Friday, April 04, 2008

Tour of Flanders: Poached Preview

"Only those who are in top condition can say that the Ronde is not hard. For everyone else, it's the Way of the Cross." That's the way 2002 Flanders champ Andrea Tafi put it. Either way you slice it, this one's a killer: 264 km and 17 bergs--narrow, cobbled and upwards of 20% at times. The weather forecast says it's going to be cold, wet, and windy, maybe some hail. And there are plenty of big contenders to ramp up the pressure. Allesandro Ballan is the defending champ. Tom Boonen won in 2005 and 2006. Cancellara, Gilbert, and Pozzato will be there as well. It all adds up to an electrifying race.

Pez goes all out on its preview efforts, offering up some valuable historical background, an introduction to the 17 bergs/heillegen/climbs, and a rating of the contenders. CN has a preview up as well. VN comes through with a Graham Watson Flanders Photo Gallery. Not to be outdone, PdC also has some thorough coverage, dissecting the hopes of the main contenders and analyzing the climbs, while adding some hypothesizing of the team tactics.

See also the offical website, startlists, and the live coverage options.

Unibet Odds:

Cancellara 5.00
Boonen 5.00
Ballan 10.00
Hoste 11.00
Pozzato 12.00
Nuyens 18.00
Devolder 20.00
Gilbert 20.00
Steegmans 25.00
Gasparotto 25.00
Kroon 30.00
Vaitkus 30.00
chavanel 30.00
Freire 30.00
Flecha 35.00
Klier 35.00
Quinziato 50.00
Eeckhout 80.00

Check out the chaotic situation that developed on the Koppenberg in 2006:

And don't miss this sweet ad from Het Nieuwsblad:

OTT: Wisely, Cracked World View


halloewen said...

cool video. looks a lot like the roads i got to cycle one afternoon when mrs. dr. and i were in belgium in 2003. we were there because mrs dr. was playing for a bunch of people in the world saxamaphone competition. i borrowed an old mountain bike (similar to the secretary's univega) from the couple we were billeted with and rode around roads and paths that followed the stations of the cross in and around Dinant. many similar type roads but without the 20% grades (i avoided those). one of the neat things i saw that afternoon was the local pheasant hunting club working a field for pheasant. a group of guys with funny green hats, each with a pheasant feather stuck in the hat, walked in line through a field beating two sticks together and scaring pheasants towards the hunters who were at the other end of the field. it would be cool to watch a bike race go through the same area.

The Dark Lord said...

Sounds like good times.

Some day there will be an FGBC pilgrimage to Belgium for Holy Week--Tour of Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem, Paris Roubaix. Not sure when. Probably not anytime soon. But someday.

Gianni said...

...and funny green hats.

Ride at 8:30 a.m. at BHP Chickadee.