Tour of Flanders 2004
Just like the teeth of a comb, the 18 muurs drew the profile of the 88th Tour of Flanders.
Rendered all the more difficult by six flat pavè sections, the race saw a tight wind all day long, often blowing sideways on the direction of the riders.
A total of 15 kilometres' steep climbing, half of pavè, that were performed at "SuperSoglia" intensities (above anaerobic threshold). I was always able to check VAM values of between 1800 and 2000 m/h, corresponding to power expressions between 6-7 watts/kg.
While such intensities rapidly "devour" muscular glycogen stores, sparing energies and feeding properly during the race becomes imperative, trying to avoid unnecessary and untimely efforts.
The big favourites disappointed all the expectations: Van Petegem and Museeuw were certainly not on a "good day"; a fidgety and showy but not so effective "Grillo" Bettini; a very energised yet too lone in his actions George Hincapie; an unlucky Vandenbroucke in the crucial moments (with a puncture); and a Bartoli who never really got into the heart of the race.
A negative performance then from the whole Quick.Step team, in a Tour of Flanders tactically dominated by Lotto-Domo and T-Mobile.
The German team, apart from winning the day with the excellent Wesemann (finally conquering one of the great Classics!), did put under the spotlight the very efficient Sergei Ivanov and was eventually able to place two other riders in the top ten.