Fun race as always, though there's a reason this is more of a beloved race than, say, exciting like what's coming in the next three weeks. From Cycling News' report, the official top 10:
1 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
2 Allan Davis (Aus) Discovery
3 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep
4 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto
5 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) CSC
6 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram
7 Gabriele Balducci (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
8 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Milram
9 Vicente Reynes (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
10 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld
First off, send your best wishes to David Kopp. I am seriously nervous about that crash, and if anyone hears news of his condition, please submit it here. Hopefully it's nothing...
Update [2007-3-24 15:7:45 by chris]: Kopp was hurt, but he'll be ok... a bad Italian translation: multiple contusions, trauma cranial commotivo, fracture of the nasal and hurt septum to the left sopraccigliare arched one but already he has been discharged. Moletti was worse; he hit a pole descending the Cipressa and broke his femur.
Next, I suppose I should gloat a little about having called this one. In retrospect, though, it was hardly genius. The non-sprinters always have a chance here, but not a great one, and after Pippo's escapade last year the determination of the sprinters' teams would be high. Among the sprinters, most of them came with serious caveats: Petacchi and Zabel haven't inspired confidence lately; Bennati, Paolini, McEwen et al haven't won here before. Boonen and Bettini were both nursing injuries. Freire was the only past winner with a sprinter's pedigree and a clean sheet at today's start. The ease with which he won confirms that he should have been a prohibitive favorite.
That doesn't stop me from tweaking Pez et al who didn't offer any picks. Was the power out at the Pez Tower in downtown Vancouver? Did they stop by a pub Wednesday night, as is customary, and never re-emerge? And why was VeloNews' coverage limited to wire services bullshit? Pez may have skipped the predictions, but they led the western world in original reporting on the race. So much for the Journal of Competitive Cycling. I digress...
Back on the road, one thing that struck me is how average Quick Step looked. When they add Steegmans back into the lineup next week for E3 Prijs, it could be a totally different story, but IMHO Lampre and Liquigas were the only major factors. Milram did a nice job lining up for the last KM, but I wonder how much longer they can keep running the same play. It's too easy to grab Petacchi's wheel and use his leadout, Peta gets no advantage from it anymore.
Thoughts? VDS smack? Thanks to all for joining this morning, it was a lively start to the Classics season!