The Armchair Series- #1
March 12, 2020
Described by the Telegraph as the ultimate love letter to road cycling, The Road Book is proud to present The Armchair Series, showcasing in their own words what our customers most love about The Road Book and how it is a must for the discerning cycling nerd.
Jeff Holt (United States)
“The cycling nerd just could not sleep because his thoughts were way too deep, his mind had gone out for a stroll and fallen down the rabbit hole.” (with apologies to Lewis Carroll)
How do I use The Road Book…Simple…To avoid the Saturday morning ShopRite Group Ride. A ride I’ve done hundreds of times and not enjoyed once.
It’s the night before Opening Weekend. I’ve reviewed the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad pars course. I’ve checked the weather forecast in Ghent (50º F/SSW winds at 23 mph/Rain). What was the weather in 2019? Enter The Road Book (50º F/SW winds at 13mph/Rain & Clouds). 2018? (33º F/NE winds at 17mph/Cloudy)
Looking at the 2019 results, I start to wonder, did anyone finish in the top 10 at the Omloop and also at the following days Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. (Yves Lampaert (DQT)- 7th and 5th) Top 20 in both? (Bob Jungels (DQT) – 16th and 1st; Jens Keukeleire (LTS) – 11th and 7th; Niki Terpstra (TDE) – 20th and 3rd) And down the rabbit hole I go. For me, The Road Book doesn’t provide answers, rather it compels questions.
For instance, what other race is run on the same say as the Omloop? Answer, the Classic De L’Ardéche in Southern France. Won in 2019 by Lilian Calmejare. (Following a 3rd in 2018)
Does a good result at the Omloop translate to same at the Stradé Bianche one week later? In 2019 two riders were on the top 10 in both…Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) – 2nd and 4th and Alexey Lutsenko (AST) – 4th and 7th. In the top 20…Wout van Aert (TJV) – 13th and 3rd and Stefan Küng (GFC) – 18th and 15th.
This led to whether any of these 4 had a top finish in the mid-week Le Samyn prior to traveling to Italy….Nope.
Did any of the Omloop/KBK top 20 score a trifecta at Le Samyn? Yes, with Niki Terpstra scoring another podium in 3rd place.
The above mental socratic dialogue arose in my perusal of just four pages of this 900+ page tome.
While on the Stradé Bianche page, I had to read Ned Boulting’s fine account of that race. Notable (to me) was his mention of Geraint Thomas (SKY) debut on the gravel roads of Tuscany, where he finished 12th, 2:41 behind winner Julian Alaphillippe (DQS). As both Thomas and Alaphilippe had leading roles to play in the 2019 Tour de France, onto the July chapter of the book I turned. Describing the truncated Stage 20 as “an anti-climatic end to a vintage Tour”, the lone survivor from the breakaway, Vincezo Nibali (TBM), with “nous and bravado, he held off the GC race to win by a slither of a margin”. How I wish my own riding could be described as containing “nous and bravado”.
The addition of trivia footnotes in 2019 further provides incentive for random exploration. (Greg Van Avermaet has been on the Omloop podium 4 of the last 6 years) Random page turning for these nuggets reveals:
* The first 11 stages of the Giro D’Italia were won by riders under age 30. (Adding emphasis to the theme of the 2019 racing season)
* Julian Alaphillippe’s stage 13 TT win at the Tour was a first for a French rider since Laurent Fignon in 1984.
* The gap between 1st and 3rd in the final GC at the Tour was the smallest in history.
* Phillippe Gilbert’s stage 12 win at the Vuelta A España was his 10th grand tour stage win. (Surprising given the breadth of his career and his palmarés)
* Only one rider in history (Felice Gimondi) has won Paris-Roubaix in fewer starts then Gilbert in his 3rd ride on the Hell of the North.
Inevitably, my intended brief sojourn with The Road Book turns into a marathon session of asking questions, finding answers and exploring the nuances of the cycling season. It is a journey with neither a clear destination nor finish. This results in a loss of sleep and a late wake-up on Saturday morning….providing the perfect excuse to avoid the butt kicking I certainly would endure and arguably deserve. Thank you The Road Book!