Although this week’s weather has remained warm and sunny, with temperatures rising to the early 20s by midday, next week’s forecast shows the midday temperatures falling, for the first time in ages, below 20C. Despite struggling with the after effects of my post-Copenhagen cold, I have continued to pursue my training plan. Largely because next week will be a rest while I’m back in the UK, visiting my parents. While out training I have been thinking about this week end’s races and specifically the Tour of Lombardy. For an excellent summary of the route, please check out www.thearmchairsportsfan.com.
This is a race which tends to be slightly tinkered with each year. Tomorrow’s race finishes in Lecco which has rather mitigated against me going to watch it live. Of course, I was even more disappointed when I learned on Tuesday that one of my friends would be riding it. Sadly, the organisers don’t seem to know he’s riding, as his name doesn’t appear on any of the various start lists. He only found out he would be riding on his return from the Tour of Beijing on Monday, so his wife has had to re-submit his whereabouts report. If only we’d known sooner, we’d have hired a larger car and taken his entire family along to watch. It would have been a fun day out.
It’s highly unlikely that my friend will win, although it’s a parcours that suits him. He’ll be riding in support of one of the team’s other riders. So, who is going to win? I have been pondering the front runners and looking back at the results of the most recent races, including yesterday’s Tour du Piemont.
Omega Pharma Lotto’s Fast Phil
Lacking in support at last week end’s Paris-Tours and MIA yesterday, Fast Phil will be looking for his 3rd consecutive win while the rest of the peloton, barring maybe BMC, will be out to stop him. According to the start lists, he’s currently missing 2 team mates and the other 5 riders listed could hardly be described as stellar. Yes, as Omega Pharma Lotto morphs into Quick Omega or whatever next year, everyone’s rather lost interest. It’s going to be tough Phil, but you can do it.
Euskaltel’s Samu Sanchez
The man with more 2nds to his name than Pou Pou comes with a team choc ful of experience but, in yesterday’s race, he was obviously saving himself for Saturday. Either that or he’s not yet fully recovered from his bout of Beijing Belly. Aupa Samu!
Europcar’s Tommy Voeckler
Never one to pass up the opportunity for a TV cameo, expect him to launch at least one of his trademark attacks. Finished 4th yesterday, so obviously on song.
BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet
Winner of Paris-Tours and 2nd yesterday, he’s likely to find tomorrow’s parcours a little too hilly for his liking. However, he might earn some brownie points for himself, his team and next year’s team mate Fast Phil by giving the latter some discreet support.
Lampre’s Michele Scarponi and Damiano Cunego
Expect both of these riders to be in the mix but keep an eye out for their more in-form team mate Przemyslaw Niemiec.
Liquigas’s Ivan Basso and Vicenzo Nibali
Could they cook up something together tomorrow a la Sidi? Who knows. Basso lives in Varese so should know this route like the back of his hand but Nibali seems the man on form with solid performances yesterday and in Giro dell’Emilia. Could Nibali make a decisive break on one of the descents?
Rabobank’s Bauke Mollema
Probably sharing team leader’s duties with Carlos Barredo, performed well in GP Berghelli and Giro dell’Emilia, but sadly rides for a tactically inept team.
Sky’s Rigoberto Uran
Could be their main man on a parcours that suits his abilities.
A team full of recent race winners: Daniel Moreno, Joaquim Rodriguez , Luca Paolini and Pippo Pozzato.
The team most likely to go out with a whimper rather than a bang. Cavendish, having flashed us the rainbow jersey, may climb off (as he did yesterday) when the race passes close to his place.
Other contenders who may or may not feature in the mix
In no particular order: Movistar’s Pablo Lastras, Garvelo’s Dan Martin, AG2R’s Nico Roche, Radioshack’s Jani Brajkovic, Leopard Trek’s Jakob Fuglsang and Farnese’s Giovanni Visconti.
Next year’s race will be moved to the week end after the World Championships, so it’ll be the race of “soon to be Falling Leaves”.