Friday, May 16, 2008

2008 Man of the Spring


The end of each Spring Classics season is always a bit of a downer. The season of epic conditions and hardmen passes to the natural next step of the season, the Grand Tours. Looking back at the spring. One rider stands out in particular for his wins and the incredible length of his peak form: Fabian Cancellara.

In 2007 Cancellara had a season anyone would kill for: six wins including the Time Trial World Championship plus one stage and the prologue of the Tour de France. Already this year he has had five wins led by Milan-San Remo and Monte Paschi Eroica. What’s most impressive about Cancellara’s season is that he held peak form for two full months. Boonen might have taken Cancellara in the sprint at Roubaix, but Cancellara was winning for the eight weeks before that.

Even when Cancellara didn’t get the win, such as at Flanders, he usually figured as one of the day’s protagonists. We don’t often see that anymore. More often, the pattern is one of a patron we’ve been waiting to give us a show, and waiting. Finally, we get the fireworks as we did with Boonen at Roubaix, but we’re a hungry bunch and we like to see a great rider give their best a little more often. To be fair, Stijn Devolder’s performance at Flanders threw water on Boonen’s ride over the mur; he certainly seemed strong enough to win.

Like I said, we’re a hungry bunch. We want wins from our heros. Winning in February and April is PRO. One big day in three months isn’t how we live our riding lives. Whether you consider it selfish or delusional, when Saturday dawns, we want to ride at full strength and full fitness—that’s the best kind of Saturday there is. Cancellara’s two months of crushing fitness is just the sort of inspiration we need, just the message we want to hear.

Photo courtesy John Pierce, Photosport International

13 comments:

C said...

Beyond the ability to hold form what impresses me about Fabian is his range. He can grind his way over cobbles in the spring and then in July he busts out the time trial bike and puts the hurt to the big tour GC contenders. By comparison, you never see Devolder or Boonen racing the clock in July and you never see Contador, Armstrong, etc. caked in mud and rolling into the Roubaix velodrome. Fabian gets my respect for going all out, all year and being good at it.

James said...

I couldnt agree more with C.

Cobbles, that weird gritty stuff of erocica, against the clock, off the front of fast peleton (a la Comprigne last year), time trials, short stage races (Terrino Adriatico) and against the clock.

Cancellara is so good he can say im going to attack off the top of the poggio and all anyone can do is watch as he attacks of the top of the poggio to victory stealing the primervera from right under the sprinters noses.

Its a shame that just cause he doesnt suit the high mountains of the grand tours then he'll never break into the pscyhe of the public at large. But boy what a rider he is.

Has anyone ever doubled up and got both World jerseys in one year, cause given the right course i wouldnt put it past Cancellara to one day manage it.

Hipster Nascar said...

Cancellara is incredible, and seems like a nice bloke too.

Boz said...

Fabian has been my favorite rider for a while now, a lot in part due to the never say die attitube. He never seems to take a day off, and by the looks of it, he enjoys every moment, good or bad. I looks to be fun, instead of just a job.

Parker Holt said...

Well put, all. The force is strong with that one.

bikesgonewild said...

...a man for all seasons...

El Herbo said...

Yes to all... so true about Fabian.

One quick note: Fabian Cancellara came to CSC from the HARDCORE school of Italian DS Giancarlo Feretti. Feretti has managed the top italian teams and riders dating back to the early 90s. From Moreno Argentin, Rolf Sorensen, Michele Bartoli, Evgene Berzin, Giorgio Furlan and Alessandro Patacchi just to name a few. Being under Giancarlo Feretti will make you a hardcore world class cyclist or will break you and quit. Fabian what hardcore enough to be who he is today, a fantastic cyclist. You know who else was under Giancarlo Feretti? Tom Danielson. But he left the team after two seasons bitchin' and complaining about everything after he had been given a chance to prove himself.

FABIAN RULES!

Garnet said...

I like to think of Cancellara as the Sonny Rollins of cycling; he may not have the cult status of the Coltrane variety, but man, he can do his thing any way he wants, as well as he wants. And for so long! Truly impressive, a real hardman of hardmen.

privateer said...

Cancellara has quite an engine.

frilly said...

el herbo--

Thanks for the background. Fabian was amazing all spring. The finish in Milan-San Remo was truly a show of power. Even though I am an Astana fan, Cancellara is one of my favorite all-around riders. He can do everything-even climb (witness Sierra Road).

BGW-What the heck are you doing here?!?

bikesgonewild said...

...hey there, frills...this is one of the best sites on the intertubes...more PRO attitude & interesting stories here than bunches of other sites combined...

...'belgium knee warmers' is like a serious road ride...bsnyc is for letting off "creative" steam or kinda like riding around on my single speed townie & carrying on w/ my friends......

Hunter P said...

well said

frilly said...

Yeah, no doubt. This is actually how I found bsnyc. Sometimes the technical blogs are a little over my recreational head, but I love the PRO stuff. If you haven't read this or don't remember, go back in the 2007 archives. There is a post from Radio Freddy (I believe) when he rode in a Discovery team car at Paris Roubaix 2006. That is my all time favorite bike blog.