Three Vans and a Can at Flanders
What messages did the riders have on their top tubes?
On top tubes of their bikes, riders often tape messages. Some are inspirational – like remembering a loved one or a hot model (otherwise known as the Cipo motivator) which give the rider that extra gear in the moment of need.
Others top tube messages are informative reminding the rider where a climb is located or, in the case of a stage race, the time splits of your rivals. In Sunday’s Tour of Flanders I can only imagine what the four breakaway riders of Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin Pro Cycling), and Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling) may have had taped to their top tubes.
As defending champion and race favorite, Spartacus knows his way around the Flanders region. Sure the course has changed from previous editions, with the Koppenberg climb now following the Kwaremont and the Paterberg hills, just 45 kilometers before the finish. Fabs might have posted to the top tube of his Trek bike the distance to the climbs, but I like to think he had other messages.
“Re-apply hair gel after fourth climb. Good hair day = podium.” Or maybe he was thinking of the 2013 Milan – Sanremo and had the message, “Don’t be a dumbass and give everyone a free ride to finish line” affixed on the top tube. Or maybe something was written in his native tongue of Fabianese, “You makeit better sprint than anyone! Spartacus!!!”
BMC Racing Team’s go-to guy for the Spring Classics is Van Avermaet. Looking at his 2013 results it’s no surprise: 3rd in Gent-Wevelgem, 7th in Flanders, and 4th in Roubaix. So no surprise to see the guy who deserved the “Most Aggressive Rider” award at Flanders, off the front early in the race. Also, no one was going to argue with you if you said the Belgian could win. But what may have been taped to Van Avermaet’s top tube?
“Second place is first loser,” might be a reminder that he’s been the bridesmaid one too many times in April. Maybe thinking back to the shit-show that was BMC’s recent Milan-Sanremo finish, “Don’t pull a Gilbert and sprint too soon.”
The other Van in the break was Stijn Vandenbergh. When I saw he had made the move I cringed. Not because I didn’t think he was just a lucky limpet that had sucked his front wheel onto the early break. No – it was because one of my cycling buddies is going to ask me about the race and I’m going to have to pronounce his name. Seriously – who gives their kid a name that includes a “j” followed by an “n”?!? Anyways, I digress...
At six foot, six inches, the Omega Pharma-Quick-Step rider towered above the rest of his companions. Is it me or does Omega Pharma-Quick-Step recruit a lot of over six-footers? Boonen is six foot three, Alessandro Petacchi is six foot, Andrew Fenn at six foot, Tony Martin six foot one inch, Gert Steegmans at six foot three inches. In fact, out of the OPQS