Friday, April 04, 2014

You Down With O.P.P. (Other People's Pave')?: It's Yer Flanders in Preview, Baby!

Oh yeah, we're down to serious business, baby, because there's both the men's and women's Ronde van Vlaanderen are this weekend, and there's already drama by the buckets! The score:

The Gossip: Belgian cops totally coincidentally kick Peter Sagan off the Kwaremont while he's reconning the course today, link here. Nothing personal! Next up: authorities bust into every non-Belgian team and rider's hotel rooms at 3 a.m. on Sunday with battering rams, billy clubs, bullhorns, stun guns, cattle prods, smoke grenades, and those spazzy little hand-buzzers you buy at the joke shop. Oops, wrong room--nighty-night, sorry to disturb you!

The Cobbles: fans love 'em, riders fear 'em, and Tom Boonen picks 'em out from between his teeth after a leisurely lunch. You know it: Molenberg, Kwaremont, Paterberg. Why the !@#$ won't a profile pic load? A close-up view of the pain on the Kwaremont: And beyond-bangin' preview of the women's race on Velofocus. Yep, it's gonna be just as vicious out there!

The Forecast: lookin' like rain. Oh, man, I can almost *hear* the sound of hitting the stones...

The Contenders: Nairo Quintana. Alberto Contador. Chris Froome. Just kidding! Tho' Alejandro Valverde's already reconned some cobbles ahead of his Tour de France bid. Tom Boonen vs. Fabian Cancellara, both downplaying their chances but ready to rumble. Peter Sagan, under heavy sponsor pressure to giddyap with a major Monument this season. Critic's darling Sep Vanmarcke. One thing's for sure: if you give Cancellara a single bike length ahead of the pack, he's gone for good, and all you're fighting for is a podium place. Eyes open, Tommeke! For the women: geez, can we get a definitive start list? Defending champ is Marianne Vos. Elisa Longo Borghini. Podiums Emma Johansson and Ellen Van Dijk. Last year's women's roundup:

The Dark Horses: who *doesn't* love ponies? We love Sylvain Chavanel. Pippo Pozzato. Luca Paolini. Niki Terpstra and Stijn Devolder. And a host of other Belgian badasses waiting to grit it out and take advantage if the favorites over-mark. Oh, like Pippo wouldn't look just *adorbs* with that trophy!

The Absentees: Nick Nuyens, gobsmacked by flu. Ian Stannard, stuffed into a back brace. There'll be a lot more before Sunday's over though, honey!

The Fans: beer, beer, and beer. And if you can see through the gorgeous Flandrian flags smothering the sidelines, you might even see some bikes go by. Wait, *who* just ran into me when I stumbled into the course?

Well, time to place yer bets--and for you undecideds, look who got it last year!

No comments: