So as not to make this too redundant, let's turn this into an accountability moment instead. Here is my favorites list from last week, plus their rating, along with a final assessment of how accurate that rating was:
- Tom Boonen -- Rating: ★★★★★
The surprising success of team tactics mean we'll never know the answer to one question: who was the strongest rider today? Might have been Boonen. In another week we should know more. Verdict: rated!
- Alessandro Ballan -- Rating: ★★★★★
Certainly one of the top five riders in Belgium today. He hit the deck, he drew plenty of attention, but he still at least tinkered with attacking. Verdict: rated!
- Philippe Gilbert -- Rating: ★★★★
Was seen a lot between kms 200 and 230, but he clearly was out of gas too soon. Another possibility: this isn't a great race for him, regardless of tactics. Verdict: slightly overrated [And to be clear, "overrated" means ONLY that he wasn't as strong a favorite for this race as I'd said, This is a referendum on me, not him.]
- Fabian Cancellara -- Rating: ★★★★
Be realistic, this is what you should expect here: rode strongly with the favorites but never advanced beyond marking Boonen. Verdict: overrated
- Filippo Pozzato -- Rating: ★★★★
Sixth? I saw him once all day, and he got sixth? Well, I guess it shouldn't be a surprise. His strength is following wheels til the last 5km, then trying something. Never got his chance, I guess, but he was in position.Verdict: rated!
- Leif H\o/ste -- Rating: ★★★★
Hey, it beats finishing second again. He'll probably sleep better blaming his derailleur instead of himself. Verdict: slightly overrated!
- Juan Antonio Flecha -- Rating: ★★★
A stone's throw away from Man of the Race. It just goes to show how unscientific assessments of a rider's "suitability" for a race can be. Strength is what matters. He's usually better at Paris-Roubaix, but not this year. Verdict: underrated!
- George Hincapie -- Rating: ★★★
Eerily similar to 2006: he was strong, he was in position, and before the Muur he was left watching the winning move. Sounds like he was pretty cooked. Verdict: rated!
- Sylvain Chavanel -- Rating: ★★
Fortunately I refrained from getting caught up in Chava-mania when I wrote the earlier column. He was good, but that's it. Verdict: rated!
- Nick Nuyens -- Rating: ★★
For the first time, he looked capable of winning here. About freaking time. Verdict: underrated!
- Andreas Klier -- Rating: ★★
Hm, a quiet 20th. Hink was the leader, and Klier bided his time, occasionally lending some work. I refuse to downgrade him for that. Verdict: rated!
- Vlad Gusev -- Rating: ★★
I heard that he went down in a crash. Sums it up. Verdict: INC
- Stijn Devolder -- Rating: ★★
If you think there's anything more to say here, you haven't been reading this site. Verdict: grossly underrated!
- Martin Elmiger -- Rating: ★
Almost too quiet. But he made the Boonen group, and finished ahead of Cancellara... second-best Swiss in the race, after the solid-looking Greg Rast. Verdict: rated
- Thor Hushovd -- Rating: ★
Followed a late attack with Langeveld before fading. Verdict: slightly underrated
- Gianni Meersman -- Rating: ★
Never seen. I suppose it's fortuitous that I only staked one star's worth of my credibility on him. Verdict: INC