It looks so easy on the television. Well, no, actually it looks pretty bloody hard. We think we have some understanding of how they suffer, how their bodies can take the continual beating. But we don’t really know. Not even by riding these abominations they call roads twice in the space of a few days can we understand the scale of the thing. Not even by witnessing firsthand a master of the cobbles effortlessly turning the cranks, cruising past us as if on a cushion of air by comparison to our bed of nails can we fully comprehend what it takes to ride these secteurs with any panache, style or speed.
While we witnessed a Roubaix masterclass from The Lion himself today, a new name could be added alongside his on the long list of legends on Sunday. Or it could be a former vainquer adding to an already impressive palmares. But as we’ve seen in the past, and even the past hours, luck plays as big a part as skill, talent and fitness in this most beautifully horrible race. And it plays an even bigger part in picking the top five in the VSP.
All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the spectacle. We’ll be doing the hard yards at the side of the roads of Troisvilles, the Troueé, and the Carrefour. Study the form guide, then throw it out. It’s no good to you here.
In the meantime here’s a look at a bunch of nobodies and a guru riding a secteur on today’s recon. The lesson comes at around 0.15.