A Step Too Far? Paris Tours The Latest Race To Go Extreme | The Cycling Race News Show

Welcome back to the GCN Racing News Show – a
busy week in the world of pro cycling, Italy continues to build up to Il Lombardia with
the Giro dell’Emilia and the GP Beghelli, the sprinters have their showdown in the Munsterland
Giro, but don’t have it their own way in a revised Paris Tours – we’re asking if
organisers have gone a step too far with the course design this year. Top level cyclo cross resumes in Europe with
the Brico Cross series, whilst the final round of the Red Hook Crit took place in Milan,
with our very own James Lowsley Williams taking part. We shall begin this week with a discussion
around Paris Tours – one of the oldest classics in cycling. It began in 1896, and throughout it’s history
it has consistently re-invented itself. This year, that was in the form of gravel
roads, 9 sectors of the rough stuff through vineyards – organisers ASO clearly jumping
on the bandwagon, hoping to emulate the popularity of Strade Bianche, a race which has become
one of the season’s main attractions, despite being just 12 editions young. It certainly changed the race – Paris Tours
has, in the last few decades, been a race where sprinters have had their chance, where
the question of breakaway or bunch often hung in the balance until the final metres of the
race. This year, the sprinters had no chance, the
peloton was decimated with groups littering the road with still 50km’s remaining. Making the most of the conditions was Soren
Kragh Andersen – the Dane soloing to victory. A consummate display of skill and strength,
but he’d also taken advantage of a spat between Niki Terpstra and Benoit Cosnefroy,
the Dutchman seemingly more intent on seeing Cosnefroy lose than winning himself, although
he did win the sprint for second place, and the staring competition to boot. Before the race had even ended, though, it
became clear that not everybody was overly enamoured with the new route – Quickstep boss
Patrick Lefevre tweeted that his team wouldn’t be returning even if they won. Oliver Naesen said that the gravel was too
extreme, and more suited to a cyclocross event, his opinion backed up by the face that there
were so many punctures – Philippe Gilbert was among those that were affected, along
with Alex Dowsett, who’d formed part of the early break, and was clearly and understandably
frustrated with neutral service. On the other hand, Sep Vanmarcke clearly enjoyed
himself, comparing the race to Paris Roubaix, whilst winner Kragh Andersen was also a fan
of the route, although I guess that is to be expected. To be fair, in many ways, ASO have achieved
what they set out to do – we’re talking about it today after all, and we were talking
about it in the run up, anticipating the race, and I know many people were looking forward
to seeing how it all played it. But is it a bit of a freak show, an event
that you’re curious to watch just to see how good, bad or ugly it is? Is it a good test of skill, or does luck become
the deciding factor? Let us know your thoughts, are you a fan of
gravel, or, was this a step too far, a gimmick which meant that, rather ironically, the race
lost it’s identity? Let us know in the comments section below
*pause* and in the poll on the screen right now. The race marked the end of the road, and gravel,
for Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel. At 39, he will hang up his wheels having ridden
the Tour de France 18 times, taking three stages and spending two days in the yellow
jersey. Above all though, he can be hugely proud of
the respect he has garnered from fans, and from those within the sport, congratulations
to Sylvain, who is this week’s GCN Rider of The Week. Congratulations too, to Jeremy Roy, who was
also riding his last race at Paris Tours – he spent his entire 15 year career in the same
team, FDJ. Retiring for completely different reasons
is Tanguy Turgis. Just 19 at the time, Turgis was the youngest
rider at this year’s Paris Roubaix, where he finished a very credible 42nd. Recent tests have revealed a heart abnormality
that will force him to call a premature end to his promising career. The announcement felt particularly poignant,
when, just hours later, we heard the terrible news that the young Belgian Jimmy Duquennoy
had passed at home on Friday after a cardiac arrest. His team, WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic, understandably
took the decision not to race Paris Tours yesterday. A minute’s silence was held in honour of
Duquennoy, and it goes without saying that we’d like to extend our sincere condolences
to his family, friends and teammates. One race that has remained true to it’s
roots, albeit a much younger event, is the Munsterland Giro. This year’s event finished with a vastly
reduced sprint after crosswinds saw some major splits in the peloton. Upsetting the favourites was Max Walscheid
of Team Sunweb – a Giant win in more ways than one – he got the better of John Degenkolb
and Nils Politt on an all German podium. Down in Italy, racing resumed on Saturday
with the Giro dell’Emilia – a climbers classic which finishes the 5th time up the brutal
San Luca climb, 2km’s long with an average gradient of over 10%. Alessandro De Marchi spent a decent amount
of those final laps out front on his own, a move which looked futile but which ultimately
paid off – the Italian held of Rigoberto Uran and teammate Dylan Teuns to take the first
one day win of his career. Absent from the race was newly crowned world
champion Alejandro Valverde, but he has revealed his new jersey, and we will see that debuted
at Tre Valle Varesini tomorrow, a race which we have live on Facebook. For the second year in succession the sprinters
were foiled at the GP Beghelli – Bauke Mollema tried, tried, and then tried again, and eventually
it worked. He went clear with 2km’s remaining and held
on to take a solo win, ahead of Carlos Barbero of Movistar, who led home what was left of
the bunch. Cyclocross returned to it’s spiritual home
of Belgium at the weekend with two events from the Brico Cross series, which we were
very happy to bring you live over on our Facebook page. The first of those was in Meulebeke, which
I have to say looked like a particularly fun course – there, the dominant forces in the
discipline, Sanne Cant and Mathieu Van Der Poel, showed their class to take the win in
their respective categories. For Cant, it was a display of sheer determination,
she attacked Ellen Van Loy close to the finish, and managed to hold it in a drag race to the
line. Van Der Poel, meanwhile, went clear earlier
on, although he only really secured the win on the final lap, where he rode through the
sandpit for the only time in the race. 8 seconds in arrears at the finish was World
Champion Wout Van Aert. The following day in Ronse, Marianne Vos made
her return to competition and to winning ways, coming home 10 seconds in front of Alice Arzuffi,
whilst in the men’s, it was a repeat one two from the previous day, meaning that Van
Aert has now finished 2nd at his first four races of the season. This is a good opportunity to let you know
what’s coming up on our Facebook page this week – tomorrow, Tuesday, we have live coverage
of Tre Valle Varesini down in Italy, and we’ll also have highlights of Milano Torino, Gran
Piemonte and Il Lombardia. On Saturday, we have the next round of the
Brico Cross series from Gieten, where I will be joined by Beth Crumpton, and then on Sunday
we have a double header – the Hammer Series Hong Kong, and the first round of the Superprestige
from Lokeren, which is available live, worldwide, to everywhere except Belgium and the Netherlands. We’ve put some links in the description
below so that you can set reminders of what’s coming up. Meanwhile, a little further north in Italy,
the final round of the Red Hook Crit took place in Milan. As I mentioned, Hank was there competing for
the first time, and he did surprisingly well – stay tuned for a full video here on GCN
very soon. The event sees riders flying around a tight
city centre circuit, on fixed gears with no brakes. Filippo Fortin is making a bit of a name for
himself in these races, he took a convincing sprint win in the men’s event, made all
the more remarkable by the fact that he’d slipped well down the field at the start after
struggling to clip in. In the women’s event, Rachel Barbieri remains
unbeaten. That’s 3 starts and three wins now for the
Italian. Before we finish for today, there have been
a couple of significant contracts signed in the last week – firstly, Egan Bernal, one
of the hottest climbing prospects we’ve ever seen, has inked a 5 year deal with Team
Sky, whilst Giant have, somewhat confusingly, signed with BMC. That team will be known as CCC Team, but Giant
will also provide bikes to their development squad, and their subsidiary Liv to the CCC
Liv women’s team. And finally, the UCI have announced that the
World Championships in 2022 will take place in Wollongong, on the East coast of Australia. OK, that’s all for this week – I hope to
have your company for our live races over the next week. *Pause* Before that, though, if you’d like
to see whether or not Oli managed to complete his Everesting attempt, click down here. Think of the most you’ve ever suffered,
and then multiply it by 10.