One thing that’s true about bike racing at all levels, the strongest rider doesn’t always win. That’s racing. If you watched the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, it was clear why everyone was so concerned about Fabian Cancellara in the weeks leading up to the race. As advertised, he was clearly the strongest rider in the field. The guy’s a monster, actually. The only thing that can be said about his ride is that possibly he lost out on some tactics that didn’t go his way. When Tom Boonen attacked, Fabian had to go with him. Boonen literally pulled Cancellara up to the front of the field and then launched him up to a Quickstep teammate, Sylvain Chavanel, who was up the road on a solo flyer. Then Boonen faded. Not big Tom’s greatest move. Once this happened, Fabian had to play the card he was dealt. Potentially, his other option would have been to sit in and wait for the final climb. But this would have been a big gamble and a thoroughbred can only be held back for so long. So off he went. Fabian bridged up to Chavanel, eventually got reeled in by the pack, then unbelievably launched again. It finally came down to a group of three: Chavanel, eventual winner Nick Nuyens, and Fabian. The following video reveals the final k – all of the work being done by Cancellara. He made the race, broke it open, and dragged the trio to the finish line where an astute Nuyens took advantage of having done the least amount of work. Very smart tactic on Nuyen’s part. He was invisible all day until it counted and rode away with the biggest victory of his life. After crossing the finish line, the first thing he should have done was turn and say a big thank you to Spartacus. Reaction in the Saxo team car is priceless.
Below is an incredible video from a documentary on de Ronde that I had saved in a draft and meant to post last week. I thought about saving it ’til next year but it’s just too good not to share now. In it, the toughest men (Cancellara, Hausler, Gilbert, Eddy Merckx, and others) talk about the toughest race and just how massive the Tour of Flanders really is:
Next up: The Queen of the Classics, Paris-Roubaix.