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Holy Week 2009: What Did We Learn?

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For a sport where people rarely remember who finished second, the fact that the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix were both won by the same guys as last year -- the same teammates -- suggests that nothing happened in Holy Week 2009 that we didn't already know. Obviously that's not the case, and with the help of the post-race observations thread here are a few take-home messages.

* Tom Boonen doesn't just win Classics on the line. He can power away from the field, or however he separates himself he can ride alone and stay away. Seems like every time he and Pozzato rode a cobbled section, Boonen's lead grew. He took corners fearlessly and pounded away on the stones. He really is the whole package in the northern classics.

* Filippo Pozzato is probably better suited to Flanders than Roubaix. Great at both, but the big cobbles took a little out of him in the end, and unlike Boonen Pippo will not be remembered for his nimble cornering.

* The biggest difference between the two races is that in Flanders the riders have to make the race or it won't happen. In Paris-Roubaix, the carnage is inevitable. You can't simply mark the strongest man out of the race.

* The biggest difference between Quick Step and their rivals is aggression. Well, talent too, and the two go together. But as Boonen mentions (and R Mc explains poignantly in the post-race thread), at some moment you have to seize the race. Boonen and Devolder were each by far the true aggressors in their respective wins. Pozzato took a lot of crap for not seizing the race either Sunday, but the same could be said for virtually any of the remaining favorites. Hincapie gets rung up for this too. This is what distinguishes the classics from the grand tours: in the latter, having the best legs will generally, eventually get it done, but in a one-day event you have to take risks and try to seize the race.

* One last new item: Edvald Boasson Hagen is going to be a star.