Ronde reactions

Bryn Lennon

It's the day after and even in the Easter media stillness there have been reactions to the dominating performance from Fabian yesterday. Here are but a few of the topics as people take stock of Sundays events.

The old Koppenberg chestnut
The little blunder by Björn Leukemans, trying to take a sudden wobbly left turn from the right-hand lane in the middle of the Koppenberg, did not go un-noticed and we once again got the "take the Koppenberg out of the race" calls from grumpy old men. The argument certainly isn't a new one. The somewhat random and potentially race-deciding effect of people coming a cropper on the narrow, steep and sometimes slippery ascent comes under criticism regularly and in the end it always comes down to an intellectual argument vs. an emotional as Johan Musseuw demonstrates in the SportWereld story.

The Koppenberg has nothing to do with bike racing. -Eddy Merckx
Yes of course it can be quite devastating from a sporting standpoint that people are in effect cut out of the race when their only sin is being in a position behind some unlucky klutz. Especially since 200 people can't all ride in the top 10 all the time, and sometimes you run the risk of the mishap happening very near the front so even people in good position can potentially get unlucky. Ultimately though this is part of the soul and challenge of this particular race. On a wet day, any narrow cobbled turn or whatever could cause the same effect more or less. We have to allow some randomness in races, it can't always be about the calculated efforts of the strongest rider that prevail or it won't be cycling anymore. It certainly won't be Classics cycling.

No Boonen in Paris-Roubaix
It was pretty clear already yesterday really but it's confirmed that Tommeke's crash injuries from RvV will keep him out of next weeks race as well. He has no fractures but a badly bruised hip and wounds to elbow and knee (again?.....and again?) and clearly has too much pain to even hold a small hope to be ready for Sunday. It means his 2012 spring when nothing could go wrong for him is followed by a mirror-opposite in 2013. Question is how he realigns his season after this? With Cavendish there it's even harder than usual to see him using the GTs as season-savers and somehow I don't see him getting much of a kick out of leading Cav out either? Soooooo..... Eneco?

So we sucked but are in great shape for PR
That wonderful last grasp for teams that haven't gotten anything out of their cobble-campaign so far is always an fun option. Both Johan Vansummeren and Lars Boom strike out on a positive note. Their optimism isn't entirely unfounded of course as they're both riders much more likely to perform in Roubaix than Flanders, even on perfect form. The small problem of course lies in the fact that Cancellara has eeeh.... how shall I put this gently? Cancellara has already won Roubaix. Ah well, no plan is without flaws.
Another man with worse problems is Thor Hushovd who looked on his way to building great form for his main objective next week but is now complaining of illness and respiratory problems (like breathing through a straw) during the race. It would be a shame to see him lose a second consecutive chance to grab that illusive Roubaix win.

Old course or new?
We shan't go over this again. The arguments have been made elsewhere and I suspect the debate will go on for a good long while. Let me just link to the poll that Sporza has had going since yesterday asking which course they prefer. As I write this about 20000 people have voted and the result is very evenly balanced. Except it isn't. Not even a little bit. About 88% favor the old course and somehow I suspect it's not a reflection on the unpopularity of the last two winners. Now a less inventive man than me would suggest going back to the old after 2014 but this is where I'd like to offer what seems like the obvious solution for a modern money-hungry race-organizer in the world today. I'd like to call it the St Andrews Solution. Of course we need two consecutive races, one on each course. More bikes is better (and more profitable Mr Vandenhaute, nudge-nudge-wink-wink). I look forward to seeing Sep Vanmarcke winning two Rondes van Vlaanderen per year for many years to come.

Sagan, lots to learn. Not really restated
Now this isn't going to be about the young Slovak's attention-grabbing antics which have been extensively covered everywhere else. However one conclusion that pops up seems to be that he somehow lost out to Spartacus due to young age and lack of experience and lets debunk that here and now. There is no way a tiny little pull on the Kwaremont or anything else he did yesterday caused him to lose. He did pretty much everything right as far as I'm concerned and raced far more intelligently than I would have thought beforehand. He just lost out to more power and a better rider on the day. Let's not pretend anything else, the kid is as ready to win this race as anyone else twice his age.

How to become a Flandrian rockstar
Cancellara celebrated in style in Oudenaarde today with fanclub and supporters and it looked more like a rock-star reception than anything else. If a flandrian doesn't win, Cancellara is the second best option seems to be the popular sentiment.
And, while Cancellara spent the day signing autographs and serving beer to fans what was the women's race winner up to? Sitting at home eating bonbons and celebrating easter? Well no, she went and raced and won a mountainbike-race. Because of course that's what she does. She's now aiming for serious results in the one cycling discipline where she doesn't have a World Championship and/or Olympic gold. I'm not sure what the female equivalent to Spartacus in the mythology is but if we are to look for one to describe Vos I'm pretty sure we need to find one that kicks Spartacus' ass.

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