Nearly 2019, how did that happen? It seems just like last week were sitting in the Vivaldi bar in Gent having watched Dane Michael Valgreen win Het Nieuwsblad - or Gent-Gent as us auld yins would have it - but another year has indeed almost gone.
In the Flèche Wallonne - just for a few minutes, as the much diminished peloton ran in towards Huy and the final gun fight on the Mur - it looked like Canada’s Ryder Hesjedal might just steal it. The 31 year-old Garmin ex-mountain biker in company with Norwegian Sky man, Lars Petter Nordhaug blasted big gears into the foot of the hill.
It was Kittel today. My son asked me today what the chances of Cav taking the win and the yellow jersey were; "95%" said I, confidently. But it’s that other 5% which makes it a bike race.
The bulk of the stage was a ‘paint drying’ job with the early break – which went in remarkably fuss free fashion - of Jerome Cousin (Europcar), Juan José Lobato (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Lars Boom (Belkin), Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Cyril Lemoine (Sojasun) sitting up in the huff because they couldn’t get the gap; then the peloton doing the same to give the escapees some space and incentive to get back on the case.