Ah, French. Of all the languages in the Cycling world, this is the only one where I can legitimately muster a few phrases without feeling like a complete imposter. Not that I have a problem with the imposter gig... am very proud of having pulled Gora! Gora! Gora! out this morning (Basque for Venga! Venga! Venga!). Anyway, Paris-Roubaix might feel pretty Flemish, but to the French there's no doubting the nationality of the race. Onto the links...
- VN has its usual coverage, but perhaps the most interesting is Fred Dreier's photo gallery from yesterday's scene in the Arenberg Trench. Lotta guys out on recon. Also, hear from Jean Fleche (a/k/a Jan van der Flecha) and Hink on their chances. Nice to see Professor Wilcockson in action this week.
- Another railway controversy brewing? The CN notes report two trains due at one junction at 2.45 and 2.53pm, and a chance that the peloton could arrive around the same time. Using fastest average speeds, the race will collide with the second train. With a crappy forecast, perhaps the race will lag enough so that these trains don't come close to affecting the race. But it bears watching.
- Three things I like better about Flanders than Paris-Roubaix: no rail crossings; the "bergs" and the tension that builds on the approach and explodes on the incline; ridiculously strong beer.
- Slipstream's Dr. Van Diemen: 52km of cobbles equals 150,000 shocks to the body. Nobody will be feeling good on Monday. Or Tuesday.
- Over at Pez, Steve Bauer has some excellent insight into how you ride the race. Bauer was a challenger several times, including coming as he says "one cm from the win" in 1990.
- Three things I like better about Paris-Roubaix than de Ronde: the unpredictable nature; the fact that it's the last big cobbled classic, so if you didn't win de Ronde, there's no holding back anymore; and the fact that a guy like Magnus Backstedt, who may have been a moose in a past life, can win.
- Off to Euskadi: surely these results are provisional only? David Herrero crashed in the last km, and limped over the line almost four minutes later. But I can't imagine his time wasn't neutralized. Actually, this is a pretty big deal: everyone but Contador and the Kid lost at least 5", according to the raw results. With tomorrow's ITT the final stage, and gaps painfully close, every second will count.