Sprinter vs. Rouleur

April 13, 2011

Well, that Paris-Roubaix certainly unleashed some emotions. Some are upset with Thor for not working with Cancellara. Five things on that:

  1. Thor had his teammates Sep Vanmarcke and Gabriel Rasch work to narrow the gap on the front group. Why didn’t Cancellara have his teammates help? Oh that’s right, they weren’t there. It’s not Thor’s fault that Cancellara moved to Leopard, he had offers from Sky and BMC, both of which have strong classics teams.
  2. When the gap wasn’t closed, should Thor do the work himself to close down the gap? I think it has been the case for 100 years that if you have a sprinter and a rouleur, the rouleur needs to try and drop the sprinter before they get to the finish. Remember Paris-Roubaix with Van Steenbergen and Coppi out in front? Van Steenbergen won the sprint (expectedly) but said afterwards: “If Fausto had jumped one more time, I would have had to let him go, I was done.” To which Coppi replied: “If I had been able to jump once more, I would have.”
  3. It seems Cancellara and l’Equipe feel that Thor should pull Cancellara to the front group and waste his energy so that Cancellara can then jump away from him. Only a dumb rider would do that, and Thor ain’t dumb.
  4. If Cancellara was really that strong, he would have dropped Thor on the cobbles. He didn’t, in fact Thor followed with relative ease. Now he dropped him on the final drag. Thor was caught out of position there and made Flecha try to close the gap first, who couldn’t. Could Thor have? If he had been in position, maybe.
  5. In the end, Cancellara can complain all he wants but he himself chose his team, he chose to show off his strength at E3 and make himself the absolute top favorite. Despite that, the other teams basically handed him the win in Flanders with their early-race tactics but he over-estimated his strength in trying a 50k breakaway. In Roubaix, I don’t think he was on Superman form and combined with being outnumbered it was going to be very difficult in any scenario. I can understand that he is frustrated for being the strongest rider in the Spring and not winning any of the big races, but he can’t complain that his competitors didn’t help him. Last time I checked that’s not their job. Maybe he’ll do Amstel and/or LBL and win there.

One Response to “Sprinter vs. Rouleur”


  1. […] one more thing, and I’ve written about this one at more length before. When a rouleur and a sprinter are in a breakaway, they both understand the rules of the game. The […]


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