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Unfair and Unbalanced
Unfair and Unbalanced
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April 30: Did Liège-Bastogne-Liège seem a bit too neat to you? Here's what happened. In the final stage of the race, Frank Schleck attacked on the Côte de Roche aux Faucons with brother Andy and Philippe Gilbert right with him. Clearly they were the three strongest men in the peloton and they quick opened up a gap. On the St. Nicholas, Andy did a probing acceleration and then Gilbert went hard. Frank was able to stay with him, but Andy was gapped. Andy made contact on the descent and from there, the three time-trialed to the finish. The powerful Gilbert easily outsprinted the Schlecks, who seemed to know their geese were cooked from the moment Gilbert was able to grab their wheel.
Looks good, but I kept waiting for some action. Some desperation, a brave attempt to win one of cycling's most important races. On Eurosport, Sean Kelly, noting that Gilbert was part of a Schleck sandwich, kept waiting for the brothers to start making life difficult for the Belgian. Never happened. Although Gilbert looked to be wary of the Schlecks during the entire breakaway, it really had the feel of a set-piece with a little drama, like Gilbert's attack on the St. Nicholas added for show. More than that, Gilbert just happened to be in the right place (granted, he was riding at the front) to grab Schleck's wheel.
There were no maneuvers for position or real attempts by any of the three to escape. Moreover, it looked like Andy was allowed to rejoin the trio.
A friend of mine offered a possible explanation. It's no secret that Gilbert's contract with Omega Pharma-Lotto is up at the end of the season and that the two sponsors are going their separate ways. Alexandre Vinokourov has been courting Gilbert as has Cadel Evans' BMC. But all they can really offer is money. The Schlecks just helped Gilbert get what he wanted most, victory in the Classic that is really his home-town race. Money can't buy that. My guess is that a deal might already me done and Liège-Bastogne-Liège sealed the deal.
That's is just an ill-informed guess, but nothing else seems to explain the way the race went.
We'll know when we see if Gilbert is a member of Leopard-Trek next year.
Since I started putting up racing data on the old Torelli web site (which all migrated here in 2007) in 1996, I've wanted to post the results of every stage of every Tour de France and every Giro d'Italia. Moreover, I wanted to post the results with first and last names of the riders so that it is of use to those who don't happen to know that '30s climbing ace Vervaecke's first name was Félicien. I also wanted to put the history of that year's stage from either my Giro or Tour history on that year's page so that the reader can put the results in context. Plus, I have hundreds of photos and I want to share them. Click on any year with a live link on this page to see what I'm up to.
I'm on the home stretch on the Tour. I'm working on 1935 (the 29th Tour) and heading to 1903. I have to redo some of the Tours from 1980 forward, but I'm on the home stretch. I'm posted the running GC to 10 places on each stage on post-war Tours, but no source I've found, including the Tour Encyclopedie goes more than three deep on pre-war Tour GCs, except for the final GC.
Then there's the Giro....
Just a reminder: The Giro starts in a week, May 7 to be exact. Volume One of our history of the Giro takes the race through 1970. It's on sale both in print and as a Kindle ebook, from both Amazon.com and Amazon UK; barnesandnoble.com also carries The Story of the Giro d'Italia. It has loads of information about the Corsa Rosa that is otherwise unavailable in English. I think you'll enjoy it.
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