Flemish Week is already underway! The World Tour peloton already contested the Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday with Belgian Yves Lampaert taking the win for Quick-Step Floors. Of course, the crown jewel of the five-race series is the finale, the Tour of Flanders.
The second monument of the season goes next Sunday (April 2, 2017), so it’s time to update the odds for the major favorites. The list is largely unchanged since I first previewed the odds back in December, but with one monument (Milan-San Remo) and a few cobbled races already out of the way, we have a much better idea of where the main contenders stand.
Let’s get right to it. Here are my top picks for Flanders’ Finest.
Odds to win the 2017 Tour of Flanders
Peter Sagan: 7/3
Peter Sagan picked up his first monument last year with a huge win at the Tour of Flanders. He won in spectacular style, leaving Sep Vanmarcke for dead and riding the final nine miles in a solo breakaway. Vanmarcke and classics-veteran Fabian Cancellara fought admirably to rein him in, but the World Champion couldn’t be caught.
As expected, the returning champ will start Flanders as the race favorite. He’ll be looking for his first big win of 2017 after a photo-finish sprint at Milan-San Remo left the Slovakian in second place to Michael Kwiatkowski.
Greg van Avermaet: 17/3
Historically, Belgians have dominated the Flemish monument, but it’s been a long four years since they’ve tasted victory. This year, Van Avermaet is the best hope for the home country. He started the year with a win at another Belgian cobbled classic, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, where he out-sprinted Sagan after a long three-man breakaway.
Van Avermaet was one of the favorites last year, but was forced to abandon the race after breaking his collarbone in a crash. He should have better luck this time round. (It can’t get worse, right?)
Michał Kwiatkowski: 10/1
Kwiatkowski could not have wished for a better start to 2017. He picked up a big win at the Strade Bianche with a bold solo breakaway, out-pacing a star-studded chase group. Then he picked up his fist monument just two weeks later with a win at Milan-San Remo.
He had a relatively quiet year in 2016 after signing on with Team Sky, but it looks like the former World Champion has reclaimed his groove.
Tom Boonen: 11/1
Boonen’s achievements in cycling are too long to list exhaustively, so here’s a quick summary: three wins at the Tour of Flanders; four wins at Paris-Roubaix; six stages at the Tour de France. The 36-year-old Belgian superstar has decided to hang up the cleats after the spring classics this year. A fourth Flanders win — which would be the most by any man, breaking the current six-way tie — would be a great send-off for arguably the greatest classics rider of all time.
Alexander Kristoff: 12/1
The 2015 winner is among the race favorites, but his season so far has been fairly quiet. Apart from a fourth-place finish at Milan-San Remo, the Norwegian sprinter doesn’t have a lot to show at the moment. His season is just getting started, though, so let’s not be so quick to write off the ultra-strong Norwegian.
Photo credit: Louise Ireland (flickr) CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0]