The organizers of the Tour of Flanders have changed the final again this year. [Link] In the last two years they have faced some criticism for dropping former climbs like the Muur von Gerardsbergen and the Bosberg. This year, too, both the drivers and the spectators will have to do without both climbs. That's why the finale won't be boring at all. Unlike 2012 and 2013, it will be in the finale give fewer flat pieces.
The Swiss Fabian Cancellara (Trek) has won the Tour of Flanders twice in the past four years. Last year, the 33-year-old from Bern dominated the Round. With a late attack at the Oude Kwaremont, he broke away from the remaining competition in the final. Cancellara is fit again this year. He proved this not least at the Spring, which he finished second behind Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).
Belgian Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) is the only active pro to boast a more impressive classic Palmarès than Cancellara. However, he had little reason to be happy in the last few days. The extent to which his partner's miscarriage affected his condition can only be speculated on. What is certain, however, is that his performance this year is similar to that of the 2012 season, when he dominated the spring at will. Last year he retired early due to a fall Round out of. This year he should therefore do everything in his power to set another exclamation mark.
The Slovakian Peter Sagan (Cannondale) won the classic E3 Prijs Harelbeke a few days ago and also proved his form during the week at the VDK-Driedaagse van De Panne-Koksijde. Last year he had to admit defeat at the Oude Kwaremont Cancellara. Will that be the case again this year?
John Degenkolb is certainly anything but a one-day specialist. Still, his haul so far as far as classics go is impressive. His victory last week at Gent-Wevelgem proves that he is quite capable of winning races like the Tour of Flanders. Should he make it over the Oude Kwaremont with the favourites, he should be watched in the final.
The Czech Zdenek Stybar won the cyclocross world title for the third time this year. And on the road, too, he is becoming more and more of a specialist to be taken seriously. His strong performance last year at Paris-Roubaix was followed by two stage wins and overall success at the Eneco Tour in autumn. Like Niki Terpstra, he might start as a helper for his team captain Tom Boonen. However, he may be the joker in the mind games of the Belgian team Omega Pharma-QuickStep. In any case, he has the class for it.
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