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Gent - Wevelgem in Flanders Field 2023 March 26, 260.9 km (1.WT)

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Men's cycling is looking increasingly like women's cycling. The favourites going alone early and staying out in front to the finish line. Not good. It's in fact quite the opposite of what I find interesting about cycling. It's fine as an exception to the rule, but it's just become too common these last couple of years.
So you prefer the formula of a break with no chance riding out front for a few hours while the platoon has spins and chats, then the platoon pulls the break in, yo-yos a bit, the real break goes, and most of the platoon goes back to spinny time? That's interesting?!
 
I felt very uncomfortable. Sometimes a gift is too showy, too ostentatious, it makes the whole thing more about the power of the giver than being to the benefit of the receiver
Would you be more happy with a less "showy" gift, a gift we all would know was a gift but you could tell yourself wasn't a gift cause it didn't look like a gift, the better rider on the day won?
Does Laporte feel good about this "win"? I'm sure he's happy to get it and appreciates the gesture from a teammate, but he and the whole world know it's not a win.
Memories fade and in time the only things people remember are who won what. not how. Nobody gives a toss about how many of Merckx's 94 million wins were real and how many were bought, all they care about is the 94 million wins.
Gent-Wevelgem is an old and important classic, 260 kms over tough terrain.
In the time before we went Monuments versus Classics, classics were classics and semi-classics and demi-classics. I'd put G-W in the semi-classic class. It's a nice one to have on your palmarès but it's so dull that the record for most wins is only three.
Well, why didn't they sprint it out, then? I think it is possible to sprint in all seriousness and then be respectful and friends afterwards.
Yeah, that really looked true at Strade a few weeks ago. Really true.
Merckx, Museeuw and Boonen all said they wouldn't gave it.
Spartacus is among those praising it. There are takers in this sport and there are givers. Some people just take take take.
 
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Yeah, that really looked true at Strade a few weeks ago. Really true.

Just because those two women didn't, hardly means it is impossible.

By the way I thought that was the much better solution, although in that case it was even less clear because they both had worked hard. If you have a dominant team where the only question is who from that team is going to win at least give the viewer the feeling that the race has not been decided at the green table for PR reasons before it even started.
 
So you prefer the formula of a break with no chance riding out front for a few hours while the platoon has spins and chats, then the platoon pulls the break in, yo-yos a bit, the real break goes, and most of the platoon goes back to spinny time? That's interesting?!

First and foremost, I want the big group to unite their strength when the biggest favourites have gone in the breakaway.

Secondly, I have bad associations to the history of cycling when certain riders are much stronger than the others.
 
It's a team sport: I don't mind gifts within the team.

But other gifts I would consider patronising, disrespectful to the competition and to fans, and carrying an odour of corruption.
Valverde gifting Ventoux to Szmyd was odorous? I think it's great, an inherent part of the social dimension of the sport. Opponents collaborate when it's in their shared interests to do so, and so they will also barter when a deal can be made that favours both of them.
 
In the time before we went Monuments versus Classics, classics were classics and semi-classics and demi-classics. I'd put G-W in the semi-classic class. It's a nice one to have on your palmarès but it's so dull that the record for most wins is only three.
Really? When I look at this overview: https://www.cyclingranking.com/races/1987?code=SPP it seems to be on the level of Paris - Tours and Amstel, above Omloop.
 
Herbie Sykes - the go to go on Italian cycling history - thinks gifts are the thin end of the slippery slope:

View: https://twitter.com/herbiesykes/status/1640632790189322241


Bill Strickland, on the other hand, has argued it's part of the heritage and the complexity of the sport:

I appreciate this aspect of the sport. To me, it's part of the complexity, and certainly part of the heritage. One of the fascinating things about bike racing, which I love both as a spectator trying to guess what's happening and as a participant (albeit an amateur one who sucks) is the fluid nature of relationships. In the simplest combination, when you break away with one opponent you become conspirators against the rest of the pack. You desperately need each other - right up until the point when you will turn on each other in the most vicious way. I like the ambiguity and the uncertainty, the unknowable nature of rivals and allies. This is no moral position; it's simply what it takes to win a bike race. Then, from this, it's pretty easy to see how non-fiscal deals might be struck: something like, maybe, ‘Help me win this one and I'll help you win the one in your hometown, when the time comes.' Or even something more strategic: ‘Look, we know you're the better sprinter but I'm going to drop you on the climb before the finish. I'll stay with you if you give me the sprint, so at least you'll get second.' From there, it's not such a leap to include money in these sorts of negotiations. So I see the origin of it, the sense. It's doesn't necessarily become a criminally or ethically dodgy act - sometimes it might be, sure, but I think a seasoned fan, especially one who's given it a go in the saddle at some point, is able to absorb some of the nuance.

I love watching a race and trying to predict who's offering what. There was one point on the first Tourmalet stage in last year's Tour [2009] when I was saying that in the wildest imagining of what the victory might be worth to one of the racers, a rival rider was in a real-world position to make a million bucks to work hard and not win. I have to say, this sort of thing doesn't play well at all in the US. It's equated with bribes for point-shaving in basketball or American football, or like Pete Rose gambled on his baseball team while he was managing it. (I like to point out that he always bet on his team to win.)
 
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Valverde gifting Ventoux to Szmyd was odorous? I think it's great, an inherent part of the social dimension of the sport. Opponents collaborate when it's in their shared interests to do so, and so they will also barter when a deal can be made that favours both of them.
I used the phrase 'odour of corruption' to deliberately stop short of saying that it is necessarily corrupt, but what was Valverde's motivation? Secret deals, buying implicit future favours, being able to declare that somebody 'owes you one' are, I would argue, highly perfumed with corrupt intent.
 

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