As VeloVeritas pundit and critic, Viktor said after the Bergen World Championships; ‘where would we be without him?’
Cipo had it, Boonen had it, Peter has it – but Vik and I are both worried about who can pick up the ‘cycling’s showman and charismatic star’ baton when he finally hands his in.
But let’s think about NOW and not events hopefully in the distant future.
Generally we frown upon comparisons with Eddy Merckx – but not even Baron Ted could manage three consecutive Worlds wins.
We wonder if the UCI brief to 2018 Worlds venue Innsbruck was; ‘it has to be a parcours Sagan CAN’T win on!’
Hence more climbing than a Tour mega mountain stage for next autumn.
His performance in the World Road Race reminded me of what Rudi Kemna once told me about his own win in the 2003 Netherlands Elite Road Race Championship; ‘I was only at the front of the race for 60 centimetres – the LAST 60 centimetres!’
A great ride too by Kristoff, leading-out from a long way and just missing gold by millimetres.
I didn’t think he was still sharp enough but a sprint after 267 kilometres isn’t like a sprint after 198 kilometres.
I’m not sure what Matthews was beating his bars about – he was beaten fair and square.
And big respect to Ben Swift, fifth in the company of the absolute cream; those two podiums in The Primavera were no fluke; when the distance goes over 250 kilometres he’s still as fast as he is over 150 kilometres – a great ride.
But the first race on the agenda was the Team Time Trial; when I saw the first one back in Valkenburg in 2012 some 32 teams posted times, this year it was just 17 and the UCI are saying that next year will be the event’s last year.
The main reason for the drop in entries is that it costs a heck of a lot of dough to prepare a team for the race and get them there and bearing in mind that only six teams have ever won a medal: this year’s winners Sunweb, BMC, Quickstep, Movistar, Orica and Sky it’s perhaps inevitable that the rest think; ‘what’s the point, we’re only going to get a spanking.’
The event was dumped last time round when it was over 100 kilometres with national amateur teams because the Italians and East Europeans were embarrassing everyone and the UCI felt that it had ‘become uncompetitive.’
It’s a race you either love or are indifferent to – I’m in the former category; so fast, so skilful with the best riders in the world on the ragged edge.
When men like Geraint Thomas ‘pop’ that says it all about how hard it is.
Sunweb were the surprise package, I expected a BMC v. QuickStep shootout but the Belgian boys missed the podium for the first time ever and BMC cracked late in the day – a great race in my book.
On the subject of time trials, that lad Tom Pidcock – who took his first big win in the European Cyclo-Cross Championships – is quality; World Junior Cyclo-Cross champion, British criterium champion, a British junior champion on the track and now World Junior Time Trial Champion – he’s special.
The Elite Time Trial, whilst I don’t think the result would have been much different whatever the parcours, it wasn’t my idea of a chrono.
My thoughts are that it should be 45 to 55 kilometres on a challenging course.
An 18 mile time trial with a hill climb stuck on the end seemed like a gimmick to me – and the ‘bike change carpet’ was farcical.
I’m not against hills in there, the Valkenburg course went up the Cauberg.
But Viktor, our resident critic/curmudgeon said that he liked the course and the novelty aspect – it certainly brought the crowds out.
But with the prices in Norway I do have a sneaking suspicion that good folks of Bergen don’t get out much…
Huge respect for Dumoulin though, just shy of a minute margin over 20 miles at that level is an extraordinary performance.
Dumoulin apart, man of the match has to be Kiryienka, rock solid, mega gears, a consummate ‘chrono man’ – when you compare his style to that of Chris Froome…
But the question is, if there had been a TT champs ‘back in the day’ how many would Anquetil and Merckx have won?
Mr. Pidcock was marked out of it in the Junior Road Race but there was an excellent ride from a young man who featured on VeloVeritas just the other day, Mark Donovan.
In the ‘break of the day’ and only swamped in the finale he did more than his fair share – good to see GB not just making up the numbers.
The U23 Road Race too saw GB in the thick of it too with Scott Davies – in the break then riding a cracking penultimate lap to set Ollie Wood up for the finish.
On the last lap it was Scotland’s Mark Stewart doing a fantastic job for Wood, just failing to haul back the two escapees – both World Tour riders – with Wood narrowly missing out in the sprint and finishing fourth.
It used to be that if you were under 23 but racing in the World Tour then you couldn’t ride the U23 Worlds – that rule has been changed and no surprise to see gold and silver going to Division One riders.
Silver medallist Kamna came off riding 75% of the Vuelta – enough to give him strength but not enough to waste him.
But all-told a great Worlds, wish I’d been there.
One other result from Bergen that didn’t come as too much of a surprise was the fact that Brian Cookson was well beaten in his bid for re-election as UCI supremo.
He told ‘The Telegraph;’ that he had been; “lied to” by a number of delegates who assured him they would vote for him.
“I am very surprised and disappointed by the scale of the defeat,” he said.
“I expected to get into the mid-20s [in terms of votes]. I thought I was ahead.
“It hurts. Of course it does.
“It’s disappointing if only because it’s clear that a lot of people lied to me.”
We’re not political animals here at VeloVeritas but the question we’d ask is; ‘what did he actually do in his four years on the throne?’
Last word in this rant goes to a famous name in the cycling firmament; ‘Raleigh.’
I was listening to the news on Radio Two today and the lead story was that Vera Duckworth of ‘Corrie’ fame had died, very sad… but what about Trump and the North Koreans – the threat of nuclear war is quite a big story…
The cycling parallel is with Laurence Morgan and his TI Raleigh Vintage Cycling Club Great Britain boys; the Classics, Giro, Tour, Vuelta and Worlds come and go with ne’er a mention; all they care about is the authenticity of frame numbers, re-sprays, Raleigh riders of the 70’s and Dave Marsh’s shop’s latest renovation.
I should caution though guys that there’ll be no internet after a thermo-nuclear war due to the EMP (Electro Magnet Pulse) which fries all electronics so I suggest all club members invest in valve radios – like the Russians have in their MiG fighters; that technology is unaffected by EMP.
That way you can continue brake bridge design debate from your shelters.
Only messin’ with you boys, we love those 70’s Raleighs as much as you do.
Well, perhaps not quite…