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Monday, March 31, 2014

Beating Spartacus and Sagan - is it psychological?

Simon Gerrans with the self (and DS's) belief to beat a rider like Sagan, does in fact beat him
Pic: © Julie Davies

The Fabian elbow flick. Annoying right? But in the wee hours of Saturday morning of the E3 Harelbeke, I was flicking mine right with him.

Of course it usually goes: find yourself with Fabian Cancellara, don't pull a turn on the front because you're only bringing him back to a break he will beat, and/or, you're aiding him in ultimately breaking away from you.

For 1-6 riders in a group with him, this makes sense. On Friday's E3 however, these were some of his chase group companions:

Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin), Tony Gallopin (Lotto), Borut Bozic (Astana), Tyler Farrar (Garmin), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Tom Boonen (OPQS), Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto), Luca Paolini (Katusha), Degenkolb (Giant Shimano)

Of course, let's excuse EBH, Stybar and Boonen in that group too with team mates in the break up the road. And of course Devolder who buried himself for Fabian.  And maybe Paolini who tried something be it all too late. But what were some of the others thinking? Especially Lotto with two riders up there?

Where would Fabian exactly break away from them after the last climb? And in that group in a bunch sprint, who wouldn't be able to beat Sagan? Degenkolb? He beat him last night.

With a bit of cooperation, even the ones with more lead in their legs could have had a decent crack at chasing the lead group back. At one point with just the work of Spartacus and Devolder, the gap whittled down to 16-17 seconds.

I think the unbeatable nature of Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara affect is often psychological. And maybe not just for the riders but many teams' Directeurs Sportif. What were some of those orders from the car, and why?

Perhaps the race might not have ended differently for the lead group, especially with Thomas and Terpstra describing how they felt after the race. But I also wonder what might have been if "go for the podium" wasn't perhaps the order of the day.     

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