Any given week, there are oodles of cycling stories flying around in the news. So here’s a quick-hit summary of this week’s happenings, plus my own garbage opinions on each. Much like my gambling advice, these takes are for entertainment purposes only!
Apart from a win at the lower-profile Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne one-day race, two-time defending world champion Peter Sagan left the classics season empty-handed. And to make matters worse, his old buddy Stefano Zanatta — who worked with Sagan at Liquigas about five years ago — called out the Slovak for having the wrong skill set for Roubaix. This is poor form in my opinion, and it isn’t really the smartest move either. Zanatta works for Pro Continental team Bardiani-CSF. How charitable will Sagan’s Bora-Hansgrohe team be if a Bardiani guy gets into a breakaway? Hey, I’m not saying Sagan is going to pull a Lance and chase the Bardini guys down like the are Simeoni. But if Bora gets on the front the next time Nicola Boem attacks, we will know that Sagan reads VeloNews.com
Paris-Roubaix race organizers had yet to engrave Greg Van Avermaet’s cobblestone trophy on Sunday and he was already yammering away about the Tour of Flanders. We should have expected this. GVA is as Flemish as they come, so Flanders is his Super Bowl. What races will GVA win as he plans his Ronde Revenge? Amstel? Some Tour stages? Worlds?! We will have to wait and see. Complaining about Flanders after winning Roubaix is such a Belgian Guy move. I wonder if it made Tom Boonen worry that Van Avermaet may someday eclipse him on the Belgian Guy rankings. Don’t worry, Tommeke, you still had a strong showing in the VeloNews Belgian Bracket.
Mark Cavendish is not picking up where he left off after a sterling 2016 season. He has just one victory this year, and now he’s out indefinitely due to Epstein-Barr a.k.a. “fatigue virus.” Cav’s doctor says he’s, “Been experiencing some unexplained fatigue during training.” This sounds familiar to me. Don’t you get tired when you go on a hard ride too? Maybe going forward, we’ll see a more relatable Cav, now that he knows what it’s like to be mortal like us! In all seriousness, get well soon Cav.
Cycling saw a rash of knee injuries this week. Fabio Aru announced he will miss the Giro d’Italia due to a crash while training in Spain. A day later, Julian Alaphilippe and defending Liege-Bastogne-Liege champ Wout Poels pulled out of the Ardennes classics, each with their own knee issues. Aru’s crash explains his knee injury, so what’s the deal with the other two? My guess is that Alapphilippe put in too many miles to overcompensate for that third-place ride in Milano-Sanremo. I have no explanation for Poels, so here’s my crazy scenario. Since Sky’s coaching staff was tied up with that parliamentary inquiry, they neglected poor Poels, and he forgot to take a rest day and injured himself. I suppose that is news for Mikel Landa: He’s got an excuse ready to go if he lays an egg in the Giro like he did last year. Blame the coaches!
Earlier this week, American Alex Howes told me that his Cannondale-Drapac team has a friendly competition between its cobbled classics team and the climbers who will race the hilly Ardennes traces. Well, Sebastian Langeveld set the bar pretty high with a third-place result at Paris-Roubaix. What’s the equivalent result for the Ardennes? Is third at Roubaix equal to third at Liège? Surely third place at Flèche wouldn’t suffice, since it’s no monument, and the trophy lacks a heavy cobblestone. I will likely ponder this unanswerable question all week. If the guys in green end up on some podiums this week, they owe Langeveld one of those edible arrangements, or maybe a box of Jasper Stuyven’s chocolates.