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Discussion Starter #1
Obvious Favorites (in order):
Boonen-Petacchi-Freire-Hushovd
Left Bettini and McEwen out since they'll be riding hurt

Dark Horses:
Phillipe Gilbert FDJeux
Filippo Pozzato Quick Step
Allan Davis Liberty Seguros
Allessandro Ballan Lampre
Igor Astarloa Barloworld (I know this is pretty far out there, but he is won Milan- Torino and the ex-world champ is riding strongly this spring

What do you think? Who else belongs on this list?
 

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I think Thor

is too big to be in contact when they go over the Poggio.
Zabel, could be the Milram Ace in the hole and go on a break to force QS to chase. If he's in a small group the race is his. Since petacchi so far isn't showing last years form this may turn out to be option A with Ale Jet being a decoy.

Pozzato will have to assume Bettini role and mark Zabel but lacks the crickets jump. will most likely sacrifice for Tom.

Ballan is a decent dark horse. Friere always a possibility.

I need to check rosters to see. hmmm here's one.

Valverde in a small break would be deadly. add Max Van heeswijk to the dark horse group as well as magnus and wegmann
 

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Since they have kept the same course as last year Petacchi has to be the favorite, then Boonen.

My very dark horse in a sprint would be Paride Grillo.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
atpjunkie said:
is too big to be in contact when they go over the Poggio.
Zabel, could be the Milram Ace in the hole and go on a break to force QS to chase. If he's in a small group the race is his. Since petacchi so far isn't showing last years form this may turn out to be option A with Ale Jet being a decoy.

Pozzato will have to assume Bettini role and mark Zabel but lacks the crickets jump. will most likely sacrifice for Tom.

Ballan is a decent dark horse. Friere always a possibility.

I need to check rosters to see. hmmm here's one.

Valverde in a small break would be deadly. add Max Van heeswijk to the dark horse group as well as magnus and wegmann
Here some more to add to the list:
Daniel Napolitano, Alex Vinokourov, Fabian Cancellara
Gilberto Simoni has an outside chance too.

I think about Zabel the same way you think about Pozzato. If both him and Petacchi are there at the end (which they more than likely will be) Zabel will lead Petacchi out for the sprint. he may finish top 10 though.
 

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If it ends in a bunch sprint as it's likely to do it's practically 50/50 a Boonen or Petacchi win, the other sprinters don't have much of a shot of beating both of them.

Which leaves the most likely surprise winner coming from a late break that forms on the Cipressa or Poggio. I like Astorloa as a dark horse and I'll add Valverde. Dekker is likely to be in any successful break but I don't think he has much chance of beating any number of other likely breakaways besides those two (like Rebellin, etc).

I can't see Bettini playing a role but you never know. I think for Gilbert to have a shot he's got to escape.
 

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Zabel will only have a chance

if Petacchi falters on the climbs or is sent forward to mark a break. If Petacchi makes it over the climbs with EZ leading they will be formidable. will be them and Boonen or Freire.
only other chance the other riders have is to escape. hasn't happened as of late.
 

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I think Petacchi will take it. He has the best leadout, and the escapers will not make it this year, big headwind in the finish is forecasted. It will be a big field sprint 65+ guys.

I'd like to see Saul Raisin in the big breakaway of the day. Some guys who will make it a bit interesting.

Silas
 

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atpjunkie said:
if Petacchi falters on the climbs or is sent forward to mark a break. If Petacchi makes it over the climbs with EZ leading they will be formidable. will be them and Boonen or Freire.
only other chance the other riders have is to escape. hasn't happened as of late.
At TA Zabel couldn't even maintain himself near the front on the hard long uphill finishes to contest the sprint, Petacchi could. I don't think Zabel is strong enough to escape, and thus will be locked into the lead-out role.
 

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SilasCL said:
I think Petacchi will take it. He has the best leadout, and the escapers will not make it this year, big headwind in the finish is forecasted. It will be a big field sprint 65+ guys.

I'd like to see Saul Raisin in the big breakaway of the day. Some guys who will make it a bit interesting.

Silas
I can't remember a survivor of the day-long break ever winning MSR. I wonder when the last time it happened?

I remember Tchmil attacking the bunch in the final km and holding them off to take a solo win. And Bettini's winning group was formed over the Poggio or Cipressa I'm certain.
 

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Hoste

SilasCL said:
I think Petacchi will take it. He has the best leadout, and the escapers will not make it this year, big headwind in the finish is forecasted. It will be a big field sprint 65+ guys.

I'd like to see Saul Raisin in the big breakaway of the day. Some guys who will make it a bit interesting.
I think Leif Hoste would make an interesting addition to such a break, and he's got excellent form right now.
 

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SilasCL said:
I think Petacchi will take it. He has the best leadout, and the escapers will not make it this year, big headwind in the finish is forecasted. It will be a big field sprint 65+ guys.

I'd like to see Saul Raisin in the big breakaway of the day. Some guys who will make it a bit interesting.

Silas
Petacchi's train didn't look all that impressive in the final stage of Tirreno-Adriattico, there were people breaking away and rival trains set up beside them and their system got pretty much messed up. It was Petacchi himself who did the -long- sprint himself with Zabel pulling only for a very short time. But when the sprint is as chaotic as last year's all comes down to individual class anyway.
 

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harlond said:
I think Leif Hoste would make an interesting addition to such a break, and he's got excellent form right now.
Add Erik Dekker to that break, maybe they will make it Paris-Tours style. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Any word on Robbie McEwen's condition?
I know he's got a cracked rib. I wonder if he can be competitive.
 

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All the favorites are known. I agree with your choices. But I'll add a "new name": Paride Grillo, Ceramiche Panaria. Let'S see how well he does on a long race like this one. But take my word for it; he's the next big sprinter. If not the next Bettini.

Paride Grillo. Like Gilbert, too. can ride away like Paolo Bettini, punch out of a group like Vinokourov, and sprint like Boonen.

Another new-ish name is riding more for himself this year, after leaving Quick-Step: Luca Paolini. He's pretty fast and eager to do well. Liquigas will ride for him.
 
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