|Acid Pop Phil Gil: Lombardia 2011|
It's the only one of the Ardennes Classics that I have never seen on place - but I have been at the finish in Valkenburg for the Worlds in 2012. The new route isn't new anymore: I still don't like it but got used. It's true that it allows late attacks to be successful so that the race finale is open for finisseurs and even hard sprinters but climbers' early tries get easily frustrated.
Recently the only rider who has won it more than once is Philippe Gilbert (2010 and 2011): his recent victory in De Brabantse Pijl puts his name again atop the list. Names are many though: Valverde, Cunego and Kwiatkowski come from a Vasco that has seen them strong, Rui Costa is still wearing that heavy rainbow, while the last winner Roman Kreuziger said he's not 100% .
Bauke Mollema always shows determination but I think Liège suits him better, the same can be told about other climbers like Betancur or Nibali. Dan Martin could have a chance but I think he's targeting the Giro so not especially fit just now.
Outsiders could be Romain Bardet - I rider I like - Lieuwe Westra, Arthur Vichot, Marco Marcato, Tom Jelte Slagter, Simon Gerrans, Björn Leukemans, Sonny Colbrell, Bob Jungels, Fabio Felline.... Ben Swift. A form in crescendo and a new selfconfidence make the Brit a possible 'dark horse'.
AG2R La Mondiale
Astana Pro Team
Belkin Pro Cycling Team
BMC Racing Team
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
Trek Factory Racing
CCC Polsat Polkowice
Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
Wanty - Groupe Gobert