Yes, it's time for the thrilling Paris-Roubaix, baby! and while there seems to be a distinct lack of freak-out excitement this year with Cancellara down and out and Boonen jinxed as presumptive champ before he even gets his chamois cream on in the morning, for my money, there's nothing more fun. Will last year's dark-horse winner Vansummeren make Thor Hushovd cry like a Millar and take it again? Will an ill-timed puncture give Ballan and Pozzato the chance to humiliate the Belgians mid-waffle? Will Stuey O'Grady get trampled by a raging random herd of zoo-escaped elephants and claw himself over the finish line by the mere strength of his nose hairs? These and all your other questions will be answered on Sunday, cycling fans, so here's yer official preview:
The Course: you know it. Riders fear it. And Boonen eats pave' for breakfast. 27 sections of rocky bone-breaking hell and the Arenberg at 80k to go. Here, the Sky boys check out the cobbles: Looks easy, right?
The Forecast: !@#$! Rain! Anyone else thinking last year's blinding dust-storm was a damn cakewalk in compared to tomorrow's inevitable cloud-borne carnage?
The Players: yep, the usual suspects. But also Flecha, Vanmarcke, Chavanel, Boassen-Hagen-Dazs, and for all we know some hapless terrified no-mestique from Team Holycrapishouldastayedhome could be the last man standing at the line. Oh, and Lance Armstrong'll be there, not that I'm tippin' off Landis or nothin'. Me, I love a surprise--oops, that'd be Hushovd this year!
The Prize: your collarbone still workin'? You won! Oh, and this thing: Sweet!
Onwards, upwards--and for lots of these poor guys, probably downwards--to Roubaix!