Jakob Fuglsang hammers a twist into the tale of the 2019 Spring Classics
At one point this season, the story of the spring classics was that Julian Alaphilippe had won every one-day race he’d entered, except for the ones Mathieu van der Poel had ridden, which had been won by van der Poel.
The subplot would have been that Jakob Fuglsang had been Mr Third-Best, finishing second to Alaphilippe in Strade Bianche and also La Fleche Wallonne.
But then the Dane flopped the old chap out and pissed all over that plot.
Ardennes Week – part two
Let’s go all Quinton Tarantino and start our Ardennes Week coverage with the middle race, La Fleche Wallonne.
La Fleche Wallonne finishes on a very steep hill called the Mur de Huy and it is generally won by whoever rides up it most quickly. This year Julian Alaphilippe and Jakob Fuglsang were quicker than everyone else and Alaphilippe was fractionally quicker than Fuglsang.
Ardennes Week – part one
The Dutch one-day race is the one that everyone will remember from this season because of its bonkers finish.
Dutch national champion Mathieu van der Poel is primarily a cyclo-cross rider. (Cyclo-cross is winter bike racing in muddy fields and van der Poel is world champion.)
This year, he thought he’d do a few spring one-day races to warm up for his country’s biggest race. He won most of them, which was pretty eye-catching. He also finished fourth in the Tour of Flanders, which was also pretty eye-catching.
Then he won Amstel Gold and that was highly eye-catching.
In the closing kilometres, who else but Julian Alaphilippe and Jakob Fuglsang were out ahead on their own. Michal Kwiatkowski was a little way behind bearing down on them and then a larger group containing van der Poel was about a minute behind.
Kwiatkowski caught the front two, but inside the final kilometre the van der Poel group still had a gap to close. At this point everyone in the group stopped helping him and so he had to close that gap all on his own, towing a great group of lazy riders in his wake.
Remember the first rule of cycling: it’s easier to ride behind someone else. Van der Poel closed the gap on the final straight but he was the one man who’d not had any recent shelter. Undeterred, he immediately started sprinting. No-one could match him.
It was a spectacular win and Van der Poel will apparently celebrate by not racing on the road again this year. He’s got his heart set on mountain bike gold at next year’s Olympics, so he’s going to focus on that.
Ardennes Week – part three
Liege-Bastogne-Liege is the biggest of the three Ardennes Classics. It is one of cycling’s five Monuments.
Oblivious to narrative, Jakob Fuglsang won it.