Friday Group Ride #106

Zero to delerious, that’s how I feel. Just the other day I was still snarking about the desert races (and being upbraided by faithful readers), and now, suddenly Classics season is ON. Tomorrow we’ve got Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and Sunday Kurne-Brussels-Kurne. I don’t want to do too much analysis as the far more capable Whit Yost has broken down the races for you here already.

I’ll just say this. I expect the 2012 Spring Classics season to be one of the most exciting in years. This year we have a perfect storm of talent and motivation. We have Philippe Gilbert thinking about adding Flanders and Roubaix to his palmares, about dominating the Ardennes races, and even about notching a third Omloop Het Nieuwsblad win to bring him level with legends like Peter van Petegem. Every race from now until April (and most of the ones after) Gilbert will be hungry to win. A hungry Gilbert is fun to watch.

We’ve also got Tom Boonen on what appears to be his best form in three years. We have Fabian Cancellara, the one-man wrecking crew, back and looking for revenge after the whole peloton worked against him last season. We have Hushovd, Gilbert’s teammate at BMC, needing to justify his leadership with some big rides. World Champion Mark Cavendish is capable of taking any of the one-day races with a reasonably flat run in to the finish, and guys like Andre Greipel, Heinrich Haussler and Peter Sagan can get in the mix, too.

It’s an awful lot of strong guys in good health and with top motivation.

Again, read Whit’s piece to get the in-depth, to read about the darker horses and to get a good sense for how this weekend’s races will likely play out. Then come back here and make your predictions. This week’s Group Ride asks: Who will win the opening salvos, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kurne-Brussels-Kurne? Who will lay down their markers? And who will go home and cry themselves to sleep having come up short?

 

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Image: Jon Pierce, Photosport International

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3 comments

  1. DavidA

    I watched the Live stream on from Belgium on Sports-Livez.com you have to get up early but…I made waffles and strong coffee and watched an on fire Sep Vanmarcke beat a much on form Tom Boonen. Sep was going well too as he was flying over the stones today…his pressure split it up at the front. I wouldnt be suprised if Flecha is in the top 5 again tomorrow. It was fun to see Greg Vanavermat take 5th pl. I used to raced with his dad Ronny when I lived in Lokeren Belgium. K-B-Kuurne in the early am!!!!

  2. cthulhu

    late night for me ;)
    But my pick for KBK is Greipel. He is strong as always but it looks like his team is better and more well-rehearsed.

    As for yesterday…BMC lost big time. I mean they managed to put Hushovd in the winning break but unlike QS and Sky only one rider and the rest of the BMC completely controlled the peloton but failed to react in time as Hushovd faded. OK, I admit Gilbert had a really untimely puncture, maybe things would have been different if that had not happened, still the result stands.

    Also Boom looks really good even if he was stupid yesterday, why didn’t he just stay in Boonen’s slipstream?

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