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You read the headline. You know why we’re writing stuff like this. Let’s get started by working through them all first.
Winnar: Johan Museeuw
Was het een theatre? More like a one-man drama, as Museeuw get free( briefly with Frankie Andreu) and built a huge lead, exclusively to fade fast down the elongate. His 2.40 advantage was down to 15 seconds as he hit the line, completely exhausted. In the bigger sense he was an aging star who’d nearly lost a leg to an injury suffered in the Arenberg Trench in his previous P-R appearance. He crossed the line pointing to his non-severed limb, one of the race’s most enduring instants ever.
Notable: USPS had a big team around George Hincapie and participated in slowing the pursue with Mapei, because they’d gotten Andreu free. Andreu hung with Museeuw while their big strength units blocked the shoot. After 20 km Museeuw discharged Andreu while Lefevre quietly thanked USPS for being such beneficial deludes. The 34 -year-old Lion of Flanders viewed off a hard-charging mid-prime Peter Van Petegem by far fewer seconds than USPS had helped him gain.
Greatness-ness: Museeuw’s win was his second of three and he overpowered a handful of past and future wins( PVP, Tafi, Ballerini) plus Erik Zabel, Steffen Wesemann and Hincapie. And gangrene, his toughest opponent ever.
Winnar: Servais Knaven
Was het een theatre? It might be easy to reject a race where the part podium comes from a single unit, but that would be a mistake now. Lotto-Domo-Farm Frites certainly reigned the day, but not without tons of drama and friction. The brave was apocalyptic and the hasten broke up several hours from Roubaix. The approach boasted Wilf Peeters (!) on a long solo escape, allowing his Domo mates to stress their competitives in his wake. But Peeters eventually blew up, around the same time that Museeuw suffered his fifth flat of the working day, leading to a wildernes shoot to revive Domo’s strategy. Nothing at all was ended, and Hincapie looked like a potential champion, until 10 km to go when Knaven powered away.
Greatness-ness: Belgian supporters probably still are sorry that Knaven didn’t miss the turn for the velodrome, since his victory constituted him taking a fairly tasty slouse off Museeuw’s plate. But sometimes what a endorse does behind the winner is only a potent … as long as the champion is his teammate. Mapei/ Domo/ Team Lefevre lengthened their classics resume in a slightly less vile rendition than the 1996 trio’s staged platform sweep.
Winnar: Johan Museeuw
Was het een theatre? Yes and no. The top-line is a solo break from 41 km out and a cozy 3+ -minute win, something that gazes even less awesome now that the peloton’s secrets are out. But it was another muddy, difficult daytime, and for a while the only riders nipping at Museeuw’s ends were Hincapie and his teammate, neo-pro Tom Boonen, who’d drifted back from the early disintegrate to help his general. Hincapie fell into a dyke 20 km out, leaving Boonen alone to tally third in his first official effort at the infernal stones.
Greatness-ness: I’m not sure how much of Museeuw’s career can be appreciated in hindsight. I couldn’t watch these hastens, and anyway wasn’t cycling a cesspool of drugging, Museeuw included? Maybe, but in real time, well, you had to be there. Museeuw had just missed out on a record-setting fourth Flanders win a few weeks prior and knew his opportunities were dwindling. He supposedly was so upset that he threatened to quit the boast afterwards. So pulling off the majestic succes a week last-minute was an psychological attainment for the Leeuw Museeuw.
Winnar: Peter Van Petegem
Was het een theatre? Hm, well it was certainly a changing of the protector, at least for one or two years, as Hincapie missed the scoot and Museeuw faded, facing questions of retirement, while adversaries Lotto finally has broken the Domo/ Mapei stranglehold. Van Petegem soloed through the warm sunshine up to Dario Pieri and Slava Ekimov on the Carrefour cobbles and powered the acquire end residence, dusting the two clydesdales in the velodrome sprint.
Greatness-ness: Van Petegem completed his Flanders-Roubaix Double, the seventh rider to do so( now up to 10 ). After that, the lack of greatness-ness was the only noticeable part. Even Boonen’s 24 th region was notable: his worst non-DNF finish at the hasten in his career.
Winnar: Magnus Backstedt
Was het een drama? Clearly a nailbiter to the end. There was a large, elite group as sometime as Carrefour de l’Arbe, and Museeuw — obliging his last-place endeavor — maintained explosion apart at the leadership, exclusively to blow a tire and leave the win to a sprint among Backstedt, Tristan Hoffman, Roger Hammond and Fabian Cancellara (!).
Greatness-ness: Sweden’s merely Monument winner could probably live out the rest of his life in his home country and never pay for a beer. But I approximate he doesn’t like free brew because he then moved to the UK where he does commentary and runs a squad( still? I remember ?).
Winnar: Tom Boonen
Was het een drama? Sure, I suspect. Boonen followed his rookie teammate Filippo Pozzato on an attack at 80 km to go, which more or less represented the final pick. Stabs winnowed out Cancellara and Lars Michaelsen, and Backstedt faded on the Carrefour cobbles, leaving Boonen with Hincapie and Flecha to sprint it out in the velodrome. At the time beings might have contemplated Hincapie would take it, but his 24 -year-old ex-teammate had the snap in his legs to finish off the triumph and an historically boyish Flanders-Roubaix double.
Greatness-ness: Boonen went on to tie Mr. Paris-Roubaix, Roger De Vlaeminck, in total wins, along with so many other benchmarks, so anything involving him checks the greatness box. Tafi’s last go-round was memorable for a bit.
Winnar: Fabian Cancellara
Was het een theatre? Various iconic minutes around the basic plotline of a solo flee and a disorganized shoot. First, the otherwise sleepy race was jarred awake when, on the Mons secteur, George Hincapie sat up with his disallows detached from his motorcycle and threw hard into a furrow. It was surreal, like he’d simply woken up the day after one of the Discovery auto-mechanics had refused to do a favor for Vito Corleone. And it concluded with about the same amount of screaming. Then Cancellara, a young but jolly prime select for a rostrum place, taken away from at the 20 km label, putting presumptive favorite Boonen under abrupt and surprising pressure. Boonen was singularly support-starved at the time, and it seemed like the first crack in his cobbled territory in a while.
Then, because I don’t know why, a learn came screaming through the gap between Cancellara and his chasers: a second group with two Hincapie lieutenants( who ducked under the closing span gate before the study arrived) and a third group with Boonen who had to stop their pursuit and wait for the train to pass. The point that they seemed so reluctant to wait rather than jumping into the path of a quicken learn tells you something about cyclists. Anyway, G2 was disqualified for not stopping, G3 filled up the rest of the podium, everyone started screaming at everyone else about the rules, and Cancellara soloed home to glory.
Greatness-ness: The first notable Cancellara-Boonen duel. They’d faced off before, when we didn’t know Fab too well, if at all. From here on, we sure did.
Winnar: Stuart O’Grady
Was het een theatre? Hm, certainly good-for-nothing atrociously offending by Roubaix standards, but a puzzled enough scoot and some fine strategic stuff more. O’Grady was in the early shatter, then assimilated by the more serious threats, leaving a few other just-a-guy characters still up front. But the Aussie, off the rein while everyone obstructed side-eyeing his teammate Cancellara, made another small-scale excerpt with Roger Hammond and Steffen Wesemann. Ultimately he shook loose from them and proceeded the last 23 km alone for the win.
Greatness-ness: If you’re Australian or just a fan of likeable all-round quality equestrians, sure. O’Grady was the first of four Monument wins from Down Under , now including Matt Goss, Matthew Hayman and the double champ Simon Gerrans. Boonen and Quick Step were going through some things for a duet years in there, so it was a good time to grab some food off their plate.
Winnar: Tom Boonen
Was het een theatre? Not by cRaZy P-R standards. The large-scale squads and their large-hearted equestrians got to the front and gradually winnowed down the group until the two mega-favorites, Boonen and Cancellara, got free with 2007 Ronde winner Alessandro Ballan and the trio of titans just punched at each other until the inevitable sprint in Roubaix, with its inescapable sprint champion, the then-Tour-stage-quality sprinter Boonen. Cancellara was looking good, but I vaguely remember him perhaps being sick before Flanders? Anyway, he said after he felt strong but simply couldn’t shake Boonen.
Greatness-ness: The two biggest hotshots of previous years and the other various more to come, two all-time tales and a plausible fairly interloper( depending on the way you characterize “credible, ” but he had been able to ride ). All three separated from the chaff, hen-peck away at one another. Pretty, somewhat, pretty good.
Was het een theatre? Solid late-race action with the new Cervelo Test Team bursting to life with unusually in-form recitals from Thor Hushovd and MSR almost-winner Heinrich Haussler lay the leaders under serious stres. Boonen had facilitate early countering CTT and the other crews, with the late Wouter Weylandt and Sylvain Chavanel piling on the pressure. Finally Boonen winnowed things down in Mons, including Pozzato( now on Liquigas ), Flecha, Hushovd, Leif Hoste and Johan Vansummeren. But first Flecha crashed, taking out Hoste and Vansummeren and delaying Pozzato, then Hushovd overcooked a area while criticizing Boonen, making the Belgian go free to the finish with Pozzato alone at 47 ”.
Greatness-ness: Some, for sure, although Cancellara just barely cleared the beginning, having gone to Flanders off form from illness and DNFing when his order fragment. The upstarts yielded Boonen a mighty challenge though, and there were some long resumes in the lead group for sure.
Was het een theatre? Until the last hour, ladens. Cancellara had just gone to a brand-new level in dropping Boonen on the Muur a week earlier, and Boonen sought to hit back in France, intensifying a few occasions to assessment out his Swiss rival. Then he paused to eat a gelatin, and Cancellara accelerated on a nothing strain of street, and olalalalalalala Balen, we had a problem. From there the only drama was whether Flecha and Hushovd were going to fight on the velodrome infield following the Norwegian’s sprint for second and Flecha’s contemptuous clapping response.
Greatness-ness: OMG plenty. The Boonen-Cancellara rivalry was in high gear. Bit musicians like Pozzato( muster from illness and riding in pitch-black to reputation the departed Franco Ballerini ), Flecha, Hushovd and others ensured a solid scoot.
Re-watch it!( this is only part 4 of four, so hunt for the others if you prefer)
Winnar: Johan Vansummeren
Was het een drama? Emphatically, as the sneaky-strong Vansummeren toiled apart up in the lead group while Cancellara and Hushovd, by this time the world champion and Vansummeren’s team captain, gazed one another suspiciously behind. Eventually Summie affected the gas with 15 km to go, and it was entirely Cancellara’s problem now. Preferably than chasing right away, he stopped to bitch out the Garmin-Cervelo team car for sitting on his pedal instead of chasing down their own rider, as though chivalry in cycling was suddenly, ultimately dead. Anyway, he then released a destructive onslaught that grab everyone but Summie, who had his lone but totally cool time in the colors, bright sun.
Greatness-ness: Not much. Boonen had hurtled out earlier today, stayed maintaining a break pedal in the Trench, IIRC. Cancellara was more than strong enough to win and missed out by a mere 15 ”, but as they say in cycling, tough shit.
Was het een theatre? Reflected drama, I theorize. This time it was Cancellara who went missing, falling on his collarbone in Flanders, so Boonen decided to out-do Cancellara’s 50 k accomplishment from two years ago by launching from 53 km and coming home alone by 1.39 over Sebastian Turgeot and Ballan, third again.
Greatness-ness: Just Boonen, who covered off a classics season where he composed an unprecedented roll of success. He did the first-ever E3-Gent-Flanders-Roubaix quadruple. He rectified the present working records for most E3 wins with five. He restrained the all-time records for most winnings in Gent-Wevelgem( 3 ), de Ronde( 3) and Paris-Roubaix( 4 ). And he never earned any of them again. Unhappily, Cancellara only raced the first two of those, but it is therefore disappears. This was Boonen’s solo all-time victory lap, like a lifetime achievement academy award. He flat-out owned the outpouring, and who can deny him such a right?
Was het een theatre? Meh. This was Boonen’s turn to go missing, after an injury-riddled winter and outpouring, so Cancellara was the lone awfully person of interest. He ensure the hasten and rushed apart with 16 km to go along with Zdenek Stybar and Sep Vanmarcke. Stybar get made out by a witnes, which is too bad because he might have had a say in the final sprint. Vanmarcke didn’t.
Greatness-ness: Anything you can do, I can do … about as well. Cancellara never came Gent-Wevelgem at all, but he did his second Flanders-Roubaix Double plus E3. And at the time it seemed like he was poised for more — which he was. Just not in this race.
Winnar: Niki Terpstra
Was het een theatre? Sure. It was a chaotic last hour, with Boonen up the road, and then Cancellara, the floor reshuffling several times and nobody get any real length. Both of the supporters too had mechanical problems that cost them vitality, so when Bradley Wiggins (!) gone on the penultimate cobbles region and Niki Terpstra was the only one to respond to the attack, then attracting apart solo, it was all over and the Netherlands was in the winners’ circle.
Greatness-ness: Not truly. The two big stars were fading some( though Cancellara was coming off his final Flanders win ), and next-gen guys like Sagan were coming up speedily from behind. Terpstra reasserting Quick Step success was … something. And we can now visualize him as a second-tier enormous with his profession Flanders-Roubaix double. But that’s about it.
Winnar: John Degenkolb
Was het een drama? Nothing special. Certainly the first German succes since the initial flow of the race 119 times earlier was the headline, and Degenkolb was a strong, menacing presence the working day, with his closing speed examining over the raft of new challengers who made turns trying their luck. But that’s about all. The sprinter won the six-man sprint.
Greatness-ness: Cancellara and Boonen were both absent-minded, and fading anyway. The heavyweight was Alexander Kristoff, “whos been” earned De Panne, Flanders and the Scheldeprijs over the past two weeks. But apart from Sagan on the hunt, unsuccessfully, this is in the one-off, fun but whatever category.
Winnar: Matthew Hayman
Was het een drama? Sure. Cancellara got left behind in an early divide with Sagan and loitered for a duo hours within a minute of the figurehead group of Boonen and co ., but eventually gate-crashed in Mons and never represented the finale. Ultimately Hayman won in a sprint from Boonen, Ian Stannard, Vanmarcke and Edvald Boasson Hagen.
Greatness-ness: Denied. Boonen missed out on a record-setting win, getting boxed in during the sprint and then only not having his old legs to knock him past Hayman. Cancellara considered his fluke disappear in his final cobbled classic. Time for the new harvest to take over.
Winnar: Greg Van Avermaet
Was het een theatre? Not certainly. Van Avermaet criticized a reshuffling group of favorites in the Carrefour de l’Arbe( where else ?) and formed a acquire trio, then quintet, which stayed away from a second set of threatening riders, including Tom Boonen in his last-ever race.
Greatness-ness: Meh. Van Avermaet is now a B-list champion, like Terpstra, and may still hitherto have some padding of his resume to do. But primarily it was the end of an era.
Winnar: Peter Sagan
Was het een drama? No, Sagan attacked the favourites from Orchies, caught the front guys, and left them with simply Sylvain Dillier for glowing chaperone work.
Greatness-ness: Sagan winning the Queen of the Classics in the rainbow stripes? Yep, that’s greatness. With a Flanders win two years earlier he made his vocation doubled happen.
Winnar: Philippe Gilbert
Was het een drama? Middlin. The scoot was a star-studded sextet into the final secteurs, including Sagan, Vanmarcke and Wout Van Aert( got my eye on this child ), but Nils Pollitt propelled and merely Gilbert could follow, with the Belgian winning the sprint.
Greatness-ness: Gilbert for sure. This hasten was universally reviewed and considered the one gravestone nobody thought he would prevail, but with his succes he now owns four of the five for his occupation, missing only Milano-Sanremo.
This is where things get a bit, um, unscientific, to make it charitably. I will do this in tiers.
11-20, in no particular order: 2005, 2007, 2008, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
My top ten…
10: 2003, PVP cracks through
9: 2004, Museeuw hesitates Maggie profits
8: 2009, Chaos and crashes
7: 2012, Boonen journeys to history
6: 2000, Museeuw and Domo sweep out the rot
5: 2010, Cancellara in clank of titans
4: 2011, Vansummeren shocker
3: 2002, The Last Lion
2: 2001, Knaven in the blurred chaos
1: 2006, I still can’t believe what happened.
That’s my listing! How about yours? Top five or top three if you prefer.
Read more: podiumcafe.com
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