Froome on Strava and then …..not


CYCLING WEEKLY REBLOG:

Does Tour de France champion Chris Froome have a Strava account? Someone uploading rides under the name of ‘Luke Skywalker’ accompanied Team Sky’s Ian Boswell during training rides in South Africa, and they are seriously quick up mountains.

Boswell said yesterday that only he and Froome and been training together in South Africa – which leads us to the not very clever conclusion that the mysterious Luke Skywalker (Sky-walker, get it?) is indeed Froome.

However, the account was deleted on Wednesday, March 2, shortly after this article was published.

The Skywalker account was created on February 18, kicking off with a ride with Boswell. The two riders covered 172km (107 miles) at a seriously impressive average speed of 31km/h (19.2mph), particularly given they climbed just under 3000 metres in total. Maximum speed was a scary 83kmh (51.7mph).

skywalker-boswell-1.jpg

A series of identical rides were then logged on both Boswell’s and Skywalker’s accounts, the longest being 214km (133 miles) on Monday, February 29. The two riders covered that distance at an average speed of 34.7kmh (21.6mph). No wonder Boswell said in a blog this week that Froome pushed him to the limit.

As you may expect, both Skywalker and Boswell had secured pretty much all of the KOMs on the mountain roads in the region where they were riding, including the 9km (5.6 miles) Steenbrasberg Pass at an average of five per cent gradient. Now that the Skywalker account has been deleted, the KOMs are all Boswell’s.

Boswell has now returned to Europe, and will start Paris-Nice on Sunday. Froome will continue training in South Africa and commences his European campaign at the Volta a Catalunya on March 21.

Froome – if it is him – may need to brush up on his Star Wars knowledge though, as they used a photo of Anakin Skywalker on the account rather than Luke. Schoolboy error.

 

Stannard dishes out a masterclass


from peleton magazine…..

The defending race champion somehow managed to beat three super-strong riders from the same team — Etixx-Quick-Step’s Tom Boonen, Niki Terpstra, and Stijn Vandenbergh — and take the classics season opener in Ghent, Belgium.

It was a huge disaster for Etixx-Quick-Step and an unforgettable performance by Stannard.

First, here are the top 10 results (via Sporza):

#OHN

Here’s how things played out in the finale:

In the closing kilometers of the race, after the group of four had been out in front for 40 kilometers, the three Etixx riders started attacking repeatedly in hopes of forcing Stannard to chase and tire himself out.

Almost everyone seemed to be saying that Etixx had the win in the bag and that it would be too difficult for Stannard to win. It looked possible for Etixx to dominate the whole podium in a clean sweep.

And with the likes of Boonen and Terpstra attacking, all that made perfect sense. It was a really classic set-up in terms of tactics: three riders versus one. So, attack the lone guy until he’s blown and win the race.

Boonen put in the first big attack. Stannard was isolated but kept on the gas, with Terpstra and Vandenbergh sitting on his wheel. Then Boonen imploded, and Stannard closed the gap to him.

Next to attack was Terpstra, and Vandenbergh jumped on his wheel, which was puzzling (why not let Stannard chase Terpstra, then attack Stannard again with another hit?). They gapped Stannard right away. But Stannard clawed his way back to them. Suddenly, it was all four back together.

That’s when Stannard jumped. It was quite a sight. He got a gap right away, surprising the Etixx riders, who seemed to be tiring themselves out.

Terpstra rode up to Stannard, while a totally blown Boonen tried to get back to them (Vandenbergh had imploded and was gone). It came down to Terpstra and Stannard going to the line mano a mano, with Terpstra leading out the sprint and Stannard just coming around him to cross the line first.

Watch the final 10 or so kilometers of the race below. (Skip to 6:00 for the real fireworks.)

We already knew Stannard was super strong and a real hardman. Saturday he showed he’s not only one of the toughest riders in the peloton but also one of its most astute tacticians. The guy doesn’t know how to give up. His combination of brute strength and clever riding won him the race.

What looked like a predictable outcome after classic tactics of three-on-one backfired. Conventional wisdom failed because Stannard was too strong. He’s only 27, so expect to see him winning more races.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Stannard told TeamSky.com after the race. “It’s nice to do the double sweep at the race, but after the difficulties I had last year breaking my back it’s nice to have got myself back to where I was.

“Being with those three guys I knew they were all committed to trying to win. As a team they haven’t won it for 10 years and it’s a big one missing off Boonen’s palmares. I knew they were going to race hard. With Sep Vanmarcke and Greg van Avermaet chasing behind it put the pressure on them. I could just sit back, play a bit of poker and enjoy the ride.

“I just wanted to get a free ride for as long as I could. That was my idea. When they all started attacking me it wasn’t a great feeling. When Boonen went I was thinking ‘right, what do I do here?’ I knew if I rode him back I’d get attacked. I paced myself back a little bit. I could feel the wheel behind was trying hard to stay with me. So I felt like it was going pretty good and then I just took my chance.”

Here’s what Terpstra and Boonen had to say (via Etixx-Quick-Step.com):

Terpstra: “Looking back, maybe it would have been better to wait for the sprint with Tom and not attacking, but it’s a question of moment and circumstances. Stannard was really strong in the end against our attacks, and deserved the win.”

Boonen: “Today we made a mistake in the final,” Boonen said. He added: “There is a thin line between a great race and a costly mistake and unfortunately we took the risk of not waiting for the sprint, and it didn’t work out. It would have been great to win the race, but that’s cycling. Congrats to Stannard. He rode a smart tactical race and his reactions to our attacks were impressive. His sprint was also strong. As a team we rode super strong today and while we unfortunately fell short of victory, we know what we are capable of for future races.”