Meanwhile, in the French Ardennes, just across the hills from Bastogne, climbers and GC men like Basso, Landis, Julich, Menchov, Karpets, Mancebo, Iban Mayo and the like will be going through their own dress rehearsal, but with very different motivations from the boys up in Belgium.
The Start List for Criterium Internationale is full of guys who will be fighting for far larger scraps in France in July... but July is still a ways off. Still, there's a race on, and what's more, unlike the cobbled riders who have to be careful not to jeopardize their start a week later, these guys have three weeks before Amstel and a month til Liege, so nobody should be constrained by competing interests (in the short term). Rather, if people treat it like they did last year, expect racing like we've been seeing in California and Paris-Nice, with GC riders giving us the sneak preview we crave. Last year Julich and CSC wiped out the race, but Landis is two-for-two in short stage races against CSC and others, so if he's holding his form right now, Landis goes down as the early favorite.