Velominati Super Prestige: Paris-Roubaix

Servais Knaven, he earned that sweet shower plaque Crédit photo : DPPI

Let us pray for rain.

The Sunday after Ronde Van Vlaanderen brings us to Paris-Roubaix. The Holiest of Holies. There are no bergs to ride over, instead, accelerate to maximum speed to be in the top 20 to start each cobbled section, bring power up to flank to float over broken treacherous farm path crown, gutter or ditch or all three at the same time as required. Recover once back on the tarmac. Repeat 26 more times.

This Sunday’s edition of Paris-Roubaix will have Velominati moaning, staring through half empty bottles of Chimay, burning candles to Saint Ludo of Dierckxsens (the patron saint of Flemish V), begging for a sign. The winner won’t be a first timer to this race, he needs experience on these stones, he will also require equally experienced teammates who can hang tough close to Roubaix. He must be massively fit. He must be tough as nails. Andy Schleck will not be out here on Sunday, not because he is not tough (OK, he is not tough enough for this) but racing on such terrible cobbled farm tracks is a skill only a certain subset of professionals develop. All around tough bastard Bernard Hinault, aka The Badger, thought it was an insane lottery, unworthy of his attention but he did ride it twice and won in 1981. In 2011 you could do worse than roll up to the start on your 1980 steel Merckx ride as today’s bikes, used just for this one race, have a lot of old-school about them: 27mm profile tires, huge inner chain rings, 3-cross laced wheels, longer rake front forks, longer chainstays. These bikes go back into storage when this race is over. Insane bikes, riders, fans and of course, throw in some bad weather and we have a real race.

Finally Fabian Cancellara has shown himself to be human, a really strong human. Tomeke Boonen is showing signs of past greatness. Garmin-Cervelo has been hammered from all quarters, they are under pressure and Thor has always said this is the race he wants to win. Gilbert is fit, ready and Belgian (news flash, he may be ready but not to race P-R, coward). Chavanel is fit, ready and French. Could Ballan be the new Moser? No. Not ever. Team Sky, with nary a Belgian still has a shot with a Spaniard, an Englishman and a Welshman.

The spinning wheels of Fortuna could play havoc on the best laid bets like it did in 2001. Dutchmen Servais Knaven won it all. Knaven, with teammate Johan Museeuw was part of a select group closing in on Roubaix. Being the dutiful domestique he attacked to force Museeuw’s adversaries to chase but no one could.  He was a tough guy and rode away with a beautiful victory.

Let us pray for rain.


Related Posts

277 Replies to “Velominati Super Prestige: Paris-Roubaix”

  1. @blaireau


    Did I tap VanAvermaet? I meant Van Summeren, who, Frank, you will be glad to know is the tallest man in the peleton.

    He really looks like he’s riding Frank’s bike.

    Wait a second…lemme go check my basement.

  2. Van Summeren just told the commentator that he rode the last 5km with a flat tire. Not sure if he was speaking figuratively or literally. If that’s for real-reals, then that’s pretty fuckin’ cool.

    Garmin pulled off the major win, but I am so over the “no-ride” tactics. Hushovd, I am so over you. You were the strongest there today, and you only get one chance to win in the velodrome with the bands on your back.

  3. frank:
    WOAH. G’Phant. Look what happened to your cog!

    haha. its hard to miss. its so bright it almost burned my eyes.

  4. I think Gianni’s pic and lead-in article was foreshadowing the one-off. Scary weird.

  5. @Netraam
    How do you like Boom, eh? Those cross skills are coming through nicely. Have to say that of all the riders out there today, he looked the most at ease on the stones. Beautiful rider in general, but especially on the kinderkopjes.

  6. @Cyclops
    i guess it depends on what the team tactics are. just saying that I never bought into the hype just cause he is world champ.

  7. I love that a tall skinny guy wins! What a lovely race tonight.
    I agree with others and haven’t bought into Hushovd hype, he’s not a race maker though I thought he and Ballan were as strong as Cancellara today.

    Good stuff Van Summeren, well done!

  8. Thor should be over the moon that his ride helped Van Summeren to the win. Like all the lead out riders that pulled him to wins were. But he won’t be. He had no strategy to win – only one to beat Fabian – and he blew that too.

    Cancellara is too strong for his own good. His only tactic is to blast a gap because no one will ride with him.

  9. Van Summeren winning has taken a LOT of heat off Hushovd’s negativity today. He pretty much did a Boonen in RvV ’11 – attacked Fabs with one of his team mates up the road. Not cool.

    That Thor then sat in on Fabs to the point where the big fella finally called it quits is beside the point really. Ballan was obviously never going to take a turn. He is Italian. Nuff said. Hushovd I thought was cut from sterner cloth. Let down.

    But great result from the tall streak of Belgian lip! Allegedly he also (successfully) proposed to his long-time girlfriend Jasmine today too. What an IDIOT! How is he EVER going to match a day that good ever again???

  10. @Hawkeye
    YES! Excellent observation and perhaps the nucleus of a rule like…

    Never propose to your girlfriend straight after winning a Monument because even though she might love you with crap all in your teeth, you’re probably not thinking straight on account of the effort and cobbles rattling your brain and she’ll probably bitch about ‘that fucking bike’ before the Giro comes around…

  11. frank :
    Van Summeren just told the commentator that he rode the last 5km with a flat tire. Not sure if he was speaking figuratively or literally. If that’s for real-reals, then that’s pretty fuckin’ cool.
    Garmin pulled off the major win, but I am so over the “no-ride” tactics. Hushovd, I am so over you. You were the strongest there today, and you only get one chance to win in the velodrome with the bands on your back.

    But did you expect Thor to help pull Cancellara up to his own Garmin teammate? Thor rode perfectly for his team and did an awesome job. If anything, he should be garnering more praise for not being selfish and riding for his team, no?

  12. @RedRanger@Buck Rogers

    i guess it depends on what the team tactics are. just saying that I never bought into the hype just cause he is world champ.

    It’s more than just hype…Maillot Jaune, twice on the podium at Roubaix already…Het Volk…The man has, until this Spring (remember the white bibs at MSR) been all class. Also very reasonable and well spoken.

    You can argue he had a rider up the road when Faboo sat up, and it’s true, but it was a sacrificial lamb. Van Petegem himself said in the interview that Johan’s orders were to wait for Hushovd until the Carrfore secteur and after that he was aloud to ride for himself. When Faboo sat up, the plan was still to deliver Hushovd to the line. He should have ridden.

    For a second there, I thought I saw him shake his fist at the team car. I could be imagining things, but I think perhaps he wanted to ride but was following team orders. It does smell a lot like JV, although to be fair, PVP was calling the shots today and he was a CLASSIC poker player.

    Wasn’t there, don’t know. Van Summeren has a well deserved win. Awesome.

  13. @Buck Rogers
    Seemed to me Thor had an opportunity to ride well before Johan went up the road. You know, when the team cars pulled up and Fabian was all like, WTF is up with these pussies, JV? Sure, it made sense for him to sit after JVS took off but it didn’t seem like the race was going that way until the last 12k or whatever it was. He gets props for covering Faboos accelerations but that’s how to keep from losing races, not how to win them.

  14. @Marko
    Well put, completely agree.

    Man, that tire. I heard him say it, and thought, “Nah…he must be saying he FELT like he had a flat tire.”

    There’s your argument for riding tubs, eh? Can’t do THAT on a clincher.

  15. How about Boonen? I’d sure like to know what happened to his bike in the Trouee, and then what the FUCK happened to his TWO men, Stegemans and Tankink and that they disappeared before he was brought back.

    Boonen in particular and Quickstep in general suffered some serious bad luck today. After a run where they had incredible luck, they kind of paid back flush in one big shot. This race. I felt empty when Boonen retired…as someone already said, only 365 days to go.

  16. I have to say, I’m back to the Moped. After everything and all his strength, he proved himself to be the one ride with enough of the V coursing through his veins to still make a race of it.

  17. I knew Cancellara didn’t have a win in him. Knew it in my heart of hearts. When you’re a marked man it’s awful hard to ride away.

  18. One of the saddest images was seeing Boonen standing there with his bike in the middle of the Arenberg completely helpless. Nothing a little blow won’t fix but he must have been completely pissed.

  19. Thor lost that race today because he couldn’t be arsed to take a turn on the front, which was stoopid as he had men all the way up the road… Thought Van Summeren awesome… Spartacus too, even though he spat his dummy out at how all the other kids were picking on him… Amazing how he just blew them all away when he went with 4k to go (but let them back again)

    Looks like global warming or summat has ended wet spring classics this year, but what a race. Loved it… Really feel for Boonen and Quickstep

  20. You know, it’s a tired strategy””sitting on Cancellara like that, but chapeau to him sitting up and saying to hell with it, and then still taking second. The way he just leaves people behind””as he did in the final stretch””is a thing of pure beauty. Incredible to watch him motor away as though everyone else is sitting still.

  21. @Hawkeye
    It’s funny reading about the “no-ride” tactics last week at the RVV and today at the PR,
    but for you only Ballan as an Italian deserves your inappropriate comment.


    “Johan was smart to get into that breakaway and we kept telling him to wait for Thor. And when Thor’s group didn’t reach the front, we gave Johan the chance to attack,” said Garmin-Cervélo sport director Jonathan Vaughters.

    “We had Thor coming up from behind, so we kept telling the other guys in the break it wasn’t up to us to work,” Van Summeren said.

    “Of course, I was not going to work when I had teammates up the road,” Hushovd said.

    Don’t-work and Wait-and-see finally paid off, I guess.

    Sigh. This team is going to implode before 2012.

  23. RedRanger:

    WOAH. G’Phant. Look what happened to your cog!

    haha. its hard to miss. its so bright it almost burned my eyes.

    I was watching the race from 11pm until 2:30am. No-one should have to be surprised by that bright a colour that time of the morning. But have got used to it now. Do I have to start wearing clogs, too?

  24. Guys with oversized sunnies winning…and now too-tall skinny dudes. What is PRO cycling coming to?!

    Great race, nothing like waking up at 7:00 on a Sunday to watch the P-R. 365…start the countdown!

    Hope all the Followers enjoyed it as well.

    Oh, and some of those crashes were pretty bad, looked fucking painful. Chavanel’s slide out sure did.

  25. So… Watching Eurosport highlights… At 3.3km to go, when Spartacus puts on that fearsome burst of acceleration that trashes Thor, Flecha et al, I’m sure Sean Yates, commentating, calls him a cunt… Brilliant stuff… As good on replay as live… What a race!

  26. @ben
    Great quotes. Just talking to @Marko about this, he remarked that he never thought Cuddles would do the Stripes more honor than Thor.

    JV still directs his team with the mentality of a small, upstart team trying to find it’s way. Time for him to realize that he is now the director of a big team capable of the biggest wins in the sport. Time to step up and start racing like it.

    Love the message behind the team of clean racing and “fair sport” – and it worked for them today – but sucking wheels like this is no more fair play than is doping. That might be an exaggeration, but you get my meaning.

    Van Summeren’s ride notwithstanding because he rode an incredible race, chasing all the right moves and making the selection when it counted. Chapeau.

  27. I like the bimodal distribution of VSP points, which mostly boil down to those that had Faboo 1st and those that had him 2nd. I’d forgotten I had him 2nd, but I’ll take the extra three points!

  28. Yeah finally, some points!! About to catch a delayed showing here at the pub, can’t wait to watch it.

  29. I reckon JV (PVP?) got very lucky today – Garmin looked very confused at times. Go back and see where Garmin had guys on the from of Thor/Cance group just after Cance gave them a talking to. No way were they “playing for JVS” to make the break. It just happened.

    If u r really going for the “we ain’t working” u don’t do anything – as it is a game of bluff. Garmin were less than resolute with this tactic.

    But a great race that shows the exquisite injustice of cycling – u just don’t get that in many (any?) other sports

  30. I guess I take Thor at his word when he says he’s happy with the team’s performance – following Cervelo Test Team for the last two years and GarCev this year, he seems to be a pretty team-oriented guy. Him leading out Farrar twice at Tiereno-Adriatico would seem to, perhaps, at least partially prove that.

    What disappoints me though is that he didn’t take on Cancellara straight up. I happy to see Van Summeren win and it was an exciting race to be sure, but I so wish Thor would taken on the challenge of going heads up with Cancellara to the line. I fear that he elected to pass on that challenge not because he was primarily concerned with team (how on earth could he or JV have known that Van Summeren would gut it out?) but rather because he knew that Cancellara would beat him. Hiding behind the world champion’s stripes behind the mantra of a “team wins” is to Thor, perhaps, less painful than than failing after a maximum effort.

  31. Clinging onto my leaders jersey… where’s my super domestiques when I need them?

    Great race! edge of the seat stuff and finishing with a double raised arm victory salute on a flat rear tyre is impressive!

  32. @ZachOlson damn.

    You might as well put “ZachOlson” in the Lexicon, too – for slamming home a lexicon entry in a brutally efficient, classy style.

  33. Best ride of the day by a lesser-known:

    Maarten Tjallingii, hands down. In the break from early on – even taking a flyer or two and getting nabbed. Still manages to hang tight take the biggest result of his career.

    Honorable mention: Europcar’s David Veillux (25th):

    “I had never raced longer than 200km in North America, and now over here in Europe, we’ve been going 200-220km almost every race. I was doing OK until the final 20km or so, then I really started to suffer.” – Velonews

  34. Even if JVS hadn’t broken away from the break he was still in the break – of course Hushovd shouldn’t have helped in the chase, even though it clearly rankled with him. It’s one of the first rules of bike racing, and he would have been mercilessly criticised if he had helped and Cancellara had profited from it. Ballan had cause to be sitting on also, with Quinziato up ahead.

    Great ride by JVS and fantastic finish by the brave Spartacus. Another thrilling and absorbing edition of the Queen of the Classics…

  35. @Hawkeye

    1. Fabs
    2. Thor
    3. Boonen
    4. GIlbert
    5. Van Summeren
    Good on ya. I fucked up and forgot to put him in and I’m paying for it now. Oh the humanity. A great win for JvS though. He won’t be buying a beer in Belgium for the rest of his life.

  36. @Gianni
    I need that situation as well, but how do I do it without winning a race the Belgique care about?

    For a bit there, I thought Hincapie was in it…right there and then Faboo started firing off the Guns of Navarone and Hushpuppy just Hoovered along with him and Georgie was never to be seen again.

  37. I’m feeling a little ripped off. I know the rules are all very clear regarding the points distribution, but I actually had Van Summeren in my top 5 and unfortunately had Fabs for 1st not second so wasn’t best scorer on the day.

    Some days the system works for ya, some days against. I’m still on a high from that great ride though! Awesome.

  38. @benjamin
    I can’t help thinking that, if Tommeke had been there (as he would’ve been but for the absence of a dork disk (?!) and an adequate bidon cage), it would’ve been really different – he would’ve chased, and Hushnowletsturnthegasoff, Flecha, Ballan, ShoeCovers et al would’ve had two guys to watch and worry about. But JVS is such a worthy and popular winner I am kinda glad that didn’t happen.

  39. frank :

    @allFor a bit there, I thought Hincapie was in it…right there and then Faboo started firing off the Guns of Navarone and Hushpuppy just Hoovered along with him and Georgie was never to be seen again.

    Agreed. He was floating (and in the end, that was all he was doing)around in that bunch along with Balls/BMC posse. Uncle Paul & Aunty Phil kept mentioning his name with some aplomb, I’m thinking “don’t tell me the shoe covers are coming off finally!” but then…nothing. Not even the frickin’ bridesmaid, hell not even a flowergirl for Georgy Peorgy. Just a guest at the Queen’s wedding, seen later in the snapshots with everyone going, “wasn’t that….”

  40. @il ciclista medio

    I thought it was known as “Flemish Toothpaste”

    Agree re Hincapie, got a bit excited for a while and then just nothing at all from him. Is this his last year? And what was the argy bargy with Boom and Flecha all about – did they ride together at Rabobank? Old grievances maybe?

  41. @Pedale.Forchetta
    Nah I said I expected Ballan to not take a turn, but was surprised Hushovd didn’t either.

    I was disappointed by Hushovd not taking a turn, and unsurprised by Ballan not taking a turn. I think Thor with the wisdom of hindsight is trying to have it both ways here – he attacked the bunch on the cobbles with his man up the road. Fabian then attacked over the top. Thor then claimed he couldn’t work with Fabian because he had a man up the road. I don’t think it’s cool to attack your man, then not follow through with it.

    Ballan was never going to take a turn. And probably was justified as he was clearly the weakest of the three up the road. It turned out costly to both him and Fabian that he didn’t take a turn though!

    Regardless, I’m stoked that Summie ended up with the win!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.