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