As any good fan of pro cycling knows, this Saturday is the most important day of the year. It is time for La Primavera, La Classicisima, this year happens to be the running of the 100th Milano-San Remo. The most important race. The only race. You're not a big deal until you win this race. Win the Tour, fine. Win Roubaix, whatever. Win a World Championship, cool. Win San Remo, you're a legend, a hero and a God.
The course for this year is the same as last, which means the site of the traditional finish, La Via Roma, is still under construction. It will instead finish on Lungomare Italo Calvino, which is slightly less poetic, but the added extra couple of corners served Cancellara well when he jumped the field at 1500m last year.
So who's top dog here?
Quickstep - Boonen wants to win in San Remo, he NEEDS to win in San Remo, he knows it. Lefevre knows it. Both Allan Davis and Chavanel are flying right now, and if they don't know that Boonen needs to win in San Remo, their jerseys will not read 'Quickstep' next year.
High Road - Cav' the super sprinter is fast, even at the end of some long days, but Cav' will be lucky to still be hangin' on over the Le Manie, let alone the Cipressa and Poggio. He's here to learn. Hincapie and Lokvist look to be going well.
Cervelo - Both Haussler and Hushovd are showing the kind of form that can land you on top of the podium. Will Haussler be good after 7+ hours? If not, Thor might not be quick enough to strike alone in San Remo.
Katusha - McEwen never seems to REALLY focus on San Remo, winning Paris-Tours doesn't change your reputation as a Grand Tour stage killer. MSR would. Pozzato got his San Remo win when his teammate Boonen was lurking in the sprint. Without Tommeke there, Pozzato's swamped in the sprint.
Liquigas - Benanti can win in a bunch kick, and was lurking at the front of sprints in Tirreno-Adriatico. There is no Plan B.
Garmin - Farrar just beat Cav', straight up. But MSR is too long and too hard for the young 'uns. He will be there one day, but not this year. Farrar could be help to Julian Dean in the finale.
LPR Brakes - Age and lack of sauce have slowed Pettachi in recent years. His team is much downgraded from the rocket powered Fassa Bartolo train that delivered him to victory in 2005.
Astana - Despite all he's done, Lance Armstrong is a second tier bike racer until he wins in San Remo. This would have to happen in a sprint from a small group. It is very possible. It would be amazing. As Astana has no sprinters, they must hang their heads in shame if they cannot mix things up over the Cipressa and Poggio.
-Elken looks tops for the BB, and Paul hung on. Evan's gone next week, so Paul should have the target on his back.
-Piece of Cake, our (well, the NW's amateur cycling world's) San Remo, Roubaix and Liege all wrapped into one. The prize list is huge. Be there! It will be BALLS TO THE WALL! OW OW Ow OOOOWWWWWWWWW.