First big weekend of Belgian racing! This always gets me so stoked. Go out for a long ride and jump on the computer to read the minute by minute and search for any video. It was only a few years ago that OLN used to show Het Volk-how the times change.
Het Volk ,despite being Het Nieuwsblad (That sounds too much like News Bladder to my ears), is such an epic race-even if it is only a "semi classic". The weather is usually bad. It's got cobbled climbs, narrow roads, but is early enough in the year to provide some surpises as people are still finding their legs. 2001 win by Micheli Bartoli has always stood out to me as an amazing race.
Liquigas is sending a "done at the 1st feedzone" squad(except for Quinziatto and Franzoi) while Lampres sends no one. Ballan? I guess Sardinia and racing in short sleeves wins over Belgium in Feb! The winners of the last 4 years will all be there(Gilbertx2,Nuyens,Pozzatto). Quickstep have the firepower. I have trouble seeing a three-peat from Gilbert-would that make him the next PVP and would that be good thing? HB tips Boonen and Pozzatto, but I am picking an longshot podium Flecha,Chavanel, and Hushovd. Het Volk is shorter than Tour of Flanders so maybe some a younger rider can jump out and get it-some of my favorite young riders from last year Langeveld,Terpesta, and Maaskant will all be racing so maybe that will provide a surprise. A win here puts a lot of "next big thing" pressure on a young winner.
KBK is more of a sprinter's race and with that said Katusha and Cervelo have both been on fire and both have strong teams. I think this will come down to those two teams vs Quickstep and I give the edge to Cervelo based on their lead out peformances.
Boonen has been relatively quiet this season-and has been thwarted by the manx monkey Cavendish on a couple occasions, so he could be up to snatch a victory-or maybe he just keeps building for Roubaix and Flanders?