Monday, April 1, 2013

Spartacus outduels Sagan for his second win in Flanders


So, how did Fabian Cancellara get the best of Peter Sagan for the victory March 31 in the Tour of Flanders? He used Sagan's strength against him.

Of the two, Sagan is considered the better climber. So, many of the experts predicted that if the pair found themselves among the leaders on the final ascent of the final hill, the Paterberg, Sagan would put his skills to use.

The scenario unfolded just like that. The pair had pulled away, along with Jurgen Roelandts, just before the final ascent of the Paterberg, 14 kilometers from the end. Cancellara was at the front of the trio. He accelerated slightly and dropped Roelandts, who eventually finished third. The short, steep wall should have favored Sagan, who has a better quick burst than Cancellara. But the daylong grind had sapped Sagan just enough.

"I was alone with Peter," Cancellara told reporters in the finishing town of Oudenaarde, Belgium. "I wouldn't say that I accelearated exactly, but I put it a bit harder to see his reaction. I was was looking for him. I could see his wheel falling back, so I just continued."

An Olympic and world time-trialing champion, Cancellara then dropped down into his own cadence and put nearly a minute and a half into Sagan by the finishing line.
American George Hincapie tried and tried and tried but never
 could win in the mud and wind and cobbles of Paris-Roubaix.

Cancellara should be able to taste the second Flanders-Roubaix double of his career. One of his major rivals, Tom Boonen crashed out of Flanders early and probably won't start Sunday for the race across the cobbles. Sagan will skip Roubaix, resting for the hillier Amstel Gold Race the following Sunday.

We love watching Cancellara, and it looks like Sagan has forced him to up his game. Paris-Roubaix has fewer hills but more cobbles, more wind, more dust and/or mud. It's messy and grimy. The jarring from the cobbles can break a bike in two. Just ask George Hincapie. We can't wait.