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Panache: Part Two
At the start of the season I wrote an open letter to the sport of road racing. The letter called for more 'panache' from racers: more daring, flamboyant exploits, more spirit and more risk-taking to excite us.
We are now half way through the 2011 season with the early races, classics and one grand tour already behind us. I thought it would be interesting to take stock and look back at the moments of panache that have inspired me so far this season.
Here is my Panache 10 from 2011:
1. Thomas De Gendt | Paris - Nice, stage 1.
Vancansoleil rider Thomas De Gendt has enlivened racing throughout this season with frequent attacks and breakaways. Away in a break of three on the first stage of Paris Nice, the Belgian resisted the charge of the peloton to take a brave and surprising victory.
2. Thomas Voeckler | Paris - Nice, final stage.
We have become used to Voeckler's attacking style of racing. But his audacious attack on the final descent of Paris Nice (to win his second stage of the race) showed supreme confidence and spirit. He has done the tricolour national jersey proud.
3. Fabien Cancellara | E3 Prijs
Panache and total domination tend not to go hand in hand. But Cancellara's repeated attacks and lone 18km ride to the finish were so impressive that they gave this performance beauty and character to go with the superhuman power.
4. Geraint Thomas | Tour of Flanders
Thomas is still relatively new to the classics, but he rode like a naturalised Belgian at Flanders. First, he pulled Flecha back to the head of the race single handed. Then, with eight kilometres to go, he found himself at the front of the race, fighting it out with the heads of state - Gilbert, Boonen, Cancellara, Nuyens et al. Thomas showed spirit way beyond his experience this year.
5. Philipe Gilbert | Liege-Bastogne-Liege
Gilbert nailed his colours to the mast in January. He wanted to win in Liege as the course of 'La Doyenne' passes through his home town. Some said such a long, hilly classic was beyond him. But on the day Gilbert was supreme monitoring all the moves before destroying the Schleck brothers on the climb of Saint Nicholas to complete the Fleche/Amstel/Liege treble. Panache personified.
6. Vincenzo Nibali | Giro d'Italia, stage 15
Stage 15 of the Giro had it all. The greatest day of stage racing this year, for my money. You could make a good case for Garzelli getting the prize for panache. His long, lone break was inspiring. But Vincenzo Nibali showed all the character and risk-taking you could want. Dropped on the monstrous Fedaia/Marmolada climb, he threw himself down the other side and made up over three minutes on the descent to catch the group of favourites. Nibali even had the temerity to attack the group as soon as he caught them, before being blown away again on the final climb. Breathtaking.
7. Jack Bobridge | 4000m individual pursuit world record
A controversial one, this. As a rule, I'm not a great fan of track racing. But the way Bobridge (or 'Jacky Bobby') destroyed Chris Boardman's long standing world record in Sydney, using a 'non superman' position, was awesome. You would never know from his unassuming manner that this 21 year old neo pro is already the fastest man in the world over 4km.
8. Alex Dowsett | Smithfield Nocturne - London
Dowsett set central London alight at the Nocturne this year, riding away on the first loop and lapping almost the entire field to win. It was exciting, audacious and very impressive. Unfortunately it meant that our team has still not won the event that Rapha Condor created back in 2007.
9. Damiano Cunego | Tour de Suisse, stage three
I've always had a soft spot for the little prince, but he has disappointed for years. On the stage to Grindlewald this year he fired out of the peloton half way up the final climb, caught and dropped the breakaway group before the summit, then shot down an incredibly technical and dangerous descent to take the race lead at the finish. Cunego stamped his personality onto the race in a way that is all too rare.
10. There is no number 10…yet.
Honestly, I only have nine great moments of panache from the season so far. Here's hoping for at least one more in the next three weeks…
- RT @rapharacing: A Rapha travel set is up for grabs in Alpe D'Quiz today, featuring a luxurious Rapha Skincare bundle and Wash Bag. → http:…
- Somewhat late to the party, but be sure to check out the film to the recent Gentlemen's Race in… http://t.co/RMZUDuxWRc
- A Rapha travel set is up for grabs in Alpe D'Quiz today, featuring a luxurious Rapha Skincare bundle and Wash Bag. → http://t.co/3n8XlqiNYq
- Cool to see our friends @chriskingbuzz representing in the mix of the elite men's race. #mycielo Parbo! http://t.co/L8g8gNofyR
- The masked man on the cyclocross course today was @jeremypowers. It was that cold. http://t.co/KztIjCYu4O
- Calm and confident on the snow - Katerina Nash is off to an early lead. http://t.co/8TynNP7Nho
- Mr. McDonald's tire choice for today's snowy conditions. Can you guess his PSI? http://t.co/2iHgOw6sUw
- They reopened the ice covered fly-over here in Bend. http://t.co/6xOs5BSd0W
- River City Bicycles racer Ryan (Dream) Weaver 2_wicked_awesome powered his way to a chilly 2nd in the… http://t.co/HDDjDnS99w
- Meanwhile over in Bend, Oregon it is a bright, crisp day for cyclocross racing. http://t.co/6lcDQK5UNX