Ronde Van Vlaanderen

To many fans and cyclists, sunday's Tour of Flanders is the year's best and most important race. The course has changed but the favorites are pretty much the same: Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara are expected to have another battle royale! But they're not alone, QuickStep has two other potential winners in Sylvain Chavanel and Niki Terpstra. That for me gives Boonen an advantage over a Spartacus that doesn't have a great team (LeoShack is pretty much built to deliver Andy Schleck to another 2nd place in Le Tour). And Fabian has a single tactic, ride others off his wheel. It works sometimes but his over-confidence often makes him not pick the right moment/place to attack, he's strong, but not as tactically sharp as some others (that's a theme in that team!)... We'll see.

After these two, a few riders could win depending of how the race develops. Chavanel, Terpstra, Peter Sagan, Matti Breschel, Lars Boom, Pippo, Sep Vanmarcke... or a lucky underdog (à la Devolder and Nuyens) if the favorites look at each other, not wanting to work for the others and let a break go.

Who wont win? Freire is going well these days but it's not a course for him. A good rider that usually can score a podium in any rough classic, Juan Antonio Flecha will race, but he's back from sickness/injury so I don't expect him to be good enough. BMC have a few stars that should be able to win with Thor, Gilbert and maybe even Van Avermaet, but they're all not fit enough. They have Ballan but his big wins of the past were one-off lucky moments if you ask me... and he's way past his prime. Americans would like Hincapie to win but I've never seen him as strong enough... and he's even more past his prime than Ballan, he'll focus on finishing to become the first rider to complete 17 Tour of Flanders.

Whatever happens, it should be a great race as always. If it's not broadcasted locally on TV (or if like me you don't have a TV), be sure to watch it online.

And if you want more (and you do), there is also a Women's Tour of Flanders earlier in the day. It's the 3rd round of the World Cup and it will be interesting to see if the women version of Eddy Merckx, Marianne Vos, can continue her domination and keep her 2012 World Cup score perfect by winning, quite surprisingly, De Ronde for the first time.

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