Sunday I was wondering why I had woken up early to watch Amstel Gold. I was slightly bored, tired and sore from crashing the day before. I held out no hope for the breakaway, even if it was two neopros. As the race neared its end I was ready for the uphill group sprint, as much as climbers can sprint that is. Then I watched Oscar Freire jump from the group and go up the road.
Its rare to see a sprinter go on the attack. The sprinter’s tactic is to sit in and wait for that moment just before the line. So what was this man doing?
Maybe he thought he could stay away for the last seven kilometers. Or he was prepping for the Worlds later this season. Doesn’t matter either why he was doing it. What matters is that he did it. There’s much ballyhooing about races not being exciting. Race organizers try to create ever harder courses. The UCI blames the lack of exciting racing on doping and race radios. Those things are factors to varying degrees. However, when it comes down to it, the responsibility for racing comes down to the racers and teams themselves.
That’s what got me excited about the racing on Sunday. Suddenly I was pulling for a rider who isn’t known for his ability to leave the peloton sucking his dust. He broke out of his mold and went for it. Though one could argue that he wasn’t full of belief since he kept looking back to see where everyone was.
I now understand the need to look back when trying to make your escape, but with a K to go? At that point your committed and you should just be going, regardless of who is coming after you. No?
Still it doesn’t matter. Oscar has his eye on a fourth world title, even though he’ll have teammates who are more than capable of taking the stripes themselves. If he wants those stripes, and another year to his career he’ll have to go after it without looking over his shoulder.
Still, a hat tip to the man known as “The Cat” for riding with some panache. It’s like David Millar said, sometime its about the way you loose.