Thursday, April 5, 2007

Tour of Flanders.... Anticipation!!!

Tour of Flanders is an amazing race cobbles, climbs, long distance.Only the strong survive. No matter what the conditions, Flanders is an epic race. The last few years have been fantastic. This year is sizing up to be exciting as maybe some new names will bolt onto the podium . Quickstep are the obvious favorite with Boonen and Bettini followed by a small army of Belgian Hardmen. When PVP is riding in a support role, you know you have a strong team. Lampre and Liquigas both have strong podium contenders in Ballan,Bennati, Pozatto, and Paolini(longshot). CSC also are strong with Cancellara nd O'Grady. Discovery will not be repeating their podium appearance this year without Hincapie and Hoste they are left with Devolder who has been quiet, but won't have a strong team around him. It would be nice to see the revamped Telekom do something they have a number of riders who could animate the race, but no clear potential winner (Hammond,Knaven, etc) Other Belgians like Nick Nuyens and Philip GIlbert will be in the hunt but again without a strong team luck will have to play a big part for them to succeed.

If you look at last years top 20. it is likely that this years winner is lurking somewhere in places 5-20........ No predictions until I see the official start list later this week. And even with back problems and bike problems, it is hard not to put Boonen somewhere on the podium.

1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic 6.24.26 (40.423 km/h)
2 Leif Hoste (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
3 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 1.17
4 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto
5 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
6 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC
7 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step-Innergetic 1.50
8 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team CSC
9 Andreas Klier (Ger) T-Mobile Team
10 Roberto Petito (Ita) Team Tenax Salmilano
11 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram 3.29
12 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Rabobank
13 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Quick Step-Innergetic 4.21
14 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole
15 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Fran├žaise Des Jeux 8.03
16 David Kopp (Ger) Gerolsteiner
17 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic
18 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
19 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner
20 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team CSC

At 3 days of depanne Steegmans, Paolini, and Bennati all look good. This race is more of a tune up for the winner of Flanders, but it let's you know what teams are going strong. Rabobank youngbuck Joost Posthuma is looking strong in 4th overall. Race finishes today with a split stage.
For the stage racers Pais Vasco starts next week in Spain and should give the climbers some time to shine. Circuit de la Sarthe is up next week to as well as Gent - Wevelgem. Only 10 days until Paris-Roubaix!

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