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I'm sure that like me, most of you dragged the espresso machine within reach of your smart trainer and loaded up the profile to ride along with the biggest bike race in the world today a couple of hours ago. If not, there's still time to ride along for the last 4.5 hours! La Primavera. A hellishly long drag (294 km this year) that is decided on a couple of hills near the finish. It's so long that all bets are off - the best sprinter may not win if it comes to a bunch sprint, the best single day rider may not win if it turns into an Ardennes-style punch-up... And to make it even more fun, it's a rainy day.
Pundits are calling Sagan (duh...) and Kwiatkowsi (last year's winner, coming off a win at the week-long Tirreno-Adriatico race) the favourites. Kristoff has won recently (2014) and is in the race, although not in the miraculous form he showed that year. Cavendish is in but with a recently broken rib. Matthews is racing, but on the recovery trail from a broken shoulder blade.
My call? While my homer tendencies have me hoping for a huge Svein Tuft upset, it ain't gonna happen. I like Moscon (Sky) (for the win, I don't actually like this guy at all), Colbrelli and Nibali (Bahrain-Meridia) and Demare (Grouparama-FDJ).
But spare a moment of consideration for these unsung heroes, the sacrificial breakaway of the day, who escaped with roughly 285 km remaining in the race. In the rain. We salute you, random breakaway dudes from tier 2 teams. We salute you, you poor bastards. Enjoy being the visual background for the inane chatter of cycling announcers around the world for the next four hours. Your families are proud of you.
Mirco Maestri (Bardiani CSF)
Lorenzo Rota (Bardiani CSF)
Evgeny Koberniak (Gazprom Rusvelo)
Guy Sagiv (Israel Cycling Academy)
Dennis Van Winden (Israel Cycling Academy)
Sho Hatsuyama (Nippo-Vini Fantini)
Charles Planet (Novo Nordisk)
Matteo Bono (UAE Team Emirates)
Jacopo Mosca (Wilier Selle Italia)