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Monday, April 11, 2011

Roubaix Heroics, Miaoli Triathlon and Other Gold

Paris-Roubaix wrapped up last night and for the 109th time it lived up to its moniker, The Hell of the North, as the riders bludgeoned themselves and their equipment over nearly 260km of farm roads across the French and Belgian countryside.

This year's edition was won by the lesser known Belgian rider, Johann Vansummeren, from the Garmin-Cervelo squad. Vamsummeren held a lead all day through the uncharacteristic heat of the day, which saw the peloton kick up a thick, yellow dust that wrecked havoc on both riders and their equipment.

Many of the race favorites were taken out of the race by mechanical failures and by the seemingly random crashes that dotted the route.

The race's greatest punishment seemed to have been taken out on Tom Boonen and his powerful Quickstep team. The most poignant image from the race may have been that of Boonen standing dead in the middle of the notorious Arenberg Forest section of fist-sized cobble, stranded with a drivetrain malfunction. The former Belgian national champion just stood dazed with a look of bewilderment at the futility of his situation as most of the riders and his own teammates rumbled past on either side before the team car could arrive for the rescue.

Boonen mounted a brave assault on the peloton and pulled himself within a minute of the front in a massive effort. Then, he tangled with another rider and hit the deck, effectively ending his attempt to tie the record for number of wins. Quickstep's misery was compounded by Sylvain Chavanel, the runner up in last week's Tour of Flanders, having a puncture after helping to drag Boonen back up.

The stor of the day, in my opinion, was not the lanky Vansummeren, who won the event, but rather the heroic effort Fabien Cancellara made as he continued to throw himself out into breaks in an attempt to challenge for the lead.

Immediately outside the Arenberg Forest, Cancellara laid on the gas putting distance between himself and the peloton. After several major assaults he, and a handful of other riders including Juan Antonio Flecha and the current world champion, Thor Hushovd of Garmin-Cervelo. Cancellara of Team LeoPard (aka Tean Schleck) was unable to recruit the other riders to help propel him into contention at the front. Again and again he tried to put distance between he and Hushovd in a series of powerful thrusts to the front. And the Mighty Thor time and time again reeled in Spartacus (Cancellara) until the Swiss rider fought for enough of a gap to overcome a 50 second deficit to within 19 seconds of the lead. By then it was too late and Vansummeren had already entered the fabled velodrome at Roubaix to bring home the trophy of the day's toil-- a mounted road cobble.

Another fantastic race.

VeloNews has their own take here.


Taiwan Cycling:

The Miaoli Triathlon attracted over 600 participants for two days of racing. The women's event was won by the Czech athlete, Radka Vodickova, followed by Hoi Long from Macao, and the Taiwanese, Chang Luo-yi in third.

The men's event was taken by three Taiwanese, Wei Chen-chan, Hsieh Shang-yen, and Chiu Wei-chang.


A Taiwanese cycling team of another sort has taken gold. This time in Geneva, where a team from Far East University in Tainan, won the first prize in an international invention contest.

The winning design was for a tandem bicycle that telescopes out for easy transport and storage. The team envisioned the bicycle to be used by families with limited space using the bikes for family outings with only one car.