Tour of Flanders: Fabian Cancellara rides to another solo win, Tom Boonen crashes out early

Spartacus drops Sagan on final climb of the Paterberg and time trials his way to victory

by Simon_MacMichael   March 31, 2013  

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Fabian Cancellara, who crashed out of the Tour of Flanders with a broken collarbone 12 months ago, has won the centenary edition of the race with a solo attack which left his rivals powerless to respond. The RadioShack-Leopard rider hit the front on the third and final climb of the Paterberg, the last ascent of the day, and dropped Peter Sagan of Cannondale and Lotto-Belisol's Jurgen Roelandts to time trial his way to what is his second victory in the race. Sagan would finish second, nearly a minute and a half behind Cancellara, with Roelandts third.

Cancellara's attack and solo ride to the line was reminiscent of his win in 2010, when he left Tom Boonen behind as he rode to a storming victory. Today, Boonen, seeking a record fourth victory in the race, saw his challenge end after crashing just 19 kilometres from the start in Bruges. He is now doubtful for next week's Paris-Roubaix, where Cancellara can emulate him in becoming the second man to do the Flanders-Roubaix double in two separate seasons.

Roelandts’ Lotto-Belisol team had fought hard for him all day including André Greipel launching an attack on the climb of the Molenberg a little after halfway into the 256.2 kilometre race and getting into a front group where he would be joined by team mate Marcel Seiberg to set the pace at the front.

That breakaway was long over by the time the Oude Kwaremont loomed into view for the third and final time with less than 20 kilometres to ride, but the Belgian team’s plan seemed to be working as Roelandts, who had himself attacked from the group containing the favourites, found himself at the head of the race on his own after dropping Vacansoleil-DCM’s Mirko Selvaggi.

All eyes were on Cancellara and Sagan, however, and when the Swiss rider went on the offensive as a small main group hit that ascent, only the young Slovak was able to stay with him, with riders of the calibre of Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Sylvain Chavanel and Europcar’s Thomas Voeckler among those unable to reply.

The pair quickly caught and dropped earlier escapee Michal Kwiatowski of Omega Pharma-Quick Step, and ahead of the Paterberg had also bridged across to Roelandts.

Coming over the top of the climb, the pair had caught and dropped earlier escapee Michal Kwiatowski of Omega Pharma-Quick Step, and it was Cancellara, who had earlier had to chase back on after a puncture, who looked the stronger rider as he and Sagan then bridged across to Roelandts ahead of the Paterberg.

The trio were together as they hit the climb, which has an average gradient of 12.9 per cent and hits 20 per cent in places.

Roelandts was the first to crack, and this time Sagan too lost contact, Cancellara crossing the summit with an advantage of around 100 metres, the four-time world time trial champion then tucking into that familiar pose to chew up the final 13 kilometres.

It was quickly apparent that barring a mechanical, Cancellara wouldn’t be caught, but Sagan and Roelandts worked together to ensure they completed the podium, coming home just ahead of a chasing bunch led across the line by Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff.

Earlier, Greipel’s attack on the Molenberg  with more than 120 kilometers left to ride had allowed him and four other riders to get across to a group of seven riders at the head of the race.

Soon, the attrition of the various climbs and cobbled sections – in all, the parcours featured 17 of the former and seven of the latter – had whittled that front group down to five riders.

Besides Greipel and team mate Seiberg, also there were Kwiatowski, Maarten Tjallingii of Blanco and Laurens De Vreese of Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise.

Behind them, as the climbs started to come thick and fast inside the final 100 kilometres, the more fancied riders were trying to keep themselves out of trouble by riding towards the front of the main bunch.

The importance of maintaining position was shown on the ascent of the day’s toughest climb, the Koppenberg, as riders in the middle of the bunch struggled with the gradient and had to dismount.

The concertina effect as riders behind them also had to get off causing a big split in the peloton with more than 60 kilometres to go, with one of those left behind being Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Niki Terpstra.

The five breakaway men were never allowed to build too much of an advantage as the group behind kept them on a tight leash, and the small group split on the second ascent of the Paterberg, with around 33 kilometres remaining.

Kwiatowski and Selvaggi, who had bridged across, were briefly out in front on their own, with other riders including Roelandts, Sebastien Hinault of IAM, Europcar’s Sebastien Turgot and FDJ’s Yoann Offredo managing to join them.

The group behind, now reduced to around 35 riders including Sagan and Cancellara, kept the pace high heading into the final 25 kilometres, with the leaders around half a minute ahead on the road.

For the second time in a fortnight, however, Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas day came to a premature end when he crashed at a crucial point. Two weeks back in Italy, it had happened as the main group approached the Cipressa.

Today, his crash came as the riders headed into a feed zone between the bottom of the Oude Kwaremont and the second climb of the Paterberg, with a little over 35 kilometres left.

While he managed to get back into the main group, the effort of doing so meant that there was no chance of his being able to respond when Cancellara and Sagan made what proved to be the crucial move.

 

24 user comments

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Shame Sagan ruined it with disgusting behaviour on the podium!

I hope he'll face some appropriate consequences and it's a shame a woman's place in cycling seems to be on the podium for pigs like Sagan to grope - would love to be reading about the women's race on here instead.

CraigS's picture

posted by CraigS [135 posts]
31st March 2013 - 17:56

3 Likes

Why have podium girls anyway? Surely it's just to parade them round for looking pretty.

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing..."

Cooks's picture

posted by Cooks [503 posts]
31st March 2013 - 18:15

2 Likes

Do they have podium boys at girls races?

Confused

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1734 posts]
31st March 2013 - 18:34

0 Likes

I have always thought having podium girls is a bit iffy. They surely represent the spoils of victory. Of course nowadays all the victor gets is a kiss, but doesn't their presence symbolise the rewards (raping the women of the defeated) which went to the conquerors in war? Perhaps Sagan's behaviour was in tune with this idea.

felixcat's picture

posted by felixcat [344 posts]
31st March 2013 - 18:40

2 Likes

Raleigh wrote:
Do they have podium boys at girls races?

Confused

Worse. If they're really unlucky, the victorious women get a peck on the cheek from Pat McQuaid...

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9102 posts]
31st March 2013 - 18:52

2 Likes

Sick

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1734 posts]
31st March 2013 - 19:06

1 Like

Cooks wrote:
Why have podium girls anyway? Surely it's just to parade them round for looking pretty.

Agreed - the sooner race organisers see a woman's place in cycling as on the road instead of looking pretty on the podium, the better.

CraigS's picture

posted by CraigS [135 posts]
31st March 2013 - 19:23

2 Likes

Trek have got to be pleased about this, so they can put even more weight behind the argument for their Domane model.

Municipal Waste's picture

posted by Municipal Waste [237 posts]
31st March 2013 - 19:24

3 Likes

felixcat wrote:
I have always thought having podium girls is a bit iffy. They surely represent the spoils of victory. Of course nowadays all the victor gets is a kiss, but doesn't their presence symbolise the rewards (raping the women of the defeated) which went to the conquerors in war? Perhaps Sagan's behaviour was in tune with this idea.

I doubt it.

The race organisers need someone to hand over the trophies and an attractive woman looks better on telly than a fat, balding, corporate executive.

Anyway, the exploitation of women in cycling (if you can call it that) is nothing compared to motor sport.

posted by robert.brady [157 posts]
31st March 2013 - 19:33

3 Likes

Aren't the trophies ususlly handed over by fat etc? Or Bernard Hinault? In the Olympics they seem to manage without a kiss from a pretty girl. The medals are given out by some sports politician or previous champion.
I am not going to defend F1, your point is whataboutery.

felixcat's picture

posted by felixcat [344 posts]
31st March 2013 - 19:53

2 Likes

Haven't seen Sagan's antics but got to add another vote to the anti-podium girl side of the argument. Not only is it tacky and out-dated, what message does it send to potential female fans and participants? My wife is interested in cycling but gives me a skeptical look whenever the podium girls appear, even the ToB girls who are pretty modest by comparison. I'd love my 1-yr-old daughter to get into the sport when she's older, but will she want to given the position of the most visible women in the sport?

posted by rich_gilb [30 posts]
31st March 2013 - 20:02

2 Likes

But surely calling for podium girls to be removed because of this is a bit knee-jerk? Surely the problem here is that Sagan acted like a nob? Every other male professional cyclist seems perfectly capable of keeping his hands to himself.

posted by robert.brady [157 posts]
31st March 2013 - 22:02

1 Like

I don't think anyone is calling for podium girls to be abandoned because of Sagan. They should go because they are an example of antiquated sexism. Sagan's idiocy is just a symptom which makes this plain.

felixcat's picture

posted by felixcat [344 posts]
31st March 2013 - 22:28

1 Like

I've always felt sorry for the podium girls, having to plant a kiss on someone who has just cycled a few hundred km and not have had a chance to shower- can't be the most fragrant of jobs!

Seriously though, the thing that is annoying me even more than Sagan's actions has been the "nudge-nudge, wink-wink" laddish nonsense some of the bigger cycling shops have been posting on Facebook and Twitter today- that pic of Sagan followed by some comments like "cheeky" or other nonsense rather than celebrating Spartacus' victory. As has already been said above, what message is that giving at a time we want, and need , more women in cycling? Still, it has made my decision as to where to spend my hard-earned wages a bit easier....

Otis Bragg's picture

posted by Otis Bragg [146 posts]
1st April 2013 - 0:09

2 Likes

A big NO to podium girls, FWIW F1 doesn't use them either, you must be thinking of MotoGP or something! "Whataboutery" is a stunning word!!!
I don't care that he rides a Trek, Spartacus is awesome & when he is truly on-form he is untouchable.

Currently going slower than I'd like...

posted by stealth [239 posts]
1st April 2013 - 7:55

1 Like

I switched off before I saw the winners on the podium so can't really comment. But it was great to see Cancellara back in awesome form

posted by stevebull-01 [62 posts]
1st April 2013 - 8:00

1 Like

I saw a Dutch preview on Milan San Remo this year and one of the podium girls appeared to be a local competitive cyclist. She seemed pretty pleased to be part of the whole thing.

If they are people who are already associated with cycling, rather than someone chosen only because they have nice legs, it is more like having a mascot at a football game.

But on that basis I guess it would be equally possible to have some juniors or some men there as well. I'd rather have that than just a presentation from some local politician.

abudhabiChris's picture

posted by abudhabiChris [635 posts]
1st April 2013 - 8:27

1 Like

First of all, what a magnificent ride by Cancellara. I wonder how many times Peter Sagan has not been able to hold a wheel!

I had to say I did wonder what Fabian Cancellara's wife (whom he gave a big hug to at the end of the race) thought when he had to hug and kiss two girls.

I don't really have too much of an issue with the podium girls as long as it is done tastefully. I know that there is going to be a backlash to that statement, but it does represent the dreams of many men, winning the race, getting the girl (those desires are chauvinist because they represent male desires and why shouldn't they?). Women laugh off the podium girls because it looks pathetic anyway and it's not why they do or don't get into the sport

Remember, there are no national anthems and only occasionally trophies to be paraded. It is a throwback to the past, and there are alternatives, but just because Peter Sagan acts in a poor way it's a shame that we're not talking about the race more.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1474 posts]
1st April 2013 - 8:44

2 Likes

Mods.
How about remiving all the crappy comments here and leaving them to the other thread. This is about Cancellara winning not PC cobblers.

posted by mattsccm [292 posts]
1st April 2013 - 11:16

1 Like

Hi mattsccm,

We don't moderate the comments on roadcc, so we can't move them. In fact the way the back end of the site works don't think we could actually move 'em even if we did moderate.

There is though a whole story on the Sagan podium business for people to comment on, and you're right does seem a shame that instead of talking about Cancellara's victory here the conversation is dominated by the man he beat.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4188 posts]
1st April 2013 - 12:10

2 Likes

Cancellara was brilliant, Sagan very amusing - get real you lot and lighten up. Its sport, its cycling, its fun, these guys have just ridden more than most of you ride in a month at a pace none of you can match. A bottom pinch is an entitlement when you can ride like that - and.. the podium girls have pinched Cancellara's ass before now, and McEwens too - go read some of the Frnech and Italian sites, its been an ongoing game of pinching for years. The girls try and get the days winner to giggle whilst being photographed.

posted by ConradCyclo [6 posts]
1st April 2013 - 13:32

1 Like

ConradCyclo wrote:
the podium girls have pinched Cancellara's ass before now, and McEwens too - go read some of the Frnech and Italian sites, its been an ongoing game of pinching for years. The girls try and get the days winner to giggle whilst being photographed.

Yes, I think there's something playful in the act, rather than sexual. It doesn't look like a proper 'pinch', and they are all adults. If she had a problem with it she could have slapped him. It's not like it would cost him her job. Her bum does rather appear in his face and perhaps he was making a point about his personal space. Who cares....mountain out of a molehill.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1474 posts]
1st April 2013 - 19:43

0 Likes

Cancellara wins big race, Sagan wins the big headlines, something a bit skewed here.

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [1084 posts]
1st April 2013 - 20:09

3 Likes

Wow, Spartacus I salute you!

Road cyclist, mountain biker and single speed urban commuter. I love push bikes and blog at http://everythingvelo.com/

posted by sam_everythingvelo [11 posts]
2nd April 2013 - 11:42

3 Likes