Brabantse Pijl review

Europcar’s Thomas Voeckler claimed an opportunistic win at the pre-Ardennes Brabantse Pijl semi-Classic. He rode solo to victory over the final 27km after catching and passing long-time leader Daniel Schorn (NetApp), taking advantage of a lack of organisation in the chasing group to win by over a minute at the finish in Overijse.

With the three Ardennes Classics – Amstel Gold, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Fleche Wallonne – coming up over the next week and a half, Brabantse Pijl provides a useful tune-up ahead of these. Last year Philippe Gilbert showed his form here by defeating fellow Belgian Bjorn Leukemans in a two-up sprint, before going on to complete the Ardennes hat-trick.

The course is a puncheur‘s delight. Run this year over 196km, it includes 28 hellingen (hills), with all but eight occurring in the final 63km. Four hills – Hagaard (480 metres, 3% average gradient, 12% maximum), Hertstraat (725m, 3.5%, 11% max), Ijskelderlaan (450m, 7%, 11% max) and Schavei (700m, 6.2%, 12% max) – are negotiated five times each on a concluding series of loops around Overijse. There is little respite between the ascents, each of which provides opportunities for the bold to launch an attack.

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Rider update: Fabian Cancellara, Robbie McEwen and Geraint Thomas

I had thought that my update would be much more celebratory this time around. Instead, I’ve been looking at x-rays of quadruple fractures and trying to ignore track racing …

Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan)

Image courtesy of RadioShack-Nissan

Results: Won Strade Bianche. Second at Milan-San Remo.

WorldTour ranking: 16th, 86 points. Continue reading

Happy birthday to Sebastien Turgot

Image courtesy of Europcar

Sebastien Turgot is 28 years old today. Bon anniversaire!

Europcar’s Turgot used every ounce of his track skills  – he was the French national Madison champion in 2008 – to narrowly beat BMC’s Alessandro Ballan in the Roubaix velodrome and take a well-deserved second place in Paris-Roubaix last weekend. Turgot’s the first French rider to make the podium since Frederic Guesdon (FDJ-BigMat) triumphed 15 years ago.

Turgot, who didn’t figure on anyone’s list of favourites (except perhaps his wife’s and mum’s) put in a series of attacks just before what turned out to be Tom Boonen’s race-winning move.

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