Ok, there’s a massive knock-on benefit for LeBlanq as we can now count the finest English rider of his generation as one of our road captains and benefit from his expertise, huge character and universally acknowledged reputation as best-coffee-and-cake companion in the bunch. But there’s a sense of loss that we won’t be roaring him home when he flicks on the burners against the world’s best in the home straight anymore. And yes, ok, damn you, we’re just pissed off because if Adam has retired we must be really, really old.
This will be the third time that Sean Yates will be overseeing the Derbyshire quick finisher’s programme, after driving the car behind him at both NFTO and at Peter Sagan’s Tinkoff galacticos. They can at least be confident of more coffee and cake miles at LeBlanq, and plenty of time to discuss their respective merits over the cobbles of the Northern Classics that have meant so much to each of them. Adam was earmarked as a pavé specialist at 17, when he tasted glory in Flanders Fields by snatching the Junior’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne from under the noses of the locals, leading to a change of tack. He departed the warm bosom of the Team GB Performance Plan to learn his trade on the unforgiving roads of Belgium in a rugged apprenticeship. It served him well, as protected rider status was afforded him at the likes of Omega Pharma, BMC, Orica GreenEDGE and Lotto-Soudal in a sparkling ten-year professional waltz through the rarified atmosphere of the higher reaches of cycling. As well as a couple of coveted red-and- blue banded white National Champion’s jerseys, he used the trampet of his fearsome mentor Philippe Gilbert’s attack to bring home the London-Surrey Classic. Four Grand Tour appearances establish his credentials as a rider with true class who will no doubt gleefully extend the occasional toe into the rump of his Saga-qualified LeBlanq elders.
Adam’s 2020 post-lockdown will be a thrilling new adventure in plenty of ways, as he follows once more in Yates’s footsteps and takes his place behind the wheel of a team car for the first time. Appointing a 30-year old DS shows the way that the Skoda DSI Cycling Academy intend to play things and their roster of promising young women will all be names to look out for as this decade begins to unfold.
And if that wasn’t enough to be going on with, “The Captain’s” Eurosport and podcast work have opened up more opportunities for the ambitious father of three. In another one of of those satisfying LeBlanq synergy moments, “Captain” opened his burgeoning YouTube Channel with a cooking extravaganza that is bound to have Ashley Palmer-Watts scrambling for the here’s-one-I-made-earlier defence. We await the Saturday Kitchen face-off that is bound to follow with the sort of excitement and suspense not seen amongst the viewing millions since Dirty Den ended up in the canal.
by John Deering
Image Credit - Graham Watson
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