Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Going Ga-Ga for Ganna in Roubaix

I am assuming the on the night before Paris-Roubaix Espoirs, someone on the Colpack team, who is obligated to reach blogs in the Internet-sphere for any mentions like any proper team should do, read my bit about how Colpack have been tearing up the Italian amateur scene and reported to the team over breakfast that an English-speaking person was giving the team high praise. This praise inspired the team to take the the cobbled with a vengeance. As the authority on Italian amateur cycling system in America, I am 100% certain this is how the situation played out.

A long-range breakaway filled with some powerful legs that make housewives quiver was the ultimate decider on a day that was plagued with the rain and general miserable weather that 2015 bestowed. Within 10 kilometers, the main breakaway got away with names such as Filippo Ganna (Colpack), Edward Planckaert (Lotto-Soudal U23), Hamish Schreurs (Klein Constantia), Piet Allegaert (EFC-Etixx) and Justin Oien (Axeon - Hagens Bermans), among others. With the peloton staying together fairly well, the breakaway was given a leash and then slowly but surely, the reins were tugged and the peloton began to make their way back again.

The race was more or less a waiting game for the action to happen and the climax was a slow build. Make that a very slow build. The vice was coming down on the breakaway until Carrefour de l'Arbe, when Jenthe Biermans (SEG Racing) and Jaap de Jong (Chambery CF) were able to make the jump to the breakaway, joining Peter Lederink (Rabobank Development) as the only other rider able to make the junction to the breakaway from behind. Not to mention, this was when the rain was at some of its heaviest with the gutters on the pavé roads flooded with rain. Sivakov, who might have been more at home on a hillier course, was victim to one of many crashes the race saw and was jettisoned out of the breakaway.

Out of the beast of l'Arbe, the breakaway riders were trading probing attacks before it was Ganna who laid down the gauntlet. Ganna attacked and with the time trial abilities that gained him a contract with Lampre for 2017, he pulled away from an indecisive chasing group. My thoughts go to what was passing through Ganna's mind while he rode down the famous streets into the Roubaix velodrome. Was his mind a blank slate of pain as the lactic acid filtered through his body? Or perhaps memories flashed through his mind, especially as he was able to let off the accelerator into the finish? His first rides on a bike, his first rides around his home Lake Maggiore, his big time trial victories...all of that leading up to his biggest win on the road, hundreds of miles away from his homeland. All alone, it was an emotional Filippo Ganna that took the Paris-Roubaix Espoirs.

49 seconds behind, it was Jenthe Biermans taking his 2nd consecutive sprint for 2nd place in Roubaix ahead of Carpathian Couriers Tour winner Hamish Schreurs and Ganna's teammate Oliviera Troia. Biermans might have been very cunning with his move up to the breakaway but he had no answer for Ganna's move. Biermans appears to be a Roubaix specialist in the making, which is a bit of a dying breed with how so many riders seem to be diversifying their portfolios recently.

Paris-Roubaix Espoirs : la victoire de Filippo... by directvelo

-Ganna's win here will definitely get the hearts of Italian fans pumping as they have been crying out for a young potential classics star as it has been years since Ballan and Pozzato have been competitive in Northern France. No Italian has ever won this race unless you count quasi-Italian Yaroslav Popovych dominated with his Vellutex team piloted by Oliviano Locatelli. For Colpack, it is just another huge win on their way to a monumental season that they have been cobbling together. For those keeping score at home, some other recent solo wins at Roubaix belong to riders such as Mike Teunissen and Bob Jungels

-The Belgians should just claim this region because the French really do not turn out for this event. Partially, this comes down to scheduling issue as the Tour de la Manche and the Tour du Gironde take place during the same time, which can take precedence for amateur teams. It isn't like the French teams didn't show up as Vendée U was there along with Chambery and a smattering of smaller regional teams but there were just 2 French riders in the top 20 and the highest being in 17th with Damien Touze. You want to have French riders compete on a higher level on the cobbled/classic races? Put more emphasis on them in the U23 ranks. Corentin Ermenault was hurt and Dylan Kowalski was in the breakaway but was this seriously the best that France could put forth?

-Some other riders capping off impressive and very consistent springs? Edward Planckaert (Lotto-Soudal), who has gotten close in the sprints just like his brother Baptiste, showed that he is keen in the classics as he nabbed his 13th top 10 of the season. Ivan Garcia Cortina (Klein Constantia) showed some back bone by taking a small sprint for 10th (thanks to BMC's Bas Tietema for setting me straight there!) behind the chasing group, which was another nice performance for his team along with Schreurs 3rd place, which have been vying to be the best in the U23 peloton, and himself, as he was 8th in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, 4th in the Istrian Spring Trophy and most recently, 11th in the Paris-Arras Tour. While this is certainly just the U23 ranks and the extra 80km of distance can really change things, Garcia has been doing things that a Spaniard hasn't done on the cobbles since Flecha.

-Disappointments on the day: BMC Development, Chambery and Vendée U missed the main breakaway at the finish. All had riders in the breakaway at some point but lady luck made sure to deal out some crashes and flats to take them out of meaningful contention.

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