Friday Group Ride #115

The Spring Classics season is over. Shit. And true to form it offered up some legend-burnishing performances (Boonen’s Flanders/Roubaix double) and some jaw-slackening surprises (Gasparotto at Amstel Gold).

The big winner, Tommeke Boonen, just put the cherry(s) on top of what has already been a peach of a season for Omega Pharma-QuickStep (OPQS). They’ve gotten wins on the road from Francesco Chicchi, Levi Leipheimer, Gerald Ciolek, Peter Velits, Michal Kwiatkowski, Julien Vermote, Niki Terpstra and Sylvain Chavanel as well; 2011 Time Trial World Champion Tony Martin hasn’t even pitched in yet, quite possibly because he had an altogether too close encounter with a car while training earlier this month.

Other big winners must include Green Edge, who put Simon Gerrans on the top step of the podium at Milan-San Remo, and Astana who took the final prize of the spring at Liege-Bastogne-Liege with Maxim Iglinskiy.

BMC showed well with Alessandro Ballan on podiums at both Flanders and Roubaix, but for a team of this caliber (and payroll) a pair of third places and a lot of anonymous rides from last year’s rider-of-the-season, Philipe Gilbert, has to be seen as an abject failure.

RadioShack-Nissan-Trek-Jingleheimer-Schmidt will also feel about as happy as kid who’s dropped his ice cream after watching Fabian Cancellara face plant in the feed zone at Flanders, shattering his collarbone and a potential rematch with Boonen over the the cobbles of le Nord. In the Ardennes, where the Schleck brothers made most favorites lists, the team fired nothing but blanks.

More could have been expected from Team Sky and perhaps Katusha also, but the Spring seldom runs to script.

This week’s Group Ride looks back wistfully at the just-done spate of races and asks: Who were your winners and losers? What did you love? And what did you hate?


Image: Photoreporter Sirotti

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    1. Author

      @Jeff – I didn’t. Given their budget and talent, I think they expected more podium places throughout the spring. That’s just an opinion though.

  1. [email protected]

    For some reason, the Ardennes classics failed to excite me at all this year. Is it something about the course design that makes for less thrilling racing? Fleche seems to be nothing more than a hillclimb at the end of a long slog. Amstel was good enough, but L-B-L just hasn’t done it for me in the last few years.

    MSR and the Belgian races are another story. They were great, starting right with Het (Volk). Missed Spartacus, but Boonen was a worthy winner this year. For me, classics ended after P-R.

    I think part of it, too, is the scenery at the finishes of the Ardennes leaves something to be desired. Not too inspiring.

  2. Souleur

    winner: Boom-Boom Boonen

    loved: the bianchi-strada, its a beautiful race
    hated: i fell into a stupor when Cancellara went down

  3. Tom from Raleigh

    For me, Boonen’s 2012 spring campaign was more impressive than PhilGil’s 2011 spring. I love it when Belgians win the big Belgian races. My award for the hard luck loser goes to Mr. excitement, Slyvan Chavenel. Heseemedtohavetge form to podium in multiple races but rainout of luck. I’m sure he’ll group the road plenty in July.

  4. Eto

    Personally, I love the Northern Races best including the semi-classics. The top riders have been working so hard through the winter to be approaching or right on form come February. That is dedication. That begins to define hard.

    Boonen was riding at another level this early season. It will be hard to wait twelve months to see Fabian and Tommeke go at it again.

  5. A Stray Velo

    Tom Boonen was this years classics. His performances added much needed excitement to what I felt was a rather boring classics season. It was great to watch him ride at top form again.

    Other than that I honestly loved the whole “we’re a contender” bit conveyed by every team to all the cycling media outlets only to see all the “favorites” suck as usual. It happens every year and I love it. I’m almost more entertained to see who comes up the shortest. For me it’s a tie between BMC and RadioShack this spring. Lets not forget Cunego crashing on the Cauberg…that was awesome as well. Oh then there is also Valverde’s disqualification from LBL for not following the route, also very classy.

    Pro cycling for me is entertainment and this spring is was lacking a bit.

  6. randomactsofcycling

    Clearly the big Winners were Mr Boonen and Omega-Pharma-Quick Step. I’m happy that Boonen is back in form. The only shame of it is that for all eternity these wins will have sub-text : the year Cancellara was out injured.
    I’m disappointed that Chavanel didn’t have better luck or results. He’s a classy rider and I have been hoping for a Monument for him the last couple of years.
    Radio Suck-Nissan-Schleck….well, if it weren’t for Cancellara and Kloden I would not even be looking for their results this year. Look out for Kloden at the Tour.
    The other biggest loser through no fault of his own: Maxim Inglinsky. For Vino to come out and say he “won it the Vino way”……that’s certainly a double entendre Maxim can do without.

  7. Jesus from Cancun

    The moment I liked the best of the whole Spring Classics season: Tommeke riding away from everyone at Paris-Roubaix and setting himself up for a 50-something km time trial against most of the best classics riders in the world.
    He didn’t need to do it. He had shown to be in top sprinting form and he still had teammates with him.
    He did it because he could, and he wanted the world to know.

    Disappointment? Watching Cancellara al-most riding away from Nibali and Gerrans during the descent of the Poggio and then al-most winning in a sprint. He was so, so close to riding them off his wheel and being the story of the season.
    I like Gerrans and I think he was a well deserving winner, but up until the last 20 metres I was on my feet in front of the screen hoping for Cancellara to complete the coup. Watching Gerrans sprint past was my “oh, sh….” moment of the season.

  8. PeterLeach

    Big winner = Boonen

    Big losers = all those who thought Simon Gerrans didn’t deserve his La Primavera win

  9. Nick

    It’s unoriginal, but I have to agree about Omega Pharma Quick Step. I was one of those folks that thought it looked more like a collection of random riders than a team, but they’ve done remarkably well in both the shorter early season stage races and the classics. It’s a huge disappointment that Levi and Tony Martin were so badly injured or else I’m sure we’d have seen even more from the team.

    I also feel like the viewers are the biggest winners when a bunch of unexpected riders take wins. Sep Vanmarke, Terpstra, the Astana twins, etc. I love it when guys who’ve been knocking on the door for years finally get that result.

  10. Cat4Fodder

    Will not take credit for this thought, but Cillian Kelly of the Velocast made a great point. One of the reasons for perhaps a lack of overall excitement in these races is that impact of power meters on racing. In the past, absent a PM, a rider may chase a break down, or attempt to match an acceleration, and no idea exactly how far into the red that might put them.

    Now – a lot of riders know their physiological limits, and while in years past, they may have tried to bridge a gap or match an attack, they now race within the confines of their PM’s. Not saying it is the only reason (UCI points also are an issue), but power meters seem to limit the in-race egos of the riders, and could be limiting the action.

  11. reverend dick

    “RadioShack-Nissan-Trek-Jingleheimer-Schmidt” HahahahahahahahaHA! His name is my name, too.

    I’m only commenting because look at Boonen’s position on the bike there. He is conTROLLing it.

  12. Big Mikey

    For me, the best part of the spring campaign is the stuff we never thought to expect…….Gerrans pulling out a big win, Nuyens, Boonen attacking to go 50km solo, etc.

    And the fine performances put in by some of the youngsters is also cool to watch.

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