Is the Three Days of De Panne three days too many?

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Over the past number of days, I’ve had a couple of conversations with people, debating whether riders who are serious about the Tour of Flanders should be riding the Three Days of De Panne. It consists of four stages spread over three days, and after it concludes tomorrow, there are only two days to rest up before the Tour of Flanders on Sunday.

But it’s not so much the lack of respite that is of concern, much more likely to affect riders’ preparation for Flanders is the potential for crashes. It is a race which is notoriously dangerous. The route brings the riders along stretches of very narrow roads, along cobbles and around a plethora of road furniture.

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The Superteam is Falling Flat

‘Perhaps no single squad has had as much talent ready for Paris-Roubaix since Mapei in 2000’. Well, so says April’s Pro Cycling magazine alongside a photograph of Garmin-Cervelo’s trinity of classics specialists Tyler Farrar, Thor Hushovd and Heinrich Haussler.

The new superteam can also boast experienced cobbled classic riders such as Andreas Klier, Roger Hammond, Martijn Maaskant, Johan van Summeren as well as the up and coming Sep Vanmarcke who has already been pegged for greatness. On paper it’s a formidable lineup. But gelling these riders into a coherent and selfless unit with clear goals and objectives isn’t easy. In fact it is the amount of talented riders which makes this task all the more difficult.

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Milan San Remo Trivia Special

Matt Goss’s victory in Milan San Remo came after one of the most exciting races in recent years. It also threw up many an interesting fact to keep us sad anoraks occupied and amused.

It was the first victory in Milan San Remo by an Australian, and indeed it was also the first win in this race by any rider from outside of Europe. Goss isn’t the first Australian winner of a monument classic though, as that honour befell Stuart O’ Grady in 2007 when he won Paris-Roubaix.

Thor Hushovd was a major favourite before the race and was aiming to win La Primavera as the reigning World Champion. Even though Oscar Freire has won Milan San Remo and the World Road Race Championship on three occasions each, he never tasted victory in San Remo while wearing the Rainbow Jersey. As it happened, both Freire and Hushovd ended up in the wrong half of the split peloton as both riders succumbed to crashes. The last rider to achieve this feat was Giuseppe Saronni way back in 1983. Indeed, having won the Worlds in Goodwood in 1982, he accomplished the ultimate Italian hat-trick of winning the Tour of Lombardy, Milan San Remo and the Giro d’Italia all as World Champion.

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Jonathan Vaughters’ PR Battle

(via tweetstats.com)

Jonathan Vaughters is a former professional cyclist. He is the CEO of Slipstream Sports. He is the current team manager of Garmin-Cervelo. He is the president of the International Association of Professional Cycling teams (AIGCP). And he is also one of the most accessible figures in the entire sport.

If you happen to be on twitter yourself and you send Jonathan Vaughters a message, if it’s an intelligent and relevant query, there’s a good chance that Vaughters may respond. Now I don’t know about anyone else but whenever I get an email or a tweet from someone famous, I get a thrill out of it. The fact that this person whom I see on telly and read about in the news has taken the time to communicate with me, however sad and pitiable this makes me seem, incites a sense of awe from within. Lance Armstrong tweeted me once last year, twice actually, and for all my misgivings about his actions and character, there was a while thereafter where I was thinking to myself , ‘Armstrong just tweeted me, ah he’s a good egg really’…I snapped out of it eventually.

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Championing the National Champions

Martinez

On Thursday’s stage of Paris-Nice, the Eurosport commentating team of David Harmon and Sean Kelly threw out a stat that Thomas Voeckler’s victory on Stage Four, was the first Paris-Nice stage win by a French Champion since Guy Sibille in 1977. As it happened, I’d already looked up this fact after Voeckler had attacked close to the finish on Stage Three, and the answer is not Guy Sibille.

The last French Champion to win a Stage of Paris-Nice was Francois Simon in 2000. It turned out that Harmon and Kelly had found this stat about Sibille in that day’s L’Equipe. Having done a bit more research, it seems to me that not only has Simon achieved this feat much more recently than Sibille, but that Sibille didn’t actually do it in the first place. As far as I can tell, he won the national championships in 1976, but he won his stage of Paris-Nice in 1976, not in 1977. Thus, he became French champion after he won the Paris-Nice stage.

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The Implications of Youthful Success

The age of the riders that are winning races this year is remarkable. The ProTeam rider with the most wins in 2011 is Peter Sagan (21) with four, closely followed by Matthew Goss (24) and Cameron Meyer (23) with three wins each. It is only natural to speculate at this stage in a rider’s career whether a victory in one of the sport’s major races is possible.

With Goss, his sprinting abilities make Tour de France stage wins and Milan San Remo a distinct possibility while Meyer has already shown that he is capable in week long stage races, making him a possible challenger at Paris-Nice in the future. For Peter Sagan, who is slightly younger than the other two, it is still unclear whether he will become the type of rider that can win Milan San Remo, or the type that could contend in a race like Liége-Bastogne-Liége.

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