With the Giro d’Italia imminent, the terrible truth is that the Classics Season has drawn to a close. We here at Pavé thought it would be fitting that in lieu of bestowing Rider of the Month (which we have probably already made quite clear) and Team of the Month, as we are accustomed to publishing, we could commemorate such a spectacular set of races with a series of awards. The award articles will be unveiled in two parts; stay tuned for Part Two shortly. As with Rider of the Month and Team of the Month, any of the winners may feel free to be in touch with us for a gift basket.
Despite the team’s failure to win a Monument, Leopard-Trek was the spring’s most consistent team, placing a rider on the final podium in Milan-San Remo, the E3 Prijs (the squad’s lone victory), Ghent-Wevelgem, the Ronde, Paris-Roubaix, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, with Frank Schleck also winning the Criterium International. While the squad failed to live up to the hype it created heading into the season, Leopard certainly performed better than any other first year team in recent years, and many if not all of the peloton’s younger squads like Sky, BMC, and Vacansoleil.
Most Spectacular and Amusing Crash
Congrats to Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil) for winning this dubious award for one of his many crashes during Paris-Roubaix. The Belgian rider crashed just before the race entered the Mons-en-Pevele sector, slowly sprawling over Europcar’s Said Haddou in a comical fashion: let’s go to the video tape. Unfortunate for his race, sure, but we’re glad he wasn’t injured.
While many were hoping that Danilo Di Luca would once again reclaim the title of peloton’s most exciting rider… – ha! Just kidding. Best comeback goes to Nick Nuyens, who has quietly reestablished himself as one of the world’s underrated hardmen. His win at Dward door Vlaanderen alone was enough to make his Belgian fans smile, but he went the whole nine yards by winning de Ronde with a smart racing strategy which was topped off by a cunning and well-timed move in the race’s final kilometers.
Most Disappointing Rider
This year, it seemed that several riders fought very hard for this prestigious award – many in the peloton, it seemed, wanted this to grace their palmares. The clear favorite, however, was Stijn Devolder of Vacansoleil for an outstanding display of disappointment. The current Belgian road race and time trial champion is marketed as a Classics specialist, and due to a disastrous 2010 season he wanted to come back fighting strong. However, due to crashes and ill fortune, his results so far this year have been lacklustre: 69th in Amstel Gold, 37th in Brabantse Pifl, 105th in Paris-Roubaix, 90th in Scheldeprijs, 50th in E3 Prijs, 38th in de Ronde, and 61st in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Needless to say, the Belgian is determined to keep fighting in the hope that his results improve – and in his words, “Resultaten kunnen niet uitblijven.”
Thanks for tuning in, and check back tomorrow for Part 2! Meanwhile – what to you was noteworthy during this year’s Classics campaign? What stood out, and what disappointed? Share your thoughts below.