Paris Roubaix 2013

With about 82 km to go, the Stuart O’Grady (AUS) break is going strong but as they negotiate sector 16 he loses contact with Gert Steegmans (Bel) and Mathew Hayman (AUS). Steegmans rolling the torso and hip hike, and Hayman with a roll motion when off the saddle, Steegmans would be doing the same later on off saddle. In the mean time Radio Shack is leading the peloton but not making any ground. Did you have a look at the flapping of the arm muscles in many riders and absorbing energy that does not get to the torso?

Damien Gaudin (Fra) rode very well and about to catch the lead group with a very active Sidebend motion, very active even on the cobbles, soft hand grip allowing him to move with more freedom. He did have a tough time catching the break, and he was not the only one. This is the one race when 6 seconds might as well be 3 minutes and out of sight, so close and yet so far. There was no quit in the guy, his 5th place is a credit to his effort and guts. I made a similar observation of Hubert Dupont, who also displayed a very active SBHH during the Criterium Int, quite similar to Thomas Voeckler’s handbook.

At about 51km to go Fabian Cancellara (Swi) and Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) both head to the front of the peloton and Chavanel would disappear with a mechanical. He would land in the group behind along with Thor Hushovd. A bit later, Cancellara is about 20 sec behind the second group with no teammates, unless you consider the cobbles as his ally, which he used to advantage. He erases the gap to the first chase group in no time. The last rider they want to see.

Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) and Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) are still ahead, Vanmarcke applying a roll/hike motion and apparently closer to a SBHH on the cobbles. Cancellara is chasing these guys, Niki Terpstra and Zdenek Stybar (Cze) can’t be too far back. Behind them Gaudin and Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa). Cancellara catches Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) and Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel), Stybar joins. Advantage Cancellara. Up to this point Omega Pharma could not have done any better, Steegmans working in front early, Chavanel positioning himself well in the peloton, then Stybar and Vandenbergh in the lead group and Terpstra (finished 3rd) not far behind. Which had to be a disappointment when they had the numbers. Vandenbergh loses it on the cobbles and a bit later Stybar may have hit a spectator, but it looked like he may have hit the edge.

With 11 km to go Cancellara and Vanmarcke are performing very similar skill sets, sidebending with a roll of the lower torso and a hike, almost in unison. Both kept a high level of skill even while completely exhausted. Vanmarcke is earning his way to the podium, working with Cancellara, he is one big strong kid. The absence of Boonen certainly opened the way for Vandenbergh and Stybar to show what they can do. The other revelation certainly was Gaudin, a credit to the French team riding with panache.

Paris Roubaix 2013 Prognostication

Time for the Paris Roubaix (2013) prognostication, the field will be progressively thinned out as usual and the final sorting out will be made with 80 km to go. I tend to look for strong teams and in particular pairs of riders who will make a difference. So the favorite combination comes from RadioShack, Fabian Cancellara (Swi) and Stijn Devolder (Bel) who are both strong on the pave. Cancellara may be ailing after his recent falls but should still be the favorite and Devolder is returning to prior form? Next on the list is the BMC Racing Team, Marcus Burghardt (Ger), Thor Hushovd (Nor), Taylor Phinney (USA), this group could certainly make for an interesting day. Hushovd and Phinney are certainly capable of delivering a solid performance. Cancellara and Hushovd can both accelerate on the pave when it counts.

Without Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step is hampered, however Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) will need a decisive acceleration on the pave, Gert Steegmans (Bel) can set the table and lead the way. How well does Niki Terpstra (Ned) do on the pave?

In line for a good showing is Garmin-Sharp Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Johan Vansummeren (Bel), they have a good history in the race. So does Stuart O’Grady (Aus), Orica-GreenEdge and he can ride well on his own, and besides he has won the race already. So has Vansummeren.

Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida and Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team are generally in contention. Peter Sagan is listed on reserve? Too bad Alessandro Ballan (Ita) is recovering from multiple injuries, he puts on a good showing.

Finally, is the unknown rider, the one that nobody is paying much attention to. He “slips away” to the win.

Stage 3 of the Criterium International, Corsica.

A solid SKY display, with Vasil Kyrienka leading and withering the field into the final climb of the day. In one of those moments, early in the climb quite a few riders went off the saddle and the group seemed to be transformed into a sea of the SBHH skill set.

M. Rodriquez performing the SBHH seated, in the cold rain, dangling at the back of the group. Losing contact. Then with 10km to go #22 Manuel Boaro, from Saxo bank, was heavily invested in a very marked roll of the torso and a combination roll hike of the pelvis, you don’t see that too often, nicely done. He may have been misidentified during the narrative. Soon thereafter, Thomas Voeckler off-saddle with the SBHH, very fluid and active, but he soon got dropped.

Team SKY’s has appeared to consist of pace setting and a time trial up any significant climb, seems they are telling everybody: “this is what we do, beat us”, they are very successful at that. Today there was a wrinkle to the plan. As Kyrienka peels off the front, Froome picks up the pace and soon takes off leaving Richie Porte in the group. Froome accelerating off saddle with the SBHH, the arms well bent on the hoods and a very active display of skill. He is then joined by a few others, and finding the group not to his liking accelerates yet again off saddle. This was not evident last year, save for the final meters of a stage. It’s not like he accelerated and fell apart, this was very well defined and DROVE this with the movement pattern (hint). Brutal. Soon thereafter, he may begin to show signs of fatigue, yet first and foremost the movement pattern leads the performance. In sum Froome displays a greater depth of skill than had been apparent.

What to expect from the Tour De France? Fireworks, Froome vs. Contador, each capable of accelerating off the saddle and maintaining the gap. That has not happened in several years. There will be other protagonists to be sure.