Picking up the broadcast with Chavanel on the screen, some serious Pro style Hybrid PMPC on display. Were he still on Quick Step he’d be up with Boonen and Martin.
One brief view of Stannard/Sky, a solid Pro Style PMPC. Later on there would be a great off saddle skill set, a good sidebend along with a very marked roll of the trunk, not something I usually see. Certainly variations on the theme, and very effective at that.
Overall, Sagan for example very steady over the cobbles, actively stable, meaning a good PMPC over the cobbles. Contrast with Burqhart later on who waved in the surrender flag, ton of bouncing on the saddle, ill defined trunk movement, end of the day for him with about 48 km to go.
< 66 km to go. The 2nd chase regrouping, likely to break up after the next cobbles. Or so I thought. Surprisingly, gaps are narrowing, this is likely to do with Cancellara and Sagan driving the passenger train. Generally the chasers lose interest with riders who tend to be ineffective on the cobbles.
Hayman the leader, tip toeing on the turns, while the chasers ride through. Even with over 73 km to go he was on the attack. Considering the finish, this makes the effort and quality riding all the more remarkable.
Something unusual, Martin slowing on the next cobbles? OK then it picks up 2-3 km later. Never did see where he dropped off. Boonen recovering in the group, even this is unusual. In earlier years, it would have been no prisoners taken on the cobbles, cloud of dust, see you later. Attacking the cobbles as if they were a mere inconvenience. The band is playing on under the watchful eye of one of the giants on the north.
Fabian increasing the pace on the chase, Boonen does the same and then the urgency vanishes. The SKY guys seems be coming down like dominoes, at least Stannard recovers and back in the hunt.
Sagan and Cancellara seem to be done, as the gap increases.
A good view of M Burquhart, seems to have given up the ghost, arms locked, some serious bouncing on the saddle, and trunk control is not. Ordinarily one might dismiss this, but this is what happens with fatigue, you can actually sense it and see it. Then end of a hard fought day.
Sieberg almost snuck out the front, then Boonen brings it back together, might just be a test for the next cobbles. In earlier years Boonen might have gapped the group, but 10 riders seems too big for a final sprint.
Is Stannard magnifying trunk rotation, plus a significant sidebend? Appears to be struggling but giving it the last once of effort. Bridging up to van Vanmarcke? Boonen should pencil him in for his Christmas list. Stannards skill is remarkable, all power to the engine room, only 5K to the end. Each is attacking, the others bridge and attack, what a finish! When it looks like it’s going to stick, it does not.
Boonen is boxed in on the sprint, then an opening, though I think Hayman would have been too strong. The quality of the sprint after 6 hrs of racing, the highest quality, off saddle effort and desire than one could have imagined.
Hayman did attack and power on the cobbles, and no I don’t mean power readings. But riding with consistently highly skilled and solid PMPC’s, even though bouncing. Sometimes it seems there is a certain speed at which you can bounce from cobble to cobble, vs. slamming into them.