This isn't a preview, so much as a pre-pre-preview...
Mind you, I'm not the hugest MSR fan, but it is a Monument and does offer an intriguing last hour. And consider:
- Quick Step will be loaded as usual: Boonen, Bettini, and any number of guys off their B-list.
- Liquigas will likely feature an awesome 1-2 punch of '06 winner Pozzato and his new, blazing fast sidekick Bennati.
- The Milram train will draw most of the fire if the bunch arrives intact, thanks to their predictable ways... and two riders with six MSR titles between them.
- There's often a bunch sprint, which makes contenders of defending champ Oscar Freire, as well as every other fastman who might show up, such as Cavendish, McEwen, Napolitano, Feillu, Ciolek, Hunter, Davis, Brown, Hushovd, etc.
- The race also lends itself to late escapes, and its proximity to the Tour of Flanders means the following all-out stud riders could be there and feeling strong enough to win: Hincapie, Ballan, Hoste (madly sticking on Ballan's wheel), Burghardt, Nuyens, Cancellara, O'Grady, Backstedt, Gusev, Jens!, etc.
- The Poggio gives the classics climbers a puncher's chance as well, if they can descend and close it out. Bettini has shown the way, and though it may be a tad early for their tastes, you can't rule out Sanchez, Valverde, Rebellin, Cunego, Dekker, Ricco, and a vengeful Killer (DiLuca).
Basically, anyone in the CyclingQuotient top 200, minus the mountain goats and worker bees, has a shot.