Cue the Corones
Four years ago, John Gadret was slaying it on perhaps the most climber-friendly ‘cross course in Europe: the Koppenbergcross, which, yes, takes in a chunk of the cobbled Koppenberg each lap. The problem was, what goes up must come down. And Gadret doesn’t really do down. Not when you weigh maybe 128 lbs. So he’d light up the Koppenberg, and then get schooled on the descent until finally the elastic snapped at the hands of the Rabobank tag-team of Sven Nys and Richard Groenendaal.
I’m sure Gadret was thinking, “Damn, what’s a dude gotta do to get a ‘cross course that’s uphill the whole way.”
Cue the Plan de Corones.
John Gadret flattens the Plan de Corones. Photo by Sirotti.
Only former Giro champ Stefano Garzelli and world champion Cadel Evans rode it faster today.
Just for shits and giggles, Angelo Zomegnan should have tossed in a few barriers and carved steps into the upper slopes when it hit 24%. Gadret would have killed it.
Gadret, currently in 17th overall at the Giro and steadily moving up GC as the mountains get scarier, is a rare breed indeed: a world class ‘cross rider who can hold his own in Grand Tour mountain stages.
The last man who proved his mettle in both realms was Switzerland’s Pascal Richard. In 1988 at the age of 23, Richard won the pro ‘cross world championship and then set his sites on the road. At the 1994 Giro Richard won the climber’s classification, one stage and finished 15th overall. The next year Richard won two stages and improved his GC finish to 13th.
It’s doubtful Gadret will ever come close to matching Richard’s palmares, which also includes two Monuments (Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Giro di Lombardia), an Olympic road race gold medal (the first of the pro era), 2 Tours de Romandie, a Tour de Suisse and a Tour de France stage. But let’s see if Gadret can at least match, or top, Richard’s Giro-best 13th overall.
And it should come as no surprise that the all time king of kings when it comes to combining ‘cross and road palmares is Belgium’s Roger de Vlaeminck. Just look at what he did in 1975: Belgian ‘cross champion, world ‘cross champion, three stages and overall at Tirreno-Adriatico, Paris-Roubaix champion, seven stage wins/points jersey/4th overall at the Giro d’Italia, Tour de Suisse champion, Championship of Zürich champion and a few other wins thrown in for good measure in some Italian one-day races.
Unreal. And all with a pair of sideburns that weigh as much as John Gadret.