Thursday, April 30, 2009

Spring Statistical Analysis - A Response to Competitve Cyclist

I’ve long been a fan of Michael Lewis’ Moneyball, his book about the Billy Beane and his statistical approach to running a Major League baseball team. So naturally I was particularly excited to read the latest post on Competitive Cyclist’s "What's New" page. (If you haven’t yet bookmarked the link or added it to your feed reader, do so now.) The post takes 2 distinct approaches to summarizing the Spring Classics season: one statistical, the other emotional. Coincidentally, I had been in the process of constructing a similar overview of my own, albeit using a different points system.

You can read the full report and analysis on Competitive Cyclist here, but I’ll do my best to summarize their process below.

1. Points were assigned to Top-10 finishes in the following races:

            Milan-San Remo
            Tour of Flanders
            Amstel Gold
            Brabantse Pijl
            Fleche Wallone
            Dwars door Vlaanderen
            Grote Scheldeprijis
            Tour of California
            Pais Vasco

2. Points were assigned as follows:
            1st = 40, 2nd = 25, 3rd = 21, 4th = 7, 5th =6….10th =1

3. Points in certain races were weighted using the following multipliers:
            MSR, Flanders, Roubaix, Amstel, and Liege x5
            Stage Races x3

4. Stage wins were not counted for points.

Now I’m not here to argue with how Competitive Cyclist constructed its system. As they admitted in the post, statistical analysis is a particularly subjective enterprise, especially in a sport that seems to resist any statistics beyond wins and placings. However, there are some places where I think I would have done some things differently.

            1. By their own admission, the Tour of California really shouldn’t be counted.
            2. Despite the persuasive argument against counting stage wins, I think these do deserve recognition. In my own point system, I accommodated them.
            3. I added Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, L’Eroica, the Criterium International and the 3-Days of DePanne to the list. In my opinion, any analysis of the Spring Classics is incomplete without these races.
            4. Finally, and this is perhaps my biggest deviation from the good writers at Competitive Cyclist, I weighted each race individually on what I considered to be it’s own merits. I took into consideration characteristics such as prestige, length, terrain, field quality, and importance. Here is where subjectivity plays a major role. I’m sure there are holes in my logic, but I gave it my best shot.

Here’s my list of races with their weights:

            Het Nieuwsblad x3
            Kuurne x2
            Paris-Nice x4
            L’Eroica x2
            Tirreno-Adriatico x4
            Milan-San Remo x5
            Dwars door Vlaanderen x2
            E3-Harelebeke x3
            Criterium International x3
            Brabantse Pijl x2
            3-Days of Depanne x3
            Ronde van Vlaanderen x5
            Ghent-Wevelgem x4
            Paris-Roubaix x5
            Grote Scheldeprijis x2
            Pais Vasco x4
            Amstel x4
            Fleche Wallone x4
            Liege-Bastogne-Liege x5

And the points:
            1st through 10th Place: 40 – 25 – 21 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 points
            Stage Wins: 5 points (split stages in DePanne and Criterium International share points)

Some notes on my weighting and point systems:
            1. I weighed each of the one-day races differently; I think most make sense. I wanted to make L’Eroica’s multiplier 3, but it suffered a bit this year without Cancellara and Ballan. As for Milan-San Remo, I’m really struggling giving this race the same weight as Flanders, Roubaix, and Liege. As I said earlier—and to the agreement of Competitive Cyclist—it’s just not as difficult as other Classics. In the end, it gets the 5 for its prestige, its history, and by virtue of the fact that so many riders base their entire late-February and early-March upon doing well there. And Amstel? Maybe I underrated it, but I feel that several riders look past it to Liege or plan to peak earlier for Flanders and Roubaix. Overall, I’m content with the fact that Amstel and MSR effectively average one another out.

            2. As for the stage races, there’s not too much to say. Some might argue that Pais Vasco is much harder than Tirreno and Paris-Nice. Others might argue that the Criterium International is weighted too high. I welcome your feedback. Is there a better way?

            3. To try and allow for a point of comparison, I used Competitive Cyclist’s point system. Changing the points would have made such a comparison difficult if not impossible.

            4. I think 5 points is a fair method to recognize stage wins without creating an imbalance. Ignoring them is simply too easy. Does the winner on Montelupone really deserve nothing for his exploits? Does Pozatto deserve no credit for the 1st stage of DePanne?

So let’s get on with it!

Here’s how things shaped-up over at Competitive Cyclist:

            Quick Step 659
            Cervelo Test Team 574
            Saxo Bank 558
            Katusha 528
            Columbia 394
            Astana 360
            Silence-Lotto 276
            Caisse d'Epargne 267
            Rabobank 185
            Diquigiovanni 175
            Garmin-Slpistream 125
            Liquigas 112
            Euskatel 100
            Lampre 86
            Acqua Sapone 85
            LPR 70
            Francaise des Jeux 64
            Milram 51
            Skil-Shimano 34
            An Post 25
            Vacansoleil 22
            Ceramica Flaminia 15
            Ag2R 11
            BMC 7
            BBox 6
            Elk Haus 5
            Landbouwkredit 5
            Andalucia 3
            Topsport Vlaanderen 1
            Verandas Willems 1

Here’s how they turned-out for me:

            Quick Step 946
            Cervelo Test Team 838
            Saxo Bank 822.5
            Columbia 789
            Katusha 610
            Diquigiovanni 450
            Rabobank 422
            Astana 360
            Caisse d'Epargne 340
            Liquigas 334
            Silence-Lotto 319
            Euskatel 179
            Milram 165
            Lampre 148
            Francaise des Jeux 139
            Garmin-Slipstream 136.5
            LPR 115
            Acqua Sapone 110
            Agritubel 85
            Skil-Shimano 80
            Ag2R 71
            An Post 50
            Vacansoleil 44
            Landbouwkredit 20
            BBox 19
            Ceramica Flaminia 15
            BMC 14 (tie)
            Cofidis 14 (tie)
            Elk Haus 10 (tie)
            ISD 10 (tie)
            Andalucia 6
            Besson-Sojasun 5
            CSF Group-Navigare 3
            Topsport Vlaanderen 2
            Verandas Willems 2
            Fuji-Servetto 0

Some things I noticed in my analysis:
            1. Quick Step romped to the win in both my and the Competitive Cyclist analysis. The most interesting thing though is that they did it without scoring ANY points after Paris-Roubaix. Truly, this is a team built for cobbles.

            2. In my system, Silence-Lotto suffered the most and Diquigiovanni benefitted the most (almost entirely due to Scarponi and Rebellin).

            3. Interestingly, Astana scored the same number of points in both systems. Contador’s stage wins obviously compensated for the lack of Levi’s ToC.

            4. Lampre scored zero points prior to Pais Vasco. Clearly Ballan’s absence hurt them. And while the same can’t be said for Saxo Bank as a team, one can’t help but wonder what effect an on-form Cancellara would have had on the final tally—of several teams.

            5. Whatever happened to the French? FDJ aside, they were largely absent—as teams—from the majority of races. Those that did score points did so largely with riders from other countries. Individuals that did well did it while riding for foreign teams. It’s a shame we no longer have a French contender for Roubaix riding for a French team. Maybe someone will soon offer the big Euro’s to Chavanel to come home?

            6. Should BMC feel better or Cofidis worse?

            7. And finally, poor, poor Fuji-Servetto. Are they getting a raw deal?

All in all, this was a terrific exercise; it truly lent a new perspective to the races and the spring season as a whole. I did it all freehand—my Excel skills are negligible—which I think almost made it more enjoyable. However, I would welcome anyone with the time and talent to create a spreadsheet, particularly so that we can use it again next year.

In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I’m hoping to post a ranking of individual riders and maybe even countries—just to prolong the fun and opportunities for debate.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not extend one final salute to the folks at Competitive Cyclist. Not only are they a quality retailer, but they also offer some of the web’s greatest journalism and food for thought. Thanks!

Now, let the comments begin!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday Musings - Allergies, Transitions, etc...

If you live in the Northeast United States, you've undoubtedly been enjoying the warm weather over the past few days. If you're like me though, you've been suffering through the inevitable explosion of pollen that accompanies the mercury's upswing. My vice is that seemingly innocuous green pollen powder that covers everything in sight during this time of year. I'm praying for some late April showers to wash away my congestion. I'll trade a day of riding for a week of easy-breathing.

But enough about me! In thinking of topics for today--despite my coughs and sniffles--I thought back to 2001 and America's own Jonathan Vaughters. Remember this photo?

It's a shame that the man largely responsible for the vision and success of Garmin-Slipstream never finished Le Tour as a rider (although last July was probably just as rewarding for him). I wonder what might have happened had he finished? Would we still be enjoying the boys in blue and orange argyle?

So what's on your mind as we transition from spring to summer, from Classics to Tours? What would you like to see (no pun intended Mr. Vaughters) here at Pavé? We have lots planned including more reports on races, rides, products, and all sorts of unpaved, cobbled fun. We might even spend some time on the asphalt too!

We welcome your ideas and suggestions.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Liège-Bastogne-Liège - Live Stream

Click here for live coverage of today's La Doyenne.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Liège-Bastogne-Liège - Preview

Tomorrow’s “La Doyenne” closes the Spring Classics season with 261km of côtes (11 are officially listed, but several more populate the route) through Belgium’s French-speaking Ardennes. The race has just a bit of history—it started in 1892—but since I’m posting this preview at the last minute, I won’t inundate you with too many other details. So let’s get to the favorites:

The overwhelming favorite has to be Alejandro Valverde. A win tomorrow and Valverde enters the club of riders who have won the race three times. However, as Cyclingnews points-out, he’ll still be 2-behind Merckx and 1-behind Argentin in the race’s overall record books. Valverde’s clearly been guarding his form in advance of Sunday’s event. Present at the front of the Amstel and Flèche finales, but seemingly unwilling to give it full-gas, he’s obviously hoping that his measured efforts will pay-off big-time down the finishing straight in the Liège suburb of Ans.

Just behind Valverde lies Davide Rebellin, another former winner. Rebellin won Flèche Wednesday with a perfect display of power and calm up the Mur de Huy. Rebellin knows this race well, the question will be how his team will fare in keeping him where he needs to be as the race enters it’s final phase.

Damiano Cunego has been a bit of a disappointment to some. He promised to attack all week, seemingly giving little thought to riding conservatively in the hopes of winning the week’s biggest prize in Liège. Tomorrow we’ll have to see: is he really a step below where he said he would be, or has he just been bluffing? He certainly has the talent—when he’s on top form—to win easily.

After these three top favorites, it’s anybody’s guess. For me, Andy Schleck presents the greatest challenge to the men above. He has a strong team of support riders at his beck and call—in fact, he might even have his brother Frank back after his scary crash in Amstel. Together with Karsten Kroon, Andy and his team might have the firepower to bring the home the win for Saxo Bank and Bjarne Riis.

Samuel Sanchez has been knocking on the door all week with a 14th at Amstel and 4th at Flèche. But can he make the final step to the top of the podium? Tomorrow would be a great time to show his big win in Beijing was no fluke.

Cadel Evans and Silence-Lotto are setting themselves up for a lot of pressure this summer, with a list of near-misses as long and tall as the Mur de Huy (the latest scene of their collective self-implosion). Evans clearly doesn’t have the top-end fitness of some of his competitors (can you blame him though?) and I think Philipe Gilbert won’t have enough left in the tank to be there when it counts. Not that they are to be completely discounted, but if they can’t deliver the goods between now and July, look for the team to do some major house-cleaning before next season.

Rabobank’s Robert Gesink proved me wrong and put in a terrific showing in Amstel. Then he justified my lack of faith by promptly pulling-out of Flèche with a bum knee. I want to take him seriously, believe me I do, but I can’t help but feel he is yet another in a long line of Dutch favorites who can’t handle the pressure in the biggest races. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong?

I’m officially off my Fabian Wegman bandwagon. (Can you call it a bandwagon if you were the driver and the only passenger?) Nevertheless, this probably means that he’ll deliver the goods. And I’ll look like a genius with no patience.

And finally, there’s Liquigas. Basso’s on the preliminary start list, but will he start following his win in Trentino? Regardless, I’m eager to see what Roman Kreuzinger can do. He’s been active on the front of races all week and he has a strong team to support him. No matter how he fares, he's shown he’s a talent for the future. Mark him down now for the win in Romandie.

From there, you’re on your own. If you insist on a true dark horse, I still say Nocentini has something big in his legs—he showed it at Flèche--especially if there's a Valverde-Rebellin-Cunego stalemate.

And my two final random thoughts?
1. Bert De Waele and Thomas Voeckler will finish in the top ten.
2. Christophe Moreau and/or Frank Vandenbroucke will appear in the day’s suicide break.

And you? Who do you think will close the Spring with a big win in La Doyenne?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Flèche Wallone – Video - The Last Km

Here's some video from yesterday. Rebellin remains calm to the end. When will Evans learn that he can't ride people off his wheel? Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Flèche Wallone – Live Stream

Click here for a live stream of today's Flèche Wallone.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Flèche Wallone – Preview

It’s April and it’s almost Wednesday; there must be a semi-classic to discuss! Calling the Flèche Wallone ("The Arrow of Wallonia") a semi-classic might not be fair though. 195km of some of the Ardennes’ finest cols are on offer—11 in fact—including three trips up the infamous Mur de Huy. 1.3km in length, with an average gradient a little over 9%, the Mur tops-out at a whopping 25%! It’s one of the only races on the calendar where the finish often begins as a field sprint and ends with a rider winning solo.

Here are my riders to look for tomorrow on the road from Charleroi to Huy:

Cadel Evans is a top favorite here. He’s come close twice and would love the opportunity to score a win in front of his team’s home crowds. Also, while he wouldn’t turn-down a win on Sunday in L-B-L, his real season goals come much later, freeing him up to take wins now when he has the chance. Look for him to at least be in the top-3 tomorrow. I also think his teammate Philippe Gilbert will take one last stab for a big win this spring. His form must be dwindling, but if he can stay out of trouble early, he has the power to win on the Mur.

As I mentioned before Amstel, Davide Rebellin isn’t what he used to be. However, while he might not have the firepower for a race like L-B-L anymore (I’m fully aware that I might be eating those words later), he does have the potential to score one more win here (he already has two). If his team keeps him safe, he’ll be able to deliver the goods.

Alejandro Valverde is too talented not to be mentioned. His 2006 win in Huy began his string of Ardennes success. That said, I think Valverde will win only if he feels he can do so without compromising his chances for Sunday. It’s a bigger race and another win there would cement is place among it’s all-time greats.

Columbia’s Kim Kirchen will be on the line as defending champion, but I think a stronger challenge might come from his teammate, Thomas Lövkvist. He’s motivated, and he showed earlier this year in L’Eroica that he has a knack for winning tough races. And don’t forget Michael Albasini—he’s on form and was seventh last year.

Euskaltel’s Samuel Sanchez is indeed on a tear, and unless he’s saving himself for Sunday, he could win here easily. The same can be said for Cunego. I wonder what he left in reserve once he knew the win in Amstel was out of his reach?

Roman Kreuzinger justified his mention before Amstel with a dangerous move in the race’s final stage. Karsten Kroon could certainly avenge his near-miss Sunday with a win—unless his teammate Andy Schleck has something to say about it.

Outsiders? Nocentini and the Efimkin’s from AG2R shouldn’t be forgotten; neither should Sandy Casar from FDJ. Simon Gerrans will fly the flag for Cervelo—he’s always capable of a shocker.

But for me, I’m sticking to my guns and picking Fabian Wegman for the win…again.

And you? Who are your picks?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Turkey for Me, Turkey for You...

I’m still reeling from the video of yesterday’s final stage of the Tour of Turkey. What a way to bring the sport to new audiences! I hope ESPN includes it in this week's “Plays of the Week”. Maybe they can create a montage combining this footage with pictures of Tyler Hamilton winning Gold in Athens and Michael Ball firing riders to cut costs. (Don’t you hate it when a pet needs more care than you thought it did? "But Mommy, he looked soooo cute in the window.")

And we complain when our sport isn’t taken seriously.

While we’re at it, let’s take a minute to honor another example of field sprint shenanigans, this time courtesy of Sir Tom Steels. (And note the highlight at the end announcing Abdu's positive test. A nice touch!)

But back to Turkey, Theo Bos (the Rabobank rider) says it wasn’t deliberate. I can’t see how we are to believe him. There’s a difference between a tap on the thigh to let a rider know you’re there and grabbing a jersey and pulling it across your front wheel. Daryl Impey (Barloworld) fractured a vertabra and lost a tooth in the fall; but hey, Robbie McEwan’s willing to vouch for Bos, so maybe I should reconsider my stance. (Yes, that’s sarcasm.)

Speaking of dopes, read “The Dope Show” at The Service Course. Ryan continues to astound me with his wit and writing style. This post is a classic to be read and shared by all.

Do you know the Boulder resident of which he speaks? I think I do.

More things to consider:

1. Rule #1 when picking race winners: always go with your first instinct. It's lip service now, but when looking over the Start List prior to Amstel, Ivanov's named jumped out at me. Alas, I talked myself out of including him. Next time, when my gut tells me something, I'll listen. (Unless it might result in me breaking someone's back and teeth.)

2. If you haven't been paying attention, Jeremy over at the Embrocation blog was in Belgium and France for the cobbled classics. He's been posting terrific photos and videos from his travels. Click here for a brief but exciting video from the caravan at Roubaix. (Brings back memories for me. Remind me to tell you the story sometime of the Italian DS who threatened to run me off the road during a stage in Malaysia in 2001.)

3. Jeremy also took part in Rouleur's latest version of The Crazy Bet. The goal: to ride the entire courses of Flanders, Ghent, and Roubaix the day before each classic. They failed on Day 1, but the stories are still worth a look. My favorite is here, and details their experiences over the last 90km or so of Roubaix with Katusha.

4. Battenkill was this past weekend. I'll give something--once we have Pavé logos on something--to the first person to provide us with a Pavé-exclusive 1st-person account and photos. Here's an example.

5. And if you're in the Mid-Atlantic, be sure to head over to Ridelugged and check out the Spring Opener. It's certain to be a great day!

Enjoy your week!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tour of Turkey Stage 8 - Yellow Jersey Mayhem!

This just in from the Tour of Turkey. Absolute mayhem! Fast forward to about 3:35 and watch as a Rabobank rider grabs the Barloworld rider wearing the yellow jersey and literally throws him into the barriers.

I'm sure we'll be hearing more about this as more details arrive, but for now watch and be amazed. When will our sport cease to fill the mainstream media with more examples of its stupidity?

Amstel Gold Race - Live Stream

If you have Windows Media Player, click here.

Otherwise, you might need to wait until 9:15EST when more coverage is set to begin.

Update #1: Unfortunately, I'm not getting reliable links to streams today. Maybe because I'm using a Mac? Others say the link above works, so hopefully you're able to enjoy the action.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Amstel Gold Race - Preview

Yes, this comes a bit late in the day (the soigneurs might even be stirring soon—or at least returning to their hotels after a night on the town), but there's still time to talk about tomorrow’s Amstel Gold Race.

A relatively “new” classic (this year is only the 44th), the Amstel Gold race used to be the final cherry on the Spring Classics sundae. However, following the recent calendar change, it now serves as the bridge between the cobbled and the Ardennes classics. Team trucks will drive east from Flanders and north from the Basque Country, exchanging bikes, equipment, and staff for the next phase of the season.

The unfortunate thing about Amstel is that it has a tough time living-up to the reputations of its peers. Riders coming off Flanders and Roubaix look at it as a sort of consolation prize. For example, Juan Antonio Flecha is likely hoping for a chance to make his fans forget about his untimely crash last Sunday. On the other hand, the Ardennes riders could be looking ahead to next Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège . Would Valverde like to win Amstel? Sure he would. But at the cost of another Liège? Not necessarily. So tomorrow might be a day for an aggressive “I-want-to-win-everything-I-enter-with-little-or-no-thought-of-the-future” kind of rider. (Are your ears burning Damiano?) Or it could be a day for a rider to assume the spotlight that might not quite be accustomed to it. (I’m talking to you Rinaldo Nocentini.) Regardless, expect a large breakaway or a small peloton to have thinned itself out by the last 25km of this 258km berg-fest (there’s 31!). From then it’s anybody’s guess; the final sprint up the Cauberg is usually quite a sight.

This year’s preliminary start-list is filled with a bevy of interesting riders—should they all take the start. From the cobbles we have Sylvain Chavanel, Flecha, Nick Nuyens, Martijn Maaskant, Heinrich Haussler, and Philipe Gilbert. Of these, look for Flecha and/or Nuyens to be aggressive for the home crowd, but fade later in the race. Maaskant has a better team of supporters here than he did over the past two weeks, but I think he too will suffer as the day wears on. In fact, you might be better putting your Slipstream money on Canada’s Ryder Hejsedal (why don’t they start him in more cobbled classics?). I’d love to see Chavanel cap-off a perfect spring with a win here; in doing so he would cement his status as Lefevre’s newest Stefano Zanini. And Gilbert? As has been well-documented, he’ll simply need to make the break that matters. If he does, he could easily take the win and make a late bid to salvage his team’s spring.

As far as riders beginning their Ardennes peak we have Alejandro Valverde, Damiano Cunego, Robert Gesink, Davide Rebellin, Samuel Sanchez, and Fabian Wegman. Of these, I think Valverde’s biding his time, while Cunego’s in it to win it (at the cost of a win next Sunday). Rebellin’s a threat, but not quite his old self; Gesink’s too nervous and crash-happy for these roads. Sanchez is too isolated and in terrain that’s not quite his specialty. And Wegman? Well, frankly, I think he could win. Seriously. He’s out to prove that his explosion on the Muur de Huy last year was no fluke (except for the explosion part). Aside from Cunego, Wegman’s most serious threats lie in the form of Luxembourg’s fabulous Schleck brothers. Frank gets the edge for his propensity to attack a bit more, and he’s a past winner.

Outsiders? Kreuzinger and Nibali will be the Ardennes version of Quinziato and Kuschynski (although he’s on the line too). Rinaldo Nocentini probably won’t win, but he could sprint his way through a defeated group of the leaders to sneak onto the podium. Kim Kirchen’s here, but he’s been out for a while. Look more to his teammates Albasini and Pinotti—both won stages in Pais Vasco last week.

But my money’s on Wegman—anyone on a team racing in blue cow kit deserves some respect.

Who’s your pick to win? Let us know below.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Stones of Belgium - Part 3

The following is the third and final part of a story I wrote for Embrocation Cycling Journal, the brain-child of Jeremy Dunn. The story appeared in Issue Number 2. (You can buy issues 2 and 3 here. Please support them!) The first and second sections of the story can be found here.

Two kilometers from town, I turn from the main road toward Oud Heverlee. This cobbled strip is just enough for one final burst, one last test of my power and souplesse. I make a right, sweeping down the little hill through dilapidated brick houses, barns, and rotting barbed wire fences. Slipping my chain onto the big ring for one last time, I check my gearing—too little and I could lose my chain as soon as I hit the stones, too big and I won’t be able to maintain my cadence over the entire length of road. Reaching down to see that my bottle is secure, I hit the stones soundly. I’m in it now, my legs pumping, working to maintain and increase the speed. I can hear only the sound of my heart in my ears. I keep my head low for balance, and I can feel my breath on my wrists and hands. No need to consult the heart rate monitor—I know the extent of the effort. My nose runs; I can taste blood on my breath. After twenty-five meters I’m able to get one more gear, another after twenty-five more. I know there is slight dip near the finish that I need to account for in my final burst. I can’t try to stand on the pedals, for the sudden shift of my weight could send me tumbling to the stones; I can only rise slightly from the saddle, keeping myself loose and centered over the bike.

By now, focused only on the end of the road, I can’t feel the pounding of the stones. I can’t hear the slap of my chain or the pops of my spokes twisting under the strain. I can’t feel my heart beating or the burning ache in my legs. There is no time to worry about oncoming cars or stray dogs running into the road. I am not chasing or being chased; I am simply alone in the moment, comfortable with the route I have taken.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Paris-Roubaix - 2010 Preview

By now, you’ve read everything there is to read about Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix. Personally, I was just glad to see one of my predictions finally come to fruition. Also, is it just me, or does Johan Van Summeren remind you of Wilfred Peeters? Too bad for him that Leif Hoste is far from Johan Museeuw.

So rather than rehash the past, let's get an early jump on predicting next year’s winners by peering into the Pavé Crystal Ball to see the favorites for the 2010 Paris-Roubaix.

(Cue screen blur and harp music)

2010 Paris-Roubaix - Preview

Tom Boonen - Boonen came into this season with Milan-San Remo as his primary goal. His tire length victory over Mark Cavendish gave him the win he so craved in one of the few Monuments he had left to conquer. Last week at Flanders he looked as though his form is on the decline following weeks at top niveau; but in a race like Roubaix, he still cannot be discounted. Some might say the loss of Devolder will hurt him, but as we saw last year, Roubaix is a race where Tommeke can fend for himself quite well. As long as Quick Step has a rider in the early break to offer support later, Boonen should be fine. As always, luck will be a factor (his opponents' crashes and miscues in 2009 certainly made things a bit easier for him); but in the end, it will come down to just how badly he wants it. If he can display the determination he displayed in San Remo, look for Tom to take the top step for the fourth time.

Fabian Cancellara – Spartacus just can’t catch a break. Last year in Flanders he broke his chain on the Koppenburg, this year he flatted out of the chase group between the Bosberg and the finish line. With O’Grady and Riis’ Viking Horde of dedicated workers, Cancellara is eager to win this race again, thus cementing his place with Boonen in what could become a legendary rivalry.

Filippo Pozzatto – Going into last week's Tour of Flanders, the question regarding Pozzato centered upon whether or not he would try and take the race into his own hands. Last year’s shadowing of Boonen won him the sprint for second, but it did little to help him get him the win. Ironically, this year it was following wheels again that meant the difference for Pippo. The only one able to follow Devolder’s attack up the Muur, Pozzato was more than happy to wait for the sprint where he knew he would make quick work of the Silence rider. This weekend, he stands an even better chance of pulling-off the double in a race that seems to suit him even more. With legions of tifosi lining the course to protect him from those bad Belgian hooligans, Pozzato is primed for victory.

Stijn Devolder – Devolder’s move to Silence might just have paid-off. I’ll admit, I was worried that he might pay the price for letting his ego and his wallet lure him away from the safety of Quick Step. But his performance in last week’s Flanders proves he’s truly Silence’s kopman. While he didn’t win the race, his team worked flawlessly to set him up for his leg-searing attack at the foot of the Muur. Unfortunately, Katusha set-up Pozzato equally well. As domestiques, Hoste and Van Summeren are enough of a team to get Devolder where he needs to be for the win. Throw someone like Sentjens into an early break and you'll have the ingredients for a Devolder victory.

Alessandro Ballan – While still young, as Ballan ages he seems to be losing the explosivity necessary to win on Belgium’s muurs and bergs. However, that doesn’t hinder him in Roubaix, a race of sustained power and endurance. His team is still a bit weak despite the off-season addition of Quinziato. Like many of the other riders, the key for Ballan will be in how he plays off the deeper teams. He’ll need patience and a bit of luck in choosing just which attacks to follow.

Thor Hushvod – The Mighty Thor is out for revenge. He thought he had a second Ghent-Wevelgem in the bag before a stalled motorcycle in the final km led to crash, derailing the peloton’s capture of Flecha’s 2,000-meter suicide breakaway. Thor came-out okay—his lead-out train bore the brunt of the fall—but he’ll certainly be riding with something to prove. As he showed last year, he’s capable of winning this race, should things (including Flecha) fall in his favor.

George Hincapie - For better or worse, we will be subjected to one final year of Versus TV coverage that highlights George Hincapie above all else—the race included. His retirement following this year’s Tour of Missouri will leave Paris-Roubaix without one of its biggest storylines of the past 15 years (at least for English-speaking fans). Could this finally be the year? Columbia added Kevin Ista to bolster the attack, but will it be enough? Burghart and Eisel are there again, but can they be patient for one more year? Time for some box-section alloy rims, George. Your carbon deep-dish wheels seem to make you more flat prone. Pull-out all the stops and give it one more go!

Martijn Maaskant - Maaskant’s move to Rabobank has clearly paid dividends. Having a team of riders capable of supporting him in the big classics made all the difference in his win at the E3 Prijs 2 weeks ago. I still think he’s a year away from a win in Flanders or Roubaix, but he’s certainly capable of succeeding ahead of my schedule. His form is there, his team is solid, and he’s proved adept at learning from his mistakes. Expect big things—if not now, then soon.

Leif Hoste – At first upset by Devolder’s move to Silence, it might turn out to be the best thing that could have happened to Leif. Why? MUCH less pressure. Hoste’s just not strong enough to handle the burden that comes with the status of top favorite. I think he’ll be much better served as a role-playing lieutenant. He could easily find himself in a situation to win the race in a fashion similar to Knaven in 2001. Given a free hand while the other favorites look to Devolder, Hoste might finally bag his big classic win.

Sylvain Chavanel – Devolder’s departure cemented Chava’s place with Quick Step for at least one more year. He’ll get more freedom to play his own odds in race where the competition might mark Boonen too closely. In short, he’s Quick Step’s new Stijn Devolder. In 2009, his late-race exploits showed us all he has the ability to win Roubaix, now he’ll just need the opportunity. If he gets it, don’t be surprised to see the first French winner since Guesdon.

Heinrich Haussler – Haussler still seems to be recovering from the spectacular crash in Stage 3 of the 2009 Vuelta. He shows glimmers of the form that made him the talk of the spring in last year, but I think the top form is still coming. Amstel might be a better chance for him.

Juan Antonio Flecha – Johan Bruyneel has never won at Roubaix. The signing of Flecha proves just how important it might be to him. Flecha’s the king of "too little, too late" as he always seems to miss the move that matters. He broke that streak in Roubaix last year, but crashed in the final 20km. Too eager? Perhaps. But if there’s anyone that can help overcome his nerves and tendency to panic, it’s Bruyneel and Alain Gallopin. Cool under fire, they might prove to be the difference makers for the Spanish Arrow.

2-Stone Outsider
Johan Van Summeren – These two have played the roles of faithful domestiques over the past several seasons. They’re likely to do so again, but don’t rule them out. Hoste’s the new lieutenant at Silence; that could give Van Summeren more latitude. Stranger things have happened!

That’s it for my 2010 Paris-Roubaix Preview! Did I miss someone? Share your thoughts below.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Paris-Roubaix - Live Stream

For a live stream of today's Paris-Roubaix, click here.

Update#1: The link above is no longer active. CTV had it blocked.

Here's a new link. Lesser sound quality, but it works.

Update #2: The latest link just crashed. Try this one. (11:05EST)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Paris-Roubaix - Preview

Tomorrow’s the day we’ve all been waiting for: the “Queen” of the classics, Paris-Roubaix. A 260km race with over 50 km of pave in the final 160km, Roubaix is truly the one classic every rider dreams of having the talent, power, and luck necessary to win.

This year, the weather is forecast to be dry and sunny, conditions similar to last year’s event. However, the race should still be anything but uneventful; Roubaix always offers a spectacle!

This year, several favorites will take the line despite the absence of two of the race’s recent winners: Stuart O’Grady and Alessandro Ballan.

In honor of the occasion, and the first-ever Pavé Preview of the race that made cobblestones famous in the first place, I’m unveiling a new way of ranking my riders to watch.

Allez! Allez!

Tom Boonen – As we saw last year, Tommeke is not one to be overshadowed during the week that traditionally marks the high point of his season. Yes, he’ll be marked by probably every rider in the race (including his own teammates). Yes, he’s under an incredible amount of pressure. Yes, he’s on a team containing no less than 3 riders capable of winning. These factors alone combine to make Tom a less-than-ideal candidate for the win. But let’s face it folks, he’s far and away the most powerful rider in the peloton at the moment. He also rides for the strongest team. Oh, and he’s won this race twice already. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, he’s got something to prove to an entire country who thinks he’s not its best cyclist anymore. Add it all up, and you have to set Boonen apart from the rest; he’s my only 5-Stone Favorite.

Filippo Pozzato – I might be overrating him, but I think Pippo has at least enough left in his tank to be there at the end. If he gets to the velodrome with the lead group he could give his Italian fans reason to celebrate. A key for Pozzato will be his team. Can his colleagues keep him well-positioned and out of harm’s way? Another key: will he attack more than he did last Sunday? Yes, he launched a few assaults on Boonen, but for most part he seemed tentative and unsure of his ability to ride away from the Tornado. Personally, I think the best way to crack Boonen is to put him on the defensive, particularly if his own teammates begin to feel they have better legs than he does. If I were Pozatto, I’d attack Boonen before he’s isolated, forcing his team to decide whom they wish to protect. The resulting hesitation--or better yet--in-fighting among the Quick Steppers might be enough to launch him to the win.

George Hincapie – George is a sentimental favorite here for many reasons. His team says it is 100% devoted to getting him the win. Riders like Eisel and Burghart are powerful domestiques capable of shielding him well into the race’s later stages. The key here is just going to be George himself, specifically, his form and his luck. Will he stay upright? Will he make the right tactical decisions? Will his steerer tube stay intact? Roubaix is the one race more than any other where luck can make or break you. Will this be George’s year?

Stijn Devolder – He’s not shy about his goals—he wants to win the double. Frankly, I thought he’d take more of the company line following his win last weekend. However, it appears that Stijn wants more. Boonen can’t be pleased. Devolder’s never really shown an aptitude for the Roubaix; his best finish (18th) was last year in a race where he spent most of the day working for Boonen. That said, he was with the leaders up to the final selection and launched a few leg-blowing attacks to set things up for his captain. Will he be so willing to do the same this year? Or will he play his cards closer to his chest in the hopes taking the win himself?

Leif Hoste – Last week I said that Silence-Lotto might be a week too early for a big win. Hoste’s the man I had in mind. If things bounce his way Sunday, he could be just the rider to profit from a Boonen-Pozzato-Devolder-Hincapie stalemate. If his team puts the right riders in the right moves to give him some help up the road when the field thins, this maid could finally become a bride.

Fabian Cancellara – Yes, he’s been sick and had some bad luck, but I think that might play in Spartacus' favor. He’ll be fresh, and no one quite knows for certain just where his form lies. He also does well in the dry, sunny weather. Mark my words, Cancellara will be a factor.

Sylvain Chavanel - Could we see yet another 1-2-3 victory for Lefevre's boys? If so, look for Chavanel to get the low spot on the podium pole. For him to win, he'll have to profit from his team's tactics--similar to Devolder last week. Wouldn't the French just love to have another winner from their own country? He rides for a Belgian team, but a win's a win.

Juan Antonio Flecha – It would be nice to see Flecha actually launch an attack before 4 or 5 other riders have gone up the road. If he’s in a position to do so then he could become Spain’s first winner.

Martijn Maaskant – Only Hincapie winning would make me happier than seeing Maaskant live up to the hype he’s received after his finishes in Flanders and Roubaix last year and Flanders last weekend. To be honest though, I just don’t think he has the team to help him pull it off. He’ll need to choose the right wheels to follow and hope to profit from the work of the better, deeper teams. For more on this, read Ryan’s post over at The Service Course following Flanders last week.

Heinrich Haussler – Not much to say here other than the fact that he might have peaked a bit too soon. Yes, he was second in Flanders, but he was never really a factor at the point when the race could still be won. Not to say he couldn’t finally get it together and get a big win, I just think HH will have to wait until next year for his big Classic.

2-Stone Outsiders:
Nick Nuyens – If Flecha doesn’t get in his way, Nick’s capable of pulling-away for a big win in a race such as this.

Frederic Guesdon – He’s old, he’s wily, and he’s won this race before. Maybe he gets in an early break and just slowly sneaks away. You never know, right?

Manuel Quinziato – He’s obviously peaking—watch the Flanders replay for proof. While the win might be a bit out of reach, he could certainly play a role.

Bjorn Leukemans – Another rider who might be well-served by getting in an early break with a rouleur or two capable winning. Maybe these 4 riders should just look for one another early?

No matter what happens, the race will certainly make for good watching. I’ll do my best to post a reliable live stream source as soon as I find one. Unfortunately, due to the holiday, I might not get to watch the live finale myself. I’ll just have to wait for Vs. later in the day.

That’s all for now. Have a great holiday if you’re celebrating. Feel free to share your favorites with us.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Reconnaissance, rehearsal, research. We know these terms well no matter our age, our experience, or our vocation. To ensure success, we know we must prepare not only physically, but mentally for our biggest events. For some, this might mean checking the air pressure in their tires before the Sunday group ride. For others, it might mean pre-riding a course and changing to a cassette with a more appropriate gear ratio.

Yesterday and today, the riders and teams of Paris-Roubaix have been sampling the cobbles they’ll be facing on Sunday. It’s a day for testing legs and equipment, choosing the best lines over the stones, and noting unexpected surprises. It’s a day for leg warmers, long sleeve jerseys, hats, and maybe a Mars bar. It’s also perhaps the only day of the year when the TV moto follows you on a training ride.

On Monday, Ridelugged’s James and I went up to State College for my second recon of the roads we’re using for our Rapha Continental ride later this year. James included a terrific narrative detailing his experiences that day. He included some of my photos. Please read more here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ghent-Wevelgem - Live Stream

Finally! We have a live stream of today's Ghent-Wevelgem.

Click here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ghent-Wevelgem - Preview

The Classics show continues tomorrow with Gent-Wevelgem, a classic that struggles to find it’s character from one year to another. Don’t get me wrong, G-W is a Classic with a reputation for great riders, great racing, and frenzied fans. Just try getting up the Kemmelberg anytime after 10am tomorrow—you’ll see. (But if you do, stop into the Belvedere Café at the top for a pintje and some steak frites.)

What I mean about the race’s character is that—similar to Milan-San Remo—one can never tell when it will be year for a breakway or a field sprint. Typically a small group of riders will go away early in the hopes of being out front by the time live coverage starts. At least one of these riders will be Belgian. Could VDB go for the glory? The first time the race hits the Kemmelberg, the favorites will test their legs (look for Flecha to get things started). Some will do it to try and break the race apart, others will do it for the training, and still more will do it to place themselves for the dangerous descent to follow. Perhaps a small group of these riders will stay away for the next lap. Perhaps they’ll be caught quickly—it depends usually on which way the wind is blowing (literally). Sometimes these groups get larger on the next ascent; if they get the right teams represented they might even stay away for the win.

What I’d like to see happen would be for a small group—of 3 or 4—break away on the 1st or 2nd ascent of the Kemmelberg and hold it all the way to Wevelgem. 2005, 2001, and 1998 come to mind. True to the race's history however, I have a feeling there will be a bunch kick—and Cavendish will get the win.

The rest of my favorites?

Quick Step would love another win before leaving for France. Honestly though, I think they’ll be looking ahead. This could a day for Chavanel—if he gets in the right move—to foil the sprinters.

As for Silence-Lotto, Gilbert looks better for this race than he does for Roubaix. If the team doesn’t try and save him for Amstel and the Ardennes he could be one to watch—again, if there’s a break that succeeds. Hoste will probably be saving his legs. And Van Avermaet?

I mentioned Flecha already; Haussler’s on the line too. Hincapie and Burghart are both former winners, but they’ll most likely be working for Marky-Mark C. And don’t forget Tom Boonen. Could he fire a warning shot for Sunday? Will Pozzato leave his wheel long enough to try for the win himself? And what about Robbie McEwan? Will he try and teach Cavendish a lesson on his adopted home turf? Clerc, Weylandt, Roelandts, and Vaitkus are sprinters who could shine should Cavvie be having a bad day. Quinziato might just have one more break in him.

It’s just going to come down to motivation. Will the teams with serious Roubaix aspirations be willing to do enough to put a rider in a winning position? Or will they just use the race to train, content to let the sprinters’ teams control the pace.

We’ll see tomorrow. Your picks?

Vuelta al País Vasco - Stage 2 - Live Stream

An incredibly hilly race run over six days, the Tour of the Basque Country is an important warm-up race for the Ardennes classics.  All the favorites will be there.  The race began yesterday with Luis Leon Sanchez taking the first stage and the leader's jersey.   

Beginning at 9:35EST, you can enjoy a live stream of Stage 2 here.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Ronde van Vlaanderen/Tour of Flanders - Wrap-up, etc...

"Devolder the Soldier"?

Did I really post that?

Funny how the morning after often brings clarity through hindsight.

Speaking of hindsight, there's much to be said following yesterday's race. And while I'd like to say it all myself, I think The Service Course pretty much covered it all--with great links to boot. If you haven't visited this blog yet, today would be great day to start.

As for myself, James from Ridelugged and I spent the day wandering around Central PA, writing the final cue sheet for the Ramble. While I'm waiting for a more substantial post down the road, we've been selected to lead the ride as part of Rapha's Continental Calling.

More pics and info still to come...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Devolder the Soldier!

Alternate title: "The Pain in Stijn Falls Mainly on his Competitors".

All puns aside, today's performance was a true masterstroke for team Quick Step. Lefevre must love it when a plan works beautifully:

1. Send dangerous rider #1 up the road in the first dangerous break of the day.

2. Tell rest of team to follow wheels.

3. Once back together, continue sending dangerous Rider #1 until he has no more to offer.

4. As rider Dangerous Rider #1 begins to fade (while Favorite Rider sits comfortably on wheels), send Dangerous Rider #2 (and returning champion) up the road. Either wait for Dangerous Rider #2 to be caught (by the group containing Favorite Rider), or sit back and wait for the finale.

5. Exalt in the glory of well-deserved win.

Look, I'm not discounting Devolder's show of force. His win was not simply a case of being on the team with the overwhelming favorite. He dominated when his number was called. He rides with such force--it's really a site to be seen.

Check this out:

I'll try to post more of a recap tomorrow, but I'm off to State College to do some more recon for the Ramble. If nothing goes up tomorrow, come back Tuesday.

Ronde van Vlaanderen/Tour of Flanders - Live Stream


You can enjoy a live stream of today's Tour of Flanders here.


Friday, April 3, 2009

Ronde van Vlaanderen/Tour of Flanders - Preview

Let the metaphors fly! Sunday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen is the World Series/Super Bowl/World Cup Final/etc… of Flanders (and maybe all of Belgium). With 16 climbs spread over 260km, the Ronde is truly the highlight of the year for Belgian fans.

The course remains realtively unchanged from last year, save for the deletion of the Kluisberg and the Nokereberg and addition of the Eikenberg and the Varent.

At this point, weather reports are good—sun and fair weather. For the riders, this is welcome news; for fans hoping for another legendary race, this is somewhat disappointing. But we'll get over it.

Aside from the absence of 2007 winner Ballan and the off-form Cancellara, several riders this year are peaking just at the right time:

Quick Step: Notice I said “Quick Step” and not just Boonen, Devolder, and/or Chavanel. In fact, any of these three could win the race outright if given the final green light. Everyone claims to be working for Tommeke, but I can’t help but believe that Chavanel and Devolder would ride for themselves if the opportunity presents itself. As it is, Devolder took a bit of criticism last year for launching such a devastating attack in the race’s final stages. Had Boonen not won a week later I think we would have heard much more. This is clearly Quick Step’s race to lose; they will have to work together to ensure that doesn’t come to pass.

Filippo Pozzato: Katusha’s “Hollywood” seemed to be the only rider with enough talent to break Quick Step’s Flemish stronghold—in fact, he did in Harelbeke. But then he went to De Panne and promptly crashed in the final road stage. He says he’s fine (and so does his team), but I can’t help but think that it might set him back a bit. I’m not saying he can’t or won’t win, but he certainly didn’t do himself any favors. Aside from that, Pippo’s biggest challenge will be holding his own over the entire 260km. He won Het Volk in 2007 and E3 this year, but those races were barely over 200km. There’s a big difference between 200 and 260km—especially with the caliber of the terrain over the final 50-60km in Flanders. And yes, I’m aware that he won Milan-San Remo. But would you really compare the two? He will be much more exposed here than he was in San Remo.

George Hincapie: I have a REALLY good feeling about George this year. His preparation has been perfect. He’s rested. He has a team around him with experienced riders (Eisel and Burghardt) capable of protecting him well into the race’s final phases. Every rider in the peloton would be happy to see George finally bag his big win in a classic. However, there will be no gifts. One teammate to watch: Edvald Boasson Hagen.

Silence-Lotto has several capable riders, but I’m thinking they’re still a week too early. Yes, they’re starting to show their form, and yes, they have 3 men capable of winning. But I just think it might be a case of too little, too late. Don’t get me wrong, they’ll be in the front. But for the win? I can’t say so with confidence. Yes, riders have come from nowhere to win before, but I think Roubaix might be a better chance for them. To win this Sunday they’ll have to play their cards perfectly and save their top efforts for the race’s most decisive moments. They’ll have to determine a leader early and do everything they can to support that rider to the fullest. Getting a strong rider in an early break is critical too, allowing them to sit-in while the rest lead the chase. As I said in an earlier post, a win here and all earlier criticism is forgotten.

And what about Haussler? He's been under the radar since Dwaars door Vlaanderen. To me, that's a good sign. I was beginning to suspect that he was riding a bit too au bloc. Some well-deserved rest might be just the trick to keep him at a high level of fitness. With Hushvod and Klier, he has the support of riders with the experience to get him to the win (or even win themselves?).

Saxo Bank's hurt with Cancellara's poor form and O'Grady's absence due to a crash in San Remo. They'll be pinning their hopes on Karsten Kroon. Can't say I'm too confident.

My final thoughts are reserved for Rabobank. Nuyens and Flecha have always played prominent roles in this race, and I look for more of the same this year. Flecha tried as best he could last year—as did Nuyens—but in the end succumbed to tentative racing and Quick Step. (Oh, and a teammate who he thought wasn’t working for him.) Now he and Nuyens are together, and I can’t see how it could possibly work. But it might, you never know, right?

Who are your favorites?

No matter who wins it will certainly be an exciting race. I'll do my best to get some live coverage info up as soon as it becomes available.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

KBC-Driedaagse/3 Days of De Panne – What did we learn?

The 2009 3 Days of De Panne is in the books and what did we learn?

Filippo Pozzatto is enjoying incredible form. He looked too good to be true on Tuesday. Too bad he crashed 4km from the line today . I wonder if Hincapie was sitting in front of a TV somewhere muttering “I told you so…” under his breath. It will remain to be seen how Pippo feels for Sunday; but if you’ve ever crashed, you’ve got to be thinking his chances took a major hit today—no matter what his team will say. Didn’t someone say there would be at least one major favorite affected by a crash?

Silence-Lotto is getting desperate. Not only could they not pull off a win, but they seem to be quite adept at excuse-making and wishful thinking. All will be forgotten with a win Sunday; but that’s looking to be more and more of an order too tall for them right now. Here’s my question: if things are so good, then why did you completely miss the winning move when you had 3 of your top riders (plus a pretty good domestique) in the first group? Do you really think Pozzato and Willems would have ridden away sans Quick Step if Boonen, Devolder, Chavanel, and Van Impe were present?

Mark Cavendish might actually be the best sprinter in the world. I hate to say it, but it’s true.

For the record, I’m pleased to have called most of the winners (although it’s pretty easy when you mention a fifth of the start list as a possible favorite).

I was sad to see Tuft crash in 3a; I was hoping to see him pull a shocker in 3b.

I'll post my preview tomorrow for all of our "at work" readers. I'm hoping there will be no significant developments between then and Sunday.

KBC-Driedaagse/3 Days of De Panne – Stage 3b Live Stream?

Good morning! Sporza began its feed at 8:25EST, but it's not working.

Try this link instead.

It's streaming tennis right now, but cycling is listed next. There might be a delay, but it's certainly better than nothing.


Update #1: The link listed above is scheduled to begin streaming cycling at 10:00EST.

Update #2: The link above works. Coverage is up and running.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

1996 Ronde van Vlaanderen/Tour of Flanders

Here’s a clip from the race my mind returns to whenever I think of Flanders.

In fact, if you were to ask me to encapsulate everything Pavé represents in a single image or moment, it might be this one.

First, the weather. Gray. Not rainy, just gray.

Second, we have the Muur de Geraardsbergen, the Kapelmuur as some call it due to the church located at it’s summit. A little over 1km long and with an average gradient of about 9%, the Muur has some sections at or over 20%. Furthermore, here, we have the vintage Muur, before it was resurfaced and the stones were re-laid. Bartoli choose this as the moment to take the race into his own hands, launching an attack none could follow.

Next, we have Bartoli himself. A rider who would go on to add several more classics to his name, this is the race where he established himself as an all-rounder to be reckoned with. He would never win this race again, but with wins at Het Volk, De Panne, the Brabantse Pijl, Fleche, Liege, Amstel, and Lombardi, he was truly one of the best of his generation. It's a shame the clip ends as the last leaders summit; Bartoli's form as he solo's to the Bosberg is a sight to behold.

Finally, the equipment. The Coppi aluminum, horizontal top-tubed frameset. Mavic Paris-Roubaix SSC rims, laced to Dura Ace hubs (possibly tied and soldered), glued with Vittoria Professional All-Weather tubulars (green and black with the TAN sidewall). And don’t forget the hat under the helmet and the Briko shades.

Perfection if you ask me. Everything about this is truly "classic".

KBC-Driedaagse/3 Days of De Panne – Stage 2 Live Stream

Never really figured-out why the original link to today's De Panne stream won't work. Methinks CTV has blocked the feed in certain countries.

But, here's a new link. It's on a delay of about 20km or so, but is certainly better than nothing.