Gent-Wevelgem 2013 – Preview and TV Guide

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Covering only 10 cobbled hills, last of them 35 kilometers from the finish line, Gent-Wevelgem is a true sprinters’ classic. Similar to Milan-SanRemo, the race very occasionally ends with a successful breakaway.

The hills, positioned too far away from the finish line, may not allow a breakaway to succeed but play a very important role deciding which of the sprinters can keep up with the pace. Peter Sagan, coming second to Tom Boonen last year, and finishing both Milan-SanRemo and E3 Harelbeke in second places this year, will definitely want to win the race.

3-times winner Tom Boonen, failed to stick with the front group in E3 Harelbeke 2 days ago, will be ready for a bunch sprint; not that sure for his new team-mate Mark Cavendish though, who failed to finish past 2 editions of Gent-Wevelgem. Also watch out for Orica Greenedge’s Matthew Goss and John Degenkolb from Argos; both showed good form recently. SKY, with their elite classics crew can have a rider on the podium, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Ian Stannard or maybe Bernard Eisel.

Sporza and RTBF in BelgiumNOS in Netherlands, and RAI Sport in Italy will broadcast the race live on TV.

For live streaming options, check out the below links though some may be geo-location restricted;

SporzaRTBFRai Sport

Gent-Wevelgem – A Brief History

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Gent-Wevelgem is the sprinters’ classic of the 2.5 weeks long cobblestones season. The event was first run in 1934, and 2013 will be its 75th edition. The race was positioned between Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix on Wednesdays, but in 2010 the race shifted to Sunday, the weekend before the Ronde.

Five riders in total, 4 of them Belgian, share the record of most wins with 3 victories each; Robert Van EenaemeRik Van LooyEddy Merckx, Tom Boonen and Mario Cippollini. Besides Boonen’s double in 2001 and 2002, Edvald Boasson HagenBernhard Eisel and Oscar Freire were able to win this prestigious classic more recently.

E3 Harelbeke 2013 – Riders’ List

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6 teams are invited with wildcards besides the 19 pro tour teams: Accent.Jobs – Wanty,  Crelan-Euphony and Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise from Belgium, Cofidis and Europcar from France, and IAM Cycling from Switzerland.

Peter SaganPhilippe GilbertLars Boom, Filippo PozzatoEdvald Boasson Hagen, and of course Tom Boonen are this year’s favorites. Check out Race Preview for more detail about the route.

The startlist of the 56th edition of E3 Harelbeke
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Milan-San Remo 2013 Preview

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— UPDATE: Due to heavy snow on the Milano-Sanremo route, the riders will be transported by bus from kilometer 117 to kilometer 207 (Finale Ligure). The race will be re-started at 3.00. —

During Tirreno-Adriatico, we’ve seen even Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel are not invincible, Peter Sagan is in top notch form, same also true for Sylvain Chavanel, considering his GC run and stage win in Paris-Nice.

Edvald Boasson Hagen was ok in Tour of Qatar and Tour Down Under but we haven’t seen him race since then. Fabian Cancellara was not impressive at all so far, but still someone you shouldn’t ever ignore for a second. Last year’s winner Simon Gerrans, despite winning a stage in Tour Down Under, failed to finish Paris-Nice, did no start stage 5 due to breathing problems.

Alongside Cavendish and Greipel; Marcel Kittel and Matthew Goss looked strong, each winning a stage past week. If Milan-San Remo ends with a bunch sprint, expect lead out trains checking each other in the front and a frenzy gallop between these riders.

If it comes to a breakaway within the last 30 kilometers, Peter Sagan will definitely follow and can be unstoppable in the final meters. Neither Philippe Gilbert nor Tom Boonen looked strong enough to win with a solo escape. And even if Cancellara or Chavanel tries that, just remember Sagan in this year’s Tour of Oman 2nd stage; closing the 200 meter gap alone before the final kilometers against a 3-rider breakaway and then passing them for his first win of the season.

But the most possible scenario is a select group of maybe 30, 40 riders making it to the final 20 kms. And from that point, we’ll see everyone playing their cards open and a clash of tactics in the field where only both physically and mentally tough riders can react.

Milan-San Remo final 30 kms

Expect to see some attacks on the Cipressa and the front group getting thinner and thinner as early breakaways get swept. But the race is %95 of the time won or lost in Poggio. With his recent form, it is Peter Sagan‘s race to lose but we’ve witnessed SKY cracking him on the drag of Pietragrossa in Tirreno-Adriatico very recently. But  also saw him take his “revenge” by attacking with Nibali on the Muro di Sant’Elpidio just the day after.

It is the longest and one of the fastest single stage races and positioning is key more than ever.

Also check out pre-race interviews and TV Guide / live streaming options.

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