Races of the week:
Busiest week of the season so far:
- Two BIG cobbles races in E3 and Gent-Wevelgem
- One LITTLE cobbles race in Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde
- THREE French SSSRs in GP de Denain Porte du Hainaut, Classic Loire Atlantique, and Cholet Pays de Loire
- THREE Stage Races from little (Tour de Langkawi), to medium (Settimana Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali) to big (Volta Ciclista a Catalunya)
Team of the week:
First named rider is the rider of the week and if a rider has a number in parentheses after their name it means the number of times they have made the select Team of the Week here.
I gotta say that there’s three-four riders who are in contention for Rider of the Week Naturally they all make the team. In this case I order them by total FSA-DS points they’ve earned for the year. That means....wait for it!
Alejandro Valverde (2). Pretty much controlled Catalunya all week, which is the definition of dominant. Won the GC, KOM, and two stages. Winner winner chicken dinner.
Peter Sagan. World champ wins Gent-Wevelgem for the millionth time with a very smart race. He should buy Jasper Stuyven a beer for the readout he unwittingly provided. First win since TDU. Amazingly he’s third in the VDS standings.
Elia Viviani (2). Backed up his Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde win with a flying second pace in Gent-Wevelgem. Plus the tears melted what passes for my heart. Seventh in the VDS standings, tops among Quicksteppers.
Niki Terpstra (2)- E3 win in fine Niki Terpstra fashion: made sure that no one was gonna be with him at the finish line. Just splendid and a great way to finish the QS win streak. 12th in the VDS standings.
Diego Rosa. Sky domestique reached out for some personal glory at Coppi and Bartali, winning the GC, two second places, and was part of the winning TTT team.
The remaining four places are difficult to allocate, honestly.
Philippe Gilbert. No wins this week but a solid 2nd place at E3 (and didn't he want to track down Terpstra?) and he was a force at GW.
Pierre Latour. 3rd on GC at Catalunya and wins the youth jersey over some pretty nice competition (2nd Soler, 3rd DF Martinez, 4th Ben O-Connor, 5th Gaudu)
Thomas Boudat. Satisfying sprint win at Cholet Pays de Loire
Jens Debusschere. A pair of 5th place finishes at E3 and GW says this guy is rounding into some serious form.
Team of the Week- Quickstep Floors
Rounding out the last couple of individual riders in the team of the week was kinda tough. Not so with the actual trade team of the week. We know about the cobbles win streak but let’s just look at what the team did just this week across all competitions:
- Monday 3/19- Álvaro José Hodeg snags stage 1 in Catalunya
- Wednesday 3/21 Elia Viviani takes Three Days Bruges - De Panne
- Friday 3/23 Niki Terpstra and Philippe Gilbert go 1-2 at E3
- Saturday 3/24 Maximilian Schachmann makes the two man break stick with a win on stage 6 at Catalunya.
- Sunday 3/25 Viviani comes up just short with a 2nd at GW.
That’s 19 victories this year to date. The big question is if this obviously best team on the cobbles this year can complete the deal with wins on one if not both of the next two Sundays. Is the competition peaking for the biggest races? That’s the big storyline moving forward.
Reverse Survivor Game:
Four restricted riders ate their donuts this week: Pinot, Albasini, Quintana, and Trentin leaving Doom, Gaviria, Zakarin, D-Mart, Bouhanni, Degenkolb, Porte and Chaves sitting on a goose egg.
FSA DS Team of the week
Regrets éternels d/s fnaud1. In a week where the VFS love was spread out among a whole bunch of teams, Regrets éternels scored 1169 points from Catalunya (via Valverde, Soler, Latour, Pantano, DF Martinez and Gaudu), plus he had Naesen and Van Aert.
Previewing the week to come
This week is ALMOST ALL ABOUT FLANDERS what with DdV in its new slot and de Ronde on tap. No stage races mess with this build up but there are a couple of other races in Route Adéie de Vitré, (big breath) La Roue Tourangelle Région Centre Val de Loire - Trophée Harmonie Mutuelle, and one of my favorite SSR’s in GP Big Mig.