Philippe Gilbert is simply brilliant. He’s now won the past 4 major races in a row: Brabantse Pijl, Amstel Gold, Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. And he’s done it in a number of different ways – sheer power, tactics, even a sprint. If you’re unfamiliar with Gilbert, I did a short write up on the Amstel Gold HERE. Belgians, and Gilbert in particular, are on a tear this year.
When you’re done watching the final 4 minutes of the race posted in the video above, head on over to Red Kite Prayer to read a great write up on this monumental race.
Below, here’s a great insightful video from Leopard-Trek’s resident leg-breaker, Jens Voight, on what makes Liege-Bastogne-Liege unique and what Andy and Frank Schleck needed to do…turns out they were there in the end but maybe too much wasted energy led to their demise? Then again, they wouldn’t have been there together in the end if they hadn’t made the race like they did. Either way, according to Jens, it all comes down to taking a chance and being “brave.” No question the Schlecks rode bravely but in the end another man was simply stronger.
Time to catch up on all the past weekend’s cycling news (including race results from Liege-Bastogne-Liege) with the AGR Daily Newspaper. The AGR Daily aggregates all the news from around the world of cycling, allowing you to view in one place. If this is your first time viewing the AGR Daily, you can read a brief explanation of how it works HERE. Just click on the above image to view the newspaper!
This is my son, Greyson, on his very first bike ride. He lasted as long as he could until he literally hit the wall.
Remember when you were a kid learning to ride a bike? For many of us, it was our first taste of adventure. At first, the bike was transportation. In 2nd Grade, I started riding my bike to school. Then, my brother and I started riding all over the place on the weekends. Not for training mind you (we were kids!), but for adventure. The bike was a ticket to a world beyond the 4 boring corners of our neighborhood. We would spend all day out in the sunshine riding bikes from one destination to another, basking in the freedom that a bike provided. This lasted for years.
Then I got my drivers license and the bike hung on the wall in the garage. There were new adventures to be had and I all but forgot about the bike. But somewhere in my 20’s, I rediscovered the adventure a bike can bring. Sure, now I have goals when I ride and usually have to hustle home as real-world adult responsibilities await. But somehow, riding a bike as an adult put me back in touch with that little kid that simply loved the wind in my face and the freedom and adventure of riding all over God’s creation on two wheels.
A childhood without a bicycle is a sailboat becalmed. A bicycle has the grace and style to give a billowing gaiety and a transcendent innocence to the fragile moments of childhood. In later years, those moments may be recalled for refuge, however evanescent, from the fits and frights of life. – James E. Starrs, The Noiseless Tenor (taken from “The Quotable Cyclist” by Bill Strickland)
Whatever your motivation for riding, you can’t help but benefit from reconnecting with your inner little kid. Remember that little you that longed for the weekend where you could throw your leg over a bike and ride off for hours on end? Try finding that little kid this weekend. See where he or she takes you.
The Amstel Gold was on Sunday and another Belgian won. Amstel is the Netherlands biggest pro bike race and begins what’s called the Ardennes classics. These series of spring races, named for the Ardennes mountains and forests that make up northern Belgium, France, and Luxembourg, include the monument Liege-Bastogne-Liege and also Fleche Wallone (coming up in a few weeks)
Ridiculously narrow roads. Road furniture that comes out of nowhere. Steep, punchy climbs and a crazy uphill finish. That’s Amstel Gold. The beauty of these spring classics (Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix + a host of smaller races) is that they all have their own quality and character and they generally favor different kinds of riders. Every few generations, we may see a Fabian Cancellara that can compete in all of them but for the most part San Remo favors the sprinters, Flanders takes a strongman able to burst over short climbs, Paris-Roubaix is sheer power and guts, and Amstel Gold takes an incredible all-arounder with a massive uphill sprint.
In this year’s edition, the rider with the number one on his back as defending champion, Philippe Gilbert, chased down Andy Schleck and powered his way up the finishing climb to reassert himself as a man for the classics. Gilbert is from the French speaking region of Belgium, but hey he’s Belgian, and the Flemish have adopted him as one of their own.
So just in case you’re counting this spring, that’s FOUR BELGIANS that have won the past FIVE classics/semi-classics: Tom Boonen at Ghent-Wevelgem, Nick Nuyens at Flanders, Johan van Summeren at Paris-Roubaix, Philippe Gilbert at Brabantse Pijl, and again Gilbert at Amstel Gold. Belgium is smaller than Indiana and they’re kicking the crap out of the rest of the world in the toughest races on the planet. The legendary toughness of Belgian bike racers is well-earned.
Almost makes me want to go train for 4 hours in the freezing rain. Almost.
The AGR Daily aggregates the most popular stories, photos, videos and trending twitter topics related to cycling. It’s a great way to find the most popular daily cycling news stories from around the world in one place. You can click on the headlines to read the full stories from sites like VeloNews and CyclingNews as well as personal tweets from pro riders and writers. Just click on the image above to go to the AGR Daily at Paper.li to catch up on everything that’s happening now. You can even subscribe to the AGR Daily (see subscribe button in the newspaper) to keep up to date with daily stories in the world of cycling.
Every so often, I’ll post video of daring and seemingly impossibly attacks from the world of pro cycling. Attack videos are cataloged HERE.
Do you remember this race? The 2006 edition of the Giro di Lombardia (the final of the 5 monuments) saw Paolo Bettini line up at the start just a few days after his brother passed away. The 2x World Champion (in back-to-back years no less) was well suited to the parcours but had a big target on his back. He attacked on the final climb and pulled away on this descent like a madman. Take a look at how close he gets to the guardrails and stone walls. Unbelievable. The moto has a difficult time keeping up! All the emotion of a win dedicated to his recently departed brother came pouring out as he crossed the line. Beautiful.
Today, the big dogs throw down. Pain and suffering, power and bike-handling, tactics and head games, Roubaix is a true test of guts and heart. Versus is airing 3 hours coverage of the Queen of the Classics this afternoon starting at 4pm PST.
Below is the full version of A Sunday in Hell. Still considered the best film ever made about pro cycling, it follows the 1976 edition of Paris-Roubaix. Grab a cup of coffee or bottle of Chimay. Embrocate. Soak it all in.