Outstanding performances in Strade Bianche, Paris-Nice and Le Samyn shape this week's pick of the best riders
Leader: Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky)
In the thrilling slugfest that was the 2017 Strade Bianche, it was Sky’s Kwiatkowski who emerged the toughest, breaking clear from an elite leading group and soloing 14.5km to the finish line in Siena.
It was a clear sign that the Pole is back to the kind of form that saw him become World Champion in 2014, and will likely be a major protagonist in the classics throughout the spring.
Road Captain: Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5)
When Shara Gillow (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) and Lucinda Brand (Sunweb) caught and flew past an unsuspecting leading quintet in the final kilometres of the women’s Strade Bianche, it looked as though they’d just snatched the race from under their noses.
But Borghini kept calm, using her racing nous to keep them in sight without over-committing to bringing them back immediately, then catching them halfway up the final climb after she’d launched her sprint for victory.
Sprinter: Arnaud Démare (FDJ)
The first stage of Paris-Nice was a far more chaotic affair than expected, and did not culminate in a bunch sprint, but winner Démare still needed his best sprinting legs to land the result.
Having latched onto an attack from Quick-Step Floors’ Julian Alaphilippe (himself a fast finisher) 1500 metres from the line, Démare followed his compatriot’s wheel on the finishing straight, and timed his sprint perfectly to comfortably take the win.
Climber: Adam Yates (Orica-Scott)
One of 2016’s major breakout stars picked up his first win of the 2017 season at the GP Industria & Artigianato in Italy, where he won a sprint between the only five riders still left after the whittling down process of the multiple ascents of the San Baronto climb.
Watch: Highlights from 2017 Strade Bianche
Rouleur: Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Wanty-Groupe Gobert)
It’s an oft-stated cycling truism that the strongest rider in a race does not always come out as the winner, and everything about the way Van Keirsbulck made no secret of his strength at Le Samyn and bullishly exposed his nose to the blustering wind suggested this might be one of those days.
But he made it to the finishing straight with just one rider (Alex Kirsch, WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect) for company, and the way Van Keirsbulck edged victory in painfully slow sprint to the line made it clear that Van Keirsbulck’s efforts had exhausted Kirsch even more than he himself.
Domestique: Audrey Cordon (Wiggle-High5)
Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggiel-High5) could not have won Strade Bianche without her teammate Cordon, who gave up her bike for her leader when she crashed on one of the treacherous dirt roads.
Domestique: Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans)
In a post-race interview, Lizzie Deignan praised the ‘incredible job’ done by her Boels-Dolmans teammate Majerus, that put the Briton in such a good position that she opted to change her strategy and take the race on.