5-point Cancellara preview

March 31, 2012

I was going to write a Spring Classics preview but let’s be honest, it’s all about Cancellara. He is the best rider by far, and can win every weekend of April: Flanders, Roubaix, Amstel Gold and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Things to consider:

  1. Unlike the races so far, his only “weak spot”, the sprint, won’t hinder him as much in these races.  By the way, he’s actually quite a good sprinter, note also his fourth place finish at the World Championship sprintfest last year. And at the end of a race as hard as those four above, he’s a force to be reckoned with when sprinting against anyone.
  2. The courses suit his strengths much better. If he is “on”, I don’t see people stay with him on the repeated climbs of the final stretch of Flanders, also not the much touted Boonen. If you’re in the same group as Cancellara with 30k to go, you will lose. He will take 10m on the climb, and good luck closing that gap. Same story in Roubaix, just replace “climb” with “pavé”. Last year Hushovd could match him stroke by stroke, but who can this year?
  3. Many people may not associate Cancellara with Amstel or LBL, but they should. Amstel is the perfect race for him to jump on the second-to-last climb, and if he starts the Cauberg with 10-15s, you won’t see him back until the podium. Then finally we have LBL, which may suit his strengths even better. LBL is a unique race in that up to a dozen riders may have a shot at the win with 2k to go, nothing separating them for the first 250k+ of the race. But then in that last stretch uphill, which isn’t even an official climb but more a false flat, the lights go out for almost everybody. That long drag up is ideal for Cancellara, and I don’t know who could follow him.
  4. Of course, in the past it has been difficult for Cancellara to remain in top form past Roubaix, but he seems leaner this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if Amstel and LBL are real goals for him this year. There is no doubt he wants to win all the Classics at some point in his career, he’s got the first 3 of the year in his pocket already, so it’s slowly time to look at number 4 and 5.
  5. In my eyes, the best chance to beat Cancellara is with long breakaways full of 2nd and 3rd team leaders. Leopard doesn’t have any of those, it’s Cancellara or nothing. If a group of 20 riders takes 10 minutes and the team leaders are willing to give the glory to their luitenants, I’m not sure how Cancellara would get back into the race. Luckily for him, Boonen c.s. seem pretty confident in their own form, which should be a boon for Cancellara. If they really feared him, like many did last year, they would concentrate on how to beat him (let’s not get into the discussion about “negative racing again”). But this year, many riders (mistakenly) feel they are on equal footing, just what Cancellara needs. All the other teams will set up the race as a battle between the team leaders, and then he can dominate.

In the end, the only man capable of Cancellara may be Cancellara himself, like he did last year at Flanders or if he loses interest before Amstel and LBL. Let the races begin!

11 Responses to “5-point Cancellara preview”

  1. lieutenantmudd Says:

    What do you think about his new classics bike, the Trek Domane?


    • I think it’s a very clever construction, but it focuses on the bending of the seat tube. And the seat tube is at 73 degrees roughly, meaning it mostly bends backwards instead of down, so it’s not that much suspension in the end (of course if it went down, the saddle height would change, creating all sorts of different problems).

      That said, I think they will sell quite a few of them as it’s very impressive to push down on the saddle and see how far it flexes (never mind the direction of the flex), and of course Cancellara will ensure that Trek will finally win a proper spring classic this year.

      • Bob Says:

        from commercial point of view, it’s very nice to have Cancellara. Put him on any bike, win or not, he’s guaranteed to blew the race…….

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I agree totally with you Gerard

  3. Jeff Says:

    But VeloNews has four stories on the homepage about another team. Doesn’t that mean they have won?

  4. Stanley Says:

    Agreed on all counts gerard ! The man is so good, its scary, almost

  5. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    Regarding the Domane “– there’s no damping in a carbon frame, there’s no dissipation of energy – it just snaps back.” was a very interesting quote from here http://www.cyclingnews.com/features/trek-domane-a-new-bike-for-the-cobbled-classics
    I get very tired, as one who prefers steel bikes, of listening to claims from bike makers and fans of their products that carbon fiber has some miracle shock damping properties, unlike other materials. It took awhile, but I guess the TRUTH eventually came out….now that Trek has gone to a mechanical shock absorbing scheme on their answer to the Specialized Roubaix… they can now admit the marketing BS was just that….BS.


    • Actually, their new line is the BS. The idea that carbon (or any materia)l does NOT dampen and only “snaps back” is nonsense, a fairytale that is now more convenient than their previous fairytale (and right along fairy tails such as “the Speed Concept is the fastest TT frame in the world, etc). If you think their old stories were BS, it would be wise to distrust what they say in general rather than believe their new story. It’s quite simple, if frame materials don’t dampen (dissipate energy), how come they get warm in a fatigue test? Where does the heat come from if all the energy “snaps back”?

  6. Rajna Howard Says:

    Cancellara should’ve thought twice before crashing. What a way to make a post obsolete. So who’s your money on now for the rest of the spring classics?


    • I don’t think it makes the post obsolete, it’s not really about who wins what race. As I’ve said many times before, I’m a lousy predictor of races, see also my thoughts about predictions in general (and the one in this post turned out to be correct): http://gerard.cc/predictions/


    • To be honest, I don’t really care who wins, except it would be great if Gabriel Rasch won Roubaix. I will say that Thor should be ready for Roubaix, despite being anonymous so far.


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