So many odd and ends…
A lot to say now I don’t know the place to start. I suppose I’ll begin with my typical vacation pleading — you may’t consider how busy my life is in December! What? Everybody’s is? Okay, properly are you able to prime Thanksgiving, straight into Hannukah (approach too early), straight into two child birthdays, capped off by a little bit of Christmas? I’ve registered this grievance earlier than, as a approach of letting you already know why the area has been quiet, however no matter, it’s winding down and I can get away from household and holidays and pleasure, and again to essential issues like running a blog about biking.
WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT FLANDERS!
Pop Quiz: who’s the final Tour de France winner to get a prime ten end result within the Ronde van Vlaanderen?
If you happen to can’t consider that one, properly, I’ve excellent news for you: you’ll in all probability be capable to decide the subsequent one. Yesterday Tadej Pogacar’s camp introduced that the Slovenian double-Tour winner will take the beginning on the Ronde van Vlaanderen (he stated “4 monuments” however there’s just one headline to take from that). And I’m right here to announce that he’s going to get end result.
Clearly this prediction is based on the proof that Pogacar is solely good at the whole lot he tries. His climbing and time trialling want no introduction, however his sprinting is a bit underrated, or was earlier than final fall when he beat Fausto Masnada for the Lombardia crown, and took excessive placings in such occasions as Tre Valle Varesine (third), the Euro Champs (fifth), and the Olympics (third). One other curious information level is his 18th place in his lone try in Flanders, the U23 race, which he rode as a 19 12 months previous in 2018 and completed within the bunch dash for second behind the likes of Robert Commonplace and Marc Hirschi.
So what can’t he do? His LBL win makes case for him as a punchy climber who can navigate the twists and turns of Belgium. Flanders is sort of completely different, however what number of occasions has he already ridden there and the way rather more apply will he must succeed on the cobbles? My guess is, not very a lot. If he gained, no one can be terribly shocked, would they? Flanders was much less of a specialists’ race (in comparison with Paris-Roubaix anyway) and has its share of former winners who have been grand tour stars. And whilst you by no means see Tour guys cease by to race Paris-Roubaix, presumably #5 of the 4 Monuments Pogacar is planning for subsequent 12 months, you see a trickle of them round at Flanders.
The potential issues for Pogs can be an absence of pack positioning talent, one thing his crew may also help him with, and perhaps an absence of cobbles dealing with, although in Flanders the stones aren’t of a personality the place they will simply throw you off your bike. The likeliest situation is that he’s overwhelmed in a dash, or hammered off the wheels by Fast Step in a small group someday within the final 40 minutes or so. Second likeliest is that he will get caught on the Koppenberg behind some guys who’re strolling their bikes.
Replace: the ladies’s Ronde will now embrace the Koppenberg in 2022!
Imagine it or not, that is the primary time that the ladies’s peloton could have raced on the Koppenberg as a part of the Tour of Flanders, and in the event that they’ve tossed it in with another occasion, that’s information to me. After all anybody who’s migrated over to street from Cyclocross could have raced it as a part of the Koppenbergcross, and doubtless each final girls’s skilled rider to have frolicked in Flanders has gone up it whereas out on a trip. Hell, I’ve made it up like 5 occasions (in considerably greater than 5 makes an attempt), so this isn’t that huge a deal.
Recall, the ladies’s Ronde was in impact earlier than the brand new course existed, they usually raced up and over the Muur from 2005-11, with no actual hassle. The Koppenberg is for my part the toughest climb in use by any model of the race, as a result of it’s like sticking the Paterberg in the midst of the Taaienberg, combining the steep depth of the previous with the size of the latter, including a pair hundred additional meters of effort earlier than and after the really steep half. The Muur is the longest of the really steep climbs, however is damaged into perhaps 4 elements with breathers in between. There is no such thing as a recovering from the Koppenberg till you might be up and over, and even whenever you’ve reached the highest you may then get hit with a crosswind and delay your feeling of coming again to life once more for even longer. I don’t assume it may be topped besides perhaps by one of many hidden cobbled climbs that the locals will take you to in the event you ask properly.
So it is going to matter, and notably as a result of will probably be positioned in the identical place because it occupies for the lads’s race, within the final 45km. From the Koppenberg they pop down towards Oudenaarde, flip onto Mariaborrestraat, then over the Steenbekdries and Taaienberg earlier than returning to the ultimate circuit up the Hotond, Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg. Nonetheless many riders are in rivalry on the backside of the Koppenberg, you may count on fewer by the highest. This could reduce the prospect of a bunch end, or a minimum of a giant bunch beginning the ultimate two climbs, which we now have seen sometimes on the prior course that approached the finale through Ronse. I might go on, however anyway that’s the gist of issues. I’m obtainable to proceed speaking Flanders in feedback, right this moment and for just about the subsequent 5 months.
E3 Course Announcement
Our favourite Flanders warmup, the re-renamed E3 Prijs Harelbeke Saxo Traditional honoring the E… 17, introduced its 2022 parcours yesterday. I don’t see any drastic modifications and it’s not value breaking down a map, since will probably be about the identical race we noticed final 12 months. However it is a nice technique to current a course that folks may in any other case not be prepared to concentrate to:
Talking of Parcours Particulars
I suppose perhaps you heard that the Vuelta is Going Massive in 2022? Right here’s one other enjoyable video model slightly than the same old information. Oh and the squiggly yellow traces on the highest finish of the map? That’s the Picos de Europa. That’s the excellent news.
Go right here for the entire stage checklist.
CX Examine-In: Getting Actual
One in all my convo threads talked about how the children have had their enjoyable however now the grownups have come house. Sorry if that’s disrespectful to Eli Iserbyt and Quinten Hermans and Lars van der Vaar, however Wout Van Aert’s return has seen the smack laid down so completely that even wizened Cross followers are greatly surprised. Doesn’t he must heat up for a race or two? [Nope.] Aren’t the remainder of the group a minimum of able to pressuring him? [Sorry, no.] Can’t Pidcock a minimum of sluggish him down? [You’d think. And you’d be wrong.]
Van Aert has now gained all three of his begins in Cross this season, with the Christmas Interval races looming massive. Saturday was in Italy on the Val di Sole World Cup, raced on a carpet of snow. It went… fairly properly? Regarded loads like a standard race besides in sure sections and corners the place dealing with the bike turned practically unattainable. Van Aert himself crashed a pair occasions, as did in all probability everybody else.
The Kerstperiode is the Cross equal of late March-mid April for the cobbles: a continuous rolling collection of races that everybody exhibits up for. Rucphen (NL) is subsequent this Saturday, and was slated to be the place Mathieu van der Poel started his world championship protection, however he banged his knee in coaching and has pushed his begin again by every week. Nonetheless, there are many races occurring, with Van Aert and Pidcock already going and van der Poel about to affix the enjoyable. Van Aert shall be at just about each race, and the Wout-Matti showdowns are marked beneath.
- 12/18 Rucphen NL (WC)
- 12/19 Namen BE (WC)
- 12/26 Dendermonde BE (WC) WVA-vdP
- 12/27 Heusden Zolder BE (Sup)
- 12/29 Diegem BE (SUP) WVA-vdP
- 12/30 Loenhout BE (X20) WVA-vdP
- 1/1 Baal BE (X20)
- 1/2 Hulst NL (WC) WVA-vdP
January stays busy and each van der Poel and Pidcock are focusing on a go to to the Worlds in Fayetteville, Arkansas (USA), the place there shall be a not inconsiderable Podium Cafe contingent available, together with myself. So begin gearing up!
Geraint Thomas registered a career-best eighth place (he was beforehand tenth) on the 2014 Ronde van Vlaanderen. Thomas would go on to win the Tour de France in 2018.
Nonetheless! If you’d like a greater analogy, a rider who was already a Tour de France champion when he rolled as much as the Ronde van Vlaanderen and received a end result, you would need to go all the way in which again to… take a wild guess… Eddy Merckx, who gained de Ronde in 1975, whereas holding all 5 of his Tour de France titles.
Extra lately, 2014 Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali rolled up and took twenty fourth on the 2018 Ronde. Greg LeMond missed being the reply to this query by a year-plus, taking seventh in Flanders in 1985, simply earlier than his breakthrough 1986 season in France. Additionally Joop Zoetemelk was tenth in Flanders a 12 months earlier than his Tour win. Perhaps the most effective latest instance is 1990 Giro d’Italia winner Gianni Bugno exhibiting up and taking the Flanders victory in 1994. Or that will be a terrific instance if outcomes from the Nineties had any which means.