Tomorrow’s Brabantse Pijl begins in Leuven (my old stomping ground) and winds it’s way to a suburb east of Brussels. Tackling over 15 hills on the main loop, then 10 more via the 5 finishing ronden, the race usually ends with a small group duking it out to hit the line first on the Alsemberg. Last year Chavanel and Gilbert waged quite a duel, with Chavanel taking it in the end. However, don’t be surprised to see a sprinter with the ability to suffer through the climbs win this one—Freire’s won it three times, in fact.
The trouble with predicting winner here is that at least part of the race is dictated by what happens in the E3 Prijs the day before. Riders are dropped and added at the last minute depending on any residual carnage and fatigue from Saturday. Sometimes a rider will start merely to loosen the legs, dropping out at the feed zone or as soon as the race begins the finishing laps. Thus, it’s often a crapshoot.
For my money, I’d go with Phillipe Gilbert. Looking over the list right now he’s surely one of the 3-5 strongest riders on the line. Silence-Lotto simplay MUST win one of these races. They were completely absent from Saturday’s finale. Heads will be rolling soon (even with Evans' win today in Italy). Katusha has Steegmans and Pozzato listed as starting, but I find it hard to believe both will—especially after Pozzato’s win in Harelbeke. Allan Davis from Quick Step shouldn’t be discounted, and neither should Cervelo’s Hushvod—if he starts.
My big question: with so many talented riders, why wouldn’t Quick Step start Chavanel? Don’t be surprised to see him as a last-minute add on Sunday.
And darkhorses? Saxo Bank is going to need a result soon; Arvesen and Kroon could provide it. Simon Spilak from Lampre could shock everyone as could Mr. “I”ve got something to prove” Eeckhout. Finally, I’ll say it again: Bjorn Leukemans. Come on, Bjorn! I’ve been praising you and your team for weeks now; it’s time to deliver the goods!