- Stijn Devolder isn’t conceding anything headed into Sunday. "Ik ben beter dan vorig jaar" is his take -- basically, I’m better than past years. He goes on to talk about how he was on the verge of giving the pack the slip last Saturday. News to his team, apparently. Devo calls the first three stages of Driedaagse de Panne "purely training" but might show a little something of his form in the closing time trial.
- Bad news for Stijn: while Fiorenzo Magni has no problem with Devolder matching his record of three consecutive Flanders wins, the 90-year-old champion is picking Boonen.
- Leif Hoste got some ink today, mostly to talk about how lousy things are going. He was sick with the buikgreip last weekend (blech), and things are what they are. Het Laatste Nieuws talks with DS Herman Frison, and all he keeps saying is "what can you do?" Answering the question, is it possible to have less than no confidence? (yes) Hoste doesn’t even appear to enter Frison’s thoughts in the conversation. It's all about Gilbert, and if they get major contributions from the rest of the squad, apparently it will be to Frison's surprise.
- I’ve seen a couple articles talking about the continued "mondialising" of the classics, all generally positive and expected. There’s a long interview today with some expert on the subject of sponsorship, who basically says that there’s a limit to how much Belgian companies (mostly big banks) can do to keep up with the big foreign sponsors. Seems more like resignation, but Belgians haven’t been complaining too openly about the outsiders coming in. The total lack of Belgian wins, another matter.
- Nick Nuyens was out perusing the Ronde course yesterday, giving lie to the notion that he’s not ready to start Sunday. He says his participation wasn’t compromised by the thrills and spills last weekend.
- Mark Cavendish was also seen on the course yesterday, prepping for his first Ronde with mate Bernhard Eisel. Cav has previously said he wanted to be more of a classics guy than a pure sprinter (who doesn’t?), and is making good on his promise to try. Good luck dude!
- Did I read a rather detailed description of Boonen’s recon plans somewhere, or just dream it? It seems like an odd thing to publicize, but maybe it’s like stars in LA, there’s a social contract on not bothering him while he’s training. Or at least not being too obvious about it.
- Speaking of Boonen, that article with Lore holding him on a leash isn't what it looks like. It's all "stand by your man" and "he's always there for me." Snore.