I’ve been trying to watch, at least watch the end, some of the early season road racing going on recently. The racing seems pretty good, but when it gets down to the end of some of the races, it’s like the whole race tactics go out the window.
Take yesterdays finish at the E3. The break is formed on a hard cobble climb, the Oude Kwaremont, and Peter Sagan climbs up to Geraint Thomas and Zdenek Stybar. That is all she wrote. BMC was chasing, but Greg Van Avermaet, their team leader, forgot how to corner, fell, then that was over.
Anyway, you can tell Sagan isn’t pedalling round. He looks labored and seems to be the weakest of the 3. A little over 4 km to go, Thomas jumps from the back and that was it. One and out.
I was trying to figure out why Peter Sagan would keep pulling, never sitting out a rotation, when he was completely done and knew he didn’t have even one jump in his legs? He knew it, Thomas knew it, and probably even Stybar knew it.
Was he hoping that those two wouldn’t attack him if he kept pulling? That would have been silly. Everyone knew he was the fastest sprinter. Did he keep pulling because he was racing for 3rd and wanted to get closer to the finish before the attacks (attack) happened? That didn’t work.
Was he pulling because he realized the race was being streamed live and he wanted to keep his sponsors jersey on the camera? That makes sense, sort of. That is the only thing I could come up with.
If I’m in a break, and am racing to win, when I realize I’m getting weak, or the other guys in the break are better, I try to figure out a way to still win. I don’t keep rotating through with the others, like everything is great.
One rule you have to have in bike racing, especially when you’re in a break, you never pull so hard that you don’t always have a jump in you. You have to assume that will always occur and that you just look dumb, and should feel silly, if you get popped with one attack. And that is exactly what happened to Sagan.
The same thing happened towards the finish of the Dwars door Vlaanderen last week. Michal Kwiatkowski and Cannondale-Garmin’s Dylan Van Baarle were with two riders from the Belgian Pro Continental team, Topsport Vlaanderen. Once again, one jump, no reaction, then excuses in the press. Kwiatkowski blamed Van Baarle, but if you watch the finish, neither of them jumped when attacked.
This wasn’t a case of pulling for TV, this was a case of, either being naive about finishes of bike races, or just lazy. Two guys on one team, with a guy sitting on, and one jump at a km to go and it’s over.
I can somewhat understand why Domencio Pozzovivo won stage 3 in Catalunya. It was another case of one attack and done. He’d been sitting on for a long time and attacked with 2 km to go. Cannondale/Garmin had two guys in the group of 7 or so, with Dan Martin and Andrew Talansky. Guess they didn’t want to win the stage or put more time on some of the distanced GC guys. But, I guess they didn’t want to spend any energy chasing him down to try to win the stage.
Anyway, the end of the E3 race perplexes me the most. Sagan should have been able to sense his situation and tried to adapt. He should have parked himself on the wheel of Thomas and done everything in his ability to stay there. But, no, he kept rotating, only to get shelled instantly, to eventually finish 30th, losing 1:15 in the that 2.5 miles. Guess he really was tired.