Friday Group Ride #257

Friday Group Ride #257

We named our first son Owen, as solid a Welsh boy’s name as we could imagine, and our second Ian (rejecting the favorite, Jasper, within seconds of his arrival) because it was easier to Welshify into the less recognizable Ianto, which is what we call him at home. In the selection process for both, Geraint did feature on a very preliminary list, but we rejected it as too alien. We wanted names that were recognizable, that our boys wouldn’t have to repeat and spell over and over throughout their lives.

Geraint Thomas is an unlikely lad.

If you look through the membership of the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame, you will find two cyclists, Jimmy Michael who died in 1904, and the recently-retired Nicole Cooke. In short, there is not a grand history of successful pro Welsh cyclists. Young Geraint is the only one you can name, if you even knew he was Welsh, but you probably did because he’s always referred to as ‘the Welshman,’ probably because that’s what distinguishes him.

Except that now, maybe what distinguishes him is success. He won Volta ao Algarve in February, before taking the top step at E3 Harelbeke and then 3rd place at Gent-Wevelgem. No longer an almost-man, no longer a strong lieutenant, he’s a winner and leader in his own right, a candidate, if not a certainty, to contend at Tour of Flanders on Sunday.

That was all a long way of saying that I am pulling for him. He’s my favorite.

It’s been a long while since we tried to predict a big race here on the Group Ride, but this week’s Friday Group Ride asks who YOU think will win at Flanders. Without Boonen or Cancellara to pick, the race is perhaps more wide open than it has been in a half decade. I highly recommend Inrng’s race preview, and we look forward to hearing who you think will win this iconic race. Bonus question: Will you be watching?

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  1. Andrew

    I think Sagan is due, but this is so open that I don’t think anyone’s projections are more than guesses.

    I will be riding the hills, bluffs and valleys of the Elba/Rollingstone, MN area. My own version of Flanders, hopefully (although it looks more like the Ardennes, and was in fact settled by people from Luxembourg). I’ll catch the highlights later- never watch when you can ride!

  2. Grego

    For Ronde winner:
    Degenkolb? Wiggo? Sagan?
    Stijn? Niki? Greg? No.

    Kristoff is faster,
    stronger, and has Paolini.
    This spring, he is best.

    (If you watched the Driedaagse De Panne,
    you’ll see that Kristoff was unstoppable!)

    1. Grego

      Kristoff is on fire! He’s so strong right now, and smart too: he got Terpstra to work with him for 25+km, basically in exchange for a worst placement of 2nd. It’s easy for me to be an AK fan when he acts so impressively. I hope both of them can bring similar excitement in Paris-Roubaix next weekend!

  3. Matt K

    I would like to see Van Avermaet win it. Stybar is another I could see take the win. Even with Boonen and Cancellara out its looking to be a good one! I will be watching a YouTube final 45km later that day. I’ve tried watching a live stream on the computer and its more frustrating that fun.

  4. Paul

    I will be following on twitter and cycling new live feed. BeIn Sports (Be Yesterday Sports) shows the race on Monday morning.

    Can’t argue with Thomas or Kristoff (or inrng). I would probably rout for Sagan though if he’s in the group. by team, Jack Bauer long shot

  5. Paolo

    I’m in Italy on vacation and hopefully I will watch it live on TV, free as it should be.
    I’m a Cancellara fan so now I will be happy as long as it is a nice and fought race.

  6. Jay

    I am going with Sep Vanmarcke. He has been there at the end of all of the lead up races, but just under the radar. He has been close to winning a monument over the past couple of years. The door is open without Boonen or Cancellara there.

  7. Jim P.

    As much as I would like Thomas to win (being that he’s on my fantasy team), I have a feeling it will be Styby. Though I would be pleased enough with that, if not Thomas, then I’m pulling for GVA.

  8. Shawn

    EVERYONE will make it priority one to drop Kristoff on the final bergs. If he survives, he deserves to win but I would guess it will be someone like Stybar who attacks while others look at each other. I will certainly be watching and postpone my ride until the afternoon.

  9. Don Jagoe

    The Spring Classics are impossible to call–the cobbles and crashes make it all too multivariate to predict. But a GT win would be startlingly good to watch.

  10. Author

    John B. – Thanks for that. Just shows how deep you have to dig to find the Welsh potatoes in the pro field.

    Kristoff FTW!!!!! So strong.

  11. Adam

    … and don’t forget Luke Rowe, also of Sky, also Welsh, and also from Cardiff like Geraint.

    Geraint went to Whitchurch High School in Cardiff and among the alumni from the same time are Sam Warburton ( Welsh Rugby Captain ), Gareth Bale ( Real Madrid ) and Tom Maynard ( England Cricket ).

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