The Changing of the Guard

ALLEZ - Jose Vicente ‘JV’ Araneta (The Freeman) - August 12, 2019 - 12:00am

(Part 1)

This 2019 professional cycling season is a watershed for the pro peloton. Never had I seen so may new stars appearing on the cycling landscape. It wasn’t over two years ago that I wrote about the dominance of Peter Sagan and that he would rule the peloton, on and off the road, for years.

But with a very poor 2019 season, because Peter spoiled us and made winning bicycle races look kindergarten, it looks as if Peter is going to be pushed aside by new talents. But I know he won’t just give in that easy.

Former Tour de France winners Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Vincenzo Nibali are spring chickens anymore so it would begetting more and more difficult to get that body in tiptop shape for three weeks.

Here are four new faces that will fight it out in the next few years.

1- Wout van Aert. WvA is 24yo and had started his career as a cyclocross rider. He would win three World Championships, three Belgian National Titles and ghost more of World Cup races. He started winning professional races in 2012, and he was 17yo at that time. WvA looks like a promising one day classics rider but it’s too early to classify his strengths as a rider at this point.

He won a time trial stage in the Tour last month and he won a sprint against a premier sprinter Tom Bennett in a major race. I think he still has to makeup what kind of rider he would want to be. While I think that he would still ride cyclocross in the early season, I think he’ll slowly decrease that load. Cross is popular in Belgium but road racing is international.

2 Mathieu van der Poel. If there is a rock star because of lineage, then the 24yo MvP is it. His father is Adri, used to be a cross and a road star, winning stages in the Tour. Adri also won the Tour of Flanders, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Amstel Gold and the World Road Cycling Championships to name a few of his very long pal mares. MvP’s maternal grandfather is Raymond Poulidour, winning 7 Tour stages and stood at the Tour podium 7 times! He would have been the first 7-Tour winner had his career not intertwined with the careers of Jaques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx.

Going back to Mathieu, his career follows with the career of WvA and the duo are dominating the cross races the past few years. He won the Worlds cross thrice, the Dutch nationals twice and a string of other cross’s.

He also won the MTB XC worlds this year. In every road races he joined (he chose his races well), he either won or placed high in the end. He would place 4th in Flanders and Ghent-Wevelghem and win three major one day races Dwars Door Vlaanderen, Brabantse Pijl and the GP de Denain.

His greatest moment was when he won Amstel Gold Race, a home race for Mathieu. With 1.5Ks to go, he was still 20sec behindhand  it looked like he was already out of the race but he chased back, carrying a small group with him and with just less than 100m, to go caught a trio led by Julian Alaphilippe and beat won his home home race in a very dramatic fashion. The Dutch went crazy!!! (To be continued)

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