3. The King Is Dead
No repeat for Mark Cavendish appears to be in store. Last year's winner tells the media he simply doesn't have the form to make the finale. The problem? Last time he went deep into the red to stay in contact on the Cipressa, he says, and that last bit of missing form will be the difference this year between staying in the game and falling out. Never say never? I dunno, he has that "never" look right now.
2. Long Live The King!
Add Gert Steegmans to the list of guys touting Tom Boonen for the win. "I never saw him climb so easily," says the recuperating Belgian of his former teammate, who he has trained with a bit lately (can that be right? anyway...). Among those in the chorus of Boonen supporters is one Filippo Pozzato, who refers to his "friend and training partner in Monaco" as the man to win. On the sandbagging merry-go-round, Fabian Cancellara tips Boonen AND Pozzato as the strongest right now. On it goes.
1. The God of Scattered Showers
One rider in the selections fray under more dubious circumstances is Thor Hushovd. Yes, he is being picked by some based on who he normally is -- a sprinter who can handle pretty much anything -- but his run-in to La Primavera seems far less certain than his veteran cohorts. Hushovd was ill twice in January and struggled mightily in Tirreno-Adriatico, only now saying that he felt much better by the week's end. That's great, but if MSR disfavors anything, it's guys who are at all low on their normal fitness. Put Thor down as a serious Paris-Roubaix threat, but my hunch is that he's coming to form just a shade too late for tomorrow.