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The Subtlety of Tactics: Paris-Roubaix Tidbit

When we talked to Jonathan Vaughters last December (Gah, was it really that long ago?), he told us he hoped to use the team's numbers to swamp the massive power of Fabian Cancellara. At the Ronde van Vlaanderen, the race did not really go the way of Garmin-Cervélo. Paris-Roubaix, the é team had their day. If you haven't read Lionel Birnie on this race, go do it. Has he always written these race analysis stories? I'm not sure, but I read every one of them. Dude's a master. But that isn't what I came here to say.

This morning, Jonathan Vaughters commented that he liked Birnie's analysis except for one thing. The British writer had missed the moment when Vaughters pulled Garmin-Cervélo rider Rasch back from the break to help with the chase. What? Help with the chase? Why was Garmin-Cervélo helping with the chase with Van Summeren in the break? Vaughters explains:

Easy: We wanted the gap to be tight (40secs) so the others in the break were forced to work hard. And... so that Fabs [would] think he could get across towing Thor. A big gap (2mins) the break starts to look at each other, and [Fabian Cancellara] gives up.

Yes, sometimes, it actually does make sense to contribute to the chase, even with a rider up the road. Vaughters wanted to tempt Cancellara into trying to bridge, a move that suits the big Swiss rider's talent, but would also likely allow Garmin-Cervélo to send a passenger up the road with him. At the same time, contributing to the chase also helped Van Summeren in the break: His breakaway companions would not be tempted to slack off, if they believed the field still lurked close behind. Crafty.

I think it was the sideburns.