What's Cool In Road Cycling

Lee’s Lowdown: Milan Sanremo

Lee Rodgers took a little time out of his own busy racing schedule at the Tour of Taiwan to give us his thoughts on the cold and snowy Primavera. The weather, the reactions of the big names, the tactics of the big players, Lee tells it as only he can in a special Primavera edition of Lee’s Lowdown!


Contributed by Lee Rodgers

Tom Boonen drops out of the race? What? He said what? Well, he said this:

“I think my decision says enough. This is partly a precaution, but also a statement to the organization. They knew long enough that there was so much snow on the road. What happens now is the fault of the organization’s own fault. Have you ever wanted to bicycle through the snow ridden? There are nicer things than this. I’m completely frozen.”

Tom not having much fun in the snow on Sunday.

There are nicer things than this. Add to the honorary title of Mr. Roubaix that Boonen shares with Roger de Vlaeminck this one: The King of Understatement.

But that wasn’t my first reaction when I read Tom’s whimpering. The first reaction was something akin to shock and derision. Tough Tom complaining about a bit of sleet?

And then I saw Taylor Phinney’s photo from inside the team bus after the race was halted – this one:

And I kinda softened a little! Man, those were some harsh conditions. The weather almost stole the show in fact, as the principal character in the race, until a certain German came romping past Peter Sagan to really steal the show.

In doing so he became, to my knowledge, the first ever Pro-Continental rider to win a Monument.

“When I chose this team, people wondered why I would join a Pro Continental team but it’s just been unbelievable,” he said after the finish. “The coaching and staff on this team is so professional. I have never seen management care so much for the riders. I am happy to be on this team.”

You bet your deep carbon rims he is, but we shouldn’t be too in shock, as this kid (ok he’s 26 but still a kid to me) was the youngest ever German road champion at the age of 18, where he ended a 12 year domination of the event by T-Mobile.

Happy days at his new team.

He’s ridden not too badly through his pro career but never really hit the heights that precocious win seemed to be a precursor to, but man did he make up for it yesterday. He rode a very canny last few kilometers and unloaded all those years of what must have been some frustration, and bang, the kid wins Milan-San Remo.

Funny how things work out huh?

These days predicting these races is getting a tad formulaic for us commentators. Sagan comes first on the list of winners, then we doff the cap to the usual suspects, Tommeke, Fabian, Gilbert, Rodriguez, Sanchez et al., but to be honest, right now the favorites list consists simply of Sagan – and whoever can beat him.

I don’t mean to sound facetious when I say that, but the fact is that these races are Sagan’s to lose, and that’s exactly what happened in San Remo. He’s got the lot in his tool belt this lad, the ability is just ferocious.

With a capital F.

He made the classic mistake though of doing too much too often. Valverde once said (I know, not exactly The Oracle but he made a salient point) something like ‘When you aren’t feeling too good, then you take a few chances. But when your legs are great, you should do nothing until the very end.”

And that was exactly what Sagan didn’t do. Instead of letting Stannard get a little gap when he tried to move away, he was the one who started the chase, when surely, had the Brit got a gap and no one else chased, he could have kicked and caught him.

Then, in the sprint, it was Sagan leading it out, full of youthful exuberance and total belief in the superiority of his abilities. He also made the mistake of reacting to Chavanel’s winding up of his sprint, which he saw when he glanced over his shoulder, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the danger man was Ciolek.

Sure, easy to call Ciolek the man to have watched now, but he’d done almost nothing all day, whereas Chavanel had been very active. So did Sagan lose it, or Ciolek win it? A combination of the two, yet I give full marks to the German for what was fundamentally a perfect race by him. Very sharp indeed.

Stannard also deserves a mention, great ride.

Thrilling stuff indeed!

Lee Rodgers leads a double life as a pro racer on the UCI race circuit with the CCN Racing Team, competing in the UCI Asia Tour as well as some European events and the likes of the Tour of Qatar and Oman, rubbing shoulders with the best the WorldTour has to offer, whilst keeping up a day job as a cycling journalist. The highlight of his cycling career so far was winning the Singapore National Champs – road race and ITT – as well as claiming the Green Jersey at the 2.1 Tour de Taiwan in 2012, and naturally, writing for PEZ. His writing appears in several magazines and websites and you can catch up with him regularly on his blog, www.crankpunk.com.

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