilliant.
Less than a week after the season's first monument, Milan-San Remo, and men's professional cycling has lost three of the biggest favourites for the Northern Classics.
Well, almost - two for sure. How the hell did that happen?
For Bling to one day win at Milan-San Remo, he must follow the path of The Invisible Man, writes Anthony Tan.
Apart from seeing how he rode, inconspicuous till the final metres, Michael Matthews should take note of what John Degenkolb, a rider with very similar attributes to he, said after he won Sunday in Sanremo. "Experience is very important. It took me four years to gain the necessary experience. Of course you can talk to people and get their advice, but I believe you have to do it yourself, and also mature because of disappointments, like mine last year."
As he said, this year was Degenkolb's fourth attempt at the race - having previously placed 5th, 18th, 39th between 2012-14, respectively. For Matthews, it was M-SR number three, placing 107th (2011), 78th last year, and third last Sunday. From the way he rode on the Cipressa and Poggio, clearly, the 24-year-old had the physical maturity to go the distance, but lacked the maturity of experience in the race; he was far too visible when he didn't need to be, particularly when Greg Van Avermaet attacked on the Poggio and forced the hand of he and Peter Sagan, then again when Sagan - who, unlike Degenkolb, is utterly hopeless at restraining himself - dangled off the front on the run-in to the finish on the Via Roma. "The most important (thing) is to relax; stay calm, save your legs, save your legs, and save your legs until the Via Aurelia. You have to have a good position: not too far to the front, and not too from at the back. You have to find the balance," Degenkolb said, Yoda-like.
Milan-San Remo is nothing if not long and unpredictable. Nonetheless, Anthony Tan looks at eight men who can cross La Via Roma's white line first in the season's first Monument.
SBS will broadcast Milan-San Remo LIVE!
Can you name another race where everyone from Mark Cavendish to Peter Sagan to Alexander Kristoff to Gerald Ciolek to Edvald Boassen Hagen to Tony Gallopin to Michal Kwiatkowski to Fabian Cancellara can win?
If Tirreno-Adriatico was he at 80 percent, expect to see a hors catégorie Nairo Quintana before too long, writes Anthony Tan.
How good is he?
Crashing twice at last year's Vuelta a España - the first midway through, and in the race lead; the second resulting in a fractured shoulder and out of the race - then, a month prior to the start of Tirreno-Adriatico, falling again at the Colombian road championships - and yep, on that right shoulder he busted five months previous - the flyweight Colombian could be completely forgiven for coming to Lido di Camaiore last Wednesday medium-rare, to use parlance familiar to Alberto Contador's favourite butcher.
Despite the absence of a few super heavy hitters, this year's Paris-Nice was no less revealing, writes Anthony Tan.
So many things happened at Paris-Nice, it almost feels like we've been through a Grand Tour already, even though we only saw just eight days of racing.
The prologue was a demonstration of just how serious Michal Kwiatkowski was about discovering his stage race potential, eschewing a title defence at Strade Bianche to be as good as he could from the get-go.