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Me and Fabian are connected

I rode the E3 on Friday. Not the whole course, just the middle 80km or so, the bit where the course criss-crosses the same ridge a dozen times seeking out berg after berg until your legs scream for mercy and there are no hills left to climb. Then in the afternoon I watched the pros race the same course on TV, captivated by the outrageous strength of my hero Cancellara. Having ridden the same roads only hours earlier, I felt a strange and slightly spiritual connection.

That patch of mud coating the cobbles on the difficult middle gradient of the Taaienberg? I nearly fell there, Fabian, so I know how you felt when you swerved towards the edge of the road to avoid it. That overhanging branch that you swatted away from your face as you

rounded a bend coming out of Etikhove? I swatted it too. And when you made your decisive break on the Kwaremont I know how your legs suffered, as mine had done only hours before. And the cold, Fabian, the cold... I reckon it was worse for me, early in the morning and without the warmth of a familiar peloton wrapped around me. Without a team car to dispense warm drinks and words of encouragement, without the roar of the crowd and the will of the people to propel me to victory. If I'd had all that, Fabian, maybe. Just maybe. That's all I'm saying...