TC's got some nice ideas about the race below, and I won't step on those. But you don't come here to read a regurgitation of VeloNews, so I guess I have to say something about it...
- As races go, it was maybe a 5 out of 10. For reference, Paris-Roubaix was pretty much a perfect 10, Flanders a 6, San Remo a 3. This is just one person being completely subjective, but I like seeing the race shaken up, and aren't the 31 hills supposed to do just that, even a little? In our preview we said plenty of nice things about the race, while ominously noting that sprinters have occasionally won. Either it's not quite as selective as it sounds, or... well, why else did it stay together all day? That's about it on the negative side. On the positive...
- CSC are having a completely brilliant season. Ivan Basso got it going last month winning the Criterium International, and Carlos Sastre won last weekend in Spain at the Klasika Primavera, two nice appetizers to go with the main courses at Roubaix and Valkenberg. Last year CSC were the little engine that could (but, in a sense, didn't), whereas this year Riis and co. are delivering big time. And this is before Basso winds it up for the Giro next month. They could be looking at a HUGE year, something far more meaningful than last year's ticky-tacky team prize.
- People are going to bash Rabobank, but I'm more sympathetic. First, because this is the ultimate Dutch race, everyone looks to them to do the work, as if they were holding the yellow jersey in the Tour. Well, Rabo did the work, without complaint, and kept things together as long as possible so their guys -- secondary contenders all -- could get a shot. I said nice things about their riders last week, but on further review, who would you rate among Boogerd, the Dekkers, Freire or Flecha, to overcome the flotilla of Classics studs they faced today? Boogerd rode away from Ballan, Valverde, Kroon, Bettini, Pozzato and so forth for third... not too shabby! And the rest: Freire and Flecha are more for something a tad flatter, Dekker the younger is very young (21), and Dekker the older is bloody old. Based on who they have, they rode their race and did as well as can be expected.
- I agree with TC's basic principle which he argues for different reasons -- that T-Mobile is fucking pathetic. They had three riders together chasing Schleck when he had the slightest of leads, like 12 seconds, and got noplace. Why would Wesemann ditch two teammates in a mad chase? How worthless could those mates have been to justify this? Maybe Ivanov and Sinkewicz were going soft at that point (it is a hard race, after all), or maybe Kroon has really sharp elbows, or cut a deal... the explanations confound. Anyway, they had the situation they needed and absolutely could not execute.
- Note to Professor Wilcockson: no Spaniard has ever stepped on the podium in Maastricht/Valkenberg. Hey, I had Flecha (after Ballan), so who am I to gloat? I even changed to Bettini with 50km to go.
- Lastly, I give him shit, but check out Boogerd's post-race quotes here, very frank and candid analysis of the situation. Pretty respectable. Also, I love Wesemann's reason for attacking, "you never know what will happen!" Right -- this is what passes for strategy at T-Mobile. I hate to quote a silly movie like Ghostbusters but remember when they were stalking the ghost in the library and Bill Murray's character launches the "get her!" plan? This is the level we're talking about. Res ipsa loquitur.