Spring Classics 2015
A beginning of the racing season 2015 with too many CRASHES and BROKEN BONES, brutally knocking out some of the sure protagonists (Cancellara and Boonen above all, among others...), showed us a competitive and performance level lower than I expected, resulting in very controlled and tactical races, waiting for the last kilometers.
The only real athletic performance worth pointing out, in my opinion, was shown by the courageous Luca Paolini, the 38 year-old veteran, in a Gent-Wevelgem battered by rain and wind: he solitarily devoured the final 6 km in 6'30" (55 km/h!), vainly pursued by Terpstra and Thomas, with the other best riders arriving one by one, exhausted, across the finish line.
John Dagenkolb deservedly won both Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix with two sprint finishes that highlighted his endurance skills as a sprinter and that consolidated the progress shown in the last two seasons.
The level of both races seemed inferior to the best editions, with Poggio climbed in slow motion (due to the headwind) in 6'50", while on the cobblestones the lack of Cancellara and Boonen was felt a bit too much and whoever was supposed to replace them (Stybar, Van Avermaet, Vanmarcke, Kristoff, Sagan) performed less than expected.
A Tour of Flanders with too many crashes and sensational incidents was dominated by the strongest rider of the period: Alexander Kristoff, with brutal force and a chain constantly on the 11 sprocket in the final few kilometers, easily got rid of the most dangerous opponents and dominated the final sprint ahead of a good Terpstra, while Sagan found himself yet again without legs in the decisive moments of the race.
World champion Kwiatkowsky conquered Amstel Gold Race with a perfect sprint ahead of Valverde, but still showed his climbing limits both in the Fleche Wallonne and in the L-B-L.
Alejandro Valverde dominated the Ardennes races, opening the gas only in the last 100m of the Muur of Huy (climbed in 2'50", far from the fastest times) and confirming his clear superiority in Ans, easily controlling the final phases of the race and clearly imposing at the sprint over French revelation Julian Alaphilippe.
Valverde is thus confirmed as the ONLY rider currently capable of winning both the Classics and the Grand Tours.