Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Paris-Roubaix 2010

Paris—Roubaix is the one endurance event where all the sporting clichés about "war" and "battle" almost seem to ring true: the cameramen shoot the cyclists from the ground up, dangling the lens inches from the speeding cobbles, so they appear huge, like Japanimation giant robots; the yellow-and-black flags stand out straight in the wind; the trees are leafless; the sun (if there is sun) is broken by dramatic cloudbanks; the light is tragic. You can imagine what the countryside would have looked like hundreds of years ago, as armies marched across it towards their intimate, inelegant slaughter.

The battle of Paris—Roubaix is also inelegant. It is a race decided by force and luck, the kind of contest that scrappy baseball players look at, smirk, and comment upon with a whistle, saying "I'd rather be lucky than good any day." Of course, the rejoinder goes, it's nice to be lucky and good. Poor George Hincapie, his decade of attempts probably closed, usually came with the good part figured out, but had to rely upon his shit luck. Fabian Cancellara was so good that he didn't have to rely upon luck at all—like the greatest ones, he made his own "luck" by being just so much better than everyone else.

Triathletes love Fabian Cancellara—he rides bikes that look familiar to us, and he rides them the way we like to ride them (big power, full on, no thought of tomorrow—he's a hammerhead). But Cyclocrossers love him too—witness the skills on display at The Tour of Flanders, skills he showed again while changing his bike right before blowing the field to pieces in Northern France. With the hallowed double under his belt, should all the tri-geeks be worried about FC showing up in Kona in 2011, instead of another dominant cyclist?

1 comment:

Nat Herz said...

Dude, does anybody not like Cancellara? He is a god among men...