End of the '07 Cobbles; LeFevere, Boonen

Apr 18 2007

What a fantastic week to be a native Anglophone! First O’Grady takes Roubaix, then Mark Cavendish clips a whole bunch of big names to take the Scheldeprijs. I am officially putting Chris Horner on the top of my Amstel favorites list. Of course, T-Mobile hasn’t been doing poorly, either. Cavendish’s win marks their second in the past seven days as well. Maybe I should tip Patrick Sinkewitz for Amstel instead, though if I apply the formula perfectly, I’m stuck with the unlikely candidate of Michael Barry.

It hasn’t, however, been a particularly good week, or even year, to be Patrick Lefevere. But, classy guy that he is, Tyrannosaurus Pat stood tall and placed the blame solely on his riders. Not Boonen, of course, who bailed on the Scheldeprijs with gimpy digestive tract, but recent acquisitions (from arch-rival Predictor-Lotto) Gert Steegmans and Peter Van Petegem. Pat went so far as to imply that recent Quick.Step departures (to non-arch rival teams) were far superior riders; maybe he’d have better luck asking Nuyens and Pozzato to sue Het Laatste Nieuws for him, too.

Returning to Tom Boonen, though, the Quick.Step captain certainly didn’t live up to his ’05’/06 standard this spring – which is really saying something, considering he still managed to win KBK, Dwars door Vlaanderen and the E3 Prijs. But on the big days, Flanders, Roubaix, and to a lesser extent, San Remo, he never had the breakaway power of old – and I wasn’t the only one to notice it.

While this brief interregnum has allowed for some younger riders to come to the fore (Burghardt, Ballan) what’s interesting is that no one rider stepped up into the power vacuum. For all his back problems, intestinal issues and back luck, Boonen was still the winningest rider over the pave this year, and in the long run, that may end up hurting his legacy.

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