Monday, February 27, 2012

How to show faith in your designated sprinter

Mark Cavendish made it look easy with his text-book/video game sprint finish in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, but it was especially thanks to Vacansoleil-DCM that it actually ended up in a mass sprint.

Vacansoleil-DCM working hard in front
of the peloton in order to catch the break.
When the big group with Boonen, Ballan, Farrar etc. got away they quickly gained one minute on the peloton. Team Sky had a couple of a guys up front as well, so it was up to Lotto to do the work in order to catch them. Greipel used up all his team mates and when it seemed like there were no one left to pull, Vacansoleil-DCM suddenly took the front with 6 guys. At the time it didn't really make any sense, since the Dutch team already had two riders in the group with Boonen, one of them being the fast Kris Boeckmans. Boeckmans had showed his sprinting legs less than a week ago in Volta ao Algarve [taking 2nd on stage2 almost beating Edvald Boasson Hagen] and would have been a good pick for a podium spot in the front group if they had made it to the finish. But that wasn't the plan for Vacansoleil-DCM.

Kenny Van Hummel may not be among the best sprinters in world, but he has been showing great condition so far this year, stating he feels stronger than ever before at this time of year. So despite having Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel next to him, Van Hummel moved to the front with 5 team mates in front of him, railing the breakaway back in.
Boeckmans places Van Hummel up front
ready to jump when Cavendish kicks.

When the break was caught, Team Sky took over and with 45 km to go they never let anyone else take the front. On the last kilometer, Vacansoleil-DCM moved near the front with Kris Boeckmans and Kenny Van Hummel. Boeckmans placed Van Hummel in a perfect position with 300 meters to go and when Cavendish kicked, Van Hummel was right behind him. Yauheni Hutarovich then passed him, but Kenny Van Hummel still managed to hold on to 3rd place.

I must say I'm really impressed by the faith Vacansoleil-DCM showed Kenny Van Hummel. Knowing that it very well would mean Mark Cavendish taking the win, they put 5-6 guys to the front of the peloton just to give Van Hummel a shot at beating the World Champion. I take my hat off for Vacansoleil-DCM for showing that kind of confidence in their sprinter and to Kenny Van Hummel as well for almost pulling it off and still getting on the podium.

Since Mark Cavendish took over as the best sprinter in the world, almost no other teams have been helping catching the breakaways, simply because they know they didn't have a chance of beating him. Therefore I think it's very refreshing to see a team like Vacansoleil-DCM helping out, even though no one would have expected them to do so. Thumbs up!

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