Am I on track?

Am I on track?

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Tour of Flanders - race preview & predictions

So as I sit here on my couch a 10pm, waiting patiently for live coverage of the Tour of Flanders (or De Ronde van Vlaanderen in Flemish) to start on SBS at 10:30pm, I may as well take this chance to get my thoughts on this race down on electronic paper...!!

Flanders is, for mine, the best one-day race on the entire cycling calendar.  Its held in Belgium, which is arguably the spiritual home of hard cycling. It has extensive cobbled sections, often on narrow, winding roads. And unlike Paris-Roubaix, it is a relatively hilly course.

No matter which way you look at it, this is just a tough race.  You can't fake your way through it - only someone who is both tough and smart (and maybe a bit lucky!) will walk away with victory at this epic race.

So who will win?

My tip - Peter Sagan (Liquigas)

I reckon Sagan will step up and win Flanders this year.  He has been in terrific form so far, with some minor victories already this year.  His only downside is a lack of experience at this race, especially compared to Cancellara and Boonen.

However, I think the experience factor won't be such an issue this year.  The organisers have altered the course for 2012, finishing with a multi-lap circuit instead of the usual run home.  This will play into Sagan's hands, and I am expecting him to have enough to win tonight.

The big two - Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Nissan) and Tom Boonen (OmegaPharma-Quickstep)

Fabian Cancellara

Can they be beaten?? Obviously I think so, however Sagan is the only one that can do it.  Fabs and Tommeke will round out the podium.

Both of the Big Two are in outstanding form at the moment, plus they have won this race before three times each!  If the finish was the same as previous years, I would tip one of them to win.  Its only the new multi-loop finish that has me leaning towards Sagan over these two incredible riders.

The almost-there's - Ballan (BMC), Boasson Hagen (Sky), Chavanel (OP-QS), Pozzato (Farnese-Vini)

Fillipo Pozzato

These four will be the next over the line.  All have shown good form over the last month, and are suited to this race.  They could win - but it would take all the stars to align for them to do so.  The most likely to snatch victory is either Ballan or Pozzato...

My final finishing order:

Sagan, Boonen, Cancellara, Pozzato, Ballan, Boasson Hagen, Chavanel.

Let's see how close I come!!  Only 15 minutes to go until show-time - can't wait!!

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