Flanders is one of the 2 races on the pro calendar that I am most excited to watch, but would not like to start ever in my life; Paris-Roubaix being the other (and oh, that's next week!). I guess if I were a pro I'd be racing in Spain or Italy, but I digress. All I have to say is that an average of 12% grade for 600 meters with a max of 22% grade just sounds utterly ridiculous for a 200 man peleton to race over, let put them on cobbled roads as well.
A recap of the 2008 podium:
1st - Stijn Devolder
2nd - Nick Nuyens
3rd - Juan Antonio Flecha
I was hoping for one of the Cervelo boys to step up, but that are not a team built specifically for the classics like Quickstep is. If you looked at the men who were strong today, Pippo, Hincapie, Flecha, Haussler...none of them had their teams there in the end when it mattered. Quickstep just owned them all by playing three cards, and any pro team would love to have Devolder, Tom Boonan and Sylvain Chavanel at their disposal. In the end it was another phenomenal solo effort from Devolder that won the day. Heinrich Haussler pulled a similar move to the one he tried in Milan-San Remo, by soloing away form the charging pack. Both times the move was good enough for second, but this second probably didn't leave him in tears. Although when you watch the video he sure sat up early, I would have liked to have asked him about that. I know you are no longer going for a win, but a podium spot in your first try is something to be proud of. Maybe he is saving himself for Paris-Roubaix?
With the one two punch of Cervelo I wonder if they had decided to give this race to Haussler and let Thor Husvod try for Paris-Roubaix, just like Quickstep will try to do again. They were able to pull off the double last year.
I was excited to hear the Saxo Bank had switched from Shimano to Sram components before Flanders (actually before Criterium International), I'm not sure why though. I think the old Shimano hoods are so ugly that I have grown to hate this brand. I could start a whole thread about the shape of hoods and compare the 2009 models to the 2008 models, but that's not why I brought this up. The image of Classics rider and Time Trial specialist Fabian Cancellara walking up the Koppenberg today due to a snapped chain had me wondering if the switch was rushed. Saxo Bank is a team that prides itself on only using the best equipment, but I guess there are coincidences and people have bad days. Perhaps he is well rested now for next Sunday.
With Belgium's "superbowl" finished, I'm looking for Haussler to hop up one podium spot from today for Roubaix. He has the hair to do it.