Flanders: Pure Pain
Chavanel has been rolling, and is confident ahead of FlandersThe CSC team too seems to be firing on all cylanders, after Kurt Asl-Arvesen's win at the E3. The lifetime gregario took top honors in the Belgian semi-classic, and he and the rest of the CSC workhorses will be ready to do battle again for De Ronde. Another team that can bring many riders to the front, CSC will have Stuey O'Grady, Karsten Kroon and Kurt Asle-Arvesen in addition to the might "Sparticus", Cancellara.
Cancellara is fast becoming the king of pro cyclingMeanwhile, other favorite teams haven't fared so well in the lead up to one of Belgium's biggest races. The Quick Step team has taken their lumps, as Gert Steegmans crashed earlier in the week and Stijn Devolder missed the decisive break in yesterday's first stage on the Three Days of De Panne stage race. Team leader Tom Boonen meanwhile, has been a ghost, as in invisible. "Tommeke," unbeatable at Qatar and decent in Calfornia, has been slow to react to attacks thus far during Flemish Cycling Week, and is not the first name that comes to mind when considering the favorites for Sunday. Boonen could however be saving himself for one of his biggest targets of the year, as he hasn't been dropped in any races either, but seems rather to stay in the background on purpose.
Sunday will answer the question: Has Boonen been bluffing?The Lotto-Silence team also is having a tough Flemish Cycling Week, as Ronde favorite Leif Hoste crashed hard on the first stage of Three Days of De Panne yesterday, putting him in doubt for Sunday's race. Robbie McEwen, the other team leader, has been absent at the front thus far in any of the previous Belgian races, and looks like a long shot for Flanders, at best. Greg Van Aerment, the young up-and-coming one day specialist, may get a baptism by fire as team leader if Hoste can't go on Sunday.
Hoste crashed in stage one of the Three Days of De Panne race, and is questionable for FlandersThe third group of riders scheduled for Flanders haven't had bad luck, but they haven't had good enough form to win either. Among these are Philippo Pozzato, second in Milan-San Remo, Alessandro Ballan, second at L'Eroica and at the front throughout this past week, Thor Hushovd, close but not good enough in all of the Belgian classics thus far, and Philippe Gilbert, who took the season's first semi-classic, Het Volk, and was a close second at Brabantse Pijl this past Sunday.
Gilbert is flying this year, and as a Belgian he'll be pumped to deliver at Flanders
"Gaspa" will go for broke in Flanders after a strong early spring