Boonen in Paris Nice before disaster
Pro cycling just received some terrible and depressing news. No, not the publication of the 227 page CIRC report on doping in cycling’s dark recent past.
No, that was a predictable bummer but really, nothing earthshaking and fairly short on legal implications — are Bjarne Riis and Alexander Vinokourov to be removed from power? Really don’t thing so.
And at this point in all our lives, does anyone care if there’s yet more evidence Patrick McQuaid was a corrupt hack and that previous UCI press Hein Verbruggen gave Lance Armstrong all the special treats he required? That was pretty obvious years ago.
No, the horrible newsflash is that Tom Boonen crashed out of stage one in Paris-Nice, dislocating a shoulder AC joint and thus effectively crashed out of the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubiax and wrecking what many experts were trumpeting as the final clash of two cycling titans: Boonen and Fabian Cancellara.
We at Twisted Spoke are officially in mourning and wearing black lycra and looking at our accumulated supply of Belgian beer with a tear in our eye. A stupid crash at the back of the peloton 20k from the finish in Paris-Nice effectively destroyed the monster match-ups of Spring. Niki Terpstra is a nice diversion for Etixx-Quickstep but who has their heart and soul wrapped up in a Niki-Fabian showdown?
Boonen and Cancellara have lately been on a crash schedule that puts one of them out of contention every season. Meanwhile the uninjured superstar cleans up in the cobbled classics and everybody is thrilled but still wishing the other half of the show was there.
Sticking to the crash schedule, it was Boonen’s turn last season and he delivered. He crashed out of Flanders, with damage to his left hip and elbow that kept him out of Paris-Roubiax. The year before it was Cancellara who crashed out of Flanders and missed Roubaix. Sadly, Boonen has now ignored the schedule and removed himself from contention two years in a row — which is yet another sign of aging — becoming a consistent victim of dumb ass crashes.
Boonen is 34, missing most of his hair (thus the compensatory beard) and has two young kids. Cancellara admits his career is hitting fade and needs his teammates now to help him win a last classic or two.
All that to say that 2015 was to be the final showdown, last curtain, one more brutal run over the stones for two fantastic gladiators.
What would be nice is if McQuaid had shattered his hip in a tumble down some stairs and Verbruggen had tripped and fallen onto the tracks of a high speed train. We would happily accept those injuries in the knowledge that Boonen was on track for his throw-down with Cancellara. That would have been sweet news on several fronts.