With the Tour of Flanders cobbles waiting in wheel buckling anticipation, we thought we’d throw our hat into the ring and attempt in true PBK office style to predict maybe not who the winner will be, but at least those who we feel will make an impact.
First up is the King of the Cobbles, Tom Boonen (Quick Step). His wins in 2005 and 2006 have meant that his every move has been scrutinised by the peloton to keep him close. So much so, that his team mate Stijin Devolder has slipped under the radar twice to win in 2008 and 2009. Boonen will want to impress on home soil and he knows the route like the back of his hand and is hungry for success after watching his team mate ride away to back to back victories. The bookies and fans favourite could pull it off in style!
A week before the Tour of Flanders, Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) won the the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen – Harelbeke, traditionally seen as the key warm-up race on the cobbled climbs of Flanders. He looks in great form at the moment and the Swiss rider has made no secret about the fact that he wants to add a Flanders victory to his impressive collection of titles. He’ll want to get away again in the last Kilometre and avoid a sprint finish with the likes of Boonen and co, but if he can, he might just have the legs over his rivals.
Stijin Devolder (Quick Step) is one of the joint favourites, but surely he can’t be allowed to win a third consecutive title while everyone concentrates on marking Boonen out of the race? They said that last year as well, but he won’t be able to get that level of leeway again……….not this time! A competent and aggressive climber, the cobbled hills may get the better of him as his current form is not as good as the team would like, but a champion always wants to defend his title and we expect this year will be no different.
Keep an eye out Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) and Matti Breschel (Saxo bank) as well, both are in great form and can’t be ignored. One things for sure, this course will have its fair share of thrills and spills and there’s always a chance of an upset. Get your Belgian beer cooling in the fridge and enjoy the show.