O’Grady talks weird about Garmin and Paris-Roubaix.

O'Grady. Yeah, weird,

Stuart O’Grady of Leopard-Trek gave his reflections on Paris-Roubaix for Velonews. The Fighting Freckle is a class act, straight ahead guy and the 2007 winner of the Hell of the North.

That said, we had to disagree about his comments about the tactics of Garmin-Cervelo. O’Grady’s remarks: “They rode a fantastic race in the end. They had to lift their game and they did. And they won the race. But I have to admit, some of their tactics were pretty weird.”

Weird? They won the Queen of the classics against a stronger, more dominant rider who was 100% on form, aggressive and confident.

Sure, as Stuey rightly notes, Thor Hushovd on the podium in Paris-Roubaix wearing the rainbow jersey would have been sweet. We also can’t disagree with his feeling that you don’t get that many shots at winning the race and Thor did indeed have a shot.

Still, the “weird” word made us shake our head. Ultimate goal in race: take a victory for the team. Hushovd was the team leader and the ideal choice but race tactics and strategy against a super-human rider like Superman dictated a change of plan and a range of options.

The French always dream of winning with panache or losing in some brilliant and poetic way. Jonathan Vaughters isn’t as interested in those two scenarios as just winning with anybody in a Garmin-Cervelo jersey. So Van Summeren went early, got in the break, then powered away for the solo win. Chapeau, deal done.

A weirder tactic would have been Hushovd helping Cancellara chase down his own man, a guy with fantastic legs on the day, who’d proven to be a skilled cobblestone rider. Anyone who watched Flanders or Roubaix last year or E3 this year or the two massive accelerations Cancellara put in on the Hell of the North this year could never argue truth numero uno: never tow Cancellara anywhere at any time.

The goal isn’t to be the strongest man in the race, it’s to win the race with whatever card you have to play. You could argue weird tactics for BMC and Ballan in a post-race sorta way. But an experienced professional like O’Grady knows the rules of the game.

It might have been unexpected or disappointing that O’Grady’s teammate Cancellara didn’t win this year’s Paris-Roubaix. But it sure as hell wasn’t weird.

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  • Jennifer Knecht

    Nicely put. I have quickly grown weary of all the criticism and negative comments about how the race was won (I hope to never hear the terms "negative racing" and "wheel sucking" again). It unfortunately very much detracts from a wonderful win by a deserving cyclist. Paris-Roubaix 2011 should be the race that Johan Van Summeren won (and deserved to win), not the race that Fabian Cancellara lost (b/c everyone supposedly played dirty against him). I'm certainly not an expert on professional cycling, but for those pros who talk about "honor" in how you win, there is also honor is how you handle losing. One of the things I respect about J. Vaughters is that he doesn't make excuses or blame other teams when Garmin doesn't do as well in a race as is expected of them. So good for Garmin for the win, and hopefully their success will continue.

  • David

    Here, here! Garmin's tactics were textbook perfect. Domestiques go in breaks precisely for this opportunity. If breaks were routinely chased down by their own teammates, domestiques would have hardly any reason to race (other than a decent paycheck for riding a bike).

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

      Vaughters is a good writer — he used to knock off a piece about training for Cyclesport back in the day. So yeam, he knows the textbook and they read it perfectly. Thanks for writing in. Matt

  • Jason Crawford

    For what it's worth I'll through my two cents into the mix. I'm glad JVS won the race and that Thor didn't win. I think Garmin's tactics are brilliant only in hindsight. I guarantee JVS was not the original card (or even the third) that Vaughters wanted to play but they took the opportunistic shot and it paid out in the end. Personally for me there would have been no glory for Thor and would have been disrespectful to the rainbow jersey had he won by simply riding safe, marking Fabian, and then getting him at the line.

    While people will say a win is win and smart tactics are critical to the end result, to me a rider like Fabian and JVS who tore themselves inside and out are the true winners not some dude who comes around in the last 50 meters after staying protected for 200KM.

    With that said I know Thor has shown some serious heart in the TDF when he went on the attack in a mountain stage to solidify the sprint points and keep the green jersey from Cavendish.

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

      Thor is one of my favorite riders and a class act. Nothing would make me happier than him winning Paris-Roubaix but in my book Van Summeren is a worthy winner even if he's not at the same level as Hushovd and Cancellara. Matt

  • IdeaStormer Jorge

    Well I'm in the Stewie camp but I do disagree with the "Weird" tactics. The reason is usually, yes there are time when it may not be true but you ride for the team leader, even if in a break its only so the team leader doesn't have to work too much till crunch time. Yes, I'm talking about the classic move of leaving the break out till its close then you reel them in. This time the only "weird" thing was that no one worked with Fabian to reel the break in, yes they didn't have to because the other riders had teammates in the break. Now if you were one of the favorites and had worked your bum off all pre-season to peak for P-R and not reeling in the break to contest for a win, well its a major downer and a major loss for their career! Not that JVS didn't train or work his rear off as well in training for it, but he wasn't a favorite and if you're getting paid the bucks to deliver a stealer performance at your expertise race type well, not good.

    I'd of preferred if the favorites had duked it out for the win, would of made it epic for sure, instead its rather less than epic… not a memorable P-R, just like when Knaven won, nothing epic. Many will start to spout off on how a win is a win, well then those people probably celebrated Periero's Tour win as well (not me).

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

      People want the big stars to win, that's just the most basic story. But in a way the media prefers the underdog story because it's more interesting and more of a challenge to write, there's a more creative opportunity. People loved Armtstrong until he won too many tours and then they wanted an underdog and then they wished he was back. It's a fickle sports world. Love Thor but happy for Van summerand and Knaven. Matt