Sunday, April 1, 2012

Tour of Flanders

Tom Boonen is in great form. Today, he won the Tour of Flanders, which really should be renamed after he race organizers changed the route, removing a couple of iconic climbs including the Mur de Gramont. I didn't watch most of the race, but was surprised when I turned it on to find that Fabian Cancellara was not in contention; apparently, he crashed in the feed zone with 62 km to go.

The finish of the race was fun to watch. With a one minute lead over a chasing group, the lead group of Boonen, Pippo Pozzato and Alessandro Ballan, could afford to play a bit of cat-and-mouse. The least accomplished sprinter among them, Ballan, tried a couple of attacks in the last few kilometers, but none was nearly strong enough to dislodge the other two. Pozzato sat at the back, requiring Boonen, the race favorite, to chase down Ballan each time. Thus, Pozzato conserved the most energy and was in prime position for the final sprint in the final 300 meters. Still, he couldn't come around Boonen when it counted. One of the race commentators on Eurosport probably had the best explanation for why: Boonen spins up in a much lighter gear than Pozzato, which allows him to accelerate more quickly. So, even though Pozzato was in the right position, he couldn't accelerate quickly enough to overtake the Tommeke, who is having his best Classics season in several years.

We can only wonder what might have had happened if Cancellara had not crashed. He had three teammates in the chasing group (although Tony Gallopin suffered a punctured tire in the final 10 kilometers), who might have been able to work together to bring back the breakaway had Cancellara still been in the race. In any case, what might have been is beside the point. We can only hope that Fabulous Fabian is not seriously injured and will be at the start line next weekend for the "Hell of the North," Paris-Roubaix.

As for my own Sunday ride, it's stormy this morning but I'm holding out hope for a break in the weather later in the afternoon.

UPDATE: is reporting (here) that Cancellara suffered a triple break of his collarbone, requiring surgery. So much for Paris-Roubaix next weekend. Very bad news.

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