Fabs and Vanmarke make the split on the Kwaremont. Photo: Alexandre Voisine

Balance

Balance

by / / 78 posts

I had always imagined that de Ronde van Vlaanderen must be hardest race in the world. The way I worked it out – having never ridden the course of either event at the time – was that de Ronde had the same cobbles as Roubaix, but with 20% grades thrown in. It makes enough sense so long as you don’t know what you’re talking about, but what you quickly discover once you have ridden them both is just how bad the cobbles of Roubaix are: the worst kasseien in Belgium are about as rough as the best pavé in France.

Both routes are so hard you need to experience them in order to appreciate their difficulty; words are hopelessly inadequate in describing the separation the rider feels from their bicycle while simultaneously feeling more connected to it than at any other time. It is through breaking down the illusion of control that the Cyclist is finally allowed to truly bond with their machine.

The element that makes Vlaanderen a slightly easier race is the most counter-intuitive: the bergs. On most routes, the hills are what separate the wheat from the chafe. Yet because of the brutality of the cobbles, they allow a rider to hide. The secret to riding cobblestones is speed; the faster you go, the better the bike is able to skim over the top with the effect of smoothing them out. This requires big, big power to sustain over the distance of a secteur of cobbles, let alone over the whole of a race. But the bergs neutralize the speed somewhat; how fast can anyone go up a 20% grade – on cobbles, no less? The answer is none fast, so the gaps between the strong and the weak are reduced somewhat until the final decisive moments when the pressure is so great that every chink in the rider’s armor is ruthlessly exposed.

To ride the cobbles is to dance with paradox: ride full gas while keeping something in reserve for the crucial moment  – not when the odds are stacked in your favor, but the you are at the smallest disadvantage. During Sunday’s Ronde, we saw a Cancellara who was not at his best; he won both his previous two Ronde by being so superior that he could drop his adversaries on the last of the steep grades. This year, he made his move on the one section of the finale where his power was a definite advantage, despite his relative weakness on the day; he attacked not on one of the two steepest parts of the Kwaremont, but on the cobbled false flat between the two where speed could make a real difference. He then hung onto Vanmarke over the steep Paterberg before being dragged patiently to the sprint finish to take his third Ronde. 

Cancellara is learning tactics as his strength steadily wanes; before last few year, there was no need for such subtlety. Now he is patient; he is calm. He knows both his strength and weakness, and doesn’t let the antics of the race affect his action. It reminds me of Neruda:

I like you calm, act as if you were absent, and you hear me far-off, and my voice does not touch you.

– Pablo Neruda

// Awesome Swiss Guys // Belgian Affirmations // Racing // The Hardmen

  1. @unversio

    Suppose cobbles bring the Quickening, Highlander, and “there can be only one” all in one shot.

    Those cobbles are mudcaked. They are actually the easiest to ride, almost like bad tarmac, those are.

    2012 when we rode them, it was brutal because it was dry with spells of rain washing out the sand between the stones. In 2013, it had stormed more and the mud from the fields had washed into the gaps and made them reasonably easy.

    Again, the cobbles are a paradox. Not enough rain, they are hard. Too much rain, they are hard. You need just the right combination to make them treacherous.

  2. @PeakInTwoYears

    You just referenced Neruda in the contexts of de Ronde van Vlaanderen and your lust for for Cancellara in a way that nearly made poetic sense. Chapeau.

    NEARLY? NEARLY? I had a Nerudon with a touch of giardia while I was writing all that. It was totally intentional.

    @wilburrox

    The more experience I get the more I’m impressed and amazed at what the racers in pro ranks accomplish. 6+ hours of hammering it and still, to play the chess match at the end like they did? Has to be pure instinct kicking in and built on so much experience. Amazing. Can’t wait for Sunday. Big screen and High Def. Oh yea.

    Exactly. That’s why Vanmarke fucked up and that’s why the classics are so often won by vets. You just can’t make any mistakes and mistakes are so easy to make when you’re in oxygen detox.

    Easy to read the race from my bed at 6am with an espresso. Not so much from the road.

  3. @The Grande Fondue

    @DCR

    I disagree. I felt like he put in lots of the work towards the end catching Van Avermat and wasn’t “towed” to the finish. He was arguing with Vanmarke to take the lead for a good amount after the climb. I may have missed more detail in my excitement though.

    What exactly are you disagreeing with?

    Cancellara may have done some work to win, but it always[1] takes work to win Flanders. The difference this time is that no one is accusing him of having a motor in his bike – and that’s a pretty big difference.

    [1] 2011 excepted.

    Oh, he did tons of work to get make the selection, but then he was almost dropped on the Paterberg where he drag-raced Sagan last year. He was off his best – in the past he used his power on the hardest parts – this year he used his power on the one spot where it would make the biggest difference. It was brilliant. And then he waited for the sprint and took the initiative. Opportunistic when necessary, aggressive when beneficial, and patient when crucial. It was a perfect race for him.

  4. @Haldy

    Do you think he really he was “relatively weak” ? I feel he has been conserving his strength, and not burning as many matches as years previously. Now..this weekend, we may, just may behold the full power as he becomes the only person to do the double..3 times?

    He never used to need to conserve strength. For him, he was weak.

    @Pedale.Forchetta

    I hope you would reconsider the use of selective color to the photos.

    What? Who? Yes, modified photo to your suggestions. Sorry, Alex!

  5. @frank

    Cancellara’s weak days are equivalent to others good days?  I believe it!

  6. @Mikael Liddy

    @frank

    A quote from Phinney today that contradicts my theory

    At Roubaix it seems like it’s a bit easier to be at the front when you need to be, although maybe that’s just me because I’m not thinking about a climb coming up,” he said. “I find it’s easier to fight before a flat cobbled section and expend energy that way, rather than think about going into the Kwaremont or Paterberg or something like that.

    We’ll have to see how he fairs on Sunday! He rode a pretty great Ronde.

    It was interesting listening to Backstedt commentating on Sunday, he mentioned his prep for Roubaix was always to use de Ronde as a final training ride where you go as hard as you can for as long as possible & then just look after yourself during the week. What better way to go hard than spend ~200k driving the break?

    I finally found some recordable racing on BeIN channel (?!) free. It was using the Magnus feed. The BeIN woman kept calling him Magnus Baxter, ffs. I thought his commentating was excellent, he knows his tactics. I’m praying BeIN has P-R covered too so I don’t have to listen to Ligget. Not that I mind him but, but, but, he is losing his edge.

  7. @Gianni yeah unfortunately SBS is already promoting this weekend as being covered by PnP (think it’s to do with the fact that PR is put on by ASO) so we Aussies are going to have to deal with their bumbling rubbish.

  8. @Mikael Liddy  not if you have Foxtel! Worth every cent not to have to listen to Phil and Paul. Plus you get a few more hours of awesomness, coverage starts before SBS generally. This week I have Tour of the Basque Country to wake up to every morn! Bertie slaughtered them on stage 1.

  9. @Mikael Liddy

    @Gianni yeah unfortunately SBS is already promoting this weekend as being covered by PnP (think it’s to do with the fact that PR is put on by ASO) so we Aussies are going to have to deal with their bumbling rubbish

    Agree, the live feed on the ‘puter was excellent and was refreshing to hear the commentary fom Marcus, as opposed to the guys from the Muppet show in the balcony.  They have lost their edge.

    SBS really need to look at a succession plan ala Matt Keenan doing more of the race instead of pre amble  along with Scott McGrory.

    I reckon though even with the sound turned off it will still be a cracker ride!!

    There’s murmers of next years Fleurieu Cogal having a course not dissimilar to the RGR to add a bit of flare.  Temperature exemption included.   Willunga has a cobbled path about 5 meters long, that should do it !

  10. Pave Maria

    http://superissimo.tumblr.com/post/82110615188/always-be-praying-for-mud-and-haute-spectating-and

    Must be Baby Merckx (…or is it Baby de Vlaeminck?) bathed in the glow of the sacred stone.

  11. @frank Okay..I’ll give you that I suppose, but I’ll take that kind of “weak” anyday! As an…aging racer myself, I know I have to be more careful with the matches I burn whilst racing against the youngins at the track on Friday nights and I think that Spartacus has nurtured his form to give us a spectacle at Roubaix.

  12. @therealpeel Photos are not for the sake of cycling, but for the sake of photography itself.

    Selective color is bad as would be bad cycling wearing long compression socks, then everyone is free to do and like what he want.

  13. @Pedale.Forchetta

    @therealpeel Photos are not for the sake of cycling, but for the sake of photography itself.

    Selective color is bad as would be bad cycling wearing long compression socks, then everyone is free to do and like what he want.

    The photography Keeper has spoken.

  14. @Marko

    @Pedale.Forchetta

    @therealpeel Photos are not for the sake of cycling, but for the sake of photography itself.

    Selective color is bad as would be bad cycling wearing long compression socks, then everyone is free to do and like what he want.

    The photography Keeper has spoken.

    Given his amazing photos, I would heed any and all advice given!

  15. “To ride the cobbles is to dance with paradox. . .”

    This is the sirens call. Even though I live for #9 days. Even though I revel in long climbs and fast descents. Even though everyone who has experienced cobbles say nothing can truly prepare you for them, I find myself inexorably drawn to them – to be dashed to pieces upon their rocky surface.

  16. @Haldy

    @frank Okay..I’ll give you that I suppose, but I’ll take that kind of “weak” anyday! As an…aging racer myself, I know I have to be more careful with the matches I burn whilst racing against the youngins at the track on Friday nights and I think that Spartacus has nurtured his form to give us a spectacle at Roubaix.

    I would kill for Fab’s artillery even when he’s hung over in the dead of winter the day after New Years. Weakness is relative.

    @Pedale.Forchetta

    @therealpeel Photos are not for the sake of cycling, but for the sake of photography itself.

    Selective color is bad as would be bad cycling wearing long compression socks, then everyone is free to do and like what he want.

    Alright already! I changed it! No need to go flinging shit around. Compression socks! Its only the morning here for the Love of Merckx!

  17. @Marko

    @Pedale.Forchetta

    @therealpeel Photos are not for the sake of cycling, but for the sake of photography itself.

    Selective color is bad as would be bad cycling wearing long compression socks, then everyone is free to do and like what he want.

    The photography Keeper has spoken.

    Indeed. It is well said. Consider me corrected.

  18. @Marko

    @Pedale.Forchetta

    @therealpeel Photos are not for the sake of cycling, but for the sake of photography itself.

    Selective color is bad as would be bad cycling wearing long compression socks, then everyone is free to do and like what he want.

    The photography Keeper has spoken.

    Indeed! I work in the arts and believe me, Pedale’s work is right up there with the best. In fact it’s better than 99% because it captures the spirit and not just the body.

  19. @Pedale.Forchetta

    @therealpeel Photos are not for the sake of cycling, but for the sake of photography itself.

    Selective color is bad as would be bad cycling wearing long compression socks, then everyone is free to do and like what he want.

    Here endeth the lesson.  A-Fuckin-Merckx!

    Love your work Pedale!

  20. @Pedale.Forchetta Absolutely. If you want to dabble in photo molestation, keep it to Instagram.

  21. Sweet dreams!

  22. @Pedale.Forchetta

    @therealpeel Photos are not for the sake of cycling, but for the sake of photography itself.

    While in no way disagreeing with the keeper of photography, it may be worth noting that cycling is unique in it’s photogenicy (I don’t care if that’s not a word, I like it) So it isn’t too much of a push to say… all photography is for the sake of cycling. OK getting a bit carried away, but I am still thinking how I would argue this. I have posted some of them before, but look up Robert Capa’s images on the Magnum site.

  23. For the talk of a weak Spartacus, I think this article tells a great story – at least regarding preparation I haven’t heard until now.

    It seems Fabs has been doing interval sprint training just for such an occasion.  Whether you call it 1) getting tired of 2nd too many times, 2) ‘weaker’ (aka older), 3) everyone else catching up via better training over the last few years (Sky’s incremental gains), 4) fans bitching about him sprinting form the hoods, 5) tired of hearing he was a 1 trick pony (a trick I’d take any day of my life), etc. – what matters is that he/team noticed he had a weakness and they decided to attack it head on and get real results.  I’d say mission accomplished.

    I watched from the Kruisberg Sunday for my first Ronde in person and LOVED IT (it will not be my last).  As they fought up the berg, the faces were pain and effort.  The V.  Once the ambulances rode by, everyone hurried up to the top to watch on the screen.  There was an excited mumur and collective gasp when Faboo called upon fired the guns on the Kwaremont.  The moment everyone knew was coming, but the Belgian secretly feared.  As he and Sep closed the gap, the tension and excitement was growing.  Some doofus in front of me dared raise an umbrella when sprinkles began to fall and I thought the crowd around me was going to rip his head off for blocking the jumbotron.  Thankfully that incident didn’t repeat!

    As they came down the drag, everyone was cheering, but when Spartacus prevailed, I think I was the only one on that corner still cheering as he crossed the line.  Sorry for the Belgians, indeed.

  24. @Optimiste

    “To ride the cobbles is to dance with paradox. . .”

    This is the sirens call. Even though I live for #9 days. Even though I revel in long climbs and fast descents. Even though everyone who has experienced cobbles say nothing can truly prepare you for them, I find myself inexorably drawn to them – to be dashed to pieces upon their rocky surface.

    AMerckx.

  25. The need for balance might not be as great for next Sunday. It looks like a dry one. Good for them, bad for everyone else.

  26. @Tartan1749

    For the talk of a weak Spartacus, I think this article tells a great story – at least regarding preparation I haven’t heard until now.

    It seems Fabs has been doing interval sprint training just for such an occasion. Whether you call it 1) getting tired of 2nd too many times, 2) ‘weaker’ (aka older), 3) everyone else catching up via better training over the last few years (Sky’s incremental gains), 4) fans bitching about him sprinting form the hoods, 5) tired of hearing he was a 1 trick pony (a trick I’d take any day of my life), etc. – what matters is that he/team noticed he had a weakness and they decided to attack it head on and get real results. I’d say mission accomplished.

    Agreed.  I would seriously hesitate to call Cancellara weak this season. Is he the same rider as years’s past? No, and I’m sure he recognizes that. But, what makes him doubly dangerous, in my opinion, is his clear ability to adapt. He’s clearly improved his sprinting capabilities, and I still think he can crush most of the peloton. He has had some monster rides already this year.

  27. @G’rilla

    Faboo meets Sven Nys for the first time: http://www.cxmagazine.com/spartacus-cannibal-sven-nys-fabian-cancellara-paris-roubaix-cobbles?utm_content=bufferbeea3&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    When and how did Nys get the nickname The Cannibal? That seems a bit blasphemous, no?

  28. @KW  yeah – Fabian was clearly as strong as Sagan and everyone else, if not stronger, in E3 – he was just caught up behind a crash.  The way he was powering back was so, so impressive as it was like everyone else was pedaling in slow motion.

  29. @KW

    @Tartan1749

    For the talk of a weak Spartacus, I think this article tells a great story – at least regarding preparation I haven’t heard until now.

    It seems Fabs has been doing interval sprint training just for such an occasion. Whether you call it 1) getting tired of 2nd too many times, 2) ‘weaker’ (aka older), 3) everyone else catching up via better training over the last few years (Sky’s incremental gains), 4) fans bitching about him sprinting form the hoods, 5) tired of hearing he was a 1 trick pony (a trick I’d take any day of my life), etc. – what matters is that he/team noticed he had a weakness and they decided to attack it head on and get real results. I’d say mission accomplished.

    Agreed. I would seriously hesitate to call Cancellara weak this season. Is he the same rider as years’s past? No, and I’m sure he recognizes that. But, what makes him doubly dangerous, in my opinion, is his clear ability to adapt. He’s clearly improved his sprinting capabilities, and I still think he can crush most of the peloton. He has had some monster rides already this year.

    Agreed. Faboo is getting older and realizes it. His TT is not as dominant as it once was. He’ll never be sprinter in the Cav, Kittel mode. So he’s smart – he works on his weaknesses. This is why he will go down as an all-time great and the Schlecks (despite abundant talent) won’t.

    I can’t wait for PR. Faboo is obviously on form. Tommeke needs a big win this year and PR is it. I wouldn’t dismiss Taylor Phinney either. He has form and form for this race and isn’t such a newbie that he’ll be intimidated by the older guys.

    Here’s hoping the fans behave on Sunday. I’d hate for a contender (or any rider for that matter) to be taken out by a drunken asshole. BTW, Has anyone heard how the lady in the Vansummeren crash is doing?

  30. @Tartan1749

    It seems Fabs has been doing interval sprint training just for such an occasion. 

    That, right there, is what separates a rider like Spartacus from a rider like Schleck.

    @KW

    @G’rilla

    Faboo meets Sven Nys for the first time: http://www.cxmagazine.com/spartacus-cannibal-sven-nys-fabian-cancellara-paris-roubaix-cobbles?utm_content=bufferbeea3&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    When and how did Nys get the nickname The Cannibal? That seems a bit blasphemous, no?

    He’s the Cannibal van Baal – not just a universal Cannibal. But yes, I feel its a bit blasphemous, just goes to show that CX is a sport of savages.

  31. @frank

    He’s the Cannibal van Baal – not just a universal Cannibal. But yes, I feel its a bit blasphemous, just goes to show that CX is a sport of savages.

    Nys is a great CX racer, obviously. But that just sounds rather unoriginal (I know, he probably didn’t coin it himself).

    Just seems to me that if you are a cyclist, regardless or discipline, there are a few nicknames that are off limits: Cannibal, Badger, Professor, just to name a few–there are plenty of others.

  32. @TBONE

    Sweet dreams!

    Pfft.  A pillow and a blankie?  What a wuss.

  33. @The Oracle

    @TBONE

    Sweet dreams!

    Pfft. A pillow and a blankie? What a wuss.

    Never mind the pillow and blankie, what about the wee cuddly toy next to his head FFS? A real man would have a block of concrete for a pillow and a fine roll of turf as a blanket.

  34. @wiscot X-actly. 

    Speaking of tough conditions, are you riding in the 23 mph wind this afternoon?  Sounds a tad brutal, until you realize that it’s also 60 degrees and sunny!

  35. @The Oracle

    @TBONE

    Sweet dreams!

    Pfft. A pillow and a blankie? What a wuss.

    There’s gravel in the pillow and wire wool on the skin side of the duvet.

  36. @wiscot

    @KW

    @Tartan1749

    For the talk of a weak Spartacus, I think this article tells a great story – at least regarding preparation I haven’t heard until now.

    It seems Fabs has been doing interval sprint training just for such an occasion. Whether you call it 1) getting tired of 2nd too many times, 2) ‘weaker’ (aka older), 3) everyone else catching up via better training over the last few years (Sky’s incremental gains), 4) fans bitching about him sprinting form the hoods, 5) tired of hearing he was a 1 trick pony (a trick I’d take any day of my life), etc. – what matters is that he/team noticed he had a weakness and they decided to attack it head on and get real results. I’d say mission accomplished.

    Agreed. I would seriously hesitate to call Cancellara weak this season. Is he the same rider as years’s past? No, and I’m sure he recognizes that. But, what makes him doubly dangerous, in my opinion, is his clear ability to adapt. He’s clearly improved his sprinting capabilities, and I still think he can crush most of the peloton. He has had some monster rides already this year.

    Agreed. Faboo is getting older and realizes it. His TT is not as dominant as it once was. He’ll never be sprinter in the Cav, Kittel mode. So he’s smart – he works on his weaknesses. This is why he will go down as an all-time great and the Schlecks (despite abundant talent) won’t.

    I can’t wait for PR. Faboo is obviously on form. Tommeke needs a big win this year and PR is it. I wouldn’t dismiss Taylor Phinney either. He has form and form for this race and isn’t such a newbie that he’ll be intimidated by the older guys.

    Here’s hoping the fans behave on Sunday. I’d hate for a contender (or any rider for that matter) to be taken out by a drunken asshole. BTW, Has anyone heard how the lady in the Vansummeren crash is doing?

    http://www.gva.be/sport/wielrennen/aid1566582/man-van-zwaargewonde-toeschouwster-65-win-nu-voor-marie-claire.aspx

    she is in a coma – her husband has told Vansummeren to win the race for her…

  37. @frank

    @PeakInTwoYears

    You just referenced Neruda in the contexts of de Ronde van Vlaanderen and your lust for for Cancellara in a way that nearly made poetic sense. Chapeau.

    NEARLY? NEARLY? I had a Nerudon with a touch of giardia while I was writing all that. It was totally intentional.

    @wilburrox

    The more experience I get the more I’m impressed and amazed at what the racers in pro ranks accomplish. 6+ hours of hammering it and still, to play the chess match at the end like they did? Has to be pure instinct kicking in and built on so much experience. Amazing. Can’t wait for Sunday. Big screen and High Def. Oh yea.

    Exactly. That’s why Vanmarke fucked up and that’s why the classics are so often won by vets. You just can’t make any mistakes and mistakes are so easy to make when you’re in oxygen detox.

    Easy to read the race from my bed at 6am with an espresso. Not so much from the road.

    Big Maggie’s other great call on RVV was when GvA and SvdB got a gap in the last 10km, and t Fab just sat up and looked at Sep. Backstedt said something like “Cancellara won’t chase because he isn’t desperate for the win”. So true. I just hope that Sep has watched the replay by now and learnt from it, because I’m picking him for P-R.

  38. Thanks for the encouragement guys.

    By the way the Giro is almost here…

  39. @Pedale.Forchetta

    Thanks for the encouragement guys.

    By the way the Giro is almost here…

    As per your flickr page, great shots, they tell so many stories.

    What camera/lense combo are you using ?

  40. @The Oracle

    @wiscot X-actly.

    Speaking of tough conditions, are you riding in the 23 mph wind this afternoon? Sounds a tad brutal, until you realize that it’s also 60 degrees and sunny!

    I certainly did – my standard 50kms look around New Fane and Kewaskum. Roads seem to have held up ok over the winter. Headwind home was a bastard though. Got home and figured out what the issue was with the new cable on my rear Sram Force derailleur – I didn’t route it around the wee router-thingy. Big sign of relief that I hadn’t buggered everything up.

  41. @dissolved

    @wiscot

    @KW

    @Tartan1749

    For the talk of a weak Spartacus, I think this article tells a great story – at least regarding preparation I haven’t heard until now.

    It seems Fabs has been doing interval sprint training just for such an occasion. Whether you call it 1) getting tired of 2nd too many times, 2) ‘weaker’ (aka older), 3) everyone else catching up via better training over the last few years (Sky’s incremental gains), 4) fans bitching about him sprinting form the hoods, 5) tired of hearing he was a 1 trick pony (a trick I’d take any day of my life), etc. – what matters is that he/team noticed he had a weakness and they decided to attack it head on and get real results. I’d say mission accomplished.

    Agreed. I would seriously hesitate to call Cancellara weak this season. Is he the same rider as years’s past? No, and I’m sure he recognizes that. But, what makes him doubly dangerous, in my opinion, is his clear ability to adapt. He’s clearly improved his sprinting capabilities, and I still think he can crush most of the peloton. He has had some monster rides already this year.

    Agreed. Faboo is getting older and realizes it. His TT is not as dominant as it once was. He’ll never be sprinter in the Cav, Kittel mode. So he’s smart – he works on his weaknesses. This is why he will go down as an all-time great and the Schlecks (despite abundant talent) won’t.

    I can’t wait for PR. Faboo is obviously on form. Tommeke needs a big win this year and PR is it. I wouldn’t dismiss Taylor Phinney either. He has form and form for this race and isn’t such a newbie that he’ll be intimidated by the older guys.

    Here’s hoping the fans behave on Sunday. I’d hate for a contender (or any rider for that matter) to be taken out by a drunken asshole. BTW, Has anyone heard how the lady in the Vansummeren crash is doing?

    http://www.gva.be/sport/wielrennen/aid1566582/man-van-zwaargewonde-toeschouwster-65-win-nu-voor-marie-claire.aspx

    she is in a coma – her husband has told Vansummeren to win the race for her…

    That really is too sad. It doesn’t sound good either. That’ll make for a seriously motivated Vansummeren on Sunday though. Imagine the emotions if he wins . . . .

  42. @wiscot I did a quick 30km last night.  I started southbound, so I was in the wind  (and gradually uphill) for the first part of the ride before turning east and eventually north again.  I was about six minutes behind my target pace on the southbound leg, and almost made that up again heading north!  http://www.strava.com/activities/128661364  No matter what, it was great to be out in just bibs and a jersey–After the winter we had, it’s going to take some time to get used to the feeling of wearing so little.

    Good to hear you’ve gotten your mechanicals sorted.  Reminds me that it has been a while for a thorough maintenance check for me as well.  The bike is pretty well covered with early-season grime.

  43. @The Oracle

    @wiscot I did a quick 30km last night. I started southbound, so I was in the wind (and gradually uphill) for the first part of the ride before turning east and eventually north again. I was about six minutes behind my target pace on the southbound leg, and almost made that up again heading north! http://www.strava.com/activities/128661364 No matter what, it was great to be out in just bibs and a jersey-After the winter we had, it’s going to take some time to get used to the feeling of wearing so little.

    Good to hear you’ve gotten your mechanicals sorted. Reminds me that it has been a while for a thorough maintenance check for me as well. The bike is pretty well covered with early-season grime.

    Yeah, first ride sans shoe covers, cap and long-fingered gloves. Felt so good and light. It was a damn long winter . . .

  44. I’m intrigued by the development of Cancellara as a tactician. Why did he graduate from Mapei into the racer he is, while say Pozzato has become the Potato? I know it is extremely hard to race the top level, but what separates the winners from the really good. Is it mental confidence, is it training?

    Nice one, Frank!

    Also, that photo of Sep it amazing. I’m laughing aloud at it right now. I like that dude. He seems honest, earnest, and humble.

  45. @frank

    @Tartan1749

    It seems Fabs has been doing interval sprint training just for such an occasion.

    That, right there, is what separates a rider like Spartacus from a rider like Schleck.

    @KW

    @G’rilla

    Faboo meets Sven Nys for the first time: http://www.cxmagazine.com/spartacus-cannibal-sven-nys-fabian-cancellara-paris-roubaix-cobbles?utm_content=bufferbeea3&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    When and how did Nys get the nickname The Cannibal? That seems a bit blasphemous, no?

    He’s the Cannibal van Baal – not just a universal Cannibal. But yes, I feel its a bit blasphemous, just goes to show that CX is a sport of savages.

    Universal Cannibals are omnivorous and Cannibals van Baal only eat fellow Benelux racers?

  46. Wow, that photo of Johan and Marie-Claire is absolutely wrenching.

    He’s clearly in a world of pain, his shoes are off, her shoes are off, he hit her head-on at a serious pace, his bike is on top of her. I don’t even know what to think.

    I hope both of them are able to make a full recovery.

  47. @Ron

    I’m intrigued by the development of Cancellara as a tactician. Why did he graduate from Mapei into the racer he is, while say Pozzato has become the Potato? I know it is extremely hard to race the top level, but what separates the winners from the really good. Is it mental confidence, is it training?

    Nice one, Frank!

    Also, that photo of Sep it amazing. I’m laughing aloud at it right now. I like that dude. He seems honest, earnest, and humble.

    I really think it has to do with attitude, and, dare I say it, intelligence. Cancellara has talent and brains. Pozzato has talent. That will only get you so far. It’s what truly separates the champs from the runners-up. I read a story about Cancellara getting a really expensive car to test drive after a big win. He drove it and returned it – it just wasn’t him and he didn’t need it. I think Pozzato would have taken the car.

    Look at every champ and you’ll find a drive, a passion and smarts. The really smart ones can also adapt to changing circumstances. In a year or two I see Cav going much more for classics as his sprint fades. He won’t do LBL, but Flanders, Roubaix could be targets.  Look at Boonen. The killer srpint is no longer there but he adapted. Some, like Hinault, know when to quit to preserve their pride.

    Cycling is merciless in exposing weakness, it’s not like a team sport where you’re all on the same field when the whistle blows; in cycling you’re 10 minutes behind the winner.

  48. @Ron

    I’m intrigued by the development of Cancellara as a tactician. Why did he graduate from Mapei into the racer he is, while say Pozzato has become the Potato? I know it is extremely hard to race the top level, but what separates the winners from the really good. Is it mental confidence, is it training?

    Its got to be a combination of elements. Talent, drive, discipline (training and mental).

    Also, that photo of Sep it amazing. I’m laughing aloud at it right now. I like that dude. He seems honest, earnest, and humble.

    I love seeing Pros who appear to still love their bikes. Also that shot of Kittel bringing his bike flowers after he millarcopter’d it.

    I’m liking Sep too; I hope he gets his big win some day soon.

  49. Yesterday, while I was at work, my cousin stole my iphone and tested to see if it can survive a 30
    foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now destroyed
    and she has 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!

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