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Should I Watch the Eneco Tour?

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Five reasons not to:

  1. No Tom Boonen. I don't recall if he planned to skip it regardless, but Sunday's crash presumably sealed his decision. He's OK, but probably planning his schedule with rainbows and Arab fortunes in mind.
  2. The parcours. Last year did little to separate the top GC spots, leaving the blood red jersey to be decided by sprint bonuses. This year, apart from a few familiar tracts in the Ardennes on stage 1 and the Valkenberg on stage 5, it's one flat after another. At least this year they'll finish up with a time trial, not a race jury.
  3. Last year sucked. You knew it, I knew it, Stef Schumacher knew it.
  4. No Pro Tour competition: the top contenders aren't around and the white jersey will be nowhere to be seen. This despite the Pro Tour being the biggest supporter of the race. If they don't care, should I?
  5. There's a Tour of Flanders (yay!), a Tour of Belgium (rrmmm), so do we really need a tour of Belgium and a slice of the Netherlands?
Five reasons to ignore the above and watch anyway:
  1. The startlist. Naturally the Belgian teams and Rabo are here to win. That means McEwen, Hoste, Dekker, Boogerd, Flecha, Graeme Browne, Van Petegem and up-and-comer Wouter Weylandt from the home teams. Also, Ballan, Gusev, Yaro-Pop, Nibali, JJ Haedo, Kirchen, Bog Thor, Adam Hansen (healed), David Millar, and a smattering of other big names.
  2. Cycling.TV in da house!
  3. This is kind of a tour for Classics men. Not strictly because it's mostly in Belgium, though in a way the terrain calls out to the Classics guys. The time trial finale will demand more than just closing speed, as will the first stage with its Ardennes cotes, and stage 6 with no less than 15 climbs. Both of these stages should cost the pure sprinters some time. I love Classics riding more than any other style, so if that's what we'll see, bring it on.
  4. There's a certain logic to a rouleurs/sprinters' Tour in this calendar slot. These guys have little to live for at the Vuelta, but need to keep fresh for the Fall classics and Worlds.
  5. It's Cycling.