Monday, April 11, 2011

With Panache Second IS Winning

It's been 24 hours now and most of the pave dust has settled back into the Flanderian farmlands for another cycling season. But with a week before we move on to the Wallonne it's worth considering the cobbles one last time - and the superman efforts and "strategerie", as our former President would have called it, of perhaps one of the finest "old school" cyclist of our time - Fabian Cancellara.

I say old school with great affection here. To me old school means 'panache', it means having the cojones to attack and make racing your bike what it is - fun! And when you are done it means knowing you gave everything and being incredibly proud of that.

Ya ya, I know it's professional, and sponsors pay for wins, and contracts are based on doing your job, but for heaven sake it's also about riding your bike. And that's why we love guys like Jens Voigt and Gilbert and Cancellara - they love riding their bike, they have panache. Somewhere along the line they found the old mold and discovered it wasn't broken. Ya know, the one that created Bernard Hinaut and Eddy Merkx, Fausto Coppi and Henri Pélissier.

"Cancellara’s biggest error was undoubtedly his performance in E3. It sounds perverse but did he need to show his hand that early, did he need to demonstrate such dominance in a race of mediocre importance? From that moment on, he moved from being Cancellara the favourite to being Superman, and every team, every rival, based their tactics not perhaps on their strengths but on his weaknesses."

Maybe Cancellara would argue there is no "race of mediocre importance". Cycling may be the one sport in the world where second is a winner: because it's done with panache - exploding out of a group of wheel-suckers (including the rainbow jersey wearer) to bridge a seemingly insurmountable gap to the remainder of the break group, then blow them away to finish second. Panache IS winning.

It would be interesting to the Cannibal's take on "biggest error."

The kids at CyclingNews went on to add -
"Yet it’s still hard to be critical of a rider who was essentially riding as a one-man team. The CN staff joked about letting him ride the TTT at this year’s Tour de France by himself this July. We stopped laughing once we realised he could actually win." -

Yes, I think the boy could knock off several other entire teams. Not because he is fast, which he is, nor because he is insanely strong, which he is, but because he would try it - he has panache!

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