Sky is now officially under a death watch for the Tour of Flanders and the Hell of the North, Paris-Roubaix. Several men in black lycra are prepared to die in the service of classics leader Geraint Thomas.
The early season has been a smashing success for the Sky stage racing squad but the Sky classics bunch is under the gun. In fact, right now they’re pointing the gun at themselves. “We’re all going to die for each other and do the best that we can,” said Sky’s Chris Sutton. “Who knows? Hopefully we can pull off a big one in Flanders or Roubaix or both.”
Is Sutton channeling rapper 50 Cent with his variation Get Classic or Die Trying? Yo, G, you gotta kill dem cobbles. When Chris Froome won the Tour of Oman, the classics boys got some inspiration. When Richie Porte won Paris-Nice, the classics boys felt some pressure build. Now, with Froome taking the Criterium International, the stress of high expectations has ratcheted up again.
The Sky classics team is dying for a win, will kill for a win, one way or another somebody has to die. And by the way, it takes several men to kill Spartacus and Peter Sagan.
There was much talk about Sky taking their methodical stage race strategies and mapping them over to the under-achieving classics squad. They skipped Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico to train on the island of Tenerife — Bradley Wiggins home away from home — to prepare for the Northern classics. Team trainer Tim Kerrison is on his We’re Sky, We’re Smarter routine and who knows, maybe he’s right again.
Still, there’s no question that coming into Flanders and Roubaix, the Sky classics squad is under intense pressure from the competition to deliver a big result. In this case, it just happens that the competition is the Sky stage race squad.