Tour of Flanders Preview and Prediction

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04/5/2014| 0 comments
by Gerald Churchill
Race favorite Peter Sagan (Cannondale) training on the route of the 2014 Tour of Flanders / Ronde Van Vlaanderen Fotoreporter Sirotti

Tour of Flanders Preview and Prediction

On Sunday, the peloton will tackle the Tour of Flanders, which some observers call the hardest of the classics.

Degenkolb has downplayed his chances, saying that victory might be a few years away, but a win at Gent-Wevelgem puts you on the radar for victory in the Tour of Flanders. The Giant-Shimano man might be trying to divert attention from himself, but his form is obvious.

Kristoff is coming off of victory in Milan-San Remo and a stage win at the Tour of Oman. The Norwegian finished fourth last year, so he knows the race and how to excel in it. The competition underestimates him at its peril.

The B list has Stijn Devolder (Trek Factory Racing) on it. Devolder won the race in 2008 and 2009 when he rode as Boonen’s right-hand man. If Cancellara is heavily marked, the Belgian could get clear and win again.

Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) finished second to Sagan at E3 Harelbeke.  The Dutchman has won the Tour of Qatar and the Dwars door Vlaanderen, and he was runner-up to Sagan at E3 Harelbeke. If Boonen is closely marked, Terpstra might get a chance to win.

Geraint Thomas (Sky) showed good form at Paris-Nice and Gent-Wevelgem, but he crashed in both races, with the Welshman abandoning the former. Thomas can be a factor in the race, but only if he stays rubber side down.

Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin) is a man for the classics. He has four top-five finishes this season, and he was runner-up to Cancellara at Paris-Roubaix last year. At 25, winning might be too much to ask, but the Belgian could wind up on the podium.

With teammate Philippe Gilbert out of the race, Greg Van Avermaet will have the BMC Racing Team at his disposal. The Belgian has decent form, and a good day could put him on the podium or close to it.

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