Thor Hushovd was having a crappy year as world champion until the Tour de France rolled around. He failed to win any of the spring classics, and publicly questioned the tactics of his Garmin-Cervelo team. And then he spent the first week of the Tour covered in yellow glory, even leading out a sprint for Tyler Farrar on July 4th, just in case anyone thought he couldn’t be a team player.
This weekend he’ll defend the rainbow stripes against a tough field in what may or may not be a sprint finish. The Danish World’s course isn’t hard enough to weed out the fast men on its own, with just over 100 meters of climbing on the 14km circuit that makes up the bulk of the race, but the actual line is at the top of a short incline, so that may open the door to a rider like Phillipe Gilbert or Peter Sagan, both of whom can go fast on less than flat run ins.
The odds-makers are still tipping Mark Cavendish to win it all. Can you imagine a more grating world champion than Cavendish? Does this guy need rainbow stripes to bolster his ego. If it gets any bigger, they’re going to have to come up with a new riding position for him so it doesn’t create too much wind drag on his bursts for the line.
Also on the favorites list are Hushovd, his Norwegian teammate Edvald Boasson-Hagen, Spanish veteran Oscar Freire and Aussie fast man Matt Goss, though there are a number of Australian riders who could claim the prize given the right conditions. The weather forecast calls for 64F (18C) and some cloud cover.
Sounds fast to me.
This week’s Group Ride asks: Who do you think will win? Will the Geels Hill finish be enough to derail the lead outs and tip the race in favor of a freelancer? Who are your dark horses?
Image: John Pierce, Photosport International