We couldn’t let the passing of the first chapter of Season 2014 go without something of a rant… Waiting for Godot is a famous play by Samuel Beckett; two characters wait in vain for Godot – the play’s much discussed third character who gives the drama it’s name but never appears.
As the others looked at each other and waited for Godot – whether his name in this case was Sep or Bradley or Greg – Boonen drove and drove.
It’s not like a champion of Boonen’s stature to give it the; ‘come through for f##k’s sake boys’ routine but his frustration was palpable.
As the Greats do he was riding ‘la course en tête’ – at the head of the race – he could see he had a good group, knew that there would be indecision behind, that every pave sector would see the chasing group eroded and timed his move so the wind would shift from head to cross.
He had belief – but the rest were waiting…
That’s why he’s Tom Boonen, Classics King and the rest, well, they’re the rest.
The Media seem grudging in their acknowledgement that QuickStep played it to perfection and much more interested in the Sky duo of Thomas and Wiggins performance.
‘Wiggo & Thomas smash up Roubaix!’ screams the headline from ‘Sportives and Road Tests Weekly’ aka Cycling Weekly.
And that front page reminds us of how ‘The Comic’ has changed; a postage stamp size reference to the ‘Queen of the Classics’ whilst the main headline shouts about ‘Every bike from £750-£1,300.’
And let’s just remember that Geraint and Bradley were seventh and ninth – not third and on the podium as have been Barry Hoban and Roger Hammond.
But back to ‘waiting’ for a moment – United Healthcare and Bretagne Seche didn’t wait, they made the early move, stayed away deep into the parcours and ‘honoured the race’ – ‘Respect’ we say.
That word leads us back onto Bradley, why does he have to make fun of the trophy for Scheldeprijs and disparage the GP Denain?
The former dates from 1907 and includes Eddy Merckx and Roger De Vlaeminck on the role of honour – and Bradley’s never going to win it.
Denain was first run in 1959 when it was won by Irish legend, Shay Elliott; British riders Mike Wright and Paul Sherwen are in there as previous winners as are ‘cult’ riders like Bert Roesems and Jaan Kirsipuu.
Or perhaps it’s me, maybe Bradley’s ‘call the bingo numbers’ rap on the Tour podium was ‘cool’ and not hideously disrespectful as I feel it was – the same way I feel about his remarks regarding the Scheldeprijs and Denain.
A thing I always look forward to on the Cycling News site is the Robert Millar blog – this week he points out that ‘Bert is back’ with four stage races and four podiums: second at the Volta ao Algarve, first at Tirreno-Adriatico, second at the Volta a Catalunya, first at the Tour of the Basque Country.
Last year the Spaniard wasn’t himself – but it takes a rider a season to find himself after a year out.
Not just physically but more importantly, mentally – the belief has to come back and that’s not related to how many hours you’ve put in on the bike.
Even Merckx was tortured with self doubt – winner of all three Grand Tours or not, Alberto is still just a man, flesh, blood and surrounded by a Media which would like nothing more than to see him – and his boss, Bjarne – fail.
Welcome back, Bert – but watch those steaks, hombre!
Our Dan has blogged with us for a few years now; first from the flatlands as a Flanders man then last year with the Mountain Khakis team in the USA.
But there was a change of management within the American outfit, no place for Dan and the usual scramble for a team for 2014.
He got a ride with a team in the Far East but it was the familiar, sad old story of broken promises and no money.
He’s now back in the flatlands looking for a team – we wish him well in his quest and hope to hear from him, soon.
Also in the ‘whatever happened to’ file we have James Spragg – another VeloVeritas regular in his Qin, Donckers Coffee and Geofco days.
A Tour of Thailand stage winner in his Marco Polo days he rode well for his teams in the Flatlands and took numerous top ten placings on his own account in tough kermisses.
Last winter saw him riding a bit of cyclo-cross and when I saw the front page of ‘Cycling Weekly’ t’other week, I thought; ‘I recognise that man.’
We emailed him and he told us;
“Yes that’s me!
“I’m currently in Andalucia working with a company called Wheels in Wheels as a guide on training camps!
“It’s a nice way to get back into the swing of things, and I’m also trying to get to the bottom of all the problems I had this winter health wise.”
We wish him well; it seems like yesterday Vik and I watched him ride the Championship of West Flanders in Koolskamp – let’s hope it’s not too long before he’s back in the pro peloton.
Chapter Two and the Ardennes Classics
I’ve just watched Philippe Gilbert underline in the Amstel Gold what he began to say on Wednesday in the Brabantse Pijl; ‘I’m back!’
And BMC are finally starting to get pay back on all those millions of Euros.
He left Gerrans, Valverde and Kwiatkowski – three of the main favourites for the race – flat footed to win on his own in a replica of his Valkenburg Worlds win.
Can he hold that form though to the Fleche and Liege? – I wouldn’t bet against it.
And the Giro starts next month…