Watching Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on my ‘new’ telly (borrowed off one of my girlfriend’s relatives ‘for a while’ (I love indefinites)), one of those huge high-definition monsters that I used to say were unnecessary (until I finally got one, I might add), I was all misty eyed and dizzy for the first half an hour, what with the picture quality, the almost nauseating vibrancy of the colors, Boonen and that ultra-solid position of his in full romp and just the fact that the Classics are back!
It got me all emotional it did.
I thought the TV was broken though when Ian Stannard appeared on the front of the break, since he displayed such an aversion to being there the day before at the old Omloop – except for in the last 15 meters. Rumor has it that Lefevre has banned all his riders from flogging on to PornHub.com this week as the Sky’s man win has been uploaded in the Bike Porn Money Shot Belgians section, and there’s little doubt that a) he did have the EQS boys all from behind and b) they could barely walk afterwards.
If that wasn’t bad enough they got another solid spanking on the team bus afterwards.
Speaking of the aforementioned arse-whupping, Lefevre said “YOU F*&%ING IDIOTS HOW THE F*CK DID YOU LOSE THAT?”
Oh wait no, he didn’t, not publicly anyway, what he actually said was: “It hurts, that’s true. I can’t blame the team for anything. I’m proud we added color to the race. We’re ready but it’s very hard to win. With Stannard on the wheels for thirty kilometres everybody was getting nervous. Maybe they made a couple of mistakes but we decided the race. We excelled as a team.”
How do you not blame the team and actually blame Stannard for that epic cock up? It’s obvious that B should not have gone first, but that it should have been T then V if T was unsuccessful then T again if V was not able to get away and then perhaps B if not V again, but B for the final sprint, though for sure the B of old – and I mean last year – would surely have had the gumption to win even if there were no attacks beforehand.
And We decided the race? Talk about selective memory, unless the finish line in Lefevre’s World was 10 meter earlier than in the race I saw…
Back to KBK, which was all far more straightforward. In fact it was so predictable that we can take a moment out to look at the bike fashion going on at this year’s edition of KBK, of KuBuKu, as the French call it.
Worst bike/kit combo of 2015 awarded to Lotto-Jumbo and their TdF yellow kit (which is not terrible) that clashes with their celeste Bianchis. I’ve never been a fan of the Bianchi blue (or is it green?) but this match up just doesn’t work for me at all.
Back to the racing. It was good to see the echelon rearing its ugly head again, been a while since we had really nasty winds in the classics. I used to think headwinds were the worst and they are bad, suffering sometimes for up to an hour if there’s a strong team on the front just praying for a turn, but if you’ve ever been in a race with teams that really know how to ride a hard echelon, then you understand suffering on the flat.
Everyone wants to be in that first string but it’s so hard to get in as all the strong guys will be smashing it to the turn before the crosswind, then they form quickly to keep everyone else out. The guys behind have two choices – either to form a second echelon and risk losing contact with the lead line, or to just string out behind the last guy in the head echelon and ride solo and unprotected in the gutter and hope and pray they find a gap to join the front.
Being in that echelon means you have to work in the wind but critically it affords you some respite. It’s better to be barely fit and to be in it and to hang on than to be quite strong and be behind it, cos eventually the wind will shred you.
Once the break came back it was more or less a procession to the end apart from Gilbert’s attempt, though that was more a training effort than a really hopeful attack. He should be coming better for the Ardennes Classics, though he looks a bit heavy – was it just me or did anyone else think the Belgian looked more muscular than in previous years?
Before the race came into the city, Sky gave a beautiful example of how to do a completely pointless lead-out (basically start 4km too soon and then disintegrate with 3km to go), but wasn’t it mesmerising to see the peloton strung out through the street of Kuurne from the helicopter camera? Absolutely gorgeous shots. That’s the kind of city traffic I’d like to see more of.
The race wasn’t finished quite yet and we were treated to an enthralling sprint that saw Kristoff of Katusha come second to a flying Cavendish, who saved the weekend for EQS.
Decent race, all in all.