Tuesday, August 5, 2008

5 Golden Rings

Italy and Spain are obviously the strongest teams with 2 favorites (Bettini and Valverde), but when was the last time you commented on how strong a squad Luxemborg was sending? Featuring the Schlecks and Kirchen, they stand a chance if they let the stronger teams do all the work and wait it out. Germany can't be counted out with Schumacher,Voigt, and Wegmann. Belgium is fielding a weak squad-no Hoste or Devolder. Psuedo Belgian and great name possessor, Borut Bozic will be there representing Slovenia. Russia has a strong squad Menchov,Karpets,Efimkin,and Ivanov. Would have been stronger with Gusev, but he got snagged with funky blood values. But like the US team, they have strong individuals-but who is motivated and who will ride as a team
B World Champ Ivan Stevic will be there so maybe he can have a show down with Bettini.
Lots of my favorite young guns will be their Gesnik and Terpesta for Holland, Augustyn for S.Africa, Kreuziger for the Czech Republic, and Siutsou for Belarus (4 riders representing Belarus???)

Did a super-nerd breakdown of the 45 countries competing. First off where is Khazakstan? 4 riders from Belarus and none from Khazakstan?
7 countries have only one rider. That is a tough hand to play. At least with 2 or 3 riders you can anonymously drop out after a few laps when your lungs explode. No such luck if it is just you. Another 12 countries get only 2 riders. A lucky 13 countires get 3 riders each and 3 countries get 4 riders.
9 countries have the max five riders and it will probably be up to them to burn matches making the race. Although of those 5 France,Australia, and the USA look a little unlikely to ride a united race. Australia might be a dark horse but Evans and Rogers will be saving themselves for the TT and O'Grady goes well in the heat, but not so much uphill.
Slovakia, Slovenia, and Serbia are each fielding a team-don't get them mixed up.
Much like Luxemborg, Canada has a strong 3 man squad. I would love to seen Tuft or Hesjedal make a move.

Heat,Smog, and a long hard route will probably have huge impact. I would imagine less than 50% of those that start will finish. 245K is a long race and 7 laps with a big climb will melt the peleton.
Spain is the strongest on paper and a Spain vs Italy battle seems likely, but what other dark horses could get in the mix? Schumacher? Siutsou? Kirchen? Schelck(s)?,Sanchez?,Kroon?,Gesnik? Who can spoil the Bettini vs Valverde showdown.
Russia and Luxemborg could be big suprises....
At the end of the day, I have my fingers crossed for a Bettin Victory. Let the cricket retire at the top! If I can't get that give me some action from Canada, Luxemborg, or the Netherlands. Finally, my US pick would have to be Vandevelde, but he must be cooked from the tour.

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