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Don't underestimate the chance of a surprise winner, says Peiper

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Allan Peiper congratulates George Hincapie (BMC) on his showing in Sunday's Tour of Flanders.

Allan Peiper congratulates George Hincapie (BMC) on his showing in Sunday's Tour of Flanders. (Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Roman Sicard (Euskaltel-Euskadi)

Roman Sicard (Euskaltel-Euskadi) (Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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Tiago Machado (RadioShack-Nissan)

Tiago Machado (RadioShack-Nissan) (Image credit: Sirotti)

Garmin-Barracuda director Allan Peiper says that with the 45 riders separated by a matter of seconds, the opportunity for a less-heralded rider to come out of the wood work on the queen stage up Willunga Hill should not be dismissed.

"Everyone thinks it’s going to be the favourites and Gerrans is obviously ‘the favourite’ being national champion, but there are a lot of riders who haven't been talked about," Peiper said to Cyclingnews in Tanunda at the end of stage 4.

"Tiago Machado and Romain Sicard come to mind particularly – not much has been said about them but they’re both going really well."

Machado first showed himself on stage two when he picked up third place on the climb at Lenswood, the first available place after the day's break of two riders. The RadioShack-Nissan rider has shown himself to be one of the best talents to come out of Portugal since Jose Azevedo, already holding a handful of national championships, and recently developing a taste for shorter stage races.

RadioShack-Nissan's presence on the front today was very much to make the race harder for the 26-year-old, but it's Willunga where he can really excel.

Sicard meanwhile is a former under 23 world champion, and has previously beaten the likes of Alberto Contador on a hill-top finish in the Criterium du Dauphine.

They are just two of a handful of riders, including Linus Gerdemann, Ryder Hesjedal, Sandy Casar, Sergio Paulinho and Wilco Keldermann who have so far avoided the spotlight.

"I’ve not gone ‘full bore’ yet," echoed Michael Rogers in Tanunda. "But that’s the same for a lot of guys. Valverde, and some others haven’t even touched the pedals yet. I think we could see some surprises tomorrow."

Alex Hinds, Production Editor

Sydney, Australia

Alex Hinds is a graduate of Economics and Political Science from Sydney University. Growing up in the metropolitan area of the city he quickly became a bike junkie, dabbling in mountain and road riding. Alex raced on the road in his late teens, but with the time demands of work and university proving too much, decided not to further pursue full-time riding.

If he was going to be involved in cycling in another way the media seemed the next best bet and jumped at the opportunity to work in the Sydney office of Cyclingnews when an offer arose in early 2011.

Though the WorldTour is of course a huge point of focus throughout the year, Alex also takes a keen interest in the domestic racing scene with a view to helping foster the careers of the next generation of cycling.

When not writing for Cyclingnews Alex is a strong proponent of the awareness of cyclists on the road in Sydney having had a few close run-ins with city traffic in the past.