Making predictions for the upcoming season is a mug's game at best,
particularly in sport and even more so in cycling where a result is not a
result until the blood taking vampires and officials have had their
say, often months after the fact.
As predicted Alejandro Valverde won a couple of races in 2010, the Tour de Romandie and Tour Mediterranean, but today you won't find that anywhere in the record books, erased as if it never happened.
Which rider will face a similar fate in 2011? My bets will again be placed on a Spaniard or an Italian.
In fact we still don't really know who legitimately won the 1996 Tour de France. Was it Bjarne Riis, Jan Ullrich, Richard Virenque or Laurent Defaux? All riders who were subsequently banned or admitted to doping.
Austria's forgotten man Peter Luttenberger finished 5th in a Grand Tour result he never again replicated, maybe he did - or not.
Form and fitness is also a tricky issue. Can Fabian Cancellara do in 2011 what he did in 2010? Can Mark Cavendish? Two of the real standouts of 2010.
Cavendish recovered from third-world dentistry, a troubled start to the season and went ballistic in the Tour de France after everyone but Allan Peiper had written him off.
Cancellara was simply amazing in not only winning classics but showing strength in support of Andy Schleck in the Tour de France and finishing up his year with yet another TT world championship to his name.
amazing in fact that many fell for totally unpredictable claims the
Swiss had dominated the classics with a bit of motorised assistance. It
was the years wackiest cycling story.
But that's all hindsight, without doubt the big guns will again fire, proving to be safe bets in an unpredictable world.
But that won't stop this scribe from making a prediction or two. Looking deep into an ice filled glass of Staminade and Gin here are my top-ten predictions for 2011 - with no real authority attached to them except for a grain of truth.
1) Following his suspension Alberto Contador will make good on his threat to retire. He will open a butcher shop in Pinto. Irony dies.
2) Ivan Basso, not Andy Schleck, will win the Tour de France in Contador's absence. He will kiss babies, thank his nona and Tweet, "Tutti a dormire... Buona notte!" for the hundredth time.
3) In a history repeating moment Andy Schleck will again miss a critical shift, this time on the Galibier, losing the Tour de France to Ivan Basso. One-eyed fans will again blame Alberto Contador for unsporting behavior.
4) Australia will have a UCI Pro Continental team bid announced in September. The UCI's dog will eat the paperwork in November. Truth will be the first casualty.
5) The Tashkent Terror, Djamolidine Abdoujaparov, emerges from his reclusive existence to add his voice in support of fashionista Mario Cipollini and the stern Dane Bjarne Riis' statements about the softness of today's riders. Mark Cavendish will cry. Andre Greipel cannot.
6) With the assistance of the Dalai Lama, Cadel
Evans will reach an even higher plane of existence after going into a
deep meditation. He will renounce all worldly goods including the need to win the Tour de France.
7) Riccardo Ricco
will get busted for the usual. Frustrated Italian anti-doping
prosecutors will attempt to suspend the entire country from involvement
in cycling, for life.
8) Stuart O'Grady will figure out an
inventive new way to get injured before a big event. He will make yet
another just-in-time return to fitness.
9) Stung by rumours of motorised doping Fabian Cancellara
will go retro in the classics, decimating the field with a new Trek
Reynolds 531 rig equipped with Simplex gears and Bamboo rimmed wheels.
The UCI technical commission will be pleased at this new advance in
10) Jens Viogt will still be Jens Voigt.