Your bag of tools

March 22, 2012

What’s today’s obsession with  “racing negatively”, “stealing the win”, “not showing heart” and other such comments? These statements usually involve a race where Cancellara finishes 2nd or 3rd, and the gist of it is that Cancellara rode his heart out, others sat on his wheel and he got beaten. I say utter nonsense.

You’re at the start of the race, you have a bag of tools and you need to figure out how to get to the finish first. Not everybody has the same bag of tools, so judging other riders by how similarly they ride to Cancellara makes no sense to me.

Let’s put it some other way, say Cancellara challenges you to a 100k ride you will be judged you on how you finish and your “heart”. So what do you do? As Cancellara takes off and winds up to 50kmh, you catch his wheel (if you’re lucky). Good for you, but of course you’re just a wheel sucker now, you’re showing no “heart”. So what do you do? In the first few k, do you take equal turns to show “heart” (assuming you can even get past him), only to blow up and be reduced to a sad little pile of pain by the side of the road? Or do you hang on to his wheel for dear life for as long as you can, and then ride the rest by yourself? I would suggest the latter, it’s not only the best way to achieve the best finishing result, it’s also the best way not to make a total fool of yourself.

While Gerrans and Nibali are no amateurs, they don’t have the bag of tools that Cancellara does either. They can’t show “heart” the way Cancellara does because they don’t have his “legs”. It seems unfair to me to deny riders the opportunity to show heart by making the “heart” test something only Cancellara can pass. Instead I would suggest you can show “heart” in many ways, by trying to keep up with a descending Cancellara even though you don’t have the same descending skills for example.

But enough about the heart, the worse one for me is “stealing the win”. Other than through cheating (as in breaking the agreed upon rules), there is no such thing. All 200 riders starting in Milan knew the rules, and knew where the finish was. They agreed that whoever got their first would be crowned the winner. They agreed you could ride in packs, in small groups, solo, anything goes. They specifically didn’t make a rule that forced you to do a certain percentage of the work when you were in a group, or that you can’t work on behalf of a teammate, or anything like that. They all agreed to that, set off, covered the whole distance and in the end Gerrans crossed the finish line first. End of story.

OK, 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 rouleur has to try to drop the sprinter, and the sprinter has to try to prevent that. Who ever succeeds wins, unless the rouleur generates an upset sprint (Vanmarcke over Boonen in the Omloop). The rouleur understands the sprinter won’t do much work, both because he doesn’t have the engine and because it makes him vulnerable for a jump from behind by the rouleur. It seems it is often the rouleur’s fans who don’t see it that way. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching the rouleur too, but I won’t fault the sprinter for playing to his own strength.

99 Responses to “Your bag of tools”

  1. Nick Says:

    The only thing missing in the rouleur-sprinter scenario is the rest of the peloton. If the sprinter doesn’t do any work, he is sinking his chances along with the rouleur.

    That’s what makes fans cring. When a rider is so focused on not doing work or waiting for the sprint that he forgets he has the get the finish line with the rouleur before everyone else or they both lose.

    (My critique isn’t applicable to MSR. I thought Gerrans rode a fine race.)

    • But that’s exactly what helps the rouleur. It’s the pressure from behind that will force the sprinter to do something, but of course whoever blinks first and decides to do the work loses.

  2. fabry sanna Says:

    Gerard you forgot one thing in your example Cancellara asked for shifts but nobody gave him…Nbali at least at the end of the race had the guts to admit “Cancellara asked for shifts but he was running 60 km/h and it was impossible to shift” while Gerrands just sucked the wheel till the end…it looks like milano-sanremo in the last years has become the race of the wheel’s suckers

    • Gerrans took two pulls. Cancellara admitted as much. I would have loved to have seen him win, but the smartest guy won. Cancellara could have sat up and not pulled and been caught by the field but he took his chances and ended up 2nd.

      It is clear you are not happy with the outcome, but you should read this post again and again until the point Gerard is making actually sinks in.

  3. ales Says:

    It is true, a great champion and a Milano-San Remo winner would never do that. Imagine Eddy Mercx sucking wheel… He was 2nd but Cancellara was the real winner

  4. jadedcyclist Says:

    The Cancellara sycophants never stop. *sigh*

  5. People who have never raced bikes feel like Cancellara was robbed. People who have been there and done that realize that the only winner of the race is the one that crosses the finish line first.

    Green Edge had a plan and it was executed perfectly. Hats off to those guys. They’ve been able to do what no other “super-team” has done in their first season, win.

    • Anonymous Says:

      The funny thing about generalisations is that they are just that. I’ve never raced a bike – for that matter am not entirely confident even on a simple old push-bike and yet am a passionate cycling fan. And even I believe Gerrans won fair and square. Simple as that.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    What is wrong with riding a very, very clever race ? If both Nibali and Gerrans took over and lost in the end, everyone could say they know this would happen and they were just nuts to help Cancellara.

  7. Duncan Says:

    Gerrans rode a perfect race, similar to Evans at the Tour, he took full advantage of his particular tools. But neither won with panache.
    Cancellara was trying to win with panache. I am sure he was fully aware of the odds and gambled to go big. Hats off to him.
    I think he is smart enough and mature enough that he wouldn’t consider it ‘stolen’.

    • Panache! Makes me smile! :)

    • Nosyt Says:

      Yes…your post crystallized the thoughts that were running in my head about the race and I am in total agreement. Gerrans won fair and square, but he didn’t do so with a great deal of panache. So what?

      Cancellara, on the other had, displayed a great deal of panache and didn’t win. I would have liked to see him win, both because I enjoy his riding style and because I admire his strength, but there is nothing wrong with how Gerrans or Nibali rode their races and earned their results, respectively.

      As cycling fans, I think we long so strongly for epic, romanticised races won by riders who display a great deal of flair in winning them, that we discredit wins like Gerrans’ at MSR. He rode a great race for nearly 300km and got to the finish line first. End of story.

      In my mind, the real travesty here is the complete inability of RSN to muster any support for Cancellara in these Spring Classics…

  8. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    Well done GV! My guess is so many of those who ride (or even race) for fun don’t have much in the way of ability (myself included) so they identify with the ones who show strength and endurance above all since those talents can be improved with training. Sprinting speed and the cunning it takes to use it are much harder to attain and much rarer so don’t get the respect from the masses.

    • Paul D Says:

      Ok it is very clear Fabian is amongst the best cyclist of this or any generation especially when max sustainable watts are taken into account. Simon and Vincenzo could not compete in a drag race to the finish unless they employ something called tactical racing.
      Fabian would have won if:
      The Poggio was 1km longer. Simon and Vincenzo would have gone too far into their reserves and would not have been able to kick hard enough out of the bends to keep Fabian’s wheel.
      You could argue Fabian wanted to win too much (wait before you comment). If Fabian used a tactic other than warp speed (and yes risked the win) and saved some watts for the finish we would probably be arguing why Simon and Vincenzo worked with him.. I love watching Fabian ride at max watts, I love the fact riders can’t go through on him and yes based on strength Fabian was the ultimate gladiator..
      Perhaps Trek need to supply Fabian with an aero bike of similar nature!

      Gerard perhaps we should be asking would Fabian have won on an S5?

      • In the days of “Jocelyn Lovell,” me thinks those boys would have been found on the “dead mans side,” and soon after in the ditch, with the other garbage, It’s a different time I guess!

  9. Martin Choo Says:

    I guess only after the 2013 Milan-San Remo race will the arm chair athetes stop critising the 2012 edition.
    Totally agree with your article Gerard.
    When Cav wins race after race.. no one complains that he doesn’t take pulls and steals the win.
    Cycling is a sport of tactics and not brute force.

  10. mattio Says:

    If Cancellara couldn’t drop somebody with a better sprint, then he wasn’t the fastest. That’s bike racing.

    Want a race where the strongest person wins? Only watch track time trials, and leave the road races to those who get that it’s a sport of legs AND brain.

  11. beev Says:

    I don’t see how this result can polarise peoples opinions of the riders to such a degree. they’re all great to be in there at the end with a shot of a monument.

    i think gerrans had the best game plan for the race, not because he sat behind the “motorbike”, but because he figured out that nibali was going to be the key animator on the poggio, and marked him.

    cancellara saw the risk and countered. i have to say, i laughed when i read others mis-judged this move and “let him go”. they where all at or near max near the end of the climb, and besides as we all know, when fabian decides to go, he goes.

    as they hit the descent i felt gerrans and indeed nibali did a great job of staying in touch, and therefore earnt their place to play tactically however they chose to do so. but nibali clearly cooked himself on the descent else he would have jumped inside 2k as he did the previous year. fabian chose to ride as i guess he felt pretty confident he was playing for first or second. gerrans was smart in that he knew he had to carry fabian to the finish – and know i’ve not gone mad – because no work may well have led to a capitulation (ableit an unlikely one) from the big swiss.

    so, in terms of game play, undoubtedly gerrans was the winner. but equally, as far as game play goes, for me the biggest loser was sagan (and indeed liquigas) – although the slovaks ride from the top of the poggio has to be held up as a disruptive masterpiece, capped by taking out 4th. as i alluded to in the prior thread, i felt liquigas lost the race before they even left milan – well before they even arrived in milan – by making their prime rider the italian….

    • Rob Says:

      Spot on.

      Any comments on Gerrans not pulling make me laugh. Racing is tough, try it. Winning requires using what you have not trying to be something you ain’t. No rider should swap turns with the Cancellara. That would be totally foolish. Gerrans respects him but it’s a race.

  12. Dave Says:

    Heart is Spartacus knowing he is going to lead Gerrans into a sprint (where Gerrans has taken sparse/non existent pulls the whole way in) and not sitting up with 1K to go and saying “If I can’t win, nobody will”.

    I won’t deny Gerrans his win (good for him) but lets call it what it was and what it was not. It was “smoke and mirrors” and was not done with heart or nor panache.

    • Anonymous Says:

      There’s a rainbow jersey, and a national jersey; we need a panache jersey. I vote for sequins and fringes.

      • Should be a “Jersey of Shame” for the peloton member who last stole a great race from a real champion …. Should be Sh*t brown in colour….

        • Anonymous Says:

          Maybe a “Missing the Point” jersey for some spectators — the logo can be the UCI rules in Greek.

        • Mike_Yanagita Says:

          Maybe a “Missing the Point” jersey for some spectators — it has no neck hole.

  13. Cinjet Says:

    One thing that I miss in this discussion, is not just the ‘heart’ or legs of Cancellara, but also his tactics and strategy. Gerrans is said to have had better tactics (i.e. he won not because he had the best legs, but because he raced smart). But don’t forget that Cancellara did that too! His best chance of winning was just to keep going, whether the other two would take turns with him or not. He did all he could do, not just physically, but also tactically.

    I think that this is the frustation of many of his fans. He didn’t have bad luck (a puncture or a crash), he wasn’t bested because of his legs (like when he loses a ITT to Tony Martin), but he did all he could and played his cards perfectly during the race, but still lost. (Of course, the best scenario for him PRE-race was to go solo on the Poggio or after, but that scenario never became available during the race).

  14. I think wheelsucks …. SUCK@!!!

  15. Wheelsucks = Disreputable Wallstreet trader

    Wheelsucks = Enron energy price fixer

    Wheelsucks = Competitor who uses EPO

    Getting clearer?

  16. Andrem Says:

    Perhaps we need to remember the difference between Tuesday night worlds and professional racing. Gerrans’ tactics may not be appropriate in a local group ride, but are legitimate in professional racing. Personally, I do not enjoy seeing a rider like Canellara being pipped at the line, but on the other hand I understand Gerard’s argument because in a professional context, the elites have to make the most of what they have.

  17. Søren Olsson Says:

    It has all to do with tactics. Spartacus played his hand, but when he was called by Nibali and Gerrans he should have folded (okay away from the Poker-terms).
    Fabian is a great rider, but tactically he misses a lot. He needs to stop dragging people along for the sprint. Simply sit up, if his breakaway-companions are not helping out. Sure he will lose some good placings, but it will give ham a better chance of getting that big win, that has eluded him so far this year, and in the spring last year.
    He is incredibly strong, but as lon, as he is a willing domestique to his companions, why sholuld they stop following. It would change the race, if he sat up instead. Maybe it would make some guys help out. Maybe it would give him strength to go again, and drop them all.

  18. Soren Says:

    Gerrans tactics were entirely justified. He won the race on the Poggio when he stayed in contact. Plenty of other riders would have loved to suck Cancellara’s wheel but they couldn’t get over the Poggio with him. Honestly I’m shocked he even pulled twice. I’m sure his DS was screaming at him not to. The race is more than the final 9K. I love Cancellara, but if he continually puts his head down and tows people to the line he will always be in the same situation. He needs to sit up and force the pull once in a while to let other riders know he won’t keep handing out free rides (last years Roubaix obviously didn’t convince everyone). Of course, then everyone will complain about his negative racing…

  19. lars Says:

    totally agree, gerard. again, excellent post.

  20. If it were Tony Martin and Cancellara in a breakway, and only Cancellara was doing the work, then there’s reason to be angry. Otherwise, kudos to Gerrans for being able to stick to Cancellara’s wheel, because few people have shown that ability in the past.

  21. Sure Gerrans won, that we cannot take away. BUT! Will you actually remember that race later in the year or years later when reminiscing on the great days of racing/races? I doubt it. Do you remember when Freire beat Zabel on the line by a bike throw and pre-celebration, yes; Cav beat Haussler in one of the most exciting sprint finishes one on one, yes. So you can put your negative wheelsucking reasoning down for days but in the end the number of people noting the race and now it was raced will forget the 2012 edition pretty fast. From a commercial point of view which (and now many) kid is going to say, I want to buy a bike like that wheelsucker and win after my competitor put in the brunt of the work in a race. (the take home message for Gerard) Whereas, how many kids will see the Cav year and want that bike and be the racer who bridged up and won in that sprint which seems to be at an out of this world speed? Think about that for a while.

    • Well, Cav “sucked wheel” for a lot more than Gerrans (who bridged on the Poggio and took two turns in the last 5k. So I don’t understand your logic, you say you will remember Cav’s win for a long time but you won’t remember wins achieved by wheel sucking?

      • If you can’t see the difference then your whole story is pointless. I know you know that anyone watching in 2009 still to this day re-watches that ending to see the incredible sprint finali. I dare you to bring that finish up at the next gathering of cycling friends to discuss it, you’ll see people get excited/emotional/joyful/big smiles//at a loss for words/rise their hands in victory. Bring up the 2012 end and you will not get the same reaction or anything close to it, they may go back and reminisce on 2009 though.

        If you in any way can equate Gerrans win to that then, well there’s not much for you out there.

        • I don’t disagree with you that the 2009 finish was awesome, I disagree that awesomeness has anything to do with wheel sucking as obviously Cav did more of that than Gerrans.

        • Anonymous Says:

          You must have forgotten the part about Heinrich moving off his line which allowed Cav to win after he sucked wheel until the finishing sprint. Why didn’t Cav work in the rotation!? I’m being sarcastic.

          You say people will forget about Gerrans, look up his palmares. He will be remembered as a crafty little bike racer with stage wins in ALL THREE grand tours, at least 1 monument, and a real threat to wear rainbows on the right course.

  22. Andrea Sammartino Says:

    I agree. They are the rules of the game and Cancellara know them very well. Formerly Gerrans won the race but on monday everyone talked only about Fabian. To me this sounds more than a victory.

  23. jadedcyclist Says:

    I think a lot of Fabian fans here probably get disappointed when a movie doesn’t have a happy ending too. It’s a peculiar American trait… the “good” or “strongest” (or “prettiest”) should always win.

    Life, and especially bike racing, does not work that way.

  24. jadedcyclist Says:

    By this analysis, Fabian would likely have finished off the podium anyways had Gerrans done some work:

    • Gerrans, didn’t win. Wheel Weasels don’t do work, they just weasel their way in to first place… No different than a doper … No more a winner than a doper ….

      • jadedcyclist Says:

        You’ve obviously never raced a bike before.

        • FAIL … When you’ve been “The strong one” and “The Marked One” you start to realize the mindset of the lazy “Wheel Suck ….” I’ve done an 15 kilometre, sub 20 time trial, on a straight bike than Sean Kelly would be more familiar with than you Jadedcyclist … Also top 20 in a NORBA National… So me thinks you are the one who thinks racing is best accomplished on your TACX VR ….

        • jadedcyclist Says:

          My correction. You’ve never done a road race before then.

        • Yes … I’ve done road races & Criteriums …. petty!

        • jadedcyclist Says:


          It must seem strange to your fellow competitors when you do road races and crits and you are always at the front, pulling everyone around the course.

          If you get tired, do you drop out of the race, or maybe you ride to the finish line alone rather than be a wheel-sucking swine/weasel?

          Or maybe your the guy who attacks off the line, spends 75% of the race pushing wind alone out front before being swallowed and spit out the back of the pack?

          Sheesh, it’s gotta be tough to road race without ever taking a wheel.

        • That’s why there is cyclocross …. :)

      • Tactics=doping? You have no clue.

  25. brownja Says:

    Good article. I would like to see a more in depth look at real negative racing. For example, last year’s Paris-Roubaix. In both cases, Cancellara came in second, but the dynamic was completely different.

    • Rouleur vs Sprinter was written in response to last year’s Paris-Roubaix. If you look at my early April 2011 posts, you’ll see several on the topic.

      At any rate, there is no such thing as negative racing to me. The rules are known, cycling is a team sport, and in that particular case nobody forced Cancellara to go from a team with good classics support (Saxobank) to one with none (Leopard), he chose to try going it alone in a team sport. And then he came up against a couple of riders who used team tactics to the fullest. People shouldn’t blame those riders, they should blame Cancellara for going to his new team, or that team for not providing adequate support.

      Or even better, they should not blame anybody and just enjoy the sport in all its aspects, as Cancellara himself seems to do.

      • dennis Says:

        The lack of team support seems to me to be very important, but I don’t see it brought up much. If, as Gerard points out, Cancellara was able to race as though he had a team to back him up perhaps we wouldn’t have all these people moaning about wheel suckers. It’s not as though this is the first time Cancellara has been in this position!

      • Soren Says:

        I do think negative racing exists… look at the 1987 Giro or situations when riders conspire to cause another to loose rather than win themselves. But last years Roubaix was certainly not negative. The only rider truly
        strong enough to help Cancellara was Hushovd, and he had a very strong teammate up the road. He had to sit on Fabian’s wheel and it was probably killing him

  26. Soren Says:

    When I raced I loved riding against dumb,
    strong riders like Robyn. Easy win… and all the whining they do after makes it even sweeter!

  27. Fabian must learn: “It is better we should both perish than that my enemy should live!”

  28. Col Says:

    Robyn’s relentless banging on about wheelsuckers is so ridiculous. The logical extension of that argument is that ‘drafting’ should be banned from the sport.. no peloton, no working together…. hang on we already have that, it’s called a TT.

    Have you not noticed that cycling is about keeping yourself as fresh as possible for as long as possible and getting over the finish line first? It’s a pretty simple model, repeated race after race.

    And the ultimate wheelsuckers are the sprinters, who also provide some of the most exciting finishes ever.

    I simply cannot believe your comments about having raced yourself. Even juniors know how to ride a wheel until they can either ride away or come over the top at the end.

    Fabian was not hard done by in MSR. He knew exactly what he was doing and rode a great race, as did Gerrans.

  29. Anonymous Says:

    One guy has is referred to as Spartacus, I doubt anyone will be referring to the other one as Smartacus.

  30. Maybe we can call Gerrans, the “Aussie Wheel Weasel …”

  31. Or the “Outback Wheel Suck’a!”

  32. tom hewitt Says:

    It would be interesting to know if Cancellara has any regrets about how he rode the race or would do anything different if a similar situation came up again.
    The women’s 2011 GP de Plouay had a similar outcome as Evelyn Stevens dragged Annemiek van Vleuten inside the last km and then was outsprinted to the line. Stevens bears a resemblance to Cancellara in that she, too, has a big engine but on that day simply wasn’t able get away from van Vleuten. It certainly isn’t rocket science to get on the wheel of a powerful rider and hope that you can stay there until the finish and duke it out for the last few meters. In fact, that’s about the only chance you have.

  33. If all races were like this years MSR cycling would lose many fans. If races are more exciting meaning there are more battles, whether they be in sprints, climbing, attacks, counter attacks, etc. cycling gains more fans and more headlines and press.

    The sport as we know takes its fair share of pot shots for the bad things (which are not part of this post/thread) which put cycling in a bad light for all to see. The true fans want a quality race and as far as quality is concerned the 2012 edition was of low quality. I know they all can’t be edge of the seat nail biters but that’s what we want or at least close to it, and it benefits pro cycling in general.

    The wheelsucker conclusion is only because it was well a bit lackluster of a win, a win none the less but anyone who watches or races knows the quality races are remembered even if one loses or if one’s favorite racer loses. Many factors of the exciting races are remembered and recounted later.

    I think that is the negative of it all and which gains the negative racing tag.

    • Col Says:

      Is it low quality because it doesn’t seem ‘fair’ that Fabian didn’t win? It’s not like Gerrans broke any rules or was unsportsman-like.

      I am sure Fabian is well aware of his abilities and that he risks riders coming around him if he takes them to the finish.

      Did anyone think it unsportsman-like that Fabian rode off on Boonen when he was having something to eat in Paris-Roubaix 2 years ago? I don’t think so. It was a case of ‘you snooze you lose’. This is racing after all.

      • It was low quality because there was no excitement, never said what you concluded. The negative racing as its was termed here is what lowers the quality, again, Gerrans won, I’m not saying he didn’t win. Its just that it was not a memorable/exciting or quality win. I could care less if its Fabian vs Gerrans or the local Cat 5 guy vs another local Cat 5 guy, those race tactics don’t register as quality. Sure they all wheelsuck but its also how you wheelsuck, its part of most mass racing (autos included) but the style of how it was applied is what was low quality. Put yourself in that same position, whether it be Gerrans or Fabian, what would you do? Something tells me you would not do the same thing as what transpired.

        • Col Says:

          I wasn’t trying to put words in your mouth, I was genuinely trying to understand why you thought it was low quality.

          To answer your question about putting myself in their shoes. I road race (albeit hack level) and that is exactly what I would expect coming into the finish in that scenario – ie a small group coming into the finish. You’d have to thinking about getting rid of the other riders or being ready to out-sprint them at the end. Pretty simple.

          People may have felt more satisfaction had Fabian got out of the seat and sprinted the last bit, going toe-to-toe with Gerrans to the line, but he didn’t. He chose to stay seated and hoped he could blow them off the wheel.

          Had the chasers not been so close they could have played cat & mouse, in which case Fabian could have slowed and forced Gerran’s and Nibali to the front, force their hand and look to out sprint them at the end.

          In the end, Fabian did what he thought was his best option at the time and was well aware of the risks. I still believe he made he made the right tactical decisions and rode like a champion. That, however, does not mean that he deserved the win.

          As for quality, I thought it was brilliant, simply because the winner wasn’t known until the last second – particularly with the chase group only seconds behind.

          In any case, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. This whole issue has been an eye-opener for me because I didn’t realise so many people would have an issue with what I would consider ‘Racing 101’.

  34. Martin W Says:

    “Cancellara was trying to win with panache” – I agree with you that Gerrans rode a perfect race, but I disagree slightly about the idea of “panache”. I’d say Cancellara was trying to win – full stop – and that his particular tools mean he often has to do that in a spectacular, dominating way to be sure of victory. Because he’s often up against sprinters (see Boonen in 2010) his mid- to late-race attack has to be so hard that nobody can get his wheel – because if they do he’ll have to tow them to the line and come second again. (Also, I love Fabian, but it’s at least arguable that watching someone TT 40km on their own while the rest of the race gives up isn’t all that thrilling.)

    If he’d been the fastest sprinter in that group (say, if it had been someone like Voeckler who followed Nibali’s move instead of Gerrans), and they’d had over a minute at the bottom of the descent, we would have seen plenty of “wheel-sucking” from Cancellara before he outsprinted them for the win.

  35. One side of this argument here are big Fab fans and NO amount of reason will resolve their emotional response to this race.
    watching Fab ride others off his wheel like he did a couple of seasons ago was not what i call exciting racing.
    Im almost certain you fans of Fab thought he was going to win this years edition of MSR and only in those final couple of metres did the reality of the situation set in and a you all exhaled a collective curse at the television screen and at that moment decided Gerrans, a stage winner at all three grand tours was a classless rider.

    never argue with a fool, you’ll end up looking foolish also.

  36. I have a theory: The Cancellara Bromantics are all triathletes who’s feeble minds cant cope with a sport more complicated that arm wrestling.

    How about ergo races from the luxury of your own home? Sounds like a hell of a sport.

    We could have a max watts/kg jersey and an avg watts/kg jersey. Sprinters would go for the the max watts/avg watts jersey! <- too deep for the TT/Tri crowd :)

    A sprinter has to guard his sprint, nurture his sprint, judge when to let them go and chase on the backside. He has to interpret the intentions of others and try to only do hat is require to keep his chance alive. It's so much more complicated than just "being strong". It may look easy because it all gets done in the last 1k but the satisfaction is as much in getting your sprint to the last 1k as it is in the sprint.

    Whenever I pip someone and they complain, I remind them: "I had to carry that sprint over every one of those hills. Each one was your chance."

    • Great Idea … How do we get this started?

      • The irony is, they have this in rowing and it’s quite popular. It’s not road racing just like the ergometer rowing isn’t rowing, but so what? That doesn’t mean the various factions can’t live peacefully next to each other. I wonder if Cancellara would actually win this, or if very specialized athletes would pop up.

    • larryatcycleitalia Says:

      Your last paragraph summed it up perfectly, BRAVO!

  37. Wielsucker (@Wielsucker,) I think I know you? You work @ the Goldman’s London office … right? Jim Henson?

  38. I apologize, lets be completely honest, Jon S. Corzine and Simon Gerrans are both GREAT champions! They both took the opportunities that life handed them, “capitalized” on them, and played the stupid fools who did all the work, for the simpletons that they obviously were …. Who needs to work when you can steal another’s labour?

    • Col Says:

      I can see your point Robyn but the difference for me is this… had that same small group formed with 20 or 30km to go and they all just sat on Fabian, they would have potentially had some obligation to consider what was honourable (some obligation, noting that they are still within their rights to out-sprint him at the end).

      Given they went with 6km to go, it really was every man for himself.

      Besides, Cancellara bridged across to Nibali and Gerrans. He made his decision at that point to either ride away or , if they were too good, tow them into the finish and risk it in a sprint.

      Because of the benefit of drafting, cycling is perfectly designed for ‘stealing’ the labour of others… although I call it tactics.

    • Hi Robyn,

      You really think Cancellara did all the work? You think Gerrans didn’t have to pedal? Then how come the other 197 riders didn’t hold Cancellara’s wheel?

      The thing is, Gerrans probably would have worked if absolutely necessary. Maybe that’s if the gap was 50m, not 100m. We’ll never know because Cancellara flinched.

      One thing I do know, Gerrans wanted to win this race, he wasn’t waiting for a team mate in the group behind. So it was Cancellara’s job to make Gerrans believe he wasn’t going to win. And of course as long as Cancellara is willing to motor up front, Gerrans saw very clearly how he was going to get that win.

      • To be honest, seriously, this particular race ended exactly the way it should have. I apologize. I reviewed the finish, again! Gerrans deserved the win and “played it” exactly how he should have (with the tail wind.) It makes me angry however, in other circumstances, in other races, with Cancellara in particular, I have seen some pretty dodgy tactics, and nonexistent “pulls!” Really bad sportsmanship, The last thing I would ever like to see is the “honour” go out of cycling. Too many things remind me of how little the rest of the world cares about honour. Madoff, Corzine .. The easy lies of the current Republican race in America!

        • Col Says:

          In Gent Wevelgem overnight, it sounds like Peter Sagan joined Fabian and worked hard to try and make the break stick. Unfortunately it didn’t work out but shows that Fabian is not just viewed as a free ride by everyone in the peloton.

  39. Martin W Says:

    Just seen the head-on finish line shot and guess what? Fabian is sprinting in the drops! Perhaps he’s been reading, Gerard.

  40. Berux RS Says:

    Oh, c´mon!!! This is a classic question since the beginning of Cycling era.. Some riders are strong and others are intelligent. Others are faulers and other water carriers… Everyone has a place inside a team and the peloton. All of them are necessary because this is the sauce of this magnificent sport.. Questioning victories does mean that we support a profile of rider that approaches our ideals.

    • I would disagree, in the “Orwellian, Animal Farm, sense” of your ideal … Cancellara is not Boxer! Lots of riders seem to think they are as cunning as Madoff! Before the EPO 90s, if you didn’t do your share of the work, you ended up in a ditch!

  41. Calvin S Says:

    Everyone crosses the same starting line at the same time. Everyone crosses the same finishing line a while later. What happens in between is BICYCLE RACING

    • That’s what Mr. Corzine said to all the MF Global customers and the Scorpion said to the frog … But sometime “What goes around comes around …” it’s a “numbers / odds” game!

  42. JadedCyclist (Positive Negative) Says:

    In this case it isn’t a “numbers” or “odds” game. It wouldn’t matter if I was piloting a Dogma with telepathic shifting, in his prime, Merckx, riding anything with wheels, would leave me in the dust to suffer alone. It’s easy to complain about an situational advantage that any rider has. That someone else had tires with a higher thread per inch. When I first started riding road frames, I was beaten by someone in a race to Karatsu on a Giant mountain bike. Just train for it!

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