With the first four months just about done and dusted, Anthony Tan provides some insight into what he’s seen so far.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM


1. Spring Classics: It's (Always) Something Unpredictable
Okay, when Tom Boonen crashed out of Flanders less than 20km into proceedings we expected cobbled classics maestro Fabian Cancellara to walk away with the win, which he duly did with both eyes closed. But don't tell me you thought he would come within a wheel of losing the Hell of the North the following weekend – to Blanco's Sep Vanmarcke, no less!

And what about Gerald Ciolek's 'come-from-nowhere' (I only used that line to annoy web editor Phil Gomes) triumph in Milan-San Remo? Or Roman Kreuziger's come-from-nowhere (not saying he doped, Phil, but former team-mate Leonardo Bertagnolli said he worked with the nefarious Michele Ferrari) pot of Amstel Gold? Or Daniel Moreno's come from… (okay, okay, enough come-from-nowhere jokes for now) .. somewhat surprise victory atop the Mur de Huy in La Flèche Wallonne? Or namesake Daniel Martin's breakthrough bonanza to claim 'La Doyenne' last Sunday?

No three weeks of predictable, metronomic riding here. Just pure, unadulterated panache from the world's best one-day riders. And when the day is done, not a skerrick of glycogen left.

I'm already looking forward to Spring 2014.

2. Project Tenerife = Fail for Sky's Classics squad
What works for Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Richie Porte does not work for Edvald Boasson Hagen, Geraint Thomas and Bernhard Eisel.

The Spring Classics are over and Team Sky, one of the five most moneyed squads in the WorldTour peloton, walked away winless. Sergio Henao's second place in La Flèche Wallonne and Mat Hayman's third in Dwars door Vlaanderen were the sole apple and orange after two weeks' hard labour in the Canary Islands. Eurosport commentator and ex professional Brian Smith said that even before a pedal had been turned at the Amstel Gold Race the Team Sky posse looked tired, and that the training regime for their Classics coterie was simply too tough.

For the one-day specialists, training at altitude and riding up and down a giant volcano may not be such a good idea, after all.

3. BMC: Better Make Changes
BMC Racing's Classics squad fared marginally better than Team Sky's, which isn't the most praiseworthy assessment of an outfit housing (supposedly) the world's best one-day rider.

Okay, there were 19 WorldTour and up to six Pro Continental teams riding the Classics, so not everyone can win. But in Philippe Gilbert, Thor Hushovd and Greg Van Avermaet you have three of the strongest Classics specialists around and perhaps the latter aside, who was solid throughout and probably deserved a win, the former two, proven winners in the past, never really got going.

Then lands a press release a week after the Critérium International, saying 2011 Tour de France champ Cadel Evans, who finished tenth last, almost sixteen minutes behind winner Christopher Froome, had the idea of riding both the Giro d'Italia and Tour 'proposed' to him. Roughly translated, BMC management is getting a little edgy, a little jittery, concerning Evans' ability to rediscover his former self by July.

Yes, he has shown he can ride well doing two Grand Tours in a season, but the seasons he did his best work in Le Tour – 2008 (he told me he came closer to winning that year than 2007, even though he lost by a greater margin) and 2011 – he only rode one GT. "I am not coming to the Giro just for training," he declared.

Should he find himself in a winning position at the Giro, then, I would say go for it and put your eggs in one basket, because as Alberto Contador's failed Giro-Tour experiment showed in 2011, going deep at the Giro will eventually cost you in the third week of July (and in Bertie's case, all the way till February the following year).

Cadel's form looked on the up last week at the Giro del Trentino. I would say he's in with a chance at La Corsa Rosa. An outside chance, but a chance nonetheless.

4. Nibbles and Wiggles: Giro's best bets
Intersecting intermittently at the tours of Oman and Trentino, they've nevertheless followed different trajectories to the May 4 start in Naples; one more race-focused, the other with a greater emphasis on training. Regardless, both yearn for the same thing: to win the 96th edition of the world's most beautiful bike race.

If one looked at results alone you may say Vincenzo Nibali has the 2013 Giro d'Italia in the bag. It would be fatuous to do so, however, because Team Sky, while they struggled for success in spring, know how to race – and win – a Grand Tour, and will arrive in Italy with such a squad.

That said, the final stage of Trentino was telling. Yes, Wiggins experienced mechanical misadventure, however the repeated accelerations when he first encountered bike bugs with his electronic gearing prevented him from returning to the lead group, rather than the bike change per se.

He needs to be able to come back better from incidents such as these. No doubt, Nibali will have taken note that the way to rid himself of the Brit is to isolate him from his team, then force Wiggins to accelerate on the climbs.

5. Sprinters on show, but no one better than the rest
Cavendish, Greipel, Sagan, Goss, Bos, Kittel… and that's just the cream of the sprinting class in season 2013, which has seen each of the aforementioned take at least one win of significance.

While Sagan has been outstanding so far, I wouldn't say he's been indomitable: close but no cigar in San Remo and Flanders, then off his A-game in the Ardennes. His two closest sprinting rivals, Cavendish and Greipel, enjoyed early season success but were then underwhelming when it really mattered. Maybe the pair never properly recovered after freezing their proverbials off in San Remo, just like Bernard Hinault never regained full feeling in his fingers after blasting his way through a blizzard en route to victory in the 1980 Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

I'm sure Cav' will come good in the Giro and, like the past two years, take another hat trick in Italy. But to see the aforementioned all going head-to-head like pugilistic warriors on wheels?

You'll have to wait till July, I'm afraid.