SRAM’s Tour of Flanders?

SRAM’s Tour of Flanders?

 

SRAM’s Tour of Flanders?

 

Simon Whiten

 

SRAM’s Tour of Flanders?

 

Think cobbled Classics and you probably think Peter Sagan, Tom Boonen and OmegaPharma Quick-Step. No doubt buoyed by the sizzling form of these major players lately, SRAM are really pushing the fact that they have no less than six teams using SRAM Red at this weekend’s Tour of Flanders, four in the men’s race and two in the women’s – but will it really turn out to be SRAM’s Tour of Flanders?

 
Cycling : 97th Tour of Flanders 2013

 

SRAM do have a good chance of winning the 259.1km, 98th edition, De Ronde Van Vlaanderen, as the Tour of Flanders is known in the native Flemish dialect, on Sunday 6th April 2014. As well as Sagan, who last year lost Cancellara’s wheel on the Paterberg to finish second behind him, and his Cannondale squad, there is a very capable OmegaPharma Quick-Step team, who have cobbled classics specialist, Tom Boonen and numerous other potential winners such as the in-form Niki Terpstra, World Cyclocross Champion, Zdenek Stybar, and track Six Day supremo, Iljo Keisse, on its roster. However, Boonen is already a three-time winner and will be the captain on the road, looking for another win in his home race. OmegaPharma Quick-Step use SRAM, Zipp and Quarq componentry.
 
It’s much harder to see a winner coming from either Tinkoff-Saxo or from MTN Qhubeka, though as we saw in Milan San-Remo in 2013, you can never count good riders out, in that case namely MTN’s Gerald Ciolek but there’s also Kroon, Breschel and Sorensen from TinkoffSaxo who could all get up there.
 
As with any such one day classic, Flanders is a race where luck plays as big a part as strength and tactics and of course the one obvious potential fly in the SRAM ointment is Fabian Cancellara, who is the reigning champion and has shown good form in the build up to the race. The Trek rider finished second at San Remo and has been up there in all the ‘preparation’ events that precede Flanders.

 
There’s also the likes of recent race winners Alexander Kristoff and John Degenkolb, and the on-form Geraint Thomas (who rumour has it will be supported by no less that Sir Bradley Wiggins) who could crash the SRAM party on Sunday. All those riders are Shimano mounted and it’s hard to think of potential Campagnolo sponsored riders (famous last words), with perhaps Lotto’s Jurgen Roelandts, who finished third last year, being their favourite.
 
There have been route changes again this year. The race is dominated by a series of short, steep, tough, cobbled climbs, which have to be ridden to be believed as to their severity. At the end of a grueling race they obviously have a major impact on the result. In recent years the organisers have experimented with changes to the route of the Tour of Flanders to make more of a spectacle of the major climbs such as the infamous Koppenberg, the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg.
 
The women’s race is much less well known and publicised, but is a cracking event for the massed ranks of roadside spectators and should be given more TV airtime. The event is shorter at 130km but still includes the main climbs like the Paterberg, Molenberg, etc.
 
The British Champion, Lizzie Armitstead who recently won of the Ronde van Drenthe World Cup and the Omloop van het Hageland, and the 2013 Time-Trial World Champion, Ellen van Dijk, will lead the Dutch Boels Dolmans team, whilst the Evelyn Stevens and Tiffany Cromwell lead the American Specialized-lululemon team.
 
This is a big, career defining win for whomever comes out on top on Sunday, but not just for the riders as at this time, with the hydraulic brake recall still smarting, SRAM need all the good publicity they can get.

 

For me the winner has to come from the Sagan, Boonen or Cancellara trio, which stacks the odds in favour of SRAM 2:1, on his day though Cancellara will just ride both of them off his wheel as he has proved before. So who is your money on?
 
Here’s SRAM’s handy guide to their sponsored teams for Sunday:

 

Cannondale Pro Cycling (Italy)

 

Cannondale

 

Frame: Cannondale
Componentry: SRAM RED 22
Riders: Peter Sagan (SVK)/ Maciej Bodnar (POL)/ Oscar Gatto (ITA)/ Edward King (USA)/ Kristijan Koren (SLO)/ Matthias Krizek (AUT)/ Paolo Longo Borghini (ITA)/ Alan Marangoni (ITA)

 

MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung (South Africa)

 

Qhubeka-TEAM-jersey

 

Frame: Trek
Componentry: SRAM RED 22
Wheels: Zipp
Riders: Gerald Ciolek (GER)/ Linus Gerdemann (GER)/ Ignatas Konovalovas (LTU)/ Martin Reimer (GER)/ Kristian Sbaragli (ITA)/ Andreas Stauff (GER)/ Jay Robert Thomson (RSA)/ Jacobus Venter (RSA)

 

Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Pro Cycling (Belgium)

 

OPQS 2014

 
Frame: Specialized
Componentry: SRAM RED 22
Wheels: Zipp
Bars, stems, seatposts: Zipp
Power: Quarq
Riders: Tom Boonen (BEL)/ Iljo Keisse (BEL)/ Nikolas Maes (BEL)/ Zdenek Stybar (CZE)/ Niki Terpstra (NED)// Matteo Trentin (ITA)/ Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL)/ Stijn Vandenbergh (BEL)

 

Tinkoff-Saxo (Denmark)
 

SAXO BIBB

 

Frame: Specialized
Componentry: SRAM RED 22
Wheels: Zipp
Bars, stems, seatposts: Zipp
Riders: Daniele Bennati (ITA)/ Matti Breschel (DEN)/ Christopher Juul Jensen (DEN)/ Michal Kolár (SVK)/ Karsten Kroon (NED)/ Michael Mørkøv (DEN)/ Nicki Sørensen (DEN)/ Matteo Tosatto (ITA)

 

Boels Dolmans Cycling Team (The Netherlands)
 
BoelsDolmans
 
Frame: Specialized
Componentry: SRAM RED 22
Riders: Lizzie Armitstead (GBR)/ Ellen van Dijk (NED)/ Christine Majerus (LUX)/ Romy Kasper (GER)/ Megan Guarnier (USA)/ Kasia Pawlowska (POL)
 
Specialized-lululemon (USA)
 

SpecializedLululemon

 

Frame: Specialized
Componentry: SRAM RED 22
Bars, stems, seatposts: Zipp
Riders: Trixi Worrack (NED)/ Lisa Brennauer (GER)/ Tiffany Cromwell (AUS)/ Evelyn Stevens (USA)/ Carmen small (USA)/ Chantal Blaak (NED)
 

 
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