We’ve all watched bike races, that’s a given, but how many of us actually listen to a bike race? It’s at this time every year that I’m reminded of something;
The Ardennes Classics sound different.
How does a bike race sound exactly? In the case of L-B-L, it’s the low buzz of the TV helicopter that is ingrained in my psyche. The subliminal hum of the rotors, droning away, overlaid with the monologue of Phil and Paul (or some Dutch or Spanish guy), also droning away, is a trance-inducing concoction not even the likes of Ken Kesey ever experienced.
Be warned, if you’re a Vietnam Veteran watching (and listening to) this clip of Argentin taking his fourth Doyenne may lead to flashbacks.
While the cobbled northern Classics elucidate a mien that takes hold of our hearts and can’t really be explained, the hillier races in the last week of the Spring campaign offer their own charms for us to appreciate. The fragile climbers, who’ve avoided the rough and dirty roads in weeks previous, mix it up alongside a smattering of the Big Men of the Stones who make the crossover to give it one last crack, or to simply help their grimpeur buddies get a slice of their own pie. These are races that can go to any number of riders who are having an on day.
Which doesn’t make picking a winner in this, the final Spring edition of the Velominati Super Prestige any easier. Will a Schleck, any Schleck, stand up (or be countered). What will the reactions be if Veino repeats, will he still be the villain, or is a year a long time in cycling and he’ll be forgiven, cheered and revered? PhilGil could make his own history and take not only the triple crown of Amstel, Fleche and Liége, but the quadruple with his Brabanste Pijl win thrown in for good measure. Whichever way the cards fall, or whoever plays them right, it’s always a worthy winner who rolls across the line first in Ans.
All that’s left to do is take a look at the start list, use your Powers of Deduction™ to decide your Top V, fill in the blanks and pick up an Obey The Rules bumper sticker for your trouble. It’s a prize older and more coveted than any other cycling-based-website-race-tipping-competition-bumper-sticker-giveaway.
Maybe listening to your heart is the way to go on this one.
Best of Belgian to you.