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Felix Lowe's predictions for the 2017 pro season

Felix Lowe
4 Feb 2017

Eurosport's Felix Lowe dusts off his crystal ball to deliver some left-field predictions of how 2017 will pan out

Yes, I know the races have already started – but until the proper pedalling begins, it’s still as good a time as any to make some outlandish predictions for the year ahead.

Now be patient because my crystal ball is rather cloudy and I’m waiting for a new one to be delivered by Team Sky, despite living right next to a crystal ball shop. 

Through the haze I can see an up-and-down year ahead for Sky. Geraint Thomas is beaten by Carlos Betancur in Paris-Nice; Michal Kwiatkowski tanks in the Ardennes; and – off the record – the sword of Damocles looms over Sir Dave Brailsford.

Making matters worse, the departed Ben Swift finally wins Milan-San Remo for new team UAE Abu Dhabi.

Chris Froome twists an ankle training for the London Marathon and misses out on making his debut in the Tour of Flanders, where Movistar’s Imanol Erviti becomes the first Spaniard to snare a cobbled classic.

A Zwift return

Having completed three virtual Grand Tours on Zwift during the winter, Adam Hansen pips Ian Stannard in Paris-Roubaix.

Elsewhere, Orica’s Esteban Chaves wins the Giro after Wilco Kelderman becomes the latest Dutchman to bottle a major race on the penultimate day.

A controversial start to the race in their native Sardinia and Sicily sees favourites Fabio Aru and Vincenzo Nibali fall foul of crowd infringements. 

Sky reveals a new see-through kit that is lambasted by the press: in stormy weather it appears less transparent than expected.

In June the needles continue when the Daily Mail reports that the Sky chef had Emmental and a sack of spuds (RRP €8) shipped to the Dauphiné to make a cheesy gratin.

When Froome overcomes chronic bronchitis to win the Tour’s opening time-trial in Dusseldorf, The Sun runs the headline: ‘Just the TUE-tonic’.

Nearly man

With the peloton lulled into a soporific state by the bland early stages, Pierre Rolland almost wins the race ‘à la Walkowiak’ – seizing yellow with a colossal early break – before Froome triumphs at the 11th hour.

Sky success continues when Benat Intxausti – labelled by the tabloids as Sky’s ‘mystery package’ – defies Nairo Quintana to win the Vuelta. The Spaniard says last season’s debilitating illness only made him stronger.

Brailsford promptly takes a sabbatical, kicking things off with a cringeworthy appearance on A Question Of Sport during which he fails to be a sport or answer any questions. Brailsford reportedly asks Sue Barker if ‘anything can be done’ to prevent the show airing.

Sticking with reality TV, Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen are named hosts of The Great British Bake Off, while Wiggins’ post-cycling career goes stratospheric.

Following lucrative contracts with Beechams, DPD deliveries and Jiffy condoms (tagline: ‘What’s in the package?’), he joins the cast of the new Mary Poppins film.

There’s also ample smoke and mirrors when he’s caught sparking up a fag in the Strictly studio during rehearsals.

Worlds collide

At the Worlds in Bergen, Alexander Kristoff and Edvald Boasson Hagen touch wheels in the finale to gift victory to Peter Sagan – his first since Strade Bianche – while the UCI’s entire convoy of motor-detecting Samsung tablets explode during the cyclocross European championships.

The rise of The Donald not only sees the return of the Tour de Trump (won by Lance Armstrong after being granted a presidential pardon) but inspires other celebrities to stand for office.

Off the back of Channel 5’s Tour de Celeb, Louis Spence choreographs a coup by toppling Brian Cookson’s reign at the UCI, narrowly beating Paul Smith and Damien Hirst in the polls.

And finally, in one of the biggest twists of the year, Sky’s new French climber Kenny Elissonde is unveiled as Taylor Swift’s new squeeze.

The makers of South Park have a field day when the Kenniswift romance dies, culminating in a Christmas no 1, ‘Half Of My Height (Should’ve Said No)’, for the singer.

If any of this actually happens, Felix Lowe will eat his casquette 

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