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To(m) Believe Or Not To(m) Believe?

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2002 3rd, 2004 9th, 2005 1st, 2006 2nd, 2007 6th, 2008 1st, 2009 1st, 2010 5th, 2012 1st, 2014 10th, 2016 2nd.

15 years and 11 top 10 finishes with 4 victories.  That’s Tom Boonen’s record for L’enfer du Nord, the Hell of the North, the Queen of the Classics, Paris-Roubaix.

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I’ll Make You Rich Part V – Il Lombardia

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Il Lombardia, or the race of the falling leaves, is the fifth and final monument classic of the season.  Unlike the other four, Il Lombardia has a smattering or a Grand Tour stage more than a unique historic route, although that is unique in itself.  So who’s going to win? More

Those Damned Fans

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The one thing that separates cycling from all other sports is the fact that it is free to watch at the highest level.  Imagine turning up at the World Cup Final and watching the match with your camper van and BBQ at the side of the pitch.  Or standing on a hill overlooking the Superbowl with a few beers and your mates watching the game unfold.  Or walking into the Augusta National with a pair of shorts and a vest on the final round of the Masters.

You can’t.

But that’s exactly what you can do at every single cycling World Tour event.  And that is why cycling is by far and above, the most inclusive and remarkable global sport. More

TdF + Bastille Day = Mont Ventoux

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Today is stage 12 of the Tour de France and it marks a special day for the French – Bastille Day, a national holiday and the hopes of a French winner on the famous mountain in a week where their footballers failed to deliver.

But it’s a special day for me too – it’s the first time the Tour has visited the Giant of Provence since my efforts in September 2013.  Whilst it’s not a national holiday where I live, I can assure you that I’ll be watching the stage somehow. More

TdF Stage 2 – Saint Lo to Cherbourg 183km

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CARTE

So Stage 1 has come and gone, Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) took the yellow jersey and his 27th TdF stage win, a tremendous achievement for the Manx Missile – chapeau Cav.  My four favourites finished in the first four places but as you know, I went for outsiders so maybe gut feeling should be the order of the day going forward.

No opinions today folks, just pure unadulterated punditry.

Sky Bet are backing Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) at 10/3, Michael Matthews (Orica BikeExchange) at 6/1, Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx Quickstep) at 13/2 and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) at 8/1.  So what are their chances? More

I’ll Make You Rich Part IV – LBL

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Thanks to Mark at www.zeitgeistimages.co.uk for allowing me to use the above image.  His cycling/art-deco inspired work is tremendous – click here to buy his Liege-Bastogne-Liege piece.  Follow Mark on Twitter @MrMarkFairhurst

When my 2 picks for Paris-Roubaix arrived in the velodrome in the leading group of 5, you could have forgiven me for whooping and a hollering.  I was imagining spending my winnings on not one but three new Castelli Gabba jackets.

So imagine the deafening silence in my head when they finished 3rd and 5th (Stannard and Bousson Hagen respectively).  I still made a profit but it’ll probably only cover a couple of brake blocks and it takes a lot to stop a big unit like me, so they won’t last long.

Onwards. More

I’ll Make You Rich Part II – RVV

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Well after the Milan Sanremo  debacle I would not be surprised if this post receives no views.  My MSR pre-race tips were actually looking very good at 300 metres to go and then it all fell apart with Fernando Gaviria (Etixx Quickstep) taking out Cancellara, Sagan and Boasson Hagen then Bouhanni slipped his chain (although I’m sure he still thinks it was someone else’s fault) when he looked odds on to take the sprint.  But chapeau to Arnaud Demare (FDJ) for his first Monument win and to Britain’s Ben Swift (Sky)  for a tremendous second place.

So onwards to the second Monument of 2016, the 100th edition of the Ronde Van Vlaanderen (RVV) or the Tour of Flanders if you prefer.  Each Monument has its individual nuances, Milan-Sanremo has the epic distance, Paris-Roubaix has its cobbles, Liege-Bastogne-Liege has its many steep climbs and Il Lomardia sitting at the end of a gruelling season has the longer climbs.

But the Ronde Van Vlaanderen has no fewer than 18 climbs, some cobbled, some asphalt and a further 7 cobbled flat sections.  The climbs in the RVV aren’t your classic alpine slogs.  No, these are short sharp strength sappers.  They range from 400 metres to 2.5km in length and average between 4% and 12.5% average gradients but some sections are as steep as 22%.  Now throw in a distance of over 250km and you get a guaranteed afternoon of sporting excellence and endeavour and no matter who wins, it’ll be safe to say that they deserve it.

So taking this and the current performances, who is most likely going to be on the podium? More

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