Better late than never! Here is Panache’s list of love for our great sport … and a certain Italian cyclist’s kitty-cat.
1. The solo attack that just stays away
You all know what I’m talking about: it’s that moment when a lone rider attacks the peloton and suffers to stay away! He gets a sizeable lead but the peloton calculates the catch and it’s only a matter of time … or is it?! Our lone rider has the will, the peloton miscalculates, or the weather turns bad – all prediction goes out the window! With 500m to go our lone rider can see the line but the peloton is coming swiftly from behind. The lone rider suffers like never before and takes the victory and we LOVE it!
2. The rewarded domestique
There are riders who spend an entire career helping their teammates win. They continually sacrifice by staying in the wind, hauling bottles, getting food, chasing down breaks, and surrendering bikes and wheels in a pinch. Once in a while, these domestiques get a chance of a lifetime and when they take the opportunity and get a win there is nothing more beautiful in sport.
3. The bunch sprint
Sprint stages can be a bit of a bore to watch but the last 5km are always a treat. Mrs Panache can’t watch. She appreciates the teamwork but turns her head because she is so nervous for the riders. She knows that they are swerving through road furniture, riding inches apart and approaching speeds of 65kph. Bunch sprints are a beautiful form of aggression and risk taking that is beyond mere mortals. We all recognise that you must be close to fearless to win.
4. The podium girls
No words necessary.
5. The women that are tougher than hard men
Speaking of beautiful women: there is nothing like the women of the pro peloton! These women are tough as nails! Example: In the Parkhotel Rooding Hills Classic superstar Marianne Vos fractured her collarbone when colliding with one of the race motorbikes. Undeterred, Vos got back up, stayed out ahead of the peloton all day, and came in second behind her teammate Annemiek van Vleuten! Ridiculous!
6. The exuberance of youth
Why do we love Peter Sagan, Taylor Phinney, Marcel Kittel, Tejay Van Garderen, and Joe Dombrowski so much? We love them because they don’t recognise limits, they celebrate victories like a kid on Christmas morning, and they represent the future of our sport. Well, the future is NOW!
7. The cobbled classics
The months of March and April are sporting nirvana for me. These two months are when the toughest men in the world shine. It’s when men like Boonen, Cancellara, Freire and Hushovd collide in magnificent battles. When you combine the cobbles, the mud, the Black Lion on a Yellow Flag, the Muur, the Forest of Arenberg, the Belgian fans, and the tradition with a huge dose of unpredictability, you always get an EPIC!
8. The epic ride on a hot summer’s day
I’m not a fan of racing when the temperatures are scorching because I don’t perform well. That said, I love to train in hot weather. I’m not sure if it’s the added measure of suffering or extra bidons that must be consumed but I always feel satisfied after a long, hot ride! I also love the razor-sharp tan lines that hot weather produces.
9. The joy of a child
This is a recent picture of my seven-year old son during his maiden voyage on a vintage road bike we fixed up together. See the look on his face? Enough said.
10. Daniele Bennati’s cat
Several months ago, RadioShack-Nissan rider Daniele Bennati posted a picture of his cat on Twitter. I posted a snarky tweet about how things must be really bad at RadioShack if Bennati is posting pictures of his cat. Daniele didn’t take to kindly to my tweet and blocked me. I hope some day that he will forgive me. While I’m not a huge fan of cats, Bennati’s post shows us that riders are human. Like us mortals, they love their pets, they have families, they have other interests and racing isn’t the only thing if their lives. So @Benna80, I love your cat for showing us the humanity of the peloton!