Tag Archives: King of Spring

Van Avermaet completes one of the great cobbled campaigns

I didn’t see any of Paris-Roubaix live this year. I was out on the bike instead. I promised myself come Sunday morning that I wouldn’t fall victim to temptation and make an excuse to stay on the sofa watching the Hell of the North. It promised to be a great race as Peter Sagan looked to salvage his spring cake and Greg Van Avermaet looked to ice his. As it turned out it was the later who came through.

By all accounts it was a decent race though I have heard it was far from historic. No Paris-Roubaix is bad but I got the sense when Sagan punctured for a second time, ruling him out of contention, some of the drama went out of the race. Tom Boonen was of course competing in the final race of his career but the four-time winner could only manage 13th. The fairy tale finish was not meant to be.

No shock though at the winner. Van Avermaet has been a level above this spring. Sagan has been unlucky on several occasions, but the Belgian was always able to capitalize. Philippe Gilbert stole his thunder at the Tour of Flanders but didn’t race this one. Still, across the seven cobbled classics this spring Van Avermaet won four of them. He took Omloop Het Niewsblad to kick off the campaign, followed it up a month later with wins at E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem, he was second at Flanders and returned to winning ways in Roubaix. Throw in a second place at Strade Bianche too and seventh at Kurrne-Brussles-Kuurne and you see an Olympic Champion on form.

I like to keep a running tally of the spring races from Het Niewsblad to Liège. I use the Formula One points system of 25 points for a win, 18 for 2nd, 15 for 3rd and 12, 10, 8 6, 4, 2 and 1 for 10th. Each race counts equal regardless of its status. There are 13 in total, and we have had 10 thus far. As it stands Van Avermaet is on 142 points with Sagan in second on 76.

To put Van Avermaet’s spring in perspective, Sagan’s great spring last year netted him only 104 points and he had 122 points in 2013. Gilbert’s epic spring in 2011 pulled in 117 points. Boonen’s 2005 was good for 109 points. Fine work Van Avermaet though over the past five seasons (2013-2017) combined, Sagan stands on top with 394 points to Van Avermaet’s 349.

For interests sake I’ve also kept a tally of the great one-day race seasons of all time. There are 12 events in total that include the five monuments, the worlds, Het Niewsblad (Het Volk), E3, Gent, Amstel, Fleche, and San Sebastian. For balance I only included events that were around going back into the 1960s, hence no Strade Bianche, for example. With six of the 12 complete, Van Avermaet is on 118, good for 11th all-time going back to the start of the 1960s. (I should point out I didn’t tally everyone, only the 80 best seasons I could find though I doubt there are any that crack the top ten that I have missed). Van Avermaet is currently one single 4th place this season from moving into second all-time in name, behind those of Eddy Merckx. Currently in that position is the 1978 season of Francesco Moser. Merckx has five seasons better (’70, ’71, ’72, ’73, ’75) with 1972 being the best with a colossal 172 points. To level that Van Avermaet would need 54 points more. Two wins and an 8th place would do it. It’s unlikely given the nature of the races to come, but last years Olympics showed the BMC rider is capable on a hilly course.

So suffice to say Van Avermaet’s 2017 season thus far has been one for the ages. He has been dominant in a way that few before him have matched. It’s been a fine cobbled campaign to watch, a lot of drama, talking points, twists and turns. I only hope the Ardennes classics coming up can rival it in their own way. It’ll take some going though whether I’m lying on the sofa watching it or still getting out on my bike remains to be seen. Likely determined by my moral following a couple of upcoming mountain bike races!

The 2017 season so far: Big names come to the fore

It has been a long time since I last wrote anything on here. It has been a busy winter. And anytime I have gotten some free time I’ve spent it on my bike rather than writing about bikes. On that end I’ve cycled over 1,500km since the turn of the year, way more than in any other winter before, and I am feeling good for it. A lot of it on the turbo trainer, but a mild winter here in Southern Ontario has meant I have gotten out on the road too. I have a couple of races in April and I decided to actually get ready for them. So far so good, though I could use to cut back on some junk food!

That isn’t to say I haven’t watched my share of cycling though. Indeed I have watched as much this winter and early spring as ever before. Some of the racing has been spectacular and there has been a lot of talking points. There is little point in me going into them all in detail right now, you’ve likely seen them yourself, but I do want to address some. So where to start?

To tell the truth, the early season races in January and February feel much like pre-season training races to me. Yes they are important to those that win them, and they can be fun to watch, but you get the sense many use them to find form. They can be to cycling what spring training games are to Baseball. We don’t remember all the winners and the results don’t have a real baring on the rest of the season. On that end, here in late March already, I won’t go writing about it. In the eyes of many fans, especially those in Belgium, the real season begins at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. That was won this year by Van Avermaet with Sagan winning  Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne the next day. Starting as they mean to go on.

And then again, in a way you could also say that this pair of races is the pre-season for the northern classics. Once complete the riders disappear south again to race the Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico by way of Strade Bianche. The riders go to seek form before returning north later in March. So when does the ‘real’ season begin? I suppose it depends on the rider. Some might say it starts at the top of the calendar, Down Under. Some will say once they return to Belgium via the Middle East. And others will tell you the Race to the Sun, Paris-Nice is the true traditional start to the season.

That Race to the Sun this year was true to its word. Strong winds and hard rain hammered the early stages and it wasn’t until they got down near beautiful Nice that the sun come out. Sergio Henao of Team Sky won it, fending off yet another late Contador charge. Over in Italy at Tirreno Quintana won overall with a little more ease.

And so everyone then turned up in Milan for the first monument of the year: Milan-San Remo. And what a race it was. Lately this race has resulted in a large group sprint and it’s often seen as the sprinters monument, but not so this time. Not when you have Peter Sagan out to rip a race to shreds. Sagan has a decent sprint, and he could have waited, but where’s the drama in that? It was on the Poggio, that final climb in which he made his move. The Poggio is not the toughest climb in the world, but with 290km in the legs, it likely feels like Alpe d’Huez. A huge surge put him clear and only Michal Kwiatkowski and Julian Alaphilippe could react. Neither of them done a lot of work on the front in the run in to San Remo, though nor should they have. It was Sagan who forced the issue, it was his race to win or lose. And so it proved to be, like E3 Harelbeke last year, that Kwiatkowski managed to come around Sagan and take the sprint win. He added this one to his victory at Strade Bianche a two weeks before.

So much then for a Sky team in crisis with a set of riders distracted by the so-called scandal engulfing the team back in the UK. That idea was suggested by the vultures on this story in a bid to further undermime the position of Sir Dave Brailsford. It was kind of put to bed with Kwiaktowski taking two one-day wins, Thomas a stage win and Henao a GC victory in the space of 14 days.

And it was here then, in San Remo, that the peloton split in two. The climbers heading into Spain for the Volta a Catalunya and Pais Vasco, and the strong men going north again to Belgium. It would be a week of racing in which riders from the respective home nations dominated.

In Spain, Valverde was a level above in what became a Spanish sweep of the podium. He finished a minute ahead of fellow countrymen Contador and Marc Soler. On his way to victory, Valverde took three stage wins from seven and was second in another. At 36, Valverde would appear to be in the form of his life.

But if you think it was a good week for the Spaniards, take a look back up at Belgium. In the three classic races up there this past week, they attained seven of the available nine podium places. Yves Lampaert won the Dwars Door Vlaanderen in a race lit up by his team-mate Philippe Gilbert who settled for second. At E3 Harelbeke, Gilbert once again settled for second after igniting a race in which Van Avermaet went on to win. Then this weekend at Gent-Wevelgem, Van Avermaet done the double by putting one on Sagan with a late attack from a reduced group. Indeed it was a triple for the Belgian following his win at Het Nieuwsblad, becoming the second man ever to win these three races in one season.

All Belgium will hope this form continues next weekend with the big one: The Tour of Flanders. Greg Van Avermaet must go in as a favourite, though Phillipe Gilbert should be right on him. Still, despite his short comings in actual wins of late, it would still take a fool to write off Peter Sagan. It’s a real shame that Michal Kwiatkowski, a man who looks made for any of the five monuments, will be missing from this one. Still, it should be one of the races of the year.

The season is very much underway now!

*****

Last year I ran some awards for the rider of the week and month. I will do that again this year, though only monthly. As such, and being a bit behind, here’s my picks for the first three months:

January: Richie Porte
February: Rui Costa
March: Greg Van Avermaet

Also last year I ran the King of Spring classification. I took 14 major spring classic races from Omloop to  Liège and used the Formula One points format of 25 for a win down to 1 for 10th place with each race counting equal. With seven races now in the books, the standings sit as follows:

1. Greg Van Avermaet – 99 pts
2. Peter Sagan – 76 pts
3. Michal Kwiatkowski – 50 pts
4. Philippe Gilbert – 36 pts
5. Oliver Naesen – 33 pts

King of Spring 2016

On the right hand side of the site I’ve been running a league table throughout spring to track the most consistent rider of the one-day spring classics or, as I’ve come to call it, the King of Spring. The points format mirrors that of Formula One with 25 points for a win, 18 for second, 15 for third and then 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1 down to tenth.

14 World Tour or 1.HC races across spring starting with the Omloop Het Niewsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne at the end of February, moving to Italy for Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo, then into Flanders for the cobbled classics of Dwars Door Vlaanderen, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders and Scheldeprijs and rounding out the cobble season with Paris-Roubaix. Then it’s into the hillier spring classics as racing transitions from Flanders to the Ardennes with Brabantse Pijl, Amstel Gold (not technically Ardennes), La Flèche Wallonne and finally Liège–Bastogne–Liège. Four Monuments in total though the points structure remains the same for all races regardless of their UCI ranking.

And now we’re done. So who won? Well I doubt you’ll be surprised but here’s a look at the top ten in the table (including each riders biggest results). 83 riders in total scored points, the same as last year when Alexander Kristoff won and one more than 2014 when Niki Terpstra came out on top.

King of Spring 2016, final standings:

1. Peter Sagan – 104 (1st Gent; 1st Flanders; 2nd Omloop; 3nd E3)
2. Fabian Cancellara – 67 (1st Strade; 2nd Flanders)
3. Enrico Gasparotto – 53 (1st Amstel; 2nd Brabantse Pijl)
4. Sep Vanmarcke – 49 (2nd Gent; 3rd Flanders; 4th Roubaix)
5. Greg Van Avermaet – 45 (1st Omloop)
6. Bryan Coquard – 42 (2nd Dwars Door)
7. Alexander Kristoff – 38 (2nd Kuurne; 4th Flanders)
8. Wout Poels – 37 (1st Liège; 4th Flèche)
9. Jasper Stuyven – 37 (1st Kuurne; 5th E3)
10. Arnaud Demare – 35 (1st San Remo; 5th Gent)

Note that the tiebreaker was the best results in Monuments. For that reason Poels finished 8th ahead of Stuyven because he won Liège, and Demare made the top ten on the back of his Milan-San Remo win despite tying Edward Theuns and Petr Vakoc on 35 points. Riders that failed to crack the top ten but who still won a race included Jens Debusschere (Dawars Door), Alejandro Valverde (Flèche), Michal Kwiatkowski (E3), Marcel Kittel (Scheldeprijs), and last but certainly not least, Mat Hayman (Paris-Roubaix).

So hands up who guessed Peter Sagan might have finished first? He won it with ease on 104 points. 3 points better off than Alexander Kristoff last year. It’s scary to think how far ahead he might have been had he decided to give the Ardennes races a crack. I could be wrong but Sunday’s Liège–Bastogne–Liège looked made for him.

The Cobbled classics season ends but the Ardennes is still to come

Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix brought with it the end to the cobbled classic season, but what a run of races it was. We probably say that every year but I think I watched more intently this year than in any previous season and no time felt wasted. Eight major races in total and I watched them all, and throughout I kept a little league table on the sidebar of this site that I’ve now updated and completed. More on that below.

From the the Omloop Het Niewsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne in late February, followed by a slight break in proceedings as riders and teams accessed their form ahead of the quick succession of Flandrian races in late March and early April up to Flanders and Scheldeprijs, before Paris-Roubaix in early April brought us to the climax. There was high drama throughout spring that built to a crescendo for the Monuments of Flanders and Roubaix. New hero’s were made, new Monument men crowned and some old hero’s said goodbye. And, sadly, there was tragedy with the death of young Belgian rider Antoine Demoitié at Gent-Wevelgem.

Demoitié’s death naturally left a shadow over further racing, not to mention the awful terrorist attacks on Belgian soil in the days leading into Flanders, but the riders done their best to keep spirits up and put on a show for the fans throughout, and nobody can say they failed us.

We had the good early form of Greg Van Avermaet (winning at Omloop), followed by an injury at Flanders; the continued rise of young Belgian hopeful Tiesj Benoot before he himself crashed out of the Flandrian epic; the attempt by Fabian Cancellara to go out in style with one last big win but which fell short, though through no shortage of panache; wins for two other new Belgian hopefuls: Jesper Stuyven (Kuurne) and Jens Debusschere (Dwars Door); Michal Kwiatkowski out dueling Peter Sagan in a two-up sprint (E3); Sagan bouncing back (Gent-Wevelgem) to round into perfrect form for his first Monument win in brilliant style (Ronde Van Vlaanderen); Tom Boonen coming oh-so-close to making it five Paris-Rouabix wins only to be beaten on the line by the popular veteran Mat Hayman.

There was so much to soak up and digest, so much to talk about afterwords and so much to miss now that those races are over. But, unless you are from Flanders and thus lamenting the passing of this calendar, you’ve probably already looked ahead and quickly remembered that the Wallonia classics are right upon us. The beauty in the diversity of the cycling calendar: Something for everyone across a long season, and if you’re like me, enjoying each season within the season. From those early season stage races to these brilliant cobbled classics to the Ardennes classics to come, continued stage racing and into the summer with the Grand Tours.

So while it briefly felt like the end of Christmas when Mat Hayman took victory in the Roubaix Velodrome, the reality is that in the cycling season the day after boxing day is Christmas again. But before moving onto what’s to come in these spring classics, a look at how the top 10 in that Cobbled Classics league table played out. Remember, it was the eight races in which point distribution was equal: 25 points for the win, 18 for 2nd, 15 for 3rd and working down to 1 point for 10th…following the Formula One point format essentially. No bias on Monument races versus regular World Tour race versus 1.HC race; just a table to see who the most consistent cobbled performer was in 2016. I bet you’ve a fair idea who it was…

Final Cobbled Classic league table after 7 races:

1. Peter Sagan, 92 pts (2x 1st, 2x 2nd, 1x 7th)

2. Sep Vanmarcke, 49 pts (1x 2nd, 1x 3rd, 1x 4th, 1x 8th)

3. Fabian Cancellara, 42 pts (2x 4th, 1x 2nd)

4. Jasper Stuyven, 37 pts (1x 1st, 1x 5th, 1x 9th)

5. Edward Theuns, 25 pts (1x 3rd, 1x 4th, 2x 8th)

6. Jens Debusschere, 33 pts (1x 1st, 1x 6th)

T7. Alexander Kristoff, 30 pts (1x 2nd, 1x 4th)

T7. Ian Stannard, 30 pts (2x 3rd)

9. Greg Van Avermaet, 27 pts (1x 1st, 1x 8th)

10. Michal Kwiatkowski, 25 pts (1x 1st)

It’s been fun following this so I figure I might as well keep it going in a separate table tracking the spring classics as a whole. I’ll add in the already completed Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo and then continue with the four final hilly classics: Brabantse Pijl, Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège.

Sagan, Vanmarcke, Cancellara et al. won’t be racing those and new names will arrive in to take the spotlight. Can any of them win enough to make an impact on the standings? If Alejandro Valverde has the kind of run in the Ardennes that he did last year then he might feature though I think the only one that might threaten Sagan on the top of the standings is Kwiatkowski (already on 25 points) if he shines big time in what’s to come.

And we don’t have to wait long to start finding out. Brabantse Pijl is Thursday.

Below is the standings with Strande and San Remo added:

1. Peter Sagan, 104 pts
2. Fabian Cancellara, 67 pts
3. Sep Vanmarcke, 49 pts
4. Greg Van Avermaet, 45 pts
5. Alexander Kristoff, 38 pts
6. Jasper Stuyven, 37 pts
7. Edward Theuns, 35 pts
8. Arnaud Demare, 35 pts
9. Jens Debusschere, 33 pts
10. Ian Stannard, 30 pts

The cobbled classics league table

With yesterday’s Dwars door Vlaanderen I think it’s safe to say that the cobbled classic season is well and truly underway. Last month we had the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne to kick things off, and while I said at the time that those Belgian season openers gave off the feel of the road season truly getting underway, it’s now that we get into the thick of the northern classics action.

In many ways those first two cobbled races felt like a cobbled classic pre-season. A chance for the riders to stretch their legs in anger and get a feel for where their form was at before returning to training camps and stage races further south and a run at the Milan-San Remo, before returning back up to Belgian ready to fire once more. And all the while the excitement in the fans has been building as they study the form of various contenders to see who might make the biggest impact. All the usual names are trotted out, but who really is the most consistent across the bergs and pave of Flanders?

With that in mind I’ve decided to draw up a little league table for each of the main Belgian races in the Flanders region, as well as Paris-Roubaix, obviously. Rather than stick with the UCI points system that would see points being awarded to the majority who cross the finishing line, I’ve gone with the Formula One points system of 25 points for a win, 18pts for second and 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1 down to 10th place.

I thought about giving extra points for the Monument cobbled classics of Flanders and Roubaix, but in the end decided against it, if only to get a sense of the most consistent across the 8 races going back to the two in February. And I say 8 races because I’ve stuck with only those rated 1/2.HC and higher:

27 Feb: Omloop Het Niewsblad (1.HC)
28 Feb: Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne (1.HC)
23 Mar: Dwars door Vlaanderen (1.HC)
25 Mar: E3 Harelbeke (WT)
27 Mar: Gent-Wevelgem (WT)
03 Apr: Tour of Flanders (WT)
06 Apr: Scheldeprijs (1.HC)
10 Apr: Paris-Roubaix (WT)

Beyond this the racing moves from the Flanders region to the Ardennes and while I may well run a table for that too, there are just the four races: Brabantse Pijl (which is technically a transition single day race between Flanders and Ardennes but which tends to bring out riders from the later), Amstel Gold, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège. Perhaps then I could just combine them with the cobbled races or indeed include the Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo for an overall spring classics league table. We’ll see how this goes first.

Out of curosity I looked back at last year quickly and it would appear, as you might have guessed, that Alexander Kristoff ran out the winner with 83 points to Niki Terpstra in second on 54 points and Zdenek Stybar in third with 44 points. Kristoff’s wins at the Tour of Flanders and Scheldeprijs to go with his 2nd place at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne sealed it for the Norwegian.

And so onto this year. We’re three races in now and it’s yesterday’s Dwars door Vlaanderen winner, Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal) who is in the early lead thanks to also picking up a 6th place in the Omloop Het Niewsblad. Second to him is Jasper Stuyven (Trek), who won at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and got 9th in the Omloop, followed by Greg Van Avermaet who won the Omloop. Indeed Van Avermaet is my favourite to win this little league and if his attack yesterday had lasted 350m longer than it did, he’d have another 25 points to his name and already be on his way to wrapping it up!

While I shall keep the top 10 in Flanders/Cobbled classics league table active in the sidebar to the right, below too is a look at how that top 10 stand thus far:

1. Jens Debusschere (TLS), 33 pts
2. Jasper Stuyven (TSG), 27 pts
3. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), 25 pts
4. Peter Sagan (TSO), 24 pts
5. Edward Theuns (TSG), 23 pts
6. Alexander Kristoff (KAT), 18 pts
— Bryan Coquard (TDE), 18 pts
8. Nacer Bouhanni (COF), 15 pts
— Tiesj Benoot (TLS), 15 pts
10. Filippo Pozzato (SEV), 12 pts
— Luke Rowe (SKY), 12 pts
— Dylan Groenwegen (TLJ), 12 pts

King of Spring: 23 March – 27 April

It lasts little more than a month, but the spring classics are a race of two halves. The first half is the cobbled classics that suit the power riders like Fabian Cancellara, Peter Sagan and Tom Boonen, as well as the Milan-San Remo to begin spring. The later half is the more hillier Ardennes classics that bring into play men like Alejandro Vanverde, Simon Gerrans and Michael Kwiatkowski. While Cancellara scored top ten finishes in four of the first five spring classics this season, Valverde took until the sixth race to get on the board. Meanwhile Cancellara failed to feature after Paris-Roubaix. Different horses for different courses.

But who was the best, or at least the most consistent over the spring classics? Out of interests sake I went about listing the eight classics and using the Formula One points system of 25 points for first down to 1 point for 10th to find a top ten overall. The eight classics scored were Milan-San Remo, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Amstel Gold, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège and it was equal points for each race.

So below is the top ten best scorers over the eight spring classic races with their highlights in brackets and as you will see many of the names are predictable:

1. Niki Terpstra – 86 (1st Roubaix; 1st Dwars Door; 2nd E3)
2. Sep Vanmarcke – 76 (6x top 5s inc. 3rd Flanders; 4th Roubaix)
3. Alejandro Valverde – 70 (1st Flèche Wallonne; 2nd Liège; 3rd Strade)
4. Fabian Cancellara – 68 (1st Flanders; 2nd San Remo; 3rd Roubaix)
5. Peter Sagan – 67 (1st E3 Harelbeke; 2nd Strade; 3rd Gent-Wevelgem)
6. Michael Kwiatkowski – 65 (1st Strade; 3rd Flèche Wallonne; 3rd Liège)
7. Philippe Gilbert – 55 (1st Brabantse Pijl; 1st Amstel Gold)
8. John Dagenklob – 43 (1st Gent-Wevelgem; 2nd Roubaix)
9. Tom Boonen – 42 (1st Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne)
T10. Simon Gerrans – 40 (1st Liège–Bastogne–Liège; 3rd Amstel Gold)
T10. Tyler Farrar – 40 (2nd Dwars Door; 2nd Scheldeprijs)

Niki Terpstra it is then with his wins at Dwars Door Vlaanderen and Paris Rouabix, and his second place at E3 helping him along. He never raced in the hillier classics showing that his form in the cobbled classics was enough to keep him on top throughout despite a mighty showing in the Ardennes from Alejandro Valverde that took him up to third.

Only coming in 4th was Fabian Cancellara, though he would have finished higher if I had awarded more points for Monuments or kept it to World Tour classics only. What is staggering about Cancellara’s classic form, isn’t his consistency over the past two years but the fact that in the the last fourteen combined Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix since 2010, he has finished on the podium a staggering 12 times.

And just for interests sake, the last man to win a cobbled classic and an Ardenne classic in the same year, showing a wide range of ability, was Moreno Argentin in 1990 when he won the Tour of Flanders and La Fleche Wallonne in the one season. That alone shows just how defined the two halves of the spring classics season really are. And for what it’s worth, in 1995 Lauren Jalabert won the Milan-San Remo and Fleche Wallonne and later in 2000 Erik Zabel took Milan-San Remo and the Amstel Gold, but nobody since.

You have to go all the way back to 1984 to find the last man to win one of the monument cobble classics and the Ardennes’ Liège-Bastogne-Liège monument, and that was Irishman Sean Kelly when he took the Paris-Rouabix to go with Liège. Before him it was Merckx who done that three times (Flanders-Liège in ’69 and ’75 and Roubaix-Liège in ’73).

And while we’re on the subjct of Merckx; just to highlight his genius, consider this about that Cobbles classic/Ardennes classic double in the same year not last achieved since 1990: Merckx done it on five different occasions. (He also won a Grand Tour and Monument classic in the same year six times, and often multiples of each in the same year).

So is there anyone in the peloton today capable of winning a Cobble and Ardennes classic in the same year anytime soon? It’s hard to say. Perhaps Peter Sagan or Michael Kwiatkowski. Or Bradley Wiggins who having won the Tour in 2012 finished 10th in the first group behind the winner of the Paris-Roubaix and who looks set to once again focus on Paris-Roubaix next year.

An interesting little league table then and now spring is done and focus will turn towards the Grand Tour season and the sunshine of summer. I do love the diversity of the cycling season