So, tomorrow is the last day of 2011 Worlds. It's time for the fight for the most prestigious of the rainbow jerseys. I have to admit given the easy course I'm not looking forward to it as much as usually but whatever- that doesn't mean I'm not excited.
Seeing U23, junior and elite women road races, it looked like it's almost impossible to get away here, but who knows, incredible things happen sometimes, especially when Phillipe Gilbert is racing.
What riders (and DSes) themselves say:
Sylvain Chavanel- "Sunday will be the saddest race in the world"
(While Quickstep manager, Lefevre, hopes "that Chavanel will win and Gilbert will die on his wheel".)
Phillipe Gilbert doubts anyone can finish alone on this course but says his team will do everything to make race hard from the beginning.
Team GB seems really fired up, they think for them it's now or never since at least the next three years Worlds should be much harder. Cav admits he's rarely nervous but now is one of those moments, Wiggins says it's their best chance but Cavendish will still need the ride of his life.
Mark Cavendish- The uphill finish isn't perfect for him but he'll have a very solid team, on a good day he can do it.
Thor Hushovd- Exactly the other way- finish is great for him but he could do with slightly harder course plus he has a poor team. His teammate Boasson Hagen could win as well, depending on who's the leader on the day. I heard many Norwegians came to cheer for them.
Oscar Freire- Few years ago, he'd be an overwhelming favourite on such course but he's getting old and it's been almost a year since his last big result (Paris-Tours). However he's proven before that he can win this thing out of nowhere and he's chasing the record.
Peter Sagan- His age and only two helpers can make it difficult but other than that it looks great for him and he's my pick.
Phillipe Gilbert- It may look too easy for him but among those 18 races he won this season, there were some which he won making a gap on the easier terrain. And after such a long race, even the sprint isn't such a terrible option for him. If sprinters can be beaten here, he should be the one to do it...
Fabian Cancellara-...unless it will be him. It's been a while since he's done something like that but he's an ambitious guy who may feel he has smth to prove.
Matthew Goss- Has a very good team behind him but he doesn't seem to be in great form. A shame as such course fits him like a glove. (Also I'd say not taking Renshaw wasn't the best decision.)
Andre Greipel- Has a good chance I think. He can count on great leadout, he isn't bad on such finishes and anyway he's one of the fastest guys out there.
Tyler Farrar- Would be a nice way to end a rough year. I wouldn't put money on him, when in great shape he would be a very serious contender... but you never know with his shape.
Bennati- Seems unlikely but I guess he deserves a mention.
(Others include Bole, Feillu, Germany back up options in Kittel and Dagenkolb, Rojas... or if the race turns out to be miraculously hard and messy Chavanel or Voeckler.)