This 12 months the stress metre is off the Richter scale.
For the classics specialists, with Paris-Roubaix COVID cancelled, that is the final huge race of the 12 months.
It’s Mathieu van der Poel versus Wout van Aert versus the remainder.
The rider beneath essentially the most stress is the Mathieu van der Poel. His huge targets – Amstel Gold Race and Paris-Roubaix – have each been cancelled, his group didn’t experience the Tour de France and he’s been shut however not fairly capable of get a win in his final three races.
In the meantime, his arch-enemy, Wout van Aert, has gained Strade Bianche, Milan-Sanremo, two levels on the Tour de France and two silver medals on the world championships. It’s been a vastly profitable 12 months. He’d like to high it off with Flanders but it surely gained’t outline his season.
For Van der Poel a win this Sunday will outline his season.
The Van Aert versus Van der Poel rivalry is likely one of the finest in biking, born throughout their cyclocross battles. Final weekend, at Gent-Wevelgem, it price each of them any likelihood at victory.
Van Aert accused Van der Poel of using to ensure he didn’t win. That definitely the case within the final two kilometres, as they each turned completely preoccupied with one another. However earlier than that Van der Poel was completely on the hunt for victory.
They’ll be watching one another carefully once more on the Tour of Flanders however Van der Poel might want to get away from Van Aert, who has his measure in a dash. Van der Poel should assault.
I can really feel the stress from right here.
However they’re not the one two to observe.
Mads Pedersen, who gained Gent-Wevelgem with smarts and horsepower, has declared himself an equal favorite. And in a dash he’s on par with Van Aert. Pedersen additionally has an excellent group round him, notably Jasper Stuyven and Edward Theuns, who grew up on the tricking Flemish roads.
Plus there’s the world champion, Julian Alaphippe, making his Flanders debut. Usually, in Flanders, you want expertise and information of the roads. However it’s Alaphilippe.
After ending fifth in final 12 months’s Tour de France he was requested if he’d now concentrate on the making an attempt to win the Tour. He mentioned sure, the Tour of Flanders. So right here he’s.
He can undoubtedly win. Offered he sprints straight. Oh, and supplied he doesn’t have fun too early.
Different contenders embrace former winners Alberto Bettiol (2019) and Alexander Kristoff (2015), together with John Degenkolb, Sep Vanmarcke, Michal Kwiatkowski, Matteo Trentin, Stefan Kung and Marc Hirschi, who has ridden the U23 race however is making his first look within the elite race.
And I hope Mark Cavendish rides. I additionally hope he will get within the breakaway so we will discuss his unimaginable profession, simply in case it’s his final race.
Grace Brown is within the with an opportunity to create historical past, by turning into the primary Australian to win the Tour of Flanders. Gracie Elvin (2017), Heinrich Haussler (2009) and Phil Anderson (1985 and 1988) have all completed second. However a Flanders victory has to date alluded Australia’s finest.
Brown has proven the shape and perspective required to win. At Liege-Bastogne-Liege she rode away from Marianne Vos and, within the area of 12 kilometres, shut down one minute on Lizzie Deignan, who held on to win by simply 9 seconds.
As per any race she begins, Vos, who gained Flanders in 2013, might be one of many favourites on Sunday.
Deignan, who gained Flanders in 2016, is backed by an extremely robust Trek-Segafredo, can be among the many favourites. Her and the 2015 winner, Elisa Longo Borghini, are a deadly mixture. Plus they’ve Ellen van Dijk, who gained in 2014.
Three former winners in a single group. Trek-Segafredo have choices.
As at all times Boels-Dolmans have loads of playing cards to play, led by world champion Anna van der Breggen (Flanders winner 2018) with a assist solid of 2017 world champion Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, Amy Pieters and, Sunday’s winner of Gent-Wevelgem, Jolien D’Hoore.
It’s the strongest peloton you possibly can assemble. Aside from the retired Emma Johansson, a second and third-place finisher in Flanders, everybody on the rostrum within the final seven editions of the race is on the beginning record.
Coryn Rivera, the 2017 winner, will lead Sunweb and the defending champion, Marta Bastianelli, is backed with Ale BTC Ljubljana for assist.
So can Grace Brown actually win? Sure. Notably given the energy of her Mitchelton-Scott group.
Annemiek van Vleuten, who gained Flanders in 2011, will catch a lot of the consideration of the opposite huge favourites. Amanda Spratt is scheduled to make her return to racing. Sarah Roy was fourth at Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday.
Gracie Elvin is aware of the roads and was second three years in the past. And Jessica Allan is likely one of the most dependable domestiques within the peloton.
Van Vleuten would be the group chief however, as we’ve seen so typically within the classics with Deceunick – Fast Step, the quantity two on the group recurrently delivers.
Catch all of the motion from the lads’s and girls’s races on the Tour of Flanders, LIVE this Sunday October 18 by way of SBS on Demand from 6:50pm (AEDT) and LIVE, FREE and in HD on SBS VICELAND from 10:30 pm (AEDT).