*** Greg VAN AVERMAET (93.) Last start winner in E3 when outsprinting his Belgian breakaway compatriots toward the line, and looked completely comfortable when combining with them throughout the 38km breakaway distance.
Has already showed his prodigious skills as the reigning Olympic Gold Medalist, when winning OHN, finishing 7th in KBK, and taking 2nd in Strade Bianche, before riding out Tirreno-Adriatico, and finishing with the peloton in MSR for 21st.
Can go even better than his 3rd-place finish here in 2013.
Opened at 13/1 with several, and that is very good E/W value. Could easily have been installed as an 11/2 second favourite behind Sagan. Sure to make strong appeal at that price, and would expect him to find at least the (equal) third line at 8/1 by start time.
The testing material. Honest type. Commands the upmost respect. Go close. Special.
* John DEGENKOLB (67.) Only the one win in Dubai over 200kms to show for his season thus far, however he is putting some form together with a 7th in MSR when finishing the peloton, and a 13th in E3 last start when he was being inspired to work and improve his condition by teammate Felline, in long places.
He might best be directed at Roubaix at this point of his condition, however he is a previous winner here in 2014 and has a very strong team to rely on.
Opened 13/1 best with a couple, which is very poor value. Would expect 15/1 as a reasonable starting point, and 19/1 when approaching the start. E/W.
Can give a good account of himself. Improving. Hard nut to crack. Keep safe.
1/8* Guillaume VAN KEIRSBULCK (36.) 26yo Belgian who was being developed by QST from the outset of his career as their cobbled classics gun, so surprising he was let go by them last year, now on a two-year contract with WGG. Already a winner over the mini-Roubaix of Le Samyn earlier in the season, over a distance of 200kms, which is not much of a surprise given his win in 2009 in the Roubaix Juniors. Nevertheless, that is a top result and brings him into the discussion over this type of course.
Better than his 70th here last year, and 67th in 2014 as a 23yo.
Putting together a fair season on the cobbles with the following results: 21st OHN, 56th KBK, 1st LS, 5th DDWestV, 67th Nokere Koerse, 54th Handzame Classic, 42nd DDV, and a forward ride last start in E3 for a 36th-place finish.
Will have to roll with the punches, but he has shown his street smarts prior, and WGG DS knows these cobbled plots well.
Available as a 200/1 pop with a couple, on an E/W basis.
Holds some credentials. Steep rise up in class. One for the multiples. Take on trust.
1/32* Scott THWAITES (22.) 27yo. GB. DDD. Displayed his suitability over the cobbles in 2016, when rode impressively to finish 2nd in Le Samyn over 200kms and in tough conditions. Had ample opportunities to fold, but resisted and dug deep, signalling his potential hard qualities.
Winless as a pro, but has a commendable top-10 finish in Strade Bianche, earlier this month. Then rode out Tirreno-Adriatico and MSR, and was handy last start in E3 for a 30th-place finish.
Avaialable at 274/1 with PP. E/W.
Still in welter class. Perhaps a place. Take on trust.
Forecast is for a cloudy day, with cool temps and marginal winds.
GVA into 14/1 now, which is an amazing price, I think. And equally amazing that Degenkolb is now into 10/1 with some -- rubbish price! More sprinters are being backed-in, which is not surprising since this race is known as a sprinters' classic, however there is nearly always a selection and having a versatile sprinter like Degenkolb is a bonus.
Forecast is for a cloudy day, with cool temps and marginal winds. GVA into 14/1 now, which is an amazing price, I think. And equally amazing that Degenkolb is now into 10/1 with some -- rubbish price! More sprinters are being backed-in, which is not
I really like your pick of GVK. Will be here for the first time as a leader.
Others I like at big prices are Stijn Devolder, probably over the hill but possibly can have one last hurrah and Keukeleire who I constantly think will do well and I'm constantly let down.
My head this morning said Jurgen Roelandts but I couldn't go near him at his current price and he's likely to be working for Debusschere.
I really like your pick of GVK. Will be here for the first time as a leader.Others I like at big prices are Stijn Devolder, probably over the hill but possibly can have one last hurrah and Keukeleire who I constantly think will do well and I'm consta
I definitely agree that the E3 + GWinFF double is difficult, but so was winning gold in Rio, and that price was ridiculous, so I had to pull the trigger so-to-speak. BMC are very professional and transparent, so there is no doubt about their plans for this race when reading their roster card/ pre-race thoughts.
I think you're right though about him as leader, the idea of this being a sprinters' race is a throwback to the 90's and so he might have shared that principal role with JP Drucker in the past, since a bunch sprint always held potential here, and it does today also, but highly unlikely, I think.
Roelandts on home roads is always a solid option, I know you remember how he went solo some 80kms out in this race in 2015 in brutal conditions, and hung tough -- it was one the strongest rides I have ever witnessed on the cobbles. Would enjoy seeing him do something similar, but yeah, that price was nonsense.
I definitely agree that the E3 + GWinFF double is difficult, but so was winning gold in Rio, and that price was ridiculous, so I had to pull the trigger so-to-speak. BMC are very professional and transparent, so there is no doubt about their plans fo
Argh! What a race! So close for Keukeleire! Amazed we haven't seen that from him before as the talent has always been there.
Great shout on GVA. He's become a monster these last few years, it's gone from the time I would always back any other rider in a sprint to it being a major shock if he didn't carry it home!
Managed to get the race in before I have to go out as well, a winner all round!
Argh! What a race! So close for Keukeleire! Amazed we haven't seen that from him before as the talent has always been there.Great shout on GVA. He's become a monster these last few years, it's gone from the time I would always back any other rider in
A very fine race. GVA did the Double as expected by following up his E3 win to land some nice bets, and in fact he has done the Triple with OHN earlier in the season, which (Dutchman and Rainbow Jersey wearer) Jan Raas achieved in 1981. Phenomenal achievement by GVA, proving his Gold Medal superiority.
I agree that we've known Keukeleire has had that kind of talent when turning pro, but perhaps by finally maturing into the age group for the peak of WT riders, he has developed some more dour qualities to complement his powerful physique, where before he was more of a kid in adult's clothing, so-to-speak. Nevertheless, he looks more substantial on the bike and he can be very good on these courses, that's for sure. There's a power to his riding which was missing before. Both him and Debusschere need to go on with it now -- it'll be interesting to see if they can.
Classic stuff from Sagan by refusing to allow Terpstra a sit and "dictating the creation of the winner", but of course the root of the breakaway came from the hellingen and it was the Kemmelberg, the final climb with 35kms to-go, which GVA initiated and Sagan followed along with Degenkolb, which fractured the peloton into pieces, before the two significant groups formed, making up 14 riders. When such a big group forms there are always passengers, although Degenkolb and Thwaites were not that. As CJ mentions in the thread, Thwaites emptied himself for EBH in order to bridge to the select race-winning group, and he still managed to finish with the peloton by hanging tough. Superb. I think he is a better rider than EBH and should have an equal role in the team. Real hard, tough-as-nails rider, that requires more opportunities within the team.
Now, GVA and Kooks just found themselves in the lead without even realising it would appear, since Sagan refused to come through after noticing Terpstra being Terpstra and not contributing. I really enjoyed that actually, because I agree with Sagan in that he had a say on deciding who would win.
You don't mess with the Peloton Mafia Boss, Terpstra! LOL! Classic stuff, indeed!
Sagan's attack to try and bridge later, looked very strong, but Terpstra is coming good with his condition and that chase to reel Sagan back in was very powerful, so a very nice ride by Terpstra on the whole.
That Danish kid might be alright. Degenkolb showed himself to make the break and contribute, but as feared he is a ways off, still. Big loser from all that was Bling. He is becoming overrated to some extent, I believe. LTS are becoming a laughing stock, which is sad for such a team. Good strong riding from QTS, it should be remembered that it was Stybar and Trentin that caused the first significant break of the day on the first of the "plugstreets" with 59kms to-go. They got it to 20secs but it always looked shorter on the straight sections of road. Was that it from Boonen, though?
Flanders in a week -- maybe the Books will finally install GVA as favourite for a race;-)
A very fine race. GVA did the Double as expected by following up his E3 win to land some nice bets, and in fact he has done the Triple with OHN earlier in the season, which (Dutchman and Rainbow Jersey wearer) Jan Raas achieved in 1981. Phenomenal ac