Now that the big Spring classics are over, the grades have been issued for riders and teams. At the top of the UCI rankings is the King of the Cobblestones, Flanders and Paris-Roubaix winner, Tom Boonen.
His Omega Pharma Quickstep team is also on an astonishing tear with 24 wins so far this season. Boonen, Niki Terpstra, Sylvain Chavanel, Francesco Chicchi, Levi Leipheimer and Peter Velits have all made major contributions. The Belgian squad dominates the UCI team rankings.
Besides the number one ranked rider and team, there’s on other huge winner in the Spring classics: the company from Morgan Hill, California, Specialized Bikes.
If you watched any of the Spring races, you spent a lot of time looking at the Specialized Tarmac SL4 ridden by Boonen and the Omega Pharma Quickstep squad. (For a terrific and insightful test ride, check this piece from Peloton magazine.)
While arch rival Trek and the RadioShack Nissan Trek team have had a miserable year with Fabian Cancellara’s broken collarbone and the Schleck brothers’ non-performance, Specialized is enjoying an incredible run of victories.
Even with the recent crashes by Levi Leipheimer and Tony Martin, the dominance of Specialized hasn’t stopped. When Boonen took a break after his Flanders-Roubaix double, it was the turn of Astana, Specialized’s other sponsored ProTeam, to keep the momentum going strong. Witness the first place in Amstel by Enrico Gasparotto and the stunning surprise win by Maxim Iglinskiy in Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Make no mistake: there’s always an extremely competitive battle between Specialized and Trek. I was doing a short project at Specialized when Trek unveiled their Domane road bike. The attitude in Morgan Hill was okay, they hit us with a solid jab to the face, now let’s get back to work.
Spring grades for bike manufacturers: Specialized A+