If you were totally new to the world of professional cycling then at this time of year you’d be forgiven for thinking everyone who rides, watches or has even a passing interest in road cycling is obsessed with cobbles. And you’d be correct.
Just days after the brutal Paris-Roubaix astonished spectators and punished riders, reports are filtering through that last year’s Tour de France winner is studying some well known French cobbles.
Vincenzo Nibali and his Astana team mates are spending time in Northern France preparing for the tough pavé littered stages they’ll need to dominate in order to do well during this year’s Tour.
“It was a good scout,” Nibali told Flemish sports website Sporza. “It was important to ascertain the pressure in the tires and to see the material and the bike.”
We’d like to think that something got lost in translation between the Belgium site and the Queen’s English, and instead of ‘material’ Nibali actually said ‘Materiel’, in reference to his reputation for using his strength on his bike like a weapon of war. But that would be silly, and as a metaphor it’s a little too torturous for our tastes.
Daft sports writing aside; Nibali stands a good chance of doing well on these difficult stages. But it’s not all about Nibali’s power; his chances of victory are bolstered by a new addition to his support team. Joining Team Astana from Belkin this year is none other than the man who beat Nibali in the Arenburg Forest last year – Lars Boom.
Lars appears to be fully aware of the potency he’ll be adding to Nibali’s chances, casually telling ‘Sporza’ that this year’s cobble sections will be ‘easy’ compared to last years.
However, the team acknowledges that this year’s race will be a tough one to win. Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana will make sure of that.