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banner Thursday, 12 April, 2001, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
Cram eyes up marathon field
Steve Cram gives his views on the likely contenders for this year's London Marathon
Steve Cram says Loroupe could dominate her rivals
BBC Sport's Steve Cram gives his expert opinion on the Flora London Marathon and the runners likely to be pushing for glory this year.

Runners are at a huge advantage when they have competed in two or three 'big city' marathons.

You get certain competitors favouring certain cities and sticking to that race. They get comfortable and it helps massively knowing when to make the right moves during the run.

Olympic marathons are a real leveller because it is rare for people to have previously run the course. But there are a lot of top athletes running this year.

Portugal's Antonio Pinto likes competing in London. He's been there, seen it, done it.

You are never too sure on what sort of condition the Portuguese star is in. He hasn't run as much as some of the other runners. He is very difficult to beat though.

Antonio Pinto leads the race in London last year
Antonio Pinto is one of the favourites to triumph

And he wouldnt come if he wasn't in good condition.

It is difficult to pick a favourite because the problem is you don't know what shape they are in - unless they have run in the previous few weeks.

Paul Tergat is set to make a much heralded marathon debut.

He is in good form having just retained the World Half Marathon title in Mexico and claimed victory in Lisbon.

Hendrick Ramaala has also been putting in some quick times.

He has all the credentials to be a great marathon runner, although he hasn't run any great times yet.

Women's clear favourite

If you can run well in the half he must have a good marathon in him - this might just be his year.

There are so many experienced runners and past winners this year, but you have to take times with a pinch of salt sometimes.

Britain's Mark Steinle had a very good run last year.

This time round will be different because other runners will be looking out for him. It is easier for a debutant who can ease their way in.
Tegla Loroupe is jubilant after winning last year's London Marathon
Tegla Loroupe will be gunning for more glory

People will expect more from Mark but he will have to run his own race. He is still young though - and will develop over the next two or three years.

As for the women's, Tegla Loroupe is a bigger favourite than you could pick in the men's.

The Kenyan star has run quicker than the others and you just get the feeling she may be able to run away from her rivals.

Silver medallist in Sydney, Joyce Chepchumba, is another very experienced runner and will do well.

Derartu Tulu has got it all to do and Lidia Simon always runs a good race.

I'm not running this time round but it should be fascinating to see what happens this year.

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