- Mar 17, 2009
Just saw Cyclesport Magazine's online analysis of the race
Love the comment about tactical brains!
Gilbert has been irrepressible of late. As the overwhelming favourite, he could have been tempted to opt for caution, fearing that he would be marked out of every move. But there was no such restraint. The Omega Pharma-Lotto rider took responsibility by reacting smartly on the Côte de la Roche aux Faucons when Frank and Andy Schleck sparked what proved to be the winning move.
However, confronted with the problem of how to defeat Gilbert in the sprint, and blessed with a numerical advantage, the Schleck brothers could not have played their cards much more poorly.
Of course Gilbert was going to win if they took him to within sight of the line. While it is easy to be critical without the benefit of knowing precisely how shattered they were feeling, it was astonishing that the Leopard brothers did not put in a single attack between the top of the Côte de Saint-Nicolas and the finish.
If that situation – two team-mates and brothers without a sprint between them, up against the man of the moment with a superior kick – did not call for the use of the old-fashioned one-two, then what does?
That is not to call into question their immense talent, or their contribution to the race, but when push came to shove, the Schlecks failed to contrive a single tactical move between them. You have to wonder what the instructions from the Leopard team car were but in the final analysis you are left with the conclusion that even if the Schlecks shared one tactical brain between them they’d be dangerous.
While it is difficult to imagine them conjuring anything that could have led to a different outcome, it was disappointing to watch the Schlecks sleepwalk towards their fate. If one of the brothers had attacked in the final two or three kilometres, Gilbert would have been forced to react. And once Gilbert had closed the gap, the other could have gone. There should have been no hesitation, no time to allow the fire in the Belgian’s legs to cool, just bam-bam, like a boxer landing a sweet left-right combination.
Okay, so it may not have worked but it would have been nice to see the Schlecks try something. Anything. Gilbert’s strength was such that he probably could have responded to two, three, maybe four concerted accelerations from his opponents and still had enough to win the sprint. The Schlecks were tired, no doubt, but to fail to plant even the tiniest seed of doubt in Gilbert’s mind when it was two against one was meek. This was Liège-Bastogne-Liège up for grabs, after all.