First Grand Tour of the year and the build-up to July starts in earnest. As we did last year here are some semi-informed predictions about who might be on the podium in Rome ...
1 Levi Leipheimer
2 Ivan Basso
3 Mauricio Soler
With Franco Pellizotti and Tom Danielson just behind.
Maricio Soler. Definitely this year.
If Mark Cavendish gets to Rome he has a good chance, but I am going to go for a revitalised Alessandro Petacchi for the final sprinter's prize.
So, an American for the maglia rosa? The tifosi may not like it, but I think that Leipheimer is in amazing form and Astana certainly have the strength and the knowledge to take the top place. The time trial on the final Sunday in Rome will also play to his strengths. Basso is going to be disappointed I think, but he has prepared well and there are plenty of mountain top finishes so he may still delight the home crowd. I tipped him last year, and he crashed out, but hopefully Maricio Soler will have a bit more luck this year and pick up third and the climber's jersey.
And the other American? I think Lance might make the top ten, but probably not much higher than ninth or tenth ...