An early season look into the future

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03/12/2012| 0 comments
by Neil Browne
It's only March, but that doesn't prevent me from making educated guesses on the whole 2012 season. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.
It's only March, but that doesn't prevent me from making educated guesses on the whole 2012 season. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.

An early season look into the future

It's only March, but that doesn't prevent me from making educated guesses on the whole 2012 season.

daddies - Team BMC Racing sure hasn't had the early season payoff yet. Team owner Andy Rihs put his own euros on the line to support this team. Last year it paid off with a Tour de France win and with the super talent it grabbed up during the off-season most of us expected the red and black of BMC to loot and pillage the race calendar like a wild horde of Vikings. So far they've been slapped back by teams like Vacansoleil-DCM. The other super funded squads, Sky and RadioShack, have been putting notches into the win column.

My poor attitude toward BMC could be squashed if Philippe Gilbert wins Milan-San Remo this Saturday. If that happens Rihs will look like a genius for writing those hefty cheques to Gilbert. Of course even if he doesn't get to post up at the finish line with a victory salute all will be forgotten if the Belgian kills it at the upcoming classics. Yeah, I'm fickle like that.

Regardless of Rihs snagging Gilbert I have much respect for signing Taylor Phinney and Tejay Van Garderen. Even if those two don't get a pro win this season (which I doubt) I know that they will payoff in the near future - it's a matter of being patient.

As I write this it was reported that Gilbert has a virus, which caused him to abandon Tirreno-Adriatico. This takes him a couple of steps down in the favorites column. And the way Tom Boonen of Omega Pharma-QuickStep has been riding, my money is on him to take the roses this Saturday.

Boonen told Sporza he's at 90 to 95 percent of his form and that's good enough for Milan. At Paris-Roubaix you can expect the Belgian to step up a couple of percentage points. Since I'm on the subject of Omega Pharma-QuickStep I need to say how impressed I've been with Levi Leipheimer's season so far. A series of crashes ruined his chances of winning Paris-Nice, but I'm slowly coming around to the fact that he could be a real contender for the Tour de France. I know it's only March, but Leipheimer is looking sharp and with the 100 kilometers of time trialing it could be a battle between Levi, Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans.

Bradley Wiggins also agrees with me and is saying that his win at Paris-Nice proves he can win the Tour de France. That's a bit of a leap to say winning a one-week stage race that doesn't contain all the race favorites, like the a fore mentioned Leipheimer and Evans, proves anything. Instead it shows that he's capable of winning, but so are a few other guys. While I'm a fan of making wild predictions months away from the Tour, I don't have the cojones to say Paris-Nice proves he can win. Wiggins seems to forget that he has a certain teammate that will undoubtedly win stages in July and contend for the green jersey with better odds than a tilt at the yellow jersey. Time will tell on how

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