Don’t get me wrong, I love Paris Roubaix, I really do. But is it a ‘proper’ bike race?
Was Tom Boonen a worth winner of the ‘Hell of the North’, in truth yes. But would it have been as straight forward if he hadn’t had the assistance of the rest of the breakway falling over at crucial moments?
So by definition, was Paris Roubaix won by Boonen or lost by Hushovd, Hoste and Flecha?
Probably a bit of both.
A laboured way of explaining the point though, but I am sure you get what I mean.
The cobbles can make a lottery of the race and despite it making for enthralling television, I am amazed that many racing purists don’t see it as some sort of freak show of the sport. My counter argument would always be that the roads and terrain make the race. You don’t complain when a mountain decides the Tour de France so why should a cobblestone not decide a classic.
The obvious counter to that is that crashes should not decide races and mountain stages are usually decided by who has the deepest lungs (not the best Doctor whichever cynics said that!). Thrills and spills are one thing, but I do prefer athletic endeavour.
No doubt that this years P-R was very exciting, especially the last 30k’s, but it would have been more memorable for me had it been decided by athletic prowess as opposed to not falling off.
Or does that make Boonen athletically better because he was a better bike handler…