Monday, April 5, 2010
The Ronde 2010
One of the great highlights of my cycling experience came in 2002, when I participated in the "sportif" version of the Tour of Flanders the day before the actual pro race. You can read my account of that day here. My attempt to watch Milan-San Remo on the Internet failed but this time, thanks to www.cyclingfans.com, I was able to find a live feed (a Belgian station with French commentary) and enjoyed a terrific Sunday morning.
This race is, to me, the greatest of the Classics in that it is almost always the strongest cyclist who wins it. It is a war of attrition as the riders' numbers get whittled down hill by hill, over 16 "hellings" until by the time the race reaches Geraardsbergen and the infamous Muur, the final selection of those who can truly contend for victory is made. After the Muur, there is only the Bosberg and then the nicely paved final 12 kms of flat riding to the finish line.
This year, once again, the final selection was made on the Muur, when, to my amazement, Fabian Cancellara simply rode two-time winner Tom Boonen off his wheel after the two had escaped together on the Molenberg, when there were still 40 kms to ride to the end. The Swiss rider just rolled away and the gap quickly rose. By the time the Belgian champion was 30 seconds back, I knew the race was over as, sure enough, Fabian went into time trial mode and showed that his three wins as World Time Trial Champion weren't flukes. Watch what happens here at 2:38:
A truly superb win for the Swiss Time Machine, who becomes only the second Swiss to win the Tour of Flanders, the first one being Heinrich "Heiri" Suter in 1923. Suter must have been pretty good, since he won both Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in the same year, the first to do so. Here's the big finish, and you can watch Fabian happily waving his angel good luck charm.
The excellent heading photo of today's action on the Muur was taken by Jered Gruber, a Pezcyclingnews contributor, and someone who knows how to be in the right place at the right time!