* Over at Sporza Phillippe Gilbert's manager Marc Sergeant is busily explaining his star's strategy for Sunday: don't try to drive off from the field, wait for the separation at La Redoute and see what happens. Of course, he's not a fool, he wouldn't openly tip their hand, so don't buy into this too terribly much. But Sergeant seems to be hinting at the possibility of a sprint, where Gilbert would be among the favorites. Incidentally, how much does sprinting matter? Of the last eight editions, three were won solo (Vino, Hamilton and Andy Schleck last year) while the other five were won by Valverde (x2), Bettini, Rebellin and DiLuca -- all guys who can finish off a charge to the line.
* By the way, Sergeant said the parcours looked like an easier edition of La Doyenne. Opinions?? Steven Farrand at CN runs through the course. Steephill says it's the same as last year. The Cotes:
- Km 69.0 - Côte de la Roche-en-Ardenne - 2.8 km de montée à 4.9 %
- Km 116.0 - Côte de Saint Roch - 0.8 km de montée à 12 %
- Km 159.0 - Côte de Wanne - 2.7 km de montée à 7 %
- Km 166.0 - Côte de Stockeu (Stèle Eddy Merckx) - 1.1 km de montée à 10.5 %
- Km 186.0 - Col du Rosier - 6.4 km de montée à 4 %
- Km 198.0 - Col du Maquisard - 2.8 km de montée à 4.5 %
- Km 209.0 - Mont-Theux - 2.7 km de montée à 5.2 %
- Km 223.0 - Côte de la Redoute - 2.1 km de montée à 8.4 %
- Km 238.0 - Côte de la Roche aux Faucons - 1.5 km de montée à 9.9 %
- Km 252.0 - Côte de Saint-Nicolas - 1.0 km de montée à 11.1 %
* Weather for Sunday in the Ardennes: 68 and sunny. You can almost feel the disgust emanating from wherever Bernard Hinault is right now. IMHO that helps Valverde. If nothing else, Gilbert has more experience in the slop.
* I know nothing of sports books, so I'll check in on BWIN for the latest (they advertise on everyone's shirt, so what the hey). Favorites: 1. Gilbert; 2. Valverde; 3. J-Rod; 4. (tie) Andy Schleck/Evans/Contador
* Twit of the day goes to Bradley Wiggins: "After a few days in the city and its environs, as I watched my friend was almost attacked, I can officially say Liege is a dump!" And by twit, I intend multiple meanings.
* Sporza is rife with various rider prerace nonsense, so I'll skip it and only add this: Frank Schleck has professed his desire to go for the Tour of Flanders eventually. Well played Frankie!
* Over at de Telegraaf, Karsten Kroon says his injuries are superficial and he'll be back for the Tour of California. Cool!