The Fuss: the 100th Happy Birthday of the final Classic of the noblest season, when desperation is high for the season's so-far winless, the legs are shot, and your enraged short-sheeted sponsor's gonna beat you over the head with their iconic product if you don't bring home a podium. If your boss is Oleg Tinkov and he compliments you on Twitter, get the hell out, out, out!
The Course: Climb, dammit, climb! But don't be so good at it that you don't have power. And don't puncture. Or forget to eat. Or get caught behind some nit making a last-second date with the road furniture. Or be a tactical eejit. He who's on the !@#-end of the peloton on the Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons is lost! The whole hog: here. The profile: HOLY #$%! WHEN IS THIS AGONY GONNA STOP?
The Contenders: Last year's stealth champ Dan Martin is a marked man. Chris Froome's lookin' to scare Alberto outta his smug tranquility and calm everyone down about that alarming pic of his legs he twitted this week. 2013 runner-up Purito Rodriguez' ribs still kill from crashing at Fleche, but then, who needs "air"--he apparently has that weird Wolverine thing that still lets you pound everybody when some clown's dropped a tank on your head. Nibali's not on his best game yet, but since you're all a pack o' power-meter-watching simps, he will crush you with his sheer manliness. Gilbert probably wants and needs it more'n anybody. And who's been creepin' *everybody* out all season? That's right, inexplicably likeable Alejandro Valverde! Either way, with too many other likely suspects to list, I'm wrong by this time tomorrow anyway--so Roman Kreuziger, wanna grab some glory before you give it all to Contador in July?
The Missing: Why the heck isn't there a women's Liege already? I mean, the race is nicknamed after a lady! Marianne Vos, just go there tomorrow with some cheesy hipster moustache disguise glued on yer face and take them all out anyway!
The Gee-I-Hope-They-Don't-Ignominiously-Suck-Tomorrows: okay, basically I mean Andy Schleck, who still holds the World Record for Non-Stop Whining After a Mechanical Despite Making a Cheap Shot Attack Against The Same Guy Too but is starting to garner even my sympathy--like we love Joseba Beloki after his spectacular Tour de France leg-snap driving his wheel into melting tarmac, poor Andy's never been the same since his own fall. Damn underdog-savior complex! Here, Dan-Martin-Who-Didn't-Choke brings it home last year:
Allez allez, and may the luckiest s.o.b. win!