|Ballan draws out Pozzato and Boonen for a decisive break on the Paterberg. (Photo from steephill.tv)|
Then I watched the recaps and read the articles, and thought, "Maybe it's just as well."
First, the directors deleted my favorite cobbled hill (everyone's favorite cobbled hill) from the course. Supposedly, this makes the race harder. Well and good, but it also robs it of classic Flandrian moments moments such as these from the previous two editions of this storied race. (Scroll down, once you're there.)
Next, there was Fabian Cancellara's sad, anticlimactic crash in the feed zone, which broke his collarbone and probably knocked him out for months. Seriously? In the food zone?
No Cancie-Boonen show-downs?? What can Flanders or Roubaix be without that feature? There is no joy in Mudville; mighty Cancie has crashed out. (Mudville -- get it? Roubaix? Yeah... I know.)
With all that, I did quite enjoy the very velodromic cat-and-mouse game that the three clear leaders of the day played with each other in the last kilometer, swerving from shoulder to shoulder, playing at sprints and being reeled in, marking, marking... and then, BOOM, they're off to the races! Very nice finish, indeed.
And I'll add that I have always rooted for Boonen in Flanders; it seems only natural for for a local strongman like him to take the top of the podium for a record third time. I'm glad for him and his countrymen.
All's well that ended well, after all. And that will be my last Shakespeare reference of the day. (Did you catch the other one?)