Race of the week
Sunday, October 3 – Paris – Roubaix (France)
October 3 was the most anticipated day of the season for many cycling enthusiasts. The legendary Paris – Roubaix, the most prestigious one-day cycling race in the world, in 2020 was first postponed from April to October, and then completely canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. When Northern Hell was moved back to October in 2021, many feared that last year’s story would repeat itself. But, fortunately, the “Korolev classic” still managed to be carried out. But the next version of Paris – Roubaix had to wait for two and a half years – the excitement was incredible.
The weather forecast in northern France on the day of the race warmed him even more. In rainy conditions, Paris – Roubaix becomes as difficult and epic as possible: when men are cut from head to toe in the mud for victory, it looks very harsh and old-school. Not to mention how much more difficult and dangerous the race becomes from this. Rainy Paris – Roubaix fans have not seen since the distant 2002. Since then, every year, fans have prayed for rainfall on the day of the “Northern Hell”, but each time these prayers were in vain.
But this year, requests from fans finally reached the heavenly office, and the weather in Paris – Roubaix promised to be as difficult as possible: heavy rains on Saturday and Sunday, and strong winds. 2.5 years break, rain race – it was probably impossible to create more excitement around the “Northern Hell”.
And in the end, the race met expectations in full – it turned out to be incredibly dramatic and epic. It all started with the fact that the early separation turned out to be very dangerous. 28 riders were selected at once, and it included such people as the ex-champion of Paris – Roubaix Greg Van Avermat, Gianni Moscon and Jasper Philipsen, who had previously won four one-days in a row. The situation was especially dangerous due to the fact that at least one rider was delegated to the gap by almost all top teams – a situation was developing in which there would be simply no one to catch up with the gap.
Moreover, Paris – Roubaix is by its nature a race in which it is very difficult to get the breaks, and even 1 minute of lag 80-90 km before the finish can be a verdict for the peloton. The task of pursuit in rainy conditions became especially difficult. On the wet, each sector of the paving stone was very selective – after any of them the peloton fell apart and became very small. And the leaders had to either wait for the tails, or try to continue the work with the small group that remained from the peloton. Both options are bad for the persecution process.
Before the start of Paris – Roubaix, many feared that due to the presence of eternal rivals, Mathieu van der Poole and Vout van Art, the race would become very boring: they would start grazing each other again, and at this time some accidental victory would slip away. figure. It could have happened this time too. In fact, the gap of the day was neutralized precisely thanks to two situations, when Van Art and Van der Poole were in different groups, and both worked to their fullest: Mathieu – to escape from Vout, and he – to catch up with his rival.
The first time they found themselves separately during the passage of the Arenberg forest. Van Art was positionally wrong, and began storming the legendary trench too deep in the peloton. Later, two riders fell in front of him: the Belgian “Jumbo Visma” himself managed to avoid the fall, but a gap formed in front of him. And in order to close it, Vout spent a lot of energy.
For 71 km before the finish line, Van der Poole has already purposefully launched an attack, moreover, on the asphalt. Van Art slept through this attack, and they again ended up in different groups, which was a guarantee that both would work 100%. This time, Vout failed to catch up with his main rival. But Van der Poole, having got rid of the Belgian, and managed to shift to Sonny Colbrelli, who attacked from the peloton a little earlier. Later, their joint formation managed to pick up the remnants of the early breakaway of the day. All, except for Gianni Moscon, who threw off his fellow travelers on one of the paving sites and drove alone more than 50 km before the finish line.
The Italian, who leaves Ineos at the end of the season and moves to Astana, looked great that day and kept his pursuers, led by Van der Poole, at a distance for more than a minute. Moscon had every chance to bring the matter to victory, but Mistress Fortuna was clearly against it. At first, Gianni caught a puncture, and a little later he also fell during the passage of the next sector of paving stones. The 1 minute and 15 seconds benefit quickly turned into 20 seconds.
At that moment, the group of pursuers, realizing that the chances of winning again appeared, finally began to work harmoniously and help Van der Poole. Moscon heroically resisted for a long time and at some point even increased his advantage, but was still overtaken by his pursuers. Such a scenario could not but finish off the morale of the Italian driver, and he fell out of the leading group. Moscon fought heroically, but in the end was forced to settle for only fourth place.
And the trio played the victory: in addition to Van der Poole and Kolbrelli, another participant of the early breakaway, Florian Vermeersch, managed to stay ahead. And in the finishing sprint, Colbrelli was the fastest. But Van der Poole, who performed the largest amount of work ahead, did not have enough strength – only the third place.
Colbrelli in heaven in the Hell of the North 💚🤍❤️
— Eurosport IT (@Eurosport_IT) October 3, 2021
Colbrelli’s emotions after the finish looked just like hysteria. A bit of a wild sight, but it only once again emphasizes the importance and value of the victory at Paris – Roubaix. A phenomenal season for Colbrelli, who made tremendous progress in 2021, and in its end won a major victory of his career.
In general, Sonny was never considered a specialist in paving stones and northern classics (what to talk about if, at the age of 31, he drove his debut Paris – Roubet), but now his physical form is at some cosmic level. By the way, not only he was the debutant of Northern Hell, but the whole trinity of winners in general – a unique case. Colbrelli became the first racer since Jean Forestier in 1955 to win his debut Paris – Roubaix, and there have been no top 3 debutants since Tom Boonen in 2002 – a very vivid illustration of how important experience is in this race, and how a unique event took place on Sunday. Although this is partly understandable: rainy Paris – Roubaix is a special genre that is very different from the usual dry race. And in the modern generation of racers, no one has had the experience of passing the rainy Paris – Roubet.
Colbrelli became the first Italian in 22 years to win the Classic Queen – before him in 1999, Andrea Tafi won. Sonny is only the third racer to win in Roubaix in the status of the current Italian championship – before him, all the same Tafi and the great and mythical Fausto Coppi managed it back in 1950.
Disappointed at the current Paris – Roubaix “Deceuninck Quick Step”. Patrick Lefebvre’s team had a very pale and passive race, and the best was Yves Lampart – fifth place. As a former cyclocrossman, a lot was expected from Zdenek Štybar in the conditions of rain and swamp, but the Czech was clearly not ready in the best way and finished only 26th. Peter Sagan fell very unpleasantly in his farewell race with Bora Hansgrohe and ended up finishing 57th. I’m even more sorry for Stefan Kung and Jasper Stuyven. Each of them fell three times, but heroically continued the fight.
September 28 – October 1 – Tour of Sicily (Italy)
There have been no other races in the World Tour this week, but the Giro della Sicilia pro-continental race cannot be ignored. And all because Vincenzo Nibali won a beautiful victory at the last stage and in the overall standings. At the very end of his 2-year stay at Trek Segafredo, the legendary Italian managed to bring his team the first victory: the previous time Nibali won the 20th stage of the Tour de France 2019 to Val Thorens with Bahrain Merida.
The legendary Nibali won in his small homeland – this is already a significant event in itself. But this is not the main thing. After two unsuccessful seasons, many have already rushed to write off the almost 37-year-old veteran in the junk, not paying attention to the numerous constraints that prevented Nibali from showing his usual level during these two years. And now the “Messina Shark” has proven that it was written off too early.
The victory on the Tour of Sicily should not be underestimated: despite the modest status of the race, Nibali won in a confrontation with such drivers as Alejandro Valverde, Romain Barde, Lorenzo Fortunato and David De la Cruz – a solid company. Next Saturday, the big racing season will close the last Monument of the season – Lombardy, one of Nibali’s favorite races, which he already won in 2015 and 2017. And in this form, Vincenzo becomes one of the favorites of the “Race of Fallen Leaves”.
Saturday 9 November – Lombardy (Italy)
This season, the organizers of Lombardy have decided to redraw the route of the legendary classics: now the riders will start in Como and finish in Bergamo, and not vice versa. At the same time, the riders will go to the reverse of the old route, and a completely new one, and even more difficult in terms of relief.
The company will be very serious at the start. In addition to Nibali, Primozh Roglich, Valverde, Tadei Pogacar, Thibaut Pino, Mark Hirshi, Davide Formolo, Dan Martin, Gianni Moscon, Adam Yates, Esteban Chavez, Max Shahmann, Gino Mader and other stars will go to the start.
Will try to take revenge on the fate of Remco Evenpool, who a year ago in Lombardy survived a terrible fall and suffered a severe pelvic fracture. The Lombardy route was changed, there will be no descent from Muro di Sormano, but Remco is definitely not worth relaxing: there will still be more than enough dangerous places, and Nibali is back in service, in shape and ready to give out his signature attacks on the slopes.
And the psychological state of Evenpool raises serious questions. He has spent the past week controversial on Flemish television and on Twitter. Remco was accused of not obeying team tactics at the World Cup and causing the failure of the Belgian national team. Interestingly, Van Art liked many of the critical posts about Evenpool on Twitter, but the riders themselves promised to meet after the end of the season and make peace in a calm atmosphere – they still have to play for the national team for more than one year, so these conflicts are not needed by anyone except the yellow press.
– Come Gianni Moscona, Astana this week announced the signing of David De la Cruz. A very serious strengthening under the Grand Tours – a person is able to win stages himself, and to enter the top 10 of the overall standings, and be a top Gregari. It seems that “Astana” is again becoming a formidable force in super multi-day races. The budget of Astana alone is not rubber – Alex Aranburu had to go to Movistar.
– The organizers of the Giro d’Italia, RCS Sport, have officially announced that the Giro 2022 will start abroad. Moreover, the Giro will begin on Friday, May 6 – this means that after the start block the riders will have an additional day of rest. According to rumors, the Giro will start in Hungary. Grande Partenza in Budapest was already planned for 2020, but then these plans had to be abandoned due to the coronavirus pandemic.
– However, Covid-19 continues to affect the World Tour calendar. Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans Great Ocean Race, which traditionally open the season in January, will again be canceled in 2022 due to strict quarantine restrictions in Australia.
– Last week, the famous French newspaper L’Equipe reported that Tom Dumoulin might go to the Bike Exchange. Later, the information was confirmed by other sources, but with one clarification: the possibility of such a transition is being discussed only in a year, for the 2023 season. In general, Dumoulin’s departure from Jumbo Visma looks to some extent logical: with Roglich alive and Wingegaard’s progress, Tom looks superfluous in this team.
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