Stannard, capsule Flecha and defending champion Terpstra get a chance to be the focus of their teams efforts.
The first of the cobbled classics hits us , usually the stars may be saved, and due to the conditions of recent races we have seen several star names held back as they do not want to risk anything before the big double header of Flanders and Roubaix. The course is flat and easy for the first 100km, they then hit several climbs and cobble sections the most diffcult of which is 2km just 25km from the finish and up a key climb that is were a winning move can be made.
The forecast is for barely above freezing temperatures and some rain so the winner will need something about him beyond just abilities, mental strength comes into play more than ever. The lack of the top names leaves it well open, many of the riders who did well in San Remo will be popular here but maybe its worth looking for someone who did not ride San Remo.
Thomas (9/1) looks like he will race but could easily be pulled out in the morning, he had a fall late on in San Remo but seemed ok for it. His team mate Stannard with both Boassen Hagen and Thomas out of contention showed his strength, and his odds reflect what he showed their. Stannard (9/1) may not be tottally at home on cobbles thou and did not race this last year after 25th in 2011. Flecha (9/1) has a great record for a spainard but has never had a top 3 at this race., 27th and 33rd in last 3 years suggest he may not always be fine tuned for this. He did not show in San Remo and has had a poor start under his new team.
Terpstra (10/1) comes to defend his title. He will be the sole leader and OPQS have a strong classics team even when not at full strength that can support him well, beating a decent field with the help of super strong Chavanel shows it was no fluke. M.Iglinsky (10/1) the astana man had a great 2012 He was well done last year in 94th thou, he then improved more as the classics season went on. Hes in better shape than last year and looks a bit short in the odds. A.Kristoff (12/1) did well coming in the front of the sprint at San Remo of the rest. He has always being good at long distance racing and pushing his limits. He has a poor record in this race with just one go in the last 3 years well down the field. A strong San Remo may be good signs
B.Leukemans (16/1) was 2nd here in 2010, but 88th last year, but 13th in 2011. The worry is that he doies not have the form he was showing before in 2011 and 2010 and questions whether he will refind it . Tony Gallopin (20/1) is radioshacks man with Cancellera out of the picture, he hs no real past in this race so he will be learning the route. Last year he rode San Remo this year he rides this it could be a key sign. He has four top5s on the season but has come up short of a win. Gatto (33/1) a 20th in San Remo should serve him well if recovering, but he has not raced this before, he has not been best on cobbles in my view. Sutton (33/1) has a very poor 2012 but things are looking up for him and hes got the skills to do well, this season has looked bright already.
K.De Kort (66/1) rode into 3rd here last year. L.Mondory (150/1) was 9th in group just over minute down last year. Keueliere (100/1) managed a top 10. Hayman was 4th in 2011 but is down the sky pecking order here. S.Chainel (100/1) is an interesting one 4th in 2010, he was also 11th in 2011. His move for ag2r this year has yet to yield dividends. T.Veelers (150/1) was 8th in 2010 and 15th in 2011, 51st last year was a downgrade thou. Vandenbergh (50/1) was 9th in 2011Terpstra can lead his high quality team
.1pt T.Veelers 150/1 paddypower
.2pt Gallopin 20/1 paddypower
.5pts Terpstra 10/1 paddypower
.1pt Chainel 100/1 hills
3pts Stannard to beat Flecha 2.28 pinnacle
4pts Terpstra to beat Leukemans 1.64 pinnacle
1pt Devolder to beat Voeckler 2.66pinnacle
2pt K.De Kort to beat Hayman 1.93 pinnacle
2pts Veelers to beat Gatto 6/5 bet365
3pts G.Thomas to beat Voeckler 1/2 sportingbet
1pt Stannard to beat M.Iglinsky evens sportingbet
2pts Kristoff to beat Gatto 17/20 sportingbet
3pts Gallopin to beat Guarnieri 1/2 sportingbet
3pts Terpstra to beat Flecha 4/7 sportingbet
1pt Rojas Gil to beat Ventoso 8/11 williamhill