Monday, April 12, 2010

Paris-Roubaix Revisited

Scott sends me the following link that will allow cycling fans to look back over the years of Paris-Roubaix, won this weekend in dominant fashion by Fabian Cancellara (the best cyclist most Americans have never heard of; perhaps the best rider of this generation).

Here are the video clips of Paris-Roubaix going back to the 1940s.

7 comments:

Jeremy said...

I'll call out the snobbery in an otherwise good post.

"...the best cyclist most Americans have never heard of..."

And Asashōryū Akinori is probably the greatest Yokozuna most Americans have never heard of. So, what?

Blog about the sports you love, but save the condensation for your undergrads.

end rant.

Ophir Sefiha said...

Great post.

Not snobbery, the difference is that unlike Sumo, North Americans have been major players in the sport for 25+ years.

I don't see how pointing out a lack of recognition is equated with snobbery. Seems to me more an observation of the insular nature of much domestic sport journalism.

SM Sprenger said...

The third clip in color exposes the absolute treachery of this race: guys are falling spontaneously for no apparent reason.

I visited La Trouée d'Arenberg section during my last visit to Valenciennes: the wet, mossy stones were slippery enough just walking. Add to that the bumps and huge gaps of the unevenly placed stones and you get a sense of the danger of this race.

Jeremy said...

Scott brings up an interesting point, one that I'd like to see developed further: The dangers of cycling and at what point participation is irrational.

(Hey, they debated whether ice dancing was a sport, why not debate this?)

I was a support driver for the Tour of Utah in 2005, and I was the #1 car behind the disastrous pileup at the Eagle Mountain stage finish line. That was enough to convince me to never race competitively. My interest in professional cycling has consistently declined since then. On charity rides, I will drop from pacelines that get too hairy. Am I rational or overly cautious?

SM Sprenger said...

Is there a contradiction between rational and overly cautious?

I got a sense of the dangers of pelotons at Longchamps in Paris when a pigeon jumped onto the road. This minor, unpredictable event triggered a chain reaction that ended up taking out about 60 riders going full bore at 25+ mph. Luckily I was able to stay upright and pull away, although I could feel the pressure of someone's wheel tilting me to the left. When I broke loose I glanced back at mangled bikes, bodies and blood. I stayed away from the group after that--way too risky at my age.

Jeremy said...

That's the point. You reasoned that the damage to life and property wasn't worth the benefit of riding in the group. You see yourself as rational in that decision. However, that same reasoning would place you at a competitive disadvantage. So what criteria do we use to make that judgment? (I'm not satisfied with my criterion of "it freaked me out.")

I once rode Tibble Fork with another grad student (who's now a prof in the school of eng & tech). While he was in much better condition than I, some of the things I saw him do were completely irrational to me. But he could look at my timid riding as overly cautious.

Even if I was in Olympic from, I would never ride Flanders or Paris-Roubaix because of the cobblestone segments. It just wouldn't be worth it to me. But I am sure there are many people who would take that chance if it were presented.

Corry Cropper said...

What's impressive about Cancellara is that he rides so powerfully over the cobbles, his momentum is so great, that he takes at least some of the danger out of it.

He is so strong, in fact, that he snapped his chain climbing a "mur" in the Tour of Flanders (?) last year.

Or maybe his chain was just junk....