Dear Milan-SanRemo organizers,
Please don’t screw around with your beautiful race! After one of the most thrilling bike races in a long time this past saturday, it’s disheartening to read that you’re not happy with the result. So you wanted “the strongest” one to win or even better, an Italian with Nibali. A few thoughts:
- If the strongest rider DID always win, we wouldn’t watch the race anymore, because it would be, let me look for the technical term here; BORING!
- You can’t device a route where Nibali has a chance of winning. Actually, you can, but it would have to go to North from Milan instead of West, go around Lake Como, cross the Ghisallo. And it would have to be held in the fall. Oh wait, you already organize such a race. It’s called the Giro di Lombardia.
- Aside from that, cycling isn’t about being the strongest anyway, we have stuff like this for people who love that sort of thing. Cycling is about strength, endurance, tactics and bluff. As Hennie Kuiper said so perfectly, it’s about finishing off everybody else’s plate before starting your own. Gerrans did that beautifully, not because he’s an asshole but because that’s the only way he could win.
- People who say Gerrans should have taken a few pulls should go work for the United Nations, not watch sports. If Gerrans and Cancellara both have “lactate acid coming out of their ears” (as Cancellara put it), Cancellara will win the sprint. Gerrans’ best bet was to make sure only Cancellara’s ears suffered from this infliction. Gerrans analyzed what his highest percentage play was, executed and won.
- So are people really saying Gerrans should have fatigued himself to the point where he would have lost? How does that make sense? Or are they suggesting a few fake pulls for the camera, which not only would have been lame but could actually have gotten them caught, as the pace will drop whenever Cancellara is not at the front. Not only should these people not watch sports, they shouldn’t be a coach either. “OK guys, listen up, I’ve devised a strategy to reduce our winning chances, but the twitter comments will be awesome!”
The bottomline is that Milan-SanRemo is one of the most perfectly balanced races on the calendar. Unlike virtually every other race, it has a near perfect split between mass sprint and small group/solo victor. In other words, throughout the race, in fact usually until the last meters, we have no idea who will win the race, we don’t even know what type of ending we’ll get. How is that not awesome?
And even if for some reason you don’t think that’s awesome and you want something else, how will the suggested solutions solve anything?
- There are suggestions to end the race immediately at the bottom to prevent people from coming back from behind. Aside from the fact that that would take a lot of the suspense out, how would it change anything? Gerrans still would have beaten Cancellara and Nibali.
- Some say they should climb the Poggio twice, pointing to Nibali’s jump to prove that climbing the Poggio just once isn’t enough to make a difference. Shouldn’t the conclusion be that Nibali’s simply wasn’t good enough? You could have done five laps of the Poggio, he wasn’t going to drop Cancellara or Gerrans. In fact, he was the one who almost got dropped the only time up.
Don’t get me wrong, I too am disappointed that Gerrans won, but not because of the tactics.
Gerard, cycling fan