Friday, July 1, 2011

Tour Guide!

--It's that time of year again. The Tour starts tomorrow! First off, some predictions:


Cavendish - He's said he's on the best form of the last two years. He'll definitely come out swinging and I think he'll notch at least three wins this year. I'm hoping for more but I think for him that's a conservative guess. Baring accident, he'll win the first stage and stay in yellow for a few days. I see him finally winning the green jersey this year.

Goss - For the flatter sprints he'll be there to help Cav but on the uphill sprints and sprints right after a climb I think he'll clean up. He's going to take some of the Hushovd sprints.

Hushovd - Speaking of, I think he wins one sprint at best. Although I think Goss will be hard to beat. My real prediction is I don't think he'll win any.

Petacchi - Despite winning the green jersey last year, I don't think he'll do nearly as well this year. Petacchi said he's not in as good as form as last year. If he's crafty as he was last year he'll get one, tops.

Farrar - He's the wild card for me. He'll be super hungry for his first Tour win, but I'm not sure that will be enough. He left the Giro after Weylandt died so he doesn't have as many race days in his legs as some of the others. However, he has won a race since then and he will have Julian Dean there to help him out. He's got all the right pieces this year, let's hope he can put it together for a win.

Swift - Boasson Hagen is coming to the Tour after getting over shingles so he won't be in the best shape. Swift is Sky's best shot for a sprint win and I think he'll get one.

-Random Stage Winners

Vino! - This is probably Vino's last Tour and I expect him to be on top form. I think he'll win another stage this year in a breakaway.

Chavanel - He had a great Tour last year but I don't think this year will be as fruitful. At best I see him winning a stage and no yellow jersey.

Barredo - The king of kamikaze attacks, is going to be trying again this year. Hopefully this year he'll get lucky and notch one. If for nothing else, because he's tried so many times to get a Tour stage.

(Insert random Frenchman) - I don't think it'll be Moncoutie or Pineau but I think there will be another random Frenchman who gets a stage. Last year there was Chavanel in yellow, the year before it was Feillu on Arcalis.

Boom! - In addition to being the Dutch cyclocross champ for this year, he's also had a solid road season. I'd love to see him beat out the rest of the break on a stage with a few climbs.


Contador - Period. He wins this Tour. Open, shut. The race is really for second. It's his second grand tour of the year and he's coming to win it.

Andy - The younger Shleck will be eager to make up for last year's 2nd place but that won't be enough. He's not as good a climber and he's not as good TT as Contador. Providing Frank doesn't crash out again this year, he will have his brother there. Theoretically they could work together to attack Contador. I say "theoretically" because I don't think that will work. I haven't seen it work in the past and it only works if they're even in the GC. If not, every time the lower GC guy--most likely Frank--attacks, Contador can wait on Andy.

This year is another 2nd place, at best, for the young Schleck.

Frank - He's had an awesome season so far and I think he'll have a solid Tour. If his luck is better this year he may even be higher up on the GC. I don't think it'll be from climbing better than Andy but there's a lot besides the climb. I definitely see him in the top 5.

Wiggins - I feel weird even having him as the fourth guy I mention. I know, he's lost all this weight, he's on a great team, yada yada. I just don't seem him being a major Tour contender. I think his best bet would be 5th. Top 10 would be a solid finish for him. I think that Ventoux when he was on Garmin was a one off. I don't see him doing it again.

Basso - Basso will do top 5. I see him at 4. He's old and wise enough to conserve as much as possible. He's also not as marked as the Schlecks or Contador so he'll be able to take seconds quietly and move up the GC.

Evans - I think even listing Evans is a waste of time. He'll crack the top 10, that's it. I don't see him winning a stage or even cracking the top 5.

--For those of you wanting to know more about the stages, here's a summary

--NBC, owner of Versus, has a Tour Package where you can watch it online. Or, if you're only going to watch a few stages I suggest Cyclingfans or Steephill.

--For videos of the finishes, this guy on YouTube posts them right after they happen.

--Wondering how much is at stake in the Tour? Here's a breakdown of all the prize money.

--Horner isn't the only one who has changed his diet recently. Zabriskie has been on predominately (except the occasional fish) vegan diet most of this season. He plans on riding the Tour vegan as well.

I was a vegetarian for six years and often wondered how it'd be racing PRO as a vegetarian. Not so much from a nutrition perspective but just getting the right foods being on a team with no other vegetarians. Obviously, if you're Dave Z you can swing this, but I think it'd be really hard for lesser known riders to do it. Hopefully this will open the door for others. Either way, it's really cool he's doing this.

--I'll leave you with a funny glimpse of yesterday's Tour presentation:


UPDATE: Thanks to Scott for reminding me of a crucial omission...Horner! I totally forgot to mention him. I think he'll have an awesome Tour and definitely make the top 5 with hopefully a podium spot. Levi, could also make the top 10. I'm banking on Horner being stronger, though.

UPDATE: I actually had a look at the parcours and there's no way Cav is winning the first stage. It's uphill for the last 4k so my money's on Gilbert or Goss. I think it's a bit short for Gilbert to win so I'd put my money on Goss.

Then, stage 2 is the TTT so whoever wins stage 1 isn't guaranteed the yellow. Fabian could pull Saxo Bank to victory or it could go to HTC. All I know is it won't go to BBox...

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