Velominati Super Prestige: The Men’s Elite Road Race

He will have to rediscover The V.
He will have to rediscover The V. Photo: Tim Kölln

You can only spend so much time with the Schlecks before you start talking like them, and the fabulous Fabs seems to have crossed the threshold. I’ve heard more complaining from him this season than I have talk about pushing harder on the pedals or going steady up with more speed or going full gas like everyone else, but just doing it for longer – his Flanders win notwithstanding. Instead, he’s making ridiculous suggestions along the lines that wet muddy cobblestones don’t belong in the Tour de France. That’s crazy talk, yo. Of course cobbles belong in the Tour, just like being able to eat an energy bar without crashing out. Being able to eat without falling off should be a requirement for completing any race just the same as having some bike handling skills and making sure you have overdraft protection at the V-Bank, that’s basic bike racing.

But despite his recent whingings, I still love my Fabs, which means he’s got absolutely no chance of winning the Worlds. But this is a man who would do the bands some honor, provided he sign a contract with the Style Police (Velominati) that he “Shant Wear Le Knicker Blanche”. Seeing the bands crushing the cobbles during the Cobbled Classics is something we’ve been deprived of for too long. Speaking of which, I fancy my other man-crush Boonen has a shot. I’ll be happy if either one wins. Maybe Boonen will show us his tattoo when he puts on the jersey.

So what do we have? We have a 20km loop with 300 meters of climbing per. That 300 meters is similar to my favorite gravel climb in Cle Elum, and while it’s spread over two climbs, we all know the “easier” climbs are sometimes harder. It reminds one of the Chambery Worlds when LeMond won a few years back; a solid climb a few km from the finish with a technical (wet) descent and lumpy run-in to the line. I don’t think this is a finish for a final-ramp attack specialist like Gilbert; this is a course for a true rouleur with some tactical sense, like LeMond. I’m not sure I know which rider that might be these days, but Fabs is probably pretty close.

In 1989, LeMond won on a similar route riding a 54/42. Sean Kelly rode a 53/39 so as not to burn out the guns on the many repeats of the climb. He also chose a 13-26 over LeMond’s 12-23 which tells you a thing or two about why we call him LeMan around here. He got over the climbs and when it came to the sprint the massive 54×12 he was turning was no match for Kelly’s 53×13. From what I understand, this singular moment is the Ghost of Lost Opportunity that comes to knock at Kelly’s door at 2am most often.

So who is going to win? I don’t know, so don’t ask me. I’m just here to provide some bad writing you can skip over on your way down to the Picks Entry form. All the interesting stuff will be in the posts, as usual.

Good luck, and remember there are some serious prizes on offer for the overall. Go get em, cowboys and cowgirls.

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180 Replies to “Velominati Super Prestige: The Men’s Elite Road Race”

  1. Pretty much how I thought it would happen but with Martin not Kwiatkowski.

    Boss ride from him – strong move and no mucking about.

    Credit to Gilbert for giving it everything to chase him down. The others got the minor placings they deserved.

  2. @xyxax

    @Steampunk

    Remember when picks were as simple as a childs plush toy?

    I was thinking the same thing. My heart leapt when I saw Gilbert take off after Kwiatkowski, and then sank when I saw van Avermaet in tow. There was a time that he would have made that kind of decisive move and everybody else would have just sat up…

  3. @Rob

    @xyxax the first year I was top10, now it’s mind bendingly hard and I suck. But dam you and Steamy (no matter that he is folding like a cheap tent to peer pressure) are hot! Good luck, if you are on the top step Veloforma will be cursing the day he offered up a frame because yours will be a double!

    This is the funniest thing on the interwebs today! That’s a fuckton of plastic!

    And I am a cheap tent. If I hadn’t folded, I would have put Gerrans in second. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Next time, when you’re out in front, do what Kwiatkowski did: just put your head down and go! Allez!

  4. @Steampunk Well, if it is any consolation to you, if you hadn’t tipped Gerrans before Fabs, I wouldn’t have changed my 1 and 2 either, so you wouldn’t have gained ground on me. And as it stands, I think you increased your lead on places 3 and 4 by a couple points.

    Silver lining?

  5. @il muro di manayunk

    Yes: I suppose there are half a dozen of us just sitting in and watching at this point. Fair enough. I’ve pretty much conceded that you’re too far ahead to catch””but I’d rest easier with a bit more distance between myself and the followers.

    Judging from your handle, you’re in Philly? I trust when this is all said and done, you’ll toast your victory down at Monk’s in Center City. I spent a year living just around the corner from there, behind the Kimmel Center. Good times.

  6. @dancollins takes the win! Excellent ride by a mostly uninspiring rider; at least a rider won who is going to wear black shorts next year. The Worlds should be moved back to the end of August like it used to be; seems like uninspiring riders win this event these days…Ballan, Costa, Kwiatkoswki. When Boonen won, I spent the winter sketching what I would have designed his kit like. I don’t think I’ve been that excited about a worlds winner since.

    Final Race Results
    1. KWIATKOWSKI Michal
    2. GERRANS Simon
    3. VALVERDE Alejandro
    4. BRESCHEL Matti
    5. VAN AVERMAET Greg
    Final VSP Results
    1. dancollins (10 points)
    2. niconico (9 points)
    3. Teocalli (8 points)
    4. DCR (7 points)
    5. Tobin (7 points)
    6. simonsaunders (7 points)
    7. Minnesota Expat (7 points)
    8. il muro di manayunk (6 points)
    9. RedRanger (6 points)
    10. Barracuda (6 points)
    77. Gianni (0 points)
  7. Knock me over with a feather – another podium!  Best keep those darts for next season.

  8. Chapeau to him. I think it’s a bit unkind to call him uninspiring, my abiding memory of him is comprehensively kicking Sagan’s arse on the climb to the finish in Siena, and I remember thinking ‘wow’. But then I might have used the same word to describe the previous champ, which is also probably unkind.

    I sometimes wonder if the event is too big to be exciting, in the sense that no-one wants to risk losing it in order to win, and the conservative riding lets the dark horses in. That certainly happened in the ladies’ race yesterday.

    They should move it to March, in my view, make it the first big race of the year, no tactical entries (and exits) of GTs to manage form. Train your hardest over winter, win the jersey there and wear it for the rest of the year.

    Great rides by Kennaugh, Albasini, and Martin, though, they all spiced things up a bit.

  9. @Geraint

    They should move it to March, in my view, make it the first big race of the year, no tactical entries (and exits) of GTs to manage form. Train your hardest over winter, win the jersey there and wear it for the rest of the year.

    Great idea. Well done to a worthy winner, that was class right there.

  10. @frank

    By uninspiring, do you mean a guy who isn’t Dutch? The kid has surprised everyone with his tenacity–in a very short period of time, he’s found his way into the key selections of many of the most important races. And largely on his own initiative. Your list of uninspiring champions is weird: Rui Costa was about the only thing inspiring about last year’s Tour.

  11. @Steampunk Indeed, I am a lifetime Philadelphian. Grew up watching the US Pro Championship (when we had the honor of hosting it) every summer. I even have a newspaper from 1993 with a photo of Pharmstrong rounding the corner at the top of the Manayunk Wall and there in the background is my dad lifting a five year old me up so I can see over the barrier. Interestingly, 1993 was the year Pharmstrong is alleged to have paid his rivals to not attack him in that race.

    Monk’s is great, isn’t it? Not getting ahead of myself, but if I am so fortunate as to hang on to this lead, I might have to stop in for a tripel and some pommes frites.

  12. @Steampunk

    @frank

    By uninspiring, do you mean a guy who isn’t Dutch? The kid has surprised everyone with his tenacity-in a very short period of time, he’s found his way into the key selections of many of the most important races. And largely on his own initiative. Your list of uninspiring champions is weird: Rui Costa was about the only thing inspiring about last year’s Tour.

    Its mostly the 99.9999% chance that there will (or should be) a positive test. Amazing year for Polish riders, quite suddenly.

  13. @frank

    @Steampunk

    @frank

    By uninspiring, do you mean a guy who isn’t Dutch? The kid has surprised everyone with his tenacity-in a very short period of time, he’s found his way into the key selections of many of the most important races. And largely on his own initiative. Your list of uninspiring champions is weird: Rui Costa was about the only thing inspiring about last year’s Tour.

    Its mostly the 99.9999% chance that there will (or should be) a positive test. Amazing year for Polish riders, quite suddenly.

    Oooh. Big call Fronk. I’ll agree about Majka, but I think Kwitakowski is the real deal. But who really knows, eh…?

  14. @frank

    @Steampunk

    @frank

    By uninspiring, do you mean a guy who isn’t Dutch? The kid has surprised everyone with his tenacity-in a very short period of time, he’s found his way into the key selections of many of the most important races. And largely on his own initiative. Your list of uninspiring champions is weird: Rui Costa was about the only thing inspiring about last year’s Tour.

    Its mostly the 99.9999% chance that there will (or should be) a positive test. Amazing year for Polish riders, quite suddenly.

    Ohhhhhhhh. You didn’t go there. Minus that.

  15. @frank

    Wow. So he’s effervescent. So now we don’t like Pantani either, because he, y’know, probably doped, too? One of the things I always liked about this site was how it didn’t get into the mudslinging, and simply acknowledged panache when it was warranted. B’sides: it takes some pretty inspiring chemistry to dodge the controls these days. For now, I’m happy to congratulate the kid for animating the race and for busting a nut to stay away. Shame on him if he was the only doper in the race…

  16. @Steampunk

    Yeah, I was having crocodile flashbacks; I always hope he does well even when I don’t pick him.  I didn’t think I’d live to see the day when PG was in service of GVA.

    @Rob

    I’m not sure how it happens, though scouring Twitter to see if there’s any news of Degenkolb’s illness may mean I should probably be doing something else with my life.

  17. I hardly consider him uninspiring. Strada biancha  was a phenomenal show. Working equally with Sagan to keep the hounds away, and after a beautiful effort he buried Peter on the last climb. I think his efforts go to show what a great rider he can become. I’m excited to watch him in the classics this next year.

  18. @frank wow! 99.9999% wow! It’s not like he came out of no-where, tell us more, is it his past teams, Caja Rural, Radioshack, does he have connections with certain ‘Doctors’ , I had hoped he was part of the future of our sport rather than the past.

  19. @Steampunk

    You know enought to know not to go measuring everyone by the same stick, my friend. We’re fans, not doctors for fucks sake. If we can’t be irrational about bike racing, all hope for humanity is lost.

    Actually I think I figured out why I don’t like him. He’s too short. His bike looks stupid. Case closed.

  20. @frank

    I know where you’re coming from. I’m playing Devil’s advocate a bit here. I should like him, but when he breaks away I always feel a little disappointed. Too short, too Eastern European, too something. Or not enough of something else. Can anyone put a finger on it?

  21. @frank

    @Steampunk

    Actually I think I figured out why I don’t like him. He’s too short. His bike looks stupid. Case closed.

    Whew! It’s a good thing Simon Gerrans didn’t win, he’s only 5’7″!

  22. @Steampunk

    Too short, too Eastern European, too something. Or not enough of something else. Can anyone put a finger on it?

    I would guess it’s absolutely because he’s Eastern European, I can imagine the same sentiments if some Hungarian or Romanian cyclists were also breaking out on the World Tour. Besides being outside the axis of cycling (France, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Spain), everyone is always a little leery of Eastern European athletics following the Cold War.

    However, I see no reason to suspect Kwiatkowski of anything, Poland as it is today, is nothing like East Germany, before the wall came down, and was home to a young Jens Voigt. Poland is a pretty country, fairly big, relatively prosperous, and a good potential market for pro cycling. If the successes of Majka and Kwiatkowski increase the visibility cycling in Poland, it’s win/win for the sport (and us fans).

  23. @frank

    @Steampunk

    @frank

    By uninspiring, do you mean a guy who isn’t Dutch? The kid has surprised everyone with his tenacity-in a very short period of time, he’s found his way into the key selections of many of the most important races. And largely on his own initiative. Your list of uninspiring champions is weird: Rui Costa was about the only thing inspiring about last year’s Tour.

    Its mostly the 99.9999% chance that there will (or should be) a positive test. Amazing year for Polish riders, quite suddenly.

    Are you fucking kidding me? The kid is 24yrs old, and while this year has been highly successful, the results also are a progression of a pretty strong showing in similar races last year. It’s not like he’s been some middling rider for 10yrs before having an unbelievable year…

    At least he had the stones to try & attack the race, if you want to talk about an uninspiring win, have a look at Gerrans or Malmerde (as much as I’d have cheered an Aussie win) both taking half pulls while their group was chasing Kwiatkowski so that they’d have more left for the sprint. Tactical racing it may be, but the V it ain’t.

  24. @Steampunk

    @Minnesota Expat

    Now that you mention it, I’ve never liked Gerrans. His smile, perhaps?

    Gerran’s face reminds me of a comic book illustration of an eight year-old boy. Maybe it’s an Australian thing (insert emoticon here). But what a beast. We were on the barrier at the 100m point of the finish in Montreal when he went by at 60+ kph (40+ mph in Murica). Impressive.

  25. Have we jumped the doping shark already? merckx almighty! the new womens champ is 22 and french national champ in 4 disciplines. is she doping also?

  26. @RedRanger

    Have we jumped the doping shark already? merckx almighty! the new womens champ is 22 and french national champ in 4 disciplines. is she doping also?

    or dare we ask, the woman who has won the bands in 3 separate disciplines & seems to simply win every race she puts her mind to?

  27. @Mikael Liddy

    @RedRanger

    Have we jumped the doping shark already? merckx almighty! the new womens champ is 22 and french national champ in 4 disciplines. is she doping also?

    or dare we ask, the woman who has won the bands in 3 separate disciplines & seems to simply win every race she puts her mind to?

    4 disciplines.

  28. @piwakawaka

    @frank wow! 99.9999% wow! It’s not like he came out of no-where, tell us more, is it his past teams, Caja Rural, Radioshack, does he have connections with certain ‘Doctors’ , I had hoped he was part of the future of our sport rather than the past.

    Honestly, its the jaded past, right? I feel the same about the Columbians despite my hope all of them are clean. I guess thirty years of seeing riders jump to the top from (almost) nowhere is hard to shake.

    I agree he hasn’t come out of nowhere but its pretty close. Last year was a taste, this year is pretty crazy. Before that, nothing. Is it because he’s clean and the bunch is getting cleaner? I hope so, but muscle memory is hard to shake.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micha%C5%82_Kwiatkowski_(cyclist)

  29. @Minnesota Expat

    @frank

    @Steampunk

    Actually I think I figured out why I don’t like him. He’s too short. His bike looks stupid. Case closed.

    Whew! It’s a good thing Simon Gerrans didn’t win, he’s only 5’7″³!

    Where you around when Gerrans won MSR? I started WW3 because I hate that twat so much.

    Actually, I hate him a lot less now because he actually went and apologized to Andy T after the crash at the Tour even though it really was 50-50 as far as fault goes. That was a classy move and I can forgive him his small mouth for that.

    @Steampunk

    @Minnesota Expat

    Now that you mention it, I’ve never liked Gerrans. His smile, perhaps?

    It’s his small mouth. Robbie McEwen had the same problem.

    Fuckin’ hell its great to be a fan and release all this pressure to be rational somewhere, isn’t it? I have to be a professional for like 80 hours a week. Its great to have an outlet.

  30. @Minnesota Expat

    For the record, my bromo is Polish, first gen. Fucking class act and I love everything about him and Poland – especially his dad who is the awesomest and most Eastern Euro dude you will ever talk to.

    Our kits are made there as well. I’m not being funny about Eastern Europe; I’m being funny about countries who are suddenly showing amazing Cycling prowess.

  31. @frank or it’s because he was Twenty-Fucking-Two before that, cycling isn’t a sport where you’re winning things of any consequence in your late teens. Interestingly, have a look at the breakout year your man Tom had when he was 24 compared to the previous 3…

  32. @Mikael Liddy

    At least he had the stones to try & attack the race, if you want to talk about an uninspiring win, have a look at Gerrans or Malmerde (as much as I’d have cheered an Aussie win) both taking half pulls while their group was chasing Kwiatkowski so that they’d have more left for the sprint. Tactical racing it may be, but the V it ain’t.

    I didn’t say his ride was uninspiring, I said he’s un uninspiring rider. He was indeed the only interesting part of the race apart from wondering how the Spanish team came up with their kit. I have to assume it was bad acid. And Gerrans doing half pulls is what I expect of him. Just sayin’.

  33. @Mikael Liddy

    @RedRanger

    Have we jumped the doping shark already? merckx almighty! the new womens champ is 22 and french national champ in 4 disciplines. is she doping also?

    or dare we ask, the woman who has won the bands in 3 separate disciplines & seems to simply win every race she puts her mind to?

    We dare ask and we should, absolutely. I was relieved to see her get dropped in the TTT and barely get a top 10 in the RR.

    For the record, she falls into the Ulli/Pantani category for me though, so I wouldn’t stop loving her either way.

  34. FFS, can’t you see Frank was just lashing out? Our collective disappointment at Fab’s 11th place hurts. For someone to go for it with 7kms remaining, that is bold. Crazy? As Gilbert said, “the winner is always right.”

    Now to find some video.

  35. @Mikael Liddy

    @frank absolutely, it’s Monday morning and I’m already half a day behind cos I’m busy arguing with you. I love it!!!

    Isn’t it great? We used to all do this all the time. Feels good!

  36. @frank

    @Mikael Liddy

    @RedRanger

    Have we jumped the doping shark already? merckx almighty! the new womens champ is 22 and french national champ in 4 disciplines. is she doping also?

    or dare we ask, the woman who has won the bands in 3 separate disciplines & seems to simply win every race she puts her mind to?

    We dare ask and we should, absolutely. I was relieved to see her get dropped in the TTT and barely get a top 10 in the RR.

    For the record, she falls into the Ulli/Pantani category for me though, so I wouldn’t stop loving her either way.

    do you mean TT?

  37. @RedRanger

    @frank

    @Mikael Liddy

    @RedRanger

    Have we jumped the doping shark already? merckx almighty! the new womens champ is 22 and french national champ in 4 disciplines. is she doping also?

    or dare we ask, the woman who has won the bands in 3 separate disciplines & seems to simply win every race she puts her mind to?

    We dare ask and we should, absolutely. I was relieved to see her get dropped in the TTT and barely get a top 10 in the RR.

    For the record, she falls into the Ulli/Pantani category for me though, so I wouldn’t stop loving her either way.

    do you mean TT?

    No, one doesn’t get dropped in a TT. I mean the TTT.

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