Swiss Fabian Cancellara tops the bookmakers’ lists at 2.5:1 for the Tour of Flanders on Sunday. He’s defending champion, won E3 Prijs emphatically last weekend and backed by a strong Leopard-Trek team.
The home favourite is Tom Boonen, who has two wins and ranks just below Cancellara, 7.5:1. His last win came in 2006, the last year a World Champion won. This year, Thor Hushovd races in the rainbow stripes – 20:1 – and will be supported by Briton Roger Hammond.
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Cycling Weekly examines the stars and their odds…
Fabian Cancellara (Leopard-Trek) – 2.5
Defending champion and winner of E3 Prijs on Saturday. Team Leopard’s Swiss won E3 Prijs – or the ‘Little Flanders’ – so convincingly that many consider Flanders a foregone conclusion.
“I wanted to win [E3] and I want to make a double, double, to win Flanders and Roubaix, again,” said Cancellara.
“Pressure? It’s already there, the media and people around, that’s normal. I am experienced with it.”
Tom Boonen (Quick Step) – 7.5
Belgium’s favourite and a two-time winner (2005 and 2006). Team Quick Step’s star won Ghent-Wevelgem on Sunday after the group pulled back Sky’s Ian Stannard.
“Everyone’s talking about 1 – 1,” said Boonen, “but it’s 0 – 0.”
It was a response to Cancellara’s win the previous day, but a weak one.
Philippe Gilbert (OmegaPharma-Lotto) – 9
If Philippe Gilbert (OmegaPharma-Lotto) wins on Sunday, he would truly cement his status as the best one-day racer on the circuit. He would add to wins in Lombardy, Amstel Gold and Paris-Tours, and become Belgium’s new star – even if he’s from Wallonia.
Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo) – 20
Active in Milan-San Remo and E3 Prijs. Placed second in 2009.
Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) – 20
The current World Champion finished 14th in 2006.
Alessandro Ballan (BMC Racing) – 21
The Italian won the race in 2007, but has been far from his best since. “I’ve placed second in Strade Bianche and fourth in San Remo,” he said this week. “I’m back.”
Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) – 22
He won in 2008 (as Belgian champion) and 2009, but is far from his best this year.
Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) – 28
Fifth in 2009, sixth in 2008.
Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) – 35
Sky’s Spaniard will receive help from Geraint Thomas and Ian Stannard to match his podium spot of 2008.
Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank-SunGard) – 35
Second in 2008.
Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) – 35
Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) – 40
24th last year.
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) – 55
66th in 2009.
Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervélo) – 55
Fifth last year.
Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) – 55
Eighth in 2008.
Matthew Goss (HTC-Highroad) – 70
67th in 2009 and 91st last year, but in hot form coming off his San Remo win.
Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) – 150
Finished outside the time limit in his debut last year, even if the official results say DNF.
Bernhard Eisel (HTC-Highroad) – 175
11th in 2008 and 16th last year. The Austrian always rides strongly in Flanders.
Roger Hammond (Garmin-Cervélo) – 200
The Brit will be one of Garmin’s many options. He finished seventh last year.
Ian Stannard (Sky) – 350
73rd in 2008 and 84th last year.
(Odds are from Unibet)