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The Final Countdown... Mid-Week Mini-Classics!

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Thursday is another busy one on the Cycling calendar...

Coppa Sabatini

Does anyone know who the Coppa Sabatini is named after? Certainly not Fabio Sabatini, who would probably design a different finale if he had his druthers. Anyway, it's a lovely romp around Peccioli in Tuscany, seven loops of a circuit that undulates between 45 and 170 meters, followed by three laps of a shorter circuit ending on the 120-meter-high line in Peccioli. Last year we received some pictures and impressions from reader Ben. These shots give you a sense of the final 150 meters. Nothing truly memorable, but uphill for sure. Total of 199km, and not very tough, but tough enough to put Giovanni Visconti in position to win every year.

What? ISD are sending Oscar Gatto and Sinking Joke instead of Visconti this year? Actually this is in dispute; Cycling Fever have him on the list, The official site disagrees, unless he's racing under the pseudonym Maxim Belkov. But official sites, while sounding all official and whatnot, can be notoriously slow on the updates. So stay tuned. All I can tell you is that Philippe Gilbert, the defending winner, won't be around. My more obvious favorites would include Michele Scarponi, racing with a triptych of Berts in support -- except CF doesn't have him listed (so close to giving up here...). If not, the Berts to watch are Bertagnolli and BertoliniDomenico Pozzovivo was on fire in late summer, before embarking on the un-Italian-like venture of racing overseas... in Britain, no less. But back home he's a natural for this race, with some decent history (6th last year). I'm personally curious about Davide Appollonio of Cervelo, who is coming off a strong Tour de Vendee (2nd), despite not being old enough to drink at the Tour of California this May. Finally, Johnny Hoogerland could be a good pick, except he's on my VDS team, so don't bet anything. After all, I'm the guy who said this in my Coppa Sab preview last year:

What I don't get, though, is that the results here will in any way preview Lombardia.

Riiiight.

Paris-Bourges

Back down on level ground, French racing brings the peloton to the Bourgeoisie tomorrow, Yesterday I pointed out that Bourges is in the truly fabulous Department of Cher, but did you know...

Its Celtic name was Avaricon and its Latin name was Avaricum. In the Gallic Wars, the Gauls practiced a scorched-earth policy, but the inhabitants of Avaricum begged not to have their city burned, and it was spared due to its good defenses provided by the surrounding marshes and a strong southern wall.

Hey you teenagers, get off my marsh! Anyway, here's your list of sprinters for this 193km romp, which of course starts nowhere near Paris: Bernhard Eisel defends HTC's two-year winning streak; Saxo counters with Lucas Haedo and Matti Breschel. Heinrich Haussler would probably like to end 2010 on a positive note. Koldo Fernandez is in with a chance. Romain Feillu, Jimmy Casper, Seb Chavanel and Tommy Voeckler head up the list of local contenders. Gert Steegmans was once a top sprinter...

The next ten days couldn't possibly do without some excellent Swedish rock as our musical theme...

Nice shorts brah...