Recently there has been a lot to talk about in terms of the pro cycling scene. Three of the five monuments have been contested with some impressive performances and some riders have notably underperformed. This is the season of the classics where the really tough men come to the fore and the strongest or wiliest take glory in some of cycling's most prestigious events. For this post I will focus solely on the three monuments that have already been raced, the first being Milan-San Remo then last week's Tour of Flanders and Sunday's Queen of classics: Paris-Roubaix.
Milan-San Remo looked intriguing as Cavendish was dropped due to sustained high speed forced by BMC, Omega Pharma- Quick Step and Liquigas-Cannondale and with his threat nullified the race was more open as a sprint would not by a forgone conclusion. However a bunch sprint was not on agenda as powerhouses Cancellara, Gerrans and Nibili broke from the pack over the Poggio. Their advantage was secure as they stormed the descent. Both Cancellara and Nibili being renowned as two of the best descenders in the world they tantalizingly close for the Sagan led peloton at the finish. This left the three man break away to duel it out between them for the first monument crown of 2012. Gerrans was the one to time his attack perfectly narrowly beating Cancellara he became the second Australian in as many years to win this historic race.
The Peloton then moved north to Flanders for the arrival of the new lion of Flanders; Tom Boonen. The cobbled hills were tackled by the decisive break away of Boonen, Ballan and Pozzato. The three snapped of the front of the pack and created an insurmountable time difference to leave a three way battle towards the finish. Ballan, knowing he could not win a sprint against the other two riders, tried repeatedly to sprint from trio. However, Boonen was not in the mood for letting Ballan slip away from him, he ferociously grabbed Ballan's rear wheel on every attempt. Then the man of the day had to watch Pozzato and like a track sprinter he barely took his gaze from the resurgent Italian. When the moment came he was powerful and passionate to take a sixth monument title and his third in this event equaling the all time record for wins in this tough classic.
However, Boonen overshadowed his own achievement a week later in the grandest of monuments. His win in Paris-Roubaix was one of the most impressive cycling performances in a long while and definitely this year. With around 55km to go he and his Omerga Pharma-Quick Step teammate Terpstra broke from the front of the pack with a group containing Flecha and Ballan chasing after Pozzato took a nasty fall which will hurt him a lot considering he was already riding with a broken collarbone against the doctor's advice. Terpstra quickly fell from Boonen's wheel and fled back to the chasing group leaving Boonen alone with over 50km to go. However Boonen flew over the bone-shaking cobblestones and never looked uncertain about his ambitious attack averaging thirty over the rough terrain and with the lion of Flanders banner in the crowd so often he made his advantage stick to win his fourth Paris-Roubaix.
Boonen is currently top of the world rankings and he has dominated the spring classics and recently become only the 26th rider ever to reach a career total of 100 pro wins. He may be looking at the Olympics as his next target and if he can replicate this form he will definitely irritate Cavendish and Great Britain. In the other Monument Gerrans has helped further Australian success and they seem a dominant force in that particular spring classic.