Captain on the Road
|Missed by a nose|
As the dust begins to settle from Milan-Sanremo I can begin to look back at what actually happened in the race. Degenkolb showed impressive power and race tactics, but there was another rider with whom I was most impressed. As I think about this years race as well as lasts I am compelled to say that the best ride of the day was by none other than Luca Paolini.
|Not the Captain|
|Pulling on the Poggio|
Luca, with his sagely beard, embodied the role of "captain on the road" last Sunday. As his team leader Kristoff began to suffer at the back on the Cipressa Paolini took action. First to the front of the peloton to slow the pace a bit. Then he gathered his teamates as they dropped back to help pace Kristoff to the top. As they entered the last climb of the day who was there to set the pace? Luca. Fast enough to deter attacks, slow enough to drag Krsitoff up. Job well done. Oh wait, there's more. After guiding his man down the tricky decent he pulls wide around the final turn placing his man right at the front of the peloton. How did he navigate this terrain so well as others (Gilbert) crash and others (Sagan) follow single file? A little digging shows us that Luca has a few podium finishes here himself. He knows the route, knows his leader and knows himself. Some say he dropped him off a little early, but that is Kristoff's style. Also, his man almost won being able to hold off all but one for the last 300 meters. It's a shame that Paolini wasn't rewarded with a team victory. Its a shame that his amazing performance as a road captain becomes a mere footnote. Had Kristoff won I have no doubt people would be talking about how Paolini had done the same thing last year. Instead, Luca will have to fight for few more victories of his own in order to be recognized. Road captains may be respected, but only race winners are glorified.