Boonen seems like a safe bet right now.
I would like to see Chavanel given a free hand (given that cold didn't have much effect on him).
Haussler - I doubt he can cut it.
Pozzato is on very good early season form, so I have him as second favorite.
Outside bet: Gilbert
I'm going to give a top three, as I can see the race coming down to a small group of 6 to 8 riders getting over the Bosberg and battling it out to win the Ronde.
I think Devolder will win, getting over in the group and then breaking away in the last couple of kilometres and not being shut down. Winning margin 11 seconds.
Second will be Boonen, simply because he will get to sit in and wait to sprint at the end.
In third, i'm torn between two but I have a feeling it will be Haussler behind Boonen (in case you are wondering my other thought here is Hincapie, but I feel he will be the one doing all the work to shut down Devolder).
I didn't read the entire thread yet, so I hope no one made this prediction before.
Although my heart wants Boonen to win, I don't think he'll take his third Ronde this year. As already has been mentioned, his team is too strong, so the chance Devolder or Chavanel ends up in front in a promising group is too large, just like last year. And with the warm and sunny weather they're predicting, the race will be less selective. So I predict a large group of about 40 riders at the bottom of De Muur, just like in 2007. After the Muur and the Bosberg, a group of 10 riders will remain, featuring all big guns: Boonen, Devolder, Burghardt, Haussler, Pozzato, Nuyens, Flecha, Hoste and so on. A lot of attacks will follow, and just when it seems like no one can get away, Flecha makes his move and takes a small gap. Hesitation. The Quickstep guys are too tired from countering previous attacks, and other fast men like Haussler and Pozzato don't want to take the risk of burning the energy they need for the sprint. Nuyens perfectly sabotages every attempt at a counterattack, and Flecha reaches the Hallebaan on his own. Pozzato launches an ultimate attack going in the final kilometre, but he comes just a few seconds short to keep Flecha from his greatest and well deserved classics victory.
Hincapie! He'll take this as a consilation for coming so close to Paris-Roubaix so many times. Another post said that he dearly want's it and I can't agree more with that. In these types of races, that is often more of what it takes.
Go George! (and please add him to the poll. i bet the majority of the "other" categorie is for him - and maybe a few for me in my dreams.)
But Hincapie has the disadvantage that he needs to finish alone if he wants to take the win. Even in a small group, he'll never outsprint the likes of Boonen, Pozzato, Haussler, Nuyens,... So I think his chances are better in Paris-Roubaix. But who knows, he does have tons of experience