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17 Mar 17 15:41
Date Joined: 11 Jul 11
| Topic/replies: 5,589 | Blogger: SwingingPick's blog
***** Peter Sagan (100.)

Australia's Pocket Rocket sprinter Caleb Ewen had Sagan's measure in the sprint stages of the TDU, with the Back-to-Back World Champion respecting the Rainbow Jersey by lining up in searing conditions in the WT opener, however he was frustrated with three 2nd-places to Ewen.

Back on Continental cobbles on Flemish Opening Weekend and it was yet another 2nd-place finish in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad when the Olympic Gold medal champion GVA beat him to win, after Vanmarcke (3rd) animated the top-class three-man breakaway. Nevertheless, the second race which constitutes the Flemish Opening Weekend, KBK, run the next day over the 200km top-class standard, proved easy redemption when he sprinted away in fine fashion from a five-man breakaway.

Next came the blemish of having to abandon Strade Bianche after some 95kms due to a cut to his finger resulting from a crash, but more so because of illness which he developed in the lead-up to the modern classic over the white gravel roads of Tuscany.

Has come off a very good ride in Tirreno Adriatico with two wins over 200kms and a 3rd-place finish over 230kms. Has settled well into some soft training and appears confident and relaxed in the lead-up to this.

The thing with Sagan of only the last two seasons is that he is riding smart and courageous, where before he hadn't developed his heavy-weight status and "intimidation factor" in the peloton he now seems to boss the peloton with a kind of "standover" tactics, in so far as knowing he can expend a lot of energy and still have the legs to out-sprint the best in the peloton. He is just not afraid to work to do the lion's share of the work in a breakaway because he knows he is better in a sprint than the majority of those in the breakaway with him.

Deserving of favouritism. Opened at 9/2 and has understandibly found solid support throughout. Now into 7/2 and demand continues. I would have had him at 5/2 SP, which is probably where he will end up with the Books. Win only terms best.

12th here last year, however he was never near the level he is now. Rated to 100 at this early stage of the season. Likely to be amongst the race-winning moves, and riding smart enough and courageous enough to figure in the finish. The best rider on the start line.

*** Michal Kwiatkowski (68.)    

I tipped him to win E3 last season on this forum after noticing the approach SKY took with what I always regarded as his expansive characteristics. I mean, if the fictional cartoon character popularised by Segar's Thimble Theatre, Popeye, was a cyclist, he would be the Polish rider for his nuts-and-bolts physique of an underestimated bar-room brawler.     

People seem to forget how really fast he is in a sprint, and last year whilst he finished in 40th-place it should be remembered that he attacked solo off the back of the Poggio and was holding a nice gap with 3kms to-go with only Nibali sensing the danger to give earnest chase. Moreover, his condition was not near where it is now after claiming his second Strade Bianche win, two weeks ago when drifting away from a quality bunch of riders at about 18kms to-go.

Ultimately however, I consider that he went too early last year, and this time if he can be more patient and hold his own in what I'm expecting to be a bar-room brawl scenario into the finish, he not only has the speed and  proven legs over the distance, but also the aero-style to win by stealing a march in the finale or jumping off wheels in the last few metres.

Opened at 33/1 and has shortened into 28/1 with some, however I think he represents excellent value at 33/1.

Quality rider with excellent E/W value who is looking for this distance. A considerable threat with ample fighting qualities. Watch closely.

* Nacer Bouhani (52.)

I remember that MC got the forum onto this powerhouse French sprinter first, and whilst he has been mentioned in the frame of big sprint-race finishes, he has never enjoyed a period of dominating his opposition like say Kittel, Gorilla, Manx, and Kristoff.

Proven over the distance with a 4th and a 6th-place finish in his last two starts here. Coming off a highly-impressive last start win in the Belgian midweek Nokere Koerse race at 200kms, where cleared away from PCT opposition in effortless fashion on a rise to the finish line.

Installed at SP as a 14/1 shot, which is a truly terrible price, however he can be found at 16/1 already, which is only marginally better. I would hold out for some value on here as a Win Only proposition and look to get matched into the 20s. 19/1 with the Books on an E/W basis would be best though.

One of the main contenders. Looks fast and fit and may surprise some of these if finds some luck in-running. Good prospects in the right conditions. Treat warily.

* Sonny Colbrelli (45.)

The crafty Italian is knocking on the door of a breakthrough win with some consistent results, especially on home soil. He has proven that he knows how to find the line to win, and is proven over the distance with the following results in this race for the past three years, where he was involved in the bunch sprint each time: 9/18/6.

Jagged his only win of the season in his last start ride in stage two of Paris-Nice at 200kms by beating nearly all the big name sprinters going around presently, and then really impressed me with his condition when he won the sprint for 4th from Alapolak and Bling in the final Nice stage.

Opened quite short at 25/1 and he should improve marginally to perhaps 28/1. Ideally would be best to take at around 33/1, but unlikely to get that price.

Will require things to go his way, however he is an interesting proposition on home soil and rates this race highly. Should be thereabouts. Worthy of close consideration on an E/W basis, especially if price improves.
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Report SwingingPick March 18, 2017 1:56 AM GMT
Good weather conditions for racing forecast, with comfortable temps on the bike for the riders and some shade from the sun with clouds about. No rain expected. Some moderate wind in the afternoon will be interesting to take into account.
Report SwingingPick March 18, 2017 1:56 AM GMT
Good weather conditions for racing forecast, with comfortable temps on the bike for the riders and some shade from the sun with clouds about. No rain expected. Some moderate wind in the afternoon will be interesting to take into account.
Report federalski81 March 18, 2017 8:41 AM GMT
Getting quite excited for this now, the tension during the last 50k of MSR is brilliant.

The racing over the top of the Poggio is always one of my favourite moments of the cycling year. The tension of the attacker just hanging out there, seeing who is left to chase, the marking of each other and the confusion of what sprinters are there and who has teammates to help them and can someone sneak away off the front and snatch it... Then a heavy legged messy sprint. Can't wait.

Gutted the weather is a bit tame for Sonny, been on him at big prices for months since the odds came out. With a hard ridden finale and with a bit of luck he could go real close.
His 9th last year he was on the wheel of Swift (who was on Demare) and would have contended but lost all momentum swerving round Gaviria.
The year before he was ill but still finished in the sprinters group and the year previous again he put in a committed solid attack with 2k to go yet still managed to sprint for 6th.
Not sure if i really believe deep down if he can win, but can absolutely podium.

Gavirias injury has brought about a bit of concern for me though as to whether we will have a conventional sprint though, the Quicksteps marking of breaks over the Poggio was important last year in keeping things together. If he is not there at the end they will free Gilbert and Allaphillipe who could work in tandem with the usual suspects Kwia, GVA, EBH, Wellens et all. Even Demare may choose to tag on to a group of 4 or 5, it would change the dynamic of the group if he was there but with his form and the shackles of being a previous winner removed he can race perhaps a little more with the heart.

And the fact there is a bit of confusion as to how Sagan chooses to ride, he could blow things up all by himself if the mood takes him...

I am perhaps just getting a bit swept away with the idea of a break winning this as of course history tells us it rarely happens...

Anyway, I have backed Demare for the win, his form has come on another little leap for me this year and his engine is super strong as his showing on Stage 1 of Paris Nice showed, and more importantly the following day where you thought he may be feeling the effects but still put in a real strong showing for 2nd.
He looks to have a bit more pop in his sprint as well and with another year of strength ( You kinda forget he is only 25 still) His odds are far too high for me.

I have already mention Sonny, I have been a fan for years. He fills the brief of being a hard man sprinter that I so like, I can genuinely see Sonny winning a Milan Sanremo or Amstel Gold in his career.

I am a sucker for an outsider and have had a wee interest in Roelants and Gallopin e/w - should there be 15-25 left they will be there and one could reward with a placing.

Oss at super high odds e/w looked to be a bit lighter than previous years and was sneakily climbing better than I have seen him before in the middle east at the start of the year, should prove to get the heart up a beat or two for a few fleeting moments anyway as he will probably ping off the front at some time and you never know...

Should be fun.
Report tashkent terror March 18, 2017 8:24 PM GMT
Nice one are da man!!!

Missed out today due to work commitments but keep them coming on here please...thank you.
Report SwingingPick March 19, 2017 2:44 AM GMT
Cheers Tashkent, nice words mate:-) Here in Australia these races are in the middle of the night, so my study commitments usually wait for the next day, even though I may have reduced sleeping hours;-)

Very similar race to 2012 when Simon Gerrans won from Spartacus and Nibali. We certainly got the fun factor with this one as it went against the bunch sprint scenario everyone was convinced would occur, including me. But really happy for Kwiatkowski to pip Sagan, confirming his sprinting capabilities yet again, since he contributed to the work and came across to Sagan very quickly on the Poggio. I think Alafpolak lost some respect from me by not contributing, don't like that kind of riding, and he kind of deserved 3rd for that direct reason, but I am expecting big things from him this season, and I didn't consider him much for here only because it was his first start and he is no Manx Missile.

I only had a couple of successful lays this season, no real wins, so to pick up a 33/1 shot so early with Kwiatkowski, really sets up the account nicely, and provides great inspiration, too. Hope of more winners to come this season.
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