Another Spring classic, another thought on Fabian. Let’s face it, he is the man around whom all the Classics revolve so far. With his decision to participate in the Amstel Gold Race, will this one be any different?
There are actually two BIG differences. First off, he’s not the favorite, Gilbert is. Secondly, he’s on arguably the strongest team in this race, not one of the weaker ones.
What isn’t so different from last week, ironically, is the type of race. Sure, Roubaix is flat as a pancake with horrible roads while Amstel has 3,000 little climbs and the world’s largest collection of road furniture (when did that stop being called speed bumps and road signs?). But for a rider like Cancellara, that hardly matters as he excels in both (witness his performance on the Poggio and the Leberg).
More importantly, Amstel and Roubaix are the two races most prone to the dozen little groups scenario, almost every year these races explode in small fractions and the accompanying tactical chess game of who’ll rides and who won’t. Which in turn means it’s all about the numbers. If Cancellara jumps away alone or in a small group, who will chase him down with one or both Schlecks (likely one as the other will invariably crash in Amstel) on their wheel? My guess would be that eventually, nobody will fully commit, and instead the chase will shrivel in self-pity and frustration. Not unlike Roubaix of course.
The only question mark over such a scenario is Fabian himself. He was strong all the way back at Milan-SanRemo, is it possible to still be strong today? Or is the candle burnt up after E3, Flanders and Roubaix? Boom or Bust, not much in the middle.