It Stinks to be Number Two

While I’m super happy that Peter Sagan won Paris-Roubaix on Sunday I have to say that Sylvan Dillier didn’t get the credit that he deserves.

Bicycle racing is a odd in that it is an team event that crowns an individual winner and that it’s a super aggressive sport that often rewards wimpy (some say smart I’ll stick with wimpy) behavior.  What made Sunday’s race extraordinary was courage and downright guts shown by Sylvian Dillier.

Dillier would have been justified to just sit on the World Champion’s wheel and say “you wanna win you do the work.”  Instead every time Sagan flicked his elbow Dillier went to the front and pulled.  When the Terpstra crew were eating up the gap Dillier didn’t play around, instead he went to the front and did monster pulls despite the fact that he’d been off the front nearly all day.

As the pair approached the Velodrome and it became clear that Sagan and Dillier were going to go one two I was fully expecting the old cat and mouse game wherein each rider tries to force the other into the front position.  I think Sagan was figuring the same thing when he pulled over and slowed up on Sector 1, but instead of slowing Dillier pulled through and kept it hot.  I think that move cost Dillier any chance at victory, but it showed a lot of guts.

I wonder what Dillier’s calculus was at that moment.  Was he just acting on instinct – guys pulls over I pull through?  I don’t think so.  I think he had a plan, I’m just not sure what it was.  At first I was thinking that maybe he was looking to score some points with the World Champion – see what a good teammate I could.  I’m not saying that threw the race or even planned to throw it, instead I’m saying that he took a longshot that he knew probably wouldn’t pay off in a win but could pay off in a future contract.  After watching the podium ceremony I re-thought that theory: Dillier clearly was upset about second place.  Whatever the reason it was a great finish to a great race.

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