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07 Apr 17 17:58
Date Joined: 11 Jul 11
| Topic/replies: 5,589 | Blogger: SwingingPick's blog
*** Greg Van Avermaet In scintillating form this season with three classics wins and two 2nd-place finishes, the first of the 2nd's in the modern-classic of Strade Bianche and the second in the monument of RVV last start, and he has previously suggested he can sustain his condition for a significant portion of his season.

Did not ride here last year on account of sustaining a broken collarbone in RVV, but finished on the podium in 2015 when bettering his previous best of a 4th-place finish in 2013.

Tipped earlier on this forum to win GWinFF when landing some nice bets, after backing-up from a three-up sprint to win in E3, form which is fully-franked with Gilbert's win in RVV. Had previously won OHN in late February to put him on course of matching Dutch former pro rider Jan Raas' superb 1981 classics season, which he can trump if he hasn't already, by winning here.

Surprising to see him installed on the fourth line of betting, presently 8/1 with PP and 10/1 with BS, whom are taking him on. I had expected him to be a solid 5/1 second favourite. Very good value at 10/1 or better on an E/W basis for a rider at the height of his powers.

The testing material. Honest type. Commands the upmost respect.

* John Degenkolb Sat-out the first part of his 2016 season on account of injury, so did not get the opportunity to defend his 2015 title over-this-trip, when after taking a sit in the velodrome he was the first to-go with his impressive sprinter's turn-of-speed to win long.

Has only the one win for this season when winning the third stage in Dubai at 200kms. Nevertheless, he has targeted this race this year with a carefully-selected calendar of races, beginning his build-up with a solid 7th-place finish in MSR, then 13th in E3, a 5th in GWinFF, and a last start 7th in RVV when finishing third to Pippo and Kristoff in the 14-strong second group at 53secs down. Especially noteworthy have been those last two starts, where he could be found surging on the front in impressive tests of his condition.

Opened at 6/1 with PP and 7/1 best, and has remained solid at 6/1, throughout. Is short at 6/1 and 9/1 at W/O terms is preferred.

Coming into this at the right time. Go close.

* Alexander Kristoff Has shown recent signs of turning around his season, the first of which was when sprinting for 4th-place in MSR. Was then seen riding forwardly in E3, however was always disadvantaged by the hellingen and finished in 27th-place, some 2mins down. Was much better suited over the course through the Flanders Fields of Gent-Wevelgem, however a puncture at around 35kms to-go put paid to any hopes of a top result. Next, he claimed his first win of the season at 200kms when going long to outsprint Theuns and Kittel in the second stage at 3 Days of De Panne in difficult conditions. That hardened him up further and he consolidated his solid form by again leading home the peloton for a 5th-place finish in RVV, last start.

Much better suited over the flat cobbled course on offer here, and is comfortable over this distance.

Opened at 18/1 across the boards and has hardly moved with PP, still best. Represents very good E/W value.

Exciting proposition. Expect a bold showing.
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Report SwingingPick April 8, 2017 9:51 AM BST
A consistent forecast for race day, with mild temps and sunny conditions expected. Little to no wind. Might be some dust on the corners so hopefully that won't cost any rider. Looking at a smokey still, but not sure it's worth it at this point.
Report SwingingPick April 8, 2017 2:22 PM BST
Finally GVA is coming right in across the boards, now into 7/1. Still think he should be 5/1, and apparently so does WillHill, that's where they've gone.
Report bigH April 8, 2017 9:04 PM BST
I am like a kid on Xmas morning
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 10:28 AM BST
Very exciting stuff!

I was looking to add Keukeleire and/or Turbo and/or GVK, but I think that even if they make the selections, and I think they should have good rides, they're just still a class down on the established WT riders and unlikely to win in a group against them. Plus, taking three such relatively short prices restricts any further investments. I did throw a couple of coins on Thwaites for fun, and am interested to see how Debusschere goes. Also, I tipped Senechal last year so will be interesting to see if he can finally take a step at this class level over his preferred course. I think making selections will be enough to give him the confidence he requires.

Should be a cracking race, can't wait!
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 11:35 AM BST
Reminder that the whole race is live -- from start-to-finish -- break just forming some 65kms in. KAT have two in there, so clearly Kristoff is feeling good. And they have the Panzerwagon for his devoted support too, so good signs for him, very early on, though.
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 12:05 PM BST
Turbo is down and staying down, unlucky.
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 12:41 PM BST
Turbo got up & is still in the race -- looked like a bad crash but he's okay.
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 1:36 PM BST
Terpstra -- out!
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 1:46 PM BST
Have added a bit of the Gorilla here, looks very forward and there's no reason, barring any bad luck, why he shouldn't be involved. Still available at 59/1.
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 2:19 PM BST
GVA is back in this thanks to Sagan's bad luck...
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 3:11 PM BST
Oss is so strong, we've seen that over the classics season, he's been an absolute hardman, so this a huge benefit for GVA later, being on the front.
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 3:14 PM BST
This is a very fine race I think, very subtle in terms of attrition rates, and wide open.
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 3:25 PM BST
Whatever Stuyven does here, he has confirmed his quality, I believe. It would be huge for him if he finishes it off strongly.
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 3:29 PM BST
Would really like GVA to go soon, there's an explosion of attacks coming, and he can steal this with Oss before it all comes back together, and 25kms is well doable.
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 3:33 PM BST
The Carrefour is going to show if the GVA group will stay away. Oss is nearing empty, and nobody else coming through.
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 3:36 PM BST
Oss blows up -- Top ride for GVA.
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 3:40 PM BST
Here we go -- the rac should be decided here!
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 3:42 PM BST
Sagan is empty.
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 3:45 PM BST
Sagan has bridged there when on empty, doesn't look good for Boonen and Degenkolb. Come on GVA,
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 3:46 PM BST
Where has this Langeveld riding been in the past five years or so?
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 3:50 PM BST
Gap going up for GVA, come on my son. Bloody Stybar sitting on.
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 3:53 PM BST
GVA deserves this, deserves his first monument after everything he has done in his career, particularly since getting gold in Rio, and this season of course. Come on, son.
Report Raggetty April 9, 2017 3:53 PM BST
Nice work whoever got 30 GVA. Chapeau.
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 3:54 PM BST
Don't jinx it Raggety he is not home yet, Langeveld has looked good and Stybar has good results here in the past...
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 3:56 PM BST
Oh, didn't mean to infer I got 30s, but the Books will feel soar after this should GVA get the cherry on his season, Sundae;-)
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 3:58 PM BST
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 3:59 PM BST
Lol! GVA indicates for Stybar to close Langeveld...
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 4:02 PM BST
Velodrome -- three-up sprint!
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 4:03 PM BST
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 4:04 PM BST
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 4:04 PM BST
GVA WINS, brilliant!
Report Raggetty April 9, 2017 4:05 PM BST
Wonderful. Well done SP.
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 4:05 PM BST
You knew that was coming! He is fierce -- absolute legend! Fierce!
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 4:07 PM BST
Cheers mate -- so happy for GVA, he really deserved his first monument this season, and to win like that, absolutely fierce! Wonderful.
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 4:10 PM BST
Mr. Jan Raas -- meet your new match;-)
Report Raggetty April 9, 2017 4:13 PM BST
Always comforting to hear Sean Kelly say that Stybar had a better finishing kick than GVA.He rarely gets it right. Good that Langeveldt got a podium too.
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 4:16 PM BST
Will review some of these points later, but Langeveld showed this sort of class some five years ago and then fell off the radar, so absolutely top result to get on the podium.
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 4:19 PM BST
And what an interview, the fatigue is just sculpted on his face -- that's what it takes to win a monument, and for him to say he was so tired, that's just a Champion in every sense of the word, I believe.
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 4:23 PM BST
Still has the strength to hold such an iconic trophy -- of course he does!
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 4:26 PM BST
45.2kms/hr average is the fastest for this race in history.
Report SwingingPick April 9, 2017 6:07 PM BST
Okay, so this is the scene which sets the "stage" for GVA winning the Hell of the North for 2017, from my view:

It is some 103kms to-go, about 10kms out from the Forest of Arenberg, where a major selection usually occurs, and GVA crashes after narrowly missing a crash a little earlier. He requires a new BMC machine, and as the camera finds him standing on the side of the road we see a completely-panicked rider, something we don't often see on his face.
Because he is not riding, he requires a new bike and team support is way back in the convoy, and he is on good sensations. Clearly, he doesn't want the race to get away from him when he is feeling this good, so good, and in a monument. That is the panic we see, I think. 

Yet, BMC DS organises a train for him to get onto the back of the race whilst moving up Oss, and the race is not over, there is still hope. Not sure who it was in the car calling the shots for this one, but with Oss riding with so much power, it was the obvious strategy and it worked a dream. But Oss was a massive help for GVA, he has a place on that cobbled prize handed to GVA as the first over the line.

When Sagan went with Oss and Bodnar and Stuyven some 77kms to-go, it was still obviously a long way from the finish, however it looked like a really strong group, only that as soon as Sagan got his puncture the strength of that break was lost and it seemed to shift the race back in the favour of the peloton where GVA was, which was being called the Boonen Group. And Boonen was riding like a lion all day, he wasn't going to leave anything out on the course in his last bike ride across these mythical cobbles, but with Degenkolb sitting on comfortably and then the Gorilla re-joining, it was always going to be tough for him to win. Nevertheless, a top ride from Boonen, he did himself proud, I believe.

Sagan did a lot of work early, almost like he was afraid of being the Sagan of old who missed a lot of the race-winning moves out on the road. I mean, it was 152kms to-go and Sagan was in third position on the front of the peloton. It was a bit desperate, and it cost him by the end as he emptied, entirely. Haven't seen that all too often from him.

Senechal tried his hand with Moscon and co., that was some 57kms to-go, and Hayman was there all day actually, so a good defence from him. He too can be very proud with that ride, I believe. Turbo crashing, unlucky. Keukeleire was strong but he punctured with 38kms to-go, so unlucky also. Didn't hear Debusschere once, and Kristoff tried his hand to maintain the selections but was struggling and I think the plan for TFR was for the Panzerwagon, much later. Quite disappointing from Kristoff actually, but the fast pace of the race was clearly too much for him.

I think not too many people would disagree that the best rider of the season won this race and won it with a fierce hunger, for Stybar opened-up a decent gap in the sprint coming off the Velodrome turn, and GVA just wasn't going to let go, which is what we witnessed in E3 when he had a second bite in the sprint to win. This was another level though, it was brutal fierce!
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