Ian Stannard has the power

What? Are you saying that victory in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad doesn’t justify a He-Man reference? Well, maybe you’re right.

Or maybe you’re wrong.

British riders in the cobbled classics

For all that Britain is suddenly a Grand Tour powerhouse, the nation hasn’t had anything like the same success in one-day classics. This is somewhat surprising being as the terrain for these races is generally more similar to that found in Britain with short, sharp hills in place of long, boring mountain passes.

But maybe the era of underperformance is over. Following a strong showing in last year’s Milan-San Remo, I thought enough of Ian Stannard to name him one of my four British riders to watch this spring. He has rewarded me at the outset by taking the Omloop (that rather sounds like a euphemism for something – although I don’t know what).

What happened?

Actually, I’m not entirely sure. I was watching a Danish broadcast and I think something rather crucial happened while they were on a protracted ad break.

Stannard’s team-mate, Edvald Boasson-Hagen was in the lead group with about 15km to go. Stannard was in the group behind, but attacked and got away with Greg Van Avermaet, another rider I said you should watch in these cobbled races. At this point, there were some ads, after which they suddenly seemed to be paying rather more attention to Stannard and Van Avermaet than to the front group, even though the gap between them was actually growing.

With 1km to go, I deduced that the Brit and the Belge had actually gone past the lead group and were now in fact leading the race. Rather than falling further behind, the gap had actually been growing in their favour. Stannard started a long, steady sprint with a few hundred metres to go and Van Avermaet couldn’t get past him.

Why Stannard?

He’s just a big, strong bear of a man. A balding bear, but a bear nonetheless. A balding bear who can ride a bicycle. His special ability is ‘relentless power for hours at a time’ which means he’s often less knackered than other riders as the finish approaches because he’s been able to cycle within himself more than others. Stannard can’t really sprint by elite road cyclist standards, but when it comes to winning cobbled classics, sometimes all you need is operational legs in the closing kilometres.

Today, Greg Van Avermaet did not have the power.