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)
Results: Won Strade Bianche. Second at Milan-San Remo.
WorldTour ranking: 16th, 86 points.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Spartacus really got going with his solo victory in the Strade Bianche at the beginning of March, giving us a taste of what we could expect from his Classics season:
I always ride to win. If you make mistakes you can’t be happy but today it all went perfect and thanks to work of the team and especially Daniele Bennati I won.
He stayed in Italy to ride Milan-San Remo and in a heartbreaking replay of last year’s Classics season, he was the strongest rider in the peloton yet was pipped at the post, this time by Simon Gerrans, who said:
He was really committed to driving the break to the finish line. I was able to give him one short turn with a little over a kilometre to go and then he came past me again like a motorbike. I was confident the break was going to go but to the finish and I knew what I had to do to finish the hard work off and just come past him in the final.
Then it just got worse … Everyone was expecting fireworks at the start of the Belgian Classics season, with Cancellara and a resurgent Tom Boonen going head-to-head in E3 Harelbeke, the race that Cancellara won last year in a solo victory to the line after puncturing and switching bikes. Well, the puncturing and switching bikes happened, the solo victory did not. While he was getting his third puncture fixed, a Rabobank rider crashed into him (breaking his own arm) and one of his support team. Stunned, he did get back on his bike but wasn’t instrumental in the finish. His tweet after the race called it a “shit day with a lot of #unluck”. He rode Gent-Wevelgem but didn’t figure in the final sprint.
Then Ronde van Vlaanderen: this was the race that was going to be the grand showdown between Cancellara and Boonen. Unfortunately, Cancellara had a showdown with the pavement in the feed zone and broke his collarbone in four places, ending his Classics season and leaving the peloton poorer for his absence. He’s scheduled to start riding again at the end of May. It’s going to be a long few months for this kitty.
Robbie McEwen (GreenEDGE)
WorldTour ranking: 109th, 1 point.
Robbie got March off to a good start by taking the victory in the Singapore Critierium. That in itself ensured that he has had a win for each of his 17 seasons of racing.
It feels good to take the win. It was a great team ride with the boys at a very enjoyable event. Now, I’ll go home to Australia now where I’ll take a little break from racing. I have a big training block ahead to get myself ready for racing in April.
What those races might be have not been announced yet, but it has been announced that GreenEDGE is going to the Tour of California and Robbie will be riding. Could be his last race as a pro, so let’s appreciate him while we have him!
Geraint Thomas (Sky)
Results: Silver medal in the Madison, gold medal and world record in the team pursuit at the UCI Track World Championships.
WorldTour ranking: Not ranked.
Well, our Geraint has been riding around in circles of late … and he does that quite well, as he showed at the UCI Track World Championships in Melbourne at the start of April. But the topic on everyone’s lips is about Thomas’s decision to forego the Tour de France to concentrate on the Olympics. Shane Sutton, GB head coach, has said that he thinks it’s the wrong decision:
[He] is a grand tour rider, one of the best grand tour riders that we have, and he’s a guy that actually I think could go a long way in a grand tour if he wanted. He can lead out, he can climb – he can do everything. He’s one of the great bike riders out there at this moment in time.
While his last sentence might be overstating it a touch – Thomas certainly has potential in the Tour as yet unfulfilled – you can’t help but think of what a stronger team Sky would be fielding if Thomas were at the start in Liege in late June.
For me, I was disappointed that he didn’t ride any of the Classics, as that’s where I think he could really make his mark, coming out from the shadows of Cavendish and Wiggins. For me, he’s one of the hard men of Sky – if he and Bernie Eisel teamed up in these races, they could certainly have torn up the cobbles. But we’ll have to wait until next year to see if I’m right.
Previous update: February 21st