Friday File: Spring Forward to: Strade Bianche, New Race to the Sun & Roma Maxima

I love the dust bowl!
via Giro d'Italia

If Moreno Moser has it his way there just may be a one-two Cannondale finish (like last year) on Saturday's Strade Bianche. Two-time winner, Fabian Cancellara will ride his first classic of the season and does Spartacus have the form to upset the Green Machine? The Tuscan gravel roads will surely test the riders. My pick: The Terminator for the win.

Racing season gets hot with the 72nd Race to the Sun starting Sunday. I'm liking the new course-no ITT or summit finishes-one of the longest distances, in history, at 1477km. Can you say ... unpredictable. Organizers include four classic style stages over 200km. The Col d'Eze is one of five climbs on the last stage into Nice that will most likely be the pressure cooker stage to determine the winner. Carlos Betancur (Ag2r) along with Romain Bardet can be the one-two ticket to riding success. Both showing early season form; Betancur (Haut-Var) and Bardet (La Drome & best young rider T of Oman). Can it be a French team to win on home turf? No ITT gives an edge to guys like Betancur and Bardet. The terrain will be varied, exciting and hard to predict the winner.

Bottom line the winner will have to be aggressive; do well over the small climbs and descend well. Three guys that come to mind to last the eight stages; Rui Costa, Vincenzo Nibali and Thor Hushovd.

72nd Paris-Nice (March 9-16)
Stage 1: Mantes-la-Jolie — Mantes-la-Jolie (162.5km)
Stage 2: Rambouillet — Saint-Georges-sur-Baulche (205km)
Stage 3: Toucy — Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours (180km)
Stage 4: Nevers — Belleville (201.5km)
Stage 5: Creches-sur-Saone — Rive-de-Gier (152.5km)
Stage 6: Saint-Saturnin-les-Avignon — Fayence (221.5km)
Stage 7: Mougins — Biot Sophia Antipolis (221.5km)
Stage 8: Nice — Nice (128km)

Start List

The Italian weekend finishes in front of the Collosseum,
Roma Maxima.

Hopefully without this humorous finish...

Pozzato springs for first?

My pick: Fillippo Pozzato

So you don't miss any of Stage 1, Paris-Nice...

Don't forget, March 9th...
Spring Forward!