A few years ago I watched Jasper Stuyven hold off the peloton for ages at the end of a Tour de France stage. He’d won Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne (below) a few months before with a long break so the peloton was chasing him hard. I thought his set up and technique were fantastic – right out of my text book. Unusually in today’s world he sat on the back of the saddle and rode on the drops. His upper body was so relaxed – so free of tension.
Whilst it would be unfair to say that he’s failed since he simply doesn’t look like the same rider any more. Last week I watched him charge off the front of the bunch 7km from the end of the Primus classic. He stayed out for a while at incredible speed but he never looked comfortable. He gripped the hoods, his arms and shoulders were tight, his body was full of tension and instead of flowing through the corners he readjusted and lost speed on every one.
I don’t know whether Jasper’s been tinkering with his position, or trying to get more aero, but this looks like another example (see my previous posts) of the current obsession with aerodynamics and power at the expense of sustainability and control.
I also don’t know whether the Stuyven of 2016 would have stayed clear until the finish, but what happened next was quite interesting.
With 3.5km to go, and the bunch just about to catch him, his team mate Edward Theuns jumped across on his own. The two of them rode together for the next 800m and opened the gap again. They looked so similar (size, kit, bike, cadence) but yet so different. Stuyven was still fighting his bike, but Theuns made it look ‘easy’! He [Theuns] had no weight on his arms and wasn’t sliding off the front of the saddle. His shoulders, arms and hands looked completely relaxed. See if you can see what I mean.
With over 2.5km still to go, and the bunch just six seconds behind, Stuyven exploded in a puff of lactic acid and Theuns, looking like the Stuyven of old (or maybe even Roger de Vlaeminck himself), amazingly held on to win.
Admittedly he spent most of the time holding the hoods, rather than the drops, which nearly cost him through one of the corners…
… but he still had nearly a bike length at the line!
Previous posts linked in the text above:
- The tension is killing me
- Pro bike setup
- Professional Cycling – life on the sharp end
- Why did Tom Doumoulin Crash?
- Going Straight.
- When it’s time to slow down
For a complete list please see List of Articles on the menu above.