Yes, I know, I have a major thing for Boonen. But come on, wouldn’t you? Look at those guns. Look at that position on the bike. He even makes that ugly Specialized helmet look good. He even makes that ugly Specialized Roubaix look good, come to think of it. And those White Ladies? Kill me now.
Picking the V-Moment of the year is always a tough one, especially in a year when there were so many great moments. In fact, that I’m glad I didn’t get saddled with The Anti-V Moment of the Year Award because it won’t be easy to pick out a loser for that one.
Some of the greatest instants of the season were Johan Vansummeren continuing on after he went through the meat grinder at the Tour. Or Hesjedal hanging tough on the Stelvio to stay close enough to J-Rod to take the win for the first Canuckian Grand Tour at the Giro. Faboo gritting his teeth to finish the Olympic ITT in tears despite a moronic but devastating crash in the Road Race. Gilbert coming back to take a decisive win in the Worlds Road Race after a disastrous season.
Maybe its my man-crush on Boonen, maybe its the fact that we were at the roadside for both events, but two moments stand out as what must have been two of the hardest moments in racing – with the most at stake. One was Boonen riding the Paterberg at the back of the three-man breakaway with Ballan and Potato during the Ronde van Vlaanderen; his gears were jammed and he couldn’t get into his lowest gear on that brutally steep climb. As the group got to the top, Boonen was overgeared and losing ground. Standing in a Flemish field not more than 1000 meteres (as the crow flies) from the Paterberg, I could almost hear his bike cry out in agony as he scraped the bottom of The V-Barrel to hold onto the back of the group.
But that’s not the V-Moment of the year because, in the end, there was only something to be gained by holding on – he had nothing to lose. If he got unhitched from the group, he would have called it training for Roubaix, and gone home feeling good about his chances in the Queen of the Classics.
The V-Moment of the year was instead a moment that wasn’t captured on camera; it was a solitary moment that echoed inside only one man’s heart. It was a moment that must have fluttered through his mind as he came off the secteur of cobbles about 55k from Roubaix, looked around, and noticed that no one was with him. At that moment, he had everything to lose. A wiser man would have sat up and waited for the group, knowing he could conserve his energy and pick his moment later, when the risks were more manageable.
But The V isn’t about sensibility. The V isn’t about planning. The V isn’t about calculation. The V is about making your own luck. The V is about bending the odds to your vvill. The V is about making the race beg you to relent. The 2012 V Moment of the Year was the moment Boonen decided to carry on to Roubaix, alone.