Take a bow Alberto, you just won the Ronde

Dear Rouleurs,

This week MMT is very,very sleep deprived. A good portion of that sleep debt accrued last Sunday night. SBS, broadcast live, the last 170km of the Ronde van Vlaanderen 2019. MMT made to the 43 km mark before his need for sleep became greater than his need to see who won.

MMT had a quick scan of Eurosports on Monday morning to discover that, a 25 year old Italian Alberto Bettiol from Education First had won. Bettiol executed a perfectly timed attack with 17 km to go, on the Oude Kwaremont and then held off, a bunch containing most of the pre-race favourites.

Bettiol completed the brutual 270km course in Six hours 18 minutes and 49 seconds after setting off from Antwerp. Bettiol dropped down into time trial mode to the finish alone as his rivals hesitated and attacked each other rather chasing him down.

Bettiol claimed his first ever UCI win, whilst the likes of Sagan, Valvarde, Naesen, Pollit, Kristoff, Benoot and a very frustrated Van Avermaet could not work together. Silly boys…..

There were 3 other really notable rides in the race, beside Bettiol. MMT raises his cap and offers a respectful ‘chapeau!’ to:

Dane Kasper Asgreen of Deceuninck-QuickStep, who spent most of the day in the breakaway and still managed a late a late chase to finish 14 seconds down on Bettiol, as a worthy second place. Pity he didn’t receive earlier support form his team. He clearly had the best legs of the star-studded Belgian team.

Mathieu van der Poel of the small Dutch team, Corendon-Circus, who crashed at speed after hitting some street furniture. The Dutchman rode like a demon to catch and pass the peloton and then contest the finish to nab fourth. The irony being that he can’t compete in this weekend’s Paris-Roubaix.

Australia’s own Michael Matthews of Team Sun Web, who finished 6th. Matthews was dropped on the final bergs and had to fight his way back to contest the bunch spirit. This follows on from his 12th in Milano-San Remo. Matthews is developing into a very capable classics rider.

So speaking of the Ronde, MMT is reading an excellent book on the race by Edward Pickering and had intended to finish it before the race started.

https://www.amazon.com/Ronde-Inside-Worlds-Toughest-Bike-ebook/dp/B072N15JFW

There’s one paragraph that MMT, just had to ‘liberate’ and include in this blog, which describes how fluid bike races can be:

This is the story of a bike race. Bike races are simple. Mostly, riders start in one place, finish in another and the first to cross the line wins. Bike races are also complex: tree diagrams of events leading to outcomes leading to more outcomes and so on. They are possibly the best example of chaos theory in sport. Compare the constrictive dimensions of a football field and the prescriptive tactical shape of the teams with the infinite possibilities of 200 riders on a road, out in the real world of weather, landscape and human culture.

Alas the other major factor in his sleep debt, his 3 year old daughter, the ginger ninja, is causing MMT to fall asleep after 3 pages of reading. After reading about some of these famous bergs, MMT is determined to visit Belgium and try riding up some of less ridiculously steep one.

Speaking of ridiculously difficult rides, MMT will add to his sleep debt this weekend with the SBS coverage of the Paris-Roubiax. MMT can’t wait for that race hopefully it will be just as exciting as the Ronde.

Until next time, ride safe,

MMT

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