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Vlaamse Wielerweek Phase 1: Dwars door Vlaanderen

I used to do long, comprehensive previews of these races, but after a few years during which very little has changed while the PdC Analysis Dustbin continues to overflow, I think we're all best served by a slimmed-down preview, cutting to the chase.


The Course: See immediately below. Flemish Ardennes, no doubt about it.

The Finish: From the crayonograph it looks a bit twisty but flat.

The Startlist: Here. Boonen has Chavanel, Devolder and Weylandt at his side (sorta). Van Avermaet has sounded a bit frisky, could be a good one for him. Hoste is there with Roelandts et al. Rabo has their main squad out: Boom, Langeveld and Nuyens. Saxo could use a win, and have Cancellara and Breschel, with O'Grady. Former winners in attendance, apart from Boonen and Chav, include Robbie McEwen (main guy for Katusha) and Nico Eeckhoudt, who has made a living on this race. Others to watch include Jens Keukeleire, Juan Antonio Flecha, Yahueni Hutarovich, Niki Terpstra, Luca Paolini, Bobby Traksel, and I'm sure I am missing a few more.

Official Website: Here. In Angelsachian to boot.

Weather Report: Moderately crapola. Which is fun for people who are watching at home, as opposed to riding, or cashing in a lifetime supply of marital chits to fly there.

Live Video: Yep. Cycling.TV has the race, which is good news not only for their customers. It means there's a feed, which you'll probably find in numerous places.

Prediction: Quick Step would probably like to start flexing their muscles, though Boonen's lieutenants will be let off the leash at the first whiff of glory. I really, really hope they focus on more familiar guys and let Jens Keukeleire hang around to the finish. I'd LOOOOVE to see him square off with the big boys. My pick? Heart says Keukeleire, head says Greg Van Avermaet.

Who ya got?