The ride of the falling... Doyenne? Let's hope no-one takes a tumble on some loose Belgian foliage, because we've still got a lot of racing left in 2020.
It's a bit discombobulating to be thinking about the Old Lady on the same weekend we're usually enjoying Il Lombardia, while the Giro goes on a few thousand kilometres down the road, but feast or famine, let's not look a gift horse in the mouth, eh?
The competition from La Corsa Rosa means it's an even more wide open race than usual. While there are a number of riders who might be present but arent - Jakob Fuglsang the most prominent name among them - there are plenty of others whose form is on fire from the Tour. One in particular has caught our panel's eye...
Michael Woods - EF Pro Cycling
I think we're all quite excited to see Julian Alaphilippe debut his rainbow jersey, and there will be many who would be happy to watch him win wearing it as well. I'm not not among them, I just reckon Mike Woods is due one. Shame he won't be wearing the Giro kit, because I suspect the rest of the peloton would be happy to see the back of him...
Marc Hirschi - Team Sunweb
Look back through the list of previous winners and you’ll see kids don’t win this race. Experience counts. But then you’d say the same about La Flèche Wallonne until Marc Hirschi ripped up the Mur this week and ripped up the history books too. Tempted to go with Benoît Cosnefroy after his excellent performance on Wednesday, but the 22-year-old Swiss is now a proven winner.
Tom Dumoulin - Jumbo Visma
I think there is a strong chance that the man with the luscious eyelashes (just me?), Marc Hirschi, continues his stellar rise with a Monument here, but I'm going to go double Dutch for LBL and pick Tom Dumoulin instead. He seems to have been gradually building form in a year of low expectation for him, where more high-profile team-mates have taken the spotlight.
Julian Alaphilippe - Deceuninck-Quick Step
Though his late Tour form fooled me about his chances at Worlds, I know he has been focusing his season around this week to hit his peak for LBL. Whether it’s solo or in a sprint from a small group, I don’t see anyone getting the better of Alaphilippe. And how great would it be to see him winning in the rainbow jersey? It’ll be a classic image to tape onto bedroom walls all over the world and inspire all sorts of kids to dream of their own victories.
Cycling Mole says...
It’s monument time for the men, with a windy edition of LBL ahead. It’s long, it’s demanding, and it will feel quite cold. After huge wins by Alaphilippe and Hirschi in the last week, will anyone be able to compete with them?
I don’t know what to tackle first, Ben’s pick of Tom Dumoulin or the fact he’s looked so closely at Marc Hirschi face to see he has luscious eyelashes. Dumoulin was miles off the pace on Wednesday, I doubt he’ll be turning that around in just a few days. The rest of the picks are spot on, just about. Michael Woods is a funny one, he just doesn’t win enough races for me. Take Wednesday, for example, where his team did lots of work only for him to start the final climb in twentieth position. This was a huge mistake, but things like this always seem to happen to him. For me, he just isn’t good enough to win a monument. Ian and Olivia are going with Hirschi and Alaphilippe, the riders with the best form. Did Julian hit the town after the winning the worlds? I know I would have. Will Hirschi ever get tired? I don’t think so.
Looking at the teams, I think Sunweb will have the upper hand in the closing stages. As much as I would love to pick my mate Tiesj, I’ll go with Marc Hirschi, his form is too good to ignore.