Freeman Cebu Sports

Are the Classics boring?

Araneta Allez - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - The 2014 Classic season ended two weeks ago with Aussie Simon Gerrans winning Liege-Bastogne-Liege, a.k.a “La Doyenne,”  the oldest of all the Classics.

Like most early bicycle races, LBL was used as a vehicle to promote a newspaper, L’Expresse, a French worded paper that was circulated in the southern part of Belgium, in which French was the main language.

While the inaugural LBL was held in 1892, La Doyenne only celebrated its 100th edition this year after the two World Wars put the race on a “pause” mode. Being a part of the five monuments, LBL is more than 250 kilometers in length and its major difficulty are the longer and steeper climbs along the route, making the ideal rider in these races lightweight but explosive.

But instead of celebrating what was supposed to be an exciting two months of early season racing, I find it tough to make a sweeping dénouement that it was exciting. Sure, there were years when it could not level up to the previous years but this year is just different. Sticking-out-like-a-sore-thumb different.

The Ardennes races (Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallone & LBL) are tough, it’s a race of attrition, a race of those who can absorb the most punishment. Therefore, it follows that at the business end of the race, only a few riders will be left to contest for the podium. But to see 30 to 50 riders still in the hunt with a kilometer to go is just, to say it nicely, most unusual.

There are plenty of reasons why a large number of  riders are still in the end. One, the race could be too easy, which is not. One thing to keep in mind is that it’s the cyclists that make the race, not the route. Two, it could be that the anti-doping laws have created a level playing field, that athletes today are more or less at the same level. Third, with the playing field leveled, then the favorites would simply wait for the final difficulty of the race before making their moves. Think of watching last two minutes of a basketball game, and a boring 46 minutes!

Attacking from far  off is now almost a thing of  the past. In the three Ardennes races, the winner came from a group of  between 30-50, meaning Philippe Gilbert, Alejandro Valverde & Simon Gerrans, didn’t show their faces until the very end. Gone are the days when a 5-man breakaway would go on to win the race.

So the question on this: Is this the sport we want to see?

Finally, I’d like to congratulate my teammate, Christian Bernard “Super Ian” Entica (TEAM SKYLOGISTICS-DAVIS PAINTS) for winning two weekend crits in three weeks at the Mandaue Reclamation Area! Super Ian hasn’t been super in the last few year but he’s got his mojo back!......Last week, I watched a youtube.com video of Led Zeppelin receiving a 2012 award from the Kennedy Center Honors. In the crowd was the First Couple of the USA, Michelle and Barrack Obama, enjoying the sound of heavy metal, and a slew of the nations VIP’s. It got me thinking, would President Noynoy Aquino and the Manila’s elite come and honor Pepe Smith and the Juan dela Cruz band if and when they are honored?

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