2011 Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne – What I Think I Think

Photo By Luc Claessen/ISPA Photo

We covered Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad earlier. As for yesterday’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, I think we were treated to more of the race we expected to see.

1. Australia’s Chris Sutton took the biggest win of his career, in my opinion. Yes, he won a stage in the Tour Down Under, but a semi-classic against the likes of Farrar and Greipel is much bigger victory.

2. Team Sky really seems to have this weekend dialed-in. Flecha was impressive again, setting a wicked pace on the Oude Kwaremont to pull away from the field with Tom Boonen.  As for Edvald Boasson Hagen, either he’s not quite in the form we thought he was or Team Sky’s found a new role for him. Personally, I see his performance as a good sign that he’ll be at his best for major classics still to come.

3. Once Boonen and Flecha escaped, it was Garmin-Cervélo’s Martijn Maaskant who dragged the peloton back up to them. Another rider who seems to have found a new role within his team, Maaskant seems much better as a super-domestique than a team captain.

4. During Boonen’s attack inside the final 10 kilometers of the race, it was suggested during our live Feed Zone that it is disrespectful to use a race as training. One has to remember though, that professional racers compete so often that training is more of a moot point by the time the season begins. When in a racing period, all they do is race and rest, race and rest; many of the efforts we see are nothing more than a bit of mid-race interval work.

For Boonen, he likely had this weekend penciled-in as an intensive two-days of racing; after Saturday, he needed to get his work in while he could. And while the move was clearly not meant to win the race for his team, it did turn the screws on the peloton and give teammates Geert Steegmans and Gerald Ciolek a free ride to the finish.

5. Unfortunately, Ciolek only managed 17th. I wonder how many Quick-Step riders read the paper this morning? Who will be the first rider to be called out by Patrick Lefevere now that Devolder’s gone?

6. And speaking of Stijn Devolder, why was he at the back of the race coming into the Oude Kwaremont? His race today was oddly reminiscent of last year’s Ronde, a race in which he spent more time chasing at the back than racing at the front. Considering his performance Saturday, he’s another rider who might want to skip reading today’s Het Laatste News. (Sorry Stijn, but you’re no Peter Van Petegem.)

7. Lotto’s Jurgen Roelandts spent some more time off the front, this time with six others following the Cote de Trieu. After Philippe Gilbert’s no-show Saturday and Greipel’s lackluster third-place Sunday, Roelandts’ weekend was the team’s lone bright spot.

8. As for Andre “I Had No Leadout” Greipel, at what point do we start thinking he was more a product of HTC’s system than his own talent?  Just wondering—there’s a lot of season left for him to prove us wrong.

9. Tyler Farrar finished right behind Greipel in fourth place. Considering the finish was tailor made for the American, Garmin-Cervélo has reason to be disappointed. Maybe the squad has more kinks to work out than the team’s impressive start to the season first indicated?

10. Let’s take a minute to acknowledge the quiet weekend enjoyed by Katusha’s Filippo Pozzato. Given last year’s pre-Ronde flu, I have a feeling the Italian’s taking a bit more of a quiet build-up to this year’s Monuments. Remember last year, when we were all wondering about Cancellara’s form coming out of Tirreno and Milan-San Remo? Expect much of the same from Pozzato this season—will he reap the same rewards?

11. And last but not least, we rolled-out The Feed Zone this weekend, a live chat where we could all watch the race together, commenting, questioning, and discussing as the events unfolded on our own computer screens. Needless to say, we are gracious for the overwhelming warm response it received. Expect a Feed Zone schedule for the rest of the spring soon—and thanks to everyone who participated!

Come back later for a brief Monday Musette covering the rest of the weekend—there was other racing, you know…

Share your comments and observations below.

About Whit

My experiences might easily fit many cycling fans' definitions of “living the dream.” Since getting hooked on the sport watching Lance Armstrong win the 1993 U.S. Pro Championship, I've raced as an amateur on Belgian cobbles, traveled Europe to help build a European pro team, and piloted that team from Malaysia to Mont Ventoux. As a former assistant director sportif with Mercury-Viatel, I've also seen the less dreamy side of the sport – the side rife with broken contracts, infighting, and positive dope tests. These days, I live with my lovely wife in Pennsylvania and share my experiences and views on the sport at Bicycling Magazine, the Embrocation Cycling Journal, and at my own site, Pavé.
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10 Responses to 2011 Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne – What I Think I Think

  1. ThoreRK says:

    First of all: just "found" this great site through inrng's twitter a couple of weeks ago, and I'm already quite delighted and impressed of it all. Thanks for doing a great work in the name of the greatest sport/activity in the world!

    Regarding #6 and dear Devolder – to me it sounded like he was caught up in a crash just before Oude, causing him to do a heck of a ride to get back. And also struggling with the shifters at some point, he really had quite an unlucky couple of races (even though I never think you can be unlucky in sports;) Unlucky equals "not good enough"!).

    • Whit says:

      Thanks Thore! Welcome to Pavé. Yes, he had some difficulties with his shifter in the Omloop–that's just a case of bad luck.

      As for Kuurne, the crash was near the back of he field–if he were riding at the front, he would never have been caught by it.

      Perhaps you put it best: there's much less bad luck when you're riding well!


  2. Gadi says:

    Dear Pave ,
    Well , as always , it's another eye opener as was the time spent watching the race with you and all the rest of the "Limonatas" …… , it puts me in such a different position, regarding the truth ( don't laugh) of "what's it all about" , being helped by people whom are all deep deep IN .
    I just wonder if there comes the day, when I will be able to predict on my own instinct and
    knowledge , who are the favourites , with out dropping the obvious big names of the peloton.

  3. As usual, excellent analysis. Well appreciated.

  4. Matt Walsh says:

    Great stuff and spot on. Have to think no-radios had something to do with the exciting racing. Sky looks like a different team this season and could really be a dominant force.

  5. mindtron says:

    The Feed Zone was very nice. looking forward to it for the rest of the season hopefully (though I may need to use the computer and the ipad to watch and read)

    @matt walsh: we have seen exciting racing with radios and I suspect we will see boring racing without. I think it is a bit more complex of an issue, especially during one day races.

  6. Scott M says:

    Love your comments, particularly #8 and #10. Still early in the year to your point, but let's hope Greipel can get his stuff together and take a few big wins. As for Pippo? I love his charisma, character (redundant?) and he is a solid rider but it's time for some wins from him as well.One cannot expect to retain a lucrative contract based on nude ads for shoes and hideous back tattoos!

    I was hoping the weather would be miserable for KBK and would have more of an impact on the race and tactics but it was not to be. Chapeau to Sky and Fleca in particular for a strong showing all weekend. I NEVER would have called Sutton for the win but kudos to him.

  7. Colorado Goat says:

    Here is the problem with Greipel: his confidence was shattered after last year, and I am not convinced he truly believes in himself. If the raw power is not there, then it really does not matter. However, if this is an issue with his mental abilities during a sprint, any fall-off in performance will likely manifest itself into more poor results.

    Farrar on the other hand has the opposite problem….poor performance, but the guy is in love with his abilities.

  8. Colorado Goat says:

    Let me add this about Greipel and Farrar: if this were Cippo or Cav, would we Sutton have been the winner?

  9. Pmrlo says:

    colorado goat, ler me answer with another question: where was cav sunday?
    I agree that much of the hype around greipel was unjustified. He was a second tier sprinter at Htc. He rode second tier events. Ergo, he won a lot. But I also believe in giving someone their credit: not more, not less. Greipel in form can beat consistently any sprinter whitin the peloton (more or less)..anyone but cavendish. But cavendish in form and in a pancake flat stage is the best there is. So Greipel as nothing to be ashamed of.

    As for sutton, it was definitely a surprise. But that's the beauty of the Classics. After 200km in the wind and cobbles, it's all about who has more gas left in the tank.

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