This week, we had cancelled races, teams quarantined and teams who took themselves out of races. But we did have some racing – in the rain a lot of the time – but we *always* have robust discussions on Twitter, no matter what. We also end the column with a tribute to Nicolas Portal.
Stealth racing …
Michal Kwiatkowski decided to ride Strade Bianche by himself. Just as a morning ride.
Or it could be one very long time trial, as proposed by Alex Dowsett
And when the racing starts again in earnest, we have Bernie!
Race to the Sun (or until they stop …)
It was Bora Bubbles™ for Max Schachmann, who took a fantastic win on Stage 1 of Paris-Nice
Because there is no interaction with people on the podium, there are pictures of Max putting on the yellow (and green) jersey by himself.Embed from Getty Images
PhilGil with young whippersnapper …
The QuickStep gifs for the race seem to echo the individual riding styles – from LouLou‘s panache to quiet Asgreen confidence.
The future of press conferences?
Warren Barguil had a heavy crash during Stage 1 of Paris-Nice. At first, it looked like he wouldn’t continue the race. Then he did. Then the cameras showed him getting off his bike. Then he got back on his bike and rode the bumper of the team car for a very very long time. Would a French race kick of French rider off for such a blatant misuse of a vehicle?
And this was Wawa’s response. Translation: I will never be put down! I accept the decision of the commissioners to exclude me from Paris-Nice, even if it undermines all my preparation for the start of the season. I didn’t want to do wrong, nor did my sports director. I was just groggy after my fall and taking shelter behind the car was just a floating time between giving up or continuing the race. I wish the best to my teammates and my team @arkeasamsic for the rest of this Paris-Nice. Please no nasty messages against the referees of our sport, they just applied the rules. Even if once again it’s hard for me and my team.
View this post on Instagram
Je ne me laisserai jamais abattre ! J’accepte la décision des commissaires de m’exclure de Paris-Nice, même si cela met à mal toute ma préparation de début de saison. Je n’ai pas voulu mal faire, ni mon directeur-sportif. J’étais juste groggy après ma chute et m’abriter derrière la voiture c’était juste un temps de flottement entre abandonner ou continuer la course. Je souhaite le meilleur à mes coéquipiers et mon équipe @arkeasamsic pour la suite de ce Paris-Nice. Svp pas de messages méchants contre les arbitres de notre sport, ils ont juste appliqué le règlement. Même si une fois encore c’est dur pour moi et mon équipe. Warren 📸 @bettiniphoto #dossard13 #nextcatlunya
WE WERE ON A BREAK!
FDJ riders coming out of UAE quarantine were welcomed at the airport by the incomparable Marc Madiot, serving up homemade crepes and cider. I’m assuming he washed his hands.
Teams who have taken themselves out of the races – at least until the end of March.
Ineos had more than one reason to withdraw from the races this month. (More about Nico later in the column)
Does anyone actually race in Antarctica? The Penguin Classic!
Reading the article, it sounds like he was just musing out loud and not seriously considering this, but if Tom Boonen does want to come back to pro cycling … well, that never works out.
Real Belgian racing …
All the things we love about Belgian racing. Cobbles. Rain. Wind. And guys who ride their hearts out.
With great sadness
I couldn’t finish this week’s Tweets without mentioning the death of Nicolas Portal. From all the tributes that came through Twitter on news of his untimely passing, it is clear that he was well respected and well loved by the peloton, the cycling press and fans everywhere. Here are just a few of the tributes.