Sunday 26 February 2012

All aboard the Sky train!

Cav at Gent-Wevelgem, 2009
(image credit: Thomas Ducroquet CC BY-SA 3.0)
"Jered Gruber ‏ @jeredgruber
It's funny when something lives up to the hype, tales, and stories. Belgian racing is everything you've heard. All true, no exaggeration."
Even in the early stages of this year's Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, World Champion Mark Cavendish looked the most likely winner - Team Sky had sent him to the race with seven strong riders, six of them experienced Classics capable of winning this race for themselves (as one of them, Chris Sutton, proved last year). Halfway through they'd got themselves arranged into a clever tactical layout with Cav well-protected to preserve his freshness when the breakaway was pulled back in, but enough of them near the front to have a shot at the line if the break made it.

With 50km to go, the outcome looked even more certain. By now Sky looked as though they riding a team time trial - turning a big ring, eating up the miles and paying little attention to the break that had split into weaker, competing groups and thus doomed itself. They waited until the 20km to go point before picking up the pace and beginning to put pressure on Lotto-Belisol; home to Andre Greipel, the only rider in this race with a chance of stopping Cav.

A small amount of lost time with a slightly fudged right corner as the Manx star avoided street furniture made no difference and by the time they entered the final 5km the team had formed a spearhead at the front of the peloton, too confident in their abilities to trouble themselves unduely when FDJ briefly took over. In the end, it was an easy win - Sky's strategy ran like clockwork, and Cav hardly broke into a sweat as he crossed the line to take his first victory of 2012. FDJ's Yahueni Hutarovich tried to catch him, but by the time he'd got his front wheel level with the Missile's back wheel the 26-year-old was already sitting up in celebration. There are those who will complain it wasn't the exciting, heroic triumph that fans expect from the Classics, but it was a superbly clever one - because it worked so well and for the psychological effect: if Cav can do that without even trying, what can he do when he makes an effort?

That a British rider has won a Classic would always be good news; but the fact that it was Cav is better still. Right now, cycling is on the cusp of becoming bigger than it has ever been in this country; perhaps bigger even than it has been in France for many years. Cav is the highest-profile rider since Tom Simpson, maybe even more so, and today's victory will make it onto more than a few news reports tonight - each time that happens, the British public like cycling just a little bit more. Nice one, Mark. Tom would've been proud.

(results below)

Mark Cavendish is the first British rider to win this race and the first current World Champion
to do so since Johan Museeuw in 1997. It's also the second win here in two years for Sky as
Christopher Sutton won last year.


1     Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky Procycling 4:27:30
2     Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ-Big Mat
3     Kenny Robert Van Hummel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
4 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  
5 Alexander Serebryakov (Rus) Team Type 1 - Sanofi  
6 Tom Veelers (Ned) Project 1t4i  
7 Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Team Europcar  
8 Stefan Van Dijk (Ned) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's  
9 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha Team  
10 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team
11 Guillaume Boivin (Can) Spidertech p/b C10  
12 Aidis Kruopis (Ltu) GreenEdge Cycling Team  
13 Manuel Belletti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale  
14 Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
15 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team  
16 Adam Blythe (GBr) BMC Racing Team  
17 Guillaume Blot (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller  
18 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Cervelo  
19 Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team  
20 Leif Hoste (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's  
21 Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Team Type 1 - Sanofi  
22 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's  
23 Michaël Van Staeyen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
24 Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
25 Steven Caethoven (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's  
26 Alexander Porsev (Rus) Katusha Team  
27 Davy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
28 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  
29 Pier Paolo De Negri (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia  
30 Martin Gilbert (Can) Spidertech p/b C10  
31 Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
32 Timon Seubert (Ger) Team NetApp  
33 Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
34 Thomas Leezer (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  
35 Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) An Post - Sean Kelly  
36 Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
37 Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar  
38 Robin Stenuit (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles - Credit Agricole  
39 Rony Martias (Fra) Saur - Sojasun  
40 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) GreenEdge Cycling Team  
41 Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Procycling  
42 Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  
43 Kevin Lacombe (Can) Spidertech p/b C10  
44 James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's  
45 Fabio Polazzi (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles - Credit Agricole  
46 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team Europcar  
47 Edwig Cammaerts (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
48 Sven Vandousselaere (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
49 Grischa Janorschke (Ger) Team NetApp  
50 Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Katusha Team  
51 Jean-Lou Paiani (Fra) Saur - Sojasun  
52 Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
53 Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
54 Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin-Cervelo  
55 Christophe Laborie (Fra) Saur - Sojasun  
56 Niels Wytinck (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly  
57 Nikolas Maes (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  
58 Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly  
59 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
60 Renaud Dion (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller  
61 Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  
62 Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
63 Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
64 Egidijus Juodvalkis (Ltu) Landbouwkrediet  
65 Alexey Tsatevitch (Rus) Katusha Team  
66 Stijn Neirynck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
67 Roy Curvers (Ned) Project 1t4i  
68 David Boucher (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  
69 Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team  
70 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia  
71 Johan Le Bon (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller  
72 Florent Barle (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
73 Markus Eichler (Ger) Team NetApp  
74 Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Lotto Belisol Team  
75 Matti Helminen (Fin) Landbouwkrediet  
76 Philippe Legrand (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles - Credit Agricole  
77 Hugo Houle (Can) Spidertech p/b C10  
78 Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Saur - Sojasun  
79 Stijn Ennekens (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly  
80 Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling  
81 Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin-Cervelo  
82 Travis Meyer (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team  
83 Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) Team Type 1 - Sanofi  
84 Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
85 Martin Mortensen (Den) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
86 Romain Lemarchand (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
87 Vincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar  
88 Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
89 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Sky Procycling  
90 Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team  
91 Laszlo Bodrogi (Fra) Team Type 1 - Sanofi  
92 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Procycling  
93 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
94 Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol Team  
95 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  
96 Johan Vansummeren (Bel) Garmin-Cervelo  
97 Ole Gabriel Rasch (Nor) FDJ-Big Mat  
98 Mark Mcnally (GBr) An Post - Sean Kelly  
99 Laurent Evrard (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles - Credit Agricole  
100 Maarten Wynants (Bel) Rabobank Cycling Team  
101 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
102 Jérémie Galland (Fra) Saur - Sojasun  
103 Steve Houanard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
104 Jetse Bol (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  
105 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
106 Koen Barbe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
107 Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  
108 Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha Team  
109 Martin Elmiger (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale  
110 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia  
111 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:00:20  
112 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
113 Frederik Willems (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team 0:00:29  
114 Dennis Van Winden (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:35  
115 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team  
116 Dominique Rollin (Can) FDJ-Big Mat  
117 William Bonnet (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat  
118 Egoitz Garcia Echeguibel (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 0:00:40  
119 Wouter Mol (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
120 Niko Eeckhout (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly  
121 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team  
122 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:01:30  
123 Matti Breschel (Den) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:01:46  
124 John Degenkolb (Ger) Project 1t4i 0:01:54  
125 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quickstep  
126 Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:02:08  
127 Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
128 Aliaksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Katusha Team 0:02:12  
129 Kristof Goddaert (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:19  
130 Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
131 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar  
132 Alex Dowsett (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:03:05  
133 Bernard Eisel (Aut) Sky Procycling  
134 Jimmy Casper (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:31  
135 Martijn Verschoor (Ned) Team Type 1 - Sanofi  
136 Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Team NetApp 0:04:52  
137 Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Project 1t4i 0:05:25  
138 Oscar Gatto (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia  
139 Matthew Wilson (Aus) GreenEdge Cycling Team

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