Even in this digital age, sticking lists detailing a race’s most salient challenges – be it hills, cobbled sections and sometimes both combined – onto stems remains a rider favourite.
Cycling Weekly took a closer look at this before Friday’s E3 Harelbeke, and found there are varying degrees of detail and presentation among those who like to have a miniature race manual within eyeshot.
Michael Morkov (Saxo-Tinkoff)
The Danish breakaway specialist wrote the most detailed notes we saw at E3. Early directional changes were included, as were the climbs and cobbled sections along the route, so CW thought he would attempt to get in the day’s escape group. He didn’t. Note the word “POSITION” under F 108, or feed zone to you and I, and “ØL”, which means beer in his native language.
Christopher Juul Jensen (Saxo-Tinkoff)
Morkov’s team-mate did not go into as much detail, but opted for two strips of notes for his stem and bars. The longer of the two listed the kilometre point of the race’s climbs, with the shorter pointing out the cobbled sections.
Maurilo Fischer (FDJ)
Oft-seen during mountainous Grand Tour stages, the Brazilian opted for a cut-out profile of the course. Good thinking, but we couldn’t help but feel he put it upside down. Not so smart, that, and it was as if Fischer knew it – he also put a list of when the various obstacles were scheduled to pop up on his top tube.
Utilising the bulky Pro stems on their Scott bikes, Orica-GreenEdge’s riders opted for a shared template. Words in red = cobbles. Words with green boxes to their left = climbs. Words with green and red boxes to their left = cobbled climbs. Words with an asterisk next to them = we don’t know.
Grega Bole (Vacansoleil-DCM)
Seemingly written quickly, but nonetheless Bole went into more detail than other riders in one respect. Instead of climb names, he wrote the length and both the average and maximum gradient of the hills. CW would find it more comforting to see the words “Berg ten Houte” on our stem as opposed to the “18%, 6.8%” (the climb’s key gradients) which the Vacansoleil rider opted for.
Ian Stannard (Sky)
The in-form Briton opted to list just the feed station kilometre point, along with four climbs (Berg Stene, Boignberg, Eikenberg, Stationsberg, Taaienberg) on his notes.
Kristjian Koren (Cannondale)
Another handwritten affair, this. The Slovenian opted to list the race’s climbs, with a couple of the cobbled sections thrown in for good measure. Three distances – 149 (Taaienberg), 157 (Kanarieberg) and 168 (Kapelberg) – had boxes drawn around them, suggesting Koren may have had a specific job to do at these points. Either that, or he simply got bored on the bus. Pass the crayons!