Move of the Year

John Pierce of Photosport International has continued to edit images from Flanders and sent these along. Consider them a sort of portfolio of the day, a whole race distilled into a few magical moments of the race’s most pivotal stretch of cobbles, the Muur de Grammont.

Images: John Pierce, Photosport International

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  1. Jim

    Lance Armstrong, Starring in, “The Paperboy of Flanders.” Coming soon to a theater near you.

    That’s the beauty of the cobbled classics. They humble even the greatest riders. A guy taking a win, who is blessed with the best legs on the day, must feel very fortunate for everything to have come together, to be smiled on by the course, and to have avoided the crushing moments that most all the other racers felt. The cobbled classics are bigger than the men that race them so when a racer conquers one for a day, it’s quite a spectacle.

  2. George

    you know, I love Big George. I’ve always maintained that an American win in Roubaix means more to me than another grand tour, but the big guy has to do something about those veins.

    I’m sure they can remove those things… or maybe he just unravels like a big sweater?

  3. Alex

    Very nice pics. These guys can SUFFER, mygod! The first one gives a good view from Boonen´s perspective, seeing Cancellara escaping to the inevitable win. Cycling has to be the most incredible sport of all indeed, incredibly cruel and beautiful at the same.

    And I can only immagine the feeling, but it must something really special to race the cobbles with a few thousand bike-crazy spectators lining up the course heh!?

    1. Author

      Jim: Like you, I was amazed to see Lance do a paperboy. Not all of RKP’s readers are fans of his, but I figured that would meet with some gape-mouthed stares. Really puts the difficulty of the muur into perspective, huh?

      SinglespeedJarv: Please don’t let the title of the post lead you to think I’m bashing Hincapie in any way. I just think Cancellara’s move was the coolest thing I’ll see this year. If something tops it, I’ll man up and say so, but I was dumbfounded at what a stunning and beautiful move that was. Cancellara did everything right. He was seated in a smaller gear and timed his attack to perfection. Not to mention it was his second stunner of an attack that day. We love him for his strength, but shouldn’t we admire him just as much for his tactical brilliance?

      As to those veins of *Big* George, his legs remind me of Sean Yates’ legs. I’ve always thought of big, nasty varicose veins as strangely PRO.

  4. Waffles & Steel

    I agree with Padraig about the beauty of Cancellara’s move. What struck me was how smooth he was pedaling before he launched the attack on the bend. He seemed in complete control, while Boonen appeared to be fighting the bike, just asking for it.

  5. Cedrik

    What gear was Cancellara using? 39/25? I thought 39/21 was pretty standard, with a 23 for hills and a 25 for big climbs. It’s pretty amazing to see him stay in the saddle while everyone else is struggling.

  6. C.Monaco

    Cedrik – most component manufacturers aren’t producing the old corn-cob cassettes. Everything has at least a 23 at the end of it. Probably not a bad thing, but it does signal an end of a beautiful, if not incredibly trying, era.

  7. randomactsofcycling

    These are fantastic photographs. Thankyou. The anxiety on the faces of the spectators as they watch Boonen’s desperation really says it all. The guy in the cap and red scarfe (photo 2) can see the move happening.

  8. Lachlan

    Definitely move of the year barring something truly magic to come. In saddle and straight past you…impressive, and the best way to psych your opponent!

    as for ratios @ Monaco… surely all the big 3 groupos still have a 11-21 block, at least from what I’ve seen in shops/own from Shimano. And although I’ve got a 25 and even a 28 on standby for monster climbs of the italian alps etc, I’m a firm believer that most of us don’t need more than a 39×21 more than a couple of times a year… even a steep hill can easily be spun over in that as long as its not much more than a mile or so. Definitely use what’s appropriate to your region, but for me there’s nothing sweeter than a straight-thru block of gears for most rolling rides… Mmmmm close ratio : o )

    1. Author

      Concerning ratios: For flat stages at Grand Tours, everyone is still running 11-21. And while most guys train in the mountains running a 39×25 low gear, the top GC riders won’t run anything lower than a 39×23, except on super-steep stages of the Giro or Vuelta. Bruyneel has been vocal in his complaints about stages that require anything lower than a 39×25. Some of the more gifted climbers won’t run 39s. Pantani often ran a 44 inner ring on mountain stages. Go figure.

      At Flanders, with stretches of hills north of 18%, I suspect most of the guys ran 25s. A 22% stretch is rough in a 23, even when you’re a god.

      As to needed gears for us mortal, I don’t know what I’d do without a 39×25 or preferably 34×23 in Malibu. I’m doing a monster century in the ‘bu tomorrow and am taking a 34×27 just to make sure I can spin up the 15% pitches on Decker. I love that road, but prefer going down to up.

  9. SinglespeedJarv

    Padraig, didn’t think that for a moment. I just think Hincapie has flattered to deceive for many a year. Perhaps he’s a bottler or perhaps not tactically good enough for Flanders, hence why he’s always shown best at Roubaix where it’s a race for the strongest. But over the years he’s talked a race far better than he’s ridden one and “only” has Wevelgem on his palmares, when Wevelgen was a semi-classic and skipped by most of the hitters that year. Big George’s best shot at a monument was the Roubaix when he snapped his steerer or in 2001 when he punctured off Wilf Peeters wheel after Arenberg.

    Although I didn’t see Fab’s move, I can appreciate the beauty of it and of this years Flanders as a hole. I also think that Roubaix has something special for us all this year.

  10. Eto

    In the last photo, with Lance appearing to be “paperboying” his way up the climb,I believ he is making the left hand “bend” that takes you up past the little pub on the left and eventuially to the Chapel further up on the left. Lance appears to be to turning from the right side of the “road”, possibly from the smooth gutter that line each side of the cobbles. If you notice, Stjn DeVolder in the Quick Step jersey is already looking to the left preparing for the corner. I have ridden up that section three or four times and it is every bit as steep as it appears. It is definitely doable in a 39×25 by a mere mortals.

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