The races we are talking about are:
Milan-San-Remo: Omloop het Nieuwsblad, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Amstel Gold, Fleche Wallone, Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
TW will try and avoid choosing the obvious contenders:
For example: Cancellara, Boonen, Terpstra, Valverde, Sagan, Kwiatkowski, Kittel and Cavendish.
MSR, E3 and Gent-Wevelgem, often favour a tough and versatile sprinter who can master a variety of conditions and surfaces. Cavendish’s win in MSR back in 2009 was remarkable in that he didn’t really fit the profile, being a pure sprinter.
Milan-San-Remo is the longest Classic, just shy of 300 kms. (At about the point where The Wattmeister starts to warm up). Michael Matthews is making a name for himself as one of the strongest of all-rounders.
Omloop and E3 are often held in cold and wet conditions. Tom Boonen has won several of each, but The Wattmeister picks a rejuvenated Boasson-Haagen for Omloop and Moreno Hofland for E3.
The Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix are rarely won by a complete unknown. Latterly, only the strongest riders in the best form figure in the finale. Greg van Avermaet to triumph in Flanders and contrary to my previous statement, bold rides from Sebastian Langeveld and Damien Gaudin in Paris-Roubaix, (with a big good luck to Wiggo!)
The Ardennes Classics and Amstel Gold call upon a certain amount of punchy climbing ability to deal with the short sharp hills of the area. Liege-Bastogne-Liege in particular is nearly always won by a rider of the highest calibre.
Amstel Gold is a tough race held in the hilly part of Holland, no, not an oxymoron, we are talking about Limburg in the South. There are over thirty hills on this route, and it suits the characteristics of a formidably strong rider, often a household name. But that would be too easy…Simon Spilak of Team Katusha is TW’s choice for this event. He normally hits form in May in the Tour of Romandie, but has started his 2015 campaign a little earlier than usual.
To peruse the Fleche Wallonne’s roll call of victors is to recognise a venerable list of champions (unfortunately, some dope-assisted). However, this shorter race which takes in the brutal climb of the Mur de Huy, normally produces a top class ‘veteran’ winner. Michael Albasini for 2015.
Greg van Avermaet is a bold and attacking rider who can do everything, and I am convinced that 2015 is the year that he will break through. LBL is also on the cards for him, in addition to Flanders. One improving rider to watch out for in this edition of the race is Wout Poels of Team Sky, who will relish the terrain.
A difficult assignment to pick winners so far in advance of the races. But after placing second in the Muswell Hill Peloton’s Regents Park sprint on Saturday and then triumphing in Sunday’s Friern Barnet Lane Finale, The Wattmeister himself dreams of one last crack at the Classics.