London – Brighton – London
I can’t for the life of me comprehend why one would want to ride to Brighton and back. That was until, riding to Brighton one sunny morning and making the unwise decision to return by coach; I saw the all too familiar sight of cyclists weaving through the Sunday traffic and getting home under their own steam and their own sweet time.
These same cyclists were only moments ago ‘chilling’ at the popular coastal town of Brighton. Since then, I’ve always wanted to put that experience behind me; enjoy a smoked sandwich, inhale the fresh sea air and lose myself gazing up at the blue skies.
If you have a handsome beard, please raise your hand!
Chilling is an important part of cycling. It’s not to be confused with the ‘recovery’ stage where we could sure do a lot more of, but unlike the pros, we have to do other things besides cycle. Ouch!
The ‘Chilling’ we’re talking about here is keep your cool. Time and again we’ve seen those who’ve kept calm whilst the peloton manoeuvres to capture one of it’s own, only for the final act to be taken by the individual who seems to master the peloton and make it serve his and her purpose. John Degenkolb, in both the Milan Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix demonstrated his prowess, and more recently with Michal Kwiatkowski timing all the right moves perfectly at the Amstel Gold.
Heading to Brighton and back wasn’t a race as such; we still needed to make it back before dust. Instead it was about keeping calm and knowing that the ride in itself would be the reward, and the promise of good food at either end all the more worth it.
This isn’t silly, it’s just hilly
The Other L-B-L
This weekend sees the finale to the Ardennes Classics, the Liege-Bastogne-Liege (LBL). Set in the Belgian borders of the Ardennes region, it boasts the nickname of ‘La Doyenne’. Referring to the one day race as the Oldest of all the Classics. Similar to the latter Classics, it sets itself apart from the earlier Monuments by being more hilly. The LBL is also very popular as it is seen as the French speaking version of the Tour of Flanders. Politics and language aside it is an exciting race to see and the last two seasons are no exception, and thanks in no small part to the renowned ‘chilled’ cyclist of them all – Dan Martin.
Before we go to last year’s race, the one the year before was even more memorable:
As always, a big thanks to Cosmo for allowing us to embed his work at Baroudeurs.cc
With that kind of panache, you’d be a fool to discount Martin from LBL 2014. Let’s remind ourselves how that panned out:
Our Local LBL
Thankfully, our local LBL wasn’t so painful. Although, there were tensions as a mechanical was brewing. Not to be mistaken for discontent amongst the ranks, it’s just people get a bit excited when they spot someone in the running for the ‘wooden spanner’ award – the Baroudeur regularly in need of getting their mechanicals sorted.
Naturally, the highlight was everyone working together and sharing good news – from growing families to home improvements and son’s winning races!
Jack and Linda Mills always take care of us, no matter how busy they get. Chapeau mon amis!
The Likely Lads
With Dan Martin and his team, Cannondale-Garmin, in need for a win, the man with the ‘cool head’ will have his sights on LBL. Let’s hope his lucky panda is there to spur him on again!
Although, Simon Gerrans was nursing an injury at the beginning of the month, he’s looking a lot stronger. The powerhouse of OGE can control the race and protect their man in green. He may not be wearing the Champ colours of Australia this year, but there’s nothing short of champion spirit in this man’s heart.
Philippe Gilbert was very close to securing a fourth win at Amstel Gold, last week. He’s even been noted for putting the same power output on this year as he did when he won the year before. Only this year, Michael Matthews knew the move was coming and was able to jump on Phil’s wheel. Clearly Gilbert is still in the game and as it’s so close to home, the LBL will be shouting his name. Look out for it also on the roads!
La Fleche Wallone was Valverde’s on Wednesday – a sign of things to come on Stage 3 of TdF 2015, perhaps? Nonetheless, Michal Kwiatkowski will want to make it a double Monument, and the race at LBL is ideal for him. As long as he has strength in his team to control and block when necessary, he’s in for a chance.
The roads at LBL are wide and you can’t lurk as you usually can in the other Classics. A variety or cheeky strategies and being totally cool will mark La Doyenne’s Champion of 2015.
Au Revoir, Brighton!
We all can, If
What will our winner look like? Probably something like this…
On the Box