Peter Sagan and Pozzato are competing in the Strade Bianche in Italy this week, live on Eurosport
Italy’s opening televised race of the season is one that has not been back with us long. The race along the dust pebble roads of Italy is one that has proved popular. Italy’s answer to the cobbles of Roubaix are the pebbles of Tuscany. With March now upon us cycling is coming into its spring and this is an appetiser to a great weeks racing.
Past winners have been of a high standard. Cancellera, Gilbert and Iglinsky have won the past 3 years. All 3 of those have won a top classics since or around the time of their wins. Cancellera is in fact a twice champion winning the 2nd ever race under this title in 08. Lofkvist provided a surprise win as a rider more known for his time trial abilities. Kolobnev provided no surprise as someone who has always been talked about as a potential winner in amstel gold ot LBL. This has not been a sprinters, riders who have done well in the big northern classics have been good here. Local talent has done ok in past years 2nd and 3rd 2 years ago they managed a 3rd last year. It should also be noted Lofvkist managed to make the podium two years running.
The route contains many sections of dust roads and many hills to SAP the energy both result in puncheurs and good bike handlers coming to the front. Their is a late climb 600 metres or so at about 10% which has made this difficult for sprinter types to win, whoever wins will have been in good shape. Cancellera had raced both Oman and Qatar before winning here last year.
Peter Sagan is best priced 2/1 with paddy power for this, he was 7mins down last year in 26th, He had shown some form in build up 2 top3s in qatar, and a win and two 2nds in Oman. This year he comes in with 3 wins 2 in Oman and latest mid week in italy beating Ulissi, allaying fears issues that made him withdraw from Oman were still affecting him. A great bike handler and his team does have the power to help him out if needs be including the likely right hand man of young talent Moser.. This race is never straight forward and it makes me think this might not be his time tactically rather than because he is not good enough.
Twice winner Fabian Cancellera is coming off a mixed 2012 were after winning this he suffered a collar bone injury and other set backs, he had his worst season since his fassa bortolo days in 2005 as a result. Their are also valid rumours being talked about him from Spain which may affect his form. He showed little in Oman or Qatar even f he was helping Gallopin he should have shown more. BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet has had a solid year so far and is 18/1 to win this he s a man thou that has struggled to get his nose in front he was 5th here last year. He has a 2nd in Oman this season and a 5th in the Omloop last week. His team leader Evans is also here so they will likely play their cards, Greg should be at finish but not good enough to take a win.
Pozzatto the local boy is 20/1 with sportingbet too and has already won on home roads this season but proved less effective in the cold of belgium last week. He did not race this last year or the year before but came home 4th before that. With likely sun coming up he could play hs part in this if near his flanders form from last year. Valverde is 20/1 haven made a late decision to race in italy again for the first time since coming back from his ban. he has not raced in italy since the 2008 world road race, and before that it had been the 2006 Milan San Remo, this is mostly due to Italians coming after Valverde for his involvement in blood doping before he was finally banned. 2005 was the last time Valverde finished outside the top 5 ranked cyclists so well has he done but winning in Italy might be too much to ask.
Evans is another at 20/1 he races Tirreno each year but has decided to also race here, and ex mountain biker he should have no issue with the test of these roads. He had a strong Oman coming 3rd overall showing his climbing legs were ready. He 30th in this 2 years ago but does have more miles in the legs this time around but theirs no doubting he is more suited to stage racing these days. Cunego the little prince is 25/1 for this but he has been in decline for me and its hard to fancy him and his slender frame being strong enough here. He was 3rd here in 2011 but its been down hill since then for him. 2013 has been quiet for Cunego with no notable results, before his 3rd here he had a strong build up before that with several top 3s. L.Boom s also 25/1 and has been talked up for a big one day win for the last while, but with mix of bad luck and bad health it has not happened. He has no results in this race before but he does have some mountain biking history.
Gatto was 3rd here last year and goes from being in the shadow of Pozzatto to being able to week in week out be the focus of his team. He had an 8th in Italy when Pozz won, but well down in the cold of belgium last week.
TJ Slagter is the man for blancos chance here. In his 4th season cycling hes already had his best year and is likely to greatly exceed it. He was strong in the tour down under winning the overall but he was in peak shape at that stage and others will be catching up now and had a 2nd in haut Var to show he was still ticking along. Visconti is 25/1 and provides a 2nd option for Movistart and has been in the top 25 each of the last 3 years. Paolini has a win from last week but I would be hugely surprised if he could do it again this weekend. Kolonev has previous here winning way back in 2007 but he has not shown any indications so far this year that he might be back. Moser was 12th as he debuted yesterday he is a dark horse who popped up at times last year showing what he can do, but he may work for Sagan and didn’t seem to like it here last year.
Outright:Sagan can stroll to victory if things fall right
1pt Peter Sagan 4.5 Betfair
.2pt Oscar Gatto 25/1 various
.2pt TJ Slagter 25/1 varous
Matchbets:Pozzato will lay it all out to do well in a home race
6pts F.Pozzzato to beat Paolini 3/4 sportingbet (40)
Pozzato has won at home this year he didnt like his trip to Belgium in the cold so much. A warmer day is expect in Italy this time and he should go much better. Paloini won in belgium but now faces being wach and is unlkely to be able to pull off the same trick again.
4pts Visconti to beat Nocentini 19/20 sportingbet
4pts evans to beat Cunego 1/2 bet365, sportingbet (1.52)
2pts Gatto to beat Van Avermaet 5/6 paddys (1.85 pinnacle)
2pts Sagan to beat Cancllera 8/11 paddys
2pts TJ Slagter to beat Nocentini 6/5 bet365
1pt Evans to beat Valverde 5/4 paddys
3pts m,Santambrogio to beat Kolobnev 17/20 betvictor
4pts Reda to beat Nocemtini 4/5 betvictor
2pts Marcato to beat Gasparratto 8/15 paddys
2pts M.Santambrogio to beat Pellzotti 1/2 sportingbet
3pts Reda to beat Boom 19/20 sportingbet
Boom is supposed to have been bit ill in the lead up to today