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Old 03-04-2021, 07:22 AM   #1
Viggorous
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Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

Winter is over and it is time to watch a lot of people in lycra pants sit on bikes for hours on end over the next many, many months.

The UCI World Tour began on 21st of February with UAE Tour where the prodigal Tour de France champion of last year, Tadej Pogačar, won ahead of Adam Yates and another rider coming off a breakout season, Joăo Almeida.



This past Saturday, the spring classics kicked off with a win for Davide Ballerini from "the usual suspects", classics-powerhouse Deceunink-Quickstep team in Omloop Het Niuewsblad. The day after in Belgium, ex-world champion Mads Pedersen won the sprint after a hectic race that saw Mathieu van der Poel's breakaway group getting caught 2 kms from the finishing line, largely due to the work of Pedersen's compatriots Kasper Asgreen and Sřren Kragh Andersen, who kept attacking and thus reeled in the breakaway. Some cups of coffee must be owed.





The season is well and truly underway, and virtually every weekend (and many weekdays) will feature top tier cycling.

This Saturday it is a relatively new race, having only begun in 2007, Strade Bianche. This race has become an instant classic and fan favorite (signed by yours truly) due to the beautiful scenery and crazy race, often on the white gravel roads ("Strade Bianche" translates to "white roads") of Tuscany, starting and finishing in Siena.







Three of the past four years, the winner of Strade Bianche has also won Milano-Sanremo (Kwiatkowski, 2017, Alaphilippe, 2019 and van Aert, 2020), the first Monument on the calendar, so it is usually a good indicator of who is in top form for the early classics.

So who can we expect to see at the front of Strade Bianche, and probably many, many other classics? If you ask me (and most bookmakers) there are names that will be #1 and #2 for most races (and one other person who shares the spotlight in some of the classics, depending on the routes). It is the Benelux overlords of present day cycling: Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert.

For a number of years, they have more or less won everything between them in cyclo-cross. A couple of years ago, they went fully into road racing as well, and that has essentially been the beginning of a new era of cycling. These two lifelong competitors are often on another level compared to their competition.



Especially WvA destroyed the opposition for most of the previous season, winning Strade Bianche, MSR, two TDF stages and finishing second in the World Championships both for TT and for road race. But in the final, big race of the season, the Tour of Flanders, Mathieu van der Poel showed that van Aert could be beat in one of these otherwise tailor-made for van Aert classics. In many ways, the images of them riding as a duo towards the finishing line to settle things between them looked like something we could see again, and again and again over the coming years.



However...



There is one man, who keeps pushing the boundaries and who has shown he can rival the two behemoths: Julian Alaphilippe.



The World Champion has time and time again outdone himself, he has shown that he can win anywhere. He finished second to WvA in MSR, but he beat him in the World Championships, and had he not crashed into a motorcycle in Tour of Flanders, perhaps he could have beaten both MvdP and WvA, because he was flying until his crash.

There's many interesting stories waiting to unfold this season. Evenepoel's comeback after his terrible crash, will the youth continue to dominate, who will win the Olympics and strip Greg van Avermaet of his "stylish" gold helmet?

Only time will tell which riders will immortalize themselves in this most exciting season (hopefully there will be more winners than COVID cancellations).
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Old 03-04-2021, 11:15 AM   #2
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

Great OP

Guess I had better go look and see if any of the early season classics are being broadcast here, it was pretty great to see a few last season.
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Old 03-04-2021, 12:43 PM   #3
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

Great stuff Viggorous as ever

First weekend delivered
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Old 03-04-2021, 02:26 PM   #4
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

Anybody interested in a season long velogames (a fantasy cycling) for the stage races ?

Every WT stage race you pick your team (9 guys), they score points depending on lots of factor (position, jerseys, intermediate sprints, GC ...)

Spoiler:


If anybody is interested I'll create a league and try to post some updates and reminder when a stage race is coming

First race of the season is Paris Nice starting Sunday
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Old 03-05-2021, 05:25 AM   #5
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

I'm doing velogames anyways, if you want to set up a league I'll join.
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Old 03-05-2021, 02:35 PM   #6
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

Yeah I saw you on the top of a Grand Tour last season, can't remember which one

league code :59692183

https://www.velogames.com/
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Old 03-05-2021, 02:48 PM   #7
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

It was the Vuelta, I was in the lead for a while and ended up finishing 2nd overall.
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Old 03-05-2021, 03:07 PM   #8
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

Quote:
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It was the Vuelta, I was in the lead for a while and ended up finishing 2nd overall.
Oh yeah had the exact same team except for Philipsen instead of Dan Martin

Should have been a win if Van Wilder didn't dropped on stage 1
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Old 03-05-2021, 06:55 PM   #9
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

Great OP, Vigg, once again
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Old 03-06-2021, 11:37 AM   #10
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

Overwhelmingly raced by MvdP. He was on another level today.
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Old 03-06-2021, 03:49 PM   #11
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

Fun race but my internet went out with 1.2 km to go
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Old 03-13-2021, 09:55 AM   #12
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

Damn Roglic that's just cruel.
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Old 03-13-2021, 03:06 PM   #13
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

Season delivering thus far
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Old 03-14-2021, 11:53 AM   #14
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ledders View Post
Season delivering thus far
Indeed, another superhuman performance by MvdP today. He is absolutely frightening right now.

In true Roglic fashion, he dominates Paris-Nice with three stage wins but doesn't win overall due to crashing twice today.

A great win for Magnus Cort on the final day in France, good with a Danish victory after Pedersen came close twice.
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Old 03-14-2021, 05:02 PM   #15
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

Jesus MvdP incredible.

I've only seen highlights of Paris-Nice. Why did Jumbo Visma abandon Roglic to ride on his own?
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Old 03-14-2021, 05:28 PM   #16
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

I didn't watch the race from the start so I'm not entirely sure what happened, but he crashed twice quite early on the stage.
The commentators said his team had been used up trying to get him back which is why he was alone later on.

Speaking of Roglic, the man is a class act. As soon as he finished, he found Schachmanm and congratulated him - similar to how he immediately went to congratulate Pogacar last year when he had just crushed his dream on the ITT in TDF. He is ruthless (see: yesterday) but he is also an exemplary competitor, I'm a fan of his.
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Old 03-15-2021, 05:50 PM   #17
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

Just wanted to jump in to say how incredible Tirenno-Adriatico has been

and my gosh how likeable can Roglic be, super class.

next 10 years gonna be fun
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Old 03-15-2021, 06:14 PM   #18
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

oh nice, I have Paris-Nice on the DVR.
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Old 03-15-2021, 07:05 PM   #19
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

Wow, Roglic took a beating from those falls. Impressive that he finished.
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Old 03-16-2021, 12:59 PM   #20
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

Van Aert wins the final stage ITT in Italy. Both he and Stefan Küng finished above Ganna, which is quite surprising as Ganna has been untouchable in TTs for a while, having won 8 on the trot, including sweeping all three in last years Giro and the World Championship ahead of van Aert.

Pogacar also had a good day and finished 4th, also winning overall. The Slovenians look as dominant as last year.

WvA looked like he was a step from top form in Strade Bianche but he looks to be back to his best, as he finished top 3 in 5 of the 7 stages.

Milano-Sanremo is going to be a bloodbath. The only thing that can prevent it from turning into a battle between the three musketeers (other than crashing etc.) is probably if they focus too hard on each other which we saw for instance with WvA and MvdP in Gent-Wevelgem last year. Doesn't seem very likely to happen in a race like MSR, though. On the other hand, it's a race that "anyone" can win, climbers, sprinters, power houses. But those three seem a level above the rest and they will be hard to drop or beat in a sprint for anyone.

Personally I think MvdP is gonna win, he has looked unstoppable on his good days, and it would be fitting with him doing the Strade-MSR double after Alaphilippe and WvA have done it the previous two years.
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Old 03-16-2021, 04:26 PM   #21
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

If I'm counting well, it's 6 podiums in 8 days of race for WvA this season, in stacked races as well GOAT
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Old 03-20-2021, 10:57 AM   #22
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

30 km to go
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Old 03-20-2021, 11:30 AM   #23
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

What the hell

Caleb Ewan is FLYING
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Old 03-20-2021, 11:44 AM   #24
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

That went nothing like I had expected. What a fantastic finish.

Incredible ride by Jasper Stuyven, fantastic attack he launched. I was hoping Kragh Andersen could do it but he was empty.

Ewan was so strong, if the group doesn't split he wins this with several bike lengths.

The three musketeers looked surprisingly human today.

Also good to see Sagan looking strong, hope he can return to form.
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Old 03-26-2021, 12:32 PM   #25
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Re: Professional Cycling 2021 - A Belgian, a Dutchman and a Frenchman rides into a classic

Kasper Asgreen wins E3 after an impressive ride, he rode solo for more than 50 km and was caught with 15ish km to go, but he attacked again closer to the finish line and rode away.

He had two teammates with him in the front group Senechal and Stybar, and this is a great example of why Deceuninck-Quickstep are just unstoppable in the classics. With so many strong riders who can win, they can just take turns attacking, and then the other riders have to either spend their energy chasing them, which will pull the other fresh Quickstep riders with them, or simply let them ride away, which also results in a Quickstep win.
It is a nasty strategy, and it has now resulted in 3 consecutive E3 wins for Quickstep.

Nevertheless, credit to Asgreen individually as well, he seems back to his strongest, I thought he was finished when he got caught.



They also won the opening Belgian classic a couple of days ago when SamBennett won Brugge-de-Panne in convincing fashion.



Still more Belgian races await over the next 10 days, Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday, Dwars door Flanderen Wednesday and with the big finale of Tour of Flanders on next Sunday.


It's not all good, however, as it is very doubtful Paris-Roubaix will be able to be raced on April 11th due to COVID. Hopefully it will be postponed if it comes to that, having to cancel it again this year would be too depressing, it's probably my favorite race of the year.
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