Thursday, 22 March 2012

Milan San Remo 1

In which our intrepid heroine watches Milan San Remo, and gets stuck in as an armchair tactician.

It's almost impossible to watch a bike race and not embroil yourself in the drama of it all.  And even the least knowledgable amongst us (er, me, for example) can find themselves balls deep (metaphorically, obviously) in a full on dissection of the perceived tactics, or indeed perhaps lack of, of a certain team or teams.

And that's just what happened to me during Milan San Remo, when I found myself getting properly stuck in for the first time.  You see, I had fully expected Cav to romp it, and was looking forward to watching exactly that.  I bloody love Cav.  And I bloody love watching him win the shit out of a race.  So I felt pretty disappointed for him when he got dropped with about 90k to go.

But I disagreed massively with my fellow armchair DS's who leapt all over Team Sky's 'failure' on twitter the second it became clear Cav's race was over.  I became all high pitched and squeaky and defensive.  I shouted at the telly and I swore at my computer.

Is it important what I, or anyone else thought?  No, not really.  But I found it interesting how quickly people appeared to tear in to Team Sky, ready to pull their race to pieces.  Largely, the criticism centred around a general perception that Team Sky had risked it all on Cav and lost.  Failed to support other riders on their roster capable of delivering the win  This was, in general, defined as arrogance in both the rider and the team, a criticism of both Cav and Sky I have heard more than once.

And obviously, this is one I disagree with.  Why wouldn't they base their race around Cav?, I squeaked.   He's the world champion!, I squealed. He's won this before!, I bleated.  But what do I know?  I have no idea what Team Sky or any of the rest of them were up to.  I was not privy to the team talk, for all I know Brailsford looked up blearily from a can of Special Brew and said something along the lines of 'Fuck it, lads, sort it out amongst yourselves, I told you not to bother me 'til July' (the cyclist has cast doubt on the likelihood this scenario).  Or he said 'All for Cav, fellas, shut up and do what your told'.  Or 'Eddie, sneak up the road when no-one's looking, they won't suspect a thing'.

Of course, we could all accept that at this level, races for teams like this are run like military campaigns.  Tactics are planned far in advance, scenarios discussed and roles assigned and accepted.  Radios used to adjust the team according to what happens on the road, and to update the riders on the race they can't see, even on a minute by minute basis.  Riders are professional and obedient machines, wordlessly assenting to the next order as it arrives in their ear from the car.  They know what they're doing.

But where's the fun in that?

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