Velominati Super Prestige: 2011 Men’s Elite Worlds Road Race

Velominati Super Prestige: 2011 Men’s Elite Worlds Road Race

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A clatter of the metal grate rolling up signals another opening of the Velominati Bookmaker’s Office. The gaggle of skinny (and not so skinny, you know who you are) jabbering cycling addicts rush the door, each with their dream of a bumper sticker dancing in their heads. Before the office opened the bookies have consulted the oracle; a garbled audio of Sean Kelly’s predictions where he maybe tipped the little known Gullaume Van Keirsbulck, or did he say Phillip Gilbert. Bettini likes Cavendish’s chances while Cavendish likes Thor’s chances and Thor likes Keirsbulck’s chances or did he say Roelandts?

Since Geelong everyone has been saying this was a sprinters course, so a sprinter won’t win. It is only 266km with no serious grades and a total of 1785m of climbing. I could finish this course, if I could ride 266km and there was no time cut. For the professional road championship it does not sound long or grueling enough but the weather could be cold, windy and wet, if so the Spanish will suffer and the Italians will have to race with neck gaiters.

Looking back this year Cancellara should have won the 2010 world title so his less-than-spectacular season could be blamed on the curse of the rainbow jersey. Gilbert cannot have another season as good as this one so he better not win on Sunday or the jersey will be blamed in 2012. I started to feel bad for Thor when the yellow jersey came off his back and went to Voeckler during the Tour de France until I remembered he had the rainbow jersey underneath it! Who needs that trashy yellow one when you are already have the rainbow? I stopped feeling bad for Thor.

It’s late in the season, many have packed it in for the year, others have ridden the Vuelta to gain form. Are they good or cooked? Will the British team work together to bring Cav to the line or go down in flames like the Italians used to? The thought of Cavendish wearing the rainbow hoops for the next year has caused some anxiety in the office. His propensity for white tube socks with black shoes would diminish the aura the rainbow jersey brings to any worthy rider. The Aussi team looks unbeatable and yet…The bottom line on bookmaking is this will be another impossible race to pick the winner, unless you choose Gilbert.

Here is a link to the start list. As always, if you are inclined to enter, simply post your predictions for the top five placings in the form below. Make your picks by 5am Pacific Sunday morning, regular VSP Rules apply.

// General // Velominati Super Prestige

  1. Congrats to Cav. I mean, wow. Simply amazing.

    (I’m referring of course to the Peta Todd google image search I just did.)

  2. @Marko
    Pin-up might be more accurate…

  3. @Marcus

    @Godsight
    – Millar – born in fucking Malta and considers Hong Kong his home.

    Millar spent his formative (teenage years) in Hong Kong but was 20 or there abouts when HK was handed back to China. Like anyone else, with British parents, who grew up there during that era, he wouldn’t ever consider that qualified him to ride for Hong Kong.

  4. Other grapes:

    The top three all had a team at the front in the final couple of kms. And Cancellara finishes 4th, sprinting on the hoods, behind Greipel by a tread. My due respect.

  5. Regardless of the argument about whether Cav was a worthy winner (he was, in my opinion) I’m just worried abut the extent to which Cav might be a rainbow turd next year. His clothing choices are dubious: that skinsuit was awful. The top half of the GB jersey is ok but carrying the design down into the shorts is hideous.3/4 sleeves? the personalized socks? The silver shoes? the weird helmet cover (was it really that cold?) Did the skinsuit have rear pockets or did he expect teammates to carry gels etc? I know it’s a circuit race so he has regular access to hand-me-ups from support staff. Still, I guess he might feel faster in a skinsuit and in a race like the WCRR when he must have made an educated guess that it would come down to a sprint, every bit of help, be it physical or psychological, is worthwhile.

    Couple of other things: The Aussies must be kicking themselves for leaving out Renshaw – the man who knows Cav’s sprinting tactics better than everyone else. I think Cancellara and Griepel should have had joint bronze medals. Too close to call.

    If people think Cav’s winning record is boring, let’s remind ourselves whose pic heads this article: Freddy Maertens. In the 1977 Vuelta he won 13 stages!

  6. @wiscot
    This is where the Velominati schism starts, isn’t it? Ugly get-up to be sure, but if plastic on the helmet and skinsuit saved him in the neighborhood of 5 watts @ 45kph, that’s going to make a big difference by the end of the race.

    And, surely, even for the cynics: the fact that the GB train seemed to lose its way just a bit in the final stretch and Cav wasn’t delivered to the line makes this more impressive than if he’d been set up in perfect position. Incredible team ride, to be sure, but Cav had some real work to do in that sprint…

  7. @Steampunk

    Peta Todd seems pretty nice actually – I follow her on Twitter.

    She’s quite articulate, definitely not stupid and tweets quite well – sometimes quite funny. Tends to avoid the inane and mundane in jokes and crap that a lot of celebs, and others, put on Twitter.

    I’m assuming those are the main reasons Cav likes her.

  8. Thor is such a douche. Sorry folks but I can’t stand him. http://www.velonation.com/News/ID/9907/Thor-Hushovd-critical-of-Norwegian-teams-two-captains-policy.aspx

  9. @ChrisO
    If Twitter is anything to go by, they do seem like a cute couple. My response had more to do with Marko’s question about her profession…

  10. @Steampunk
    Steampunk, my point is that we all want to achieve the perfect balance of efficiency and aesthetics. While ugly, I don’t doubt for a second that the skinsuit and helmet may have helped Cav mentally and physically. If only he could fully reconcile the two!

    The GB team were amazing. They put huge pressure on themselves to get this result on a course they knew suited their plan and star rider. The WCRR often sees mixed loyalties, but in this case the team rode as one. If they adopt a similar strategy for the Olympic race, and advance word is that this is what they’re planning, things could be different as I guess there’s a real hill in that one. I wouldn’t bet against him though. Olympic medals mean a LOT in the UK. Two examples: Chris Hoy – knighted. Sebastian Coe – ennobled to the House of Lords. Cav is torn, I think, between his desire for a good Olympics ( I think he is still bitter that he was one of the few (the only?) British track rider to leave the 08 Olympics without a medal, and more Tour wins. The problem is, he gets one chance every four years at the former and in 2016 who knows what his sprinting prowess will be by them. On the other hand, he gets several chances every year at the tour.

  11. @wiscot
    I’ve not really seen what he was wearing, only from some low res you tube footage but I do think that the GB kit serves a purpose, it stands out from the bunch pretty well which must be fairly important for the team when they are trying to keep it together in the faster more fluid sections of a race. The Aussie kit seems to be the opposite, mainly with a few green and yellow stripes. A move to out and out skin suits might not be on the cards for stage racing or one day events but skin suit/race kit hybrids like the Castelli Speed Suit are bound to become commonplace (isn’t that what Frank is proposing for the V-Kit?). I would agree though that 3/4 length sleeves have no place on a bike!

    This had to be part of the plan for the Olympics, it’s what the whole Team GB thing is about at the moment. Even if it’s not Cav, which I can’t imagine it wouldn’t be, they’re honing the ability to place their best sprinter at the right place to go for medals. The Olympic course has got a hill but Cav has already won the test event on it although that race may have had fewer laps.

  12. @wiscot
    Good points, all. And I wasn’t disagreeing. On the positive side of the Olympics, I suspect Wiggo just showed that you can have your cake and eat it, too. A good Vuelta put him in terrific form for this past week.

  13. @wiscot

    Regardless of the argument about whether Cav was a worthy winner (he was, in my opinion) I’m just worried abut the extent to which Cav might be a Rainbow Turd next year.

    Agree 100%. To be fair, I found Cuddles to be a whiney second-rater until he pulled on the bands, and it transformed him into a very decisive and aggressive rider who is quite awesome. Maybe the same thing will happen to Cav.

  14. @scaler911

    This is the last thing I’ll say about Worlds this year:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksUhMa2eFTo
    That’s how you do rainbows.
    Nice job Cavendish. Meh.

    Great footage, the different camera angles are quite refreshing. Great to see a breakaway win but I’m not sure that it’s as entertaining as everyone arriving on the last straight for mass sprint if the chasing groups have spent too much time looking over their shoulders and covering each other for the first and second loser spots when mounting a coordinated attack might have given them the chance to go for the real prize.

  15. @frank
    Frank, from what I’ve read Cav is quite a student of the sport and wants to end his career with his name up there amongst the greats. Barring accidents, I think he’ll do this and I’m sure he’s well aware of the need to do the rainbow jersey proud.

    While much is spoken of his arrogant attitude (something I’ve never really understood as he 1) backs up words with wins, 2)always thanks his teammates profusely and 3) is/was still young when he started winning). Also, if he was a whiny bitch, I doubt the team would have buried themselves the way they did. He’s obviously patched things up with Wiggo (teammate next year?) If it wasn’t for these three factors then he would be an arrogant, whiny bitch. But he’s not.

  16. @Chris
    Chris,

    I’m sure Team GB have the same plan for the Olympic RR, but to be fair, even with the scheduling factor of a week between the end of the Tour and the Olympic RR, the field in the latter will be of a significantly higher caliber than the warm-up event. Like I said before, the Olympics are very special in the UK. Maybe not so much in the rest of the world. For example, ask Phil Gilbert if he’s rather win Flanders or the Olympics. Hushovd and Hincapie and Paris-Roubaix.

  17. @wiscot
    Good point about the quality of the field although the fact that other nations place less importance on the Olympics may be beneficial to Team GB. Either way, I’m looking forward to finding a spot on the route with the kids.

  18. @Oli

    Fuck, it would be nice to come on here and see some unadulterated celebration of what was a classy victory in the World Championships by a guy most of you wrote off, but instead (apart from a few knowledgeable Poms) there’s nothing but sour grapes and grudging acceptance.
    To me it just confirms that the actual substance of the racing is secondary here to the wanky made-up women’s magazine hero-worshipping. Have a read of the many, many rider comments praising Cav and the GB Team for what was a great win and perhaps you might realise that winning a race like this isn’t some sort of fluke.
    I’m sure Cavendish won’t be winning the Tour of Flanders anytime soon, but last I checked Milan-San Remo is still a Monument and I’m putting my money on the Rainbow Stripes crossing the line there in first place…I hope that meets your criteria for wearing the jersey with honour.

    Late to the party, and ready to kick up a dust storm. I for one have not heard a single person say Cav’s win was undeserved or that Team GB wan’t impressive, or that Cav didn’t do an incredible sprint from way back, showing amazing skill to navigate a tight bunch (safely) to take the win. Good on him; the course was decided by others, and he and his team used it to their advantage.

    Personally, I wanted Goss to win Sunday and Vos to win Saturday. The fact that they were beaten fairly by other riders who made less mistakes and rode better races does nothing to lessen the fact that I’m disappointed. Same goes for the bulk of the other races this year; and I love the sport all the more for the fact that it doesn’t give me what I want all the time – when my favorites win, its all the more exciting.

    On the larger point, to criticize (or, more accurately, to borderline insult) people for begrudgingly congratulating Cav on his win is to completely miss the point of this community. Fans, by definition, are emotional, otherwise they would be called analysts. To admire an athlete for their accomplishment is one thing. To become a fan of them means you on some level connect with them. If, for you, that means just their performance, then great. If, on the other hand, you only like riders who wear purple fuzzy polkadot trousers, then good on you for that. We connect with people for our own reasons, and none of those reasons are subject to judgement by anyone else.

    We take what we see, we color it with our emotion, and we come here to talk about it and spin theories. That is the beauty of fandom and the beauty of this site. I doubt there is anyone who is more proud of this community that I am, but come on: this is an online community for cycling fans. While there is a lot of great (and credible) insight going on here, quite frankly, if you are looking for unbiased analysis, you’re in the wrong place. You can go read CyclingNews or some other of the many excellent cycling sites around; don’t come looking for it here. Here we have opinions, we’re right, we’re wrong, we disagree and we have fun doing it; don’t try to turn this into something it’s not.

    @Oli

    Sorry Mouse, but I’ve started now…would you expect Contador to win bunch sprints? Thor to win HC mountain finishes? Greipel to win from a long solo break? Voeckler to win big time trials? Why should Cavendish be something other than what he is, especially when what he is is freakishly talented within his sphere?
    Pro road cycling encompasses all facets of the road, and that’s how it should be. One of the beautiful things about the Grand Tours is that they, at various points, showcase the different styles of rider, and it would be pretty boring if every stage was the same. The season is the same, with various races tailored to different strengths and abilities. Surely it’s only fair that some Worlds suit climbers, some breakaways and some suit sprinters?
    To view a race by wishing it was something else entirely misses the point – enjoy each race for what it is within its context and I believe you’ll end up with a much deeper enjoyment of the sport.

    Despite how far off your initial comment was, this observation is just completely spot on. Excellent stuff and a great point.

  19. @frank, @Oli

    +1 Not my cup of tea as a parcours, and Cav’s kit was an abomination before Merckx. Hope he looks better in the bands. Bring on Lombardia!

  20. @oli I never wrote Cav off. I just thought that there would be a final push from the breakaway heavy hitters and he would win the bunch sprint just bike lengths behind.

    Fun WC race, everyone, don’t you think?

  21. As a Canuck who was disappointed to see Barry on the ground after the crash (I was at Hamilton in 2003 when he finished 8th), I have to say that was an awesome race and an awesome display of teamwork and class by the GB team.

    Anyone who says anything else is just a sore loser. The course for Worlds changes every year and is suited to the grimpeurs and climbers more often than not. The sprinters should have their chance as well. 260k at 45kph is no walk in the fucking park, even if you are sitting on the wheel.

    The Vuelta this year was poorer in my opinion because there were not enough opportunities for the sprinters.

  22. @G’phant
    I plan to stay in the drops all the way to the line, with the likes of you and Marcus chasing me. Hopefully Ron isn’t lurking in the crowd with a frame pump.

  23. “The team all rode out of their skins today. It’s a shame they can’t wear the world champion’s jersey as well. I’ve won the jersey, but I just put the finishing touches to the mission.” Mark Cavendish

    Rather late to the party here, I’m afraid, but may I just say ‘jolly good show’ to the British Team, and especially to Mr. Cavendish. It looked a little dicy towards the end, but that man can certainly sprint.

  24. I don’t think there’s enough concern at the impact of Team GB’s skinsuit wearing. In the past year or so my regular weekend jaunt around the Surrey Hills has seen a massive increase in the incidence of Sky team jerseys. The last thing I need is for skin suits to become popular. Fat, middle aged men (I am one of these but it’s not fat) are bad enough in bibshorts and a jersey, but in a skin suit? Please. No. I think they should be banned in mass starts, like Spinaci.

  25. @Nof Landrien

    The last thing I need is for skin suits to become popular. Fat, middle aged men (I am one of these but it’s not fat)

    Do you mean you are merely BELLY BREATHING?

  26. @frank

    You can go read CyclingNews or some other of the many excellent cycling sites around; don’t come looking for it here. Here we have opinions, we’re right, we’re wrong, we disagree and we have fun doing it; don’t try to turn this into something it’s not.

    By the way, I don’t mean to in any way suggest we should NOT be informed…go to CyclingNews, go to The Inner Ring, go anywhere you can and soak up all the facts and information you can manage to sponge up.

    Then come here and spin wild theories.

  27. @frank
    It needed to be said.

  28. @Dr C
    Geez you clowns miss the point of a bit of fun don’t you?

    Rather than handing out a geo-political fanboy treatise, the ONLY response to me was to ask when Australians let Germans (Haussler – who actually was a kraut-registered rider but never rode for them).

    Look forward to Cav riding for the Isle against England et al at the next Commonwealth Games. Don’t u people find that odd?

    Fell off my chair when I read a cyclingnews article saying that Matt white said Goss’ silver justified Renshaws omission. Many years ago I learnt to disregard self-serving statements as evidence…

  29. @Dr C

    Anyway, yesterday was a masterpiece of team planning, and Cav paid credit to them all – this was 4 years in planning, ever since the parcours was announced and GB thought they had a chance (think of the pressure on Cavendish to nail that one!) – afterwards he talked little about himself, but mostly of the rest of the team (as few others do) – of the GB guys winning as many points as possible to maximise team strength, to Stannard and G for helping create a space for him – but Wiggins performance aside, this was a masterful piece of individual brilliance – he was rarely out of the front 20 for 266km, and was badly boxed in with 100m to go, yet still pounced – I really thought he had blown it – again, I was jumping up and down like an idiot on my sofa – anyone who does that to me gets my support!

    I have to say, watching Cav over the last day or so, has been impressive and makes me hopeful. I’m very, very impressed that he’s been planning this for so long, and that GB coordinated their efforts enough to make sure they had the points to get the team they needed to the race. That kind of planning and prep speaks to a maturation way beyond his dickish image. That, and he stopped giving those stupid victory salutes that were an insult to everyone with any sensibility, so it’s all headed in the right direction.

    As for your other question regarding Renshaw…if I was the coach there is no fucking way I’d put Renshaw on the team. The guy has been Cav’s lead out for so long, together with knowing the agreements that come into play between the trade team riders already and their special relationship, it presents a monstrous risk – one that I as a manager would never be willing to take depsite Renshaw going to another team next year. But yeah, if he’d been that loyal to Goss and led him out, we might have another rider in the bands.

    For my money, I like Goss a lot better that Cav and think his career would have gone through a cool transition had he won, but that’s the thing about the Worlds…it takes a special rider to win them, no matter the parcourse.

    @Oli
    You lost me, I’m really not sure what you’re referring to.

  30. @frank
    Interesting angle on the Renshaw omission…. Did Renshaw not lead out Goss when Cavendish wasn’t riding, which might have balanced that out? We’ll never know

    Why did Cuddles not ride?

  31. @frank
    Might be drawing a bit of a long bow to say that Aussie selectors were worried about Rickshaw somehow arranging for Cav to latch onto him instead of Goss (that would be a neat trick). However it would seem that somewhere somehow Renshaw has upset the Australian selectors. Cyclingtips did a whole pre-Worlds article on this omission – and a lot of people opined that GreenEdge and Cycling Australia are too close to one another – and the opposite applies to riders who aren’t GreenEdge… All mere speculation of course.

    @Dr c

    Why did Cuddles not ride?

    for the same reason he doesn’t win flat tour stages…

  32. I honestly think Renshaw would have led out Goss if he was put on the team, but I can see the risk and what is done is done.

    @frank I agree with you about Goss, I like him much more then Cav, mostly based on attitude but also because I seem to favor the men who blur the gap between puncheur and sprinter. Its one of those things I can’t explain. I’m not a fan of Cav, Ferrar, Pettachi, or any of the like.

    My favorite rider is by far Thor Hushovd. I think this years Tour de France gained him a lot of fans. He was a great world champion who could animate a race. Gilbert and Bossen Hagen would also make great world champions in my opinion. There is a style of ride that I see as what a world champion should be. Obviously Cavendish is a good rider, and a great sprinter. But he just isn’t all-round enough for me to like him.

  33. Steinlager is on sale at my local beer store. A case is $12.99 USD. Awesomeness. I didn’t remember it being this good! And they are really ampin’ up the Fresh Factor with their marketing.

    Nate, beware…there are a lot of lads chasing you who want that apron!

  34. @Oli
    I never meant to imply that Cav didn’t have a great race. He pulled it together at the end shot the gap and came home with the hoops. Good on him. I just don’t like the guy. Maybe this coming season he’ll grow on me, and wear the WC jersey with honor. Don’t take it personally.

  35. @frank

    @frank

    You can go read CyclingNews or some other of the many excellent cycling sites around; don’t come looking for it here. Here we have opinions, we’re right, we’re wrong, we disagree and we have fun doing it; don’t try to turn this into something it’s not.

    By the way, I don’t mean to in any way suggest we should NOT be informed…go to CyclingNews, go to The Inner Ring, go anywhere you can and soak up all the facts and information you can manage to sponge up.
    Then come here and spin wild theories.

    I think this should pretty much sum things up…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_xqLaj0tvM

  36. @Oli

    Sorry Mouse, but I’ve started now…would you expect Contador to win bunch sprints? Thor to win HC mountain finishes? Greipel to win from a long solo break? Voeckler to win big time trials? Why should Cavendish be something other than what he is, especially when what he is is freakishly talented within his sphere?
    Pro road cycling encompasses all facets of the road, and that’s how it should be. One of the beautiful things about the Grand Tours is that they, at various points, showcase the different styles of rider, and it would be pretty boring if every stage was the same. The season is the same, with various races tailored to different strengths and abilities. Surely it’s only fair that some Worlds suit climbers, some breakaways and some suit sprinters?
    To view a race by wishing it was something else entirely misses the point – enjoy each race for what it is within its context and I believe you’ll end up with a much deeper enjoyment of the sport.

    Great post Oli, thank you. I couldn’t agree more with your last sentence. Would I have preferred a course that more suited a puncheur or climber? Sure, but that doesn’t detract from the beauty of Sundays’ race. The last few k were incredible to watch and to re-watch and see how things develop and how amazing it was that Cav was able to work his way through the madness and win.

    I think (hope) wearing the stripes will help him to continue to grow and increase the level of maturity he’s started showing the last year or so.

    Of course he could go completely the opposite way and really piss some folks off… either way there will be plenty to talk about next year.

  37. I think this story nicely ties a few things together. Cav was signing shirts at a Crit in 2008, and in the queue was Freddy. When he reached the front and introduced himself, Cav’s response was “With a record like yours, you should be signing my shirt.”
    And so, when he beat Oscar Freire in the sprint for second place (Carlos Sastre having mysteriously broken away to win), this is what Cav’s shirt looked like.
    http://www.sport.be/nl/wielrennen/fotospecial/index.html?fotospecial_id=4357&foto_order=9&language_id=1

    For the record, I am australian and I like cav, thanks to all for the entertainment

  38. @Ron
    In that case I’ll have to deploy the Belgian aerobars and put it in the 11.

  39. @tommeesee
    That’s pretty cool, Cavendish grows and grows in my estimation. Thanks for sharing tommeesee.

  40. @tommeesee
    Wow, that does wrap up this whole squalid affair rather nicely. Very well played. Sprinter appreciate sprinters. Thanks for the love.

  41. @tommeesee
    Great story, thanks!

  42. @tommeesee
    +1 – that is seriously cool

    +1 @Cav too

  43. @tommeesee
    That’s class. Seems to me he has the potential to not just become one of the greats but also to become more than just a great rider.

  44. From today’s Guardian re the GB team kit. Interesting stuff.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2011/sep/26/mark-cavendish-london-2012-olympics

  45. @wiscot

    From today’s Guardian re the GB team kit. Interesting stuff.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2011/sep/26/mark-cavendish-london-2012-olympics

    Back in 1997 my team and I started a 42° road race wearing skin suits and were berated for it by other riders. That all ended when 5 of 7 of us made the break and subsequently took 1,2,3,6,7 in the race.

    Did I mention that everyone else in the race dropped out.

  46. To echo a comment on this article; if Dave Brailsford and Rod Ellingworth were planning to send a cyclist to the moon, I’d buy a telescope…

    http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/latest/345515/project-rainbow-jersey.html

  47. For all of those lamenting the flat course this year, next year’s 265km course in the hilly Limburg region shoudl make up for it.

    Sounds like an awesome course where Phil-Gil, if he holds form for the next year, will be the overwhelming favorite.

  48. @BuckRogers it’s basically the Amstel Gold course isn’t it, which Gilbert has won for the last two years, so that will be a good form guide.

    Could be one for Sagan as well.

  49. In case you didn’t see it, an interesting piece on Cavendish:

    http://www.velonation.com/Blogs/Ben-Greenwood/ID/186/Cav-the-Enigma.aspx

  50. Are Freddy Maertens and Gino Bartali related by any chance?

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