Friday, April 06, 2007

come and get it

"Sunday, sunday, sunday!!!!!!!!!!!! Come see the world's top cyclists hurtle over the cobbled bergs of Flanders in an attempt to win the infamous Ronde de van Vlaandren!!!!! There will be thrills. There will be spills. Who will claim the ultimate prize? Will it be Tornado Tom Boonen taking his third in a row? Will "Franken"Stijn Devolder fill the shoes of fading American classics hopeful, George Hincapie, who will sit this one out with a fractured wrist? Will the team-who-must-not-be-named (Unibet.com) pull out the angry? Can the upstart eastern bloc goombahs of Tinkoff Credit Systems throw down iron curtain style? Only the cobbles know for sure..."

Okay boys and girls the week of racing that makes you yearn for cold weather, rain, sleet and mud is finally upon us. Belgium and northern France are squarely in the center of the pro cycling world with the Tour of Flanders this Sunday and Paris-Roubaix next. If you have never watched any bike race, but the Tour de Lance, you better find a way to see these races. You are in for a treat; a true look at how bike racing should be: a test of man, machine, and good fortune.



What else could inspire Phil Liggett to such lofty poetics like this from the 1986 Paris-Roubaix:
"And now a train.... Is it the train of good fortune or an emissary of the devil? Only time will tell..." It's enough to make a man weep.



Here are the odds (courtesy of Unibet.com):
Boonen, T 3.50
Bettini, P 6.00
Cancellara, F 10.00
Pozzato, F 15.00 dangerous
Ballan, A 20.00
Van Petegem, P 22.00
Freire, O 25.00
O'Grady, Stuart 25.00 yeah, right
Hoste, L 25.00
Boogerd, M 25.00
Burghardt, M 25.00
Paolini, L 30.00
Gilbert, P 35.00
Steegmans, G 35.00
Nuyens, N 35.00
Devolder, S 45.00
Gusev, V 45.00
Bennati, D 45.00
Ivanov, S 50.00
Hincapie, G 50.00 amazing given that he isn't starting
Flecha Giannoni, J-A 60.00
Hushovd, T 60.00
Sentjens, R 60.00
Zabel, E 60.00
Klier, A 60.00
Wesemann, S 60.00
Petito, R 60.00
Eisel, B 75.00
Kroon, K 75.00
Ventoso Alberdi, F J 100.00
Eeckhout, N 100.00 Rambo. 'nuff said
Kirchen, K 100.00
Kopp, D 100.00
Van Bon, L 100.00
Van Heeswijk, M 100.00
Hammond, R 100.00
Guesdon, F 100.00
Ignatiev, M 100.00 could do something really bold (or stupid) and pull it out

This one is tough to predict, especially with Quick Step holding so many cards (Boonen, Bettini, Van Petegem). If you're that DS, you've gotta use Bettini as the rabbit. He's powerful over the types of climbs that feature prominently in the race and he's dangerous enough to make other teams wet themselves if he gets too much time. Van Petegem is like having John Wayne for backup in a gunfight; he knows what your going to do before you do. But then again, having won the last two years, Boonen has a target on his back so big he won't be able to fart without every team car picking up on it. My pick is someone who's going strong, but not showing all their cards yet this season. Someone like Leif Hoste, maybe. Or someone with something to prove, like Stefan Wesseman. We'll just have to wait and see...
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