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Is Boonen v Cancellara a rivalry that never was?

Sicycle  by Simon Crisp

Date: February 23, 2014
I’m sure you’ve read all the 2014 preview pieces this year, all telling you pretty much the same thing: The Tour de France is going to be Chris Froome versus Vincenzo Nibali, with a side helping of Mark Cavendish versus Marcel Kittel, the Giro will become an Aussie battle ground with Cadel Evans and Richie Porte trying to unseat Nairo Quintana, and that we are due a resumption of the rivalry between Belgium’s favourite son, Tom Boonen, and the Swiss gladiator Fabian Cancellara. These two men, with their combined seven Paris-Roubaix cobblestones and five Tour of Flanders bicycle trophies, are set to take up the battle once more, we are told, on the hellingen and pave of Northern Europe.

Yet the last time the two have truly dueled on the cobbles was in 2011, when neither man triumphed, and the last time both have raced each other at top form was 2010. Even before then, the two haven’t actually featured together in the races that often. Since…