FGR #18 Wrap

One of two things is true. Either the heavy hitters of the Ardennes portion of the season have completely failed to grasp Philipe Gilbert’s best trick, springing an early break on the would-be sprinters, OR Gilbert is deceptively powerful at the ragged end of the race. Ah, but then both could be true, right?

Someone pointed out to me that Mr. Gilbert, the less-imposing of the Belgian Classics contenders (Mr. Boonen is the other, obviously), has won three of the last seven Classics he’s contested. That’s pretty good, really. I’ve tried and not even come close to that.

The winner of the prediction contest was Michael, who not only correctly predicted Gilbert’s top finish, but also got Ryder Hesjedal’s second place. So, he’s won well, with style, like Gilbert. Bravo, Michael. Shoot me an email (robot at redkiteprayer dot com) with your own personal address, and we’ll hook you up with an RKP sticker pack that you can use to deface the fine frames that carry you over hill and dale. Or a car. Whatever. Your choice. I hang out at donut shops and stick ’em on police cruisers, cause I’m edgy.

Bravo also to each of you for spinning your tough guy yarns. I read them in slack-jawed awe. Some of you have pedaled the road to Painsville and come out better for it. Others of you have just done some really stupid stuff and lived to share the cautionary tales. Some of you live in that murky space between the two. You should be proud.

The main thing I learned from reading them all is that I’m not that tough, and that’s a valuable lesson. There are whole vistas of pain and suffering still waiting out there for me to explore. So much to look forward to. So thanks for that.

This week continues the fun with Fleche Wallone on Wednesday and Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday. Let the suffering continue!

Image: John Pierce, Photosport International

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  1. todd k

    I liked Gilbert’s panache in the Amstel!

    I must confess that I have always struggled with really understanding the the Ardennes races. Over the years I have been slow to develop a fondness for them. I have yet to fully understand and appreciate them in the same manner as the earlier classics. While I follow them, I just don’t find myself lured into them as heavily. I’m not really sure why. It may be due to the number of heated battles that have already unfolded thus far in the calendar having drained away some of my enthusiasm from these races. It may be due to me starting to look forward to the Giro. It may be the weather luring me increasingly outside as a participant rather than a spectator. I just know that empirically I start to take some recovery from following the pro peloton for a few weeks each year about this time.

    Maybe next year I’ll de-emphasize the Flemish races and aim for the Ardennes?

  2. SinglespeedJarv

    @todd k: ever felt it might have something to do with the way the races have panned out in recent years and who the winners have been? I have always thought that Liege is a beautiful race and never a better edition than when VDB won…but then the dilemma kicks in because we all know they were loaded in those days. But the following years produced an increasing dull spectacle where a huge peloton arrived together at the bottom of the last hill and produced a dubious winner.

    To use the words of David Millar, there was no panache.

    Fleche Wallone had the same problem, I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s race on a revised route. As for Amstel, it’s one of the few classics I’ve never seen much. In the late 90’s Eurosport only showed increasingly reduced highlights of Armstrong allowing Boogerd his one win of the year and the race seemed to become almost irrelevant until they changed the date.

    I think Gilbert has probably done a lot to bring it back on the radar, but then he’s done a lot of that for procycling as a whole this past year.

    I think Andy Schleck will win Fleche, but Gilbert will take out Liege.

  3. todd k

    SinglespeedJarv, I do think that has some roll to play in how I have come to view these races. Even though VDB was loaded, it was impossible not to get caught up in the excitement he created during the race at the time.

    Some is also the general lack of exposure these races get stateside when compared to other races. Maybe I am not as immune to that as an influencer as I would like to think?

    Interestestingly I followed Amstel more prior to the date change…some how that move impacted how much I follow it… I just run out of gas after Roubaix…

  4. MattyVT

    It would have been cool to see Gilbert go 3-for-3, but I’m glad Evans pulled of the “W”.

    Contador doesn’t like to get beaten twice, and the Schlecks try to stay on his wheel with everything they’ve got.

    So, my guess for Sunday is

    1- Alberto Contador
    2- Andy Schleck
    3- Cadel Evans

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