105th Ronde van Vlaanderen: April 4th, 2021

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Asgreen only one who was able to answer all of Mathieu's punches apart from the Koppenberg. He also launched his sprint 50 metres earlier than Wout last year which everyone knew was the right thing to do since 6 months.

Didn't expect Asgreen to be this strong. Still needed Trentin to close the gap to the first group on Steenbeekdries and train crossing, don't think that group would have come back otherwise.

6 more months before we can see this two guys ride Roubaix :confused:

Also Alaphillippe predictably getting blown out of it on 2nd part of the Kwaremont just like Kwiatkowski used to be. Just like Pidcock, Teuns etc. Under 70kgs you don't stand a chance here

Did you miss the 2019 edition of Ronde? Valverde didn't have issues with the Kwaremont and he's sub 60kgs. Granted he only raced Ronde once, but he did finish top 10.

There appear to be riders very unhappy about the no tossing bottles to riders (as being expressed on twitter).

Congrats to Asgreen on an impressive win.
 
Touche for even seeing this as possible.

Robbie McEwan said on the Australian commentary that he would bet his house and whatever else he had on MVDP winning the sprint. I was thinking 'when is Asgreen going to launch his attack?'

Very classy and deserved win.
I think McEwen, Kirby and Backstedt, most of us watching on our iPads/laptops/tvs, and not least MvdP underestimated Asgreen’s sprint.

I include Matt in there because he didn’t seem to do much to try and get Asgreen to the front.
 
GVA was 3rd today. So another great result to add to his collection of top placings in RVV. I remember there was discussion before the race about who is the best RVV rider without a win. A discussion that expanded into a "How many times has GVA actually been close to winning?" As discussion. So where does today's effort stand? Was he close to winning today? I don't think he was despite finishing 3rd. He never looked like a potential winner to me during the race (despite picking him as a winner in the prediction game, but I knew it was a long shot) and was always in the chasing groups with riders who were lacking a bit on the climbs.
Greg’s pretty realistic about it himself.

“ "I've been on the podium a few times with a sad face because I thought that more was possible. This year I was all smiles behind my mask. I got the maximum out of it and more than third place wasn't possible. I'm satisfied," Van Avermaet said.”

 
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VDP has limits but no sense of tactics or positioning. Its pure brute force. He has no team but give him the best team and best DS and it will still turn out to be this way. In fact he would probably drop his entire team when he attacks early. Conserving for big races is not his style, so i am not expecting him to do so on the future. Coming from cross he is too much of a soloist. He will win in his own style in his own way on road but less prolifically than other disciplines. he may even give up on road if the effort does not translate into wins
WVA has also no team and worse his team strategy would be Rabofail. They try to do too much which the team and even WVA is not capable of. They better recruit a foil for him, someone like GVA, Teuns etc who can be in the finale and also provide additional strategic options. WVA has also to rethink his races. Being good from Jan to April is impossible. Also the races have to be picked so that top form and zero fatigue can be achieved. He would have been the best fit for Lotto or Trek.
JA is probably fatigued. Does not bode well for the Hilly Classics. But he can be forgiven due to covid.
Asgreen is probably the most underrated guy but he has capabilities closer to WVA. He may move to another team but whether he can repeat remains to be seen.
 
Did you miss the 2019 edition of Ronde? Valverde didn't have issues with the Kwaremont and he's sub 60kgs. Granted he only raced Ronde once, but he did finish top 10.

There appear to be riders very unhappy about the no tossing bottles to riders (as being expressed on twitter).

Congrats to Asgreen on an impressive win.
Outliers don't undo correlation. Also Valverde got top 10, and we're talking about winning here for Alaphilippe. Still an impressive effort by Bala.
 
Outliers don't undo correlation. Also Valverde got top 10, and we're talking about winning here for Alaphilippe. Still an impressive effort by Bala.
Well, take Bettiol out of the equation and Valverde is in the four-man leading group after the Paterberg with Greg, Mathieu and Naesen. Then a win is not impossible. Still, lots of things need to go your way but not impossible. Especially not if you have punch which I seem to recall that Alaphilippe does.
 
Well, take Bettiol out of the equation and Valverde is in the four-man leading group after the Paterberg with Greg, Mathieu and Naesen. Then a win is not impossible. Still, lots of things need to go your way but not impossible. Especially not if you have punch which I seem to recall that Alaphilippe does.
Yeah Pater should suit Valverde and Alaphilippe more for both. Ala even looked decen on the Koppenberg yesterday.

I think the old route was better for a rider like Valverde or Alaphilippe. Slightly less pure attrition, less emphasis on the Kwaremont as the main driver of selection. De Muur van Geraardsbergen especially is way better for puncheurs with some climbing chops. Even Contador did decent there in Eneco Tour
 
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Alaphilippe started losing ground as soon as the Kwaremont started yesterday. I wouldn't read too much into it. He ran out of legs.
Gimme the 2020 post-WC Alaphilippe and I'm pretty sure it's a whole different story.
Ofcourse.

But still I think the old route would've been much better for him. But then it's also that VdP and WvA aren't the type of cobbled specialist with no Ardennes/climbing chops whatsoever. For example Boonen was never among the strongest on de Muur.
 
OK, I've gone back and skimmed over the last 50k or so. I think MvdP played it about as well as he could, as essentially a solo rider, although Vermeersch hung tough and was able to ride in the wind a bit. The difference might have been (probably was, in fact) that Asgreen had a team to control much of the race, and having JA and even Senechal in the final selection meant that EQS could force Wout and MvdP to expend some unnecessary energy.

I'm also reconsidering a bit my belief that Asgreen should have worked with MvdP -- I think it was an unnecessary risk; MvdP was going to pull whether or not Asgreen helped, so maybe skipping a few turns wouldn't have been a bad thing or all that unsporting. So double kudos to Asgreen for playing a bit of a risky -- but very sporting -- game, and pulling it off.

Once again, I'm also impressed by Mathieu's graciousness given he was clearly upset with himself for coming up short. I'm sure he felt he could dispatch Asgreen in a sprint and ceding the back position under the flamme rouge was a mistake in hindsight...
 
Looking back at it Bettiol's performance on the Kwaremont was one of the most inpressive things that I can remember from a sub 70kg rider on that climb.

1,300w max power and 529w/7.67 w/kg on the Kwaremont at 69 kg is just freakish.
Nibali was also much better on the Kwaremont than on the Paterberg or the Koppenberg when he races it despite being a lot closer to 60 than to 70kg, but that was just Nibali being a diesel who isn't explosive and loves attrition/has great endurance.
Asgreen must be mad that Roubaix isn't happening next week, he'd be the favourite.
 
Looking back at it Bettiol's performance on the Kwaremont was one of the most inpressive things that I can remember from a sub 70kg rider on that climb.

1,300w max power and 529w/7.67 w/kg on the Kwaremont at 69 kg is just freakish.
Nibali was also much better on the Kwaremont than on the Paterberg or the Koppenberg when he races it despite being a lot closer to 60 than to 70kg, but that was just Nibali being a diesel who isn't explosive and loves attrition/has great endurance.
Asgreen must be mad that Roubaix isn't happening next week, he'd be the favourite.
Didn't Nibali get destroyed on the final Kwaremont? A bit depends also on if a rider prefers to be seated or not, which in turn interacts with the state of the cobbles. But the current route does favor rouleurs significantly more than it used to cause the Kwaremont favors heavier guys so heavily and the Pater is so short. You wouldn't see Contador drop Boonen there if it were in Eneco Tour.
 
Alaphilippe started losing ground as soon as the Kwaremont started yesterday. I wouldn't read too much into it. He ran out of legs.
Gimme the 2020 post-WC Alaphilippe and I'm pretty sure it's a whole different story.
I think he is not on top form just yet. His legs will be there in the Ardennes. This could be the best case for DQS. Each rider peaking at different points of the season.
 
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Maybe the most crucial part of yesterday's race happened between Koppenberg and Taaienberg. Asgreen with every other remaining QS rider apart from Alaphilippe was dropped on the former and weren't able to catch up quickly. During most of that strech there was a small but clear and stable gap between the two groups. After the railway crossing and ensuing sharp corner the camera turned away for a short time and by the time they showed them again the first group had dropped tempo and second was just making the catch. Don't know if the catch happened because the front group couldn't cooperate any more and started looking at each other or the second one did a big last moment push to close it before the Taaienberg, but whatever the reason, avoiding starting Taaienberg with a deficit to make up on MVDP and others saved the race for Asgreen.
 
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