Not just for that. Not just because of the milions of yellow flags with the Falnders lion, not just because the local hero won and the crowd exploded joyfull and mad.
A true delirium - a Belgian one - because of the cobbles, the muers, the narrow roads across the fields, the riders passing everywhere and crashing everytime, the fight to stay in front and the forced stop on the steepest of a climb because in front something went wrong, the tons of flats, the blood and pain, the brocken bones. That's cycling but here the mix looks extreme.
The old route was more sugestive beacuse of the Kappelmuer with the little church atop: a place that IS the Flanders - in cycling at least - like Aremberg forest in Roubaix. The new route thought is made the race even more thrilling especially because nobody excaped. We didn't have that long flat before the finish where counting seconds hoping or fearing they are enought. No time for to count today: it has been a rollercoast sice the start to the end.
25 km from Brouges a first break went away and it was interesting because Tayler Farrar wan in: he really honoured his friend Wouter Weyland passing first on the first two muers of the day. Break mates were: Lund, Dockx, Belletti, Bilbao, Boucher, Isaychev, Graziato, Lastras, Tjallingii, Vandousselaere, Planckaert, Veelers, Schillinger, Daniel and Schorn. OPQS of the favourite Tom Boonen took the responsability of the chase while both RSNT of Cancellara and Liquigas of Sagan remained covered till the decisive final circuit. Sagan had Daniel Oss in the first position all the time and could easily come back after some mechanic problems. Something similar for Cancellara who had to fix a blocked brake.
Sagan and Cancellara had a very bad luck today, both lost the race, the glory, the joy of a big victory because of it. But god how different it looks their day from HERE: Fabian Cancellara was already in Oudenare hospital when Peter Sagan got stucked by Sep Vanmarcke's fell on the last muer of the day. Vanmarcke was strong and confident, had just made a terrific selection on the previous paved stretch and stupidly went against a barrier! stupidly YES! but nobody can't judge: shit happens. Few later Another favourite, Sebastian Langeveld crashed stupidly hiting a man while passing on the sidewalk. Filippo Pozzato avoided him just for a chance. It's a brocken collarbone for him. Pozzato lost the race but was lucky: he avoided Langeveld and earlier had avoided to crash in the feed zone where Cancellara had his way cut by a rider just in front of him. Just one second, the handlbar turned and Fabian went down. No cameras filming it but Pozzato saw and told: "Every time it's like that. You fall because of stupid people who can't ride". Rage and frustration. Fabian was there laying on the ground, two mates waiting for him, race cars stoping, the race doctor checking but all was vain: his Ronde was over.
In front the news made riders confused. The pace got higher. Suddenly Paolini made the move, Flecha and Jerome followed. Behinde Vanmarcke crashed stoping the peloton. Sagan looked cut away but had the strenght and guts to came back solo.
In a few a 11 men group was leading the race: Ballan, Terpstra, Pozzato, Paolini, Chavanel, Sagan, Boonen, Vanmarke, Iglinsky, Jerome and Flecha. Then the second decisive move came, it was by Ballan: he went away and just two riders can't stay with him. They were on the podium with him at the end of the day: Pozzato and Boonen. Not in this order.
Sagan was left behinde, cut away again but didn't give up and tried to bridge solo in a desperate powerful TT. No way: he was caught but had yet the strenght to be 2nd in the sprint for the 4th place, behinde Van Avermaet, in front of a great Niki Terpstra who had put dow the last hard attack bridging on a stubborn Jerome before the victorious trio made the game over for all.
Ballan launched the sprint 1 km to go, Boonen responded, Pozzato was maybe too late."The best rider is in hospital" Danny InTVan (RSNT bus driver) wrote on fb. This Ronde would have been different if Fabian Cancellara didn't crash. That's true. But crashes are a part of cycling races. Pozzato was lucky, he was also allert. On those roads you can't make mistakes, you must be focused each seconds. Look the top ten: you find only experienced riders. Sagan excluded. And that's why I say he was the strongest in spite of the result.
|1||Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quickstep|
|2||Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia|
|3||Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing||0:00:01|
|4||Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing||0:00:38|
|5||Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale|
|6||Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma - Quickstep|
|7||Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha|
|8||Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar|
|9||Matti Breschel (Den) Rabobank|
|10||Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma - Quickstep|