Thursday, 19 April 2012

The end is nigh...

...well at least the end of the Ardennes week, and the Spring classics.

If you think that the weather hasn't been too favourable this April, one only has to look back to 1980 when Liege-Bastonge-Liege was raced in blizzard conditions on April 20th.  It was so cold and frozen that only 21 of the 174 riders who set off from Liege made it back.  This edition has become one of the top major classic races in recent history.  After two riders, Rudy Prevenage and Ludo Peeters, broke clear and gained 2mins on the frozen remnants of the peloton, Bernard Hinault and 2 others gave chase for 20km through the blizzard conditions.  Once the escapees had been caught, Hinault rode away into the snow to cover the remaining 80km alone in the blizzard.  By the finish, Hinault had a lead of over 9 minutes on the next rider home, and the average speed was just below 22mph!

Apparently it took over 2 weeks for Hinault's hands to thaw out, and to this day he has problems with the feelings on some of his fingers.

Hinault presses on to Liege
The forecast for this weekend in Belgium isn't anywhere near as bad as then, but another classic race like last year will no doubt unfold - who'd have thought that the Schlecks would mess up the finish like that and allow Fast Phil to complete a week of victories in the Ardennes. 

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