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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 III – Roubaix Roubaix Roubaix

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So having struck gold in last week’s Ronde Van Vlaanderen / Tour of Flanders with a win from Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) placing 4th, I thought I would give you another opportunity to share the spoils this weekend.

Paris-Roubaix is possibly the most iconic Monument Classic, it’s certainly the most ridiculous.  Starting in Compiegne north-east of Paris, the route covers a flat 257km route, across the open countryside of northern France, finishing in the Roubaix velodrome.  But what makes this race ridiculous and yet so intriguing is the fact that the route also covers 27 individual cobbled (pave) sections totalling 53km.  These aren’t you’re modern day bumps on the road, these cobbles are verging on medieval, the only traffic these roads see is farm machinery.  A society exists (Les Amis de Paris–Roubaix or the friends of the race) to maintain some of the sections and by maintenance I mean, they manually scrape the compacted dirt OUT of the gaps in the cobbles to make sure that they are in the worst possible condition for road bikes.  Throw in some rain and you have a lottery of biblical proportions so picking a winner could be challenging. 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

I’ll Make You Rich Part I – MSR

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This weekend sees the first cycling Monument of 2016, the Milan-San Remo (MSR).  It’s the longest professional one-day race and consequently, the winner can be harder to predict.  So many variables enter the equation, inclement weather conditions, how the legs respond in a sprint after 7 hours of racing and being able to get over the final climb of the Cipressa without cracking, to name but a few.

What is more certain, is the likelihood that the race will finish with a sprint as the last time the winning margin was more than 10 seconds was in 1994 and more than a minute was 1974.

I’m no betting man but there are certain events where a flutter is justified and the first Monument of the season is one such occasion.  I’ve selected my favourites, a few outside chances for those who want more bang for their buck and reasoned arguments for some notable exclusions. More