Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The continued sound of one hand clapping

I appear to be the only one here anymore. My comrades have abandoned the bloggery. I am sorry. You're stuck with me. last thing about pro cycling, and then I'll drop it until something really exciting happens. The Amstel Gold Race doesn't count.

Did you see Paris-Roubaix? F'ing crazy. Crashes. Smashes. Attacks. Tactical blunders. Mechanical meltdown. That race is like the cycling equivalent of Thunderdome. Tom Boonen showed he was the strongest (and smartest) on the day. He didn't let any of his Quick Step teammates get too far up the road without him, which is what he did at the Tour of Flanders, and that cost him (but not the team) the win there.

This time he rode on the front, which is always smart in PR, because when the inevitable mass pile up happens, you don't get caught in it. He also attacked at just the right time to break up the lead group. If Pipo Pozzato had really wanted to win, he should have put in an earlier attack. Instead, Boonen made the moves and rode his luck to win the prize.

Luck played a huge part as well. Flecha crashed and took two others with him, also holding Pozzato up, though again, Pozzato should have known better than to be on the back of the group over the cobbles. Then Hushovd crashed into the barrier. I mean, how embarrassing is that? It's too bad, too, because Hushovd probably had a chance at outsprinting Boonen in the end.

Great race. I'll watch it again and again.

Finally, I learned something very, very interesting last week about those Northern European cobblestones. It seems that ships leaving from Belgium and Northern France some centuries ago, would fill their hulls with those cobbles as ballast for the trip across the Atlantic, dumping them in New England and refilling with valuable cargo. The cobbles, or pavé as they're known in France, were then used to pave roads here.

Even on the street I live on, when a pothole goes deep, say 8-12 inches, you can see the cobblestone road underneath. So, it's sort of thrilling to think that, on a daily basis, I'm riding over top of the same cobbles that have been such a huge part of European bike racing for the last century and a half.

Wow. Just re-read that. I'm quite a tool, aren't I?

No comments: