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La Flèche Wallonne: Rating the Faves!

A number of changes from the Amstel ratings...

  • Davide Rebellin Rating: ★★★★★
    I'm sticking with top billing here. Too many successes, and apparently he didn't exhaust himself Sunday, he just got cramps. Might be sorta the same thing. All I'm saying is, the sight of him jetting up the Mur de Huy seems awfully familiar.
  • Stefan Schumacher Rating: ★
    El Jefe wants a win. I think Schumi is on strict orders not to take off too far, though bluffing only works if you mean it.
  • Alejandro Valverde Rating: ★★★★
    Downgraded after saying the Ardennes races "aren't a major goal for me." Giving a shit is a prerequisite to winning. But after knocking him down two stars, I added one back on, remembering that Cyclists have been known to sandbag now and then.
  • Joaquim Rodriguez Rating: ★★★★
    Co-fave in the Caisse d'Epargne set with Valverde. I don't think he has the strength for Liege, but Flèche Wallonne is a tad shorter and less hilly, so he could conceivably hit the Mur in fine form. Also, unlike his boss, I'm willing to assume he gives a shit.
  • Damiano Cunego Rating: ★★★★★
    Little to add, other than he claims he wasn't really focusing on Amstel as much as the next two races. Talk of the Ardennes Triple is premature, but by this time tomorrow it may well not be.
  • Cadel Evans Rating: ★★★
    By the end of this year he could be a consensus best rider on the planet. I still don't believe he can outpunch the Italians on the Mur... but there's no way I'd rule it out. The new, more aggressive Cadel might even get some early separation if they don't watch him carefully.
  • Yaroslav Popovych Rating: ★
    A sentimental favorite. My sentiments are almost always wrong. Put him in the Schumi/loyal lieutenant category, though he might be on less strict orders from above.
  • Thomas Dekker Rating: ★★★
    Downgraded after an indifferent finale at Amstel, where you'd assume he would be at his best. Drew and I have already decided his future is in the Grand Tours.
  • Robert Gesink Rating: ★★
    Hm, still a longshot and still a lieutenant. But he'd look pretty good in the last km if he can arrive with the leaders.
  • Riccardo Ricco Rating: ★
    More of a symbolic inclusion; nobody's sure if he's kicked the flu yet, or why he would win if he had.
  • Frank Schleck Rating: ★★★★
    I'll add an extra star for Liege, assuming he stays strong and upright til then. But the finish at La Flèche is all wrong for Frankie.
  • Kim Kirchen Rating: ★
    Can't see him outkicking the Italians here. Like Schleck, Liege is a better fit.
  • Jérôme Pineau Rating: ★
    Honestly, I don't know him well, but of the Ardennes races, Flèche Wallonne is usually his worst result.
  • Serguey Ivanov Rating: ★★
    Good at arriving on the Mur with the leaders. Bad at moving up in the sprint. Top-10 type, but unlikely to crack the top 5.
    Whoops, we're entering the Astana-Free Zone.
  • Christian Pfannenberger Rating: ★
    Parachuted in from nowhere at AGR. He's never done the Ardennes before, so even if he's completely on fire, I'm not sure I'd pick him on the Mur unless he arrives alone. Blew his cover at Amstel, so the odds of a solo escape are in the any-given-wednesday category.
  • Carlos Barredo Rating: ★★
    Keeping the seat warm for Bettini. Hey, he can climb and would be a decent pick in these races, but Quick Step have been shifting him around a lot, using him on the cobbles. I dunno if that's exactly ideal preparation, not when Cunego and Rebellin and Valverde have been carefully honing their form.