It's funny, just after I post my article on the 'End of an Era', Wiggins goes on to talk about Boasson Hagen being the future of cycling and could win anything. Wiggin's goes on to say with the interview with Susan Westemeyer of Cycling News that “On the list, you can include races like Paris-Roubaix, the Tour of Flanders, stages in the Tour de France and everything else you want to win as a cyclist. It's kind of scary. He can still choose to go the way of the classics or multi-stage events, and potentially win all the races he decides. His talent is that great, but he's still continuing to develop and find out where he best fits in the sport.” (to read the full interview click here: http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/wiggins-says-boasson-hagen-is-the-future-of-c...)
Wow was my initial response as this means we have a star looming and one that's path is yet undecided. If you'd base it on current form, wins and experience, you'd have to say that the Classics are beckoning. He's possibly the only current rider who could win all of the monuments, at 1.81m tall and weighing 76kg he's in the right ball park for numbers. Apparently the big numbers that count i.e. Watts are also pretty impressive. Having watched him at the Tour of Britain over the last couple of years it bodes well. You can't expect anyone to win the Tour without winning smaller events first. An obvious tick box to complete will be Paris Nice and the the Tour de Swisse as they represent hard shorter stage racers but provide the good training for the big Grand Tours.
Could Edvald buck the current trend of specialisation (just remember for a moment that he's only 23)? I'm a little too excited to really entertain the thought properly, but for a minute I hope so. It will no doubt depend on the war on PED's, supporting the riders and maybe looking at the system as a whole. With less PED's in the peloton the riding would be far more exciting as the human stamina would come into play, all those hours of conditioning, training and hard work would pay off. I am all for technological gains over pharmaceutical advantages as rider health is paramount for me. PED's feel like cheating whereas cheating time, wind and using less energy through technology doesn't, I'm sure some can make a case for these to be banned also (some man at the UCI no doubt).
I read also today that Boom pops along to a CX race (Zolder), blows the field apart and then says "For me this is the most ideal way to prepare for the road season, but don't think I have no respect for the real cyclo-cross riders. Of course, I'm starting these races with a little bit of ambition because I don't want to come here and finish 20th," (Brecht Decaluwé Cycling News). I love the fact that alothough he has been a World Champion and multiple National Champion in CX he has aspirations to master the pave of the Northern Classics, and no doubt his goals lie further afield again.
As the road season has got longer and now runs from Jan to Oct it means that many of the riders have used the CX season less and less to maintain fitness. You can also see this in the reduction of road riders in the Six Days as this used to be a good way to keep a riders form over the WInter months plus bag some extra cash on top of their normal salary. Maybe due to the better wages (on average) many riders can pick and choose more, hence the need not to extend their seasons. I think you can see that over the past twenty years or so that the riders who raced a lot where those that loved the bike as well as the sport, Zabel springs to mind, and I'm sure there are many others that spring to mind.
Thanks again to my friend Kristof for the fantastic images which help to tell my story today. Point your browser here http://kramon.be/ and you'll be able to find the medium you want to follow his wonderful work.